Brandon Webb, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2006 and was one of the top pitchers in baseball before being beset by arm injuries, is retiring.

The right-hander’s agents, Mike Montana and Jonathan Maurer of Millennium Sports Management, confirmed Monday night that Webb was calling it a career.

”He has worked so hard over the past three years to come back but his shoulder just wouldn’t allow it to happen,” Montana said in an email. ”He’s a first class guy with a great family that he’ll get to spend more time with now.”

The 33-year-old Webb hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009 because of shoulder problems. He came up with Arizona in 2003 and had a 2.84 ERA in 180 innings. He pitched more than 200 innings each of the next five seasons for the Diamondbacks, using his heavy sinker to win a Cy Young and earn three All-Star selections. He finished second in the Cy Young voting in both 2007 and ’08, winning a total of 40 games those seasons.

He threw four innings with the Diamondbacks in 2009, leaving his first start of the season with an aching shoulder and missing the rest of the season. In 2011, he signed with the Texas Rangers, but never pitched in a regular-season game.

Feb. 2 - Arizona State guard Jahii Carson (1) drives to the basket against the Washington Huskies during the second half at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Sat Feb 2, 2013 11:04 PM

SEATTLE – Arizona State had a chance Saturday night. A chance to take another leap toward the Top 25. A chance to enter the midpoint of the Pac-12 season in a first-place tie.

But inside Alaska Airlines Arena, one of the conference’s tougher places to play, ASU couldn’t get it done. Washington built an early double-digit lead, then held off a late flurry from the Sun Devils in a wild 96-92 win in front of 8,417 fans.

Shawn Kemp Jr. scored 18 points and Aziz N’Diaye added 16 more as Washington (13-9, 5-4 Pac-12) snapped a four-game losing streak, winning a game it had to have. The Sun Devils dropped to 17-5 and 6-3, falling to third place in the Pac-12.

“We got crushed inside,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “We gave up 50 points in the paint in a variety of ways — low post, transition, offensive rebounds, cutters off of back screens. … And certainly the rebounding was very problematic for us. We really got destroyed on the backboards and we got beat on 50-50 balls.”

In addition to its paint production, Washington outrebounded ASU 36-20. The Huskies had 19-second chance points to ASU’s one. The Sun Devils grabbed only two offensive rebounds. Front-court players Jordan Bachynski and Jonathan Gilling combined for seven rebounds.

Still, Jahii Carson nearly willed the Sun Devils to victory. The freshman point guard again was the best player on the court, scoring 32 points, the sixth time in nine conference games he has scored 20 or more.

But Carson had little help for most of the contest. Senior Carrick Felix, plagued all night with foul trouble, produced just 10 points and one rebound.

Gilling showed signs of breaking out of his shooting slump, hitting six 3-pointers for 22 points, but ASU couldn’t get enough defensive stops. Entering the contest, the Sun Devils had limited Pac-12 opponents to 39.7 percent shooting, best in the Pac-12. But Washington was above 55 for most of the contest, finishing at 52.9 percent.

“Of course, we can score the basketball, but if you can’t stop the other team the scoring doesn’t do any good,” Carson said.

Both teams made incredible shots down the stretch. ASU trailed by as many as 15 with 13 minutes to go, and by 10 with five to go, but rallied. Gilling’s sixth 3-pointer tied the game at 89 with a minute left. Washington’s Scott Suggs missed, but N’Diaye got the rebound and was fouled on the putback. The 3-point play gave Washington a 92-89 lead with 35 seconds left and was the biggest play in the game.

“It comes down to the little things,” said Felix, a statement he has made more than once this season.

Felix missed a 3-pointer on ASU’s next possession. C.J. Wilcox hit two foul shots to put Washington up 94-89, but Carson buried a deep 3-pointer to pull the Sun Devils within 94-92. After a timeout, Washington couldn’t get the ball in bounds, resulting in a five-second call.

ASU had 13.9 seconds to tie, but Carson’s half-court drive was blocked. Washington’s Wilcox closed out the game with two free throws.

“I just wanted to drive the basketball,’’ Carson said. “I knew if I had an opening I could hit the floater. If not, I could get fouled and I knew I could hit two free throws. But down the stretch, on the home court of the home team, it’s tough to get a call.”

Carson shot 13 of 19 from the field and added five assists. The Sun Devils shot 63.8 percent — and lost, something you don’t often see.

ASU trailed 52-44 at halftime, and was fortunate to only be down by eight. Felix, who entered the game with three consecutive double-doubles, played only 11 minutes because of foul trouble. Carson also was limited with foul trouble, but continued his strong play, lofting soft jump shots in the lane over Washington’s post players.

The Sun Devils fell behind 32-19, but pulled within 47-42 when guard Bo Barnes buried a 3-pointer.

