Spartans lean on Buckeye Joe Bachie for Ohio State game
By MATTHEW B. MOWERY
Tuesday, November 6
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — When No. 24 Michigan State hosts No. 8 Ohio State, the Spartans will be leaning on an Ohio guy.
Middle linebacker Joe Bachie spearheads Michigan State’s top-ranked defense. He is the team’s leading tackler and an unquestioned leader. His work ethic and preparation are exemplary.
In fact, the player from Brook Park, Ohio, reminds Spartans coach Mark Dantonio of a Buckeyes star from the 1980s.
“I go back and I look at all the players that we’ve been around in the past years. And not to disrespect anybody that’s been here, but Chris Spielman to me is a guy that when I was at Ohio State as a graduate assistant, he was just coming in as a freshman,” Dantonio said.
“That guy was watching film every day. That guy was playing 100 miles an hour on field during practice. He had good motor, he had good skills, great skill set, as well. And I see that in Joe Bachie. … He’s an athlete in a variety of sports, I’ve said that many times, and also he prepares and he gets himself ready to go. And he’s a great leader, as well. People sort of follow him or he rubs off on people, however you take it.”
The Spartans do follow Bachie, last week’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He leads by example and by words. Co-captain Khari Willis says Bachie “walks the talk.”
“People can sense when someone’s real, and someone’s genuine. As a co-leader with him, that’s something that I admire about him,” Willis said. “Joe gets out there, he speaks his mind, and he goes and performs. The way he is, the things he does on the field, it’s very, very rare that you have a personality to match that.”
Bachie isn’t old enough to remember Spielman, so the comparisons don’t mean as much to older fans. Spielman, now a broadcaster, was a two-time All-American middle linebacker, Lombardi Award winner and College Hall of Famer. He went on to earn All-Pro honors with the Detroit Lions in a 10-year NFL career.
“To be honest, I never really watched him. . I watched (Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis) when I was younger. He was somebody that, on Saturday, I’d get excited to watch,” said Bachie, who grew up an Ohio State fan, and still has some of his childhood Buckeyes gear stashed away in a box somewhere.
To Bachie and 27 other Ohio-born Spartans, this game means more than most, meaning that last year’s 48-3 loss stings.
“I think about it a little bit because I’m from Ohio. I’ve got buddies of mine who will rag on me a little bit because of that,” he said. “But we just know we’ve got to play better, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
“A little something extra, just like the Michigan game to a lot of the Michigan guys, this Ohio State game is a big game for me. I grew up an Ohio State fan most of my whole life basically, until high school, and all my buddies back home, my family, friends — they’re Ohio State people. So it’s going to be a good one to hopefully get this year.”
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Reds hire Turner Ward from Dodgers as hitting coach
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds hired Turner Ward from the Dodgers as their hitting coach on Tuesday, their second significant addition under new manager David Bell.
Cincinnati also hired Derek Johnson from Milwaukee as its pitching coach. The Dodgers and Brewers played in the NL Championship Series, with Los Angeles advancing to the World Series for the second straight year and losing to Boston.
Ward spent the last three seasons as the Dodgers’ hitting coach. They set club records for homers, extra-base hits and slugging percentage each of the last two seasons. The Dodgers led the NL with 235 homers last season.
Ward is from Alabama and was attracted to the Reds’ job in part because it would get him closer to home.
“The vision of what they’re trying to do, I can see it,” Ward said on a conference call. “I’ve been impressed with their offense. Also, add the logistics of being closer to home. Family is very important to me and it made it hard being in LA.”
The Reds finished eighth in the NL in runs and ninth in homers despite playing in one of its most hitter-friendly ballparks. They batted only .227 with runners in scoring position after the All-Star break, contributing to another losing season. The rebuilding Reds have dropped 98, 94, 94 and 95 games in the last four years, their worst such slump since the 1930s.
Bell knew Ward from their playing days and spent hours on Sunday talking to him about his hitting philosophy. Ward played 12 seasons in the majors with Cleveland, Toronto, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Philadelphia.
“When I found out this was a possibility, I immediately got excited about it,” Bell said. “To Turner’s credit, he was willing to spend basically the entire day with me.”
The Reds fired manager Bryan Price after a 3-15 start and decided not to retain interim manager Jim Riggleman. Dick Williams, the president of baseball operations, said the Reds wanted to go outside the organization in its next step of rebuilding.
