Important change to the Opening Ceremonies


Important change to the Opening Ceremonies

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- Lights, camera, action ... Cut! Not the words director Danny Boyle was hoping to shout just days before the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. But the Oscar-winning director of "Slumdog Millionaire" has been forced to trim parts of the ceremony -- including removal of a stunt bike sequence -- to make sure the show finishes on time and spectators can get home before public transportation shuts down. London organizers said Boyle was "tightening" the ceremony by up to 30 minutes to ensure the show, scheduled for three hours, concludes between midnight and 12:30 a.m. "This is like any other piece of film you would make, things end up on the cutting room floor," London organizing committee spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said. The ceremony, with a cast and crew of 10,000, is set for July 27 in the 80,000-capacity stadium in east London and be watched by a global television audience expected at 1 billion. Brock-Doyle said a 3-4 minute sequence featuring stunt bikes has been deleted from the show but the riders will be paid and credited anyway. Boyle is making other changes, too, to keep within the time frame. "It has been an evolution," she said. "It was longer 10 days ago than it was a week ago and was longer a week ago than it is now. It is a matter of tightening. It's not cutting big chunks." Reports in British newspapers said Boyle was angry at having to make the cuts, but Brock-Doyle said he was used to making films or shows fit a time schedule. "He's an award-winning filmmaker," she said. "Things end up on the cutting-room floor. I think he understands that." Boyle's ceremony, called "Isles of Wonder," is inspired by William Shakespeare's "The Tempest." He has revealed that the opening sequence will feature an idyllic British countryside setting complete with live farm animals, including 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese. Former Beatle Paul McCartney has said he will perform the closing act. The International Olympic Committee has pressed London organizers to make sure the show -- which starts at 9 p.m. -- doesn't overrun so that athletes can get to bed at a reasonable hour. Many of the athletes will be able to walk back to their housing, located adjacent to the Olympic Park, after the ceremony. "We've always said it's a three-hour show, but it could end at 12:30," Brock-Doyle said. Organizers are under pressure to make sure spectators can get home on public transportation after the ceremony. The Underground and buses will run until 2:30 a.m. during the games -- an hour later than usual. Brock-Doyle denied the ceremony cuts were prompted by the failure of private security firm G4S to provide the required number of security personnel for the Olympics, a blunder which forced the British government to call up 3,500 extra troops. "This has absolutely nothing to do with security," Brock-Doyle said. The longest part of the ceremony involves the march of athletes into the stadium. Several thousand athletes from 204 national Olympic committees will be taking part. "The bit no one ever knows is really how long the athletes parade will be," Brock-Doyle said. "No one actually knows until the day how many athletes are going to come out. We're using all the tricks of the trade to get people to move fast." The weather could also be a factor. "If it's pouring with rain, some athletes won't turn up," she said.

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Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

The Ravens announced six players placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday - linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Trent Richardson, and cornerback Jumal Rolle.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and cornerback Will Davis (knee) were not placed on PUP, indicating they were ready for the team’s first full-team training camp practice Thursday.

Any player on the PUP list can be activated and return to practice at any point prior to the regular season. Once a player is placed on the regular-season PUP list, he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.


Rolle (Achilles injury) is expected to miss the entire season. Here’s the breakdown on the other five PUP list players:

Suggs – He still has not fully recovered from his season-ending Achilles injury suffered in Week 1 last September. Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday, where further details about his progress should be revealed.

Smith Sr. – Also recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in November. Smith said he would not care if he missed the entire preseason. His priority is to be ready by Week 1.

Perriman – He suffered a knee injury during minicamp which did not require season-ending surgery. However, Perriman has still not played a preseason or regular season game since being drafted in the first round in 2015. After two knee injuries in two years, the Ravens have every reason to be cautious with Perriman until they think he is ready to return.

Dumervil – He had offseason foot surgery after playing through pain last season. Dumervil missed mandatory minicamp, but did not sound concerned about being ready for Week 1.

Richardson – His lingering hamstring issue could ruin his bid for an NFL comeback. The Ravens are deep at running back, and Richardson needs to get healthy to have any chance to win a roster spot.


Mendenhall provides little clarity on QB race


Mendenhall provides little clarity on QB race

If you were hoping for some clarity from Bronco Mendenhall at the ACC Kickoff on Virginia's quarterback race, he provided none.

Matt Johns returns for his senior season, but he is competing with transfers Connor Brewer and Kurt Benkert to remain atop the depth chart in 2016. Mendenhall is certainly in no hurry to name a starter.

"We currently have three quarterbacks in contention that we will carry through fall camp before we make a decision," Mendenhall said.

Despite starting for the past two seasons, Johns did not do enough to entrench himself as the starter. Johns threw for 2,810 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015, but he also threw 17 interceptions. Mendenhall praised his poise and experience, but his play has left an opening for Brewer and Benkert.

Brewer served as Johns' backup last season after transferring from Arizona. He appeared in only two games for the Cavaliers, completing 4-of-8 passes for 34 yards and an interception. His progress in the offseason, however, has pleased the coaches and has thrust him into the midst of the quarterback competition.

