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ALABAMA NOTEBOOK: Tide breaks losing streak, back in win column

Alabama women s basketball is back in the win column. UA broke its five-game losing streak by piecing together one of its best all-around performances of the season against Tennessee, defeating the Lady Vols for the second-straight time, and the fourth time in program history. Ball security was a huge reason Alabama was successful. Crimson Tide coach Kristy Curry has stressed that limiting turnovers to under 13 per game is crucial in conference play. On Thursday, she was spot-on. Alabama turned the ball over just 10 times against Tennessee, and no player had more than two turnovers for the game. Shelton State transfer Coco Knight had her best game at Alabama, while leading the way to the upset win. The junior guard used 25 minutes to score 16 points, grab eight rebounds and dish three assists. Knight s standout performance set career-highs in minutes, points, assists and rebounds.

The 5-foot-7 Knight trailed only juniors Hannah Cook and Ashley Williams in rebounds against the Lady Vols, and despite her small stature she was able to generate second-chance points by grabbing four rebounds on the offensive end.

The coaches kept telling us to go to the (glass), and that s what I did, Alabama guard Knight said. As a team we had 22 (offensive rebounds), and I think that s the highest we ve had in a while. Teams that finish in the top 10 of the Southeastern Conference standings will get a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament that begins March, 1. Alabama starts the final week of the regular season ranked eleventh in the conference with three games left to play.

Drew Hill

New season marks new careers

The start of the Greg Goff era for the University of Alabama baseball team (2-1) was also the start of several new players careers. Nine players made their UA debut over the weekend, including three of the five relievers used in Alabama s series win over Presbyterian. Freshman Sonny Potter pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday and redshirt freshman Davis Vainer needed just seven pitches to work through the ninth inning on Sunday. Junior college transfer Garrett Suchey pitched three innings on Sunday, giving up two runs.

There will likely be more newcomers on against Southern Miss. The game, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been moved to 6 p.m. on Wednesday due to threat of rain.

I definitely think you ll see some guys throw that haven t thrown yet, head coach Greg Goff said. We re still trying to decide who we re going to lock in and throw and our bullpen. When you have a bunch of new guys, in a first year, I ve never seen these guys play a game. For me, we ll kind of get our feet wet as we go. Sophomore righty Brock Love is expected to pitch at some point Wednesday, but some freshmen are still awaiting their turn. Freshman lefthander Garret Rukes hasn t pitched yet, nor has righty Deacon Medders.

Ben Jones

Transfer sees more playing time

In late January, there was reason to wonder if Ar’Mond Davis was going to have a role for the University of Alabama men’s basketball this season. Davis, a junior college transfer from Tacoma, Washington about as far as one can get from Tuscaloosa and still remain on the continental United States was far down the Alabama bench. He played just two two minutes against Georgia and didn’t play at all in a home win against Mississippi State. Then improvement met opportunity. Davis started to see a slight increase in playing time. Then, with the Crimson Tide in foul trouble and fighting to hang on in a four-overtime win at South Carolina, Davis came off the bench to play 38 minutes and score a career-high 19 points. Last Saturday, he added a 16-point performance against LSU.

Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson said it was part of a season-long maturation for Davis that was not unusual for a junior college transfer.

“I think sometimes when a junior college kid enrolls at a Division I school, especially in a Power Five conference, the immediate thinking is that he really is a junior,” Johnson said after the Crimson Tide victory over LSU. “I disagree with that.

“With some juco kids, it takes a while to understand the entire process — school life at a Power Five (college), the way we travel, the way we practice. Especially when you’re playing for me, that’s not an easy thing to do.

“So there were a lot of growing pains for a long time. But I would say that about three weeks ago, we started to see some progress in the way he practiced, in the maturity level, and we started to get a little more confidence to play him a little more in games.”

Johnson said he was still advising Davis on various matters, on the court and on social media as well.

“In the last game (at Missouri), he didn’t feel well. So he tweeted about it. I told him that probably wasn’t a good thing to tweet about because you don’t to send people thinking that you’re making excuses about going 0-for-4 from the 3-point line.

“He’s a a kid I get after every day (at practice.) He and A.J. (Avery Johnson, Jr.) have some tough skin, because they get it a lot. But he’s responded.”

Cecil Hurt

Gymnastics improves score before postseason

It s time to shake things up in the college gymnastics world. Since most teams have now completed in at least six meets, rankings are determined by regional qualifying score (RQS). This takes a team s top six scores (three of which have to be from away meets), drops the highest and then averages out the remaining five. The University of Alabama is No. 4 with a 197.085 RQS. Oklahoma (197.89), LSU (197.655) and Florida (197.435) go down in order for the top three. Those are the only four programs in the nation with a 197-plus RQS.