“We went into the offseason committed to putting new leadership in place in the clubhouse, and interested in seeing where that would take us,” Williams said. “We thought some new voices in the clubhouse and a variety of perspectives coming in from other organizations would be a good thing.”
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Blackhawks fire 3-time Stanley Cup-winning coach Quenneville
By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Joel Quenneville knew the deal. After three Stanley Cup titles and nine playoff appearances with the Chicago Blackhawks, the longtime coach figured this was a big season for him.
“I only think we’re in the winning business and we better win,” Quenneville said on the first day of training camp.
Two months later, it was over.
The Blackhawks fired Quenneville on Tuesday, ending a wildly successful run that returned the franchise to the top of the NHL after years of heartache.
“We want to win,” team president John McDonough said. “We want to re-win. We want our building filled and we want our fans to see an exciting brand of hockey. Sometimes, as painful as it is, you need a fresh start.”
The move comes in the wake of a winless three-game trip, extending Chicago’s losing streak to five in a row heading into Thursday’s home game against Carolina. The power play, a persistent problem, ranked 27th in the NHL heading into Tuesday. The Blackhawks (6-6-3) also are allowing an unseemly 3.73 goals per game.
“A decision like this isn’t made on one game, one play, or one specific thing,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “It’s sort of a collection of things. Certainly the road trip was concerning. But I think even heading into that, there were some elements to our game where they weren’t where they needed to be.”
Assistants Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson also were let go. Jeremy Colliton was hired as the 38th head coach in franchise history, and Barry Smith, 66, moved from Chicago’s front office to the bench as an assistant coach.
Colliton goes from Chicago’s American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford, Illinois, to the NHL’s youngest head coach at 33. Blackhawks forward Chris Kunitz, defenseman Duncan Keith and goaltenders Corey Crawford and Cam Ward are older than Colliton, and defenseman Brent Seabrook also is 33.
“I have a huge amount of respect for Joel,” Colliton said. “Those are huge shoes to fill. I won’t try to fill them. I’ve got to be myself. And we’re different people, so I’ll bring different things to the table, different ideas to the table.”
The 60-year-old Quenneville was the longest-tenured head coach in the NHL. He had another year left on a three-year contract extension he signed in 2016 that pays him $6 million per year, second highest in the NHL behind Mike Babcock in Toronto.
He also was the second coach fired in the past three days after the Los Angeles Kings dismissed John Stevens.
Whenever Quenneville wants to get back to work, he likely will have plenty of suitors.
The former NHL defenseman has 890 wins in 22 years as a head coach with St. Louis, Colorado and Chicago. Scotty Bowman, Stan’s father and a senior adviser with the Blackhawks, is the only man with more regular-season victories.
Quenneville took over Chicago four games into the 2008-09 season, replacing Denis Savard after the Hall of Famer was let go by former general manager Dale Tallon. What followed was an unprecedented run for one of the NHL’s Original Six franchises.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Keith and Seabrook blossomed with Quenneville behind the bench, and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. They also made it to the conference finals in 2009 and 2014.
“He’s going to be an icon in Chicago for the longest time, the great things he’s done for this organization, winning three Stanley Cups, so that will never be forgotten,” Kane said.
Toews said the players learned of the move Tuesday morning.
“We’ve had some pretty crazy highs and you remember all the good stuff, so it’s tough to see a coach and a friend like Joel go,” the captain said.
The pressure on Quenneville began to ramp up when Chicago was swept by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 playoffs after the Blackhawks finished with the best record in the Western Conference. Then they missed the playoffs entirely last season for the first time in a decade.
Quenneville finishes with a 452-249-96 record with Chicago. He also went 76-52 in the playoffs with the Blackhawks for the best record in franchise history.
The dismissal turns up the heat on Bowman, who has made a couple of questionable moves that helped hasten the Blackhawks’ decline. He traded Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina in part because of salary-cap issues, and each player has put up big numbers with his new club.
“I believe in this roster, I believe in Stan,” McDonough said. “Stan is meticulous, he’s very thorough and when you break down free agents, when you break down trades, some work, some don’t. You’d like most to go your way and over time, they may. But his body of work is excellent. I want him to succeed.”
AP freelance reporter Matt Carlson contributed to this report.
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Battey returns to court for Colorado after suffering stroke
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Just the other day, the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman quietly slipped on his Colorado basketball jersey for a photo shoot.
