The Unheralded Usefulness Of Thaddeus Young

The Minnesota Timberwolves finalized an agreement Saturday to ship All-Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft.This was no surprise, given stories this month about a verbal agreement between the clubs, but the details of the transaction are much clearer now — including the presence of a third team, the Philadelphia 76ers, in the deal. The Timberwolves not only snagged Wiggins and 2013 No. 1 overall selection Anthony Bennett from Cleveland, but also former 76er Thaddeus Young to help ameliorate the loss of Love.A veteran who was stranded amid Philadelphia’s ongoing franchise overhaul, Young has been the subject of countless trade rumors over the past several seasons. It’s a fact that speaks as much to his on-court usefulness as his reasonable contract (he’s still owed $19.4 million over the next two years, although he can opt out before the 2015-16 season). Because he has played for usually mediocre Sixers teams throughout his career, largely coming off the bench during the team’s most successful stretch of 2010-11 and 2011-12, Young has remained under the radar nationally. But while he’s no Love, Young has quietly been a decidedly positive presence throughout his NBA career, and — as Yahoo’s Dan Devine put it — a darling among “a certain segment of NBA obsessives.”In 2012-13, Young’s best statistical season, he scored with versatility and efficiency, ranking above the 75th percentile of all players (according to Synergy’s points per play metric) on both transition and half-court opportunities, which fueled a top-20 finish among qualifiers in effective field goal percentage. And though he only used an average percentage of Philadelphia’s possessions during his time on the court — Young has never been a huge scorer — he made his presence known in other ways, rebounding well for a non-center and playing above-average defense against multiple positions (both by adjusted plus/minus and Synergy’s metrics).When at his best, the only major holes in Young’s game are his passing and lack of shooting range. That combination can be limiting in a league increasingly focused on small-ball skills from its big men, but Young is good enough in other areas to make himself a useful part to a good team. And although it seems like he’s been in the NBA forever, Young will be just 26 years old next season. While his 2013-14 season wasn’t as good as the one that preceded it — Young’s offensive efficiency buckled under the strain of a larger role, while his defense and rebounding also slipped — it’s tough to judge a down year too harshly when it comes on a team that lost 63 of its final 79 games. Young still garnered positive plus/minus marks at both ends of the court despite the trying campaign.In Minnesota, Young will be part of another rebuilding project, and the popular prognosis is that the new-look Timberwolves, sans Love, will struggle in 2014-15. (For what it’s worth, though, our rough projection system suggests Minnesota — with Young — would be better than the ESPN Forecast’s 26-win projection.) Young probably deserved a better fate, but his skill set and still-in-his-prime age means he’ll either help a fledgling Wolves team buck those odds, or he’ll be sought-after in next summer’s free-agent market. read more

