SJC HIRES COACH: Tom Church, a former assistant coach for the men's basketball team at St. Joseph's College from 2007 to 2010, has been hired as the 18th head coach of the program.
Church served as an assistant men's basketball coach at Florida Southern College for the last three seasons, helping guide the team to a 70-25 record.
INFIELDER TUCKER RE-SIGNS WITH RAILCATS: The RailCats have re-signed infielder Chase Tucker.
The roster is full at 28 players, the league maximum during spring training.
Tucker made his professional debut with the RailCats during the final month of the 2012 season and appeared in 12 games. The second baseman hit .297 with seven RBIs.
Players will report for spring training Thursday. The first official workout is May 4. Opening Day is at 7:10 p.m. May 16 against Lincoln.
RAILCATS TO MAKE STOPS IN PRESEASON CARAVAN: The RailCats Caravan will make four stops at locations in the region this weekend.
Today the Caravan will stop to play at Jak’s Warehouse in Schererville from 6 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, the RailCats will be at Fuel Fitness in Cedar Lake from 11 a.m. to noon and then at Catch 22 in Merrillville from 6 to 7 p.m. On Sunday, the final stop on the Caravan will be at Fuel Fitness in Crown Point from noon to 1 p.m.
Members of the Caravan include RailCats manager Greg Tagert and players Cristian Guerrero, Mike Massaro and Craig Maddox. Mascots Rusty and Rascal will also be there. The RailCats crew will sign autographs and interact with fans.
ILLIANA SEASON OPENER SATURDAY: Illiana Motor Speedway will begin its 66th season Saturday. Gates will open for the five-division program at 4 p.m.; time trials will be at 5:30, and the first green flag will be at 7.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children aged 8 to 12 and those 7 and under are admitted free. For details, call (219) 322-5311, or go to www.illianaspeedway.com.
HAWKS LOOKING FOR MORE STOPS AGAINST BIGGER PACERS: The undersized Atlanta Hawks are making the Pacers look like a high-scoring power.
The Pacers ranked 23rd in the NBA with fewer than 95 points per game in the regular season. Led by forward Paul George, Indiana has picked up the pace in the playoffs. The Pacers have averaged 110 points in winning the first two games of the first-round series.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said Thursday his team has struggled to match up with the bigger Pacers.
Drew says he's looking at possible lineup changes as the series shifts to Atlanta for Game 3 on Saturday night. Drew could start backup center Johan Petro in a bigger lineup with Al Horford moving to forward.
BARNES LEADS ZURICH CLASSIC: Ricky Barnes birdied six of the last eight holes Thursday at rain-softened TPC Louisiana to take a one-stroke lead in the Zurich Classic.
Barnes finished the opening round with an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey for an 8-under 64. Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover were a stroke back, and D.A. Points and Morgan Hoffmann shot 66.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur playing on a sponsor exemption, opened with an even-par 72, highlighted by a 5-wood that he hit to a foot on the par-3 17th. He tied for 58th in the Masters after becoming the youngest player to make the cut at Augusta National, and said Thursday that he will play in a U.S. Open qualifier in two weeks in Dallas.
Around the horn
The Gary Splash will host the Indiana Diesel at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Hammond Civic Center in a semi-pro basketball game. Former E.C. Central and current Orlando Magic star E'Twaun Moore will be available for autographs from 4 to 4:45 p.m. ... Purdue Calumet women's basketball coach Tom Megyesi is the guest on "Purdue Calumet Sports Insight" at 5:30 p.m. today on WJOB-AM (1230). ... Calumet College recently placed fifth at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference's men's golf championship. Tyler Nicol (Boone Grove) was third. Nicol and teammates Anthony Rubino (Munster), Steve Rankin (Lowell) and Ben Davis made the CCAC's All-Conference Team. ... All-America forward Doug McDermott said Thursday he'll return to Creighton for his senior year instead of declaring for the NBA draft. ... LPGA Tour rookie Caroline Masson shot a bogey-free 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Carlota Ciganda after the first round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout.