NFL023 MLB01716 LEAGUECEO/ PRESIDENTVICE PRESIDENTMAJORITY OWNERS Tides does not calculate majority owner percentages for the NFLSource: Tides NBA7205 Female leadership in pro sports Tides lists 13 women who were either principal owners or held significant ownership stakes in NFL franchises in 2015, an increase over the nine owners counted in 2014. The report does not provide data on the overall share of NFL owners who are female.CORRECTION (Jan. 21, 3:40 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the number of female assistant coaches hired by the NBA. The basketball association has two female assistant coaches, not one. That means that the NFL is tied with the NBA for the best record in pro sports on hiring women to coach male athletes; it does not have the best record. PERCENTAGE FEMALE MLS0170 WNBA28%26%36% Six months ago, I took a look at the (lack of) female representation in coaching and front offices in major sports, just after Jen Welter became the first female assistant coaching intern in the NFL. On Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the league’s first full-time female coach (specifically, as an assistant special teams quality control coach).That gives the NFL a tie with the NBA for the best record in U.S. pro sports on hiring women to coach male athletes. The NBA has two female assistant coaches, and no female head coaches. MLB and MLS have no women coaches at any level.Off of the field, only modest progress in hiring women to the major pro leagues was made last year. According to the 2015 report from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the NFL, MLS and the WNBA show a modest uptick in the percentage of female vice presidents across the leagues. But only the WNBA has expanded its share of female CEOs.
1986Houston Rockets141559164082 1972New York Knicks1214701592123 2003New Jersey Nets141543162481 The Oklahoma City Thunder just keep shocking the basketball world. It wasn’t enough to knock the 67-win San Antonio Spurs out of the playoffs in six games; they’ve also been trouncing the Golden State Warriors like it was nothing special. After crushing the Dubs again Tuesday night, 118-94, OKC is suddenly a win away from eliminating the record-busting defending champions and punching a ticket to the NBA Finals.One way to measure just how impressive this run has been is to look at the Elo ratings, FiveThirtyEight’s favorite way of measuring a team’s strength that takes into account both opponent strength (very strong!) and margin of victory (very high!). Through their first 15 playoff games, only five teams in NBA history increased their Elo rating more than OKC has this postseason. 1995Houston Rockets141531162594 In other words, the Thunder started the playoffs as a very good team. Since then, they’ve become a great one — and, soon, they might have a conference championship to show for it.Check out our latest NBA playoff predictions. With an 85-point increase since the playoffs opened, the Thunder have elevated their Elo to 1767, setting yet another high-water mark for the franchise and — here’s the real shocker — pulling (slightly) ahead of the Warriors as the No. 1-ranked team in the NBA. (Our adjusted CARM-Elo ratings also rank the Thunder first, meaning they would give the Thunder the head-to-head edge over Golden State on a neutral court.)Obviously, Elo ratings aren’t the final word on these two clubs. But in this case, they help underscore just how quickly a team’s level of play can change. A little over a month ago, the 73-win Warriors and 55-win Thunder finished their regular seasons. Now the two squads are basically evenly matched, with a slight edge to the team that won 18 fewer games.And the Thunder’s improvement is in a class of its own, at least in the context of where they started the playoffs. Unlike some squads, such as the 2001 Lakers team that came off of a championship and snoozed through the season before snapping to life in the playoffs, this year’s Thunder squad began the postseason far more highly rated (with an Elo of 1683) than any playoff team that made similarly stark gains. OKC has work to do to catch up with that Lakers squad in overall rating, but the team is already close despite having been blown out a few times in the playoffs. 2010Boston Celtics1415381678140 ELO YEARTEAMGAMES INTO PLAYOFFSSTART OF PLAYOFFSEND OF RUNCHANGE 2013San Antonio Spurs1516011721121 2009Denver Nuggets141607169184 2016Oklahoma City Thunder151683176785 2001Los Angeles Lakers1516471770123 2015Cleveland Cavaliers141631171282 Teams that gained at least 80 Elo points in 15 playoff games or less Source: basketball-reference.com 2001Charlotte Hornets81542162281 read more
Luke Gregerson2361.702.46+0.75 Cody Allen1751.672.36+0.69 PITCHERSHUTDOWNSMELTDOWNSINITIALMAXIMUMINCREASE Shawn Tolleson981.382.08+0.71 These days, New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia is saving everything in sight. On Tuesday night, Familia closed out the back end of New York’s doubleheader split against the St. Louis Cardinals for his 36th save of the 2016 season, the most in the majors. Toss out those pesky postseason stats, and Familia has successfully preserved Mets victories in 52 consecutive save opportunities, stretching back nearly a full calendar year — the third-longest streak in major league history.But as any Mets fan can tell you, the sailing is not always smooth with Familia. Underneath his unblemished saves mark, Familia’s control can be erratic; the 3.4 walks he’s allowing per nine innings ranks 11th-worst among regular closers this season. As a result, he frequently pitches his way into varying degrees of peril before bearing down and escaping with a save.To put Familia’s — and other closers’ — habit of pitching dangerously into perspective, I compiled what I’m calling the “heart-attack index” for relief pitchers. One of the core concepts is leverage index: how important any moment of a game is (relative to average) based on how much it could potentially swing each team’s probability of winning. On average this season, Familia has entered the game when the leverage index is 1.71,1Through Monday, so this doesn’t include Tuesday’s games — nor do the rest of the numbers in this article. which means these moments are about 70 percent more important than a typical at-bat. In the average Familia outing, that number balloons to 3.08 at its peak, meaning the pressure ratchets up more per appearance for Familia than it does for any other qualified2According to FanGraphs’ relief-pitching leaderboard. closer in the game: Jonathan Papelbon1751.692.68+0.98 Brad Ziegler2131.682.88+1.21 Jeanmar Gomez2151.852.82+0.96 Francisco Rodriguez1831.692.41+0.72 Santiago Casilla18102.273.51+1.24 Kevin Jepsen1191.552.19+0.63 Arodys Vizcaino1761.482.43+0.95 Steve Cishek1972.003.19+1.19 Fernando Rodney1741.522.12+0.60 Sam Dyson2331.832.78+0.95 Tony Cingrani1791.582.35+0.77 Unsurprisingly, there’s Familia again on the top left, losing more win probability than any other qualified reliever before the pressure-valve alarms start to buzz, only to also gain the most win probability afterward as he brings the team back from the brink of a meltdown. (To some extent this is circular — Andrew Miller of the Yankees, for instance, seldom pitches himself into enough trouble to rack up huge win probability credit on the other side of max leverage — but that’s also kind of the point.)Other relievers, such as deposed Chicago Cubs closer Hector Rondon, pitch into nearly as much trouble as Familia but aren’t as skilled at extricating themselves from danger. (Which might help explain why the Cubs on Monday dealt for Aroldis Chapman, who gets into considerably less trouble on the mound than Familia but pitches well when in a jam.)In Familia’s case, it’s fair to ask how much of this high-wire act is repeatable: Surely his save streak will eventually end if he keeps pitching so dangerously, right? Well, maybe. WPA isn’t a very predictive statistic because of the large weight it places on high-leverage situations; if a player performs above his usual level in important moments, it’s unlikely to hold up for very long. But by the same token, Familia isn’t a bad pitcher who just happens to have pitched great under pressure — putting leverage-based metrics aside, he also ranks eighth among qualified closers in fielding independent pitching, despite the shaky walk rate. (It’s also worth noting that Familia’s signature pitch, the sinker, tends to either miss low in the zone — hence the walks — or induce ground balls, which often double up base runners who walked to first.)Familia may not be the best closer in baseball, and his save streak is destined to end sooner or later. But a pulse-pumping pitching style isn’t automatically a bad thing — provided fans’ hearts can take the drama while they watch from the couch. David Robertson2361.762.86+1.10 A.J. Ramos2021.602.41+0.82 Zach Britton2611.632.37+0.74 Mark Melancon2041.542.49+0.95 Trevor Rosenthal10111.522.57+1.06 Shutdowns and meltdowns are FanGraphs’ alternatives to the save and blown save. Statistics through July 25.Source: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference.com Which closers crank up the pressure most? Roberto Osuna1931.392.09+0.71 Hector Rondon1461.502.13+0.62 Aroldis Chapman1731.902.53+0.63 RELIEF PITCHER INDICATORSAVG. LEVERAGE Wade Davis1621.512.28+0.76 Craig Kimbrel1661.742.42+0.69 But pitching into trouble3And it’s worth noting that for appearances of greater than one inning, a pitcher’s offensive teammates could affect how his leverage index changes — but in an era of one-inning closers, that consideration doesn’t come up often. is only half the Familia formula — he’s also been masterful at pitching his way out of the jams he creates. To get a sense both for the holes that Familia digs and for his ability to climb out of them, I plotted the amount of win probability every reliever loses per at-bat before hitting the maximum leverage index of each appearance against his win probability added per at-bat from that moment onward: Alex Colome1651.622.95+1.32 Jeurys Familia3021.713.08+1.37 Kenley Jansen2351.822.35+0.53 Carlos Estevez1281.512.08+0.56 Andrew Miller2441.722.46+0.74 Ryan Madson1981.762.73+0.97 Will Harris2621.602.44+0.84 Jeremy Jeffress1941.592.79+1.20 read more