Steph Curry Is On Pace To Hit 102 Home Runs

A rough projection, based on how many 3-pointers he’s made through Golden State’s first 58 games, would have Curry finishing this season with about 400 3-pointers — or about a 40 percent increase over his record-setting performance from last season.Records eventually fall, even those sacred ones that seem untouchable. But rarely, if ever, do they fall by such an enormous margin as the one Curry is building this year. Take, for example, baseball’s single-season home run record. When Roger Maris bested Babe Ruth’s record in 1961, he did so by a single home run — increasing the record by about 1.7 percent. In the summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa raced each other to a new historic high, the mark finally settled at 70 — increasing the record by about 14.8 percent. In 2001, Barry Bonds drove the record up to 73 — an increase of about 4.3 percent.Scan through cumulative single-season records for other sports and athletic feats, and it is tough to find any current record that was set by such a wide margin as Curry’s new 3-point record projects to be. MLBBondsWalks23217.236.536.5 NBACurry3-Pointers400*39.9%48.7%48.7% MLBSuzukiHits2621.91.91.9 NFLTD passes5577 MLBHome runs73102 NHLGretzkyGoals9221.121.121.1 MLBWalks232325 NFLManningTD passes5510.010.012.2 NHLGretzkyPoints2151.41.441.4 INCREASE OVER Wayne Gretzky’s dominant offensive production is the closest thing to what Curry is doing this season, but even that will fall short if Curry maintains his current pace. Venturing outside the four major team sports offers just as dramatic a set of comparisons. In the entire 106-year progression of the men’s marathon world record, from Johnny Hayes’s 2:55:18 on July 24, 1908, to Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 on September 28, 2014, the world has collectively shaved just 30 percent off the record.Emphasizing Curry’s pace another way, if you take the 40 percent increase he is chasing this year and apply it to those records from other team sports, these are the numbers you end up with. NHLGoals92129 MLBBondsHome runs734.319.719.7 NFLReceptions143200 In an instant classic over the weekend, Stephen Curry hit a dozen 3-pointers, including the game-winner from 32 feet, while helping lead his Golden State Warriors to a 121-118 overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those 12 3-pointers gave him 288 for the season, breaking his own record of 286 set last season. Oh, and the Warriors still have 24 games left on their schedule, plenty of time for him to build on what is already one of the greatest shooting seasons in NBA history. NFLRushing yards2,1052,947 NFLHarrisonReceptions14316.316.327.7 SPORTFEATCURRENT RECORDNEW RECORD WITH 40% INCREASE NHLPoints215301 SPORTPLAYERCATEGORYCURRENT RECORDPREVIOUS RECORDPREVIOUS 5 YEARSPREVIOUS 10 YEARS MLBHits262367 NFLDickersonRush yards2,1055.15.15.1 These are imperfect analogues. Someone hitting 102 home runs or rushing for more than 2,900 yards in a season is an absurd proposition. There is an entirely different set of variables that determines the feasibility of scoring 129 goals or throwing for 77 touchdowns than there is for hitting 400 3-pointers. One of those variables is how much competitors value the stat in question. No one questions whether a marathon runner is trying to run the fastest marathon possible, just as no one who ever watched Adam Dunn swing a bat would tell you there aren’t players who want nothing more than to hit as many dingers as they can in their time on this earth. But if some intrepid dingus decided he was going to set the NFL record for attempted laterals, there wouldn’t be much to stop him.In Curry’s case, his record-setting pace is both a reflection of his own individual brilliance and the changing climate of the NBA. Three-point attempts have been surging across the entire league for years and Curry has been out in front, pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable offensive strategy. Larry Bird is widely regarded as one of the best 3-point shooters in history, but he also played in an era where the shot was used more sparingly. If Curry does finish the season around 400 3-pointers made, that would be more than Bird’s four most-prolific 3-point shooting seasons combined.Evaluating the nature of Curry’s record-setting performance this season is therefore a little different than some of those other records. While he’s shooting a career-high 46.8 percent on 3-pointers, he’s also on pace to attempt nearly 200 more 3-pointers than anyone in league history. Where Bonds broke records by becoming even more efficient with a comparable number of opportunities, Curry’s feat is maintaining and even increasing efficiency with an enormous surge in opportunities. Those things are not separate — the more threes Curry attempts, the more defenses are devoting effort and attention to stopping him. But, as Oklahoma City discovered this weekend, sometimes all the effort, attention and pressure in the world just doesn’t matter very much. read more

