Serena Williams has withdrawn from next week’s Madrid Open, stating she needs more time to prepare for her first clay season since giving birth.The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell to early exits at Indian Wells and the Miami Open in her only previous WTA Tour appearances this year.Williams, 36, is a two-time champion in the Spanish capital, winning the 2012 and 2013 editions of the tournament.”We regret the absence of Serena,” organiser Manolo Santana said.”She is one of the great champions of our sport, she has always offered a show to the tournament and we hope to see her again at the Caja Magica in the future.” Serena Williams crashed out of March’s Miami Open in the first round
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Lakers are still drawing up a blueprint.For the Clippers, that means reportedly kicking the tires on a trade for New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert in which back-up point guard Darren Collison would head to New York.Shumpert is an athletic 6-foot-6 swingman who would boost the Clippers’ wing defense and provide coverage for the injured J.J. Redick.The problem is, the Knicks reportedly want the Clippers — and anyone else — to also take point guard Raymond Felton.And that could jeopardize any deal.Fate, meanwhile, has never been as unforgiving to the Lakers as it has the last three seasons. But with darkness at full pitch, the flickering light of an impact draft pick and free agent offers hope.Still, the aftereffects of the failed Paul/Howard plan still linger, which is why Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president Jim Buss intently weigh their options ahead of the trade deadline.Their objective is clear: Preserve their upcoming salary cap flexibility, accumulate future assets — preferably first-round draft picks — and if possible, shed enough salary to dip under the luxury cap threshold to avoid paying significant repeater tax penalties. To achieve this, they need to move Pau Gasol and his hefty price tag and flip players like Steve Blake, Jordan Hill or Kaman for draft picks. They took a first step Wednesday night, dealing Blake to Golden State. If they can also deal Hill and Kaman, or move Gasol, they could dip under the threshold.Gasol has been linked to the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats, but financial implications and the Lakers’ reluctance to give Gasol up without getting a high pick in return stand in the way of a deal.The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were closing ground Wednesday afternoon on a trade for Hill, presumably for a draft pick and/or young player. Phoenix, Dallas and Cleveland are also interested in Hill.If the Lakers can find a home for Gasol and pick up additional picks for Hill or others, it would set them up nicely to add a couple of top prospects from a deep draft class and a premier free agent either this summer or next — although 2015 is looking more realistic.With LeBron James the longest of longshots, Carmelo Anthony lacking the championship pedigree the Lakers seek and every other free agent this summer significantly flawed, it might make more sense to pass on this year’s group in anticipation of the 2015 class, which will include Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.That might not sit well with Lakers fans thirsty for an immediate championship run. And it will mean Kobe Bryant spending his second-to-last season mentoring a young team rather than competing for another ring.But in the grand scheme of things, it’s the best hope the Lakers have of assembling a championship-worthy team sooner rather than later.There is one way the Lakers can expedite the process, and it involves Love, the former UCLA star.Love’s L.A. roots have linked him to the Lakers almost from the day he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the consensus is he will circle back this way as a free agent in 2015.But that voyage will require incredible patience — and faith — by the Lakers and a willingness by the Timberwolves to let Love walk for nothing.A combination of Lakers impatience and Timberwolves reluctance might pave the way for a trade, a possibility that’s been speculated about over the last few days.If Love tells the Wolves he is leaving in 2015 for the Lakers, perhaps that motivates them to accept an offer of Gasol and the Lakers’ first-round pick for their 25-year-old All-Star.Lest they lose him for no compensation after next season.It’s a tantalizing thought, to be sure.But the Timberwolves believe they are building a talented team around Love — one he will decide to stick with rather than flee for the Lakers — so the chances of them dealing him are slim.For the Lakers, this deadline was never about getting better.Immediately, anyway.It’s all about getting under the tax threshold, accumulating draft picks and setting themselves up for the future. It figures Dwight Howard would be back in town on the eve of the NBA trade deadline. Who better, after all, than the Houston Rockets big man and one-time Lakers building block to provide a poignant reminder how volatile the business of framing the next great championship run can be?And how one team’s misfortune can be another club’s blessing.One minute the Lakers have Chris Paul in their grasp with the intention of pairing him with fellow All-Star Howard, the next they are 18-35 with players like Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks playing big minutes. One second the Clippers are a pretty good young team with second-year forward Blake Griffin, the next they have Paul and Griffin alongside an entertaining supporting cast and the respected Doc Rivers calling the shots on the sideline and in the front office.With Paul and Howard, the Lakers are a top-three team in the Western Conference right now. Instead, they are teeing off on the back-nine of their worst season in years, the only redeeming aspect a potential top-five pick in the strongest draft in a decade and enough salary cap space next summer to sign a max free agent.With Paul, Griffin and Rivers, the Clippers have a legitimate chance to reach the Western Conference finals — if not beyond.And the current state of affairs for both teams could not be more pronounced than at the trade deadline. The Clippers are doing touch-ups.
