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Thursday's Sports In Brief

AP - Sports

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban voiced their concerns about the effects of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses on player safety to the NCAA committee that passed a proposal to slow down those attacks.

Neither Bielema nor Saban were on the committee and they did not vote on the proposal passed Wednesday to allow defenses time to substitute between plays by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds are left on the 40-second play clock.

NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Thursday that Bielema was at the meeting in Indianapolis as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association.

''Coach Saban asked for the opportunity to meet with the committee and talk about this,'' Redding said. ''It's not routine, but it's not unique, either.''

Bielema and Saban run methodical offenses and have publicly questioned if the quickening pace of offenses is good for the game.

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AUTO RACING

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Danica Patrick brushed off Hall Famer Richard Petty's criticism.

Speaking at Daytona 500 media day Thursday, Patrick said the seven-time champion is entitled to his opinion. She adds that good things could come from it.

Patrick says, ''As I said the last time somebody said something that was not so positive for me, it spawns so many positive articles. I love the conversation that it creates in sport, and across the board it makes sports interesting. It makes life interesting when people have different perspectives, and that's fine with me.''

Petty said last week that Patrick can only win a Sprint Cup race ''if everybody else stayed home.''

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart is scheduled to be back in a race car Friday for the first time since he broke his right leg in August.

Six months and three surgeries after that sprint car crash, Stewart feels a little bit like a kid getting ready for his first race.

He gets two practice sessions Friday totaling 105 minutes at Daytona International Speedway. His first race is Saturday night in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited.

Stewart showed no signs of being concerned about his return even though he says his leg is only 65 percent healed.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is still in the process of waking up from an induced coma following a skiing accident more than six weeks ago, his manager said.

The Bild newspaper reported Wednesday - without citing any sources - that Schumacher had developed pneumonia, but Sabine Kehm's emailed statement Thursday made no mention of that.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Gordon is prepared to retire if he can win a fifth NASCAR championship.

The 42-year-old Gordon won championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. He won all of them when NASCAR's top series ran under the Winston Cup banner.

Speaking at Daytona 500 media day, Gordon says he's put in 20-plus great years and he still loves racing. With a family at home, a fifth title could convince him to call it quits.

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PRO FOOTBALL

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Lions released wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas, two starters from last season's team.

Burleson spent four seasons with the Lions, but Detroit likely made this decision with financial flexibility in mind. The 32-year-old Burleson caught 39 passes for 461 yards and a touchdown last season in nine games. He missed time after injuring his arm in a car accident.

The Lions drafted Delmas in the second round in 2009, and he's been a consistent starter for them since then. If Burleson and Delmas don't return to Detroit under different contract terms, the Lions will have significant holes to fill at both receiver and in the secondary.

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GOLF

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dustin Johnson moved down the coast of California and brought his game with him in the Northern Trust Open.

So did Jimmy Walker.

Johnson made six birdies on a warm, sunny day at Riviera for a 5-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead when the opening round was suspended by darkness. Walker birdied his last three holes and was in the large group at 67 that included Francesco Molinari of Italy and Torrey Pines winner Scott Stallings.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis of top-ranked Syracuse is basking in some praise after his game-winning shot against Pittsburgh.

Vice President Joe Biden called Ennis to congratulate him on his ''amazing 35-foot buzzer beater'' Wednesday night against Pittsburgh that kept the Orange unbeaten. The vice president's office tweeted a photograph of Biden at his desk while on the phone with Ennis. Biden received his law degree from Syracuse University.

BASEBALL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Masahiro Tanaka shed the dark business suit and put on a gray Yankees T-shirt and blue shorts.

Time to get to work.

After agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year contract on Jan. 22 and chartering from Tokyo to New York in a 787 for a news conference, the 25-year-old right-hander threw his first bullpen session under the watch of the Yankees.

Two days before the official start of the team's spring training workouts, Tanaka breezed through a 25-pitch bullpen session to catcher Francisco Cervelli at New York's minor league complex.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A day after announcing this will be his final season, Derek Jeter was back to work at the New York Yankees' minor league complex.

The Yankees captain arrived just before 9:30 a.m. Thursday and was applauded by approximately 50 fans who were lined up on the sidewalk outside. He did not stop as he drove in, and he gave a small wave as he walked into the facility.

MIAMI (AP) - Former major league manager and All-Star Jim Fregosi was hospitalized in Miami after suffering an apparent stroke while on a cruise for baseball fans.

A spokeswoman for MSC Cruises said the 71-year-old Fregosi became ill Tuesday as the MSC Divina was headed from Grand Cayman to Mexico. The ship returned to Grand Cayman and Fregosi was later taken to a hospital in Florida.

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SOCCER

ATLANTA (AP) - Abby Wambach scored her record 165th international goal and the U.S. women's soccer team beat Russia 8-0 in an exhibition to extend its unbeaten streak to 42 games.

CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. soccer team will host Mexico in an exhibition game April 2 at Glendale, Ariz., as both nations prepare for the World Cup.

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TRACK AND FIELD

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Oscar Pistorius, the celebrated athlete who became a murder suspect, said Friday that he is consumed by grief on the first anniversary of the day that he fatally shot his girlfriend in his home.

The rare statement by the double-amputee runner came ahead of the March 3 start of his trial for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp, shot in her boyfriend's bathroom in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine's Day.

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WINTER WEATHER

The winter storm that continued to wreak havoc in the South and Northeast forced the postponement of sporting events for the second straight day.

Two men's basketball games featuring Top 25 teams were postponed - No. 13 Louisville at Temple, and No. 23 SMU at Rutgers. They have been rescheduled for Friday night.

Other Division I men's games scheduled for Thursday night that were been postponed included: Charleston Southern at High Point, Bryant at Mount St. Mary's, Central Connecticut State at St. Francis, Wagner at Farleigh Dickinson, Northern Kentucky at Kennesaw State, and Western Carolina at Chattanooga.

Due to snow in the Baltimore and Washington markets, live racing at Laurel Park was canceled. It's the third cancellation of the year at the central Maryland track.

Races at Aqueduct New York for Friday have been canceled.

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