L169_CIFR6e0592928fb0e75594ffc0130f6e9e7d.jpg

Sat Feb 2, 2013 1:30 AM

SEATTLE – As a basketball analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, Brevin Knight watched Jahii Carson for the first time in person Thursday night. Needless to say, he came away impressed with the Arizona State freshman point guard.

“He should be up for Freshman of the Year throughout college basketball, not just the Pac-12,” Knight said Friday. “The turnaround this team has had the last two years to where they are now can be directly attributed to him.”

While it’s much too early to discuss postseason awards, Carson’s impact with the Sun Devils cannot be ignored.

This week, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association put him on the watch list for the Wayman Tisdale Award, given to the nation’s top freshman. In addition, ESPN named Carson its Freshman of the Month.

To show he is worthy of such recognition, the 5-foot-10 Carson scored 25 points (with no turnovers in 36 minutes) Thursday to lead ASU past Washington State.

All but four of those points came in the second half when Carson took on more of a scoring role to help the Sun Devils improve to 17-4 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12.

Off to its best start in 32 years, ASU visits Washington Saturday night.

“He has a command of the game,” Knight said of Carson. “He knows when to take over. He knows when to be a set-up point guard. (Thursday night), he understood they were shooting too many 3s. He knew they had to up the tempo and get in the paint more. That shows he is in-tuned with what’s going on. And he has heart. ”

Knight can relate to Carson. Playing at nearly the exact same size, he starred at Stanford from 1993-1997, leaving as the school’s career assists leader.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made him the 16th overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, and Knight went on to play 12 seasons at basketball’s highest level.

He says the point-guard position has gotten “cloudy” over the past few years. In his opinion, many are just combo guards who are forced to dribble.

“You look at Derrick Rose (of the Chicago Bulls). You look at Russell Westbrook (of the Oklahoma City Thunder). Tony Parker (of the San Antonio Spurs) has gotten better at being a playmaker, but today, a lot of guys we call point guards are just hybrid guys you put at that position because they can make passes,” Knight said.

“But Carson understood the game (Thursday night). He could’ve broken down Washington State and shot the ball every time, but he picked his spots. And for him to come out in the second half and score 21 points, he understood his team needed him to score. That’s the sign of a good point guard. Someone like Chris Paul (of the Los Angeles Clippers) or Steve Nash (of the Los Angeles Lakers).”

This has become habit for Carson. Despite sitting out last season as a non-qualifier, he hasn’t shied from the big moment or taking the big shot. He’s averaging 10.8 points in the second half, most of the production coming in crucial moments. He is also shooting 49.7 percent in the second half, opposed to 40.7 percent in the first half.

Knight credited Carson’s maturity as well as ASU’s coaching staff for the point guard’s development.

“I came wanting to see something, and he definitely showed me something,” Knight said. “He’s an excellent player. He’s got to continue to keep his head on straight and understand that it’s going to take hard work, but he has the skill set, and he has the mentality to be a very good player going forward. … I’m going to enjoy calling his games once he gets to the next level.”

Top Freshmen

Anthony Bennett, UNLV: The explosive power forward averages 18.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, shooting 54.9 percent from the field. He torched California for 25 and 13.

Jahii Carson, ASU: The dynamic point guard has scored 20 or more points five times in eight conference games. Overall, he averages 17.6 points and 5.3 assists.

Ben McLemore, Kansas: The 6-foot-5 guard has blossomed into one of the nation’s top perimeter players, averaging 16.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. He scored 33 points in an overtime win of Iowa State, hitting 10 of 12 from the field.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: Muhammad might have the best mid-range game in the Pac-12, and his 18.4 scoring average reflects as much.

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Still raw offensively, but Noel may have the most potential of any other player in the country. He averages 10.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.7 blocked shots. Few play harder.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: He does everything for the Cowboys, contributing 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

fri Feb 1, 2013 9:47 AM

PULLMAN, Wash. — Jahii Carson didn’t let his so-so first half bother him Thursday night.

Carson scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, and led Arizona State to its third straight victory, 63-59 over Washington State.

Carson and Carrick Felix carried the load in the second half for the Sun Devils (17-4, 6-2 Pac-12), scoring all but five of Arizona State’s points after the break, when the Cougars led 28-24.

With the score tied at 58, Carson made a layup and was fouled by Brock Motum. Carson made the free throw to give the Sun Devils a 61-58 lead. And the freshman’s basket with 16 seconds to play accounted for the final margin. He made six of his last seven shots and finished 10 of 19 for the night.

“He is impressive, for a freshman to have that kind of composure down the stretch after struggling in the first half is something,” Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said.

Carson made just 2 of 8 shots in the first half for four points.

