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In Brief


UNLV to face Northern Iowa
in Challenge Series matchup

UNLV will host Northern Iowa on Dec. 19 in the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Challenge Series, the conferences jointly announced Monday.

UNLV and Northern Iowa have met only once previously, with the Panthers edging the Rebels 69-66 in a 2010 NCAA Tournament first-round game in Oklahoma City.

The Rebels are 2-1 in the Challenge Series, having beaten Southern Illinois 78-69 at the Thomas & Mack Center in 2009, winning at Illinois State 82-51 in 2010 and losing at Wichita State 89-70 last season.

Also: Seth Greenberg was fired as the men’s basketball coach at Virginia Tech, a decision athletic director Jim Weaver said he and basketball administrator Tom Gabbard arrived at last week as they assessed the state of the program.

The discussion came after a second assistant coach in two weeks, and sixth in four years, announced he was leaving Greenberg’s staff, this time to take an assistant’s job at ACC rival Clemson. Associate head coach James Johnson, a five-year member of Greenberg’s staff, was offered a salary matching the one he was to receive at Clemson, but still declined.

Weaver, who has been at Virginia Tech since 1997, was formerly the AD at UNLV.

Moving on from the Bobby Petrino scandal, Arkansas announced that popular former assistant John L. Smith will return as coach of the Razorbacks next season.

Smith, who left the Razorbacks after last season to become the coach at Weber State, signed a 10-month, $850,000 contract and will be eligible for other incentives.

UNLV relief pitcher Zack Hartman was named Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Week after recording a win and two saves in the Rebels’ weekend sweep of Air Force at Wilson Stadium.

Hartman, a right-hander who prepped at Arbor View High School, also pitched in relief in a nonconference loss at UC Riverside on Wednesday. For the week, he allowed just one hit and no walks in four innings, while striking out seven.


Wranglers to open ECHL West
finals against Alaska at home

The Wranglers will host the first two games of the best-of-7 ECHL Western Conference finals against the defending Kelly Cup champion Alaska Aces on Thursday and Friday. Games at Orleans Arena will be at 7:05 p.m. each day.

Alaska, the league’s top playoff seed, will host Games 3 and 4 at 8:15 p.m. Sunday and May 1 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. If necessary, the Aces also will host Games 5 and 6 on May 2 and 4.

Las Vegas would host Game 7, if necessary, on May 9.

The Wranglers eliminated Idaho in five games in the conference semifinals, and two-time ECHL champion Alaska ousted Stockton in five games.

Las Vegas went 5-3-1 against the Aces during the regular season, including a 3-1-0 mark at home. Three of the nine meetings went into overtime.


Saints deny ESPN report GM
had audio of opposing coaches

The New Orleans Saints denied an anonymously sourced ESPN report that alleges general manager Mickey Loomis’ booth in the Superdome was wired so he could listen to opposing coaches’ radio communications.

ESPN could not determine if the system was ever used. The report on “Outside the Lines” said Loomis would have been able to eavesdrop on opponents from 2002 to 2004. The report also said the system was disabled in 2005, when the Superdome was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Loomis explained in an email: “I have a monitor in front of me in my booth that provides the league-issued stats for the game. I have a small TV with the network broadcast, and I have an earpiece to listen to the WWL-AM radio game broadcast.”

Also: Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons.

Dawkins posted the news on his Twitter account, thanking the teams he played for, his coaches and teammates, and fans. Dawkins spent his first 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and his last three with the Denver Broncos.

He suffered a serious neck injury in December that sidelined him for the stretch run and the Broncos’ two playoff games.

Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, was retired after injuring an ankle following a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Owner Rick Porter said on his Fox Hill Farm website that the injury was detected in the champion filly’s right front ankle Sunday.

Jockey John Velazquez, 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler were elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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