Obama, Heels meet again, this time to celebrate
A pickup game of basketball last spring brought good luck to the University of North Carolina's basketball team and to Barack Obama, the president said Monday as he welcomed the national champions to the White House. North Carolina won the title this year. And Obama, who scrimmaged with the players during a campaign visit to Chapel Hill, won the state's Democratic primary and then carried North Carolina in November as he captured the presidency. "I'm not sure whose luck rubbed off on who," Obama said Monday as he greeted the team on the White House's South Lawn. "I think there was just a good vibe going on there." Obama said almost everyone was excited to have the Tar Heels stop by. The one exception, he said, was his personal aide Reggie Love, who won a title as a player for UNC's chief rival, Duke. Obama picked North Carolina to win the national championship this year. He thanked them "for salvaging my bracket and vindicating me before the entire nation." The president's other picks for the NCAA tournament's Final Four never made it that far.
MORE BASKETBALL: : Virginia Tech backup guard Hank Thorns, who averaged 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds, plans to transfer.
DELAWARE:: The school named Bernard Muir, 40, athletic director at Georgetown, director of athletics and recreation services.
The Golden State Warriors have let go executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin, nearly a year after the former star player apparently lost his authority to run the troubled franchise. Mullin will be replaced by Larry Riley, the longtime assistant to coach Don Nelson. Riley was announced as the Warriors' general manager Monday in a statement by team president Robert Rowell, whose rise in the Warriors' power structure mirrored Mullin's fall in recent years.
RAPTORS: : Jay Triano, a native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, signed a three-year contract to coach the team, dropping the interim tag after taking over the team during the season. Triano, 50, was promoted Dec. 3 after Sam Mitchell's dismissal. Toronto went 25-40 under Triano but finished strong, going 9-4 in its final 13 games.
KINGS: : Sacramento plans to interview Paul Westphal this week for its head coaching vacancy. Westphal is the Mavericks' executive vice president of basketball operations. His lengthy coaching resume includes a trip to the 1993 NBA finals during 3 1/2 seasons in charge of the Suns, followed by stints with the SuperSonics and Pepperdine. The Kings also plan to interview former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan this week before president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie leaves for a scouting trip to Spain.
76ERS: : Interim coach Tony DiLeo has withdrawn his name from consideration for the permanent coaching job. General manager Ed Stefanski says DiLeo decided Monday to return to his old job in the front office as a senior vice president and assistant general manager. DiLeo replaced Maurice Cheeks after Philadelphia stumbled to a 9-14 start; it went 32-27 under DiLeo and earned a playoff spot.
PACERS: : The agent for forward Danny Granger says he expects the All-Star forward to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Granger raised his scoring average from 19.6 points to 25.8.
Report: M. Ramirez urine test showed elevated testoterone
Manny Ramirez's positive urine test showed an elevated testosterone level, and a lab used a test to determine whether the hormone was naturally produced to build evidence against him, ESPN.com reported. Baseball asked the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal to perform a carbon isotope ratio test, which determines whether testosterone is natural or synthetic, the Web site reported. MLB then asked Ramirez to produce medical records, as required under the drug agreement. Ramirez's test had a testosterone-epitestosterone ratio between 4:1 and 10:1, ESPN.com reported. Typically, a person naturally produces the hormones at a ratio of 1:1; tests of 4:1 or greater are flagged. Ramirez's side was prepared to argue to an arbitrator that the synthetic testosterone was caused by the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder taking the steroids precursor DHEA, ESPN.com and the Union-Tribune in San Diego reported Saturday. DHEA is not banned by MLB.
CYCLING: : Alessandro Petacchi of Italy won his second straight stage in the Giro d'Italia in Valdobbiadene and took the overall lead from Mark Cavendish of Britain. Lance Armstrong, competing in his first Giro, finished in the main pack in 50th place, with the same time as Petacchi.
WNBA: : The Washington Mystics released guard Coco Miller and signed free-agent center Kelly Schumacher. Miller was a first-round draft pick in 2001 and has played her entire WNBA career with Washington, averaging 6.3 points and 2.4 rebounds. Schumacher has played for four teams, earning championships in 2007 and 2008.
TENNIS: : Second seed Serena Williams pulled out of the Madrid Open after aggravating an injury to her right knee during a first-round match. She declined to detail the extent of the problem, but said it would not keep her out of the French Open.
HORSE RACING: : Churchill Downs will ask permission to drop seven race days from the 2009 spring meet and also plans to reduce purses for six graded stakes races. Churchill will ask the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for approval to eliminate six Wednesdays and one Thursday from the schedule.