Wizards

Penn St. approves president search, athletics code

Penn St. approves president search, athletics code

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State trustees on Friday approved the process to find a new president and an athletics code of conduct required by the NCAA as part of the penalties for the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The university also received encouraging news after the Middle States Commission on Higher Education lifted its accreditation warning and reaffirmed the school was in compliance with the agency's governance, finance and integrity standards.

The presidential search begins immediately, with the goal to find President Rodney Erickson's replacement by next November. Erickson plans to step down by June 2014.

Board chairwoman Karen Peetz was confident the school would have no trouble finding potential candidates despite the scandal.

``By the time someone gets here in 2014, it will be just a distant memory,'' Peetz said.

Earlier Friday, higher education commission announced that the school was in full compliance with the agency's governance, finance and integrity standards. The commission lifted the accreditation warning issued in August based on the fallout from the scandal that began a year ago with Sandusky's arrest. Sandusky was later convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys. He maintains his innocence.

Deep fractures remain among some vocal alumni and others in the university community over how Penn State leaders handled the scandal; the internal investigation led by former FBI director Louis Freeh; and the landmark NCAA sanctions.

As part of the consent decree with the NCAA, the university was required to institute an athletics code of conduct. The school's legal counsel said the code of conduct simply reaffirms current university guidelines.

Three trustees sought to emphasize that passing a code of conduct didn't equate to the board officially giving its approval to the NCAA sanctions, which Erickson agreed to. He has said he faced a difficult ``take-it-or-leave-it'' proposition after the NCAA discussed shutting down the football program.

Trustees Anthony Lubrano and Ryan McCombie, who joined the board this summer, and veteran trustee Joel Myers praised the code of conduct but said it was important to make a distinction.

``We just wanted to be clear that accepting the resolution was in no way an acknowledgment of our acceptance of the consent decree agreement,'' Lubrano said. ``We never ratified that.''

Alumni critics remain incensed about the results of Freeh's investigation, which said Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno, former President Graham Spanier and two other university officials concealed abuse allegations.

Paterno died in January. His family, as well as Spanier and the two school officials, have vehemently denied there was a cover-up.

Each of the six speakers who spoke during Friday's public comment period denounced the board in varying degrees. Phil Shultes, 48, of Queensbury, N.Y., said he was among a faction of alumni severing ties with the school.

``Penn State is dead to us. We are not moving forward ... and it is not because of this scandal; it is because of your response to it,'' he said as Peetz listened at the podium. ``Nearly every decision this board has made has defied logic and defined cowardice.''

Shultes, a 1990 graduate of the College of Medicine, said he was discouraging prospective students from attending Penn State and was asking other alumni who shared his sentiments to do the same.

``That's very disappointing,'' Peetz said later when asked about the comment. ``I would have expected that alumni would get behind the university at the time we need them the most.''

Peetz said the university would be proactive in reaching out to students, staff, faculty, alumni and other Penn State community groups for input on the presidential search.

``Over the past year, the board and community have had our share of conflicts,'' Peetz told trustees. ``I urge everyone to work together ... for the future of Penn State.''

Quick Links

LeBron James had his worst ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

lebronindc.png
USA TODAY SPORTS

LeBron James had his worst ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

No Wizards fan needs to be reminded of the torment their favorite team has suffered at the hands of LeBron James for the last decade-and-a-half. He has eliminated them from the playoffs three times, scored 57 in their building and hit a variety of game-winning shots.

So, it should be considered no small feat what the Wizards did on Sunday night in their 128-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. They held James, arguably the league's best player, to only 13 points. That's his lowest scoring total ever against the Wizards franchise.

James has played the Wizards 65 times over the years, between the regular season and the playoffs. His previous career low vs. the Wizards was 14, back on Feb. 7 of 2004, when he was a rookie.

While in the Eastern Conference for his first 15 NBA seasons, James played the Wizards four times a year and often had the upper-hand. In his career, even with Sunday's loss, he is 30-19 against them with a 26.9 points per game average.

Usually, James powers his way to the rim against the Wizards and scores at will. Not on Sunday night.

"I have no clue," head coach Scott Brooks said when asked for the secret to shutting him down.

"It seems like every night it's 40 points here. He makes shots. Last year, here I think he averaged [39.9 points, 11.0 assists and 10.0 rebounds]. He's a pretty good player."

James shot just 5-for-16 from the field on Sunday, good for 31.3 percent. He was 0-for-2 from three and had four turnovers with only three assists. He was a -21 in the box score.

Some of James' struggles could be attributed to fatigue, as the Lakers played the night before in Charlotte. And James did have an off-night with some missed shots he would otherwise make.

But the Wizards had a plan and it worked. They deployed Jeff Green to guard him in isolation. Green is not only the Wizards' best match from a physical standpoint, he knows James well having played with him last season with the Cavaliers.

