For some NBA stars, no time to chill this summer

U.S. team convenes soon after pros finish season

Notebook

Olympics

February 22, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Down time could be hard to come by for some NBA players this summer.

The league finishes playing the third week in June at the conclusion of the NBA Finals, and on July 26 members of the Olympic squad begin practice at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

After knocking the rust off, the team will spend two weeks on a barnstorming tour of Europe before settling in Athens, Greece, to begin play Aug. 15 against Puerto Rico. Other preliminary opponents are Greece, Australia, Lithuania and Angola.

Nine of the team members have been selected: Ray Allen, Mike Bibby, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal. The remaining three members will be chosen by USA Basketball.

Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown will lead the team, assisted by San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Clemson University coach Oliver Purnell and University of North Carolina coach Roy Williams.

Gymnastics

A twin helping of Hamm will lead the U.S. men's squad next weekend at the 2004 Visa American Cup at Madison Square Garden.

Paul Hamm, who won the nation's first all-around gold medal at the 2003 Gymnastics World Championships in August, and his twin, Morgan Hamm, a 2003 World silver medalist, are half of the team that will face an international squad in the first major event of the Olympic year. Jason Gatson and Blaine Wilson, both 2003 World silver medallists, complete the squad.

On the women's side, the team slots will be filled by Pan American Games gold medalist Courtney McCool; Chellsie Memmel, a member of the gold medal Worlds team; world championship all-around silver medalist Carly Patterson; and Terin Humphrey, the first alternate who replaces Tasha Schwikert, who injured her knee on Feb. 7.

The team will have a final run-through Tuesday at the Women's National Team Training Camp.

U.S. athletes have a hot hand going into the event. In addition to the World gold medal for Paul Hamm and the team silver, the makeshift women's squad, patched together after injuries felled the starters, stunned the competition by winning its first-ever team gold.

The international men's squad consists of Benoit Caranobe of France, Marian Dragulescu of Romania and Ryota Suzuki of Japan. Two-time American Cup champion Eric Lopez of Cuba dropped out last week for unknown reasons and has yet to be replaced.

World championships veterans Irina Gomez of Spain, Monette Russo of Australia, Kylie Stone of Canada and Irina Yarotskaya of Ukraine are the women's team.

The American Cup will be broadcast live on NBC Sports at 4 p.m. on Feb. 29.

Tennis

Zina Garrison, U.S. Federation Cup captain, and Patrick McEnroe, U.S. Davis Cup captain, have been named as the women's and men's coaches for the Olympic tennis team.

Garrison was a member of the 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympic teams, winning a gold medal with Baltimore's Pam Shriver in women's doubles in 1988 and a bronze medal in women's singles. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, she was the assistant women's coach under Billie Jean King.

McEnroe is new to the Olympics, but he has been Davis Cup captain for three years. He played for the United States in Davis Cup in 1993, 1994 and 1996 and won one ATP singles title.

The U.S. team will consist of up to six men and six women, with a maximum of four men and four women competing in the singles competition; a maximum of two men's and two women's teams will compete in doubles. Players will be selected by June 28.

Dan James, head coach of the U.S. National Wheelchair Team, has been named coach for the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Team.

The tennis competition will be held Aug. 15-22 at the Athens Olympic Tennis Center. The 2004 Paralympic competition is scheduled for Sept. 19-26 at the same venue.

Banned substances

Kevin Toth, the U.S. shot put champion, faces a two-year suspension after testing positive for the steroid THG and the stimulant modafinil at the 2003 national championships, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced.

Toth joins Regina Jacobs, John McEwen and Melissa Price on the doping blacklist. The cases of all four track and field athletes will be decided this spring.

After the announcement, Toth's agent said his client was retiring from track and field, but would continue his appeal of the drug test.

Toth raised eyebrows in April with a throw of 74 feet, 4 1/2 inches at the Kansas Relays - the best showing in the world in more than a dozen years.

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