"Connor Brewer had a very good spring, much more efficient and effective than any of us expected," Mendenhall said. "He was just grateful for a chance. But he made the most of it."

The newest quarterback of the three to Charlottesville, Benkert may also be the most intriguing. He transferred to Virginia from East Carolina in the spring after missing the entire 2015 season with a knee injury. ECU head coach Ruffin McNeil, now the defensive line coach at UVa, named Benkert the starter before he suffered the injury.

Unlike the other two quarterbacks, Benkert also has two years of eligibility remaining which is a very appealing prospect to the head coach.

"We're very intrigued by what we've seen from [Benkert] with the upside that he has two years of eligibility,' Mendenhall said. "There is a nice bridge there that could be formed with the possibility of more experience."

As Mendenhall begins rebuilding the Virginia program, having too many options at the quarterback position is potentially a positive development for the Cavaliers. UVa may need help in a lot of areas, but if they come into the season feeling confident under center it will make the transition to a new coach that much easier.

Because of the importance of the position, however, it's a decision Mendenhall has to get right and he intends to take his time before he makes it.

"I won't know until fall camp is over," Mendenhall said. "We'll have to do a masterful job of orchestrating fall camp to distribute the repetitions enough to be clear enough as to who is the uncontested leader."


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Tomas Satoransky always wanted to play for Wizards – not stay in Europe

Tomas Satoransky always wanted to play for Wizards – not stay in Europe

For years we’ve heard tales from overseas that suggested that Tomas Satoransky wasn't fond of the Wizards and that he wanted to be left alone while he played in Europe. The implication, of course, was that it was a long shot that he’d even come to the NBA or that he'd prefer to play for another franchise if he did. 

Friday, in his first comments on a conference call since agreeing to terms on a three-year deal worth $9 million, Satoransky all but put to rest and confirmed what the Wizards have suggested the entire time. That is, there was a far more common sense tone to negotiations and hardly any of the word-on-the-street reports accurately reflected Satoransky's feelings.

The Wizards spent $650,000 towards his buyout with Barcelona. Anything over that amount, Satoransky has to pay out of his own pocket to come to the NBA.

Since he was drafted in the second round in 2012, the 6-7 combo guard has been a mystery. He played for the Wizards at Las Vegas summer league and then disappeared.


The Wizards, however, were always confident that he’d arrive:

  • Satoransky's dream was to play in the NBA, not stay in Europe.
  • He needed to get more seasoned and what better place to do so in the Spanish ACB League, the next-best competition to the NBA?
  • When Satoransky re-signed with Barcelona earlier this year, that was a security blanket in case he couldn't work out a deal with the Wizards.
  • There weren’t any roster spots available in D.C. and he wanted a chance to play. Gone are Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions, Gary Neal and Garrett Temple
  • He met frequently with vice president Tommy Sheppard, who was key in closing the deal and always kept the lines of communication open.

Whether or not Satoransky pans out is another matter, but the draft-and-stash process of getting him to D.C. worked the way it ideally should.

The Wizards balked at giving him the full mid-level of $5.5 million two years ago –- used it on Paul Pierce instead –- and decided to pick up the option on Miller as John Wall’s backup.

They weren’t willing to give a second-round pick that kind of money who wasn’t proven in the NBA (Draymond Green, who was drafted in a similar range that year, earned less than $1 million for his first three years).

The Pierce experiment worked out and now they’ve secured Satoransky’s services at almost 50% less than what he originally tried to negotiate in a year when of a salary cap explosion. That doesn't sound like a player who has to have his arm twisted to join the Wizards. It sounds like a player who was waiting for the right time to make the move and a team that manuevered to create a roster opening for him behind Wall and Bradley Beal.

Will the Czech national turn out to be more like Kristaps Porzingis, who had a breakout rookie season for the New York Knicks last year as a lottery pick, or the Wizards' failed lottery pick Jan Vesely? 

Satoransky's command of English is far better than Vesely, an indication that his ability to think and process the NBA game should be smoother. He speaks clearly and is easy to understand, but his play has to ultimately do the talking.

"For Kristaps obviously it was a great experience. A positive experience because he became a star right away. I've been in touch with him and I was talking about all that," Satoransky said. "I think he also had a big influcnece on my decision.

"Jan didn't do well like he expected. Kristaps is a different player than Jan becuase he also can shoot the ball great. He's a more complete player. I think both of them had some influence on my decision."

Satoransky appears to understand what's ahead. It's an 82-game season and there's not as much practice time when playing three games in four nights in the NBA. In Europe, a lot of pro teams do two-a-day practices. The rhythm of how things are done day-to-day alone can be a challenge.

"I'm realistic," he said. "I know it will take some time for me to adjust for a new type of game, for an NBA style of game."

The timing of his arrival was near perfect. That alone, however, isn't reason for the Wizards to celebrate. That's just the easy part.