Michael Jordan said if he had his druthers, he would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James.During an interview with NBA-TV, Jordan acknowledged James’ current dominance of the NBA. But for Jordan, winning is the ultimate measure of a great player’s greatness, and Bryant’s five rings with the Los Angeles Lakers trump James’ single title earned last June.“Five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said. “And not that (James) won’t get five. He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”The debate between Bryant and James is a heated one that both sides argue with great passion. Jordan, widely considered the greatest player of all time, said it would not be an easy decision. Clearly, he admires the talent of both perennial all-stars.But Bryant’s body of work in 17 seasons – including an NBA record 16 straight All-Star game appearances – was the determining factor. James, in his 10th season, finally reached the basketball summit with the NBA Finals victory over Oklahoma City.James recently set a record with six straight games of at least 30 points on 60 percent shooting. His team is playing better than any others in the league, and James has never performed better.“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said on Thursday about Jordan’s comments. “If you take Kobe one and I go second, it doesn’t matter. I don’t get too involved in what guys say about me, or if you take Kobe or if you take LeBron. As long as I’m on the floor and I make plays for my teammates, I don’t do what I do for other people’s approval.”Jordan, who turns 50 years old on Sunday, won six championships with the Chicago Bulls, six NBA Finals MVPs and five league MVPs. read more
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, who is recovering from an ACL injury, took a big rehab step on Monday by practicing in 5-on-5 drills for the first time this season.Rose had been cleared by doctors for regular contact for weeks, and had been seen working out the last couple of weeks before games. But Monday gave the All-Star an opportunity to participate in his first scrimmage.“He was able to get out there, and it’s good,” Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. “It was something that (we) as a team needed, as far as every individual coming off the (All-Star) break needed to scrimmage a little bit. And I’m sure it was good for (Rose), helpful to … give him a good gauge where he’s at.”The Bulls intentions were to allow Rose to participate in 5-on-5 drills after the All-Star break, and would closely observe how his body would respond, according to Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gave short answers to questions about Rose.“He did what everyone else did. Just a normal practice.”Rose made headlines last week, saying he would not come back until he’s “110 percent” and that he would be fine with missing the remainder of 2012-13 season.Last week, the Chicago native said he knew he had not fully recovered because of his inability to dunk the ball. Monday was no different; he was still not dunking, according to teammate Joakim Noah.Rose has been attacking his rehab aggressively. His teammates notice his drive to return, with him being the first one in the gym and the last one to leave.“I would love to (come back this season),” Rose told ESPN in Boston on Feb. 13. “I would love to. That’s why I approached my rehab and my workout so hard. I’m trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible, but if I have anything lingering on, it’s no point.”The Bulls will return to action Tuesday night against the New Orleans Hornets and will look to get a boost from Hinrich, who has missed the last seven games with an elbow infection. They will also look to guard Nate Robinson to continue to give them a spark.But Thibodeau reiterated that Rose will only return when he has fully recovered.“We have to be patient,” Thibodeau said. “When he’s ready, he’ll go.” read more
Until recently, Aaron Hernandez had successfully left a troubled early life behind him. After a drug-plagued college career that caused him to drop in the NFL Draft, he quietly turned into a big-contract star for the New England Patriots. Now it seems the team took a risk on the player that didn’t pan out.Currently, the former star tight end is sitting in a jail after being charged with murder. Of course, this is America and “innocent until proven guilty” must be taken into account. But the damage is done and it seems as though Hernandez has already been judged.After his arrest and charge, the Patriots realized they made a mistake drafting Hernandez and separated themselves from him.Was it a dumb risk for the Patriots to draft Hernandez?
Absent a helpful general manager opening up his computer system — or letting you hack in, if that’s more your style — it’s tough to know what baseball teams think of different players. But one place GMs leave clues about their preferences is in free agency. Since each team can bid on every available player, and the competition to acquire the most valuable talent is fierce, the free-agent sweepstakes is baseball’s closest answer to an open market; accordingly, the cash that teams deal out tells us how much they’re willing to pay for each area of on-field expertise. And for all the strides made in evaluating defense (plus convincing clubs to buy in), my analysis of recent offseasons suggests that MLB teams still don’t value defense the same way as sabermetricians do — though it might not be because they don’t value it enough.To estimate how much teams pay for offense relative to defense, I looked at the average annual value of every non-catcher1I removed them from the sample because their value has been affected by the quantification of pitch-framing (more on that later). position-player contract signed since the 2006 offseason2According to salary data from ESPN. and compared those dollar figures to players’ offensive and defensive runs above average (according to FanGraphs.com) in the previous three years.3I used a linear regression over that time period, three seasons being a reasonable sample upon which a player can be judged. I found that, from the front-office perspective, a run saved just isn’t worth as much as a run scored.For every offensive run a player generated above average in the season before he inked a new deal, he was paid an extra $215,000. An offensive run two years back was worth $113,000, and there was even value — $93,000 per run — in stats from three years in the past. By contrast, each defensive run was worth only $84,000 one year back, with the benefit even lower in earlier years.4Specifically, the value per defensive run dropped to $29,000 two years back and $69,000 three years back. (The higher value for the latter is likely just statistical noise.)As far as teams are concerned, then, offense is what drives a player’s value, with defense a secondary priority. That’s not to say that front offices ignore fielding entirely when signing players, but they do appear to take defensive statistics with a grain of salt.One potential reason is obvious: Teams may be late to understanding the value of good defense. Mitchel Lichtman, the sabermetrician who created the defensive metric Ultimate Zone Rating, told me in an email that “it will probably be a long time before teams fully appreciate the proper mathematical role of defense in evaluating players and making transactions.”Of course, analytics experts have been arguing that teams undervalue defense since the days of Moneyball. And in the years since, sabermetrics has gone mainstream. Teams now employ huge research and development departments — many staffed directly from the ranks of baseball writers who used to criticize teams for undervaluing defense. So it seems unlikely that those analysts forgot about glovework when they walked through the front-office doors.Moreover, teams have shown that they can rapidly adjust to new information about player value when it emerges. For instance, pitch-framing skills — wherein a catcher boosts the chance that a pitch will be called a strike — weren’t quantified until about 2009. Before that offseason, there was no significant relationship between a catcher’s framing ability and the average annual value of his free-agent contract;5The correlation coefficient was 0.16, with a p-value of 0.31. afterward, the correlation spiked.6It rose to 0.33, which is significant with a p-value of 0.006. In other words, teams quickly learned about framing skill and calibrated their contract offers to adjust for it.So another potential explanation for the seeming disconnect between defense and dollars is that teams do properly quantify defense, but in a different way than our publicly available metrics. In other words, if we replaced the public metrics in my previous analysis with proprietary ones cooked up by front offices, there’s a possibility that the inconsistency between defensive performance and pay would disappear.I spoke with a handful of former and current front-office analysts about how teams value defensive metrics, none of whom would speak on the record. They mentioned that some teams have proprietary systems to measure the value of defense, sometimes adding input from scouts or other non-public data sources. If even a handful of teams have systems that produce substantially different fielding valuations than the public statistics, it could appear as though they are disregarding defense — when, in fact, they’re measuring it better than we know.At a minimum, teams have access to much better data with which to construct defensive metrics than the public. With the advent of Statcast, MLB’s radar-based tracking system, team