Dont Worry MLB — Hitters Are Killing The Shift On Their Own

When asked about Major League Baseball’s interest in restricting defensive shifts, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle recalled that when he was growing up in Merritt Island, Florida, they were often short on players for neighborhood games. Hurdle said they would arbitrarily cut the field in half to solve the problem. “Sometimes we’d shut down the pull field. … We just would do it to change the game and realized we learned how to hit the ball the other way,” said Hurdle. “What the shifts are telling hitters is, ‘Here’s what you do. Where is your counterpunch? Where is your answer?’”Many coaches, commentators and baseball observers have asked the same question, bemoaning batters’ seeming inability to adjust to opponents’ shifts — the tactic of moving defensive players out of their usual position to overload one side of the infield, a strategy that has proliferated across the sport in the past decade. The shifts have also become one of the most conspicuous on-field byproducts of baseball’s data age as more and more teams decide how to align their defenses using actual batted-ball data. In December, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred had “strong” backing from baseball’s competition committee to limit defensive shifts. Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo’s Christmas wish was to see shifts banned.But in all the hand-wringing over the shift, one detail has been overlooked: Batters have adjusted, and they’ve done it without league intervention or legislation. What’s more, there’s reason to believe shifts are actually encouraging increasingly efficient offensive behavior.Shifts have grown at a staggering rate. In 2011, defenses deployed the shift — counting both the traditional (three infielders to one side of second base) and non-traditional varieties — during 3,065 major league plate appearances that ended with a ball being put into play,1Shifts can only be tracked on when the ball is put into play, so shifts deployed on strikeouts, walks and home runs aren’t included in any of the data used for this article, nor are any shifts that were deployed during an at-bat but taken off before the batter put the ball into play. according to Baseball Info Solutions data housed at FanGraphs. That’s only 2.6 percent of all at-bats where balls were put in play. The number of plate appearances where hitters faced the shift has increased every year since, save for 2017. Last season, batters faced the shift in a record 40,730 total plate appearances ending on balls in play — that’s about 34 percent of such plate appearances.The era of the shift has coincided with a league-wide decline in batting average, though that is more a product of the record strikeout rates in recent years as fewer and fewer balls are put in play, as batting averages on balls that are put into play has remained steady despite all the shifting, as you can see on the chart below. Not all hitters try to adapt — Bryce Harper, for example, has a career 1.4 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio both when facing a shift and when not facing a shift. But those who do, Joey Votto, tend to go high. Votto’s career ratio when not facing a shift is 1.57 ground balls to fly balls, but that drops to 1.44 against the shift.“I’ve tried to avoid the right side of the infield shift,” Votto said in 2017. “I’m not excited about hitting balls to that side because I could hammer a one-hopper to the second baseman or shortstop, or whoever they have stationed over there. … Personally, I embrace the fly-ball thing just because of that reason.”The average launch angle of a batted ball has increased in every year of the Statcast era,2 Since 2015, when Statcast tracking technology was installed in all major league ballparks. rising gradually from 10.1 degrees in 2015 to 11.7 in 2018. But with the shift on, batters are even more likely to hit the ball in the air. The average launch angle against the shift last season was 14.7 degrees, a notable jump up from 13.1 in 2015.In addition to MLB-wide trends, I looked at the behavior of the regularly shifted-upon batters in 2018 to see how their approaches changed.3Batters who put at least 40 balls in play against shifts in each of the last two seasons. This group combined for a 42.5 percent ground-ball rate when facing shifts and a 44.1 percent rate when not facing shifts.“Is that [banning the shift] going to produce more batting average? Maybe,” said Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch at the winter meetings. “More runs? Debatable. A more energized and entertaining game? I doubt it.”Left-handed hitters are an interesting study since they now put more balls in play with the shift on (26,076 last season vs. shift) than off (23,214 against no form of shift).Last season, left-handed batters hit for a higher average (.300), greater slugging percentage (.388) and lower ground-ball rate (44.0 percent) when the shift was on compared to when there was no shift (.295 average, .380 slugging mark, 45.7 groundball rate). And because Baseball Info Solutions can only track shift data when a ball is put into play, those stats do not include home runs, since they are not in play.In some ways, the shift has backfired. Batters have an incentive to hit more balls in the air, and balls hit in the air are more valuable. When batters faced a shift last season, 5.2 percent of balls they put in play went for a home run. When they didn’t face a shift, 4.1 percent of balls went for home runs, according to Statcast data.While more batters try to go over shifts, they are not always going to the air in the most optimized manner. Every hitter who has faced a shift has probably been advised to try to go the other way. And as a result, the percentage of batters pulling line drives and fly balls against the shift has fallen off notably since 2010, from a 31.5 percent pull rate in 2010 to 26.2 percent in 2018. But by going the other way, batters might actually be hurting themselves. They are purposely avoiding the most valuable batted ball in baseball: a pulled ball in the air.Consider that in 2018, 32.7 percent of fly balls to a batter’s pull side went for home runs, compared to 8.1 percent of fly balls to center field and 3.8 percent to the opposite field. Batters across the league had a .429 average and 1.514 slugging percentage on fly balls hit to the pull side and a .135 average and .324 slugging mark on balls hit to the opposite field. That’s not much more valuable than a ground ball. Last season, MLB batters hit .236 and had a .258 slugging percentage on ground balls.Many have made the case for batters facing the shift to simply bunt more often. After all, batters have hit at least .357 when bunting against a shift every season since 2010. Would bunting be more effective than, say, trying to go over the shift? Not for most batters.According to weighted runs created plus (wRC+) — a metric that adjusts for ballpark and scoring environments, with 100 representing league average — batters produced a 53 wRC+ mark on bunts against all shift types last season compared to a 127 wRC+ mark when putting the ball in the air against shifts.Batters seem to be unwilling to sacrifice potential power in pursuit of infield bunt singles. The percentage of at-bats against the shift where the batter bunted has fallen four straight years, from 2.92 percent (2015) to 2.12 percent (2016), 1.88 percent (2017) and 1.73 percent (2018).One other issue: Teams are pitching less effectively to the shift.As more and more batters use an uppercut swing to better combat sinking fastballs, which are designed to produce ground balls, the percentage of sinkers thrown has decreased. Sinkers represented 22.4 percent of all pitches thrown in 2010. Last year? 16.9 percent.The shift will always be effective against pull-side ground balls and low line drives. Batters who hit those batted ball types often, especially left-handed hitters, can see their batting average drop. But more and more batters might be learning to combat the shift. When factoring in all batted ball types — not just grounders and low liners — the MLB batting average on balls in play has remained stagnant. In 2010 — a relatively shift-free season — league-wide batting average on balls in play for all defensive configurations was .297. Last season? .296. The figure has held relatively steady even while scoring and slugging have increased, despite the growing use of shifts. Maybe shifts aren’t such a problem after all.“The beauty of the game is all the strategies that we can employ,” Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said at the winter meetings. So “attacking strategies to win baseball games, man, I just don’t see that as improving the game.” While shift usage has grown dramatically, there’s evidence that batters have adjusted by going over the shift, which reduced the overall effectiveness of the shift across baseball.In 2011, batters hit ground balls 53.2 percent of the time when they put a ball in play against the shift. Last season that number was 43.9 percent, which is the lowest such rate since at least 2010, the first year for which data is available on FanGraphs. When batters are not facing shifts, ground-ball rates have remained steady. Batters had a 45.9 percent ground-ball rate in 2011 when not facing a shift and a 45.9 percent ground-ball mark last season. You can see the divergence in strategies in the following chart. The drop in ground-ball rates against the shift suggests that more players are trying to bypass the infielders altogether by knocking one over their heads. read more

