Originally created 11/13/97

Overtime: Coach motivates players



HOCKEY: Jacques Demers wants his players to get mad and start winning.

"The fans have been cheated here by the players, and that's the end of that," he said.

Demers, a two-time NHL coach of the year, was hired Wednesday to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are winless in their last 13 games. He replaces Rick Paterson, who had been interim coach since Terry Crisp was fired Oct. 26.

  • The NHL isn't drawing too well in these parts, so the Carolina Hurricanes are enlisting the help of a sport that knows a few things about luring fans -- NASCAR auto racing.
  • "This is as big as any promotion you'll see in professional sports this year," Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton said Wednesday as he helped the Hurricanes launch a two-pronged attendance drive.

    The promotion, which involves giving away 20 new Ford vehicles and 100,000 or more tickets, could cost the team more than $4 million.

    OLYMPICS: Rod Milburn, 110-meter hurdles gold medalist in the 1972 Olympics, was found dead in a rail car full of a bleach solution at the paper plant where he worked, police said Wednesday.

    There was no indication of how Milburn, 47, wound up in the car at the Georgia Pacific plant near Baton Rouge. Authorities said they did not suspect foul play.

    Milburn had been assigned to unload a rail car containing liquid sodium chlorate, a chemical used in the bleaching process of paper making, said Patty Prats-Swanson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Pacific.

    He was found about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday in the rail car by a supervisor who went looking for him when he failed to answer a page, Prats-Swanson said.

    Steve Church, another company spokesman, said Milburn's body was found submerged in the solution.

    TENNIS: Pete Sampras took advantage Wednesday of a format that offers losers a second chance and stayed on course for his fourth ATP Tour World Championship title.

    Rebounding from a surprise three-set loss to Carlos Moya a day earlier, Sampras downed big-serving Greg Rusedski 6-4, 7-5.

    "Yesterday, I really felt flat, mentally and physically," said Sampras, the defending champion and world No. 1. "I had a lot more energy today."

    The $3.3-million tournament brings together the top eight players in the world, split into two groups. The top two from each group advance to the semifinals.

    In a match featuring two newcomers to the elite season-ending tournament, Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat Jonas Bjorkman 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

    Patrick Rafter, the No. 3 in the world, needed only 56 minutes to beat Moya 6-4, 6-2. Rafter had never beaten Moya in three previous career matches.

    Sampras and Rafter will have a day off and play each other Friday.

    GOLF: Former Clemson golfer Richard Coughlan leads at the midpoint of a second stage PGA Tour school qualifier in Florence, S.C. Coughlan has fired rounds of 64-70 -- 134 at the Country Club of South Carolina. Former Augusta State golfer Taylor Smith (68-69 -- 137) is tied for fifth place, former Augustan Stiles Mitchell (70-70 -- 140) is tied for 19th and Aiken golfer Hugh Royer III (70-72 -- 142) is tied for 37th place. The top 23 finishers will advance to the finals.

  • The Augusta State golf team vaulted 12 spots, into a tie for the ninth position, in the latest GolfWeek/Taylor Made Rankings. Other area teams in the top 10 are Georgia Tech (No. 3), Georgia (4), South Carolina (8) and Clemson (9). Arizona is ranked No. 1. Three freshman from Augusta also are on ranked teams. Oklahoma State (Charles Howell) is No. 2, Texas Christian (Scott Volpitto) is 6 and Furman (Brian Scurlock) is 30.
  • FOOTBALL: Doyle NeSmith and his wife June Walters-NeSmith of Lyons, Ga., have donated $100,000 to Middle Georgia College to ensure the completion of a football stadium on the school's campus. The stadium is scheduled to open for the 1998 season.