Instant tears. A simple task he doesn’t take for granted .
Last December, Evan Battey was playing hoops with his buddies when his right leg went numb. Then, his right arm. He tried to speak but couldn’t. Battey suffered a stroke that day along with two seizures.
Nearly 11 months later, the 20-year-old forward from California will make his Buffaloes debut — with feeling back and his speech constantly improving.
“I’m thankful to be out here,” said Battey, whose team opens the season next Tuesday against Drake. “I’m thankful just to be alive today.”
Looking back, there were signs for Battey, who redshirted last season due to NCAA eligibility requirements. Like how two months before his stroke he was unable to pronounce words following a weightlifting session. He texted his mom, Rosalind Lewis, that he felt funny.
But his speech soon returned. He pushed the episode from his mind, because “I was in the best shape of my life at the time,” Battey explained .
The day after Christmas, Battey and his buddies were playing basketball at a Los Angeles gym when he experienced numbness from head-to-toe. His friends called his mom, who happened to be a few minutes away and quickly drove over. By the time she arrived, he was walking on his own but his speech appeared weakened. She took him to the emergency room where doctors performed a scan and discovered a blood clot. He was given a drug to break up the clot and transported to another facility specializing in strokes. While in the ambulance, Battey suffered a seizure. At the facility, he had another.
After four days in the hospital going through a battery of neurological and cardiology exams, the doctors had no explanation for what caused his stroke. It remains unknown.
“The good news was the tests came back as, ‘Hey, we don’t feel like there’s going to be long-term effects,’” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
At first, Battey’s balance was off. He struggled to make a fist with his right hand. His smile was uneven. But everything gradually returned through physical therapy. His speech remains a work in progress.
Two weeks after his stroke, the Buffaloes were playing at Southern California and Battey attended morning practice. For the first time — and with his right arm still feeling weak — he shot a few 3-pointers.
He made one. Then another. And another.
“I was feeling it,” he said. “I was making them all from muscle memory. It was a good sign for my teammates to see that I’m shooting again.”
Battey returned to Boulder in time for January classes, diligently going through physical rehab (he struggled to write) and speech therapy (he recited song lyrics to progress enunciation). He attended home games to cheer on his teammates.
“It was hard, because I couldn’t be that vocal guy on the sideline,” he said. “Because when you have a stroke, you know what you want to say, you just can’t articulate it.”
By early May, he had most of the feeling back on his right side and returned to practice. At first, he was a little hesitant: What if it happened again?
Take his time. No rush. That was Boyle’s message. It’s been his message.
Boyle had a conversation with Battey soon after his stroke: His scholarship was good even if he didn’t play a minute with the Buffaloes. All he wanted was Battey to be healthy.
But his desire to play was burning. He hadn’t played for a school team in quite a while.
Battey missed his senior season at Villa Park High School in Orange County because of an eligibility rule stemming from him repeating the ninth grade. Instead, the affable Battey served as a coach for the big men and the team’s JV squad that season.
His academic issues followed him to Boulder with the NCAA ruling him out since he did not meet the initial eligibility requirement of graduation from high school in four years.
Steadily, he’s getting back into a rhythm again.
“I sometimes think about my health when I’m sitting in class or lying in bed, but not when I’m on the floor,” said Battey , who played 27 minutes and had seven points in an exhibition game against Colorado School of Mines over the weekend. “I just love the game so much.”
At practice, Battey wears a heart monitor (the entire team does). If his soars too high, he rests. He will be closely monitored in games by the Colorado training staff.
“We know what’s normal and when things become abnormal, we’ll be quick to shut him down,” Boyle said. “Up to this point, he’s been fine.”
This summer went a long way toward alleviating any lingering doubt. He traveled with the USA East Coast team on a four-game trip to Italy. Along for the excursion were his mom and sister.
“I needed to be there,” his mom said, “to see how he was doing and see him in that environment. It was wonderful.”
Last week, Battey stayed after practice to hone the foot work on his jumper.
On the far end, Boyle just watched.
“I’m not sure I’ve had as much respect for a player I’ve coached, in terms of what they’ve been through off the court, as I have been for Evan Battey,” Boyle said. “My expectation level of Evan is so high, because I think he has an opportunity to be such a good player.”
For Battey, the excitement is already building for opening night. His mom will be there. Same with his dad, Earl.