Kings Disappointing Playoff Run Surprises Advanced Stats

The Los Angeles Kings were the top team in the NHL this season, according to the most predictive team statistic hockey’s analytics movement has to offer. Now they’re down two games to none against the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs, and in real danger of being eliminated in the first round. How rare is it to see a “fancystats” darling like the Kings fail this early in the chase for the Stanley Cup?First, a bit of background is in order. One of the major breakthroughs in hockey analytics came within the last five years, when analysts realized that instead of relying on conventional indicators like winning percentage or even goal differential, a team’s future performance could be more effectively predicted by its rate of puck-possession. One proxy measurement for this comes under the silly-sounding name “Fenwick close,” which measures the percentage of all even-strength shots taken by a team in its games, after adjusting for score effects. (Overall Fenwick looks at a team’s shots directed at the goal — including missed shots but excluding blocked shots — expressed as a percentage of the total shots in the game.)Since Fenwick became widely available in the 2007-08 season, the close measure has had an impressive résumé in the NHL postseason. From 2008 to 2010, two of the league’s top regular-season Fenwick close teams have won the Stanley Cup (Detroit in 2008 and Chicago in 2010) and a third came within a game of winning the trophy (Detroit in 2009). The track record for Fenwick close leaders after that is more spotty, with zero league finals berths among them, but those teams still advanced to the conference finals twice in three seasons. So in recent years, it’s pretty unheard of for a team like the Kings — this season’s Fenwick close No. 1 — to fall in the first round.But that’s only a six-season sample. What about similar teams before that? Unfortunately, we don’t have the data to compute Fenwick prior to 2007-08, but we can estimate it for older teams using regression analysis. As I and others have shown before with historical plus/minus in the NBA and historical QBR for NFL quarterbacks, if you want to estimate a newer metric for years before it was tracked, you have to find statistics that were tracked at the time and are correlated with the advanced metric in question (assuming the data meets the requirements for regression).After performing such an analysis on hockey stats website BehindTheNet’s Fenwick close sample from the 2007-08 through 2012-13 seasons, I found three conventional metrics that together explain roughly 88 percent of the variance in team Fenwick close:Shots-per-game differential: This one’s pretty obvious: Fenwick is, at its most basic level, a measure of how much a team outshoots opponents.Point percentage: This variable works as a proxy for score effects, which cause a team in the lead to go into a defensive shell, artificially suppressing its shot differential.Power-play goals-per-game differential: This factor essentially measures whether teams are getting more power plays than their opponents, in addition to the quality of a team’s power-play unit — both of which will affect SPG differential without affecting Fenwick.*(* Note: I didn’t use actual PP goals allowed when calculating the differential — the model works best when it uses the team’s real number of PP goals scored on the offensive side, but on the defensive side multiplies the league’s average PP percentage by the number of PP chances allowed by the team per game.)Here’s a plot of our estimated Fenwick close versus actual Fenwick close for the years in which Fenwick was recorded (the NHL average is always exactly 50 percent):As you can see, the results of the model track very closely with reality. That means the model can also give us a “most likely” Fenwick close for teams in seasons before BehindTheNet’s data was available (going back to 1987-88, which is as far back as NHL.com lists shots per game by team). We can also compute the probability that any given team would have been the NHL’s Fenwick close leader if the statistic had been kept during the season in question.Here’s a table summarizing the yearly league leader in Fenwick close each season going back to 1987-88, along with that team’s number of playoff wins. For years before 2007-08, I list the three teams most likely to have led the league in Fenwick close, as well as the probabilities that each in fact did. For pre-2008 seasons, the playoff win totals are weighted by the likelihood that a team was the NHL’s actual leader in Fenwick close.If the Kings do fall to the Sharks after only picking up a win or two, it would be a historically low performance for a Fenwick close leader. In just seven postseasons was it likely that the league’s Fenwick close leader won fewer than four playoff games, which would be indicative of a first-round series loss. And only one playoff year (1993) saw the weighted mean of likely Fenwick close leaders drop below 2.4 playoff wins. (If we assume the Kings and Sharks are evenly matched and the home team has the NHL’s standard 55 percent home-ice advantage in each remaining game, Los Angeles should only expect to win 1.8 games over the rest of the series.)Meanwhile, the median and mean number of playoff wins for Fenwick close leaders going back to 1988 is eight, enough to win a couple series.While leading the league in Fenwick close isn’t necessarily a guaranteed path to the Cup, Fenwick close leaders usually go relatively deep into the NHL playoffs. The Kings are hoping to keep that trend alive, but the odds are pointing to LA becoming one of the most disappointing advanced-stats favorites in a long time. read more

