June 12, 2007


Long wait is finally over for Cavs fans

Cleveland hosting finals for first time


Associated Press/Mark Duncan
Workmen finish hanging a 70 foot high banner of Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the side of a parking garage across from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Monday.

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND — Almost 15 years before LeBron James was born a few exits down the Interstate, the Cleveland Cavaliers were still in their cradle.
Tonight, they’ll make more history together.
At home.
At last.
For the first time since its 1970 birth as an expansion franchise, Cleveland will host pro basketball’s climactic event, ending a 37-year wait for Cavs fans who sometimes wondered if the day would ever come.
Down 2-0 to the powerful San Antonio Spurs, the Cavs will look to bounce back in front of their adoring and raucous home crowd, which has helped carry them further in this postseason than they’ve ever been before.
“It’s going to be a great experience for all Cleveland fans, for Northeast Ohio, for the whole state of Ohio,” the 22-year-old James said proudly. “It’s going to be electrifying.”
It’s been a long road to the finals for the Cavaliers, whose team colors have undergone numerous changes over the years and whose fortunes changed dramatically when the ping pong balls bounced their way in the NBA draft lottery a few years back, giving them the chance to pick James, Akron’s favorite son — now Cleveland’s adopted King.
But all has not gone as planned in this series, dubbed by some as The LeBron James finals.
In the first two games in San Antonio, the Cavaliers looked like lost tourists while being roughed up by the Spurs, who with the exception of a fourth-quarter letdown on Sunday, have toyed with Cleveland.
“San Antonio,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said after a 103-92 loss in Game 2, “is a great team.”
Bouncing toward their fourth title since 1999, the Spurs have outplayed the Cavs in every facet of the game. They’ve been quicker, tougher, more relentless and much more composed than their Cleveland counterparts.
On Sunday, San Antonio’s Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 78 points, including 68 in the first half when the awesome threesome outscored the Cavs by six.
The Cavaliers made the score respectable, trimming a 29-point deficit to eight in the final minutes before the Spurs stopped giggling, made a few more clutch plays, and finally put them away.
Although it fell short, the fourth-quarter comeback may give the Cavs some confidence going into Game 3.
Duncan didn’t think it exposed any problems for the Spurs.
“Nothing went wrong,” the usually stoic center said when asked about San Antonio’s momentary loss of focus. “We won the game right? Isn’t that the point of the whole thing? They made some shots, the whistle was blown and we won the game.”
The Spurs are mindful Cleveland can make a greater comeback. They’ve seen it before.
In the 2005 finals, San Antonio destroyed Detroit in the first two games, winning by a combined 46 points, but when the series shifted to Auburn Hills, Mich., the Pistons won by 17 points in Game 3 and 31 in Game 4.
They remember more than the Alamo in San Antonio.
“We need to remember that and learn from our mistakes,” said Parker, who had 30 points in Game 2. “That’s enough to make us get ready.”
While the Spurs are concerned about finishing games, starting them has been Cleveland’s problem.
Despite having three days to prepare, the Cavs came out flatter than a tortilla for the second straight game. They couldn’t match the Spurs’ intensity, made mental errors and costly turnovers, mistakes the experienced Spurs pounced upon.
“We’ve got to play harder than we’re playing right now,” Brown said. “There’s nothing magical that’s going to help us. No magic play, no magic defense. We’ve got to bring the juice, and right now we’re not.”
Though new to the finals, the Cavaliers are in a familiar place: down 0-2 in a playoff series. They lost the first two games to Detroit in the conference finals before winning four in a row over the Pistons.
The difference this time, however, is that the Spurs are superior to the Pistons and while the Cavs could have easily won both games in Detroit — they lost by three each time — they had little chance in San Antonio.
The comforts of home will help, but nothing’s_guaranteed.
“We can not rely on because we’re going home, that our games are going to improve and our shots are going to fall,” center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. “Yeah, we’re going to have our crowd and the energy and stuff. But we have to make some adjustments. They’re just playing harder than us — simple as that.”
The Cavs have been a different team at home, where the baskets seem wider, the rims softer and the crowds have been crazed. Cleveland went 30-11 at “The Q” during the regular season and are 7-1 in the playoffs. Still, the Spurs are good enough to overcome any team and 20,000 towel-waving enemies.
Three teams have overcome an 0-2 deficit in the finals to win the title, including Miami last season. The Heat looked as bad as Cleveland did in Games 1 and 2 at Dallas before winning four straight, jumping on the shoulders of their star, James’ good buddy, Dwyane Wade.
As James showed against the Pistons, he’s capable of a similar one-man spectacle.
The Cavaliers barely have a pulse now, and it’s up to James to get them beating again.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” he said while walking to the team bus late Sunday night.
“It’s going to be tough, but we can still do it.”




