Obama to attend NCAA Tourney game

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Obama to attend NCAA Tourney game

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Basketball fan-in-chief President Barack Obama is giving British Prime Minister David Cameron a front-row seat to March Madness, taking his European partner to an NCAA tournament basketball game in Ohio, an election swing state. Obama and Cameron are attending a "First Four" matchup in Dayton, Ohio, between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky on Tuesday night, a gesture of goodwill during Cameron's official visit to the United States and a way for an incumbent president to reach sports fans in an election year. The White House said the trip to the NCAA tournament game was intended to showcase the special relationship between the two key allies during Cameron's three-day visit. Obama and Cameron will discuss the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits on Wednesday, followed by a state dinner at the White House. Obama and Cameron were scheduled to appear in a live halftime interview on truTV, which was airing the game, with sportscaster Clark Kellogg. Kellogg interviewed Obama at halftime of a Duke-Georgetown game in 2010 and spoke with the president later that year during a White House game of "HORSE" aired on CBS during the NCAA tournament. Obama was also maintaining his tradition of discussing his NCAA tournament bracket picks on ESPN, the sports network he watches on a daily basis. The president's selections for the men's tournament were being released Wednesday morning. Republicans panned the trip, saying many Americans would prefer Obama to focus on more pressing issues. "While showing off our amazing college basketball teams is great, many Americans struggling to find jobs, dealing with soaring gas prices, or concerned with our rising deficit and debt would probably like the president spend at least as much time dealing with those issues," said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Obama's quick trip to Ohio gives him a chance to connect with basketball fans and generate attention in Ohio, which he carried in the 2008 election and is considered one of the top toss-up states in 2012. The trip comes one week after Republican front-runner Mitt Romney captured Ohio's GOP primary. It also lets Obama lavish praise and attention on Cameron at a time of weighty foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. Britain has been an important U.S. ally in Afghanistan and the bombing campaign in Libya that led to the removal of Moammar Gadhafi. Cameron is frequently spotted running near his official Downing Street residence, flanked by his security detail, and follows sports like tennis and cricket. But he's not much of a basketball fan; British Ambassador Peter Westmacott told reporters in Washington on Monday that Cameron was "busy briefing himself on March Madness." Basketball has been a big part of Obama's life. At his Hawaii high school, Obama frequently carried a basketball along with his school books and bonded with his teammates on the court. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, played college basketball at Princeton and is now head coach at Oregon State. The president regularly plays pickup basketball and keeps close tabs on his favorite NBA team, the Chicago Bulls. In a recent interview, the president said he gets League Pass on his iPad, letting him watch out-of-market NBA games on his tablet computer. Obama kicked off the basketball season with a Veterans Day game between Michigan State and North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in November, enjoying a game on the aircraft carrier that took Osama bin Laden's body to a burial at sea after the U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida leader. The president said in an interview last month with journalist Bill Simmons that the "mythology of sports" is deeply embedded in the U.S., allowing viewers to discern who is winning and who is losing -- a principle that could easily be transferred to politics. "People -- for all our differences politically, regionally, economically -- most folks understand sports. Probably because it's one of the few places where it's a true meritocracy," Obama said. "Ultimately, who's winning, who's losing, who's performing, who's not -- it's all laid out there."

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Resume comparison: Popovich the teacher vs Kerr the student

Resume comparison: Popovich the teacher vs Kerr the student

Programming note: Warriors-Spurs coverage starts tonight at 5:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

While the San Antonio Spurs are chasing the Warriors this season, as was the case in each of the past two seasons, it’s quite the opposite for the coaches.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is trying to reach the same level as his primary coaching mentor, Gregg Popovich of the Spurs, whom Kerr admires to no end.

Eight games shy of three seasons into his career, Kerr is off to a start far more impressive than Popovich or anyone else ever to preside over an NBA sideline.

When the Warriors and Spurs tip off Wednesday night at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Kerr will have 200 victories on his resume. Popovich owns 1,146 wins, all with the Spurs. It’s inconceivable that Kerr would coach long enough to achieve 1,000 wins, much less 1,146 and counting.

Kerr, 51, likely won’t compile 20 consecutive winning seasons, as Popovich has. And Popovich’s ongoing record of wins with one franchise may never be surpassed.

But much of what Popovich, 68, has done is reachable, if not already accomplished, by Kerr.

Kerr’s 67-15 record in his first season (2014-15) is the best ever for a rookie coach.

Kerr reached 200 in 238 games, faster than any coach in any of the four major sports in the United States. Popovich didn’t win No. 200 until his 304th game.

Popovich won an NBA championship in his second full season; Kerr did it in his first.

Pop won four titles in his first 10 seasons; Kerr has eight seasons to add three more.

Pop has reached the 60-win mark five times in 20 full seasons; Kerr has hit that level in each of his first three.

Under Kerr, albeit with considerable help from interim head coach Luke Walton, the Warriors in 2015-16 set a league record with 73 wins. The high for the Spurs under Pop is 67, reached last season.

Kerr’s win percentage: .840 (200-38). Pop’s win percentage: .696 (1,146-501).

Both coaches have, of course, benefitted from supremely talented rosters.

The Spurs under Popovich have had as core players one player, David Robinson, in the Hall of Fame and three more (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker) certain to get the call. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are on that path.

Kerr came to a roster with Stephen Curry, who has since polished his Hall of Fame credentials. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have the goods for the honor. Kevin Durant punched his ticket in Oklahoma City, and now he’s a Warrior.

“I’m lucky,” Kerr said after win No. 200 Tuesday night. “Coaching is all about the guys you coach; Are they coachable? Are they talented? And the answer to that is an emphatic yes. These guys are amazing and I’m really lucky to be able to coach them.”

In short, Kerr’s reaction is precisely as Popovich’s is whenever he wins a game or an award or a championship.

The student has learned well from the teacher, even if he fails to match the old man’s enduring excellence.