Ohio State field hockey tops California 63 on senior day

OSU freshman midfielder Hannah Scherpbier hits the ball away from California sophomore midfielder Paula Seibt during a game on Oct. 25, 2015, at Buckeye Varsity Field. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Copy ChiefThe Ohio State women’s field hockey team capped off an emotional afternoon with a 6-3 victory against California on Sunday, as the team honored the four seniors playing their final home game at Buckeye Varsity Field.Forward Peanut Johnson, forward/midfielder Annie VonderBrink, back Emma Royce and redshirt senior goalkeeper Sydney Stype were joined by friends and family for the introductions.With a sense of energy from the pregame ceremony, OSU began the game strong as the close-knit Buckeyes entered halftime with a 3-0 lead. OSU had not scored three goals in the first half since its season-opener on Aug. 28. OSU coach Anne Wilkinson credited improved ball movement for the first-half offense.“We were starting to use each other and make simple passes. We went through a string where we were carrying the ball way too long and trying to beat three players,” Wilkinson said.Three separate OSU players scored in the first half. Sophomore forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey scored first and was followed by goals from Johnson and sophomore midfielder Morgan Kile.Johnson’s reign at Buckeye Varsity Field ended about as well as it possibly could’ve, as she led the Buckeyes with three goals and an assist. Her four points are the most by any Buckeye player this season. However, she preferred to focus on the team rather than her individual accomplishments.“I think it was more just a team game. It wasn’t a personal ‘I want to score.’ It was just like we want someone to score, we were setting each other up, and I was lucky enough to be set up really well,” Johnson said.Johnson’s offensive prowess was called on in the second half when California threatened a comeback. Down three with just over six minutes into the second half, the Golden Bears scored twice within one minute. Wilkinson, dismayed, called a timeout.“She called a timeout just so we could get our minds right. One of the girls on the team, Morgan Kile, was just like ‘they are not coming back in this,’” Johnson said.Wilkinson said the timeout was to allow her team to take a breath and refocus.“I basically just told them to just calm down,” Wilkinson said. “Don’t play like you’re losing.”The team responded quickly. Johnson scored her second goal three minutes after the timeout and followed with a third score six minutes later, giving OSU a 5-2 lead.OSU’s sixth and final goal came from freshman midfielder/back Courtney Daniels. The score, the first of her collegiate career, gave the Buckeyes a 6-3 lead and put the game out of reach with under two minutes to play. The Scarlet and Gray’s six goals were the most the team has scored this season.The lead also allowed Wilkinson the opportunity to sub in Stype at goalie for her first action of the season during her final home game. As the buzzer signaling the end of the game sounded, Stype’s teammates enthusiastically rushed her.“As excited as she was to get in there, she’s really very deserving. As a fifth-year senior, she’s been through thick and thin and has worked really hard,” Wilkinson said.Wilkinson said she was glad to send to send off the four seniors with a big win.“With all the seniors, what they’ve contributed to this program is fantastic. My captains Emma and Peanut, I can’t say enough about. They’ve been such strong leaders this year and I’m just really proud to have them as a part of our team,” Wilkinson said.Although OSU finished its home schedule, it still has games on the docket at Kent State on Tuesday before finishing the season at Michigan on Saturday. After that, OSU is set to play in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, which begins Nov. 5. read more

