Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick Hits 1/13/12

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Orlando's Dwight Howard set an NBA record by attempting 39 free throws in last night's 117-109 win over the Golden State Warriors. The previous record of 34 was set nearly 50 years ago by Wilt Chamberlain. Howard, who is a 58% free throw shooter in his career, connected on 21 of the 39 attempts and finished with a season high 45 points. Howard also added 23 rebounds, the fourth time he's had at least 20 rebounds in a game this season. Howard currently leads the league with 15.2 rebounds per game.

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The Montreal Impact selected versatile Duke striker Andrew Wenger yesterday with the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. The Hermann Trophy winner as the top NCAA player was the ACC offensive player of the year this past season a year after winning the ACC defensive player of the year the season prior. Wenger finished the 2011 season with 17 goals and 8 assists. Akron forward Darren Mattocks was selected second by the Vancouver Whitecaps. UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe went third to New England, followed by UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva to Toronto FC and Maryland forward Casey Townsend to Chivas USA rounding out the top five. For complete draft results, click here.

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In preparations for World Cup Qualifiying this June, the U.S. has added a tuneup game against 6th ranked Brazil to their schedule tentatively set for the 30th or 31st of May. It's part of a 3-game trip to the U.S. for the Brazilians who will also take on Mexico on June 3rd and Argentina on June 9th. The Brazilians easily handled the U.S. the last time they met shortly after the 2010 World Cup. Neymar and Alexandre Pato each scored in the first half and the U.S. was outshot 20-7 in a 2-0 loss. The U.S. opens their 2012 campaign next Saturday against Venezuela and then travel to Panama four days later. The U.S. is also set to travel overseas to take on 9th ranked Italy on February 29th.

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FC Dallas defender George John is headed on loan to England to play for West Ham. Currently in second place behind Southampton in the English League Championship (one below the Premier League) the Hammers are looking to get back to the Premiership after being relegated at the end of last season. The 6'3" John, 24, started 31 games for FC Dallas last year scoring a career high 3 goals. Primarily a center back, John was recently invited to camp with the U.S. National Team for the upcoming friendlies against Venezuela and Panama, but he left to pursue the transfer opportunity. West Ham is on the road against Portsmouth on Saturday.
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Meanwhile, Leeds United have agreed to a deal to sign US National Team and former Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers, subject to his being granted a work permit. The versatile Rogers, who can play in the midfield or up front, has spent the last 5 seasons with the Columbus Crew. He scored 2 goals and had a career high 7 assists last season. Rogers also scored for the U.S. against Mexico in August. Leeds are currently eighth in the Championship, one point off the playoffs and seven points away from an automatic promotion to the Premier League.

A couple more free agents off the market this week as Cincinnati signed former Phillies closer Ryan Madson and Tampa Bay added a left handed bat in Luke Scott.
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The 33 year old Scott, coming off a torn labrum in his shoulder that limited him to just 64 games last season, averaged 25 home runs a year with the Orioles from 2008-2010. He had his best statistical season in 2010 when he .284 with 27 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Scott can play either corner outfield position as well as first base, but as he continues to recover from his surgery, he seems best suited for a DH role, at least in the early part of the season. Scott's signing likely means that Johnny Damon won't be back for a 2nd season with the Rays.
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Meanwhile the Cincinnati Reds signed coveted closer Ryan Madson to a one year deal worth $8.5M. The 31 year old Madson replaced Brad Lidge as the Phillies closer last season and converted 32 of 34 save opportunities while positing a 2.37 ERA. Madson will replace Francisco Cordero, still a free agent, in Cincinnati. Cordero, the Reds closer since the start of the 2008 season, saved 37 games last year.

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