Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Thursday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.
Let’s get to it.
For those of you who emailed to say I was unfair to the schools involved in the “Varsity Blues” scandal, you should read what Bill Plaschke has to say:
“After three years, it is a promise broken. With two scandals that drew FBI investigations having occurred under Lynn Swann’s careless and chaotic watch, the Trojans heart has been damaged, its soul tainted, and it’s time for a change.
“In the wake of news that his program endorsed the admittance of fake athletes, it’s time for USC to retire Lynn Swann and find a real athletic director.
“Swann needs to go, now, for the sake of a world-class university with an otherwise sterling academic reputation that has been soiled by an athletic director who behaves like a dummy.
“Athletics used to be one of the school’s major selling points. It’s now an embarrassment.
“The national success of Trojans teams used to attract the smartest of kids longing to study at the coolest of places. Now, surely, the thought of going to a school where admission could be gained with a fraud photo and a fat check makes a National Merit Semifinalist think twice.
“…This week, everything became exponentially uglier with news that four USC athletic employees — including the No. 3 person in the department —allegedly accepted nearly $2 million in bribes to get students into school.
“This is not a whisper. This is a shout. This is a cry for help that should be heard to the heights of USC’s sagging ivory tower.
“Something is terribly wrong here, and that something is Lynn Swann.
“There have been two announced FBI probes into college sports in recent months. Only one school was cited in both of them. USC.
“In the past 18 months, of five USC current or former athletic department employees who have been arrested by the FBI, three of them worked under Swann.”
Meanwhile, J. Brady McCollough takes a closer look at Donna Heinel, who emerged as the only senior athletic department administrator indicted in the $25-million racketeering conspiracy announced Tuesday in U.S. district court in Boston.
USC 78, Arizona 65
Slumping USC refused to go one and undone in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, eliminating Arizona.
Junior point guard Derryck Thornton came off the bench to generate three of the Trojans’ six steals and spark their energetic defense that held the Wildcats to 25 points in the second half.
“He was terrific,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “He gave us a lot of energy, had three steals, started out the game five for five from the field and played a great floor game.”
Thornton finished with 12 points on six-for-nine shooting and Bennie Boatwright had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help the Trojans end a losing streak at four games and advance to a quarterfinal today against top-seeded Washington.
UCLA 79, Stanford 72
Jaylen Hands had 22 points and 11 rebounds and the Bruins built a 26-point lead before Stanford started hitting shots in the closing minutes.
UCLA made 10 of 12 free throws in the final 1:05 to earn a spot in today’s quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Arizona State.
Jalen Hill had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Chris Smith added 14 points for the Bruins.
No. 5 Colorado 56, No. 12 California 51
No. 6 Oregon 84, No. 11 Washington State 51
The Chargers added a quarterback to backup Philip Rivers next season, signing Tyrod Taylor to a two-year contract.
In three games, Taylor was sacked 13 times and went 42-for-85 for 473 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (64.5 rating).
Odds and Ends
Boxer Mikey Garcia draws inspiration and his ‘fighting rooster’ spirit from father…. UC Irvine wants to continue record-breaking season all the way to the NCAA tournament…. Walker Buehler is optimistic he’ll play soon after throwing live batting practice…. Angels starter Andrew Heaney’s elbow inflammation has familiar ring…. Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is frustrated but understands why his season is over…. Clippers’ Ivica Zubac knows he has been rushing his shots: ‘I just have to slow down’…. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadallead cast of 30-somethings that advance in BNP Paribas Open…. Billie Jean King is hoping World Team Tennis will continue to grow…. Miomir Kecmanovic, Bianca Andreesculean on good fortune and skill to advance at Indian Wells…. Adrian Kempe is salvaging his season for the Kings after scoring slump….
Former middleweight boxing champion Gennady Golovkin and trainer Abel Sanchezjoin combat sports writer Lance Pugmire in studio for the latest edition of the “Arrive Early, Leave Late” podcast. The superstar fighter known as GGG discusses his new six-fight, three-year deal with the streaming service DAZN, a contract that keeps him aligned for a trilogy fight with Canelo Alvarez.
Unless something major happens, I will be taking this weekend off, so no newsletter Sunday or Monday. Talk amongst yourselves while I am gone.
Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)
Lakers at Toronto, 5 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, TNT, 710 AM ESPN
Dodgers (ss) vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Dodgers (ss) vs. San Diego, 6:30 p.m.
Angels vs. Milwaukee, 1 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830
Nashville vs. Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW
Ducks at Arizona, 7 p.m., Prime
Pac-12 men’s tournament (in Las Vegas, all games on Pac-12 network)
Noon: No. 1 Washington vs. No. 8 USC
2:30 p.m.: No. 4 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Colorado
6 p.m.: No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 7 UCLA
8:30 p.m.: No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 3 Utah
Born on this date
1946: NBA player Wes Unseld
1960: Baseball player Kirby Puckett
1965: Former Dodger Kevin Brown
1969: NBA player Larry Johnson