Ohio State looks to rebound against Kent State

OSU redshirt-sophomore Michael Thomas (3) celebrates with teammates (from left) Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel after a touchdown during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 at Ohio Stadium. OSU lost, 35-21.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State football team is trying to avoid starting 0-2 at home for the first time since 1967.On paper, it doesn’t look like that will be a problem.The Kent State Golden Flashes roll into Columbus tagged with a 0-2 record, with those losses coming against Ohio University and the University of South Alabama, both at home.While focused on his team, OSU coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday he knows what it is like to be in Kent State’s shoes.“Those kids are going to be a hungry group coming in here because this is their chance to play in front of 110,000 people,” he said. “I have been in that locker room when we (Bowling Green) went down to Missouri and won that game. You are going to see a hungry group trying to get a win.”The third-year OSU coach held the same position at Bowling Green from 2001-02.Meyer added that although Kent State has yet to win a game, he expects the Golden Flashes to test the Buckeyes.“I see a very good MAC school — I have been there before when I was at Bowling Green,” Meyer said. “I see a quarterback who can make plays, that is our biggest concern on defense. I see guys that run around and hit you on defense.”The Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon has been the impact player for the Golden Flashes, averaging 244.5 total yards per game — a figure that leads the team.The Golden Flashes will likely lean heavily on their passing game as they rank 120th out of 124 teams in rushing offense, averaging just 47.5 yards per game on the ground.Despite the Golden Flashes’ lack of a run game, OSU senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said his No. 1 goal remains stopping the Kent State rushing attack.“We are going to make sure we shut down the run early,” Bennett said. “You got to shut down at least one aspect of their offense because they have so many different plays they can run.”Another key for the Buckeye defense will be simply getting off the field, something it struggled to do last week, giving up nine of 17 third down conversions to the Virginia Tech offense.“If you win first down, it makes second and third down a lot more tricky for the offensive coordinator,” Bennett said. “This week, you see stuff you can work on and you work on it. We get our pass rush better, we get our coverage better, and everyone comes together.”Offensively, Meyer said the key to the Buckeyes’ success will be getting off to a faster start than they have to begin the season. OSU has trailed at the half in both of its first two games.“We had a pretty good reputation for a while there of coming out of the gates real fast, real hard and we haven’t done that yet,” Meyer said. “I did some research on that, it was brought to my attention a while back and we haven’t. So we got to go take the lead and play Ohio State-style football. We’re not going to secret handshake or (give out) T-shirts. Finish the game. You got to do it, and we haven’t done it.”OSU football under Meyer during his first two years in Columbus usually meant running the football effectively as the Buckeyes ranked fifth in the nation last year (308.6 yards per game) and 10th in 2012 (242.3 yards per game).Two games into the 2014 season, the Buckeyes rank 81st in the country in total rushing yards, averaging just 151 yards per game.Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliot said the lack of a running game is because of the unusual style of defense that Virginia Tech ran against the Buckeyes last week, but added that OSU has been preparing against a similar defense to the Hokies’ in practice.“We have been practicing against that ‘bear no deep’ (defense) when you got eight guys in the box,” Elliot said. “We got a couple of answers for it.”The Buckeyes, who have lost three of their last four games dating back to the 2013-14 season, have only lost to a MAC team once, boasting a 29-1 record, the only loss coming against Akron, 12-6, in 1894.Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas said that he, along with the rest of his teammates, are looking forward to redeeming the loss this week against Kent State.“It seems like it has been the longest week ever,” Thomas said. “We are just waiting to get back in the ‘Shoe and make Buckeye Nation proud.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to kickoff Saturday at noon against Kent State at Ohio Stadium. read more

Opinion Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao brings back great bouts of the

Manny Pacquiao (right) is set to fight the undefeated Floyd Mayweather for the first time on May 2.Credit: Courtesy of TNSGrowing up as a boxing fan, I’ve heard tales of the legendary bouts of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, the dominance of Mike Tyson’s prime, and Ali and George Foreman.As time passes, these iconic figures in the sport have become forgotten and almost mythical, as our demographic is much more familiar with George Foreman the grill salesman than the all-time great heavyweight. Today we have two prominent figures in Floyd Mayweather (47-0) and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2), who will one day be among the greats when they hang it up and can perhaps make boxing the center of the sporting world once more, maybe for the last time. With every waning moment, the sport’s popularity diminishes with the UFC and its chaotic nature, itching closer and closer to the sport’s extinction.For years and years, we heard rumblings about these two fighting, but what was the fuss about?I mean, one guy has never come close to losing a day in his professional life, while the other still gets made fun of on the Internet for getting knocked out just two years ago. What makes this fight so interesting is the contrast of styles in how each fighter approaches each match. Mayweather is an all-time great defensive fighter, perhaps the greatest of his kind, and Pacquiao is a no-holds-barred brawler with devastating punching power he still possesses at the age of 36. Pacquiao is also left-handed and fights southpaw, which has been a problem for Mayweather in the past with their awkward angles and combinations of punches. Pacquiao is still one of the greatest fighters of our generation, despite his reckless abandon nature which can get him in trouble, as we saw against Juan Manuel Márquez in 2012.What’s also very compelling about this fight is the comparison of hand speed and quickness. Mayweather usually overwhelms his adversaries with his all-time great defense and quickness. Pacquiao is just as quick with his hands as Mayweather, so whoever can set the tone and pace of this fight and force the other into their realm of boxing should come out on top.With Pacquiao bouncing back from the devastating blow to his legacy that was the Marquez knockout with convincing wins against Brandon Rios, Timothy Bradley and Chris Algieri, this fight should live up to the hype and give boxing fans the dream matchup that’s been lacking in the sport for decades. Two marquee names that can both satisfy the attentive fan and draw in the casual fan are exactly what the sport needs to see a possible resurgence in popularity and attract some of the younger viewers who are more infatuated with the UFC. While this fight might not be Ali-Frazier in 1975 or Hagler-Hearns in 1985, in 2015, it’s the closest we can get to an all-time great fight.With all that being said, the two best fighters of our lives will finally square off on May 2, and personally, I can’t wait. read more

