Grizzlies hire MIT coach Raman as assistant coach

The Memphis Grizzlies on Friday hired Sonia Raman as an assistant coach. She replaces Niele Ivey, who was hired by Notre Dame in April.

Raman spent the past 12 seasons as women’s basketball coach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she reached the NCAA Tournament twice. The Engineers went 91-45 over her final five seasons. She started coaching as an assistant at her alma mater, Tufts. She then spent six years as an assistant at Wellesley.

“She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game as well as a strong passion for the game,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”

Little Richard song to introduce ‘MNF’

ESPN is hoping that one of the architects of rock n’ roll can bring some new energy to their “Monday Night Football” show with fewer fans in the stands this year.

The new season starting Monday will feature a new version of Little Richard’s hit “Rip It Up” featuring new instrumentals and backup vocals from the Virginia-based band Butcher Brown.

The song replaces Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” which was repurposed with new lyrics like, “All my rowdy friends are here for Monday night.” Williams’ song was used on the show for two periods, 1989-2011 and then 2017-2019.

ESPN said in a press release on Friday that Little Richard’s song will be combined with NFL and team highlights. The 1956 song was a No. 1 R&B hit for the flamboyant Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who died in May at the age of 87 in Tennessee.

“Monday Night Football” will kick off with a doubleheader featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers playing New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos.

Big 12 to implement rapid COVID-19 tests day before games

The Big 12 announced Friday it has secured access to COVID-19 antigen testing that produces rapid results and will be used the day before competition on players, coaches and staff.

The partnership with Virtual Care for Families calls for a testing program that will use Quidel Rapid Antigen tests. The Pac-12 recently announced a partnership with Quidel that will provide its schools with the capacity to test daily and get results in about 15 minutes.

The Big 12 said it expects the same timeframe from the Quidel tests.

NHL moves up draft to Oct. 6-7, free agency starts Oct. 9

The NHL on Friday moved its draft up to Oct. 6-7 and set an Oct. 9 start for free agency.

The first round of the draft will be Oct. 6, with the New York Rangers on the clock and Alexis Lafrenière the consensus top option for the No. 1 pick. The remaining rounds will take place Oct. 7, and all the drafting will be done virtually.

Free agency begins at noon Eastern two days later. And after the league and NHL Players’ Association agreed to a collective bargaining agreement extension, there won’t be an interview period in the days leading to the start of the free-agent frenzy.

The draft was originally scheduled for Oct. 9-10, with free agency happening either one of those days or nine days after the Stanley Cup Final ended. With the conference final round ongoing, the Stanley Cup could finish in late September or stretch into early October.

Preakness ends playing of ‘extremely offensive’ state song

The official state song “Maryland, My Maryland” will not be performed before the Preakness next month because the lyrics are perceived by some to be racist.

A spokesperson for Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness, said Friday the tradition of playing the song before the race will be scrapped on Oct. 3, when the Triple Crown series comes to Baltimore.

The action is a follow-up of a statement by Maryland Jockey Club on June 25 in response to Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones’ move to abolish “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state song due to its roots to the Confederacy during the Civil War. “The Maryland Jockey Club is respectful and supportive of Speaker Jones’ move to remove “Maryland My Maryland” as the state song, and we look forward to starting a new tradition for Preakness 145,” the statement read.

The song was written by James Ryder Randall as a poem in 1861. The poem’s opening line is “The despot’s heel is on thy shore,” a reference to President Abraham Lincoln.

The lyrics include “Avenge the patriotic gore… That flecked the streets of Baltimore,” and later refers to the Union as “Northern scum!”

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