Friday’s Sports in Brief
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) North Carolina State didn’t have to look very far to find its next men’s basketball coach.
The school has hired UNC Wilmington’s Kevin Keatts to take over as head basketball coach, staying in its home state to find a coach who had spent time as an assistant to a Hall of Fame coach before leading his own NCAA Tournament team.
The school announced Keatts’ hiring in a news release one day after his Seahawks lost to Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 44-year-old Keatts replaces Mark Gottfried, who was fired after his sixth season that saw the Wolfpack quickly unravel after four straight NCAA Tournament trips. Keatts is a former assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville and two-time Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year who led UNC Wilmington to a 72-28 record and two NCAA Tournaments in three seasons there.
SAN DIEGO (AP) – Yadier Molina and Puerto Rico are moving on to the World Baseball Classic semifinals after scoring four runs in the first inning and then holding on for a wild 6-5 win against the United States.
Puerto Rico advances to the championship round for the second straight WBC. It reached the championship game in 2013 before losing to the Dominican Republic.
By clinching Pool F with a day to go, Puerto Rico (2-0) will play the Netherlands on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The other semifinal spot from Pool F will go to the winner of Saturday night’s game between the United States (1-1) and the Dominican Republic (1-1). That team will play Japan on Tuesday night.
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The first face-to-face meeting between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano since last week’s post-race scuffle in Las Vegas is over. Whether the drivers feel any better about things headed into Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway is an open question.
The two were summoned to a 15-minute session with NASCAR officials as everyone involved tried to put the pit road brawl to bed. Busch attempted to turn the attention to this weekend’s racing at Phoenix, saying almost nothing as he emerged from the meeting. He answered every question by repeating, ”Everything’s great.”
Logano initiated a phone conversation with Busch on Tuesday. He said after Friday’s meeting it was good to sit with his former teammate and explain the on-track incident at Las Vegas was ”an honest mistake.”
The two were racing for position Sunday at Las Vegas and Busch spun because of Logano’s hard racing. Busch stormed down pit road and threw a punch at Logano before crews intervened. Team Penske was not penalized for tackling Busch, even though he sustained a gash to his forehead in the scrum.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul signed a four-year contract with the New York Giants.
The team gave Pierre-Paul the franchise tag last month, and reached the long-term deal Friday. A two-time Pro Bowl player, Pierre-Paul had gotten the franchise designation for the second time in three years.
Two summers ago, on July 4, Pierre-Paul’s right hand was severely damaged in a fireworks accident in Florida. He missed the first half of that season, but JPP returned for the final eight games. He started all 12 games he played last year and has a strong finish as the Giants made the playoffs.
The 28-year-old Pierre-Paul said: ”I’m back for four years and I’m ready to get after it.”
New York also re-signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson and guard John Jerry. Also, former Jets quarterback Geno Smith has agreed to terms with the Giants, pending passing a physical, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t even need to step into the starting gate at World Cup Finals to wrap up her first overall title.
No time for any sort of coronation, though, there’s still some competition left and she’s intent on putting on a show – just like she has all season. Shiffrin secured the season-long title after Ilka Stuhec and her coach said the Slovenian skier won’t compete in the slalom. Stuhec wasn’t on the start list for the race.
The 22-year-old Shiffrin joined quite an elite group in Phil Mahre, Tamara McKinney, Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn as the only American overall World Cup champions. Shiffrin already held a nearly insurmountable 198-point lead over Stuhec with two races left – a slalom Saturday and a giant slalom Sunday. Stuhec made a nice run at finals – winning the downhill and taking second in the super-G – to keep the competition close.
The wage dispute between the U.S. women’s hockey team and USA Hockey took another turn as the two sides traded public barbs about the status of their negotiations.
USA Hockey said it is contacting players’ representatives in an effort to resolve the ongoing situation and posted the cost of players’ demands on its website. Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships unless significant progress is made toward a labor deal.
In an update posted to its website Friday afternoon, USA Hockey says players’ demands would exceed $8 million total in an Olympic year and $5.7 million in a non-Olympic year. That estimates a rate of $237,000 per player for winning gold at the Olympics and $149,000 per in non-Olympic years, according to USA Hockey.
Players called that information ”patently false” and said it failed to distinguish between money paid by USA Hockey and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said USA Hockey’s response was confusing, and fellow star forward Hilary Knight called the valuations ”funny at best.”
NEW YORK (AP) – Michael Conlan marched into his pro boxing debut alongside UFC champion Conor McGregor and picked up a third-round TKO of Tim Ibarra in a spirited St. Patrick’s Day scene.
Conlan is a former Irish amateur star who gained fame after a disputed defeat to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He was joined at the Theater at Madison Square Garden by McGregor, an Irish mixed martial artist who holds the lightweight UFC belt. Conlan entered the ring sporting an oversized green top hat, and McGregor followed with an Irish flag draped across his shoulder.
Conlan was a big favorite against Ibarra (4-5) in his debut, which was scheduled to be a six-round fight. Conlan didn’t win a medal in Rio, but he did make some news. After losing a decision to Nikitin, he flashed obscene gestures at the judges, then sent a tweet to Vladimir Putin suggesting the Russian president helped fix the fight.