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After a disappointing half-season, Atlanta Hawks fire coach Lloyd Pierce

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was fired Monday after a disappointing start to a second season of heightened expectations.
Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was fired Monday after a disappointing start to a second season of heightened expectations.Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks fired coach Lloyd Pierce Monday following a disappointing start to a season of heightened expectations. Hawks president Travis Schlenk announced the move in a short statement. The Hawks are 14-20 and 11th in the Eastern Conference, following a 109-99 loss at Miami Sunday night. The teams play again in Miami Tuesday. “We would like to thank Lloyd for his work and commitment to not only the Hawks organization but the city of Atlanta,” Schlenk said in the statement. The Hawks did not immediately name an interim coach, but a likely choice is Nate McMillan, the former Indiana coach who was added to Pierce’s staff in the offseason. McMillan filled in when Pierce was recently away from the team while his wife was giving birth. Schlenk said the move, which comes less than a week before Atlanta hosts the All-Star Game, is timed to help the team toward a second-half resurgence. Pierce, hired in 2018, was 63-120 (.344) with the Hawks, missing the playoffs in each of his two completed seasons … Danielle Nicole Doyle, 37, who worked for the Oklahoma City Thunder as an account manager until December 2020, faces federal charges for allegedly being part of group that stormed the US Capitol Jan. 6. Doyle was charged in a four-count criminal complaint with knowingly entering a restricted building, knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and two counts of violent entry on Capitol grounds.

Colleges

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Questions linger in death of Ex-ND football player

Louis Nix III was a star at Notre Dame.
Louis Nix III was a star at Notre Dame.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Louis Nix III, a standout nose guard at Notre Dame before being drafted into the NFL, died in Florida after being missing for several days, and many questions linger about the circumstances of his death. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the 29-year-old Nix was reported missing Wednesday. An update tweeted late Saturday said Nix had been located but didn’t give any other details. Nix’s mother, Stephanie Wingfield, told Jacksonville news outlets Sunday that authorities said her son died but haven’t been able to tell her how. Family members say a silver sedan, matching the description of the car authorities say Nix was driving, was pulled out of a pond near his home Saturday. It was unclear whether his body was inside.

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NIT to move from New York to Dallas

The NIT is moving the entire 2021 event to the Dallas area because of the coronavirus pandemic, taking the March 27 semifinals and the March 28 championship game out of New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time in the 83-year history of college basketball’s oldest postseason tournament. The field is being reduced to 16 teams from the usual 32, and all games will be played, beginning with the first round March 17-20, in two venues — the University of North Texas in Denton, and an arena in Frisco that is home to the Dallas Mavericks’ G League affiliate.

UMass men falter in St. Louis

Javonte Perkins had 16 points to lead five Saint Louis players in double figures as the Billikens (13-5, 6-4 Atlantic 10 Conference) routed the visiting UMass men’s basketball team, 78-57. Noah Fernandes led the Minutemen (7-6, 6-4) with 16 points while Carl Pierre added 12 points . . . The University of Denver parted ways with men’s basketball coach Rodney Billups , the younger brother of former NBA player and current Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups. Billups went 48-94 in five seasons with the Pioneers, including 2-19 overall and 1-13 in Summit League play this season . . . Binghamton fired men’s basketball coach Tommy Dempsey, who compiled a 71-194 record in nine seasons, and named assistant Levell Sanders as interim coach for next season. Dempsey was the second America East coach to be fired Monday, after Albany parted ways with Will Brown . . . UConn (20-1) remained firmly atop the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll after garnering 27 of 30 first-place votes. Texas A&M (22-1) reached its highest ranking ever at No. 2 a day after defeating then-No. 5 South Carolina to win the Southeastern Conference title . . . Unbeaten Gonzaga (24-0) remained atop the men’s poll after receiving 59 of 63 first-place votes. Michigan (18-1) moved up to No. 2, supplanting Baylor (18-1), which dropped to No. 3.

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Golf

US names 2021 Walker Cup team

Tyler Strafaci was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team.
Tyler Strafaci was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team.John Amis/Associated Press

US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci and top-ranked amateur Davis Thompson were part of the 10-member US team announced by the US Golf Association to try to retain the Walker Cup against Great Britain & Ireland May 8-9 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. Florida State senior John Pak and Florida sophomore Ricky Castillo earned spots by being among the top 10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings from Feb. 10. The selection committee added Stewart Hagestad, a former US Mid-Amateur champion and at 29 the oldest player on the team; Texas teammates Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody; Oklahoma senior Quade Cummins; Oklahoma State senior Austin Eckroat; and Pepperdine sophomore William Mouw. Hagestad, Hammer, and Pak were all on the US team that beat GB&I at Royal Liverpool in 2019.

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Miscellany

Federer withdraws from Miami Open

Roger Federer is withdrawing from this month’s Miami Open so he can spend extra time preparing to “work his way back out on tour,” his agent told The Associated Press. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 40 in August and has not competed in more than a year after having two operations on his right knee last season, is scheduled to return to the tour next week in a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar . . . The British government will provide $4 million to pursue a joint bid with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland in a bid for the 2030 World Cup. The English Football Association disclosed the financial assistance for a potential British Isles bid as it received fresh backing from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson . . . The headquarters of the soccer club FC Barcelona was raided in Spain by police, who seized evidence and detained four people. Although the club declined to name the detained individuals, several news outlets reported that the detainees were prominent current and former executives of the club: former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in December shortly before he was to face a vote of no confidence; Oscar Grau, the club’s chief executive; Roman Gomez Ponti, its head of legal services; and Jaume Masferrer, an adviser to Bartomeu . . . Pairs skaters Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, who earned the bronze medal at the US Figure Skating Nationals, were added to the US team for the World Championships March 22-28 in Stockholm, replacing Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson, who withdrew for personal reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

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