December 21, 2005

Joe Paterno Chosen As AP Coach of Year

NEW YORK - Joe Paterno doesn't have to say "I told you so." JoePa, who turns 79 on Wednesday, got an early birthday present Tuesday when he was an overwhelming choice as The Associated Press college football coach of the year.

So much for critics who said the game had passed him by.

Not that he's gloating about Penn State's resurgence.

"The only thing I wanted to do is try to get us back to where we were a good football team and we could be very competitive and make some plays we hadn't made," he said. "We got that done and I feel good about that."

After four losing seasons in the last five years, Paterno and the Nittany Lions rebounded in 2005 to go 10-1, share the Big Ten title and earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

For that, Paterno received 45 of 65 votes from media members on AP's college football poll board. Texas' Mack Brown was second with eight votes after leading the Longhorns to a perfect regular season and a spot in the Rose Bowl. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis and Southern California's Pete Carroll, whose Trojans will face Brown's Longhorns for the national title, got three votes each.

West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez received two votes. Les Miles of LSU, Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, George O'Leary of Central Florida and Tommy Tuberville of Auburn, last year's winner, each received one vote.

"It's very flattering," Paterno said. "I think anytime, regardless of whether it be my first year or my 50th year, to have people recognize what's been done is very, very ... uplifting. The only thing I feel sometimes is that the head coach gets too much credit. I think sometimes it ought to be coaching staff of the year."

Despite going 4-7 in 2004, Paterno was convinced that the Nittany Lions were on the verge of good things.

In search of playmakers, he landed two of the nation's top recruits in speedy receivers Derrick Williams and Justin King. By doing so, Paterno showed that he and his staff, led by recruiting coordinator and former Penn State quarterback Mike McQueary, were still capable of bringing in blue-chippers.

Paterno believed in quarterback Michael Robinson, who spent three seasons moving from passer to runner to receiver, and gave offensive coordinator Galen Hall and quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno the job of building a system around the multidimensional senior.

Hall and Jay Paterno, Joe's son, went to Texas in the offseason to check out what Brown was doing with Vince Young.

"We got some great ideas," Joe Paterno said. "It was a big help to us, it really was."

Robinson and the fast frosh made the Nittany Lions explosive again, and JoePa had himself a 21st century offense to go along with a rugged defense, led by a throwback Penn State linebacker, junior Paul Posluszny.

The Nittany Lions had signature wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin and rose to No. 3 in the nation. In Paterno's 40th season, Penn State was just a couple of seconds away from going unbeaten. Its only loss was 27-25 at Michigan, on a last-play touchdown.

Paterno now has 353 victories. Only Florida State's Bobby Bowden (359) has more among Division I-A coaches, and the two will meet in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, Penn State's BCS debut.

Few outside Happy Valley saw this coming.

From 2000-04, Penn State was 27-33 overall, 16-24 in the Big Ten, with seven victories combined in 2003-04. Nevertheless, Paterno has never tied success solely to wins and losses.

"I never felt bad when we were 4-7 last year because I thought we had a bunch of kids that never quit," he said. "And that's the joy of coaching. It isn't 8-3. It isn't 10-1. It isn't 11-0. It isn't any of that stuff. It's did you get the most out of your football team."

Now Paterno is in vogue again. Maybe more than ever before.

The doubters who cried for change, who thought Paterno was hurting the school by refusing to let go, have had to eat their words.

But don't expect Paterno to call out his critics.

"To be honest, I really have never thought that way. It's not my nature," he said. "I'm not a vindictive guy. I don't read the papers. I realize the media's got a job to do and I realize the alumni, if they're interested in your program, are going to die when you lose and so forth, and a lot of them get carried away," he said.

"What good does it do for me to say, 'I told you so.'"

December 11, 2005

USC's Bush Runs Off With Heisman Trophy

Reggie Bush took slow, deliberate steps to the podium and began his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech with a huge sigh of relief and a hand over his heart. He may have been the only one in the packed room with any doubt about the outcome. Once again, the sensational Southern California tailback left the competition far, far behind.

Redick Scores 41 as Duke Crushes Texas

There was no doubt about the latest No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup.

