|DON PETERS Facing accusations|
Hard to draw up floor plan
Colangelo measured on NBA stars’ status
What if what NBA commissioner David Stern calls “this big mess’’ ends up with a lost season or a truncated version that stretches into the summer? Will Uncle Sam still be able to send the “A’’ team to London for the Olympics?
“I’m not a speculator,’’ USA Basketball board chairman Jerry Colangelo said by phone yesterday. “People ask me what-if, what if? But I’m going to deal with it when I have to and if I need to.’’
As long as the season ends by the beginning of July, there’ll be time to get the players in camp for the tournament that begins July 29. And if there isn’t a season, the US still can use any of the three dozen players in its pool, which includes all but a couple of members of the Beijing gold-medal team and last year’s world champions.
“We’re autonomous,’’ said Colangelo. “We’re not part of the NBA.’’
What’s encouraging is that the players’ agents want their clients at the Games.
“They’ve reached out to me to say they’re in, that they’re playing no matter what,’’ said Colangelo.
There are two compelling reasons for the Jameses and Wades and Durants to don their star-spangled suits. If there’s no NBA season, they will have gone more than a year without performing. And if they win the gold medal, they’ll be seen as patriots instead of pampered prima donnas.
What’s crucial, though, is that the “A’’ team does sign up. Whenever the US has sent second-tier pros, it has finished third or worse. And sending anyone else would be a fool’s errand.
The day when a college all-star team could win at Olympus ended in 1988. The American team stocked with players from the NBA Development League had to struggle mightily to win bronze last weekend at the Pan American Games in Mexico and would have come home empty-handed had the Dominican Republic made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Colangelo is hoping that one way or another, coach Mike Krzyzewski can put America’s varsity on the floor next year. Right now, he has a pocketful of promises.
“I can only go with what’s happening,’’ he said. “I can only deal with the facts.’’
Besides topping the medal table at the Pan Ams for the 15th consecutive time with 92 golds and 236 total, the US earned four automatic team tickets to the Olympics in men’s and women’s water polo, women’s field hockey, and equestrian show jumping. The field hockey team did it by upsetting world champion Argentina, 4-2, to win its first gold medal in what arguably was the biggest victory in program annals and the first defeat for the Argentines in tournament history. The women’s water polo team did it by rallying from four goals down to beat Canada in a shootout. Missing out as usual were the men’s field hockey team and both handball squads . . . Olympic berths also will be at stake for the US weightlifters, who’ll have to finish among the top 24 men’s and top 21 women’s teams at next week’s world championships in Paris, where the results will be combined with last year’s for qualification. The heavy lifting will fall to Beijing Olympians Kendrick Farris and Chad Vaughn as well as Sarah Robles.
Ban to be discussed
Don Peters, who coached the 1984 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team to a record eight medals in Los Angeles, could be banned for life by USA Gymnastics after being accused of having sex with three teenaged gymnasts, including national teamer Doe Yamashiro. Peters, who recently resigned from his post at the SCATS club in Southern California, can’t be prosecuted under state law because the statute of limitations has passed but the federation, which will take up the issue next week, can keep him from ever coaching again . . . Jonathan Horton’s subpar performance at last month’s world gymnastics championships is more understandable given that he was competing on a torn foot ligament. Last year’s bronze medalist was injured during the team competition when he landed short on a vault and since has had surgery which will sideline him four months.
Lesson from Jones
What message is disgraced sprinter Marion Jones delivering as an American goodwill ambassador? Don’t do what I did. That’s what Jones, who had her medals revoked and records stricken and served jail time after being convicted of lying to federal investigators about her doping past, told Serbian and Croatian students during her recent visit. “At some point you have to take responsibility for your doing,’’ Jones told them, while still blaming “being there with bad people’’ for her making bad decisions . . . If New York City’s men’s course record is broken on Sunday, all five World Marathon Majors marks will have fallen this year. So far the Kenyans have set new standards in London (Emmanuel Mutai, 2:04:40), Boston (Geoffrey Mutai, a world-best 2:03:02), Berlin (Patrick Makau, a world-record 2:03:38), and Chicago (Moses Mosop, 2:05:37). New York’s record of 2:07:43, established by Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Jifar, has stood since 2001. Likely candidates to take it down include the Mutais, Ethiopian defending champion Gebre Gebremariam, and countryman Tsegaye Kebede . . . Saying that she needs training partners to “keep me accountable’’ Kara Goucher has moved on from longtime coach Alberto Salazar to Jerry Schumacher to train with Shalane Flanagan for the Olympic marathon trials in January. Goucher, who still is trying to find her form amid motherhood, was 13th in the 10,000 meters at this summer’s world championships after winning bronze in 2007.
With the Sochi Games on the horizon, Russia’s men’s and women’s figure skating is on the upswing. Following last season’s world bronze medal by 18-year-old Artur Gachinski and fourth-place finish by Alena Leonova, Elizaveta Tuktamisheva last weekend became the youngest athlete in three decades to win at Skate Canada. Though the 14-year-old won’t be eligible for the world championships until 2013, she could be a medal contender for the Motherland at the Games . . . Steve Holcomb (USA I) and John Napier (USA II) again will be the pilots for the American men’s bobsled team for this winter’s World Cup circuit, with Melrose’s Steve Langton likely to be among the pushers again. With women’s world runnerup Shauna Rohbock retired, Bree Schaaf will drive USA I with Jazmine Fenlator handling USA II and Olympic medalist Elana Meyers USA III. The skeleton teams haven’t changed - Matt Antoine, John Daly and Kyle Tress on the men’s side and Katie Uhlaender, Annie O’Shea, and Kimber Gabryszak on the women’s.
Youth is served
With Tony Benshoof and Bengt Walden retiring and top man Chris Mazdzer opting to stay home and test equipment, the US men’s luge team will have newbies Isaac Underwood and Trent Matheson on the sled for the early World Cup events. Veterans Erin Hamlin and Westborough’s Ashley Walden will be sliding for the women with juniors Kate Hansen and Emily Sweeney, who finished 1-2 at last week’s selection races in Lake Placid, joining the team for the third event in Calgary while Matt Mortensen-Preston Griffall and Christian Niccum-Jayson Terdiman will compete in the men’s double . . . The newest members of the National Rowing Hall of Fame include a bunch of bemedaled Olympians, most notably the 1972 men’s eight that won silver in Munich and was coached by Harry Parker, who recently was awarded the US Rowing Medal, the federation’s highest honor. Also to be inducted next year are 2000 silver medalists Sebastian Bea and West Newton native Ted Murphy and 1992 bronze medalists Anna Seaton and Stephanie Maxwell as well as former Olympians Mary and Elizabeth McCagg, Jennifer Dore Terhaar, Jeff Klepacki, and Robert Kaehler.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.