Without the RQS, the Crimson Tide would have remained No. 6 with an overall average of 196.803. Scores dropped this week for Alabama included the Arkansas meet (195.325), the Elevate the Stage meet (195.85) and the Florida meet (197.825). All of this is meant to give a more consistent representation of each team s abilities before postseason.

Close call

On Monday, Alabama coach Dana Duckworth said Aja Sims is fine after being pulled from the lineup last Friday. While warming up, Sims fell off the uneven bars, took a hit to the head and underwent concussion protocol. The senior is tied for 10th on the floor exercise with a 9.895 RQS. She also has a season-high 9.975 and is the Crimson Tide s anchor performer.

Guest appearances

Olympic all-around champion Nastia Liukin will be at Coleman Coliseum on Friday for Alabama s meet against No. 12 Boise State. She was a member of the 2008 U.S. women s gymnastics team that took home the team silver from Bejing, China.

Terrin Waack

Alabama’s Coco Knight (13) moves toward the goal during the first half of a game against Tennessee at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa on Thursday. [Staff Photo/Erin Nelson]

At airport security, signs point to confusion about driver’s licenses

In my recent travels through Las Vegas and Long Beach airports, I have seen a Transportation Security Administration[1] notification that prompts my question. It mentions that in 2018, driver s licenses and state identification cards must comply with federal government standards in order to be used to board an airplane. I am curious if I will have problems for future flights. I recently received my renewed California driver s license. Paul Perez

Whittier

Answer: The signs Perez writes about have to do with Real ID, an effort to make driver s licenses comply with federal standards. Signs that went up toward the end of 2016, when Obama was still president, said, Starting Jan. 22, 2018, you will need an alternate ID to fly if you have a driver s license or ID issued by any of the following states: Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.

In small print below, the signs explain that the Real ID act establishes the minimum security standards for state-issued driver s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like the TSA, from accepting licenses and identification cards for certain official purposes, including boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft from states that do not meet these standards. Another sign directs you to TSA s website[2] for more information. You can find that information at www.lat.ms/tsandrealid. How did we get to this point and what does it mean to you? It has been a long and winding road and could change again with the new administration.

The 9/11 Commission, convened after the attacks, addressed perceived weaknesses in identification. Congress in 2005 OK d a law that toughened requirements for driver s licenses. Simple math tells you it has been easier to make the law than to put it in place. Slow forward to 2016 when a series of deadlines (2016, 2018 and 2020) were set up for driver s license compliance.

To see which states are OK, check out the Department of Homeland Security map[3] at www.lat.ms/dhscompliancemap, a sort of naughty/nice list that shows which states licenses are OK (23 states and the District of Columbia) and which are not. But click on Missouri, for instance, and it gives you a big red bar that says Not compliant. Then it explains that as of January 2016 (the first Real ID deadline), Missouri licenses could be used for identification to get on a plane but not for entrance to nuclear power plants and federal facilities. By Jan. 22, 2018 (the second deadline), Missouri license holders will need an alternative identification to fly in the U.S. and access federal facilities, the site says.

Which brings us to California, which is painted yellow on the site and has a lot of company, including Oregon, Idaho and Texas. When you click on California, it tells you that our state has an extension and that Californians can continue to use your license to fly in the U.S. and access federal facilities and nuclear power plants. But the Oct. 1, 2020, (third) deadline? Unclear at this point whether California licenses will be OK.

I asked the California Department of Motor Vehicles for an update on where we are. Here is the official statement that was sent:

The DMV strongly supports the goal of ensuring there is one license, one record and one identity for each Californian. We will continue to implement practices to comply with the intent of the law while ensuring privacy protections and minimizing impacts to the over 30 million Californians who already have a driver license or identification card. Uh huh. That s helpful. On the other hand, given some of the uncertainty about implementation under a new set of administrators, the state can t say for sure because it doesn t know what s going to happen. What is certain: Californians are fine for now. We may be fine by the 2020 deadline . We don t know yet and probably won’t be for a while.

I believe in built-in redundancies, as anyone knows who has asked me for a pen and is offered one of a dozen from my purse. I now carry my Global Entry card when I travel. It is among the acceptable forms of ID for airport checkpoints.(You can see the list at www.lat.ms/acceptableid.) And by 2020, it just may be the key to boarding a plane. Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel@latimes.com. We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel

References

  1. ^ Transportation Security Administration (www.latimes.com)
  2. ^ TSA s website (lat.ms)
  3. ^ Department of Homeland Security map (www.lat.ms)

Rothstein Files: Caleb Swanigan’s season for the ages

1. Caleb Swanigan is having a season for the ages

Take the videos and pictures of this kid and put them away; we may never see another big man have a season of this type of production level in a very long time.