December 09, 2005

Dancing with the Stars competitors named

The New York Post almost got it right when it leaked some names of contestants on the next installment of Dancing with the Stars. They said Lisa Rinna, Jerry Rice, Drew Lachey, Robert Wagner and possibly Kevin Nealon would compete. Wagner and Nealon didn't make the final list, which ABC released today. Season two of competition premieres on Thursday, January 5.

Here is the official list of contestants:

Tia Carrere, actress. Dancing partner: Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Giselle Fernandez, journalist. Dancing partner: Jonathan Roberts
George Hamilton, actor. Dancing partner: Edyta Sliwinska
Stacy Keibler, pro wrestler. Dancing partner: Tony Dovolani
Drew Lachey, singer. Dancing partner: Cheryl Burke
Kenny Mayne, ESPN host. Dancing partner: Andrea Hale
Tatum O'Neal, actress. Dancing partner: Nick Kosovich
Jerry Rice, former NFL receiver. Dancing partner: Anna Trebunskaya
Lisa Rinna, actress. Dancing partner: Louis van Amstel
Romeo, teen-age rapper. Dancing partner: Ashly Delgrosso

December 05, 2005

(7) North Carolina 77, (8) Connecticut 54

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Ivory Latta had 21 points and five assists and No. 7 North Carolina dealt Connecticut its worst home loss in the Geno Auriemma era, beating the eighth-ranked Huskies 77-54 Monday night.

The Tar Heels (8-0) were nearly unstoppable on offense, extending their lead to 33 points, and they shut down the Huskies (6-1) for long stretches.

When Latta left the game with 2:22 remaining, the speedy guard received a round of applause from UConn fans that remained.

The loss was the earliest home setback for the Huskies in 15 years. Before Monday, the worst home loss in Auriemma's 21 years at UConn was a 20-point defeat to Villanova in 1986.

Nearly 14,000 turned out to watch the women's edition of the Jimmy V Classic, a cancer research fund-raiser in honor of Jim Valvano, the late North Carolina State coach. The game was a rematch of last year's Jimmy V classic in Raleigh, which was won by the Heels 71-65.

North Carolina gave the UConn fans little to cheer as its relentless defense accounted for five steals and seven blocks and held the Huskies to 35 percent shooting. The Tar Heels also scored 23 points off UConn turnovers.

With Latta running the point, the Tar Heels seemed to score at will as their up-tempo attack ran into little interference.

La'Tangela Atkinson finished with 18 points for North Carolina, and Camille Little added 17. Atkinson and Little combined for 17 rebounds and the Tar Heels outrebounded UConn 42-33. Erlana Larkins finished with three blocks.

Ann Strother finished with 13 points and was the only UConn player to reach double digits.

The Tar Heels had five steals and five blocks in the first period, and when they weren't swiping the ball, they were swiping at it, disrupting just about everything the Huskies tried to run.

North Carolina scored 15 points off turnovers in the opening half.

The Huskies didn't have an answer for Latta, who had 10 points in the first half.

The Tar Heels silenced the crowd with an early 21-1 run. UConn went nearly 11 minutes without a field goal and nine minutes without a point. By the time Christina DeWitt's layup ended the run, the Tar Heels' lead was at 19 points, 28-9, with just under 8 minutes left in the half.

The Huskies recovered and put together a 14-7 to cut their deficit to 35-23 at the break.
No. 1 Duke Defeats Virginia Tech 77-75

DURHAM, N.C. - No one has scored more points for Duke than Johnny Dawkins. Nearly 20 years after his college career ended, he settled for one big assist. Sean Dockery made a heave from about 40 feet with less than a second left after some advice from the associate head coach, giving the top-ranked Blue Devils an improbable 77-75 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski drew up a play for burly center Shelden Williams, but Dawkins saw Dockery was virtually unguarded. He urged the senior guard to make himself available for Josh McRoberts' pass, if Williams should be covered.

That's exactly how it happened.

"I knew I had plenty of time," Dockery said. "I had confidence in the shot and I knocked it down."

It conjured up memories of Christian Laettner's shot at the buzzer that beat Kentucky in the 1992
NCAA tournament, when he took a pass from Grant Hill and swished a jumper from near the top of the key. Much as Hill did, McRoberts set the play in motion with perfect aim.

"I don't know what I was thinking," McRoberts said. "It was kind of surreal to watch."