Green did an excellent job matching James' physical style without fouling. He had only one foul on the night despite playing bump-and-run coverage on many of James' drives to the basket.

Green and the Wizards also took away his three-point looks by closing early and making him pass to teammates. James' two three-point attempts were a season-low.

"Give a lot of credit to Jeff. Jeff did a great job," guard John Wall said. "It was one game. We know he is how he is. Just gotta tip your hat for us, making him make tough shots and make plays tonight."

The Wizards wanted others to beat them from long range and James' teammates didn't come through. While James didn't get off many threes, other Lakers did. They just didn't hit them.

Josh Hart went 0-for-5 from long range. Lonzo Ball went 2-for-7 and Kyle Kuzma went 0-for-4. 

“I think we did a good job of making it difficult on [James], showing him a lot of bodies, active hands," guard Bradley Beal said.

With James in check, the Wizards took advantage. They forced 22 total turnovers and that allowed Wall to feast in transition. He scored a season-high 40 points and dished 14 assists.

For one night, the Wizards had James' number. After 16 years of domination, it was about time.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Sam Dekker stands out for Wizards without cutting corners

dekker.png
USA TODAY SPORTS

Sam Dekker stands out for Wizards without cutting corners

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- Scott Brooks doesn’t know much about Sam Dekker. Four games since the Wizards acquired the energy forward as part of a successful three-team deal, it’s clear the head coach is enjoying the homework.

John Wall’s passionate work from the start against the Los Angeles Lakers helped snap the Wizards’ four-game losing streak, but Dekker’s X-factor performance also stood out in Washington’s rousing 128-110 win Sunday night.

Sunday marked the Wizards’ first game since the weekend’s chaotic trade sequence that will ultimately bring Trevor Ariza back to Washington. The deal doesn’t become approved by the league until Monday. With Otto Porter (right knee contusion) sidelined, Washington took the court shorthanded at positions where players would contend with LeBron James.

Brooks admitted pregame he loved the undermanned challenge. Dekker’s constant and perceptive movement helped Washington play at needed levels without cutting corners.

“Sam is a great cutter. That is what I am finding out,” Brooks said. “I didn't really know everything about his game, I still don't.”

Brooks isn’t alone in learning about the fourth-year player. Dekker received regular rotation work the previous two seasons with the Rockets and Clippers, but his NBA career has yet to blast off.

An ankle injury kept him off the court in Cleveland earlier this campaign until the Dec. 7 trade involving Jason Smith landed him in Washington.

The general scouting report played out in real life against the Lakers. High motor player. Athletic 6-foot-9 forward. Scattered shooting from distance.

The two positive traits showed in the open court and on the move. Dekker repeatedly found space when Wall or Tomas Satoransky ran the offense. They frequently found him for dunks and layups. Dekker finished 10 of 15 from the field.

“Whenever I have the ball or attack, penetrate, he’s a great cutter,” said Wall, who finished with a season-high 40 points and 14 assists. “We were just talking about it. He said ‘Whenever you have the opportunity to be aggressive, I’m always a guy that’s cutting and doing the little things. I don’t mind doing the dirty work.’”

The Wizards (12-18) need more grit in their world considering their underachieving start to the season. That’s something Dekker believes he can provide. Considering he doesn’t have full grasp of the team’s playbook terminology, falling on the back of basketball basics is necessary for now.

“They called out a couple of plays tonight and I looked at John, looked at Brad (Beal) and I’m like where (do I go), Dekker said spastically. “(They) would just say go to the corner. OK. That part of it is tough.

“One thing you can control is how hard you play and how smart you play. When you put yourself in a position to do some good things, and help the team. That’s really all I’m trying to do right now.”

Going forward Dekker will try finding a spot in Washington’s rotation. Ariza, who was Dekker’s basketball tutor when the two played in Houston during the 2016-17 season, likely moves into the starting lineup.

Reserve minutes opened when Washington traded Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to Phoenix for Ariza.  The basics of Dekker’s game compares to the popular Oubre, but with perhaps a steadier baseline.

He has yet to run the court with complete ease. Dekker remains on a minute’s restriction because of the ankle injury. “I was able to do some things tonight that I haven’t been able to in the past couple of games. That was a positive,” he said.

There’s no guarantees for minutes or the 24-year-old being part of Washington’s future. Dekker is one of several restricted free agents on the roster. For now the goal is simple: Play and play hard.

“I’m just trying to prove myself every night. I’m trying to show coach I’m a guy that can help this team,” Dekker said. “I’ve helped teams in the past, but I really want to be part of a playoff run here.”

Color Brooks impressed, with one clear clanking exception.

“I'm assuming that he is going to be able to shoot threes better than he did,” Brooks said after watching Dekker air ball a 3-point attempt and wildly miss on another. “But he cuts to the basket, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he brings energy, he plays with the proper respect for the game. That is what I love about him, he always seems to be prepared. He doesn't have to turn the switch on, it's on.” 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: