Celtics' Bird sidelined; Vaas replaces DuffnerBack trouble...

Celtics' Bird sidelined; Vaas replaces Duffner

Back trouble has forced Larry Bird to the sidelines, and the Boston Celtics said they would evaluate his condition on a day-to-day basis. Bird missed Friday night's 110-103 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Garden and was expected to sit out tonight's game at Minnesota against the Timberwolves.


Dave Gavitt, the Celtics chief executive officer, said the problem resulted from a fall in practice about a month ago and was not related to his off-season back surgery.

* Television analyst Jim Valvano, commenting for the first time on reports linking him with the New Jersey coaching job, confirmed he did meet with Nets minority owner Joe Taub and was offered the job. But Valvano said the offer apparently was withdrawn "due to a very unique ownership situation at the Nets."


College football

Notre Dame quarterback coach Peter Vaas became head coach at Holy Cross and called the chance to head his alma mater's football program "a dream come true."

Vaas replaced Mark Duffner, who took the Maryland head coaching job last week. Vaas, 39, joined Lou Holtz's staff at Notre Dame in 1990 as a running back coach, and shifted to coaching quarterbacks last year. Under his tutelage, Irish quarterback Rick Mirer finished eighth nationally in pass efficiency and set a school record for touchdown passes with 18.

* Bruce Snyder, who coached California to a No. 8 finish in national rankings this season, is resigning to accept a position at Arizona State, California's athletic director said.


Contract negotiations between the Texas Rangers and All-Star Ruben Sierra have come to a halt after the outfielder made demands team officials called "unrealistic." Chuck Berry, an agent for Sierra, told Rangers officials that Sierra wanted to become baseball's first player to earn $30 million over a five-year contract, The Dallas Morning News reported. The team was prepared to offer Sierra a five-year, $25 million contract.


Top seed Goran Ivanisevic beat ailing American Bryan Shelton and will meet Christian Bergstrom of Sweden for the title today in the Australian Hardcourt championships in Adelaide.


Ivanisevic forgot his tennis elbow injury in defeating Shelton, 6-4, 6-2, who fell and injured his left ankle during the seventh game of the first set and was unable to run properly after that.

* The first all-Australian women's final on the pro tennis circuit in 13 years will be held today when Nicole Provis meets Rachel McQuillan for the title in the Danone Queensland Open.

The last final to feature two Australians was in 1979, when Evonne Goolagong beat Dianne Fromholtz in the U.S. Indoor Championships.


The United States won the bronze medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Fussen, Germany, beating Czechoslovakia, 3-2, to finish 5-2, the best record by an American team in the tournament's history.

High school basketball


Chanel Wright scored a game-high 21 points, but Baltimore's second-ranked Western (8-2) fell to Tennessee's White County (10-0), 61-53, early yesterday morning in the second round of the Great One Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska.

The loss was the Doves' third in their past 63 games. Western played Longview (16-1) of Texas, ranked 20th by USA Today, late last night in a consolation game.


Willie Ray Smith, a Texas high school coach credited with helping integrate football in the South during a 35-year career, died of prostate cancer after a lengthy hospital stay in Beaumont. He was 80.

Smith's sons, Bubba and Tody, played in the NFL. Bubba starred at Michigan State and was taken No. 1 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1967. The two played together with the Houston Oilers in 1975-76.



Duncan Douglas of Lake Placid, N.Y., sped to the men's 10-kilometer victory and Joan Smith of Honeoye Falls, N.Y., posted an upset in the women's 7.5-kilometer event in the fourth and final day of biathlon tryout races in Lake Placid. Douglas secured one of seven spots on the U.S. men's team that will compete next month in Albertville, France. Curt Schreiner of Day, N.Y., was the runner-up.

Josh Thompson of Gunnison, Colo., who had two victories and a runner-up finish in the first three races, did not compete. He was assured an Olympic spot Friday because only three of four races count toward the final standings. Smith finished in 24:10.9, well ahead of runner-up Mary Ostergren of Norwich, Vt., who also earned a spot on the team with a 24:29.9 effort.


John Steinberg of Grand Rapids, Mich., ran away with the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer Marathon. John Trautman, a Georgetown University graduate, and Lynn Jennings of New Market, N.H., won the 10K National Championships.

Steinberg, 32, an optometrist, posted a winning time of 2 hours, 26 minutes. The top women's finisher was Nancy Beiger, 33, a criminal investigator from Stockton, N.J., with a time of 2:55:57, good enough for 38th overall. The 10K, sanctioned by the Athletic Congress which also selects the U.S. Olympic track and field team, was taken by Trautman with at time of 28:46.

The women's 10K was won by two-time cross-country champion Jennings in an upset of Francie Larrieu Smith, 39, of Dallas, a four-time Olympian and American record-holder in the 10K.