Former parliamentarian Harry Gill, along with other members of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), was on Monday attacked while erecting elections campaign flags at Number 10 Village, West Coast Berbice.PPP Executive Member Harry GillThe incident, which was captured on camera, shows persons verbally abusing and physically blocking the team as they attempted to place the flags on the utility poles.Gill, in an invited comment to Guyana Times, stated that a formal Police report will be filed and that the international community will be informed of the incident.This was only one instance where party members were verbally abused. Only recently, several PPP supporters were attacked and abused in Laing Avenue, Georgetown by residents as they were announcing the launch of its elections campaign.In light of the recent attacks, the Party had written to Police Commissioner Leslie James, asking for swift actions to be taken against supporters of the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition, who attacked opposition members and destroyed the party’s impedimenta.AttackerThe letter was sent by Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall on behalf of the Party, which detailed that on January 2, a motor lorry carrying a music system and several party activists was driving through Sophia, Greater Georgetown.However, Nandlall noted that they were making public announcements regarding the launch of the PPP’s elections campaign set for today at Alexander Street, Kitty, Georgetown, when they were attacked.“While in Sophia, several known PNC/APNU activists led by Ms Laurene Nestor, blocked the streets and started to hurl missiles at the lorry and its occupants and threatening them with violence were they to continue these announcements within the locality of Sophia,” the letter stated.Meanwhile, Nandlall revealed that a report of that incident was made at the Prashad Nagar Police Outpost on the evening of the incident.
Renowned football player ClarenceSeedorf with his Legacy Champions award. Seedorf says the moments he spent withNelson Mandela will remain with himforever.(Images: Lauren Mulligan for NelsonMandela Foundation The Dutch-Surinamese player is regardedas one of the best in the world.(Image: Clarence Seedorf officalwebsite)Khanyi MagubaneRenowned Dutch football player Clarence Seedorf has joined A-list personalities in becoming the latest celebrity to be named one of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Legacy Champions.The sporting legend jetted into South Africa in early June to receive the award for his humanitarian work through his charity organisation Champions for Children.The organisation is set to open a Champions Playground, a multi-functional sports complex for children in Cape Town.The sports centre will be built in Manenberg and is to be inaugurated during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.The project is a joint venture between Seedorf’s organisation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Italian university Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and the University of the Western Cape.During his short visit Seedorf met with former president Nelson Mandela on 5 June, which according to his online blog, was a special moment in his life, “It was a very special day today. For my whole life I have been inspired by his life and work. It is an honour for me to have become a Legacy Champion.”In addressing the media following the meeting between Seedorf and Mandela, Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive officer Achmat Dangor said he was proud that the soccer legend is now part of the foundation.“Clarence Seedorf can count himself among those who will help ensure that this organisation, founded by Mr Mandela himself in 1999, will become financially independent, ensuring that it continues to promote Madiba’s vision, values and work.”Seedorf joins high profile Legacy Champions members including former US president Bill Clinton, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, minister of human settlements and former businessman Tokyo Sexwale and tycoon David Rockefeller.Using fame for good workThe name Clarence Seedorf is synonymous with prestigious football clubs around the world such as Ajax Amsterdam, the notable Italian team AC Milan, Spain’s Real Madrid and top English club Chelsea.He started playing football in the early 1990s, but his big break came in 1994 when he became the youngest player to join the Ajax Amsterdam first team at the tender age of 16.Since then, the 33-year-old’s meteoric rise in the football fraternity has been nothing less than stellar.Regarded as one of the top players in the world, Seedorf’s trophy collection includes four Champions League winner’s medals, two Fifa Club World Cup trophies and a Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) Super Cup.He is the only player in history to have won the Uefa Champions League with three different football clubs.In the Dutch leagues, he has four domestic league titles, and three domestic super cups.According to the football star’s website, no Dutch player in history has won more silverware than Seedorf.To add to his accolades, at the 10th annual Uefa Club Football Awards in 2007, Clarence was recognised as Europe’s best midfielder. The same year, he was awarded a Torretta award for best European athlete.Aside from his sporting achievements, Seedorf is perhaps most regarded for his humanitarian work.Growing up in the small former Dutch colony Suriname, the smallest country in South America, Seedorf grew up with a dream of becoming a football player, despite being told that he couldn’t because of his weak lungs.According to his official blog, he learned at an early age what it meant to hope and dream, and that he wanted to share this with others. “From my days as a child, watching famine strangle Ethiopia, I made a promise to myself to do whatever I could to help those, and others, when I was old enough, and had the means to do so.”Preserving the