The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference stages a research paper competition each year, and those papers usually contain results and ideas that are far more interesting than anything uttered on stage during the conference’s panels. Here are five trends that emerged in this year’s eight finalists:It’s all about big data sets: Camera-tracked data isn’t new to the pro sports scene; PITCHf/x data has been around for a decade. But only recently have we started to see it, along with other relatively large data sets, take over the research competition at Sloan. Four of the eight paper finalists used camera-tracked data, two more used sizable play-by-play databases, and another used a massive collection of geotagged in-game mobile-device requests from MLB stadiums. Simply put, research that doesn’t have to grapple with the demands of bigger data sets is becoming less common among Sloan paper finalists.The rise of machine learning: With the increased prominence of such large data sets, it was inevitable that state-of-the-art machine-learning techniques would begin to make their mark at Sloan. For instance, one of this year’s most interesting finalists used a “random forest” framework to predict the outcome of a tennis point after any shot based on the speed, trajectory and location of the ball, the context of the shot and priors for a player’s style derived from cluster analysis. (What this means to you is that if it works, the algorithm will be able to ferret out not only the most crucial points in a match, but also the most crucial shots.) Another paper used supervised learning to develop custom player-by-player strategies for pick-and-roll defense in the NBA — a clever way to translate statistical knowledge about a player into actionable tactics. In many ways, an amount of data so staggering can only be coherently processed using these kinds of advanced statistical techniques, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them used more in future research.A focus on classifying player types: As part of its model, that tennis paper developed what it called “style priors” for each player based on the types of shots he tends to play. Another paper, about complementary players in basketball, estimated the effect of an individual player’s skill set on the behavior of his teammates. The emphasis on underlying tendencies and similar player types to provide context and inform prediction isn’t unprecedented — PECOTA was doing a version of that 13 years ago — but it is now being used with far more granular data, to improve prediction in a wider variety of sports (particularly dynamic ones such as tennis and basketball).The Hot Hand, Part 1,000,000: Few topics have generated more research in psychology and statistics than the hot-hand fallacy. It has surfaced again with a Sloan paper finalist. The seminal work on the subject declared the hot hand nothing more than a trick of the mind, but there’s been a recent trend toward debunking the hot-hand debunkers. Here, that trend continues — using baseball data, the authors find that recent changes in player performance can be predictive and that opposing teams mostly react to them in an appropriate manner. But I’m guessing this won’t be the final word in the hot-hand wars.Fewer finalists from the “Big Four” and more from the business of sport: Compared to Sloan conferences past, this year’s crop of finalists featured easily the fewest papers focused on the North American “Big Four” sports of baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Football1010 NO. OF FINALIST PAPERS Hockey1010 Tennis0001 Business0012 Gambling0010 Using the Internet Archive, I tracked the breakdown of finalists by sport going back to 2013; that year, seven of the eight finalists researched a Big Four sport. This year, the number is down to four. Also of note is the emergence of finalists concerned with the business of running a sports franchise. Zero finalists focused on the subject in 2013 and 2014, but that changed last year with the inclusion of a paper about dynamic ticket pricing. Now we’re up to two finalists focused on topics like brand engagement and sponsorship revenue. Soccer1111 TOPIC2013201420152016 Baseball1312 Basketball4422 read more

