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Charge scrape Armor to remain unbeaten

CANTON, Ohio — Steve Hetzel is the first-year coach of the Canton Charge, and already, his team is showing some impressive balance.

Four members of Hetzel’s reached double figures in scoring Friday, as the Charge remained unbeaten with a 91-88 win over the Springfield Armor.

The Charge (3-0) and Armor (0-2) meet again Saturday night at 7 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.

Antoine Agudio led Canton with 16 points, and Kevin Jones, Jorge Gutierrez and first-round draft pick Bo Spencer each chipped in 10. Jones, a former member of the Cavaliers, also collected 10 rebounds for his second double-double in the Charge’s three games.

The Charge led by 12 points at the end of the third quarter. But the Armor closed the game on an 8-2 run to make it close.

Hetzel was pleased with how his team was able to weather things and hang on for the win.

“Basketball is a game of momentum,” he said. “You can feel it when the game starts to slip away, but the trust of our guys that they know we can get stops is a huge thing for us.”

Dennis Horner led Springfield with 16 points and nine rebounds. Gary Forbes added 13 points and JamesOn Curry scored 12.

Charge bring back Onuaku

The Canton Charge have signed forward Arinze Onuaka as a returning player, team officials announced Wednesday.

To make room for the Onuaku on the roster, the Charge waived swingman Zane Johnson.

Onuaku, 26, spent training camp and the beginning of the season with the New Pelicans. He played in three games and averaged 1.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.3 minutes.

Onuaka played 38 games for the Charge last season, starting in 32 and averaging 12.6 points on 56 percent shooting. He was considered one of the top prospects in the D-League.

Onuaku will be available for the Charge’s two home games against the Springfield Armor on Friday and Saturday.

Spencer, Charge fall short in lone preseason game

Bo Spencer finished with 16 points and three assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Canton Charge dropped a 87-84 decision to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in a preseason NBA D-League game Saturday night.

It was the Charge’s lone exhibition game. They begin regular-season play Friday at the Erie BayHawks. Their home-opener takes place Saturday vs. the expansions Delaware 87ers.

Spencer, the No. 13 overall pick in the D-League draft, missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3.5 seconds left, ending a late Charge rally from 10 points down.

Tyrell Biggs and Rashad Anderson each added 10 points for the Charge.

The Mad Ants were paced by Trey McKinney Jones’ 17 points and eight rebounds.

NBA remaining free agents: Updated list

A look at which players remain unsigned by NBA teams, through August 6:

ATLANTA HAWKS — Unrestricted: Ivan Johnson, Dahntay Jones, Johan Petro, Anthony Tolliver

BOSTON CELTICS — Unrestricted: Chris Wilcox

BROOKLYN NETS — Unrestricted: Jerry Stackhouse

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS — Unrestricted: DeSagana Diop, Jannero Pargo

CHICAGO BULLS — Unrestricted: Daequan Cook, Vladimir Radmanovic

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS — Unrestricted: Daniel Gibson, Luke Walton

DALLAS MAVERICKS — Unrestricted: Rodrigue Beaubois, Mike James

DENVER NUGGETS — None

DETROIT PISTONS — Unrestricted: Corey Maggette

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS — None

HOUSTON ROCKETS — None

INDIANA PACERS — Unrestricted: Ben Hansbrough, Sam Young

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS — Unrestricted: Lamar Odom

LOS ANGELES LAKERS — Unrestricted: Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, Antawn Jamison

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES — Unrestricted: Keyon Dooling

MIAMI HEAT — Unrestricted: Juwan Howard.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS — Unrestricted: Marquis Daniels, Joel Przybilla

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES — Restricted: Nikola Pekovic

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS — Unrestricted: Lou Amundson, Xavier Henry, Roger Mason Jr.

NEW YORK KNICKS — Unrestricted: Earl Barron

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER — Unrestricted: Ronnie Brewer

ORLANDO MAGIC — Unrestricted: DaQuan Jones, Beno Udrih

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS — Unrestricted: Charles Jenkins, Royal Ivey, Damien Wilkins

PHOENIX SUNS — Unrestricted: Diante Garrett

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS —Unrestricted: Luke Babbitt, Nolan Smith, Elliot Williams

SACRAMENTO KINGS — Unrestricted: Cole Aldrich, James Johnson

SAN ANTONIO SPURS — Unrestricted: DeJuan Blair, Tracy McGrady

TORONTO RAPTORS — Unrestricted: Mickael Pietrus, Sebastian Telfair

UTAH JAZZ — Unrestricted: Jamaal Tinsley, Mo Williams

WASHINGTON WIZARDS — Unrestricted: Leandro Barbosa, Jason Collins, Cartier Martin, A.J. Price

The Ohio Machine wrap up their second season

The wins were tough to come by, but Ohio Machine lacrosse was entertaining in 2013

I know, I’m a Blue Jackets fan writer.  I’m also a sports fan, one who has never truly embraced baseball or soccer and thus didn’t have a summer sport to follow (both football and hockey being largely fall-winter sports).  That’s why I was a tasty target for Major League Lacrosse when they placed the Ohio Machine franchise up in Delaware in time for the summer 2012 season.