Purdue s broad-shouldered sophomore power forward has tallied double-doubles in 24 of 27 games this season and has had three games with 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds.

Thanks to a refined diet along with a relentless approach, Swanigan has become far and away the best player in the Big Ten this season and will lead the Boilermakers to what should be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

He s averaging 18.9 points and 13.0 rebounds while shooting a blistering 48.3 percent from long distance. By comparison, Swanigan averaged 10.2 points and 8.3 rebounds last season as a freshman while only shooting 29.2 percent from three-point range.

This is a bona fide first-team All-American and a legitimate contender for the Wooden Award.

Purdue is 22-5 overall heading into Tuesday s games at Penn State.

2. Tyler Dorsey is the key for Oregon s long-term potential

The Ducks were able to beat Colorado on Saturday by 34 in Eugene with Dorsey only tallying a modest eight points, but to play deep into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, Oregon will need Dorsey to score the ball at an elite level.

Dana Altman s squad is 11-1 in games this season where Dorsey scored 16 or more points, and his ability to make outside shots opens up the floor for everyone and gives Oregon a legitimate secondary option behind Dillon Brooks.

Dorsey has attempted five or more three-point shots in seven consecutive games and is 17-43 from long distance during that span.

It s going to take that type of consistency (39.5 percent) for the Ducks to get back in the same position they were a year ago when they fell to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight after winning both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles.

3. Duke can further cement its status this week

The Blue Devils have won seven games in a row and are trending towards potentially being one of the favorites entering the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Mike Krzyzewski s team will next play back-to-back road games at Syracuse and Miami two teams that are currently projected to be in the field of 68 and two more victories in those games will only continue to enhance the notion that this squad is capable of being the unit that many thought it would be prior to the start of the season.

Syracuse and Miami aren t world beaters, or even potential second-weekend teams in the NCAA Tournament, but if Duke were to beat both of those teams this week it would give the Blue Devils five consecutive road victories. That s awfully impressive considering how good the ACC is this season.

Duke is currently 22-5 overall and 10-4 in conference play a game behind North Carolina.

This and That:

Here s an amazing stat on UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball: Prior to Saturday night s win over USC, the 6-6 point guard only attempted four mid-range shots on the entire season. This kid is either scoring the ball in the paint or shooting it from three-point range. That s a sign of somebody knowing what he s good at and also being good at what he knows. It s hard to argue with the results.

You have to wonder if John Calipari is going to find more minutes for Mychal Mulder after his performance on Saturday at Georgia. The 6-6 wing had nine points in 14 minutes and gave Kentucky another shooter that could space the floor. The Wildcats need makers, and Mulder is a maker despite his defensive liabilities.

Troy Caupain is taking things to another level with his ball security. Cincinnati s senior point guard has a combined 26 assists to just two turnovers in his last five games.

A word to the wise put Arizona s Chance Comanche on your early breakout list for next season. The 6-11 big man will get a major increase in minutes in 17-18 if Lauri Markkanen goes to the NBA as expected and recent results show he ll be more than up to the task. Comanche tallied 13 points and seven rebounds in Saturday s win at Washington as he stepped in for Dusan Ristic, who missed the game with injury.

Pitt the 13th-place team in the ACC has beaten both Syracuse and Florida State in the last two weeks. This is the best league ever in the history of college basketball from top to bottom, and frankly, it s not that close.

Will Wade now has an overall record of 47-16 as VCU s head coach. The 34-year old has kept the Rams program at an elite level despite a slew of massive personnel departures when he got the job in 2015.

Florida sophomore Kevarrius Hayes now becomes the X-Factor for the Gators following John Egbunu s season-ending ACL tear. How did the 6-9 big man do in his first start against Mississippi State? Nine points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks in 25 minutes of work. This is a major name to monitor moving forward into March.

Notre Dame freshman T.J. Gibbs has given Mike Brey quality mileage as a freshman. The New Jersey native hasn t been a huge offensive contributor, but can affect the game in other ways. The 6-3 guard has a combined five steals in his last two games and should be another great program guy in South Bend. He is the brother of former Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs and former Seton Hall and UConn guard Sterling Gibbs.

La Salle is the type of team that could steal a bid at the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Pittsburgh because of its overall offensive prowess. Need a scouting report on the Explorers? Check them out Tuesday night against Rhode Island. Tip off is at 6 ET on CBS Sports Network.

Harvard is now starting four freshmen Seth Towns, Justin Bassey, Bryce Aiken, and Chris Lewis alongside Siyani Chambers. Tommy Amaker s squad is 16-7 overall and in second place in the Ivy League behind Princeton.

Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast[1] via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.

Rothstein Files: Caleb Swanigan's Season For The Ages

References

  1. ^ College Hoops Today Podcast (itunes.apple.com)
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