San Francisco-12.9% Sam Houston State+27.5% Stony Brook+9.7% Sacred Heart-13.1% SeasonBearkats’ assist boostVisitors’ boostTotal boost Nicholls State-11.3% Montana State-11.5% 2010-11+31.3%+25.6%+29.1% Lehigh+10.5% UNC-Asheville+14.8% Michigan State+9.5% Hawaii-10.3% Army-13.1% In January, the Sam Houston State University Bearkats traveled to Hammond, La., where they beat Southeastern Louisiana University, with 29 field goals, nine of them assisted. Two months later, the Bearkats hosted a rematch back in Huntsville, Texas, this time scoring 28 field goals, with an astounding 26 of them assisted.Basketball fans know that lots of variables determine whether a shot is deemed assisted: the quality of the pass, how much time and how many dribbles separate the pass from the shot, and, most essentially, whether the shot goes in. But another factor can be just as important in assist decisions: where the pass was made. Not where as in where on the court, but where meaning at which venue.Like errors in baseball and tackles in football, assists are subjective, and the decider’s philosophy matters. Sometimes the effect is extreme: On some courts, assist counts rise or fall dramatically, as if players suddenly learned or forgot the art of the pass. And nowhere in men’s college basketball is the effect more extreme than at Sam Houston State’s Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.In more than 800 team-seasons at the NCAA Division I level over the last three years, the scorers who were most generous in awarding assists were those at Sam Houston State.“Our philosophy has always been, if the pass creates the basket, it’s an assist,” said Jason Barfield, a spokesman for Sam Houston State’s athletic department.Sam Houston State’s twitchy assist-scoring trigger finger is well known around the Southland Conference, Barfield said. “We’ve always kind of been known as being too liberal on assists,” he said. “People laugh about it in our league.”At the conference tournament last month, where the Bearkats lost in the final, other teams’ officials laughed as they flipped through their media guides to check which of their single-game assist records were set when playing at Sam Houston State, Barfield said. That’s a permanent record of the school’s equal-opportunity assist generosity.Spokesmen for other teams in the conference didn’t criticize the Bearkats’ assist-counting, acknowledging that it’s a tricky stat to measure. “The assist is about the most subjective part of basketball,” said Shane M. Meling, spokesman for University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.The more room for interpretation in stat collecting, the more interpretations will differ. The evidence is in assist numbers. ESPN Stats & Information supplied box-score stats for the last three seasons of Division I men’s college basketball for pairs of teams that played home games against each other in the same season. I compared the two teams’ combined assist percentage — percentage of field goals assigned an assist — in each pair of games.1The simplest way to compare teams is to examine their home assist rates, where assist rate is percentage of made field goals that are credited with assists (assists divided by field goals made). But that doesn’t account for different styles of play: Some teams set up more of their shots with passes, while other teams have players who generate their own shots.One step toward controlling for the team’s style of play is to subtract its road assist rate from its home assist rate. But teams in college hoops don’t all play balanced home and away schedules. So the difference in their home and away assist rate may reflect differences in opponents’ defensive schemes.So I isolated my comparison to the most similar pairs of games I could find: those between the same two teams. And since most of these were home and away games, I didn’t include pairs with neutral games, in case those had different properties than away games. These pairs of games are nearly always, at the college level, between teams from the same conference.I isolated the analysis to teams that had at least five pairs of home and away games in each of the last three seasons: 279 teams in all. Then I calculated the average of each team’s assist percentage and of its combined assist percentage, and compared those figures for home and away games.One weakness of this method is that a team that plays mostly against teams with home scorers who are, say, especially generous with assists might look stingy because of the tough comparison. However, it’s unlikely this affected the results because the outliers were spread out over many different conferences. Another possibility is that some teams play a different style at home than on the road, even against the same opponents.Some schools are especially fertile ground for assists. Over the last three years, scorers at five schools have consistently awarded assists on a far higher percentage of made field goals than scorers judging the same matchups at a different venue: Sam Houston State, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Lehigh University, Stony Brook University and Michigan State University.2This is based on averaging overall assist percentage — for both teams in our home-road pairs — in each game and subtracting the away percentage from the home percentage. All five schools ranked in the top 15 percent of schools in our sample by this measure in each of the last three seasons. Scorers at eight schools are stingy about awarding assists: the U.S. Military Academy (Army), Sacred Heart University, the University of San Francisco, Alcorn State University, Montana State University, Nicholls State University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Hawaii.3All eight schools ranked in the bottom 15 percent of schools by this measure in each of the last three seasons.If there were no consistency from season to season, we’d expect roughly one school to rank in the top 15 percent, and another in the bottom 15 percent each season. There were 279 schools for which we had stats in each of the three seasons, for at least five pairs of games in each season. So about 42 schools ranked in the top 15 percent in 2011-12. By chance alone we’d expect 15 percent of these, or about six, to rank in the top 15 percent again in 2012-13. And again by chance we’d expect 15 percent of those, or roughly one, to rank in the top 15 percent in 2013-14. That there are instead five and eight schools, respectively, in the top and bottom 15 percent in each season suggests a meaningful finding. Team4Average over last three seasons, of average effect on total assist rate of playing at home against teams also faced on the road. Teams shown ranked in bottom or top 15 percent in each of the three seasons.Assist effect 2011-12+32.0%+16.7%+24.7% I also tested whether any schools were tilting the scales for their own players. None gave an unusually high boost to the home team’s assist percentage in each of the three seasons.5This is based on calculating a team’s net assist percentage — its assist percentage minus its opponent’s — for both the home and road game in each matchup, then subtracting the road net assist percentage from the home percentage. I averaged that over all the pairs of games in each sample for the teams studied, then searched for teams that ranked in the top 15 percent in each season. This stat, by the way, had almost no correlation (R=0.015) with our measure of a team’s assist generosity — suggesting whether teams were more likely to give assists overall wasn’t related to whether they were more generous to their own players than to opponents. Scorers at Eastern Kentucky University, though, appear to hand fewer assists to home players. (It was the only school to rank high in this category in all three seasons, so it could just be a statistical fluke.)6As mentioned in an earlier footnote, we’d expect about one school each to rank in the top and bottom 15 percent of each of our measures.The NCAA Basketball Statisticians’ Manual defines the assist, but leaves plenty of leeway for the scorer to exercise judgment: “An assist should be more than a routine pass that just happens to be followed by a field goal. It should be a conscious effort to find the open player or to help a player work free. There should not be a limit on the number of dribbles by the receiver. It is not even necessary that the assist be given on the last pass.”“At times, statisticians have to use their judgment and knowledge on how to score a certain play,” said NCAA spokesman Ketrell Marshall. “Similar to how an official scorer in baseball has to judge a hit or error, the same applies in basketball where one statistician might give an assist on a particular play while another statistician would not.”Some athletic departments whose men’s basketball scorers came up as outliers in the research cited the subjectivity of assists as an explanation for their stats.“While the NCAA Statisticians’ Manual provides several examples of what is and isn’t an assist, and those rules are followed, to quote Justice Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it,” said Daniel Snowden, athletic department associate director for media and public relations at the University of Mississippi, which is one of the leaders in my measure of awarding assists in the last two seasons. He added, “It does not surprise me we are at the top of the conference.”Snowden said he and the Rebels’ official scorer are “very proactive” about awarding stats other than points, such as assists and blocks. “I don’t believe any team deliberately underreports assists, or blocks for that matter, but I have noticed that some teams are less liberal in awarding assists. When I have mentioned this in the past, the response is usually the scorer forgot to add it. Rarely, if ever, have I had someone not agree that a play wasn’t an assist or a block. Basketball is an extremely fast-paced sport to stat on a computer, and sometimes things are simply missed.”“We try and be objective for both teams and maybe I’m a little more liberal than some places,” said Mike Gore, who does most scoring for home basketball games at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, which was one of the top venues for assist rates. “I’ve been doing this 28 years and every place is subjective,” he added.Schools on either end of the assist spectrum think other scorers are too generous or too stingy with assists. “It’s an extra keystroke, so sometimes people are being lazy when they don’t give the assist,” Barfield said. “When you go on the road, you’ll see obvious assists that aren’t marked for one reason or another.”He’s baffled by road box scores in which the Bearkats are credited with five assists on more than 20 field goals.7They had two road games with six or fewer assists and 19 or more field goals in 2012-13. “That’s almost an impossibility,” Barfield said. “Our guards are very involved in ball movement. Very few of our shots are where the guard just dribbles it up and takes a shot. Probably once a year we’ll play a game where we get the box score back and see something like that.”Dave Guffey, a spokesman for the University of Montana, which awards a relatively low assist rate at home, said, “I think there are at least two teams in our conference that over-count assists.”Some spokespeople cited factors other than their scoring tendencies — such as statistical flukes, or playing styles differing at home and away. One of the venues we found to be suppressing assist rates is Sacred Heart University’s William H. Pitt Center.“My guess is it’s more of an anomaly than anything else,” said Chris O’Connor, associate athletic director for external affairs at Sacred Heart. He said several different people have scored games over the last three years, reducing the likelihood of a rampant anti-assist philosophy. He also pointed out that the analysis, restricted to games between teams that played in each others’ arenas in the same season, excluded some home dates where visitors got lots of assists: Long Island University’s Jason Brickman had 12 at Sacred Heart this year, but the Blackbirds played LIU only once so the game didn’t count toward this assist analysis.8Brickman also had 12 or more assists in two home games against Sacred Heart over the last two seasons — plus 13 this season in a visit to Sam Houston State.Told that his players’ assist percentage relative to opponents’ was much higher at home than on the road, Kevin Lorincz, director of athletic communications at Rutgers University, said, “I would be really surprised if our home stats weren’t markedly better, given that we shared the ball and played much better at home.”9Rutgers wasn’t included in the list of outliers because it had fewer than five pairs of home-away games in 2011-12 and 2013-14. Lorincz added, in an email, that opponents wouldn’t be shy if they thought their players were getting shortchanged in visits to Piscataway, N.J.: “You develop relationships with your fellow [sports information directors] and being the team that ‘loads up its box scores’ would be an uncomfortable and short-lived exercise.”In special cases, though, teams might do just that. “In my experience that typically happens when there’s a direct benefit in a particular stat — for instance when a team or player is near the top of conference, national or all-time school leaders,” Lorincz said. “We had a center a few years back that was a tremendous shot-blocker. We didn’t give him any blocks he didn’t deserve, but we certainly didn’t miss any either.”Lorincz added, “I’m not denying that home stat crews can be somewhat optimistic at times.”In their home game last month against Southeastern Louisiana, Sam Houston State players got the benefit of optimistic scoring. Many of their 26 assists were clear-cut, catch-and-shoot situations.10I watched a video cut of the Bearkats’ assists using Synergy Sports Technology. Four passes credited as assists, though, ended with a Bearkat catching the ball near the three-point line. In each case, the player then took several seconds and dribbled through the defense before scoring from near or in the paint — once on a reverse layup. On a fifth occasion, Kaheem Ransom caught a pass from James Thomas behind the three-point line, waited two seconds for a pick to be set, then took a few dribbles before shooting from elsewhere in three-point territory, 4.5 seconds after receiving the pass. Thomas got credit for an assist.“Whether the guy takes one step after or four steps on a break, if the pass was good enough to set up a basket, it’s an assist,” Barfield said.Barfield gave examples of types of passes that his scorers see as assists but others might not. For instance, he believes an outlet pass setting up a streaking guard for a score should count no matter where the guard catches it, or how many dribbles he takes afterwards. “That [basket] doesn’t happen if you don’t pass the ball down the floor,” Barfield said. “I would give an assist there, where on the road you might not see an assist there.”He also thinks centers don’t get enough credit for kicking the ball out for a three after collecting an offensive rebound. “For whatever reason, that’s a play where the center does not get an assist, or the forward who gets a rebound will not get an assist there,” Barfield said. “I can’t explain why.”Barfield points out that Sam Houston’s scorer, Paul Ridings, applies his philosophy consistently, lifting opponents’ assist rates, too. “It’s not just our numbers” that are relatively high, Barfield said.And he’s right. In a typical Division I game not played on a neutral floor, the home team’s assist rate is 5 percentage points higher than the road team’s — perhaps a reflection of both a slight lean toward home players by the scorer and home teams simply playing better. But teams that played both home and away games against Sam Houston State in the same season over the last three years averaged assist rates that were 20 percentage points higher in Huntsville than when they hosted the Bearkats.11I took a closer look at Sam Houston State’s stats because of the Bearkats’ status as outliers among assists outliers. Using data from Sports Reference over the last four seasons, I pooled the Bearkats’ Division I games into two groups: those that were part of home-away pairs against the same opponent in the same season, and those that weren’t.For the first group, I ran three regressions using the dummy variable of home or away games: one with the games’ total assist rate, one with the Bearkats’ assist rate and one with their opponents’. All yielded highly significant results (p<10^-4). The first indicated that teams’ combined assist rates rise by 26 percentage points at Sam Houston State. The second indicated that the Bearkats’ assist rate rises by 35 percentage points at home. And the third showed opponents’ assist rate rises by 20 percentage points when visiting Sam Houston State.The second group was all Bearkats games that didn’t fit neatly into home-away pairs — many of these were against nonconference opponents or Southland teams that played the Bearkats just once before the conference tournament. I didn’t include these sorts of games in most analyses because other factors such as team matchups could come into play. Nonetheless, as a check, I ran similar regressions. Since I didn’t have paired games to compare, I checked three variables:total assist rate for these games minus the average of the total assist rate in all other games played by the Bearkats and their opponent in that game;the Bearkats’ assist rate in that game, minus the average of their assist rate in the rest of their games, and the assist rate yielded by their opponents in the rest of their games;their opponents’ assist rate in that game, minus the average of that team’s assist rate in the rest of their games, and the assist rate yielded by the Bearkats in the rest of their games.For each I ran a regression, with a dummy variable for home, away and neutral-site Sam Houston State games. The analyses found, with a high degree of significance (p<10^-7), that Sam Houston State’s assist rate was 33 percentage points higher at home than on the road and 27 points higher at home than on neutral courts; that the Bearkats’ opponents’ assist rates climbed by 24 and 27 percentage points when playing at Sam Houston State relative to their home court or a neutral court, respectively; and that the total assist rate was 28 and 27 points higher at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum than on the road or on a neutral court.The story from the two sets of games was consistent, suggesting that the effect isn’t isolated to Sam Houston State’s conference opponents. Subjectivity isn’t the only downside of the assist stat. It gives equal credit to passes of varying value: Some do much of the work for shooters, while others leave the shooter to make, say, a long jump shot.12A charting project by found that in the NBA, passes that would likely have counted as assists boosted shooting percentage on close shots by more than three times the boost for three-point shots. The passer also gets credit only if his teammate hits the shot — if he misses, or is fouled and hits free throws, there’s no assist.“I believe if the shooter goes to the line and makes both free throws, then the passer should be awarded the assist because his pass led directly to points on the board,” said Lance Fleming, a spokesman for Abilene Christian University’s athletic department. “Help get that written in the rulebook.”A generous assist-scorer will only get a college player so far, since most professional scouts go by video, rather than relying solely on box scores. A working paper by University of Maryland Baltimore County economists found that in relatively weak conferences such as Southland, college assist stats have no statistically significant effect on NBA draft position.A big assist number could get a player past the first screen, though. And leagues outside the U.S. have to rely more on stats than on in-person scouting. Mike Laninga, director of athletic communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he could imagine scouts saying, “Obviously if you had eight assists per game rather than five assists per game, whoa, that’s something we need to look at.”Some players and coaches notice which places are the best and worst for their stats. At Montana, where assists are hard to come by, “Our players have grumbled in the past, but not in recent years,” Guffey said.Visiting players know when they’re going to Sam Houston, “they’re going to get some assists they wouldn’t normally get,” Barfield said. Opposing coaches have commented that “point guards like to come and play against us.”Laninga said this wouldn’t fly at UIC, where assist rates are relatively high.13UIC ranked just below the top 15 percent in our sample in 2011-12 and 2012-13. “Our coaching staff told them, you don’t even get a stat sheet after the game. If a starter ever asked for stats, there would be hell to pay,” he said.The only people who complain about college stats, in his experience, are players’ parents. Alcorn State-11.8% 2012-13+37.2%+13.8%+25.8% 2013-14+36.5%+28.1%+32.0% Northern Illinois-11.3% read more

You’re reading Back of the Envelope, an experiment that aims to bring shorter, quicker content to FiveThirtyEight. All postseason, FiveThirtyEight’s MLB projections have had a lot of doubts about the Cleveland Indians — our forecast didn’t even think they would make it out of the division series. In the video above, Neil Paine explores the chances that Cleveland’s expectation-defying streak will continue in the World Series against the mighty Cubs. Share on Facebook

Just about any way you slice it, the 2017-18 campaign was a trying one for Carmelo Anthony.Although Melo’s sole season with the Oklahoma City Thunder saw him reach the postseason for the first time in five years, he never achieved the same sort of individual success that teammates Russell Westbrook and Paul George did, posting career lows in scoring, usage, true shooting percentage,1He logged the worst true shooting percentage in the NBA among the 33 players who took 15 shots or more per game in at least 50 games last season. assists and win shares per 48 minutes. His playoff showing was a letdown at both ends of the floor, so much so that he rode the bench for long chunks of time during the last two games of Oklahoma City’s season. And once the Thunder made their first-round exit, Anthony bristled at the idea of accepting a bench role next season, saying, “That’s out of the question.”“I think the player that they wanted me to be and needed me to be was for the sake of this season,” Anthony told reporters after his exit interview with the club. “As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player.”Anthony will reportedly sign with the Houston Rockets for the veteran’s minimum once he’s officially been traded to Atlanta (and then released). So with his career at a crossroads, his comments raise the questions: Can he still be effective at this point? If he can, what would that role look like?Considering the film, his numbers and the potential fit with his new teammates, Houston figures to be Anthony’s last, best hope for a situation in which he can be a productive scorer again.Much of that hope will be predicated on Anthony’s ability to play off of James Harden and Chris Paul in a more effective way than he did with Westbrook. In that regard, Anthony’s life may get easier this season. While Anthony certainly underperformed last year — and likely could have shown more willingness to accept a secondary spot-up role sooner in OKC — the fit with Westbrook wasn’t always ideal, either. One big reason for that: Westbrook, despite being a triple-double machine, isn’t always the most accurate passer.Westbrook drives to the basket more than any NBA player, using his blistering speed and leaping ability to get around and over defenders. (When he opts to make jump passes, he uses both skills at the same time.) But that often leaves him off balance as he tries to hit a shooter who’s already spotting up and in position for an open look. And it sometimes results in a pass being thrown at a shooter’s ankles, or up above his head, forcing a teammate like Anthony to take a split second to reposition himself or extend further than he should have to in order to get off a jumper.Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.On passes from Westbrook, Anthony hit just 34 percent of catch-and-shoot threes, down from the 36 percent that an average player would have been expected to make from those spots (based on defender distance, according to data from Second Spectrum).2It may be worth noting that Anthony also shot worse than expected from deep during the previous season off passes from Derrick Rose. Taken together, Anthony’s struggles with Westbrook and Rose may suggest that he isn’t as accurate a shooter when catching passes from highly acrobatic point guards who throw so many jump passes. By contrast, Anthony shot 41 percent on catch-and-shoot threes when fed by George, up from the 36 percent an average player would have been expected to make.“As a scorer, you want the ball in rhythm, where you can catch it and go right up and not have to alter your stance or your shot,” Anthony told reporters in March. “Any small thing — the pass could be off a little bit — [could be] a big difference between making a shot and missing a shot.”Westbrook commits more bad-pass turnovers (4.1 per 100 passes) than any NBA player, according to Second Spectrum. Then again, Harden (3.5) ranks No. 2 in the same metric, raising the obvious question of whether things would be any better for Anthony with the Rockets. But Harden and Paul — neither of whom is wildly athletic or reliant on speed — throw much different types of passes, and both are known for hitting teammates in the hands when they spot up.That pinpoint accuracy, paired with the abundance of open shots that Houston players get in the team’s wide-open offense, is the potential upside for Anthony with the Rockets. Still, there’s the issue of whether Anthony is willing to play off of the ball again. While the Rockets isolate even more than Oklahoma City does, Houston’s offense will be at its best when Harden and Paul are running the show, even if Anthony continues to view himself as a top-end scorer. Another potential problem: Anthony and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye when they worked together in New York several years ago.Anthony’s defiant season-ending presser wasn’t very different from the one in which the Thunder introduced him, where he laughed off the suggestion that he could potentially come off the bench to stagger OKC’s scoring threats. And as obvious as it to NBA observers that Anthony isn’t anywhere close to a No. 1 option anymore, it’s not too surprising that he doesn’t see that for himself. He connected on 44 percent of his 2-point jumpers when tightly guarded last season (meaning a defender was standing within 2 feet of him), slightly better than the 42 percent he drilled four seasons ago, per NBA Advanced Stats. Translation: He can still hit tough shots.But in a way, even one of Anthony’s best attributes is somewhat problematic in nature. While teams will always be in search of players who can knock down an undesirable shot — especially in the playoffs — today’s NBA, with all the spacing it provides, prioritizes the notion of reducing such attempts. (This is particularly true in Houston, which led the NBA in wide-open 3-point tries last season.) So, ideally, a player will bring more to the table than simply making tough jumpers.And from that standpoint, it’s hard to see how Anthony would give the Rockets an upgrade over what they just lost in free agency, with Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute both departing. Those wings were among the most skilled in the league on defense, and they were key cogs in the club’s ability to switch nearly every pick-and-roll action if it chose to.Plugging Anthony into the Rockets’ defense figures to mitigate a great deal of that advantage. In fact, Utah — in an effort to punish the Thunder for playing Anthony such heavy minutes — ran pick-and-rolls over and over during the teams’ first-round series, seeking to force Anthony into switches onto ball-handlers. The Jazz found success with that approach, scoring 1.22 points per direct screen when getting Anthony to switch onto a pick-and-roll ball-handler, per Second Spectrum. For context, Kevin Durant — who led the league in efficiency when handling the ball in pick-and-roll situations — averaged 1.15 points per direct screen set for him during the season.3Among offensive players who faced a minimum of 150 switches in direct pick-and-roll situations.Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.With all that in mind, the Rockets’ defense — which helped lift the team into true championship contention last year — looks set to take a step back this season with Anthony in the fold. Houston can only hope to make up for it on offense, where it has a chance to unlock some of what made Anthony lethal at times with the Nuggets and the Knicks, in an earlier phase of his career.But one thing seems almost certain at this point for the Brooklyn-born Melo: If the 34-year-old can’t make it work in Houston, with a pair of passers as otherworldly as Paul and Harden, he probably can’t make it work anywhere. read more