analysts can quantify the location and movement of every player on the field. Statcast also provides raw data on the running speed and reaction times of fielders, allowing front offices to break defense down into its individual components.MLB is providing only a fraction of that data to the public. But if we’ve learned anything from early attempts to model fielding using Statcast — such as Catch Probability, which measures the likelihood that any given batted ball will be caught — it’s that new fielding metrics can disagree significantly with conventional ones.Depending on the analysis being run,7Whether you limit the comparison by sample size (i.e., the number of opportunities) or by position. Statcast-based Catch Probabilities correlate with Ultimate Zone Rating either moderately (r=.47) or strongly (r=.71). Some have taken the latter as confirmation that UZR was correct all along. But consider as well that the correlation between batting average and on-base percentage is also 0.71.8For qualified hitters in the 2016 season. The realization that OBP was a better hitting metric than batting average, you may recall, formed one of the cornerstones of the Moneyball revolution.Similarly, if Statcast-fueled metrics represent as much of an upgrade on public defensive stats as OBP was on batting average, it’s no wonder that teams don’t seem to value defense. Those clubs might just be so far beyond currently available fielding statistics that sabermetricians can no longer criticize them.It’s likely that not every team has its own defensive metric, and some teams’ metrics are probably no better than the public’s. But occasionally, it’s obvious that a team is onto something we don’t know about. Take the case of outfielder Dexter Fowler: Before he joined the Cubs for the 2015 season, writers raised questions about his defense based on poor public metrics; that year, he ended up earning 3.3 wins above replacement, fueled largely by a 20-run improvement in his UZR. Then in 2016, after more skepticism about Fowler’s fielding, he put up the best defensive numbers of his career to date. That, in turn, led to his signing by the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason for the staggering total of $82.5 million over five years, questionable defense be damned.Whether because of Statcast or scouting, the Cubs and now the Cardinals have seen something in Fowler’s performance that current fielding valuations don’t seem to capture. And when two of the smartest front offices in baseball appear to be discarding defensive metrics, it makes you stop and wonder whether the metrics might just be wrong. read more
The Rockets-Warriors series has provided a steady diet of haymakers from both sides over the past week and a half, with two of the NBA heavyweight clubs duking it out for supremacy again.But the fight, and the future of the proverbial championship belt as a whole, seemingly hung in the balance late Wednesday when superstar Kevin Durant came up limping after hitting a jumper with just over two minutes left in the third quarter of Game 5 at Oracle Arena. The fact that he hadn’t been touched by anyone escalated fears even more: His reaction — to grab the back of his lower right leg — suggested that he might have severely injured his Achilles tendon. Durant walked gingerly to the locker room with Golden State clinging to a 3-point lead after holding a 20-point cushion just a quarter earlier. As he left, the basketball world wondered whether Golden State’s chances of adding on to its dynasty had exited with him.The Warriors staved off that more existential question for at least a couple of nights, digging deep for a gutsy 104-99 win without Durant to take a 3-2 series lead over Houston. They also got a reprieve in the sense that Durant avoided an Achilles injury, which would have ended his postseason and possibly jeopardized his next season. Instead, the club deemed the injury a right calf strain; Durant is set for an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury — and how much time he may have to miss.If Durant misses the rest of the series, at least some will compare his absence to that of Chris Paul a little less than a year ago, when the Rockets took a 3-2 lead but lost Paul to a hamstring strain for Games 6 and 7 of the conference finals. (Houston would drop each of those games, along with the series.) Yet losing Durant — the best player in the series, if not the world at this point — could have an even bigger impact, even though the Warriors have played without him before.Consider that Golden State has outscored opponents by 79 points this postseason with Durant on the court and has been outscored by 14 points in the minutes he’s been sidelined. Before leaving Wednesday’s game, he had led the Warriors in scoring for eight consecutive contests. His 34.2 points per game this postseason rank second1Among players who’ve logged at least 10 games in a single postseason. over the past 25 seasons, trailing only LeBron James’s 2009 playoff run, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group.The Warriors’ reliance on Durant as of late left many of us wondering whether Stephen Curry and Golden State could step up and take out a tough opponent without Durant there. Both Curry and teammate Klay Thompson had struggled mightily with their jumpers earlier in the series, but Curry answered the bell, hitting 5 of 9 from the field for 16 points after KD’s injury, a vast improvement from the 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting he logged before Durant went down. (Thompson’s 27 points, after having 27 over the two prior games combined, were also huge — especially his bizarre turnover-turned-layup that sealed the game with four seconds left.)On the other side of this, Houston is going to have a handful of regrets from Game 5 — usually a bellwether when it breaks 2-2 series ties, as 82 percent of Game 5 winners advance — if it fails to get past the Warriors yet again. In many ways, this felt like the Rockets’ chance to pounce.In Game 4, P.J. Tucker terrorized Golden State by dominating the offensive glass. But on Wednesday, Kevon Looney seemed to come up with just about every key rebound, including five offensive boards. Meanwhile, Tucker was whistled for a particularly brutal out-of-bounds call with just under three minutes left in the game, when his heel was on the sideline just before he drained a shot that, had it not been waved off, would have cut Houston’s deficit to 2 points.It didn’t help that, at just 3 of 14, Chris Paul had the worst shooting night of his playoff career.And perhaps most noteworthy and mind-bogglingly: Houston’s James Harden, the reigning MVP and back-to-back league scoring champion, largely took a backseat, with just one shot attempt — a layup with 18 seconds left — over the final seven-plus minutes of action in the loss. The Rockets performed just fine offensively as a club despite that, scoring 18 points over that stretch. But it was still somewhat shocking to see Harden not even touch the ball on a number of fourth-quarter possessions. (He finished the period with just three shot attempts — down from the eight he’d averaged in fourth quarters in the first four games of the series.)With Durant sidelined, Harden was free of the much longer, taller defender who had limited him over the course of the series.2Of the six Warrior defenders who have matched up with Harden at least 20 times on defense, Durant has held Harden to his second-lowest scoring average per 100 possessions (after Andre Iguodala) and forced him into more turnovers than any of his teammates have, while limiting his assist totals more than anyone, according to data from Second Spectrum. So to not see him take advantage, or even really try, was surprising, given that he finished 7 of 7 from inside the arc, and with an efficient 31 points on just 16 shots.Still, much can and probably will change with a day or two of game-planning, especially if Durant is forced to miss time. The things that Harden and the Rockets didn’t attack in the moment during Game 5 could become points of emphasis in Game 6, while the Warriors figure to retool their thin rotation in hopes of mitigating Durant’s absence.There’s plenty we still don’t know yet. But one thing is clear: With Game 5 in hand, the Warriors can at least breathe a sigh of relief for now, knowing their backs won’t be against the wall, on the road without Durant, in Game 6.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more
