Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

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Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP) -- Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, on a trip already marked by his misstep of calling some of London's Olympics issues "disconcerting," has an Olympic history of his own that could prove problematic: His management of the 2002 Winter Games was not without controversy.

Romney was set to attend Friday's opening ceremony of the London Games on the first part of a three-nation tour that will take him to Israel and Poland. The itinerary is designed to test Romney's diplomatic skills and political strengths as he challenges President Barack Obama in the November election.

Romney's political career was born out of his leading role at the Salt Lake City Games, which were plagued by scandal before he was chosen to take over.

On Friday, he said "it looks to me like London is ready," although he observed in an NBC interview that "it is hard to put on the Games in a major metropolitan area."

Romney has been trying to soften his earlier criticism of London's preparation for the games, in which he called problems such as late-developing security issues "disconcerting." British leaders jumped on the remark, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying, "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

London Mayor Boris Johnson told tens of thousands gathered in Hyde Park: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!"

Former U.S. gold medalist Carl Lewis told The Independent newspaper, "I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country."

Asked Friday about the stir his remarks caused, Romney replied, "I'm absolutely convinced that the people here are ready for the Games, and in just a few moments, all the things the politicians say will be swept away" by excitement over the competition.

The Olympic focus also brought fresh attention to Romney's actions in Utah a decade ago.

"The country is in need of a turnaround. The Olympics was a turnaround," Romney told CNN in an interview broadcast as London slept early Friday morning. "The attacks that come by people who are trying to knock down my business career, or my Olympic experience, or our success, those attacks are not going to be successful."

Such attacks have been plentiful in recent months. Democrats and even some Republicans have criticized Romney for taking credit for the 2002 games' success while relying on federal funding to help cover costs as the Salt Lake Olympics sought to recover from financial mismanagement and corruption.

"One of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games," Rick Santorum, now a Romney supporter, said in February when he opposed Romney for the Republican nomination. "He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Games -- in an earmark."

By Romney's account, the government spent about 600 million helping the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. He has made himself the very public face of the effort, claiming that he personally cut millions from the budget, wooed major companies and won sponsorships himself and pulled the whole endeavor back from the brink of failure. His record in Salt Lake was the cornerstone of his run for governor in Massachusetts, a campaign he announced just weeks after the games concluded.

Romney, who promises to slash federal spending if elected president, rarely acknowledges the federal support for the 2002 games on the campaign trail. His aides say much of it was for increased security costs after the 2001 terrorist attacks, which occurred about five months earlier.

Romney doesn't elaborate on his role in persuading congressional appropriators and critics to give the games more money.

In the 2004 book he wrote about the games, "Turnaround," Romney mentioned one of the lessons he learned: "If you work at it long enough, there is always another way to get the help you need in Washington."

CSN's Buckets List: Some weak(s) to remember

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CSN's Buckets List: Some weak(s) to remember

Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!

The shakeups continue! UCLA's defensive deficiencies gor the best of the Bruins at home against a newly minted Arizona lineup. West Virginia had a brutal week. Meanwhile, injury issues are piling up around the country: Creighton lost star point guard Maurice Watson for the season with a torn ACL, Indiana lost NBA prospect OG Anunoby for the season with a knee injury, and Oregon lost Dillon Brooks for the near future with a lower leg injury. The Top 15 has never looked so fragile. So let's look at each team's weaknesses this week, shall we?

1. Villanova (19-1) - The Wildcats have two major issues that could keep them from winning back-to-back titles for the first time since Florida did it in 2006-07:  1) They don't have an offensive post presence, and, more importantly, 2) they play seven-deep and are clearly getting tired at times during games.

2. Kansas (18-1) - It's no secret the Jayhawks' depth in the frontcourt is (gulp) underwhelming.  When Landen Lucas goes to the bench, Kansas' defense goes into the toilet. 

3. Gonzaga (19-0) - Hard to find a weakness with an undefeated team, but here's the problem: The 'Zags face extremely weak competition, and will continue to do so until March. Their lack of a big test for two-plus months will hurt.

4. Kentucky (17-2) - As athletic and offensively solid as Kentucky is, this is one of the worst defensive units that John Calipari has had. The 'Cats also play very uptempo, and will sure be tested in a half-court atmosphere come March.