“I don’t know how I’m going to control my emotions,” Battey said. “But I’m ready. I’m ready.”
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Column: A golf pro first, Suzy Whaley now breaking barriers
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
Two moments of discrimination took place 1,000 miles and worlds apart, neither pointing to Suzy Whaley making history this week at the PGA of America.
Whaley was just getting hooked on golf in Syracuse, New York, and she was good enough to compete in tournaments when her name was scratched off the entry list of a junior tournament for boys because she was a girl.
“And now I’ve played in a PGA Tour event,” said Whaley, who at the 2003 Greater Hartford Open became the first woman in 58 years to qualify for a PGA Tour event. “Look how far we’ve gone. It’s not where we need to be, but we’re making progress. And that makes me smile.”
Around the time Whaley had her first whiff of discrimination as a young girl, Barrie Naismith Jeffcoat was working at a golf club in Atlanta as a 29-year-old woman who was giving lessons and going nowhere.
She hired young men to handle the carts and pick up golf balls from the range. Some of them went on to become PGA professionals and got jobs at other clubs.
She couldn’t join the PGA as a certified pro because she was a woman.
“Something was wrong with this picture,” Naismith Jeffcoat said in a telephone interview Monday from her home in Virginia. “At the time I was giving lessons to Superior Court Judge (Joel) Fryer. He gave me the name of his attorney. The attorney advised me to call the PGA. I got a lawyer on the phone with the PGA and he told me, ‘You can call Jimmy Carter, but it won’t do you any good.’”
Instead of calling the president, she filed a lawsuit against the PGA in 1978. By the end of the year, the PGA signed the Naismith Consent Degree, giving women equal rights to become PGA professionals. Naismith became the first female member on Feb. 1, 1979.
She stayed with the PGA a few more years, yet the impact will be felt strongest this week at the PGA of America’s annual meeting in California.
Whaley is set to become the first female president in its 102-year history.
“I’m so thrilled she’ll have a high profile,” said Naismith Jeffcoat, who has never met Whaley. “There will be a lot of young women that will take up the game and want to be involved. It’s very exciting to me to see it come to fruition.”
Whaley is a consensus-builder, perhaps her greatest asset.
She is foremost a golf professional, still giving private lessons at Suzy Whaley Golf, the course she owns in Cromwell, Connecticut, and serving as PGA director of instruction at the Country Club of Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, during the winter months. Her husband, Bill, was her first golf coach. Both her daughters played in college.
“My strength would be that I love the game of golf. I want to get clubs in people’s hands,” said Whaley, recently certified as a master professional. “My vision for the membership is to help enhance their careers. How can we get them resources and tools to go where they want to go?”
She also recognizes the historic occasion of the annual meeting Friday, and she doesn’t take it lightly.
“It’s definitely historic, and I’m honored and completely grateful the membership has that faith and trust,” she said. “I look at myself as a PGA professional first. Obviously, I’m a woman. I understand the moniker. There are women who have paved the way before me.”
One was Renee Powell, who last year was inducted into the PGA of America Hall of Fame. Another was Sue Fiscoe, who ran unsuccessfully for national office at the PGA in 2012, which motivated Whaley to run herself two years later.
Whaley rose to national prominence when she won the Connecticut PGA section in 2002, earning a spot in the Greater Hartford Open. That’s what inspired Annika Sorenstam to say she would accept an invitation to a PGA Tour event, which she received within weeks at the Colonial. Sorenstam played two months before Whaley.
Her name recognition might have received a boost when weeks before Whaley’s election as secretary in 2014, Ted Bishop was ousted as PGA president for calling Ian Poulter a “Lil girl” during a social media rant.
But while Naismith Jeffcoat caused consternation in some circles — after she joined the PGA of America, two men threatened to sue to join the LPGA — Whaley received 53 percent of the votes from PGA delegates, only three of whom were women, and won election by 19 percentage points.
After two years as secretary and two years as vice president, it’s time for the 51-year-old Whaley to lead the 29,000 men and women at the PGA of America. She didn’t want to be president because she’s a woman.
She still understands the moment in front of her.
“I wanted to have a seat at the table, a voice in the room,” she said. “I didn’t look at it as male or female. I felt I had something to contribute. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. It’s an enormous opportunity for equality, and to showcase to women what they can do. Golf is an $84 billion industry we want to contribute to.”