So it’s summer, and not much is happening in the world of ice hockey now that the draft is a fading memory and the Columbus Blue Jackets appear to have finished shopping on the free agent market for this offseason.  So let’s digress for a post and talk lax.

(The Machine have had their games broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio’s SportsTime Ohio channel, often on tape delay due to the Cleveland Indians games.)

I’ve seen a little lacrosse before – some in person in college (where my interhall team was known to be tough guys who couldn’t score to save their lives), occasionally on television.  It’s a fun sport to watch, combining the constant flow of hockey with – well – the slightly slower, earthbound nature of non-ice sports.  For the uninitiated, lax is like a hybrid of basketball and hockey, but on grass.  And with sticks.  As I said, it’s a fun sport to watch.  Highly recommended.

Anyway, to the Machine.  The team wrapped up their second season tonight, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for those waiting for the tape delayed midnight start by revealing that the boys in baby blue came up short again to close out the 2013 campaign with a 1-13 record.  That, on top of a 2-12 inaugural season, makes for a rough start for the franchise.

On the positive side, the team has some genuine talent.  Steele Stanwick, the team’s highly touted 2012 first-round draft pick out of Virginia, is a very talented attacker who has incredible field sense and sets up goal after goal while drawing defenders away to protect against his scoring prowess.

Rookie attacker Logan Schuss (an Ohio State University product, co-captain of the Buckeye team that went to the NCAA finals this season) has had a terrific year, picking up 17 goals in the seven games he played since leaving OSU and playing his way into MLL Rookie of the Year contention.  I couldn’t find any MLL video on Schuss, but here’s a piece where he scored a hat trick back in college. Number 18 in the video, number one in your hearts…

Another Buckeye standout, Greg Bice, has been holding his own on the defensive side for the Machine while racking up MLL All-Star appearances. Perhaps just as impressive is his work off the field with his “Lacrosse the Nations” humanitarian work:

Lastly, there’s my favorite player, attacker Chazz Woodson.  Woodson is a stunning athlete, one who’s liable to make moves that I can only compare to Michael Jordan:

There are plenty of other strong players on the roster, which I’m sure that any knowledgeable lax fan could point out. Point being, the talent on the roster wasn’t indicative of a team of that has won only three games in two seasons.

Bear Davis appears to have the Machine on the right track

From this vantage point, the problem appeared to be offense (again odd, seeing as the team was anything but devoid of offensive talent). The team only topped ten goals in a game once in the first eight games, a 13-11 win on June 15 against the Rochester Rattlers. When you play in a league where you need roughly 13-15 goals to win a game, sub-10 point games don’t cut it. Machine team president John Algie apparently agreed, firing coach Ted Garber on June 24 and replacing him with Hilliard Davidson High School alum Bear Davis. Davis couldn’t pull a win out in his brief stint wrapping up 2013, but the team never scored fewer than 10 goals and finally gave their opponents real runs for their money.

I understand that the Ohio Machine roster was fairly young in 2012 and 2013.  One can hope that the young players further mature and grow into their roles as professionals, and that Davis helps them get on the winning path in short order.  The Machine has provided Central Ohio – a growing lacrosse market – with entertaining summertime lax; it’s time to see the team take the next step forward in 2014.

Cavs’ Speights ops out of contract

CLEVELAND – Marreese Speights, who joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in a January trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, has opted out of the final year of his contract, FOX Sports Ohio sources confirmed.

The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Also, the Cavs will not extend qualifying offers to guard Wayne Ellington or forward Omri Casspi, according to reports by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal. Ellington was also obtained in the trade with Memphis (along with a future first-round draft pick) for forward Jon Leuer.

Speights, a 6-foor-10 forward, averaged 10.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. He was due to make $4.5 million next season.

Kokoskov hired as Cavs assistant

CLEVELAND – Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown has hired Igor Kokoskov as an assistant, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.

Kokoskov had been an assistant with the Phoenix Suns since 2008. He has also coached the Georgian national team.

The Suns fired Alvin Gentry this past season, replacing him with interim coach Lindsey Hunter. Kokoskov remained on the staff.

“He was a well-liked coach, a trusted tactician for Gentry and a key mentor for Goran Dragic’s development in two Phoenix stints,” according to the Arizona Republic.

“Kokoskov became the lead assistant when Hunter took over in February and was the team’s unofficial offensive coordinator, drawing up plays in huddles and helping run practices.”

Kokoskov is a native of Serbia and became a U.S. citizen in 2010.

He brings Brown’s assistant staff to three. The Cavs hired former Los Angeles Lakers assistant Phil Handy a few weeks ago, and Jamahl Mosley remains from the Byron Scott regime.

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