legacy of Nelson MandelaAccording to its website, the Nelson Mandela Foundation “contributes to the making of a just society by promoting the vision, values and work of its founder and convening dialogue around critical social issues.”In 2006, the foundation, with the help of the Centre of Memory and Dialogue, adopted a two-pronged strategy.The memory programme will deal with documenting the life and times of Mandela, through its records and documentation unit.It locates scattered material on Mandela, with the objective of ensuring that all resources linked to Mandela are presented in a way that preserves his memory.The dialogue programme will deal with developing and sustaining a dialogue platform, in line with its founder’s legacy.The centre of dialogue will encourage South Africans to speak to each other in a manner where every person’s voice is heard, regardless of their background, race, or political affiliation.As part of its dialogue series, the Nelson Mandela lecture is held annually at the foundation.This year, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner professor Muhammad Yunus delivered the seventh lecture on 27 May.He delivered the lecture on the topic “Investment in the marginalised as a way of creating wealth and combating poverty.”Prof Yunus is a distinguished scholar and businessman and the founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in the 1970s. The bank now operates in more than 100 countries.He has received over 70 major international awards for his work and has 29 honorary degrees under his belt.Do you have any comments or queries about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at: [email protected] Useful linksNelson Mandela FoundationClarence Seedorf official websiteChampions for ChildrenRepublic of Suriname
23 June 2009South Africa’s soccer team (whose nickname means “The Boys”) take on Brazil in a Confederations Cup semifinal at Ellis Park on Thursday. The two teams have only met twice before, both times in Johannesburg, the first time in one of the most memorable matches in Bafana Bafana’s short history.While Brazil, with a record five World Cup titles to their name, have a long history as one of the powerhouses of football, the same cannot be said for Bafana Bafana, whose first international outing as an integrated national team only took place in 1992.However, South Africa’s first outing against the South Americans remains a powerful memory for SA football fans.Africa champs vs world champsIt took place on 24 April 1996. The occasion was the Nelson Mandela Challenge, and the contest was eagerly awaited: it pitted the African champions of 1996 against the World Cup winners of 1994.The Brazilian line-up included some World Cup winners, as well as members of the Brazilian Olympic team, who were using the match as a warm-up ahead of the Olympic Games in Atlanta.Coach Mario Zagallo’s line-up included Rivaldo, who would go on to be crowned Fifa World Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year (while playing for Barcelona) in 1999. He played 74 times for Brazil in his career, scoring an impressive 34 times.Bebeto, Aldair, DidaUp front, Bebeto was a household name. He had captured the attention of the world in the 1994 World Cup – the second of three in which he played – when he celebrated a goal against The Netherlands in the quarterfinals by rocking an imaginary baby; his wife had given birth to his third child only days earlier. Bebeto played 75 times for Brazil and netted 39 goals.At the back, the Brazilians had central defender Aldair, a man who made such a mark for Italian Serie A club Roma, for whom he played 415 matches, that when he retired in 2006 the team retired his number six jersey. He turned out for his country on 81 occasions.Goalkeeper Dida played even more matches for Brazil, making 91 international appearances.Clearly, it was a quality side.African Nations Cup winning captainFacing the Brazilians was a South African team captained by Neil Tovey, the same man who had led Bafana Bafana to victory in the African Nations Cup final against Tunisia at the same stadium where SA was to face the world champions.The man in charge was Clive “The Dog” Barker, the popular coach who had pulled the strings when South Africa lifted the continental title.At the back, in central defence, was Lucas Radebe, who would go on to succeed Tovey as captain and become one of the most popular players in the history of Bafana Bafana. As a star player for Leeds United, he was recognised as one of the best defenders in the tough English Premier League.The ‘most Brazilian’ South AfricanIn Bafana Bafana’s midfield was Doctor Khumalo, a player whose touch and skill made him the “most Brazilian” of the South African side, in the romantic sense in which Brazilian football is often viewed.The South African attack featured Phil “Chippa” Masinga, who would score the goal against Congo the following year that would earn South Africa a place at the 1998 World Cup in France.Alongside Masinga was Shaun Bartlett, who would go on to become Bafana Bafana’s all-time leading goal scorer – with 28 in 74 matches – before his mark was eventually surpassed by Benni McCarthy.‘For President Mandela’In the lead-up to match, Barker said the game was “for President Mandela. What a night it will be if we beat Brazil”. South Africa didn’t win, but what a contest it turned out to be.In a first half that left many of the home team’s fan incredulous, South Africa took the game to Brazil and were rewarded for their intent. Masinga put South Africa into a 25th-minute lead, and Doctor Khumalo made it 2-0 at the break, to the delight of Bafana’s fans.However, the Brazilians fought back after the break, with winger Flavio netting in the 56th minute. Twelve minutes later, Rivaldo made it 2-2.Then, with only four minutes left, Bebeto snatched the winner for the visitors.A top-class international outfitAlthough South Africa were beaten, the match provided ample proof that South Africa’s African Nations Cup title was no fluke; it validated the recognition the side sought as a top-class international outfit.It also proved to be a wonderful celebration of the game of football, and of the role Nelson Mandela played in bringing democracy to the country.In case you were wondering about Bafana Bafana’s second clash with Brazil, it took place in December 1997. Brazil won 2-1, with goals from Romario and Bebeto. Helman Mkhelele replied for South Africa.What will Thursday night bring? True fans would welcome a similar degree of entertainment, regardless of the result.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
klint finley Ovsyannikov says Zendesk has chosen to focus on Twitter first, even though Facebook has more users, because Twitter has more business relevance. Twitter is also one of Zendesk’s biggest clients, so the two companies were able to work together closely in creating the integration.Ovsyannikov says businesses monitoring and engaging Twitter currently e-mail tweets into existing ticketing systems. “But e-mail isn’t a workflow tool,” he says “So we’re bringing Twitter directly into businesses’ workflow.”Zendesk offers tools for integrating its software with Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Basecamp and many other platforms. These tools can act as bridges from Twitter to other parts of the enterprise. Ovsyannikov hopes Zendesk will bring customer feedback directly to C level executives. Given some of Forrester’s recent research on the lack of cohesion between different departments’ use of social media to communicate with customers, Zendesk could provide the glue necessary to combine disparate social media projects enterprise-wide.As we’ve reported, KickApps is also working to integrate social media across multiple enterprise platforms, although in different ways.And if you haven’t seen it before, be sure to check out the FM3 Buddha Machine Wall on Zendesk’s site. Tags:#enterprise#news#Products#saas Help desk SaaS provider Zendesk announced new Twitter integration features today, including the ability to create new Zendesk tickets directly from Twitter, record Twitter conversation as part of a ticket, and share relevant Twitter conversations with colleagues across internal platforms. Zendesk users will also be able find mentions of a brand on Twitter, and prioritize responses based on the follower count of individuals criticizing a brand.A recent Harris Poll released earlier this month found nearly 2/3 of its US-baed sample use social media. Out of all respondents, 26% use social media to complain about a brand or product and another 23% use social media to talk about a brand or product they like – 34% total had used social media to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or company. Nearly half (45%) said they were influenced by testimonials on social media by people they know – approximately the same number that say they are influenced by newspaper or magazine articles (46%).Given those numbers, companies are right to take social media more seriously than ever. And integrating social media directly into customer service software is a logical move. According to Zendesk, users will now be able to:Turn a tweet into a new Zendesk ticket — a twicket — with one clickRecord threaded Twitter conversations with full audit trail Combine public and private dialog while maintaining confidentialitySwitch a Twitter conversation into an email conversationBecause the creation of tickets will be based on the “favorite” button, the integration won’t require special plugins for existing Twitter client like TweetDeck or HootSuite. However, Maksim Ovsyannikov, VP of Product Management at Zendesk, says some developers may add Zendesk buttons their clients.Here’s an example of a Twitter conversation in Zendesk, along with an internal notes: Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…
File this under: Things we didn’t even know we wanted. German graphic designer Eric Huismann got some attention this week after releasing concept art for a sleek Apple drone.All images from quadrocopter.orgBetween Amazon’s delivery bots and Zuckerberg’s fleet of flying Facebook machines, tech companies are finding reasons to get into the drone business. That’s why it was really no surprise when images of a new Apple Quadcopter started making their way around the web this week.Of course, the concept art didn’t come from Apple. Rather, they were the work of German graphic designer Eric Huismann. Huismann certainly captured the curves and elegant style that the public expects from Apple’s design team, but the mocked-up machine has more than good looks.Huismann’s quadcopter concept comes with four video cameras that can record in concert, capturing and streaming real-time HD panoramic footage from high in the air. Considering YouTube and Facebook’s recent embrace of 360 degree video, this iDrone’s multi-camera design makes perfect sense.Unfortunately, fans of Apple gear will just have to settle for the Apple Watch and new MacBook, since, again, this is just a concept. Nonetheless, we’ll keep our eyes on the Cupertino skies and hope that Tim Cook decides to take Apple in a new high-flying direction.How long would you wait in line at the Apple Store to score an iDrone? What concepts would you like to see Apple explore in the future? Let us know in the comments below.
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 82games.com 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%
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 Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/OffTargetPasses.mp400:0000:0003:29Use 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 Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/MeloSwitches.mp400:0000:0001:26Use 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.
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 Youtube.com 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.
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.
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.”