The frantic finish denied the Hokies a stunning upset after they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 4 1/2 minutes. Coleman Collins capped the comeback by tipping in a miss by Zabian Dowdell, and after conferring with TV replays, the referees put 1.6 seconds back on the clock for the Blue Devils (7-0).

He received the ball just over halfcourt, then took one quick dribble — one less than Laettner needed 13 1/2 years ago — and launched his shot from the "Coach K Court" decal near the sideline.

It rattled in, sending the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy and giving Virginia Tech (5-3) its second stunning loss in two days. On Saturday, Marcus Vick and the Hokies' football team lost the ACC's first championship game to Florida State.

"I'm very proud of our basketball team," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "We did a lot of things that gave us a chance to win the basketball game. We just got beat by a great team on a great shot."

Shelden Williams dominated throughout and finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds, while J.J. Redick bounced back from first half foul trouble to add 18 points. Yet, with the game on the line, Dockery was the one who came through.

He finished with a season-high 19 points — the first time he's been in double figures all season — and was 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Of course, the final one was the most important.

"It felt real good leaving my hand," Dockery said. "Not to sound cocky or anything, but I knew it had a chance. In practice, I'm never the one hitting those shots. I guess it makes me about 1-for-30 now."

Collins led the Hokies with 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and Dowdell added 15.

"We just kept fighting," Dowdell said. "I was real optimistic. I just felt like something good was going to happen to our team."

This one was tight all the way, featuring 17 lead changes and 12 ties. The Blue Devils finally took control with — what else? — with stingy defense, and Redick and the rest of the guards finally found range from outside.

Virginia Tech was down 63-61 when Gordon got stripped by Dockery, and Duke's Lee Melchionni beat everyone down court for what was going to be an uncontested layup. Gordon hustled down in an attempt to stop the shot, but he simply shoved Melchionni out of bounds instead of going for the ball.

An intentional foul was called, giving the ball to the Blue Devils following two free throws from Melchionni. Redick made the most of the extra possession by making his first 3-pointer, and suddenly, the Hokies were down seven.

It quickly got worse. Collins worked inside for an easy basket before Duke pulled away, thanks to Williams putting back his own miss, Redick using a nifty behind-the-back dribble to free himself for an open look and Dockery converting a pair of free throws.

That made it 74-63. On the sideline, Greenberg told his team to stay patient and to come back one defensive stop at a time.

"That's what we hang our hat on," Dowdell said. "As long as we keep doing that well, we'll be all right."

The comeback was swift. Nine straight points — highlighted by Collins' two dunks — cut the margin to two and, after Jamon Gordon made one of two at the line, Williams missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

With 11 seconds left, the Hokies got an open look for Dowdell, and when the ball rolled off the rim, Collins beat Williams to the rebound to give his team the lead.

It proved to be short-lived.

"I feel very badly for Virginia Tech," Coach K said. "They gave a winning effort. They never quit and they were certainly deserving to win. I'm not sure we were."

No. 18 Washington 99, No. 6 Gonzaga 95

At Seattle, Jamal Williams had 22 points and seven rebounds and Washington overcame Gonzaga star Adam Morrison's 43-point night.

Freshman Justin Dentmon scored a season-high 17 points to help Washington (7-0) extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 29 games. The Huskies also ended a seven-game losing skid to their cross-state rivals.

December 04, 2005

Mary Hayley Bell
January 22, 1914 - December 1, 2005
Actress and author who supported her family in their careers and wrote the enchanting novel Whistle Down the Wind

In a remarkable theatrical family, Mary Hayley Bell tended to be overshadowed by her husband, John Mills, and their daughters, Juliet and Hayley. Yet while she was happy to fulfil the traditional roles of wife and mother, and did so with unswerving loyalty and affection, she managed a not inconsiderable career of her own.

She had started in the theatre as an actress but became better known for writing plays than appearing in them. She was nothing if not prolific. Working from a caravan at the bottom of the garden at the family home in Richmond, Surrey, at one time she was turning out a play a year.

Not all reached the West End and some were not even accepted for production. Among the disappointments, however, were tangible successes, especially when her husband was the leading man. He starred in Men in Shadow (1942), Duet for Two Hands gave him a long London run in 1945 and eight years later he was with Joan Greenwood in The Uninvited Guest, an excursion into Victorian madness which required him to sport a blazing red wig.