In the home matches, Pulisic received 40 passes in the central area of the final third.2This refers to the area of the penalty box extended out to about 35 yards from goal. In the qualifiers on the road, he received just 11 in that area. At home, he has been free to drop back in buildup, receiving 30 passes in the defensive half, compared with 12 while away. Pulisic is distinctly a winger in away matches, with 63 percent of all his away receptions (40 out of 64) taking place in wide areas; in home matches, that figure is only 35 percent (43 out of 123).This is by design. With half the teams in the CONCACAF “Hex” qualifying group reaching the World Cup, a pattern of home wins and away draws is more than sufficient for a berth. In the recent away matches, the USMNT has taken a more conservative approach and kept Pulisic in his assigned position to protect the wing and offer a counterattacking outlet. Looking for wins at home, Arena has freed Pulisic to make plays either early in buildup (dropping back into the defensive half) or around the box (receiving passes in the center).The U.S.’s attack has thrived with such tactics, outscoring its opponents 8-2 in home matches. Even in the 0-2 loss to Costa Rica, the Americans led the expected goals tally 1.3 to 0.8, meaning that they had more opportunities despite the result. Panama was able to slow Pulisic down in its home fixture (a 1-1 draw), but he will be much harder to contain in a less tactically restricted role on Friday night — assuming that Arena and Pulisic continue this recent pattern.3) The U.S. needs to plug the holes in midfield.The U.S. lined up in a 4-4-2 formation in both of its last qualifying matches, with a pair of strikers in each (Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood vs. Costa Rica; Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris vs. Honduras). Two strikers, plus the use of Pulisic in a more aggressive role, should strengthen the attack, but Arena will need to tighten his midfield at the same time. The opening goal against Honduras shows why U.S. fans should be a little worried. Since 1990, qualifying for the World Cup has seemed like a birthright for the U.S. men’s national team. In the three decades since it last failed to qualify for a World Cup (1986), all of England, France, Portugal, Uruguay and the Netherlands have missed the cut at least once. In fact, largely because of the comparatively easy qualification process for teams from this part of the world, only six countries have a longer active World Cup streak than the U.S.1Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Spain.That run may come to an end this year. After taking just 1 point from its last two matches, the U.S. is running dangerously close to being left at home when the World Cup convenes in Russia next year. What happens in the Americans’ high-stakes match against Panama in Orlando on Friday night will go a long way to determining that. Here are three three factors that will bring you up to speed on the match.1) Make no mistake — this one is really important.ESPN’s Soccer Power Index projects that if the USMNT can win, the side will have a 93 percent chance of making the tournament. But a loss cuts the U.S.’s chances down to 44 percent. Among the group of six in CONCACAF, Mexico has already punched its ticket to Russia, and Costa Rica needs only a single point from two matches to join El Tri. That leaves two remaining spots for the region: Third place gets the last automatic qualifier while fourth place will play in an inter-confederation playoff against either Australia or Syria. Panama is currently a point ahead of the U.S. in the table, and every team has two matches left to play. Here is how the result of this game will affect the various scenarios::A win for the U.S. against Panama would boost the Americans into the third guaranteed qualifying place with only a relatively easy trip to Trinidad and Tobago remaining. Any other result will leave the USMNT scoreboard-watching.If the two countries draw in Orlando, Panama will need only a win over an already qualified Costa Rica team to secure the third qualifying spot.A win for Panama would clinch World Cup qualification for Los Canaleros for the first time in their soccer history, leaving the U.S. sweating Honduras’s results in hope of landing in the fourth-place playoff.2) Home Pulisic is the best Pulisic.In such a huge match, the U.S. will be looking to its young superstar to step up. However, Christian Pulisic has been a very different kind of star in home and away matches. Since Bruce Arena took over for Jurgen Klinsmann, he has kept Pulisic on the wing in the team’s three away matches in CONCACAF qualifying (against Panama, Mexico and Honduras). But during the three qualifying home matches (against Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica), the Borussia Dortmund attacker has been free to roam infield in a free, creative role — and this has been true regardless of formation. In the three home matches, Pulisic had three goals and two assists. In the away matches, he had a clutch assist against Panama but has otherwise been kept off the scoresheet.Here’s a look at all of Pulisic’s pass receptions (home and away) in those six World Cup qualifying matches. Certainly defender Omar Gonzalez’s missed tackle was the biggest problem on this goal, but he was put in position to make this mistake because the U.S. midfield allowed a pass to be picked out under absolutely no pressure. The 4-4-2 formation gives the U.S. one fewer player to challenge opposition passers in midfield. What’s more, the U.S.’s back line has been shaky, which puts more pressure on the midfield to prevent the sort of attacking moves that can apply pressure on the defense.And in the last two games, the two center midfielders — first Darlington Nagbe and Michael Bradley, then Bradley and Kellyn Acosta — have been unable to disrupt opposing midfielders, who have connected on many direct forward passes. Against Costa Rica and Honduras, the U.S. conceded 21 direct attacking moves driven by long, forward passes through midfield.3I am defining direct attacks as attacking moves in which at least 60 percent of overall ball movement is directly toward goal and long forward passes as passes that travel at least 15 yards forward toward goal. In the four previous matches, the U.S. had conceded just 22 of these direct midfield attacks.The USMNT should be favored against Panama no matter the lineup, but a susceptibility to direct, central attacks doesn’t bode well. One or two good counterattacks could be enough to get Los Canaleros their result. The solution here could be some sort of single-striker system. By not playing two out-and-out-strikers, Arena would have flexibility to get another presser into midfield without limiting Pulisic positionally. Of course, this puts more of the burden on the 19-year-old to create goals by himself, but ultimately, what else is a superstar for if not that?Whatever he chooses, Arena needs to get this game right because a World Cup trip — as well as his legacy — may hang in the balance.Check out our latest club soccer predictions. read more
The 2017 World Series is finally upon us! In the video above, Neil Paine runs through what to expect from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, and why this series is one of the best matchups of all time.
OSU then-sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) runs after Minnesota then-redshirt sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) during a game on Nov. 15 game in Minneapolis. OSU won 31-24. Credit: Lantern file photoAfter its lone bye week of the season, No. 3 Ohio State is set to welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Ohio Stadium on Saturday.It will do so with a familiar face back behind center in redshirt junior Cardale Jones, who will start for the suspended J.T. Barrett.For Minnesota, it moseys into Columbus after a head-scratching 29-26 loss to then-No. 15 Michigan on Halloween.What would have been the go-ahead touchdown from Minnesota’s redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Leidner with 19 seconds left was overturned on review. That was followed by poor clock management on the ensuing play, before a questionable decision to bypass attempting a 19-yard field goal to tie the game, instead opting for an unsuccessful one-yard quarterback sneak as time expired.The bizarre loss is just another installment in a rather disappointing campaign for Minnesota, which many thought would compete for the Big Ten West division crown, as it dropped to 4-4 on the year and 1-3 in the Big Ten.Here is deeper look at the 2015 Golden Gophers.Emotional pushLast week, Jerry Kill announced that he would be retiring from coaching because of health concerns. The exit of Kill, who was in the midst of his fourth season at the helm in Minneapolis, seemingly provided the double-digit underdog Golden Gophers with an emotional boost against then-No. 15 Michigan.“Coach Kill is so important to the state of Minnesota,” Leidner said following the loss. “The whole game was just emotional … For all the work every single person on that sideline put in to play for (Kill), it’s just an overwhelming feeling.”Leidner threw for a season-high 317 passing yards, sophomore tight end Brandon Lingen had more receiving yards (111) than he had in the first seven games combined and the offense as a whole piled up 461 yards — the second most this season — against the nation’s top-ranked defense.The Golden Gophers, who at one point had three straight three-point wins over measly opponents Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio, arguably looked the best they had all season against the Wolverines.Sometimes things that happen outside of the X’s and O’s, like Kill’s retirement, can have unexplainable effects once the game kicks off.One game is much too small of a sample size to know for sure if the emotional boost will be sustained, but against Michigan, Minnesota looked like the team many expected them to be early in the season.This week, against the nation’s No. 3 team in primetime with Kill’s exit still fresh in their minds, the Golden Gophers should be up to the challenge against OSU.Carrying the weightEmotions aside, there is a reason why Minnesota sits at .500 on the season.It’s because the Golden Gopher offense is — at best — marginal, and the defense has to carry much of the weight.Other than its 41-13 victory over Purdue (2-6), Minnesota has not scored more than 27 points in a game, which it did over the Mid-American Conference’s Ohio.Much of the reason why the Golden Gophers are ranked 107th in scoring offense is because of their inability to find the end zone. On the year, they have just 18 touchdowns compared to 14 field goals. To put it in perspective, one of the Big Ten’s worst teams in Purdue has 30 touchdowns and only three field goals.Those offensive struggles mean much more pressure is applied to the Minnesota defense.For the most part, the defense has not cracked under that pressure, as it’s been rather disruptive for opponents.Anchored by redshirt sophomore linebacker Cody Poock and senior cornerback Antonio Johnson, who both have 55 tackles on the season, the defense ranks 25th in the country.The veteran secondary, which starts three seniors, has been stingy all season long, letting up just 174 yards per game.With the struggling Jones back at quarterback for the Buckeyes, Minnesota will hope to capitalize on its secondary’s success and limit the OSU offense.If the said scenario can happen, the pressure shifts to the offense to do its part and find the end zone. Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, expecting the offense to improve against the stout Scarlet and Gray defense is a tall task.Teammate reunionsMinnesota’s roster is littered with connections to current Buckeyes, as three players played high school football with an OSU player and another — redshirt senior center Brian Bobek — once donned the scarlet and gray. Two others are Ohio natives.Johnson was a high school teammate of OSU redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Donovan Munger at Shaker Heights High School near Cleveland. Minnesota redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah Gentry, who has two catches for 36 yards this season, was high school teammates with OSU’s redshirt freshman defensive Sam Hubbard at Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller, where the duo won back-to-back state championships.Minnesota redshirt freshman Jared Weyler played alongside OSU sophomore Evan Lisle on the offensive line at Centerville High School near Dayton.Bobek, who now starts at center for Minnesota, will be returning to Columbus where he spent a season on the OSU football team in 2011, appearing in five games. The Inverness, Illinois, native transferred after his freshman campaign.Beyond the BuckeyesFollowing Saturday’s showdown, Minnesota has another undefeated team on the docket. The Golden Gophers are scheduled to take on the No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes on Nov. 14 in Iowa City, Iowa. Kickoff is penciled in for 8 p.m. read more
Michigan State’s Demetrious Cox (7) tackles Wisconsin’s Corey Clement (6) during second-half action on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. Wisconsin won, 30-6. Credit: Courtesy of TNSLast week, even after a 38-17 victory over Indiana at Ohio Stadium, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes were disappointed in the team’s performance as a whole. After struggling to find a rhythm against the Hoosiers in the passing game and giving up a few big plays, the Scarlet and Gray will be facing their biggest test of the year this Saturday against Wisconsin.The Badgers have been a tough team to beat this season, losing just one game to Michigan in the team’s last contest. The loss did not force Wisconsin outside of the top 10, and the hard fought 14-7 game against the Wolverines proved the validity of the team in this year’s playoff picture. Presenting one of the best defenses in college football, Wisconsin will be hosting OSU in the comforts of Camp Randall Stadium, home to historically rowdy fans that can create a difficult atmosphere for opposing teams to play in. If OSU wants to keep a perfect record, the errors from the Indiana game will need to be corrected, and the Buckeyes will need a team effort to pick up a win in Madison, Wisconsin.Last time the teams met, OSU put a 59-0 thumping on Wisconsin during the Big Ten championship. This year, the team is different, and Meyer knows it.“(The championship game) really has nothing to do with this one,” Meyer said. “But, obviously, it was a historic moment.”OffenseIn years past, the Badgers have enjoyed a high-powered offense. Most recently, now San Diego Charger Melvin Gordon led the offensive attack for Wisconsin from the backfield, but this is not the same kind of unit that faced OSU in the 2014 Big Ten championship.Wisconsin has depended on the play of both redshirt senior Bart Houston and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook at quarterback to lead the offense. Both players have struggled with consistency this season, accumulating a 59 percent completion average and just six touchdowns, along with seven interceptions.Hornibrook was the go-to guy for Wisconsin in its last contest. However, he failed to impress, going 9-for-25 for just 88 yards, one touchdown and three picks. Although he still is listed as the starter, more inconsistent play by the redshirt freshman might pave the way for Houston to make an appearance against the Buckeyes.Wisconsin junior wide receiver Jazz Peavy leads the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions, but has yet to truly shine with a lack of consistent quarterback play. To score, the Badgers have leaned heavily on the run.Totalling five touchdowns on the ground, senior running back Corey Clement has more scores responsible for than either quarterback from Wisconsin. Averaging 3.9 yards per carry, Clement has the speed to break an outside run, but the strength to push through the trenches. Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker said he feels his unit will be vital in stopping Clement and the rest of the Wisconsin rushing attack.“I feel like we’re a very physical secondary even from the first week of the season,” he said. “I feel like we’re just coming up and making good plays and supporting the run. I just feel like we are doing what we’re supposed to. We’re covering, and we’re coming down and supporting when we are needed.”Wisconsin might have an offense that fails to produce eye popping numbers in major statistical categories, but is more than enough to supplement its stout defense. DefenseThe true star of the Badger defense is junior outside linebacker T.J. Watt, brother of NFL Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt, the Wisconsin native has been a disruptive force off the edge all year long.“He’s a good player; he’s like a walkout linebacker, D-end type of guy” said junior offensive tackle Jamarco Jones. “He’s a pretty good pass rusher. He’s good with his hands and stuff, so we have our work cut out for us. We have to come in with a game plan and execute and use our techniques and stuff.”Watt has earned 5.5 sacks this season, which accounts for a third of the team’s sacks overall. Wisconsin has given up just 61 points through five games this season, averaging out to 12.2 points per game.The Badgers defense gives up fewer than 300 yards per game, and is one of the best defenses in the nation at halting offensive attacks in the redzone. OSU has a high-powered offense that depends on big plays to move down the field, but Wisconsin has the kind of defense that is efficient at limiting long gains and potent scoring.The key for OSU will be to attack quickly, not allowing the Badger defense to dissect each formation and play. Meyer said Wednesday he feels his team has been most successful through the years with an up-tempo approach, but will need to focus on moving the chains.“Probably, historically, that’s been the case,” Meyer said. “We’ve had good conversation about that, so the one thing (is) you better get first downs when you go up-tempo.”A tough run defense for Wisconsin is backed by a more than capable passing defense. Junior cornerback Derrick Tindal leads that unit, having earned three interceptions and five pass breakups to this point. OSU might struggle against the most formidable defense it has faced all year, but look for redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber and junior H-back Curtis Samuel to carry the load for the OSU offense.BreakdownThis game has the making of a knockdown, drag-it-out brawl between two football powerhouses. Two stout defenses that lead the nation will clash against opposing offenses that find success in different ways.While the defense of Wisconsin has the ability to shut down even the most prolific offenses in the nation, the Buckeyes offensive attack is unlike any other in the country.Look for a bounce back game for OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, who struggled last week. Although the pass rush for Wisconsin might cause problems on deep passes, the athleticism of the Texas native could create coverage problems for the Badgers.The defense for the Buckeyes has forced turnovers in all but one game this year, and this game is shaping up to have more than one change of possession. Whether it be Houston or Hornibrook, the secondary for OSU has a good chance to snag another interception.Even if these elements are in play for OSU, expect this one to come down to wire, with some late game heroics being the deciding factor. Junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes said he’s never been to Camp Randall Stadium, but is excited for the crowd to be against him and his teammates. Feeding off the negativity of the away crowd has been a talking point for many of the Buckeyes all week, and they will need it if they hope to come out on top.Strap in ladies and gentleman, this one is going to be good. read more