Womens Volleyball Ohio State finishes nonconference play with two losses at Flyer

Ohio State’s women’s volleyball starting lineup stands together prior to the game against No. 5 Minnesota on Oct. 18. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team wrapped up the non-conference portion of its season this weekend at the Flyer Invitational in Dayton, Ohio. The team defeated Evansville to begin invitational play, but fell to Tennessee and Dayton on Saturday.In Friday’s four-set win over Evansville (6-7), the Buckeyes (9-3) overpowered the Purple Aces at the net with 12 team blocks and held them to a .062 hitting percentage.Evansville suffered seven attacking errors and four service miscues in the first set to kick off an eventual 3-1 Ohio State win. Offensively and defensively, sophomore middle blocker Lauren Witte was a key player. She connected on 10-of-16 error-free swings with a .625 hitting percentage and contributed a season-high seven blocks.Freshman outside hitter Mia Grunze recorded nine kills and three blocks. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Jordan Fry and junior outside hitter Bia Franklin each recorded four kills.Sophomore setter Becca Mauer had three service aces in the win against Evansville, recording 25 assists. On Saturday, Ohio State lost to Tennessee (9-3) in four sets and to Dayton (9-4) in five sets, ending the Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule with two consecutive losses.Mauer tallied a team-high 26 assists and senior setter Olivia Dailey dished 19 helpers against Tennessee. Freshman opposite hitter Vanja Bukilic was responsible for a career-high 18 kills against Dayton. Sophomore defensive specialist Hannah Gruensfelder, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, posted a match-best 18 digs. Next up, Ohio State will head to Madison, Wisconsin, to face the Badgers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday to open up its Big Ten schedule. read more

Oxford University student arrested after sexually assaulting a woman

first_imgThe student is said to be well-known in the politics scene at the university Mr Lapwood on his houseboat Mr Lapwood at Christ Church CollegeCredit:Facebook A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed a 23-year-old man from Oxford was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and ABH.A source told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Lapwood, who lived on a houseboat near the college, is a well-known student, who has apparently spoken at union meetings and has been an active political voice.He has also been seen at events held by the Piers Gaveston society, the source claimed.He was known at the college for taking a flamethrower he had built out of a caulking gun, glow plug and canister of butane gas to the annual Christ Church party in 2013.  An Oxford University student who was allegedly involved in the Piers Gaveston drinking society has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and actual bodily harm.Jonathan William Inigo Lapwood, a philosophy and psychology student at Christ Church College, is said to have been arrested on a boat near the Christ Church meadows around 6am on Tuesday morning.A source told The Daily Telegraph the alleged assault had taken place in the past four years and was both “psychological and physical” in nature. Mr Lapwood, 23, was last night thought to be at his gated family home in Wantage, a market town in Oxfordshire.His father, Robin, said the student would not be available for comment.“It is going to be a thorough police investigation and we can’t say anything until it’s completed,” he said. “Everything will be cleared up in due time.”It is understood Mr Lapwood has told friends that the alleged assault was “entirely consensual”. Mr Lapwood was allegedly part of a group called the ‘Banter Squadron’Credit:Facebook  He is a highly intelligent young man. His arrest has shocked the university communitySource Mr Lapwood at Christ Church Collegecenter_img Inigo Lapwood Claiming he was dressed as the band Arcade Fire, he shot flames into the college’s historic Tom Quad before college porters arrived to shut down the party, which had included a free bar and jelly wrestling.He is also alleged to have been part of a group of students who nicknamed themselves the Banter Squadron.A source claimed: “He’s not a brilliant student. One tutor described him as one of the most disorganised students he has had to teach.”Mr Lapwood married a student, whom he met in The Purple Turtle nightclub, in a ceremony in Oxford in 2014. Speaking to the student newspaper, Cherwell, at the time, Mr Lapwood said: “We had two very moving readings. Romeo and Juliet’s balcony scene… [and] the other great classic of romantic literature, Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty To Me, was kindly and seriously rendered by the best man.” The couple are believed to have separated last year. Mr Lapwood is the son of a GP and former vicar.Christ Church College was previously rocked by sexual assault claims, after history and politics student Ben Sullivan was arrested in May 2014 on suspicion of rape and attempted rape. Mr Lapwood lives on a houseboat in OxfordCredit:Facebook  The student is said to be well-known in the politics scene at the university He was later told no action would be taken against him and spoke out about the impact the “poisonous” allegations had on him and his family.One source suggested that the earlier incident  involving Mr Sullivan might prompt others to be “enthusiastic” when it  came to trying to get another student convicted. “Oxford student politics are so vicious and petty that you never know whether people are using sexual offences to settle scores,” the source said.Oxford University declined to comment on the latest allegations.  Christ Church College said it could not comment on the case while police were investigating. Mr Lapwood has been bailed until Nov 24. 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

Champion poker player loses appeal against London casino over his £77 million

first_imgEdge-sorting - the technique used by poker player Phil Ivey to win £7.7 million - involves exploiting design irregularities on the backs of playing cards Pro gambler Phil Ivey competes in the sixth round of the World Series of Poker in July 2005 Pro gambler Phil Ivey competes in the sixth round of the World Series of Poker in July 2005 A party may cheat within the meaning of this section without dishonesty or intention to deceiveLady Justice Arden Edge-sorting sees players exploit design irregularities on the backs of playing cards, for example, identifying that the edge of one side is marginally longer than the edge of the other, in order to try and better their odds.The 39-year-old, from Las Vegas, had been playing a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco and was told originally that his winnings would be wired to him. He later found that his £1 million stake had been returned, but the extra never arrived.In what some reports have described as the biggest legal battle in casino history, Mr Levy challenged Genting Casinos UK, which owns the club, at the High Court in 2014, but a judge dismissed his case.Genting, which owns more than 40 casinos in the UK, claimed the technique of “edge-sorting” was not a legitimate strategy and said the casino had no liability to him. It also claimed that Mr Ivey’s conduct defeated the essential premise of the game and constituted cheating. “It is for the court to determine whether the interference was of such a quality as to constitute cheating. In my judgment it had that quality,” she said.Mr Ivey has maintained that he did nothing more than exploit Crockfords’ failures to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of his ability.”I was upset as I had played an honest game and won fairly. My integrity is infinitely more important to me than a big win,” he said.Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Tomlinson dismissed the appeal but the third member of the panel, Lady Justice Sharp, allowed it, saying that the trial judge, Mr Justice Mitting, was wrong to construe the issue of “cheat” in the way that he did. A top poker player has lost his £7.7 million battle against a London casino at the Court of Appeal as a judge said his “edge-sorting” skills amounted to cheating despite the fact he was not dishonest.Phil Ivey admitted to using the technique while visiting the exclusive Crockfords Club in Mayfair, central London, in 2012, and insisted he played an “honest game” and had not cheated.  Edge-sorting – the technique used by poker player Phil Ivey to win £7.7 million – involves exploiting design irregularities on the backs of playing cardsCredit:Alamy After the ruling, Paul Willcock, Genting UK president and chief operating officer, said the company was “very happy” with the decision.”Crockfords has acted fairly and honestly at all times and we are therefore pleased that the Court of Appeal has held that the decision not to pay out to Mr Ivey was the correct one,” he said.But Mr Ivey said the decision “makes no sense to me”. “The trial judge said that I was not dishonest and the three appeal judges agreed, but somehow the decision has gone against me. Can someone tell me how you can have honest cheating?” he asked.Mr Ivey’s lawyer, Matthew Dowd, of Archerfield Partners LLP, said the decision “leaves the law totally unclear as to what constitutes cheating at gambling”. He said his client is seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision with one of the appeal judges arguing that a player can cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive”.Lady Justice Arden said it was common ground that there was an implied term in the contract not to cheat and said the meaning of cheating for that purpose was to be determined in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005.”In my judgment, this section provides that a party may cheat within the meaning of this section without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game,” she said.”On that basis, the fact that the appellant did not regard himself as cheating is not determinative.”She added that she believed the actions of Mr Ivey and another gambler, Cheung Yin Sun, interfered with the process of the game. 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