“I just got used to their (Washington State) defense, I got used to the court and I just kept trying to shoot with confidence. I started to be more focused in the second half and attack the paint,” Carson said.

The Cougars had a nine-point lead in the first half, the biggest for either team in a game that featured 10 lead changes.

“He (Carson) hurt us in many ways in the second half, driving the ball and shooting, and he started to free up his team for multiple shots,” Washington State head coach Ken Bone said.

Before the late heroics, Washington State had scored seven straight points to make it 58-all. Royce Woolridge, who led the Cougars (11-10, 2-6) with 16 points, had five in that 7-0 run. Woolridge scored 15 of his points in the second half.

Evan Gordon had 13 points and Felix had 11 points — all in the second half — and 11 rebounds for the Sun Devils, who overcame a 4-for-11 performance from the free-throw line.

The Sun Devils are 6-2 in the conference for the first time since 1993-1994, and are off to their best start since 1980-1981, when ASU began the season 19-2 behind eventual NBA players Byron Scott, Fat Lever and Alton Lister.

Mike Ladd had 14 points, and Motum matched Felix’s numbers with 11 points and 11 boards for the Cougars. The point total for Motum was his lowest of the season.

Dexter Kernich-Drew scored 10 points for Washington State, which has lost six times this season by seven or fewer points. The Cougars’ next game is at home Saturday against No. 8 Arizona while the Sun Devils go across the state to face Washington, also on Saturday.

The Sun Devils committed only four turnovers in the game — none by guards Carson, Felix and Gordon. Washington State was 7 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half, tying their best long-range field-goal performance of the season, but went just 2 of 9 the rest of the way.

Upton X2

Posted: January 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

387139_10151396182692451_1601716752_n.jpg

ASU basketball cruises to win over UCLA Bruins

TEMPE — Gritty Arizona State won’t go away. And as a result, perhaps it’s time to view these Sun Devils as Pac-12 contenders.

It’s not so much that they defeated UCLA 78-60 on Saturday, it’s how they did so. Unlike previous seasons, this team doesn’t need to light it up from 3-point range to defeat a good opponent. They have a different mind-set.

In front of 9,337 fans at Wells Fargo Arena, ASU out-muscled the Bruins. The Sun Devils got into the paint, they dominated the boards. In doing so they improved to 16-4 and 5-2 in the Pac-12, moving into third place in a conference race that has yet to establish a clear pecking order.

“We’re getting close,” senior forward Carrick Felix said. “I still think we have some things we have to clean up. Staying consistent is definitely the key for us, but I think we’re on our way.”

It was ASU’s biggest win of the season, trumping earlier efforts against Arkansas and Colorado. UCLA, which played without starting forward Travis Wear, was headed into the Top 25 following Thursday’s win over Arizona. That’s probably not the case anymore. The Bruins dropped to 16-5 and 6-2, defeated in Tempe for the first time in three seasons.

“We were really outplayed today,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “Give Arizona State all the credit. I thought they did all the tough things. They were very good at both ends of the floor.”

The Sun Devils led for almost the entire way. For most of the second half their lead was in double digits. They outrebounded UCLA 53-33.

In their last loss, Jan.19 to Arizona, ASU lacked a supporting cast. Against the Bruins, they had contribution from several areas.

Jordan Bachynski started, but was removed from the contest just 3 minutes and 31 seconds later. The coaching staff’s message: rebound. By game’s end, the 7-foot-2 center had posted career highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds. He also blocked six blocked shots.

“J.B., man, he was a beast today,” Felix said.

Felix had seven turnovers in the Arizona loss. Since then, in wins over USC and UCLA, he has one in 83 minutes. Saturday, he provided 23 points, 11 rebounds and strong defense on UCLA leading scorer Shabazz Muhammad.

Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling has yet to find his shot, but no one can argue his effort — seven points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Then there’s Jahii Carson, who wasn’t spectacular against UCLA, just steady. He finished with 12 points and eight assists, turning the ball over just three times in 40 minutes.

“Our guys, more than anything, play together,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “They’re getting a better understanding of each other and what we’re trying to accomplish. And then I think we owe a lot to Jahii. Even though he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well today, the ball’s in his hands so much … and he just kind of controls things for us.”

Offensively, ASU’s biggest difference is shot selection. Entering Saturday, ASU shot 53.5 percent from two-point range, ranking 19th nationally. The previous two seasons they ranked 77th and 151st, respectively. Against UCLA, the Sun Devils missed 15 of 20 from 3-point range, but shot 56.8 percent from inside the arc.

Defensively, ASU has held four of six Pac-12 opponents to under 40percent shooting. Saturday, they slowed UCLA by playing off point guard Larry Drew, daring him to shoot, which cut off penetration lanes. ASU also limited the Bruins in transition, where they thrive. UCLA shot 34.7 percent, well off its season mark of 47.7, which led the Pac-12.

