KRWG

Mike Pesca

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, as we cover the Olympics, some of you have asked for spoiler alerts, but for this next report that is probably not necessary. NPR's Mike Pesca is taking us inside the world of India's men's field hockey team. We're not too worried about spoilers. Not just because most Americans don't care much about field hockey, but because the Indian squad has done a pretty good job itself of spoiling things. As Mike reports, the team's record tracks with the overall state of the Indian Olympic effort.

On the same day cyclist Bradley Wiggins became Great Britain's most-decorated Olympian, Daniel Harris, a 28-year-old cycling enthusiast, was killed when he was struck by a bus at an intersection outside Olympic Park.

It's hard to find a discipline that Team USA has dominated more than the women's sabre. The team is anchored by two-time medalist Mariel Zagunis. And before Zagunis was upset in the bronze medal match Wednesday, five of the six medals that had been awarded since 2004 went to Americans.

Eight Olympic badminton athletes have been thrown out of the London Games after being charged by the Badminton World Federation with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" — which is against the rules of the sport. Because even some journalists may have forgotten badminton's rules, it seemed time to take a fresh look.

When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.

Judo is a sport of leverage, strength, tactics and cunning. These attributes can appear to the uninitiated to be two people attempting to grab each other, without success, for five minutes. And then when no points are scored, they try to grab each other for another three minutes of overtime.

One of these gripping contests — the men's quarterfinals at 66 kg — has become the source of international indignation over a perceived injustice. But with the sport of Judo, an apparently firm set of circumstances can flip in an instant.

R.A. Dickey's career as a major league pitcher has been as unpredictable as his signature pitch, the knuckleball.

And on Tuesday night, the New York Mets' 37-year-old phenomenon will hit a new pinnacle: the pitching mound at baseball's All-Star Game.

He won't be starting for the National League — manager Tony La Russa chose Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants for that honor. But the manager says says Dickey will pitch.

Olympic Preview: Rowing

Jun 27, 2012

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We're counting down to the London Olympics. And this morning, we're going to meet two rowing competitors. American women have been dominant in the eights in international competition; that's boats with eight rowers and a coxswain. They've won the last six world and Olympic championships. In fact, the American team is so strong and so deep that many talented athletes are forced to look for spots in other rowing events.

Qualifying for women's pairs was recently held in Princeton, New Jersey. NPR's Mike Pesca was there.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Anyone who watches NASCAR knows the cars out on the track are plastered with ads. Golfers almost all wear their sponsorships, but not U.S. Olympians.

NPR's Mike Pesca reports that some runners are now chafing at the long-standing rules blocking them from raising sponsorship money.

The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 Monday night in New Orleans, claiming their eighth NCAA men's basketball title and head coach John Calipari's first.

The Jayhawks trailed by 14 at halftime, and just 5 points separated the teams with about a minute left in the game. But Kansas couldn't get any closer to beating Kentucky, a team stacked with young talent that had dominated the whole tournament.

The national championship game in men's college basketball is set. The Jayhawks beat Ohio State in a close one and Kentucky got past Louisville.

At the nine-minutes-to-go mark in games one through four of Kentucky's romp through the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats have had leads of 13, 11, 18 and 30 points. So it was significant that the Louisville Cardinals actually found themselves tied with Kentucky at that nine-minute juncture.

The critique of University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is that he does what it takes to get his players, and they do what they want from there. Sure, this thinking goes, he's yelling at them from the sidelines whenever one — specifically Terrence Jones — puts up a 3-point shot from a step behind the arc. But he's not much of a coach.

Only four teams remain in the NCAA men's basketball tournament: Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas. Kentucky already has seven national titles. Kansas has three championships, Louisville has two and Ohio State won its lone title in 1960.

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SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

In NCAA men's basketball, the Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes have qualified for the Final Four. Later today, two more teams will join them after Kentucky plays Baylor and Kansas faces North Carolina. With so much basketball peppered with reversals and upsets, it's hard to deny the madness of March. But, as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, most coaches try desperately to keep it at bay.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And coming up, we'll talk about the scandal rocking the NFL. But first, in the NCAA last night: North Carolina needed overtime to put away Ohio. Kansas defeated NC State. Baylor beat Xavier. And Kentucky toppled Indiana 102 to 90. And with that win, the powerhouse Wildcats moved into the elite 8 of the tournament. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are sorry to report that Lehigh is out of the NCAA tournament. They lost in the second round after a huge upset of Duke in the first. Murray State is gone, too.

But as the tournament gets down to 16 teams, one of those teams is Ohio University. Traditionally not one of the powerhouse teams we talk about year in, year out. In fact, it's been more than four decades - 48 years to be precise - since the school has made it this far in the tournament.

NPR's Mike Pesca reports on the team's quest.

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JACKI LYDEN, BYLINE: Every school invited to the NCAA basketball tournament has had a chance to play. So we thought we'd bring you details of every game. Well, maybe not details, but at least a mention from NPR's Mike Pesca. And what he lacks in specifics, he makes up for in rhyme.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

In football, defense wins championships, or so the saying goes. That hasn't been true recently. In fact, both teams in Sunday's Super Bowl, the Giants and the Patriots, featured less-than-stout defenses through the season. NPR's Mike Pesca has some possible reasons why.

The Super Bowl: an annualized marketing event-cum-gambling extravaganza. That they have to play a football game to justify the ads, gambling and Ines Sainz's career is still in the official rule book somewhere, but that rule book is now sponsored by the Gatorade G2 series. Why does Gatorade have more series than Telemundo?

Tom Brady will lead the New England Patriots into Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis on Sunday. He´s already won the Super Bowl three times before. Standing in the way of yet another Patriot victory are Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Manning has been superb this season, but is he elite?

The NBA season opens Christmas Day, and every sports writer worth his tinseled tropes has made a reference to basketball fans being able to unwrap a slate of games under the tree.

Every so often, an NFL player transcends the game. Think William "Refrigerator" Perry or Bo Jackson.

Tim Tebow, the quarterback who'll lead the Denver Broncos against the powerful New England Patriots on Sunday, has become a household name, thanks to his improbable come-from-behind victories combined with his prominent expressions of faith.

How does he do it? The Bears, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, Raiders and Vikings would like to know.

Time For A Comeback

Tebow is a proper noun. Tebow is a verb meaning to genuflect.

On Saturday, college football's best player will be awarded the Heisman Trophy in New York. This year's front-runners attend Baylor University, Stanford University and University of Alabama; but 75 years ago, the Heisman winner was a Yale man. In 1936, at a time when the Ivy League was a hotbed of football talent, Yale end Larry Kelley was the first to win a Heisman Trophy.

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