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Associated Press

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 4:04 PM

NBA-VANDEWEGHE

NBA adds Vandeweghe as VP of basketball operations

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has hired former All-Star Kiki Vandeweghe as vice president of basketball operations.

Vandeweghe, also a former general manager with Denver and the Nets, and the Nets' interim coach for a year, will be involved in the development of rules and interpretations, disciplinary matters and other details involved in the operation of NBA games.

He will start April 1 and report to executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson.

Jackson says Wednesday in a statement that Vandeweghe's more than three decades of experience give him "a tremendous amount of insight into our game."

Jackson says, "We're looking forward to drawing upon his expertise on a wide range of matters involving our game."

Vandeweghe played for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1984-1989.

NCAA-SOUTHERN-GONZAGA

Zags head into tournament with top seed

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gonzaga certainly won't catch anyone by surprise this year.

Long ago considered the plucky underdog, the Bulldogs come into this year's NCAA tournament top-seeded in the West and with the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press poll.

Led by 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga (31-2) opens the tournament Thursday against Southern University (23-9), the champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Gonzaga is making its 15th straight appearance in March Madness, a streak surpassed only by Kansas, Michigan State and Duke.

Coach Mark Few says the No. 1 seeding won't change his approach for the tournament.

He says Gonzaga needs to come into Thursday's game much the way the Bulldogs of old used to — with a chip on their shoulders.

NCAA-OREGON-OKLAHOMA ST

Oklahoma State opens NCAA tourney against Oregon

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A Pac-12 tournament title, a second-place finish in the regular season and a ranking in the final AP poll added up to very little for Oregon when it came time for NCAA tournament seeding.

The Ducks (26-8) ended up with the 12th seed in the Midwest Region in what was one of the more questioned decisions made by the tournament selection committee.

For Oregon, the slight wasn't all bad as they get to stay on the West Coast this weekend in San Jose.

Their second-round opponent might have more to complain about as the draw gave fifth-seeded Oklahoma State (24-8) a tougher-than-expected opening game.

T25-NCAA-GEORGIA RETURNS

Lady Bulldogs motivated by 2012 NCAA early exit

(Stations: Note Spokane, Wash., interest.)

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia Lady Bulldogs are motivated to avoid another early exit from the NCAA tournament.

They're still feeling the sting of last year's rare first-round loss to Marist. Georgia's long tournament history includes 19 trips to the round of 16.

Georgia is the No. 4 seed — just like last year — and plays Montana on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.

Lady Bulldogs forward Jasmine Hassell says last year's loss was "heart-breaking because you're so used to going to the Sweet 16."

This is the Lady Bulldogs 19th straight NCAA tournament and coach Andy Landers says any temptation to look past the first-round game should have been "self-corrected" by last year's loss.

It was only the third time in the last decade Georgia didn't reach the round of 16.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR-RUSSELL

Oregon's Mercedes Russell named national player of the year

(AP) — Mercedes Russell's transformation into the nation's prep basketball player of the year took a turn between her freshman and sophomore years, when she grew five inches and moved from guard to the post.

The 6-foot-5 Springfield (Ore.) High School star, who is headed to Tennessee in the fall, says the shift made her a better player.

Others apparently thought she was good, too, because on Wednesday she was named the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the first girl from Oregon to earn the honor.

Russell joins the likes of Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and current Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike (ah-GWOO'-mih-kay) in receiving the award.

Kevin Love, who played at Oregon's Lake Oswego High School, was honored with it on the boy's side in 2007.

WASHINGTON ST-SPRING

QB battle looms as WSU opens spring FB

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A quarterback battle looms as Washington State opens spring football drills on Thursday.

Veteran Connor Halliday was a part-time starter last year, along with the graduated Jeff Tuel. Coach Mike Leach says he'll face a challenge from redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca.

Leach returns eight starters each on offense and defense this season. But he said Wednesday that all the starting jobs are open in the spring.

In all the Cougars have 43 returning letter winners from a team that finished 3-8 overall, 1-8 in the Pac-12 in Leach's first season in Pullman. Their only league win was over archrival Washington in overtime in the Apple Cup.

Spring drills will include 15 practices and run until April 23.

The annual Crimson and Gray scrimmage will be April 20 in Spokane.

IDITAROD-DOG-DEATH

Iditarod plans changes after sled dog death

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Organizers of Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race say changes are planned for the 1,000-mile trek after a dog was buried in snow by extreme winds and suffocated.

Race officials said Wednesday they also plan to meet with the owners of 5-year-old Dorado. The dog was found dead at a checkpoint last week, days after it was removed from the race because it was moving stiffly.

Dorado belonged to the team of Iditarod rookie Paige Drobny of Fairbanks. Drobny's husband says the couple asked Iditarod organizers to develop new protocols for the care of dogs withdrawn from the race.

Changes planned included construction of dog shelters at two major checkpoints for dogs and more frequent checks on the animals.

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