Members of OSU softball team. Credit: Courtesy of OSUAfter a week off, the Ohio State softball team (9-4) is set to head west to Tempe, Arizona, for the Louisville Slugger Invitational hosted by Arizona State. The Buckeyes are slated to face four opponents, three of which are ranked in the USA Today Top 25 poll. OSU’s first matchup is scheduled to begin Friday at 1 p.m. against James Madison (17-1).At this juncture in the season, the Buckeyes have faced only one ranked team, a loss to then-No. 3 LSU, so the weekend looks primed to be stuffed with a string of intense contests.“This spring trip will probably be the toughest stretch of (nine) games we will play this year before postseason play,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, looking ahead to both this weekend and next week’s five-game trip to San Diego.Sizing up the opponentsJames Madison is the Buckeyes’ highest-ranked opponent this weekend, moving from its preseason ranking of No. 19 to No. 10 after its successful start. The Dukes are 4-1 against other ranked teams, including a 3-2 win over No. 3 Auburn in February.James Madison poses a threat from the mound because of the forceful duo of sophomore Megan Good and senior Jailyn Ford. Both pitchers have an ERA below 1.00, and Good has struck out 70 batters in her 13 appearances.Schoenly is cognizant of the Dukes’ powerhouse pitching staff, which will help prepare OSU’s batters for the subsequent energetic efforts from the mound.“We will be facing some of the toughest pitchers in the country over the next (nine) games, and it will be great to see who rises to the challenge,” she said.Seven Dukes are hitting above .350, five of whom have started all 18 games. Senior Erica Field is off to another stellar season after breaking four program single-season and three career records last season. The catcher’s career batting average of .359 rivals OSU senior catcher Cammi Prantl’s .342, which is the top mark among Buckeye starters.Georgetown (5-11) is OSU’s only unranked opponent in Arizona. As such, Schoenly said the Buckeyes are hoping to take advantage at the plate in Game 2 on Friday after likely having to grind out hits against James Madison’s pitching staff.The Buckeye offense will face a struggling Hoya pitching staff, which has a combined ERA of 6.83. Georgetown’s three pitchers have also walked more than twice the number of batters they have struck out.Senior Samantha Giovanniello leads the Hoyas with five home runs and 19 RBIs, which is just two short of her 2015 total.The Buckeyes’ own offensive weakness continues to be stranding runners, something that could make a difference in a tight game.“The few games we have lost, we had many baserunners during the game,” Schoenly said. “We just needed a timely hit here and there.”OSU is scheduled to play its only game Saturday against No. 23 Nebraska, which is currently ranked second in the Big Ten, while the Buckeyes sit at fourth in the conference.Cornhusker infielder M.J. Knighten leads the Big Ten in batting with 11 home runs and a .473 batting average. The junior was named Big Ten Player of the Week last month after a strong showing in Iowa. Also delivering at the plate for Nebraska (12-4) is senior outfielder Kiki Stokes with a .435 batting average, and senior infielder Alicia Armstrong with 15 RBIs.Nebraska sits in the middle of the conference in pitching and is led by junior right-hander Cassidy McClure with 33 strikeouts. The right-hander and the three other pitchers for the Huskers have a combined ERA of 3.11.The Scarlet and Gray finish their outing in Arizona with a matchup against Arizona State (18-5). The No. 19 Sun Devils have eight batters hitting over .350, half of whom have RBI totals in the double digits. Freshman first baseman Ulufa Leilua has a .903 slugging percentage, while senior infielder Nikki Girard has seven doubles and three homers.OSU’s defense has been effective in getting out of tough situations with big hitters like Leilua at the plate, something Schoenly mentioned as a key to the Buckeyes’ success this weekend.“We are looking for our pitchers to continue limiting teams to a few runs a game,” Schoenly said. “The key for our defense will be to limit the opponents’ big innings and for us to have timely hitting.”Schoenly also praised sophomore third baseman Ashley Goodwin’s constant awareness of the field to stop opponents’ offenses from scoring.Finishing strongAfter her leading performance in South Carolina, Prantl was named Big Ten Player of the Week and Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Player of the Week.The senior hit .786 over five games, including a 4-for-4, three-RBI showing against Furman.“I am extremely honored and humbled to be receiving this national award,” Prantl said in a press release. “This would not be possible without the support of my teammates and the coaching staff. Driving in runs is impossible without my teammates being on base.”Prantl has 47 doubles in her career, only 11 away from the Buckeyes’ all-time record. She had 16 doubles during both her sophomore and junior seasons, so Prantl has a reasonable chance to set a new program mark.Up nextThe Buckeyes are scheduled to face San Diego State in a single game on March 16 before facing four opponents at the San Diego State Tournament from March 17 to 20. OSU’s matchup against the Aztecs is slated to begin at 9 p.m. read more

When Doug Hochberg, a junior in political science, began producing a video as a tribute to the men and women who serve in the armed forces, he had no idea the sort of support and recognition his work would receive in the weeks leading up to the Buckeye’s game against Navy to kick off the football season. The idea came from a coworker of Hochberg, whose father had always taught him to root for the armed services teams. The two decided to create a tribute to the Navy football team as they entered the field at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 5. “They deserve some sort of tribute to the service that they provide for our country, to keep us safe. At least for that minute when they run out of the tunnel,” Hochberg said. What came of their efforts is a video entitled “Ohio State’s Take the Field Tribute for Navy – 9.5.09” that has taken off on Facebook and other social media sites. Once finished, the video was debuted on on Aug. 19. Within a couple of days the video had reached a couple thousand views, and now two weeks later the video has been played over 215,000 times. But fans weren’t the only people paying attention to the video. Hochberg was quickly contacted by the Department of Athletics who asked for his permission to play parts of the video on the screen on Saturday. “Ohio State has kind of gotten a black eye in the past couple of years, and we really know that Ohio State fans are good people, good patriotic people that can stand together for this one cause,” Hochberg said. Hochberg urges Ohio State fans to stand and cheer the Navy team just as they would the Buckeyes. He said that he is surprised at the amount of recognition the video has gained but that he is proud to be a part of a movement towards supporting the armed services. As the video profoundly states, there are more important things than football, and one of those is the daily sacrifice that men and women in the armed services voluntarily make on behalf of our country. The last time a service academy played in Ohio Stadium was in 1931. read more

Fueled by a sellout crowd and need for a victory, the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2, Friday at Nationwide Arena. Following three periods of aggressive hockey, the Jackets and Red Wings were forced into overtime and a game-deciding shootout. After both teams’ first three shooters failed to break the stalemate, Antoine Vermette took the ice. Moving side to side, Vermette slipped the puck past goalie Joey MacDonald to break the gridlock. When Red Wings center Johan Franzen failed to score on the returning shot, the entire Jackets team took the ice to celebrate its 3-2 victory. Vermette watched as Rick Nash, Kyle Wilson and Kristian Huselius failed to make their shots, and knew he needed to try something new. “I tried a different approach, maybe try to go side to side, try to deke him, and that’s what I did,” Vermette said. “I’m glad it worked out.” Jakub Voracek and Grant Clitsome scored for the Jackets against goalie Jimmy Howard, who left the game with 7:07 left in the first period. After taking over in goal, MacDonald held the Jackets scoreless for the remainder of regulation. “I thought Joey did a good job. Obviously we were down; he did a good job,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. In the second period, Drew Miller scored the Red Wings’ first goal of the night, sparking life into the team. Less than three minutes later, Jiri Hudler tied the game at two. The goals marked the second consecutive game in which the Jackets lost a two-point lead. In their previous game against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Jackets twice had two-point leads only to lose the game, 4-3. “Going into the third period, I knew I had to shut the door,” goalie Steve Mason said after the game. “Obviously, to give up two in the second period was tough for the team considering the first period we had. I think the guys were pretty disappointed in the way we came out in the second.” In the third, the Jackets regained their aggressive play and sent the game into overtime. “Coming into the third period the guys got back to playing like we did in the first, and we put the pressure on them and got the win in the shootout,” Mason said. The Jackets failed to capitalize on a power play that carried over from the third period, however, allowing for the game to go into a shootout. “It very easily could have gone the other way, but we kept hanging in there and we persevered at the end,” Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. The win halted a five-game losing streak for the Jackets. “We wanted to stop the bleeding. We had lost a number of games and had to find a way to get back into the win column,” Arniel said. The victory was crucial for the Jackets as they look to stay in the playoff hunt. With the win, they gained two points in the Western Conference, putting them two points behind the San Jose Sharks. “That was big, finding a way to get that extra point and we certainly needed it more than they do,” Arniel said. More important than points, the team gained confidence and momentum it desperately needed. “It’s a huge win. Obviously, when you look at the standings are very important, but as far as our team trying to gain confidence and gain some momentum, this is exactly the game you want to play,” Vermette said. The Jackets will look to capitalize on the victory as they head north to face off once again with the Red Wings on Saturday. “I’d really be more impressed if we could get both games out and get four points out of it,” Arniel said. “We’ll enjoy (the win) for a few minutes and be better tomorrow.” For the players, the quick turnaround will be welcomed. “When you have a tough time like this, a couple games when you didn’t get the win, you get a good game and finally get those two points, you want to be back as soon as possible,” Vermette said. read more

The team’s roles have been reversed, but the matchup remains just as big. The Ohio State men’s basketball team is set to take on Michigan at the Schottenstein Center Sunday, and for the first time in a while, the Buckeyes will be playing the part of the underdog. OSU (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten), ranked No. 15 in the country by the Associated Press, has struggled at times this season, losing all three of the games it has played against ranked opponents. Michigan (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten), ranked No. 2 by the AP, is one of two remaining unbeaten teams in college basketball (Duke the other). The Buckeyes have won seven of the last eight games in the heated series, but the Wolverines seem poised to take hold of the rivalry this season. Led by sophomore point guard and Columbus native Trey Burke, the Wolverines are one of the deepest teams in the Big Ten with four players averaging more than 12 points per game. Michigan, the favorite to win the conference and a likely candidate for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, has won its three Big Ten games by an average of 23 points. “They’re a great basketball team. It’d be great if you could focus on one or two guys, but they have four or five guys that can beat you,” junior point guard Aaron Craft said. Burke, who will have about 20-25 friends and family members in attendance Sunday, said his team is looking forward to letting the nation know they are deserving of the attention they are getting. Michigan only has one win against a top-25 opponent: a 79-72 defeat of then-No. 19 ranked North Carolina State in Ann Arbor, Mich. “We want to prove to everyone we’re deserving of this ranking,” Burke said in a teleconference with reporters Friday. OSU, coming off a win at Purdue Tuesday, is still in search of its first marquee victory. The Buckeyes dropped games at No. 1 Duke and at home against No. 6 Kansas in non-conference play before getting blown out at No. 12 Illinois Jan. 5. A win over a top-5 team would do wonders for the Buckeyes’ mental state, junior forward Deshaun Thomas said. “It’d be something special for us. We’ve had our ups and downs this year. It’d give us confidence,” Thomas said. Stopping Burke, a potential All-American averaging 18.2 points, 7.3 assists and three rebounds a game, will be key for OSU. “He’s a great player and took this spring and summer and improved his game,” Craft said. “I think he’s trusting his teammates a little more as well, and that’s made him a better overall player. His assist to turnover rate is pretty staggering as well.” Along with stopping Michigan’s floor leader, whether or not Thomas gets some help of the offensive end will be big in deciding the outcome Sunday. Against the Illini, Thomas scored 24 of OSU’s 55 points. Craft was the only other Buckeye in double figures with 11. OSU and Michigan are scheduled to tipoff at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Camping out Sunday’s game has already been declared a sellout by the OSU Athletic Department, and the anticipation for the contest was clear outside the Schottenstein Center Friday afternoon. Shortly before 4:30 p.m., there were five tents set up outside the student entrance to the arena, roughly 45 hours before tipoff. “I saw them,” Craft said. “Those guys stick by us no matter what we’re going through.” read more

Shelby Lum / Photo editorRedshirt-freshman forward Morgan Wolcott (33) plays the ball forward during a game against Pittsburgh Aug. 28, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-0.After winning its first three games at home to open to the season, the Ohio State women’s soccer team hits the road with matches in Massachusetts against Boston College and Northeastern. The No. 21 Buckeyes are currently riding a school-record 15 match unbeaten streak after playing to a scoreless tie with Arizona Sept. 1.While the Buckeyes are looking to extend their streak, freshman midfielder Alexis Degler said losing a game is not a part of team’s mindset.“We don’t really think about losing. It’s just one step forward in the right direction for us and we are excited to continue it,” Degler said.The Buckeyes were able to keep the unbeaten streak going against Arizona thanks to goalkeepers senior Rachel Middleman and sophomore Jillian McVicker, who kept the Wildcats from scoring as they split time in goal. Coach Lori Walker said McVicker has grown so far this season.“She’s done a nice job, her feet are very good as well, so she’s giving us good distance and range on her kicks,” Walker said.The strong start helped OSU move up three spots in the latest NCAA poll, but Walker still has things for her team to improve on.“You know you’re always just trying to get a little bit better and what we’ve got to be able to do is settle a game down to play against a team that’s not playing in the same way that we like to play,” Walker said.OSU’s first opponent on the road trip is Boston College. The Eagles are currently 2-2-0 on the season after dropping their last match at Connecticut 1-0. Junior forward Stephanie McCaffrey is leading Boston College offensively this season with two goals and five assists through four games. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.McVicker’s shutout last Sunday was her third appearance in goal so far this year without allowing a goal, and it was Middleman’s first. McVicker said splitting time with Middleman has been beneficial to the team.“Playing with (Middleman) is great. In training, we push each other all the time and we complement each other very well and push each other to our limits and strive to make each other better for the betterment of the team,” McVicker said.The Buckeyes defense has only given up three goals through the first four matches and have not allowed a goal in their last 269 minutes on the field.“It’s something that we pride ourselves on, and if we aren’t playing our best soccer we have to hustle,” senior midfielder Kristin Niederhaus said. “I think at the end of the day (defense) is what wins games for us.”After playing Boston College Thursday, the Buckeyes take on Northeastern Sunday, who is 0-3-1 in 2013. These two teams met last year on Aug. 24 when Ohio State defeated the Huskies 3-0 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Former Ohio State guard Mike Conley Jr. drives to the basket as Georgetown center Roy Hibbert defends during their NCAA Final Four game in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 31, 2007. Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame will add eight people — seven former athletes and one current coach — to the 418-person hall in the fall, Ohio State announced announced Wednesday morning.The eight-person class of 2017 will be inducted at a dinner on Oct. 6, and will be recognized at halftime of the Ohio State-Maryland football game the next day on Homecoming weekend.The seven former players who will be inducted include LeCharles Bentley (football), Mike Conley (men’s basketball), Tom Byers (men’s track and field), Chelsea Davis (women’s diving), Bryce Keough (wrestling), Christina Manning (women’s track and field) and Nancy Pearson (women’s swimming).Pete Hanson, Ohio State’s men’s volleyball coach since 1985, is the first coach to be inducted into the hall of fame since former Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel in 2015. Hanson’s teams have won back-to-back NCAA championships. Last season, Ohio State had its 42-match win streak snapped, the third-longest streak in in NCAA men’s volleyball history.Bentley, the first Ohio State player to ever win the Rimington Award – given to the nation’s best center – is the 122nd member from the football program in the hall. The three-year starter was a consensus All-American as a senior in 2001.Conley, a point guard who played for Ohio State for one season before heading to the NBA, helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA Championship. He averaged 11.3 points per game and holds the record for most assists (238) and steals (87) by a freshman in Ohio State men’s basketball history.Byers, a mid-distance runner from 1973-1976, holds multiple school and meet records. The three-time indoor All-American in the 1,000-yard run owns the school record in the 1,500 meter run (3:37.50).Davis won the national championship in 2008 and was named the NCAA Tri-Diver of the Year. In 2010, Davis was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Only one other member of Ohio State’s women’s swimming and diving program has been awarded the award before.As a senior in 1951, Keough was the captain of Ohio State’s Big Ten championship-winning wrestling team. He won individual conference titles at 155 pounds in 1949 and 147 pounds in 1951.Manning, who ran for Ohio State from 2008-2012, in an 11-time All-American, 10-time Big Ten champion and two-time national champion. She holds school records in the 60-meter dash (7.23), 60-meter hurdles (7.91), 100-meter hurdles (12.68) and 400-meter relay (43.70).Pearson was an All-American swimmer in 1982 and twice was a Big Ten champion as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay team.The hall of fame, which was created in 1977, includes 305 men and 121 women. Women weren’t inducted into the the hall until 1993. read more

Ohio State redshirt junior guard Demetrius Knox (78) awaits a play call during the Buckeyes’ 56-14 win against Nebraska on Oct. 14 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State released its Week 9 depth chart Tuesday for its upcoming matchup against Penn State Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. Only two notable changes came from the updated depth chart.Redshirt junior Demetrius Knox was listed as the starting right guard this week after being listed as co-starter with redshirt sophomore Matt Burrell last week. Knox started in place of injured redshirt junior Branden Bowen against Nebraska. The kickoff specialist for the week has been listed as redshirt junior Sean Nuernberger. Nuernberger was listed as the starter last week against Nebraska, but freshman Blake Haubeil was the kickoff specialist at the beginning of the game and held the role throughout the matchup.Defensive end Jalyn Holmes, left tackle Jamarco Jones, running back Mike Weber and H-back Parris Campbell were all listed as starters at their respective positions. Holmes, Campbell and Weber are listed as co-starters at defensive end, H-back and running back, respectively, while Jones is the lone starter at left tackle. All four dealt with injuries during the Nebraska game, but head coach Urban Meyer said at his Monday press conference he expects them to be ready to play.The depth chart can be found here. read more

Ohio State freshman forward Kaleb Wesson (34) high fives his brother, sophomore forward Andre Wesson (24) after scoring in the first half in the game against Maryland on Jan. 11. Ohio State won 91-69. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn a crowd of Scarlet and Gray, packing the Schottenstein Center, Stephanie and Keith Wesson prepared to watch their two sons, sophomore forward Andre and freshman center Kaleb, take the court for Ohio State prior to its Jan. 22 game against Nebraska. Becoming Buckeyes was only a matter of time for the Wesson brothers. Keith, a former Ohio State player from 1983 to 1987, raised his sons in a Columbus suburb, practically preparing them to play for his former team. The two played together at Westerville South, but it wasn’t clear if that would continue at the next level.Andre and Kaleb won a state championship in 2016, playing at the Schott. A month later, Andre received an offer from Ohio State and signed his letter of intent with the Buckeyes. Now, the two play for the same team on the same court they shared that memorable moment.“I’m happy for them that all of their work paid off and it’s just truly a blessing,” their father said. “They had a lot of choices, a lot of great schools, and for them to choose Ohio State, where I played, down the street. Words can’t describe how excited and happy we are.”Even though the brothers are reunited, there have been roadblocks.In only his third collegiate game, Kaleb was suspended for the Buckeyes’ game against Texas Southern on Nov. 16 for “a failure to meet the expectations of the men’s basketball program,” according to an Ohio State spokesperson. However, after one more game, he took over the starting center position for an injured sophomore Micah Potter and has not let go of it since.Andre’s path to playing time this season has not been as clear.During the summer, Andre underwent medical tests on an unknown condition that forced him to stop basketball activity for some time, which instilled questions into his longevity with Ohio State. During this time, Andre’s father said he “literally couldn’t do anything.” He couldn’t pick up a basketball, swim or “walk fast,” according to his mother. Andre made it back to the court for the Buckeyes and has become the Buckeyes’ top forward off the bench, averaging more minutes than any other bench forward and playing at least 16 minutes in each of the team’s last six games. However, his father said the injury still slightly affects Andre, even months into the season. Keith said it was a challenge for his elder son to come back and get back into the speed of the game after months away. “An athlete who has been playing whatever sport since sixth grade, basically every day, that was really the hardest part for him,” Keith said. “And then just not knowing and not being able to do anything. It was tough on him, and it took a lot longer for him. He’s still recovering from this, especially from an offensive standpoint.”Overall, both Andre and Kaleb have made quite the names for themselves in their time at Ohio State. Kaleb has earned two Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors this season, while Andre has been praised by his teammates and head coach Chris Holtmann for his contributions off the bench.The brothers grew up highly competitive, Stephanie said. They were always fighting and were so hard on each other that sometimes their father had to step in. But Kaleb has always been Andre’s biggest fan. Their mother Stephanie said Kaleb stands up for his brother whenever a negative comment is made about him. Their parents have not missed a game this season, home or away.“I just want them to get to their highest potential, whatever that may be. I want them to leave it all out on the floor. I tell them all the time, enjoy every minute of this,” Keith said. “Having played, sometimes you get so caught up in the wins and losses and playing well or playing bad that you forget to soak in the experience; playing in Madison Square Garden, walking down Times Square, going to these great facilities, flying on a charter plane. “They get lost in the norm of how normal things appear but I always remind them that this isn’t normal.” read more

Ohio State junior catcher Jacob Barnwell (42) attempts to throw out a runner at second in the fourth inning of the game against Ohio University in April 10. Ohio State won 4-0. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe Ohio State baseball team did not want to relive its opening loss in the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes took a late lead when sophomore shortstop Noah West hit an RBI single past the third baseman in the top of the 11th inning to giving No. 3 Ohio State the 3-2 lead. However, in senior reliever Seth Kinker’s second inning of work to try and close the door in the bottom half of the 11th, he allowed the Seahawks to tie the game with four straight base-hits.After a significant rain delay, UNC Wilmington right fielder Kep Brown singled through to the right side with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 13th to eliminate Ohio State in a 4-3 loss Saturday.The game could have been over in the bottom of the 11th, but freshman center fielder Dillon Dingler threw the go-ahead run out at home, keeping the game tied. It was the second Seahawk base runner thrown out at the plate. Coming in with a 4.62 ERA and a career-low .275 batting average against after 16 appearances, including 15 starts, junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Feltner kept the Buckeyes in the game, allowing two runs in six innings of work. However, it was not easy for the junior right-hander. He allowed seven runs and three walks, stranding eight runners on base. While Feltner limited the damage from the Seahawk offense, the Ohio State bats did not provide much help. The Buckeyes recorded two runs on three hits through seven innings, with junior catcher Jacob Barnwell hitting his second home run of the season on the fourth inning. Redshirt senior pitcher Austin Woodby brought Ohio State into extra innings, throwing 3.1 shutout innings while giving up five hits and a walk. With a runner on first and one out, Kinker recorded the remaining two outs, getting the Buckeyes through the 10th inning. After the loss to the Seahawks, Ohio State falls to 43-43 in its 21st appearance in the NCAA tournament in school history. read more

Ohio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad (1) guards Purdue-Fort Wayne redshirt senior guard John Konchar (55) in the first half of the game between the Buckeyes and the Mastodons. Ohio State won 107-61. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorLuther Muhammad knows he is a good basketball player. In the middle of a fastbreak offensive possession, the Ohio State freshman guard weaved his way through Purdue-Fort Wayne defenders, throwing up a feather-touch layup for the score. Muhammad immediately turned around to his assignment, Mastodons redshirt senior guard John Konchar, with a smirk on his face, nodding his head in approval of his actions and mockingly clapping his hands as he crossed midcourt. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann has seen this before.“When we saw him in [Amateur Athletic Union camps], we’d have an 8 a.m. game and Luther Muhammad would be out there doing that at an 8 a.m. game, the only guy on both teams with that personality,” Holtmann said. “The only guy. 8 a.m. game. Doing that.” This is what made Muhammad so important for Holtmann to get in his first recruiting class at Ohio State: a confident and fearless player who brings confidence and life to the program. A sign of the future. But for most players, this confidence comes in the form of offense, doing what Ohio State freshman guard Duane Washington Jr. did — sending an imaginary bow-and-arrow into the crowd after hitting consecutive 3s at the end of the first half against the Mastodons. Muhammad’s different. His joy comes when he’s playing one-on-one defense against Konchar, making him work for a basket. It’s defense that defines Muhammad. It’s become his identity. “Everyone who plays basketball likes to score. But what is scoring if your guy’s also scoring?” Muhammad said. “I just feel like it’s better when you score and also you get a stop, your man’s not scoring because if you score 20 and your man scores 20, you really ain’t scoring.” Muhammad said this is the mentality with which he grew up, something he lives by based on how he learned to play basketball. This is what separated him from the pack for Holtmann, what made the head coach desperately want to secure a commitment from Muhammad. “He is who we recruited in the sense of we fell in love with the kid when we recruited him because what you saw today is who he is. He is ready to take on a challenge against a really good player. It’s his identity,” Holtmann said. “He is a more-than-capable offensive player, but that’s why we chased him every day like we did because we knew how important it was going to be for us.”  Holtmann has always been a defense-first coach. When establishing the team identity, the defensive strategy has always been the primary focus with offense coming later. Purdue-Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman said Holtmann’s team played a defense in which he felt every player had bought into something bigger than himself. It was a cohesion, a common goal that made the defense so ruthless, the Mastodons head coach said. This was the mentality for Muhammad all along. But having the mentality is one thing. The other is actually performing against collegiate athletes, knowing he is not in high school anymore. “Now, you could be defending a draft pick rather than just defending a Top 100 player that’s an unfinished product,” Muhammad said. “It’s definitely more detailed and you just have to be ready all the time.” Muhammad said it is all about preparation, paying attention to detail and utilizing the scout team, which was integral to Ohio State’s success in its home opener. Through the first two games of the season, Ohio State has allowed opponents to shoot 30.7 percent from the field, giving up 22.6 percent of three-point shots attempted. Senior guard C.J. Jackson said defense has been the team’s main priority early in the season. “It’s pride on the defensive end,” Jackson said. “We work as one and we work every day to work as one.”  But it is Muhammad’s confidence, knowing he’s going to make it difficult on an opponent, that is carrying the team through two games. And for Ohio State, it’s contagious. Holtmann just has one thing to ask of his freshman guard. “I just don’t want him to average a technical a game.” read more

