Around The WNBA Basketball

Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones is the unanimous choice AP Player of the Year. Ashley Landis/Associated Press

BASKETBALL

Jonquel Jones is no stranger to winning Associated Press WNBA awards. In previous years, the Connecticut Sun forward has been honored by the media that votes on the weekly AP WNBA power poll as the Sixth Woman of the Year and Most Improved Player. This year, the 6-foot-6 Jones is the unanimous choice AP Player of the Year honors by the 14-member panel.

The WNBA will announce its league awards over the course of the postseason, which begins Thursday.

Jones guided Connecticut to the best record in the league and the top seed in the WNBA playoffs and finished the season averaging a career-best 19.4 points and a league-leading 11.2 rebounds.

The Sun also have the AP’s Most Improved Player in Brionna Jones. She averaged a career-best 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot 57.1% from the field.

• Sylvia Fowles as Defensive Player of the Year. It’s the third time she’s been honored with the award since 2016 º the first year the AP gave out awards.

• Kelsey Plum is the Sixth Woman of the Year, ending Las Vegas teammate Dearica Hamby’s two-year run as the league’s top reserve. Plum also earned the Comeback Player of the Year award. She missed last season with an Achilles’ tendon injury only to return this year and average a career-best 14.8 points and 3.6 assists.

• Michaela Onyenwere was the unanimous choice as Rookie of the Year. The No. 6 pick of the New York Liberty averaged 8.6 points and started 29 of the 32 games this season.

• The AP’s first-team all league includes Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles. The second team is A’ja Wilson, Jewell Loyd, Fowles, Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot.

NBA: The Minnesota Timberwolves fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas less than a week before training camp in yet another leadership change for a franchise often in flux.

Owner Glen Taylor announced that the Timberwolves “parted ways” with Rosas in a two-sentence statement that revealed no explanation for the dismissal after just two seasons.

Rosas became the highest-ranking Latino to run an NBA team, when he was hired in May 2019 after a long tenure in the front office with the Houston Rockets.

Rosas replaced Tom Thibodeau, who held the dual role of head coach and president of basketball operations until his firing by the Timberwolves four months earlier.

• The NBA fined Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob $50,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule with comments he made about Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.

Lacob said the Warriors had no interest in the disgruntled Sixers guard.

“In some ways, it doesn’t really fit what we’re doing,” Lacob said this week. “He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don’t know.

“He’s very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond (Green). Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That’s one issue. The salary structure is another.”

SOCCER

MLS: Carles Gil scored in the 91st minute and the visiting New England Revolution beat the Chicago Fire 3-2, becoming the first MLS team to clinch a playoff spot.

New England (18-4-5) won for the 11th time in 14 games to reach 59 points – 15 ahead of second-place Nashville. Chicago (6-15-5) lost at home for the second time in nine matches.

Gil took a pass from Tajon Buchanan, dribbled down the right side of the box and sent a shot over goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from a difficult angle.

New England led 1-0 and 2-1. Henry Kessler scored in the 11th minute and Teal Bunbury in the 62nd. Bunbury ran past the defense for Gustavo Bou’s glancing header and calmly slotted it past Slonina.

For Chicago, Carlos Teran scored in the 40th by heading Gaston Gimenez’s corner kick off the hands of Matt Turner. Gimenez scored in the 63rd on a wide-open shot from the penalty spot.

MARATHON

RETIREMENT: Marathon runner Mary Keitany retired from the sport on Wednesday because of a back injury, ending a career in which she won multiple races in London and New York and set the world record for a women-only race. The 39-year-old Kenyan said pandemic-related travel restrictions have stopped her from coming to Europe to get treatment on an injury sustained in 2019.

“Every time I thought I had got over the injury and started training hard, it became a problem again,” Keitany said. “So now is the time to say goodbye – if only as an elite runner – to the sport I love so much.”

Keitany won the London Marathon three times, in 2011, ’12 and ’17. In her victory in 2017, she finished in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 1 second. Only two women – Brigid Kosgei and Paula Radcliffe – have run a marathon quicker and they were in races also containing male pacesetters.

World Athletics makes a distinction between the record times set by Keitany and Kosgei, who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04.

Keitany was a four-time winner of the New York City Marathon (2014-16 and ’18), and also won the world half marathon title in 2009.

TENNIS

OSTRAVA OPEN: Top-seeded Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals at Ostrava, Czech Republic, with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over unseeded Yulia Putintseva.

The 2020 French Open champion converted three of her seven breakpoints and dropped her serve once to set up a quarterfinal match against either seventh-seeded Elena Rybakina or Magda Linette at the hardcourt indoor tournament.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova beat Anastasia Potapova 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3 to make the quarterfinals. The two-time Wimbledon champion next faces either Jil Teichmann or Alison Riske, who beat Fiona Ferro 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in their first-round match.

In another first-round match, Jelena Ostapenko eliminated Anna Blinkova, 6-4, 6-0 to meet fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.

Anett Kontaveit upset ninth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals where she will play either third-seeded Belinda Bencic or Sara Sorribes Tormo.

ASTANA OPEN: Defending champion John Millman battled through another tough match at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win over Jaume Munar.

Millman, seeded fifth, needed 3 hours and 10 minutes to defeat Munar a day after opening his title defense with a three-set victory over local qualifier Dmitry Popko.

Millman, 32, will face either Filip Krajinovic or James Duckworth in the last eight of the hard-court tournament. Duckworth defeated local favorite Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (3), 6-1 in their first-round match.

Also, seventh-seeded Laslo Djere defeated Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 and Ilya Ivashka defeated local wild card Timofey Skatov 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.

BNP PARIBAS OPEN: Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament at Indian Wells, California, a move that was expected after she indicated following her U.S. Open loss this month that she planned to take another extended break from tennis.

The hard-court tournament is scheduled for Oct. 4-17 after twice being delayed during the coronavirus pandemic.

COACHING CHANGE: Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep no longer will be coached by Darren Cahill.

Halep announced the split “after six wonderful years working together” via a Twitter post, saying she and Cahill “have decided that it’s time to end our working relationship.”

Halep won the French Open in 2018, beating Sloane Stephens in the final, and Wimbledon in 2019, defeating Serena Williams in the final.

Halep lost in the fourth round of the U.S. Open this month. She missed the French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics after tearing her left calf at the Italian Open in May.

SWIMMING

COLLEGES: Katie Ledecky announced she is moving to the University of Florida to be closer to home and train under Anthony Nesty, a rising star coach who will oversee her preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic gold medalist, spent the last five years at Stanford University, where she worked with U.S. national team coach Greg Meehan while earning a psychology degree.

The Washington, D.C., native will now be training with Nesty, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist who serves as the primary coach to both Bobby Finke, who swept the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles at the Tokyo Games, and Kieran Smith, who took bronze in the 400 free.

Ledecky will also serve as a volunteer assistant coach on the Gators’ staff, a coup for Nesty when he hits the recruiting trail.

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