Story Links 2016 Schedule DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University volleyball team’s 2016 schedule features 10 home matches as part of a 32-match slate, third-year head coach Darrin McBroom announced June 15. The Bulldogs will also play in four tournaments to open the season prior to the always challenging Missouri Valley Conference schedule.The Bulldogs open the season on Aug. 26 with the first of four matches in Boca Raton, Fla., as part of a tournament hosted by Florida Atlantic University. In addition to the host, the Bulldogs will face Northeastern, North Florida and Bethune-Cookman to open the season. FAU and North Florida amassed a combined record of 39-22 last season.”I am really looking forward to this season and to the schedule that lies ahead,” McBroom said. “We are thrilled to begin our season in Boca Raton, Fla., at the Florida Atlantic tournament. It will be nice for our team to get out of the Midwest and play some teams that we don’t typically see. The tournament also takes place the weekend before our classes start so that our student-athletes will not miss class for this experience against strong competition.”Following the season-opening tournament in Florida, the Bulldogs return to the Knapp Center for a Aug. 30 contest against South Dakota State before taking to the road for their next 11 matches. That challenging slate begins on Sept. 2-3 with a tournament at Omaha against Ball State, UMKC and homestanding Omaha. The following weekend, the team travels to Charleston, Ill., to take on host Eastern Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Bowling Green on Sept. 9-10. The team wraps up non-conference play with a tournament at Western Illinois in Macomb, Ill., Sept. 16-17. There the Bulldogs will face the host, Southeast Missouri State and Weber State. Last season, the Bulldogs won four-straight matches at the same event to open the 2015 season with a tournament title.”I think our schedule will provide a good balance for us in the opening weekends,” McBroom added. “We will be playing a lot of teams that are very similar to us in development and a few that are a bit ahead of us. This will give us the challenge we need to prepare for conference play and still give us the ability to focus on working on our side of the net.”The traditional round-robin MVC season begins on the road for the Bulldogs with matches at Evansville and NCAA Tournament participant SIU on Sept. 23-24, respectively, followed by a four-match homestand starting on Sept. 30 against defending MVC Champion Wichita State and NCAA Tournament qualifier Missouri State (Oct. 1). The homestand continues against Illinois State (Oct. 3) and NCAA Tournament qualifier UNI (Oct. 8) to complete a grueling first third of the MVC season.”As always I expect conference play to be as difficult as ever,” McBroom said. “Last year the MVC qualified four teams for the NCAA tournament which is almost half of our conference, to tie the SEC and West Coast Conference for most teams in the field. Additionally, our conference had five teams ranked in the top 75 RPI and seven in the top 150. I think we will be improved this year, but I also expect our conference to be just as tough, if not better than last year.”The first half of MVC play concludes with matches at Loyola (Oct. 14) and Bradley (Oct.) before returning home to face SIU (Oct. 21) and Evansville (Oct. 22). The second-half of the Bulldogs’ MVC season includes home matches against Indiana State (Oct. 31), Bradley (Nov. 11) and Loyola (Nov. 12) before closing the 18-game conference season at Indiana State (Nov. 18) and Illinois State (Nov. 19). The MVC Championship follows Nov. 24-26 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.The Bulldogs will face this schedule with a roster that includes nine returning, experienced players including last season’s top three leaders in kills in Kyla Inderski (Urbandale, Iowa), Makena Schoene (Seattle, Wash.) and Grace Schofield (Mundelein, Ill.). During the offseason, the program added four talented newcomers to that mix.Print Friendly Version