first_imgNineteen fans police wish to speak to as part of Operation Resolve The detective said anyone who contacts the investigating team will be treated with sensitivity.He said: “We will try and understand their concerns. It’s very difficult after 27 years to understand the difficulties people face. Some may face not looking at images or may not want to recount their experience but nevertheless we’ve got people who can help to overcome that.” 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. Mr Malkin said the 19 people were in the “right place at the right time” and may be able to identify others.He said: “They might know people they were with or may be able to shed some light on others that were present at the time.”It’s important because we need to understand the full facts around the opening of Gate C at 2.52.”It’s a significant piece of work that I am undertaking at the moment and these people would be helpful to add value to what I have already undertaken.”He added: “It’s their experience. Who they were with, their entry and how they came to be at Gate C at that time and really their experience of entering through Gate C and what they did, what they saw, what they heard.” The investigating team has released footage and still images of 19 people they want to speak to who can be seen in the area of Gate C when it was opened at 2.52pm on April 15 1989.The footage includes computer-generated images of the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough stadium as it would have looked 27 years ago, and specialists have used recognition techniques to find a number of different images of some of the potential witnesses.Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Malkin, the senior investigating officer, said he hoped the people identified in the footage would be able to help.Speaking outside Hillsborough, he said: “The appeal today is for 19 individuals seen outside Gate C at 2.52pm on the 15 April 1989.”These people were in close proximity to the gate at the time that it opened and I would like to hear from these people because they might be able to provide me with information that could assist me in my inquiry.”center_img Nineteen fans police wish to speak to as part of Operation ResolveCredit:Greater Manchester Police/PA Detectives leading a criminal investigation into the Hillsborough disaster have appealed for 19 people seen in CCTV footage at the stadium to come forward.New images showing the potential witnesses at the Leppings Lane end of the football ground in Sheffield have been released by Operation Resolve as part of its inquiry into the disaster and the events which led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans.Operation Resolve is one of two criminal investigations ordered following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in 2012. In April, an inquest jury concluded the 96 victims were unlawfully killed and that blunders by South Yorkshire Police “caused or contributed to” the disaster at Sheffield Wednesday FC’s stadium.Mr Malkin said Operation Resolve, which has already interviewed more than 1,200 people who entered the stadium through Gate C when it opened, was on target to submit full files of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service by the turn of the year.Anyone who recognises any of the people identified in the CCTV footage is asked to contact Operation Resolve on 0800 0 283284 or through the website. last_img read more

first_imgRonnie Coulter 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. The street in Overtown, Wishaw, where Mr Chhokar was murderedCredit:PA A man who boasted he had committed the “perfect murder” has finally been brought to justice for killing the waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar nearly 18 years ago after being tried for a second time following the abolition of double jeopardy laws.Ronnie Coulter, 48, faces a mandatory life sentence after being convicted by a majority verdict of stabbing the 32-year-old through the heart as he returned home from work in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, on November 4, 1998.The jury took around 10 hours over three days to convict Coulter after a landmark four-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He was only the second person to be tried again for the same crime following changes to double jeopardy laws in Scotland which previously prevented someone facing the same charges more than once.Several members of the Chhokar family sobbed as the guilty verdict was announced. Aamer Anwar, the lawyer who led the campaign for justice, hugged the victim’s 73-year-old mother Gurdev Kaur Chhokar as the killer was found guilty.Judge Lord Matthews told Coulter he would be jailed for life when he returns to court for sentencing later this month.Throughout the trial Coulter claimed  he was innocent and blamed his nephew, Andrew Coulter, and another man, David Montgomery. The pair admitted being present at the scene of the murder but denied being involved.A string of further charges, including an accusation that Coulter forged Mr Chhokar’s signature on a stolen £100 giro cheque on the day of his death, were dropped during the trial.Coulter’s sister Margaret Chisholm told the court that her brother claimed to her had got away with the perfect murder.He was previously acquitted when he stood trial in 1999, while Andrew Coulter and Mr Montgomery were acquitted of the same murder the following year.center_img Overtown Two official inquiries were ordered after the original trials which were critical of the way the cases were handled, with one finding evidence of “institutional racism” in the police and the prosecution service.A report by Sir Anthony Campbell QC in 2001 into the way prosecution decisions were made said all three men should have been charged together, and recommended a review of Crown Office procedures.Another report in the same year by the lawyer Dr Raj Jandoo found evidence of institutional racism and said police failed to appreciate the impact the crime had on members of a vulnerable minority community.Following the publication of the reports, the then Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, said the Chhokar family had been failed by the police and prosecution services.In his last interview before his death in November 2015, Mr Chhokar’s father Sarsham said his only wish was that those responsible for his son’s death “face justice”.Mr Anwar, who began campaigning for the Chhokar family when he was a final year law student at Strathclyde University, said: “I never thought in my wildest imaginings though it would take nearly 18 years to get justice for the family.“We can be proud of what the campaign achieved. I would hope that now no family, black or white, would ever again be treated like the Chhokar family were at the first trial of Ronnie Coulter. Revolutionary changes took place as a direct result of our campaign.”Speaking outside the court he said in a statement from the family that the verdict was not a cause for celebration, but was a source of relief that “finally justice has been done”.He added: “For any parent the loss of a child shatters the soul, but no one can imagine the devastating toll on a family having to campaign for justice for nearly 18 years, but did Surjit’s killers really think his life was so cheap that his family would just walk away.“At the end of the second trial in 2000, I stood on the steps of this court accusing our justice system of acting like a ‘gentleman’s colonial club’” of being “arrogant, unaccountable and institutionally racist’. But today the Chhokar family want to thank the prosecutors, Crown Office and Police Scotland for their unwavering commitment to justice. They have shown themselves at their finest.”Mr Chhokar’s mother, his sister Manjit Sangha, and her children, were in court every day for the trial.The 800-year-old double jeopardy law was reformed in Scotland in 2011 after Kenny MacAskill, the then justice minister, said the move would make Scots law “fit for the 21st century”. He insisted the overhaul would only affect the “worst and most sickening” cases. Ronnie Coulter was convicted of a murder dating to 1998Credit:SWNSlast_img read more

first_imgThe 33-year-old was jailed last year for eight-and-a-half years for causing death by dangerous driving not far from Cowell’s home. When he broke into Cowell’s house he was on licence for other burglaries and public order offences. The jury of nine men and three women took less than an hour to find him guilty at Isleworth Crown Court following a four-day trial. He shook his head in disagreement as the verdict was returned.His DNA was found on gloves dropped on his escape from the scene, and on a handprint on a wall at the property, where Cowell has lived for 10 years.February was identified by a security worker as he fled, and later by police who were aware of his “prolific” sprees on previous occasions. It must have been terrifying for the occupants to imagine someone was inside their home while they slept, particularly with a young child in the houseDetective Sergeant James Howarth CCTV showed Darren February outside the house CCTV showed Darren February outside the houseCredit:Metropolitan Police /PA Darren February Some of the jewellery was recovered at the scene but it is understood most of it was not returned. Detective Sergeant James Howarth, the investigating officer, said: “Darren February is a danger to society with numerous convictions under his belt. “It must have been terrifying for the occupants to imagine someone was inside their home while they slept, particularly with a young child in the house.”February will be sentenced on Wednesday morning.  A serial burglar has been found guilty of an almost £1 million raid on Simon Cowell’s home as the music mogul and his family slept and his security guard used the toilet.Police said Darren February, who has committed 58 offences over two decades including 37 convictions for burglary, is a “danger to society”. He broke into the five-bed property in Holland Park, west London, through a patio door and stole jewellery and two passports. Just 10 days after he burgled the X Factor supremo’s home on December 4 2015, February hit 52-year-old father and motorcyclist Kenneth Baldwin with a car and killed him.  Simon Cowell 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 told how the couple were “very concerned” for their son Eric, then aged two, when they were woken from their sleep to be told of the break-in. Among the items taken were a ring estimated to be worth half a million pounds, earrings, watches and a diamond bracelet.In his statement Cowell said: “I wish to say that no-one has the right or authority to steal from Lauren or myself.”One of the stolen passports was dropped nearby and recovered that morning, while another was found at a recycling facility in Wandsworth and handed to police. Giles Newell, defending, said his client had been caught up in a case of mistaken identity, but February did not provide an alibi and opted not to give evidence to the court. On one of the days he refused to leave prison to come to court and the trial went ahead in his absence.It emerged during the proceedings that Cowell’s security worker Simon Williams concluded he must have been using the bathroom when the burglary took place.He rejected a suggestion made to the media by Cowell shortly after the raid that it could have been an “inside job”.In a statement read to the court Cowell explained the safe had been left open to allow his partner Lauren Silverman to “quietly get her jewellery” ahead of a flight abroad that morning. Cowell was “very concerned” about his son when the burglary took placeCredit:Rich Fury /AP  Darren FebruaryCredit:CENTRALlast_img read more

first_imgDr Sarah Wollaston “We are extremely disappointed that the Government has rejected a number of our recommendations,” said Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, the Chair of the Health Select Committee.“These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity. Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge.“The Government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality.”A record percentage of children now have weight problems with one in three overweight or obese, by the time they leave primary school at the age of 10 or 11. Studies have shown that being overweight in childhood makes future health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, far more likely and places a huge burden on the NHS.Under the government’s plan, from 2018 a sugar tax will be imposed on drinks which have more than 5g of sugar per 100m, which would add around 7p to can of Coca-cola. Soft drinks will have to cut sugar by 2018 or face being taxed Credit:Anthony Devlin/PA Wire Food companies have also signed up to a voluntary agreement to reduce sugar content by 2020, but there are no sanctions or penalties if they fail to do so.Health experts and charities agreed that without tougher measures to prevent childhood obesity youngsters were facing a future of illness and unhappiness.Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “The fight against obesity is going to be long and hard – and the Health Committee is right; without action across a number of areas, any impact of individual policies will be minimal.“It was an error for Government to exclude TV junk food advertising restrictions in their Obesity Plan.“We know these adverts have an effect on the type of food children consume, and experts from across the health sector, parents and the Health Select Committee agree that a ban prior to the 9pm watershed is vital to help tackle the obesity crisis.” Show more The childhood obesity crisis is likely to become far worse unless the government stops the sale of discounted junk food and prevents advertising of unhealthy snacks before the watershed, MPs have said.Last August the government set out its Childhood Obesity Plan which included a sugar tax on soft drinks but stopped short of implementing further measures called for by the Health Select Committee.In a new report published today, the Committee said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the government’s plan, which it criticised as ‘vague’ and ignoring of the seriousness and urgency of the problem.As well as a ban on junk food discounting and advertising before 9pm, the committee had also called for penalties for companies who refused to bring down sugar content, clearer labelling, and stronger powers for local authorities to stop too many fast-food outlets opening in an area.center_img Soft drinks will have to cut sugar by 2018 or face being taxed  Dr Sarah WollastonCredit:Jay Williams  Jo Bibby, Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Health Foundation, added: “The government’s strategy on childhood obesity misses important opportunities to tackle root causes of this crisis.“Without a more ambitious plan that shows true leadership, the childhood obesity crisis will continue to put at risk the health and happiness of today’s children and future generations.”However the government said it had was implementing ‘the most ambitious plan on childhood obesity in the world’Public health minister Nicola Blackwood added:”Voluntary approaches have been shown to be very effective, but as we have repeatedly said, we have not ruled out further measures if results are not seen.” 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.last_img read more

first_img 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. Millennials do not consider themselves “grown up” until they reach the age of 27, a survey has found. More than half (55 per cent)  said that feeling like a fully mature adult depended on reaching particular milestones in life, according to the survey conducted by Nationwide Current Accounts.Just over one in five (22 per cent) of the 2,000 adults surveyed said that people felt mature when they had their own children, while a further fifth (21 per cent) said it was when they moved out of their parents’ home. The trend for people in their twenties to live at their parents’ house for longer is fuelled by a competitive jobs market, modest entry-level salaries and the high living costs.  Professor Jane Lewis, who led a study at the London School of Economics into children who move back home after university, said that this “will become increasingly acceptable” behavior for graduates. She found that the “boomerang generation” became very comfortable with living at home, and felt little urge to move out. One in seven (14 per cent) said they felt grown up when they got married and one in eight (12 per cent) on getting their first job.Of the nine in 10 adults who consider themselves grown up, the transition took place for half in their 20s, a fifth in their 30s and one in 20  in their 40s. One in seven said they felt “grown up” when they got marriedCredit: Paitoon Youlike / Alamy Stock Photo One in seven said they felt "grown up" when they got marriedlast_img read more

first_imgThe Royals as depicted in King Charles IIICredit:Robert Viglasky/BBC I never thought I would be offended by anything on TV, Charles III was offensive pile of Royal bullying and I hate bullies they’re cowards— herbysnipe2 (@herbysnipe2) May 11, 2017 The television show is based on the play of the same name, which opens with the death of Elizabeth II, and Prince Charles’s swift ascension to the throne. Rather than follow in his mother’s footsteps, Charles decides to use his power to intervene in government.He refuses to sign a bill that has been voted through Parliament, causing a constitutional crisis that brings the country grinding to a halt.  Viewers have hit out at the BBC and sympathised with the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry after the new King Charles III show featured Diana’s ghost.Some have dubbed it “Royal bullying”, as the ghost of Princess Diana haunts King Charles as well as her sons in the controversial television show.Others have said it is “melodramatic drivel” and that it doesn’t show an accurate picture of the Royal household.The controversial adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s play, which also includes the Queen’s funeral, received favourable broadsheet reviews but was received with distaste by viewers. Imagine being prince William or Harry tuning into #charlesIII and seeing the Diana scenes. Jesus Christ.— D Gilmore-Kavanagh🌹 (@DrDeclanK) May 10, 2017 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. One Twitter user said: “I never thought I would be offended by anything on TV, Charles III was offensive pile of Royal bullying and I hate bullies they’re cowards”.Another fumed: “Didn’t agree with King Charles III on BBC 2, speculating on the future and the royal family overstepped the mark.”And another wrote: “Five minutes in – King Charles III is in awful bad taste, with weak, childish and stodgy writing and acting of the poorest quality”.center_img #charlesIII. Become too weird now. Diana’s ghost, a male Prime Minister and female leader of the opposition! And poor Harry!— Peter Pownall (@pjp1951) May 10, 2017 The half-rhyming and bizarre wording (as well as overdramatic story) makes this feel positively Shakespearean! #CharlesIII— Rob Gainey (@RobGainey1) May 10, 2017 The Royals as depicted in King Charles III But John Whittingdale, David Cameron’s Culture Secretary, has defended the show. “If the BBC has commissioned a production of a decent play how can one possibly object to that?” he asked. “High-quality drama is at the heart of public service broadcasting.”Regarding complaints from other politicians, Whittingdale said: “Some of my colleagues get hysterical about this kind of thing. I don’t think the Queen is the least bit offended.” Former Conservative defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth told The Telegraph: “We have a sovereign who commands universal respect across the nation and the rest of the World. It is extraordinarily insensitive for an organisation which is so consumed with political correctness.”It is pure indulgence by the BBC to run a play featuring the demise of the sovereign and ascribing to a popular member of the Royal member [the Duchess of Cambridge] base motives.” Started watching @BBC #charlesIII with high hopes of historical drama..fat chance of that! Utter drivel.— Sarah Wheeler (@wheel50) May 10, 2017last_img read more