Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

COTA A WIN AWAY

* Ed Cota of Zalgiris Kaunas is now just one victory from adding a Lithuanian League championship to his resume. A win by Zalgiris in game four last week gave them a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven finals series versus Lietuvos rytas. Ed Cota came up with a 16-point, nine-assist effort as his point guard counterpart, South Carolina's Aaron Lucas, tallied 26.

Game five on Saturday went down to the wire and beyond with Lietuvos escaping with a 103-99 overtime victory. The Zalgiris road loss brought the series to 3-2, despite 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists by Cota.

Last week we told you about Ed Cota's involvement in the dramatic conclusion of the title series opener. Here's a link to a full report on that game and here's a link to a video clip of the "miracle finish" (tied at 80, with 0.3 seconds to go, and Cota about to throw the ball in). And also a Happy Birthday wish for Ed Cota as he celebrates his 27th today!

WNBA 2003 STARTS THURSDAY

* Look for several former Tar Heels in action once the WNBA season begins on Thursday and runs through August 25.

Nikki Teasley ('02) is back for her second season with the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks. Veteran pro and UNC women's assistant coach Charlotte Smith-Taylor ('95) is with the Charlotte Sting. Another vet, Tracy Reid ('93) plays for the Phoenix Mercury. Sylvia Crawley ('94) and LaQuanda (Barksdale) Quick ('01) are teammates in San Antonio after both being in Portland last year. And Coretta Brown ('03) will be a rookie with the Indiana Fever.

WNBA games will be televised nationally by ABC, ESPN2, Oxygen, NBA TV and Telemundo.

MORE OVERSEAS PLAYOFF UPDATES ...

* ALBA Berlin has advanced to the German League semifinals and has a 1-0 lead, but Henrik Rodl is done for the season following a serious injury to his left knee in Berlin's quarterfinal game five victory. Rodl had surgery on Friday and faces a recovery period of three to four months.

* Kris Lang and Anwil Wloclawek have gotten off to a 2-0 start in the best-of-five semifinals of the Polish League playoffs. Lang scored eight points in each game, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and 2-for-8 at the line. The series against Idea Slask Wroclaw, featuring Acie Earl (Iowa) and Sean Colson (UNC-Charlotte), continues on May 23.

* J.R. Reid and Leon Casa Espana dropped game one of the LEB semifinals 87-69, but came back in game two with an 84-77 road victory to tie the best-of-five series at 1-1. Reid scored 13 points (3-8 FG, 7-8 FT) and pulled down seven boards in game two. Game three is on May 21.

* Ademola Okulaja is playoff-bound with Uncaja Malaga (24-10, 3rd-place) following the conclusion of the ACB schedule in Spain. Unicaja will meet Tau Ceramica (18-16, 6th-place), the ACB's defending champs, in the quarterfinals on May 22.

Okulaja finished the ACB regular season with 32 games played, 23.4 minutes per game, 9.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 48.4 2-pt. FG%, 35.8 3-pt. FG% and 57.9 FT%.

LEBO STAYS AT CHATTANOOGA

* Jeff Lebo ('89) decided he did not want to be the head coach at Iowa State. The Des Moines Register reported last week that Lebo turned down the job offer after a visit to Ames, Iowa with his wife.

Lebo returned to Chattanooga and announced he had withdrawn from consideration, but did not go into specifics on why he did not accept the higher paying Iowa State offer ($600,000 to $800,000) in favor of staying at Tennessee-Chattanooga ($360,000).

"Jeff loves Chattanooga and feels like he has more work to do there," Chattanooga assistant coach John Shulman told the Register. "He realizes what's important to him -- quality of life, living in a great city, and coaching basketball. He's one of those guys that's in it for the right reasons. If he wasn't he'd be in Ames right now."

KUPCHAK TO RESHAPE LAKERS

* Laker's General Manager Mitch Kupchak will be spending the summer trying to get the Lakers back into championship form. Kupchak is putting the word out that the Lakers could have a very different look next year.

"When you win three championships in a row, maybe you're thinking you're doing everything you can do. But my guess is, you get a little bit soft and maybe you take an easy route every now and then. I would hope and think that any of our players or coaches that contemplates taking a shortcut this summer is making a gross error in judgement," Kupchak said at his season-ending press conference last Thusday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"We'll do the best we can to make sure our players end up in the right place, a place that's good for them. That may even be here. But, when you don't win, you can kind of say, 'All bets are off,'" Kupchak added.

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