UCLA’s swoon results in a No. 2 seed in West

first_imgTwenty-six years later, that same player called Weber State athletic director Jerry Graybeal and recommended Randy Rahe for the Wildcats’ vacant men’s basketball coaching position. That player, now in his fourth season as UCLA’s coach, is Ben Howland, who remains very much in touch with his Weber State roots. So when the NCAA Tournament selection committee matched No. 2 seed UCLA and No. 15 Weber State in first round of the West regional Thursday in Sacramento (tipoff is tentatively scheduled for 4:25 p.m.), Howland admitted seeing the irony of the matchup, even if he didn’t see any humor in it. “I’m happy for (Rahe), and in some way, doing the right thing may end up biting me from behind here,” said Howland, who graduated from the Ogden, Utah, school in 1979. “I hope not. I’ve known Randy for probably 15 years. He’s very good.” The Bruins (26-5) lost the top seed in the West with its first-round loss to California in the Pacific-10 Conference Tournament. Instead, Kansas is the West’s top seed. But UCLA faces several potentially juicy meetings along the road to Atlanta, site of the Final Four. UCLA opens against Howland’s alma mater, and if it wins would play the winner of No. 7 seed Indiana vs. No. 10 seed Gonzaga. Not only did Howland begin his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Gonzaga, but the Bruins rallied from 17points down to beat the Bulldogs in the regional semifinals last March. And there is also a possible Sweet 16 meeting in San Jose with Howland’s other favorite team, No. 3 seed Pittsburgh, where he coached before taking over at UCLA. “I’m not surprised by it. I don’t chuckle, but I’m not surprised by it,” Howland said. “CBS is paying a lot of money to telecast the NCAA Tournament, about $700 to $800 million a year over the lifetime of the deal … so, of course, if good TV is available, it’s going to be more commanding to viewership.” More pressing than the connect-the-dots lineage of Howland’s basketball career is the mindset of his Bruins, whose confidence remains shaken after dropping their past two games to non-NCAA Tournament participants Washington and Cal. “I would say 90 percent (is the confidence level),” Bruins sophomore Alfred Aboya said. “We need just a couple more days to boost it to 100 percent.” Aboya said UCLA’s confidence was “really low” after the Pac-10 tournament loss, and Howland began to rebuild it during Saturday’s practice. Arron Afflalo, UCLA’s All-American guard, said Howland altered his practice setup of starters against reserves. Afflalo and point guard Darren Collison were on one side, and power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and wing Josh Shipp on the other. Getting a win in the tournament will build confidence, but the Bruins face a Weber State team that has improved dramatically from the beginning of the season and a program known for pulling first-round upsets. The Wildcats (20-11), who won the Big Sky Tournament title with 10 new players, are well-versed in NCAA upset lore. As a 14th seed, they defeated North Carolina in 1999 and Michigan State in 1995. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img LOS ANGELES – Back in the late 1970s, when Kim Zahnow was a Weber State cheerleader, a basketball player fancied her, and eventually the two were married. Online Extra: College Basketball Brackets | Printable Brackets last_img read more

Sheik’s mourners vow revenge

first_img“We will take our revenge,” the mourners chanted. “We will continue the march of Abu Risha.” The sheik was buried one year to the day after he organized Sunni Arab clans into an alliance to drive al-Qaida in Iraq from sanctuaries in Anbar province where the terror movement had flourished since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the second-highest ranking U.S. officer in Iraq, and several high-ranking government officials attended the funeral, including Iraq’s interior and defense ministers and National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie. “We condemn the killing of Abu Risha, but this will not deter us from helping the people of Anbar – we will support them more than before,” al-Rubaie declared. “It is a national disaster and a great loss for the Iraqi people – Abu Risha was the only person to confront al-Qaida in Anbar.” Iraqi officials said the roadside bomb was just outside Abu Risha’s walled compound in view of a guard shack and an Iraqi police checkpoint. That raised suspicion that the killing may have been an inside job, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information is sensitive. Sheik Jubeir Rashid, a senior member of Abu Risha’s movement, said police were questioning security guards and other staff but no arrests had been announced. During open-air Friday prayers in the streets of Baghdad’s Shiite slum Sadr City, a stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Imam Muhannad al- Gharawi blamed the assassination on the government’s inability to secure Iraq. “The Iraqi people have lost trust with this government and killings are still going on – the latest is the assassination of the Anbar Awakening Council leader,” he told thousands of worshippers. “Everyone is threatened with death in this country as long as the American Black House is still giving the orders.” Abu Risha’s assassination cast a cloud over Bush’s claims of progress in Iraq, especially in Anbar, which had been the center of the Sunni insurgency until the dramatic turnaround by the local sheiks. Bush met with Abu Risha during a visit to Anbar on Sept. 3. In a televised address Thursday, Bush ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq but rejected calls to end the war. More than 130,000 U.S. troops will remain after the withdrawals are completed in July. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday raised the possibility of cutting U.S. troop levels to 100,000 or so by the end of 2008, if conditions on the ground improve enough. “It was encouraging to see the president’s comments to Americans to reinforce support for us,” said Lt. Col. Mike Donnelly, 42, of Honolulu, based at Tikrit with the 25th Infantry Division. “It was encouraging to hear what he had to say because it gives validation to what we’re doing.” Capt. Bryan Greening, 25, of El Paso, Texas, said he found no surprises in Bush’s speech. “I think the drawdown is a good idea,” said Greening, assigned to Tikrit with the 1st Cavalry Division. “The surge has done whatever it can and now it’s time to allow soldiers to go home and get some rest.” In violence Friday, a suicide truck bomb hit a police checkpoint near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, killing four policemen, a Beiji police officer said. South of Baghdad, gunmen killed three farmers who were taking their turn guarding a village, police said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! An al-Qaida front in Iraq claimed responsibility for the blast that killed Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, 37, and three companions. A statement posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq called Abu Risha “one of the dogs of Bush” and described Thursday’s killing as a “heroic operation that took over a month to prepare.” The statement could not be independently verified, but it appeared on Web sites commonly used by the insurgents. Al-Qaida earlier killed four of Abu Risha’s brothers and six other relatives for working with the U.S. military. In Diyala province, meanwhile, a bomb exploded near a U.S. military vehicle on Friday, killing four American soldiers, the U.S. command said. They were the first American deaths reported in Iraq since Monday. Many al-Qaida fighters were believed to have shifted to Diyala after Abu Risha’s tribal fighters helped drive them out of their sanctuaries in Anbar province. Scores of Iraqi police and U.S. military vehicles lined the route to protect the funeral procession as it followed the black SUV carrying the Iraqi-flag-draped coffin of Abu Risha to the family cemetery just west of Ramadi, Anbar’s capital. IRAQ: Al-Qaida group claims responsibility for Sunni’s death. Bomb kills four Americans. By David Rising THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BAGHDAD – Some 1,500 mourners called for revenge Friday as they buried the leader of the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida, who was assassinated by a bomb after meeting with President Bush earlier this month. last_img read more