The thought of sudden-death overtime in a soccer match would seem an uninviting proposition to some, but not the Ohio State men’s soccer team. OSU claimed its third overtime victory of the season Sunday afternoon after defeating Penn State on Senior Day at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. After 90 minutes of scoreless action, the Buckeyes needed just less than six minutes in overtime to defeat the Nittany Lions, 1-0, and improve their Big Ten record to 3-1-0. “The dream of being Big Ten champions is still alive,” said head coach John Bluem. “We knew what we needed to do, and it was the last opportunity to get a result here at home for the seniors.” Senior forward Parnell Hegngi stole the ball from a Penn State defender and passed it ahead to a sprinting junior midfielder Austin McAnena. “At first I saw (Hegngi) right when he stole it; it was a great steal,” McAnena said. “Then I saw kind of a little lane I could run to so I just go at it full speed. He played me a nice ball.” McAnena took the pass and shot the ball towards PSU goalkeeper, freshman Andrew Wolverton. The freshman misplayed the shot as the ball went through his hands and rolled across the goal line for the Buckeye victory. “I hit it a little off,” McAnena said. “I thought the keeper had it at first so I was kind of a little hesitant. Then all of the sudden I just kept seeing it go and from there I was just really stoked.” The goal came in front of the student section on the south side of the stadium and the players immediately began celebrating the victory with fans. On Sept. 25, the Buckeyes defeated Michigan in front of the newly added student section in overtime. Hegngi said it was a “good vibe” to score in front of the fans. “It was great,” Hegngi said. “It was just like (against) Michigan. It was good to go celebrate with them right away.” Ohio State has played in four overtime contests this season with a record of 3-0-1 in those contests. They defeated Bowling Green on Oct. 5 and tied Valparaiso last Sunday. “We’ve had a couple overtime games and come out with two wins out of them recently,” McAnena said. “I was just glad we could get the victory.” Despite the victory, OSU was outplayed in a couple major categories. Penn State outshot OSU 19-11 for the contest and also held an advantage on corner kicks 10-3. Junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson finished the contest with six saves. “I think we were outplayed through some stretches of the game, but a good counter-attack at the end and a nice goal, so we walk away (with the win),” Bluem said. The team cannot celebrate for long though as a Wednesday road contest against Oakland University awaits it. Two games against conference games will follow as the Buckeyes travel to Wisconsin next Sunday and Indiana on Nov. 5 to finish their regular season. “If we want to make the NCAA tournament, we have to believe that there is an outside chance that we can still get there,” Bluem said. The Buckeyes (8-5-2) will kick-off their game against Oakland at 7 p.m. read more
(Left) Maryland then-sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs (1) runs for a score during a game against Old Dominion on Sept. 7, 2013 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. Credit: Courtesy of MCT (Right) OSU then-freshman safety Vonn Bell (11), interacts with fans during a game against Northwestern on Oct. 5, 2013, at Ryan Field. OSU won, 40-30. Credit: Lantern file photoThe Maryland Terrapins have never won a Big Ten football game at home — but then again, they’ve never played one.Ohio State, ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press top 25, is set to be the first Big Ten team to take a shot at Maryland on the Terrapins’ home turf since the team joined the conference this season.“We’re going to go there and welcome them to the Big Ten,” senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a big game. We’re going to show them what Big Ten football is, and hopefully it’ll work out in our favor.”The Buckeyes (3-1, 0-0) are set to face-off with the Terrapins (4-1, 1-0) on Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.The matchup pits the Buckeyes — members of the Big Ten for more than 100 years — against the Terrapins, who are set to play just their second game in the conference to date. It is set to be the first-ever football game between the two schools.Despite Maryland’s inexperience in the conference, Heuerman said playing a Big Ten game is always important, regardless of the opponent.“Obviously it’s going to be a little bit bigger than what we’ve seen so far,” he said. “So we need to go in there with the right mindset.”Both teams have suffered one loss this season, with Maryland’s coming by just three points against West Virginia on Sept. 13. The Buckeyes’ loss came a week earlier when they fell to Virginia Tech, 35-21, in their home opener.OSU coach Urban Meyer said beginning conference play won’t make his team work any harder, but he acknowledged games in the Big Ten are different for one main reason.“Our goal is to compete for a championship in November, and this is it,” Meyer said Wednesday.As OSU hopes to take its first step toward winning a Big Ten championship this season, there will be no guarantees as the Buckeyes’ defense is pitted against a Maryland offense that features multiple dimensions.Through five games, Maryland is averaging 36.8 points per game, largely because of the success of a dual-quarterback system and the talent of junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The two quarterbacks — junior Caleb Rowe and redshirt-senior C.J. Brown — each bring a different skillset to the table. Diggs is a player Meyer targeted coming out of high school, and the OSU coach praised him heading into Saturday.“I knew when watching him play (in high school) that he was special,” Meyer said Monday. “Now that I see him, he’s as good as there is in America.”Diggs has totaled 29 receptions for 398 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season.Brown is the runner of the quarterback duo and leads the Terrapins with 266 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He’s also thrown 128 pass attempts, compared to just 32 from Rowe, for 996 yards, seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. Rowe has thrown four touchdowns in three games with only one pick.Meyer said he doesn’t expect to know which quarterback will start until the day of the game because Brown missed the end of Maryland’s most recent game with a wrist injury, but said he’s aware of the quarterback’s athleticism.“Obviously when (Brown) is in there it is changed, it’s a much different offense than when the other guy (Rowe) is in there so the quarterback run is a big part of it,” he said Wednesday.While the defense will have to look for that added dimension when Brown is on the field, the threat of Diggs making a big play could be ever-present with each snap of the ball.Sophomore safety Vonn Bell, who was one of a few OSU defensive backs to give up a long touchdown against Cincinnati last Saturday, said he and his teammates have seen what Diggs can do. He said the plan to stop Maryland’s top target will be simple.“He’s a player, he’s a very special guy,” Bell said Wednesday. “He likes to get his plays, make plays, so we gotta tackle him.”Bell went on to say Diggs has an idea of his own ability, and isn’t afraid to tell opposing players about it.“He’s got swagger, he’s very confident,” he said. “If he makes a catch, I think he’s gonna try and talk back to me, but I’m gonna tell him to come and make a play.”While Bell has no plans to back down from Diggs, he and his fellow defensive backs might not be the only position group keying on Gaithersburg, Md., product.Meyer singled out Diggs and sophomore defensive back William Likely as two of the top return threats in the conference.“(The) best punt returner is No. 4 (Likely), best in the Big Ten, and then Diggs is the best kickoff returner, very talented group,” Meyer said Monday. “Already spent an inordinate amount of time Sunday and Monday on our coverage units this week because that will be a big difference in this game.”Heuerman echoed his coach and addressed the stress put toward “attention to detail” on special teams during practice heading into the game.“We’re doing some things differently,” Heuerman said. “I wouldn’t say it’s been a dramatic amount, we know it’s going to be a big part to this week. Going into their house and playing on the road, special teams is always important.”Regardless of which particular units have brought the success, both teams head into the game on two-game winning streaks. The Buckeyes are coming off a matchup with Cincinnati in which they posted 710 yards of total offense while the Terrapins scored a combined 71 points in their two most recent wins — against Syracuse on Sept. 20 and Indiana on Sept. 27.Maryland received five points in the most recent AP poll, and could move into the top 25 with a win against the Buckeyes.The game is set to kick off at noon Saturday before the Buckeyes head into a bye week.After that week off, OSU is scheduled to play Rutgers on Oct. 18 for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. read more
OSU junior defensive specialist Valeria León (3) prepares to hit the ball during a game against Florida State on Sept. 6 at St. John Arena. OSU won 3-1. Credit: Courtesy of OSUSomething will have to give when the No. 12 Ohio State women’s volleyball team begins Big Ten play on Wednesday.OSU (11-1), currently in a stretch of 11 wins in a row, is set to host No. 21 Minnesota (8-2) at St. John Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. After losses to Texas A&M and Stanford to begin the season, Minnesota has won its last eight matches and hasn’t lost a set in its last seven.OSU coach Geoff Carlston said when the Golden Gophers stay in their system, they are one of the best teams in the country, and winning the serving and passing game will be crucial in order for his team to come out on top.“If they’re comfortable, if we’re kind of playing to their strengths in terms of tempo and blocking, they’re going to be good,” Carlston said. “We need to cover the ball because they’re going to get some blocks. We’ve got to get in there and give ourselves second and third chances.”The Golden Gophers have been strong on both sides of the net so far this season, ranking 10th in the country in blocks per set (2.94) and 13th in hitting percentage (.283). They are led by senior outside hitter Daly Santana, who is currently second in the conference with 4.59 kills per set, and junior middle blocker Paige Tapp, a preseason all-Big Ten selection whose 1.32 blocks per set rank fifth in the conference.OSU sophomore outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said the competitive nature of the Big Ten has her excited for conference play to begin.“There’s always a change in the atmosphere once we get into Big Ten play just because we get ranked against each other and we’re kind of out for each other’s heads,” Schirmer said.Although the Buckeyes are in the midst of a lengthy winning streak, senior middle blocker Tyler Richardson said that team is taking things day-by-day and keeping its focus on the future.“That’s in the past, that’s preseason,” Richardson said. “Now it’s Big Ten, it’s time to really focus and get down to business.”Randall returnsFor the first time in nearly a year, junior outside hitter Kylie Randall appeared in a match last weekend, picking up two kills in OSU’s win over Eastern Illinois.Randall hadn’t played since Sept. 28 of last season due to torn ligaments in her left ankle.After a long road to recovery, Randall said she was happy to be back on the court.“I was just really excited to be with the girls,” she said. “I’ve been practicing throughout the summer and beginning of this preseason. Obviously it’s a lot different than last year’s team, and I’m just really excited for the future.”Carlston said it was nice to see Randall be able to “shake off the cobwebs” and that he expects her to play a key role down the stretch for the Buckeyes.“This Big Ten season is pretty long and grueling and so she’ll definitely be a piece of the puzzle moving forward,” Carlston said.Previous matchupsOSU is 34-40 all-time against Minnesota but has fared well at home, going 20-13. The two teams split a pair of five-set matches last season, with each team winning on their home courts.What’s next?Another matchup with a top-20 team awaits the Buckeyes on Sunday, as they’re set to take on No. 16 Wisconsin — which knocked OSU from the NCAA tournament last season — at St. John Arena at 2 p.m. read more