She continued to write plays until the early 1960s when, after her latest effort had been rejected, she decided that the theatre no longer wanted her. In the meantime, however, she had turned to writing novels. Her most notable book was Whistle Down the Wind (1958), the story of three children who mistake an escaped murderer for Jesus Christ. It was sensitively filmed in 1961 by Richard Attenborough (as producer) and Bryan Forbes (as director) with the location changed from the Home Counties to Lancashire. Hayley Mills gave a fine performance in the lead role.

Many years later Whistle Down the Wind was turned into a stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, still set in the 1950s, but relocated to the American Deep South. The show had a chequered history. It opened in Washington to mixed reviews, a New York transfer was delayed and then cancelled, and a smaller, cheaper production eventually opened in London in the summer of 1998.

Bell was not involved in either adaptation of Whistle Down the Wind but she was co-writer of the 1965 film Sky West and Crooked. This was a family affair, with John Mills directing and Hayley starring as the retarded girl who falls in love with a gypsy, played by Ian McShane.

Mary Hayley Bell was born in Shanghai and spent a colourful childhood in China where her father was a customs official. Originally put in the charge of a governess, she later went to school in England, attending Malvern Girls’ College and excelling at lacrosse.

When her father lost his money in misguided Far Eastern ventures she had to fend for herself, and set out to become an actress, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She made her first stage appearance in 1932 in Shanghai, playing Henrietta in The Barretts of Wimpole Street with an American touring company.

She had her first London part two years later. There followed a series of plays in the West End, a tour of Australia with Fay Compton and a New York debut in 1939. She gave up acting on marriage, and did not return to the stage until the mid-1950s when she and Mills toured British Army camps in Germany in Agatha Christie’s whodunnit, The Mousetrap.

She first met Mills in the 1930s when he was touring the Far East. Some years later they met again in London at a painful time in both their lives. His first marriage had ended and she had been jilted by her fiancé.

They married at Caxton Hall register office in January 1941 and it proved to be one of the longest, closest and happiest of showbusiness unions.

Bell obeyed the convention of the time that on marriage women should put aside their own careers and concentrate on raising the family. She and Mills had three children, a son, Jonathan, as well as Hayley and Juliet, and Bell did her best to keep a maternal eye on them, not least when Hayley became an international child star at the age of only 14.

Writing provided a welcome diversion from family duties, though Bell lived very much in her husband’s shadow. In the 1960s she was appointed a magistrate but was asked to resign three years later because it was felt that she was spending too much time with Mills while he was abroad filming. She did not hide her disappointment.

In 1968 she brought out an autobiography, What Shall We Do Tomorrow? and in 1981 produced a book about the family dog, a Yorkshire terrier called Mr Chips.

Her later years were difficult ones for Bell. She lost her sight, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was latterly confined to a wheelchair. But in January 2001 she was able to walk up the aisle with Mills when they renewed their wedding vows on their diamond anniversary.

Sir John Mills died in April, aged 97, and she is survived by her children.

Mary Hayley Bell, actress, playwright and novelist, was born on January 22, 1914. She died on December 1, 2005, aged 91.

December 01, 2005

Gregory Peck's Stolen Star Replaced

LOS ANGELES - In a simple ceremony, a new star honoring Oscar winner Gregory Peck was unveiled Wednesday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to replace one that was stolen by a brazen thief.

Kneeling on the ground, Hollywood's honorary mayor Johnny Grant lifted a covering and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly welcome back to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gregory Peck."

Peck's original star had been part of the Hollywood Boulevard celebrity shrine for more than four decades until someone with a cement saw cut the bronze-and-terrazzo marker out of the sidewalk.

The crime occurred sometime in late November and apparently drew no one's attention.

Grant offered the thief a deal.

"You know now you can't sell it. This has become a worldwide story and if you'll just bring it back and leave it right here I'll forget the whole thing happened," he said.

Grant, 82, has for years overseen the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's star unveilings, which often draw big crowds.

Peck, who died in 2003 at age 87, won an Academy Award for his portrayal of upstanding Southern lawyer Atticus Finch in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

His star was the fourth to be stolen since the Walk of Fame was inaugurated.

Jimmy Stewart's and Kirk Douglas' stars disappeared some years ago after being removed for construction and were later recovered by police in suburban South Gate. Gene Autry's star also vanished during a construction project. Grant once got a call saying it had been found in Iowa but it was never returned.