Happy return for Manning

A return to familiar surroundings was beneficial to Eric Manning Monday.
The former assistant pro at Cortland Country Club, now in the same position at Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, fired rounds of 70 — including a hole-in-one on the 158-yard 13th hole with an 8-iron — and 66 over the Cortland CC course to win the Central New York PGA Open championship for the second year in a row and fourth time overall.
He won the same event on the same course last year, as well as at the former LaFayette Country Club in 2001 and 2002.
Manning was a stroke better than a trio of players who tied for second at 137, including Dennis Colligan from Cazenovia Golf Club, Kevin Savage from Kanon Valley Country Club and Thomas Stone from Silver Springs Golf Park.
Cortland’s Rob Phelps, representing Onondaga Golf and Country Club, tied for sixth at 139 (73-66), while among those tying for 10th at 140 were Walden Oaks CC head pro Marcus Bernardo (72-68) and Cortland CC head pro Tony Saraceno (69-71).
Cortland CC assistant pro Brian Malchak (70-71) and Tim Martins (71-70) from Elm Tree Golf Club tied for 13th at 141, while Cody Endress from Homer, playing unaffiliated, was 16th at 143 (71-72).
In addition, Randy Luberecki from Dryden Lake Golf Club tied for 37th at 152 (79-73), Tom Dexter from Cortland CC tied for 41st at 154 (81-73) and Groton’s Steve Volpicelli, representing Dick’s Sporting Goods, was 46th with a 157 (82-75). Also back in the pack were Cortland CC’s Frank Suits Jr., Mark Harrington and Frank Suits III with totals of 162, while Cortland’s Fred Saracene shot 163.
Manning, 42, will for the second year in a row compete in the PGA professional National Championship June 21-24 at Sunriver Resort in Oregon. He is among 312 club pros nation-wide to qualify for the event, along with Colligan, Stone and Mark Tucker, the head pro at Cazenovia Country Club.




King Sub moves up into 1st place

King Sub took over the top spot in the Cortland Fast Pitch Softball League Monday night with a 17-7 mercy rule romp over Amelia’s.
The winners are now 5-1 in league play and tied for first with The Tavern, with King Sub in front on winning percentage.
The Tavern is now 6-2 after a 7-1 win over Mr. B’s, while Amelia’s dropped to third at 4-2. Central City Bar & Grill beat Mr. B’s 13-9 in the night’s other contest.
King Sub 17, Amelia’s 7: Paul Sweger went 3-for-4 with a triple, double, five RBIs and a run scored for the winners, who scored at least once in each of their five at-bats. Dennis Hopkins went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs while winning pitcher Jeff Carr went 3-for-4 with a double, five RBIs and three runs. Sean Caughey went 3-for-3 with two runs for Amelia’s, while Shawn Collyer was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run.
The Tavern 7, Mr. B’s 1: Brian Taylor bashed a two-run home run in the third inning to give The Tavern all the runs it would need, and ended up going 2-for-4 on the night with the homer, three RBIs and two runs. Ryan Stevens went 2-for-3 with a run and winning Mike Holl 2-for-4 with a run for the winners. Holl pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits with eight strikeouts. Speedy Taylor went 2-for-2 and Shane Cameron 2-for-3 with an RBI for Mr. B’s.
Central City Bar 7 Grill 13, Mr. B’s 9: Greg Newkirk led the 132-hit central City B&G attack, going 3-for-3 with a double, four RBIs and a run. Dave Holland went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run, while Brian Hart went 2-for-3 with a homer, double, two RBIs and three runs. Going 2-for-4 were Mike Lowie (three runs) and Seth McMahon (RBI, run).
Lenny Hubbard went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and a run for Mr. B’s, while Travis Cruikshank went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs and Bill Francis 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs.