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Sports briefs


TOUR DE FRANCE: The Tour de France entered the second half much the way it began - with Germany's Jan Ullrich in the leader's yellow jersey and police questioning a team about drugs.

Ullrich took a 71-second lead over American Bobby Julich into today's 12th stage, a 137-mile leg to Cap d'Agde as the race makes its way across southern France before hitting the Alps on Monday.

Ullrich began the race July 11 in Ireland as the defending champion, but lost the yellow jersey for a week before gaining it back after Saturday's time trial and the first mountain stage Tuesday.


SUCKOW, KENNEDY ARE LUGE COACHES: Wendel Suckow and Duncan Kennedy, two of the top American luge racers in recent seasons, were appointed Thursday to the sport's national coaching staff.

Kennedy, from Lake Placid, was picked to coach the U.S. Junior National Team, which competes yearly in the Junior World Cup and Junior World Championships.

Suckow, the 1993 singles world champion from Marquette, Mich., was chosen as development coach in Park City.


MONTANA THE PICK: Coaches and sports reporters at a preseason meeting have chosen the University of Montana Grizzlies as the team likely to win the 1998 title in Big Sky Conference football.

The Grizzlies received seven of the nine first-place votes and finished with 63 points in the coaches' poll taken this week in Park City. Weber State, one of three teams with a new coach, received the other two first-place votes and finished with 43 points, three ahead of third-place Montana State.


HALL'S BACKUP SAMPLE TESTS POSITIVE: Suspended Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr.'s backup urine sample also tested positive for marijuana, his attorney told The Arizona Republic.

Hall, 23, was suspended temporarily earlier this month by the international swimming federation FINA, which said he tested positive for marijuana during a May 15 competition in Phoenix.


COLORADO OPEN: Ogden's Jim Blair had a hole-in-one and was two shots off the lead at the Colorado Open Thursday in Aurora, Colo. Bill Loeffler, a two-time former champion, carded a bogey-free, 3-under-par 69 to share the first-round lead with Brian Kortan of Albuquerque.


MUZZ PATRICK DIES AT 83: Murray (Muzz) Patrick, who was raised in a legendary family of professional hockey players and builders in the middle decades of the century and became a player, coach and general manager of the New York Rangers, died July 23 at his home in Riverside, Conn. He was 83. His son, Dick, said that Patrick suffered a heart attack.


TEAM USA FINALIZED: The NBA lockout prompted USA Basketball to replace all-stars such as Gary Payton and Grant Hill with a hodgepodge of college, CBA and professionals playing in Europe. Those 12 players were identified Thursday.

They've been together only three weeks and among the dozen who survived the final cut were Big Ten player of the year Mateen Cleaves of Michigan State, and Jimmy King, who played for Michigan teams that reached two NCAA championship games.

The 12-member roster also includes Brad Miller, who graduated from Purdue this year; Wendell Alexis, a 1986 Syracuse graduate who plays for Alba Berlin in Germany; Ashraf Amaya (Southern Illinois 1993) who plays for the CBA's Idaho Stampede; Bill Edwards (Wright State 1993), who plays for Virtus Rome; Kiwane Garris (Illinois 1997), who plays for Grand Rapids of the CBA; and Michael Hawkins, a 1995 Xavier grad who plays for Olympiakos, Greece.

Also selected were Gerard King, a 1996 Nicholls State grad who plays in Siena, Italy; Jimmy Oliver (Purdue 1991) who plays for Ciudad De Huelva, Spain; Jason Sasser (Texas Tech 1996), who plays for the CBA's Sioux Falls Skyforce and for Caja San Fernando, Spain; and David Wood, (Nevada Reno 1987), who plays for the CBA's Rockford Lightning and for Unicaja Malaga, Spain.

The Americans, who face Italy on Saturday in their final tuneup, beat France 93-63 and Spain 95-78 in their first two exhibitions.