49ers QB Smith will start against Saints
Alex Smith is ready to find out whether he's the solution to the San Francisco 49ers' offensive woes. The quarterback will start Sunday against New Orleans, returning from a four-week absence because of a separated shoulder. Smith went through his second full day of practice Thursday, leading the first-teamers through workouts with no discomfort. Smith hasn't played since injuring his right shoulder on the third play of San Francisco's 23-3 loss to Seattle on Sept. 30.
Gambling NBA refs won't be punished
NBA Commissioner David Stern acknowledged Thursday that more than half of his 56 referees had violated NBA policies about casino gambling, but said none will be punished because he felt the rules were outdated. Instead, Stern said he is altering the policies, leaning toward allowing referees to gamble in casinos during the offseason -- except for betting in sports books. The league's strict gambling policies toward referees became public after the Tim Donaghy scandal. But Stern admitted he did a poor job of enforcing the policies, and with views toward gambling changing, decided he wouldn't "penalize people for behavior that I'm about to change."
Fresno State rallies for SoCal fire victims
The Fresno State Athletics Department and Fresno Community Food Bank are collecting food, blankets, clothes and other household supplies for victims of the Southern California wildfires today at six locations around Bulldog Stadium prior to kickoff of the Boise State game at 6 p.m. Tan barrels will be placed near gates and in adjacent parking lots, which open at 2 p.m. For a list of specific items needed, visit www.gobulldogs.com
Get a costume and head to the tee box
Is your golf game downright scary? Well then, don a costume and tee it up Saturday night when St. Stanislaus Golf celebrates Halloween. The nine-hole event starts at 6:30. Half the $40 entry fee goes to the fight against breast cancer; the other half pays for prizes, night golf balls, food and drinks. There will be a prize for best costume, and each player will receive a magazine subscription to Golf for Women or Golf Digest.
Media and coaches differ on Pacific men
The University of the Pacific men's basketball team was chosen to place third and fifth in the Big West this season, according to polls done by the league's coaches and participating media. UC Santa Barbara was picked to win the conference by both groups. The coaches liked the Tigers to finish in third place, but the media knocked Pacific down two spots in their poll.