Board limits meeting length

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Now meetings of the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District will end promptly at 10 p.m. Melissa Harnett, board president, broke the news like a disclaimer at the start of Thursday’s night’s meeting. She explained, to what can be a raucous bunch of regulars, that it’s too difficult to think clearly past that time after working all day. So whatever business isn’t finished during the regularly scheduled meetings will be continued to another day. It was 10:04 p.m. when their meeting adjourned under this new rule. And it was met with a round of applause. “We traditionally go past the midnight hour, and it’s been a problem for a while,” Harnett said. “We want to hear from everyone, but everyone starts to get loopy, and it becomes a free-for-all.” With one quick glance at an agenda, school board members can predict whether meetings will run into overtime. Boundary changes, diversity issues and athletic teams are among the hot topics that drive residents to attend these meetings, and many board members know in advance to brace for late nights. ACTON – They say meetings can be brutal. Those who serve on school boards know that all too well, especially when the clock strikes midnight and there’s no end in sight to the agenda or the people who want to be heard. Some willingly accept these late nights as part of the job. And some audience members – the few who regularly attend – appear to truly enjoy discussing every detail of every agenda item down to microscopic proportions. But after what has seemed like a tradition for meetings to stretch into the wee hours, one bleary-eyed school board has finally had enough. But sometimes, it’s a mundane issue – such as the height of basketball hoops on the school playground – that can fill a room. Joan MacGregor recalled a late night meeting of the Sulphur Springs School District board when the room was packed with parents, and the discussion was all about the net. She’s now on the board of trustees for College of the Canyons. “I was so discouraged because the meeting before that, we discussed curriculum,” she said. “But everyone came out for the height of basketball hoops on the playground.” Late-nighters were routine a few years ago for the William S. Hart Union High School District’s school board. Although they still happen from time to time, today the meetings end by 10:30 p.m. Back then, though, meetings regularly adjourned around 1 a.m., leaving board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine struggling to catch some sleep before her alarm clock sounded at 4 a.m. for work. On those nights, she sometimes wondered whether she should even bother with sleep. “The bottom line is board members are politicians, and some of them have a lot of hot air and love to hear themselves talk,” she said. Mercado-Fortine said most of the board members have full-time jobs and that on meeting nights, some are putting in 18-hour days. Working that long doesn’t allow for effective decision-making, she said. Overall, board members said there are ways to prevent long meetings, from having a president who stays on topic to limiting the number of items to discuss and closely guarding the three-minute rule for public comment. Still, some things are out of their control. Earthquake aftershocks. Power outages. Celebrities and TV news crews arriving unannounced. The Newhall School District has a 9:30 p.m. rule at board meetings. At that time, the president decides what to finish and what to table to the next meeting, so the night doesn’t drag into day. “We don’t want it to go past 10:30 p.m., because everyone is tired from work,” Shapiro said. News about Acton’s new 10 p.m. rule was a hit with Lesa Lotito. The 43-year-old is a regular at the school board meetings and has grown used to the late nights they involve. “I’ve been here at many late night meetings,” she said. “And that’s how it’s always been.” Sue Doyle, (661) 257-5254 sue.doyle@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more