COLLEGES

The University of Maine women’s basketball program finished the 2020-21 school year with the highest grade point average among all women’s college basketball programs.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association released its GPA rankings on Tuesday and Maine finished with a 3.900 GPA. The rankings, in their 26th year, include all student-athletes on the rosters for the entire season.

Not only was that the highest GPA in NCAA Division I, but also among Division II and III schools, as well as NAIA schools and two-year colleges. Maine was ranked 17th in Division I last year.

“It’s a really impressive feat,” said Black Bears Coach Amy Vachon. “I just think it’s part of our culture. Academics is a big part of what we do here. We stress that. We’re very honest with our recruits and letting them know, if you come to Maine, academics are just as important, or more important, as what we do on the court.

“We compete in everything we do. We compete with each other. We want our players to be the best people they can be, the best students they can  be. They do a great job with that.”

Vachon said the Black Bears do not require regulated study hours for their players – “We put a lot of trust in our players,” she said. “Some kids just study better in their rooms than they do in study halls” – but they do require them to check in with their academic team leaders on a weekly basis. Each coach on the Maine staff oversees three to four players on an academic team.

“It really comes down to the young women,” said Vachon. “They work at it, they take it seriously.”

Maine finished 17-3 last year, losing 64-60 to Stony Brook in the America East championship game.

In NCAA Division III, Husson University, coached by Kissy Walker, was ranked 11th (3.709 GPA) while the University of Southern Maine was ranked 22nd (3.661).

BASEBALL

DOUBLE-A: The Portland Sea Dogs won their eighth straight, 9-3 over the Fightin Phils at Reading Pennsylvania.

The Sea Dogs hit three home runs in the first two innings. Triston Casas had a two-run shot in the first and Pedro Castellanos hit a three-run homer in the second. Joey Meneses also added a solo shot in the inning.

NECBL: The Sanford Mainers (8-16) took the lead in the bottom of the third inning on Mitchell Moralez’s three-run homer and pulled away to a 7-2 victory over the Upper Valley Nighthawks for a doubleheader split at Goodall Park in Sanford.

Jacob Edwards picked up the win going the first four innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out three and walking two.

Brett Callahan scored on Kevin Pitarra’s sacrifice fly to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth as Upper Valley (15-13) won the opener, 2-1.

Cam Ridley had a pair of singles for the Mainers.

FOOTBALL

NFL: Alex Gibbs, the innovative offensive line coach whose zone-blocking scheme helped lead the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl triumphs in the 1990s, has died at age 80, the team said.

The team said Gibbs died Monday from complications of a stroke with family by his side in his Phoenix home.

Gibbs served as the Broncos’ O-line coach from 1984-87 and 1995-2003. He also was an offensive line consultant for Denver in 2013.

His zone-blocking scheme relied on agile linemen moving together as one at the snap to create cut-back lanes for the running backs as opposed to the power scheme that relies on linemen to block the defender in front of them.

The scheme was key to the Broncos’ dominant ground game behind Hall of Famer Terrell Davis that powered Denver to championships in Super Bowls 32 and 33 against Green Bay and Atlanta.

OLYMPICS

TENNIS: Roger Federer will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics, writing on social media Tuesday that he “experienced a setback” with his knee during the grass-court season.

Federer had said before Wimbledon that he would make a decision about going to the Summer Games after the Grand Slam tournament ended.

The 39-year-old from Switzerland lost in the quarterfinals at the All England Club last week to Hubert Hurkacz.

Federer had two operations on his right knee in 2020 and went more than a full year between matches. He returned to Grand Slam action at the French Open and then pulled out of that tournament after three victories, saying he wanted to be rested and ready for the grass circuit — especially Wimbledon.

On Tuesday, he said in a post on Twitter that because of the setback, he has “accepted that I must withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games. I am greatly disappointed, as it has been an honor and highlight of my career each time I have represented Switzerland.”

BACH MISSPEAKS: IOC President Thomas Bach referred to his Japanese hosts as Chinese when he appeared in public on Tuesday for the first time since arriving in Tokyo last week.

Giving a pep talk at the headquarters of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, Bach’s opening remarks were, “You have managed to make Tokyo the best-ever prepared city for the Olympic Games. This is even more remarkable under the difficult circumstances we all have to face.”

Bach tripped over his words, referring to the “Chinese people” rather than “Japanese people.”

“Our common target is safe and secure games for everybody; for the athletes, for all the delegations, and most importantly also for the Chinese people — Japanese people,” Bach said, catching his mistake quickly.

FIRST LADY:  First lady Jill Biden will attend the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics in Tokyo, the White House announced, even as the city has entered a new state of emergency over a rise in coronavirus cases.

Biden will attend the July 23 opening ceremony on her first solo trip abroad as first lady. She is also expected to attend some sporting events, as well as hold official events in Alaska and Hawaii on the way to and from Japan.

GYMNASTICS: Olympic champion gymnast Oleg Verniaiev is set to miss the Tokyo Games because he has been banned for four years following a failed drug test.

The Ukrainian gymnast tested positive for the banned substance meldonium in August 2020 and was banned after a ruling by the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation, which hears disciplinary cases in the sport.

The ban is backdated to run from November 2020 and could also rule him out of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Verniaiev was also ordered to pay nearly $6,600 in costs, the GEF said in its statement.

Verniaiev denies wrongdoing and said he will appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

HORSE RACING

OBIT: John Rotz, a Hall of Fame jockey who won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes during his career, has died at 86.

He died at his farm in Warrensburg, Illinois, southwest of Champaign, on Monday, according to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which spoke to his family. No cause of death was given.

Rotz won 2,907 races during a 20-year career that began in 1953. He got his start in racing at Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois, where he worked as a groom, hot walker and exercise rider out of high school.

CYCLING

TOUR de FRANCE: Austrian rider Patrick Konrad won the Tour de France’s hilly 16th stage on an otherwise uneventful day as race leader Tadej Pogacar remained on course for his second overall victory.

The 29-year-old Konrad finished 42 seconds ahead of a group of five chasers – Sonny Colbrelli, Michael Matthews, Pierre Luc Perichon, Franck Bonnamour and Alex Aranburu Deba – on the second day of racing in the Pyrenees.

Pogacar, the defending champion, finished 13 minutes, 49 seconds after Konrad and maintained his general classification lead of more than five minutes over Rigoberto Uran and Jonas Vingegaard.

SOCCER

EURO 2020: UEFA asked an investigator to study violence by England fans at the European Championship final including at least hundreds who got into Wembley Stadium without tickets.

The English Football Association was separately charged with multiple offenses by fans before and during their team’s loss to Italy in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

The charges relate to booing Italy’s national anthem, a fan who stopped play by running on the pitch, throwing objects, and lighting fireworks.

While those offenses typically result in fines, more serious punishment such as full or partial stadium closures can follow the kind of violence seen on Sunday.

 


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