Ohio State sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski controlls the puck during a 4-0 loss to Penn State on Dec. 2. Credit: Nick Hudak | For the LanternThe No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team made it a goal to earn home ice throughout the Big Ten tournament and reach the championship game for the first time since 2014.With a different format than in the past, this year’s tournament allows the higher seeds to host their games at respective home arenas, which gave the Buckeyes a vision of playoff hockey at the Schottenstein Center early in the campaign.“We’ve talked about it all year starting in August when the team got here that we are playing for home ice this year in the playoffs,” junior forward Brendon Kearney said. “The different format was a big deal for us just to be able to stay in Columbus.”The second-seeded Buckeyes will open the Big Ten tournament at home with a best-of-three series against seventh-seeded Michigan State in the first round. The Buckeyes will not take the Spartans lightly given the result of the teams’ most recent meeting, a 6-3 Michigan State win. Michigan State, the lowest seed in the tournament, used a heavy forecheck to pin the Buckeyes in their own zone. The strategy forced turnovers and pucks piled into the back of their net. Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said multiple areas need improvement to ensure a different outcome.“Puck management, number one. I talk about that a lot. We turned the puck over a lot. If they are going to play that style and come down, we just got to make plays,” Rohlik said. “We got to take care of the puck, we got to support the puck. I think that’s the key against this team, and that’s the approach we are taking.”Michigan State has one of the conference’s most talented top lines, which has even earned a nickname of the “KHL line.” Sophomore forwards Patrick Khodorenko and Taro Hirose and freshman forward Mitchell Lewandowski accounted for 42 of the Spartans’ 86 goals this season.Rohlik said Ohio State will not abandon the defensive style that is allowing just the third-fewest goals-against per game in the country (2.06 goals) in order to shut down the Spartans. “We just got to take care of ourselves. Five-man defense, whoever’s out there, it doesn’t change. We got to stay connected,” Rohlik said. “I talk about this all year, it’s not just our goaltender or defense. We got to play solid five-man defense.”Ohio State could face some daunting opponents in the ensuing rounds if it gets past Michigan State. No team would be more daunting than Notre Dame in a potential Big Ten championship game, but the preceding rounds will not be easy, given the depth of the conference. Five Big Ten teams appeared in the regular season’s final USCHO top-20 poll. “It’s that time of year, and our league speaks for itself,” Rohlik said. “I think anybody could beat anybody on any given night.”With back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in 15 years, there is a sense of confidence that Ohio State has emerged as one of the conference’s top programs and will compete for a Big Ten championship beyond just this year.“It’s about our culture. You go out there and expect to win every night you play. It’s not going to happen. We understand that, but I think that’s the attitude that our guys have,” Rohlik said. “Credit to the 27 guys in the locker room, it’s great for the program, but certainly we’ve got a long way to go. We’re not satisfied with where we are at.”Ohio State’s opening game of the tournament against Michigan State will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and the second game will start at 7 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, the third game of the series would commence at 7 p.m. Sunday. All games will be at the Schottenstein Center. read more
“First, toilet twinning, a charity building and maintaining flushing toilets in the developing world. 60% of people worldwide don’t have access to a flushing toilet.”Second, to the firefighter’s charity. The guys who came to the house were brilliant, took everything in good humour, and professional.”Avon Fire and Rescue service confirmed they received a call on August 7 to Mr Smith’s address.A Fire service spokesman said: “We received a call at 22:41 to one female trapped between interior and exterior glass.”Two crews were sent from Temple station and she was rescued using hand tools.”Mr Smith added that despite his date’s awkward ending he did see the woman again.”We did go and meet for a drink to discuss setting up the crowdfunder,” he said.”She’s a lovely girl – I’m not sure what’s going to happen – I’m really busy with my dissertation at the moment but I’d certainly be open to seeing her again.” “After our meal, we repaired back to my house for a bottle of wine and a scientology documentary.”About an hour in to Louis Theroux and chill, my date got up to use the toilet. She returned with a panicked look in her eye, and told me she had something to tell me.”‘I went for a poo in your toilet’, she told me ‘and it would not flush. “Bristol’s finest were on scene sirens blaring in a matter of minutes.”Once they had composed themselves after surveying the scene in front of them, they set to work removing my date from the window using all of their special firemen hammers and tools.”It took them about 15 minutes.”Unfortunately, although they rescued my date unharmed from what must have been a rather unpleasant confined space to find yourself in, in the process they had to completely destroy the window with their special fire tools.”I’m not complaining, they did what they had to do. Problem is, I’ve been quoted north of £300 to replace the window.”As a postgraduate student, that is a significant chunk of my monthly budget (in fact, that is my monthly budget).”Mr Smith has turned to the internet for help to raise £300 to repair his broken window – a target which has now been exceeded.He said: “If the window is not replaced my landlord may well kill me, so you would be literally helping to save a life.”If by some miracle I manage to raise more money through this page than the cost of the window, any remainder will be split 50/50 between two charities: She had no choice but to confess to Mr Smith, who bravely helped lower her out of the bathroom window into the gap between the houses in an attempt to retrieve it.But she got wedged upside down and eventually had to be rescued by firefighters who were called to Mr Smith’s house in Bristol.He has now launched a GoFundMe page to replace the broken window – which raised £300 in the first three hours.Recounting the hilarious story, Mr Smith – a postgraduate studying sociology at Bristol University – said: “I recently took a girl I met on tinder to Nandos.”We had a lovely evening, and enjoyed each other’s company very much. Liam Smith, who had an extraordinary Tinder dateCredit: Liam Smyth / SWNS.com “Seeing only one solution, I messaged our house group-chat, and went upstairs to find a hammer and chisel to smash open the window.” Firefighters try to rescue a girl from behind a window after Liam Smith’s extraordinary Tinder dateCredit:Liam Smith / SWNS.com But Mr Smith said his date had other ideas.”Being an amateur gymnast, she was convinced that she could reach into the window and pull the poo out, using the tried and tested ‘inside out bag as glove’ technique.”Unfortunately she couldn’t reach. She climbed further in and had the same problem. Eventually I agreed to give her a boost up and into the window.”She climbed in head first after her own turd, reached deeper into the window, bagged it up, and passed it out, over the top and back into the toilet from whence it came.”She called out to me to help her climb out from the window, I grabbed her waist and I pulled. But she was stuck. Stuck fast.”Try as we might, we could not remove her from the window. She was stuck fast, upside down in the gap.”Unfortunately for my date, at this stage I could see only one way out of our predicament.”She had been upside down in the window for around 15 minutes at this point, and I was starting to grow concerned for her health. I called the fire brigade. “She continued, I don’t know why I did this, but I panicked. I reached into the toilet bowl, wrapped it in tissue paper, and threw it out of the window’.”Liam went on: “I was understandably concerned, and told her we would go outside, bag up the offending poo in the garden, bin it, and pretend the whole sorry affair had never happened.”Unfortunately, owing to a design quirk of my house, the toilet window does not in fact open to the garden.”Instead, it opens into a narrow gap of about a foot and a half, separated from the outside world by another (non-opening) double glazed window.”It was into this twilight zone that my date had thrown her poo.”As can be seen in the picture, the inside window opens at the top, into the gap that is separated from the garden by a non-opening double-glazed window pane. A woman had to be rescued by firefighters during a Tinder date – after getting stuck in a window while trying to retrieve her own poo.The unnamed girl had been for a romantic meal at Nando’s with student Liam Smith, 24, before they went back to his place for a nightcap.But a bizarre chain of events unfolded after she went to the lavatory and blocked it.In panic, she picked up the stool and threw it out of a window – but it fell down into a narrow gap between the neighbouring property. Firefighters try to rescue a girl from behind a window after Liam Smith’s extraordinary Tinder dateCredit:Liam Smyth / SWNS.com Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. read more
