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SPORTS DIGEST: Patriots offensive line coach has ties to the Southland

Dante Scarnecchia isn’t a household name anywhere outside of New England probably. Scarnecchia is the longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach who retired after the 2013 season only to return to the Patriots for this season.

He will be on the sidelines when the Patriots face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI Feb. 4 in Houston.

Scarnecchia is one of the few participants in this year’s Super Bowl with ties to this area. He graduated from Montebello High School in 1966 and continued his football career at Taft College that fall before transferring to Cal Western University, a small school in the San Diego area.

After graduating from Cal Western, he coached there for three years before moving to Iowa State, Southern Methodist University, University of Pacific and Northern Arizona. In 1980, he returned to Southern Methodist as offensive line coach for Ron Meyer.

Two years later Meyer was named head coach of the Patriots and Scarnecchia followed him there. He’s been in the NFL ever since.

He coached seven years for the Patriots in his first stint with the team, including the 1985 Super Bowl, where the Patriots were crushed by the Chicago Bears. In 1989, he followed Meyer to the Indianapolis Colts, but returned to the Patriots in 1991. He served as interim coach of the Patriots for eight games in 1992 when head coach Dick McPherson became ill and was the only coach from that staff retained when Bill Parcells was named head coach the following year.

He also coached under Pete Carroll with the Patriots and has been a mainstay on the staff under Bill Belichick.

In 2007, he was named the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year by SI.com. If the Patriots win a fifth Super Bowl this weekend, the play of the offensive line will probably be a main reason.

Of those playing in Sunday’s game, only Falcons safety Dashon Goldson and Patriots special teamer Matt Slater have local ties.

Goldson is from Carson and played his college football at the University of Washington. Slater, the son of former Rams Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, played wide receiver at UCLA.

He is listed at wide receiver for the Patriots, also but plays mostly on special teams. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl six times as a special team player.

In nine years in the league, he has caught one pass and carried the ball twice.

Expect the Super Bowl to be a good game with lots of scoring. The over-under at 581/2 is the highest ever for a Super Bowl. Tom Brady and company have been there before. Most of the Falcons haven’t.

I predict a 31-28 win for the Patriots.

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac dunks against the Denver Nuggets in a game at Staples Center last month. Zubac scored a career high 17 points Jan. 31 against the Nuggets as the Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 120-116 victory. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers)

Lakers rookie center Ivica Zubac dunks against the Denver Nuggets in a game at Staples Center last month. Zubac scored a career high 17 points Jan. 31 against the Nuggets as the Lakers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 120-116 victory. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers)

LAKERS MILESTONE: With a 120-116 win over the Denver Nuggets Jan. 31, the Lakers won their 17th game of the season, equaling last season’s win total.

It was a solid win for the Lakers, who surrendered an eight-point lad to the Nuggets only to rally back and win the game.

The game marked the return to the lineup of D’Angelo Russell, who had sat out three games with a knee injury. Russell scored 22 points in his return to the lineup and, more importantly, recorded double figures in assists for the first time in his career.

Rookie center Ivica Zubac continued to show improvement, scoring a career high 17 points in 21 minutes of action. Look for those minutes to increase as Zubac continues to learn the NBA game.

The Lakers have survived knee injuries to Russell and Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle should return to action Feb. 2 after missing several games due to pneumonia.

The Lakers front office is going to have to make a decision real soon. Do you stick with veteran starters Timofey Mosgov an Luol Deng and try to protect their lottery pick in the draft this year or do you play the kids more and more and see how many games you can win.

There are some great college players expected to come out in this year’s draft. The Lakers again will retain their first-round draft pick if they are one of the first three teams drafting. Otherwise, Philadelphia gets it.

It’s a tough decision for the Lakers. UCLA’s Lonzo Ball would look real good in purple and gold.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has been the subject of recent trade rumors with the Los Angeles Clippers. Knicks President Phil Jackson is trying to unload Anthony’s large contract. (Courtesy photo)

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has been the subject of recent trade rumors with the Los Angeles Clippers. Knicks President Phil Jackson is trying to unload Anthony’s large contract. (Courtesy photo)

 

NO CARMELO: The Clippers, on the other hand, have an easy decision to make. Just say no to Carmelo.

The trade rumors that have Carmelo Anthony moving to Los Angeles from the Knicks are touch to listen to.

Why would Doc Rivers even consider that trade?

Granted, the Clippers have a gaping hole at small forward, but Anthony would not make the Clippers a better team, especially if they had to sacrifice most of their scoring power of the bench to get him.

Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers are both rumored to be part of the deal. Both average 11.8 points a game off the bench and both are needed until Chris Paul returns in late March after thumb surgery.

Anthony also would ruin the flow of the Clippers offense because once you pass the ball to him, you will never get it back.

The Clippers may need a forward who can score from outside if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs this season, but Carmelo Anthony is not the solution to that problem.

OLYMPICS STATUS: The city’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games may have hit a barricade in the form of President Donald Trump.

Trump’s decision to ban foreign travelers from several Arab countries could turn the international community against the United States as the bid process moves forward to a September decision.

Los Angeles 2024, the organization behind the Olympics movement, and United States Olympic Committee officials spent much of last weekend working with government officials to ensure Iran’s archery team would be able to travel to a World Cup event in Las Vegas Feb. 10-12. Iran is one of the seven Muslim nations named in Trump’s executive order banning most citizens from those countries from entering the U.S.

Alma College professor Derick L. Hulme, who authored the book, “The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott,” described the first 10 days of the Trump administration as “a catastrophe” for Los Angeles’ bid, according to the Orange County Register.

“In many ways, I would be extremely surprised if any U.S. city would be a viable candidate [in the coming years] because of Trump,” Hulme said. “There might not be a viable U.S. candidate for eight to 16 years.

“Trump has this reputation for being unpredictable, and that’s not going to go well with the IOC,” he added. “They’re not looking for problems. At this point they want to avoid uncertainty, and Trump makes a U.S. bid a significant risk. The Trump administration is behaving in such a reckless fashion.”

USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin (11) drives against UCLA’s Aaron Holiday (3) in the Trojans 84-76 win over the Bruins Jan. 25 at Galen Center. The two teams play again Feb. 18 at Pauley Pavilion. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

USC point guard Jordan McLaughlin (11) drives against UCLA’s Aaron Holiday (3) in the Trojans 84-76 win over the Bruins Jan. 25 at Galen Center. The two teams play again Feb. 18 at Pauley Pavilion. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

COLLEGE RIVALRY: USC’s 84-76 victory over UCLA in men’s basketball Jan. 25 meant everything to the Trojans and not very much to UCLA. After getting off to a slow start in the Pac 12 Conference, USC needed an impressive victory and got one.

UCLA gets another shot at USC at Pauley Pavilion Feb. 18. The two teams could meet a third time in the Pac 12 Tournament in March. By virtue of wins over Ohio State and Kentucky, UCLA is almost guaranteed a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

USC, which played a weak pre-conference schedule, needs as many impressive wins in Pac 12 play as possible. Getting forward Bennie Boatwright back from a knee injury should help the Trojans reach their goal.

SIGNING DAY: Feb. 1 was signing day for local high school football players making their decisions on where to continue their football careers. Unfortunately, signing day and The Wave deadlines clash so I will be following local signings next week.

 

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