5. Baylor (18-1) - The Bears continue to impress, but their guard play and consistency shooting the ball from deep could haunt them in March. They need guard play in the tourney.

6. Oregon (18-2) - Health. How long will Dillon Brooks be out?  His injury early in the season hurt them, and it will certainly hurt again. He's their best player. No question.

7. Florida State (18-2) - Crazy that the 'Noles are in this position and not playing close to the defensive efficiency they're used to playing. That, combined with the fact that they're playing a crazy high pace, is going to make March games feel a lot tougher.

8. Arizona (18-2) - The Wildcats are riding high after upsetting UCLA in Westwood and getting Alonzo Trier back on the same night. Chemistry is now what 'Zona will need to develop.  

9. UCLA (19-2) - The Bruins are super-talented. However, they sport the kiss-of-death weakness: High tempo combined with horrific defensive efficiency.

10. North Carolina (18-3) - UNC is like UCLA. Super-talented but with the habit of playing down to bad competition and also going through defensive lapses.

11. Creighton (18-2) - The Bluejays issue used to be defensive efficiency., which has been a problem all year. Now, however, it's the fact that Maurice Watson is done for the year. Killer injury.

12. Butler (17-3) - The Bulldogs are a solid team all around, but lately they haven't shown up at all in the first half of games and have struggled to get easy baskets. They may have peaked too early.

13. Notre Dame (17-3) - ND has very few issues and is a really solid squad.  However, defense is a problem for the Irish at times, as they rank fairly low in defensive efficiency, and their very good offense has stalled in the half-court at times.

14. West Virginia (15-4) - The Mountaineers are boom or bust on defense. Their press forces the most turnovers in the country by far, but when their press is broken, they give up a ton of points. They are also incredibly high-tempo and frantic, which leads to a high-turnover offense as well.

15. Virginia (15-3) - The 'Cavs are very good on defense, but they lack a true go-to scorer and go through waves where it seems like scoring is incredibly difficult.

LOCAL FLAVOR

Rhode Island (12-6) - The Rams hold steady with a nice win over Duquesne, but what I said last week holds true: Win the conference tournament, or else . . . 

Providence (13-8) - Nice road win over Georgetown followed by a loss at Villanova which is nothing to worry about. However, the Friars still need at least two signature wins, and those opportunities are passing them by.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

  • Tuesday, January 24 -- Kansas at West Virginia; Virginia at Notre Dame
  • Thursday, January 26 -- Xavier at Cincinnati
  • Saturday, January 28 -- Kansas at Kentucky
  • Sunday, January 29 -- Virginia at Villanova

POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH

Malik Monk - This kid is a bonafide scorer.  He is averaging 21.7 points in under 30 minutes per game and he's doing it in a variety of ways.  He can get to the rim, but he also shoots a lot of 3's and a lot of mid-range jumpers. Sounds like a recipe for a high-volume, low-efficiency scorer, right?  But get this: Monk is shooting 50.7 percemt from the field and 41.4 from 3-pt range. That's pretty nuts considering his shot selection.

Lauri Markkanen - This kid is about to skyrocket up draft boards.  He will absolutely pass Jonathan Isaac and will be the top big man in the 2017 draft.  He's got some Kevin Love to his game with more size.  The 7-footer is averaging 17 and 7, while shooting a crazy 52.4/50.0/83.5 split.  Stud.

Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.

Alarm-puller: ‘I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan’

Alarm-puller: ‘I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan’

Intentionally or otherwise, the guy who allegedly pulled the fire alarm at the Steelers’ hotel Sunday morning may have also provided the average Bud Light-loving Bostonian a new motto. 

“I’m drunk. I’m stupid. I’m a Pats fan,” Dennis Harrison told police after he was arrested, according to the Boston Globe.  

Citing the State Police report, the Globe wrote Monday that Harrison was talked into pulling the alarm while at a party in Revere, with a friend driving the 25-year-old to the Boston Hilton Logan Airport hotel Sunday morning. 

Harrison reportedly walked up to the second floor and pulled the fire alarm before returning to the car, but his friend and the keys were gone. He was then picked up by police while walking away from the hotel. 

According to the Globe, Harrison pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and setting off a false fire alarm Monday and was released on personal recognizance.