Steve Francis wants to make the Vancouver Grizzlies a winner and mend fences with their fans.

"I'm not going to be the sole guy that can change it, but I definitely can help this team win more than eight games" out of 50, Francis said Wednesday. "I think I can bring some of my leadership to the table as far as knowing how to win."

Francis, a 6-foot-3 guard from Maryland, was the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. He was in Vancouver to discuss his contract with management. He also wants to reintroduce himself to the fans.

When he was drafted, he seemed far from pleased to be picked by the Grizzlies. But his sour countenance at the draft didn't have anything to do with the city or the team.

He said his look of displeasure stemmed from the realization that he would be leaving the area where he grew up and leaving the grandmother who raised him after his mother died of cancer. . . .

Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball coach Mack McCarthy announced that Willie Taylor, a 6-5, 195-pound guard/forward, will transfer from Georgetown to VCU. Taylor will be eligible to play for the Rams in 2000-2001.


Money Scam Warning

Con artists have scammed black coaches out of $100,000 and may be out for more, Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Rudy Washington said. Washington warned black coaches in a news release about the scam involving a fake story about a nephew in need of emergency money.

Someone posing as Washington called at least 15 coaches telling them about a nephew who needed money. The coaches were told the caller was on an airplane and needed money wired to a specific destination. Coaches were told the money would be returned to them when the plane landed. But the caller never sent the money back.

Horse Racing

Meet at New Kent

The Virginia Racing Commission partially approved an agreement between Colonial Downs and thoroughbred horsemen, clearing the way for a thoroughbred meet at the New Kent County track in September.



Mike Tyson could get a shot at avenging his shocking heavyweight championship loss to James "Buster" Douglas in Tokyo nine years ago. The 39-year-old Douglas is one of three men being considered as an opponent for Tyson's next comeback, Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.

The other two are 33-year-old Orlin Norris and 30-year-old Zeljko Mavrovic.


Missing Stars

Free agents Pat Verbeek and Craig Ludwig apparently won't return to help the Dallas Stars defend the Stanley Cup next season. General Manager Bob Gainey said the veterans have been told they are not in the team's plan for next season and to seek offers from other teams.


Interview Postponed

An ABC-TV "20/20" taped interview with Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson and her mother, scheduled for last night, was postponed indefinitely because of the network's coverage of the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.


Wizards Edge Mutiny

Chris Klein scored the second of his two goals with 46 seconds remaining last night to give the Kansas City Wizards a 4-3 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Mutiny.

CAPTION: In his likely next home, Vancouver, Steve Francis tells reporters that he can help the team win more than eight games and make the playoffs.