“The defensive end of the floor more than anything was the difference for us,” Sendek said.

There’s still much basketball left. In fact, the only thing that’s settled at this point is this: For just the fourth time in 18 years, ASU will have a winning conference record at the halfway point of the conference season. Howland is impressed.

“Herb has done a terrific job this season with his team,” he said. “Their defense is very, very good. They’re a team to be reckoned with the rest of the way.”

azcentral sportsFri Jan 25, 2013 1:11 AM

Charles Barkley has not worked a home game at US Airways Center since he was bounding up and down the floor in 1996.

That makes today’s visit a rare treat for him and Suns fans. Despite living in the Valley and working as a NBA analyst for TNT since 2000, Barkley had avoided appearances at Suns games until he agreed to join the TNT crew for tonight’s Suns-Clippers game.

He said he has never wanted to get in the Suns’ way. He also said the Suns are not staying out of their own way.

“When I look at the Suns, I’m just confused what direction they are trying to go,” Barkley said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to what they’re doing right now.

“It bothers me because I have to watch them every night. It should be interesting because I’m going to do my job and be honest. I hope they don’t take it personal. I have no idea what they’re doing.”

Barkley, who turns 50 on Feb.20, has commuted from Phoenix to his TNT studio analyst job in Atlanta weekly for 13 years but he has itched to do more in recent years, including working occasional games. Barkley’s real aspiration is be an NBA general manager, which coincides with the franchise he sees needing a fix.

“Would I be interested in being a GM there? Sure, of course, I would be,” said Barkley, who does not know Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver personally and wants to be approached. “I don’t have a preference (of which team). Everybody knows that I want to be a GM. But I don’t think that you can cherry-pick your job.”

The past week’s coaching shake-up shook up Barkley as well. On Friday, the Suns executed a friendly firing of Alvin Gentry, who agreed to a mutual parting terminology with the team at 13-28.

“It’s been a joke since the beginning,” Barkley said. “They put him in a situation that he could not be successful and then they threw him under the bus.

“The fans are astute and know that it isn’t a good Suns team. I think Alvin is a good coach. He didn’t become a bad coach in the last 30 to 40 games. That team is just not very good.”

A two-day process selected player development coordinator Lindsey Hunter as interim head coach and led assistant coach and Barkley’s fellow Ring of Honor member, Dan Majerle, to resign. Majerle was one of Barkley’s favorite teammates and might be even more popular in Phoenix.

“I was 100 percent shocked that Dan Majerle didn’t get that job,” said Barkley, who was Majerle’s NBA Finals teammate 20 years ago. “When was the last time a NBA team fired a coach and then didn’t hire somebody from their (coaching) staff? That would indicate to me that there is a roster problem, not a coaching problem. The Brooklyn Nets, when they fired Avery (Johnson), they hired one of the assistants because you’re not going to change the system in the season. It’s just not a good situation right now.”

Barkley said that it is “a conflict of interest” for a former agent, Lon Babby, to be the Suns president of basketball operations. Beyond the hierarchy, Barkley has a bigger issue with the roster that he said does not have building blocks to make the Suns competitive. He used his other past home, Philadelphia, as an example with two pieces, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young, for the next decade. He likes Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic but is not sure the same can be said for them.

“You either have a young team building for the future or you’re trying to get bad and get draft picks and clear cap space,” Barkley said. “When I look at their team, they don’t have any direction. They don’t have any vision. What are they? I hope they didn’t think they were trying to make the playoffs. And I don’t see them developing young players getting ready for the future.”

When the Suns made Michael Beasley their first free-agency target, Barkley said it was a puzzling move.

“Miami let him go when they weren’t very good and Minnesota is not a very good team and they let him go,” Barkley said. “That would have sent red flags up for me.”

Barkley used to perturb some Suns fans during the successful 2004-10 run because he would criticize his old franchise, whether it be for Mike D’Antoni’s style of play or Amar’e Stoudemire’s lack of rebounding. This time, he is in line with many of their voices of frustration with the Suns, who are headed toward a third consecutive non-playoff season for the first time since 1985-88.

“I’m pretty good at what I do,” Barkley said. “When I said you couldn’t outscore people and shoot 3s and that you weren’t going to win in the playoffs, that came true. It wasn’t personal. You have to play defense. You have to rebound the ball. You can’t survive on shooting 3s.

“My criticisms are never personal. They are always basketball-related. I was 100 percent right on the D’Antoni Suns. At least they were entertaining back then. It’s hard for me to watch. Phoenix is my home. I’m not a snowbird. I live in Phoenix and I want the Suns to do well.”