The DJ’s daughter, Chance, 20, was also accused of kicking the security guard as he lay on the ground at Worthy Farm, Somerset. But after her father changed his plea to guilty, prosecutors said it would not be in the public interest to proceed with the case against Chance.District Judge David Taylor said: “As a high-profile performer, you would have been very aware of the importance of backstage security and the proper means of securing entry. DJ Goldie displayed “arrogant sense of entitlement” in attacking a security guard at Glastonbury, a court heard on Wednesday.The 52-year-old – real name Clifford Joseph Price – pushed Dennis Poole, a security guard, and scratched his face after denying him access to a backstage VIP area.Bristol magistrates’ court heard how Price came at him “like a raging bull” and “puffed his chest out” before grabbing him in a headlock.The drum and bass DJ and producer, who played gold-toothed bodyguard Mr Bullion in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, was fined £2,463 after admitting common assault.Last month, he became the first person to plead guilty via Facetime after failing to attend court – because he was in Thailand. Goldie’s daughter Chance wasn’t prosecutedCredit:Aaron Chown/PA “And yet, attempting to get your own way, you assaulted Mr Poole and put him in a headlock. Your unjustified actions demonstrated an arrogant sense of entitlement based on your own self-importance.”The court heard the attack began when Mr Poole would not allow them into a production area because they weren’t wearing the correct wristbands.In a statement, Mr Poole described how the attack, on June 23 last year, meant he quit his job after six years working at the festival.He said: “I had cancel all of those [bookings] due to the emotional and psychological impact this has had on me. I lost all confidence in my role and had to quit as a security guard – a job I loved.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. read more
The widow of motorsport broadcaster Henry Hope-Frost yesterday said “life can never been the same again” as the driver who killed him in a horror head-on smash was spared jail.The popular presenter, 47, died when Tahir Mehmood’s Toyota Prius – which he bought just the day before – ploughed into Mr Hope-Frost’s Honda motorbike. On Wednesday, Mehmood pleaded guilty to causing the death of the TV star dad-of-three by careless driving.In a heart-breaking victim impact statement tragic Henry’s wife of 13 years Charlotte said: “He was a rare gem of a man for sure.“He was one of the very best dads, always trying to plan work around the school run and bath time.“So he could be with them at the most important parts of the day.“Life can never be the same again.”Describing the impact on their sons Oscar 13, Jasper, six and Felix, three, in the statement read by prosecutor Giles Morrison, she added: “The boys and I miss him.“He was a big, cuddly bear of a man“There was rarely a dull moment when he was around. “When the boys talk about Henry we always try to remember what an amazing man he was.”Religious centre worker Mehmood crossed over onto the opposite side of the A286 in the village of Grayswood, near Haselemere, Surrey on March 8 last year.Mr Hope-Frost was thrown off his bike and 18 metres along the 50mph speed limit road. He was semi-conscious and spoke briefly to a motorist who stopped to help. But he was pronounced dead at the roadside just before 5pm – half an hour after the crash.Mr Morrison told Guildford crown court: “The deceased Mr Hope-Frost was riding his motorbike on the way from having worked at Goodwood.“Travelling in the opposite direction was this defendant driving a Toyota Prius. He had his teenage daughter as a rear passenger. “It seems that Mr Mehmood failed to negotiate a bend, he went straight forward.“The two vehicles collided. The front of the motorcycle collided with the front near side of Mr Mehmood’s Toyota.“As a result Mr Hope-Frost was declared deceased at the scene at 4:57pm. He died before being transferred anywhere.“The driving conditions were quite good, the road was dry, it was not raining. The brightness was good.“The defendant was arrested and gave an explanation that he saw the motorcycle on the bend. “He said he was going 46 or 47mph, under 50mph. He said it came towards him and the motorcycle was coming in the middle part of the road. “In short the defendant denied the offence.”The court heard Mehmood – also 47 and a dad-of-three – had lived in the UK for six years and he came from Pakistan.The judge was shown dashcam footage from a vehicle following Mr Hope-Frost which showed the aftermath of the smash.Charlotte left the public gallery as the clip was played.Alex Stein, defending, said: “Mr Mehmood is a man of good character.“He works at a religious centre.“He purchased the car the day before the accident. Perhaps that may have played a small part in what happened here.“He did not set out that day to cause harm to anyone.”The Prius had previously been used as a taxi and still had taxi stickers on it.Judge Peter Moss ordered Mehmood to carry out a two year community punishment order, 60 days curfew and 200 hours unpaid work.He was also told to pay £670 prosecution costs and an £85 surcharge.Mehmood, of Grayswood, was also banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to do an extended driving course if the wanted to drive again.Mr Moss said: “He (Mr Hope-Frost) has no chance of avoiding you.“Quite why your vehicle crossed that central white line is a mystery.”Motorsport legends paid tribute to Mr Hope-Frost at the time of his death.Among them was former F1 champion Jenson Button who said: “So sad that such a great man lost his life yesterday in a road accident.”Describing his interview style, Button added: “It felt so natural like you were having a good old chinwag with your closest mate.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. read more
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “He said Plymouth was racked by a cholera outbreak at the time which would have made it an unlikely landing place.”After all the delays, the fresh water for the two-month voyage was now on the turn and Plymouth water was at risk of spreading cholera infection.”A port well away from Plymouth was needed to obtain fresh water and offload the cargo which was causing Mayflower to be dangerously overloaded.”Mr Chapman from Leland, Cornwall, added: “Apparently Bill Best Harris did establish a connection but all his research was lost when his weekend home was destroyed by fire.”As a result, his findings are subject to debate but the evidence must be out there somewhere.”However Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said that despite the ‘revelations’, he is not worried about Plymouth’s historic claim to fame.“The documentary evidence that Plymouth was the last English port the Pilgrims stopped at before their long voyage to America is considerable and so I don’t fear our claim is at risk,” he said.“Friendly rivalry is a common feature of West Country relations and we love our Cornish brothers and sisters dearly, but on this occasion, I think we will have to agree to disagree on the Mayflower.” Almost 400 years ago, 100 colonists set off from the shores of England, bound for the New World. The ship which transported the first English Pilgrims from England to America in 1620 is renowned for forming part of the country’s history – and its creation myth.It has long been believed that Plymouth, Devon, was their last stop in the Old World. However a historian claims to have uncovered new evidence to prove that, in fact, The Mayflower left from its rival county in Cornwall.John Chapman, 72, says research has proved the Mayflower stopped for fresh water in Newlyn as it headed for the New World – confirming a theory strongly believed by residents in the Cornish seaside fishing port.While history’s accepted version of events details the ship carrying 100 colonists set sail from Plymouth on September 6, 1620, on a second attempt to reach Virginia, Mr Chapman, a retired policeman, claims a respected librarian who died in 1989 has uncovered the truth. The main source for the story of the Mayflower comes from a first-hand account from one of the Mayflower’s passengers, William Bradford, who went on to become the second governor of the fledgling colony of Plymouth.In later years he co-wrote a history of the colony and includes details of the voyage.The colonists who travelled over to America belonged to a devout Protestant group called the Puritans who were fleeing religious persecution in England. They are more commonly now known as the Pilgrims. He said: “Bill Best Harris was a Plymouth librarian responsible for all libraries and many archives in the area.”He had unrivalled access to a vast amount of historical information.”It is commonly accepted that Bill believed that he had uncovered the location where Mayflower finally made ready for the voyage – not at Plymouth but at Newlyn instead. read more