See more NFL predictions Oh, and don’t forgetKasparov with the jokes We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeOhtani narrows it to sevenJapanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani has narrowed his search for a MLB team down to seven, with New York and Boston notably absent from the list. Right now Ohtani looks to be 20 percent higher than the league average in ERA and on-base-plus-slugging, which is nuts. Only a few dozen players each year beat the 20 percent above average benchmark in either stat, it’d be crazy to hit both. [FiveThirtyEight]Russia’s bannedRussia was banned from competing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in light of the complex doping regime the nation operated throughout the Sochi games. So far 11 medals have been stripped from Russians. But with the nation out of the 2018 games, it’s worth looking at which nations may stand to gain. Had Russia not competed in Sochi, and its 33 medals been reallocated, China would have left with five more, Norway four, Germany, Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. three. [FiveThirtyEight]African players making gains in the NFLNative-born and first-generation African players are all over the NFL, with 30 teams having at least one African on their roster. Cleveland has the league high, with B.J. Bello, David Njoku, Emmanuel Ogbah, Larry Ogunjobi, and Victor Salako. African players have been making steady gains in the NFL since Howard Simon Mwikuta played for the Cowboys in a 1970 preseason game, and players who have returned home to start development programs have accelerated that progress. [The Undefeated]A Jonas testifies in soccer corruption trialKevin Jonas, one of the Jonas Brothers, testified in Brooklyn that yes, he had gone to a Paul McCartney concert in Buenos Aires in 2010. The circumstances surrounding the testimony have to do with the trial of Juan Angel Napout for money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud. Napout allegedly used his FIFA influence to score tickets to that concert. His lawyers refused to concede there even was a Paul McCartney concert, so prosecutors called on a celeb to solve the problem. Soccer is weird. [Vice Sports]Try out our fun new interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?LeBron remains the bestLeBron James remains as good as ever, notching career highs in true shooting percentage, three point percentage, assist percentage, block percentage, and the second highest free throw percentage of his career. While his defense is slightly off his peak performance, James hasn’t really missed much of a step. [FiveThirtyEight]They did it!The New York Giants are cleaning house, firing GM Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo after a disastrous season. The team is in the capable hands of defensive coordinator, a man who is 10-38 as a head coach. [NorthJersey.com]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number284 kgCongratulations to Sarah Robles, who won the 2017 IWF World Weightlifting Championships, becoming the first U.S. woman to take gold since 1994. Robles lifted 126 kg in the snatch and 158 kg in the clean and jerk (three kilograms shy of the record) for a total of 284 kilograms. [Team USA]Leaks from Slack: emily : See more college football predictions emily :!! that means the two biggest buildings at nike HQ will be named after Serena Williams and Mia Hamm. hell yeah !!(also cause I guess the new big WHQ buildings are getting athlete names.. so the whole “She’s the only one!!!” isn’t exactly true)Predictions NFL See more NBA predictions All newsletters NBA College Football
sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): The Toronto Raptors stole a road win Thursday night with a huge game from Kawhi Leonard and are now just one win away from taking the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.If the Raptors can win either of the next two games, they’ll move on to face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. And, surprise — the FiveThirtyEight model favors the Raptors! What do you guys think about that?neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): That seemed … interesting. 🤔I suppose it’s largely about the Warriors’ many injuries? (Not that those seemed to matter much vs. Portland.)JaredDubin (Jared Dubin, contributor): The Warriors did just sweep the Blazers without Kevin Durant, and without Andre Iguodala for Game 4.neil: Right.sara.ziegler: But our model doesn’t think much of the Blazers, either.chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior sportswriter): Our model is wrong.All due respect to our model.neil: Fightin’ words, Chris! (Haha.)tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): Nate is not here to defend himself.sara.ziegler: But why is the model wrong?chris.herring: Even if it’s meant to be accounting for KD’s absence, the Warriors are 31-1 in their last 32 games without Durant but with Steph Curry.JaredDubin: The Raptors were much better defensively than the Blazers during both the regular season and the playoffs. But they also haven’t played the Warriors in the playoffs.chris.herring: I don’t think the Warriors will struggle to create half-court offense the way the Bucks have, mainly.I’ve been pretty vocal in saying that the Bucks are the best team to take down Golden State. I don’t feel that as strongly when Toronto is the team coming out of the East.neil: Maybe it also says as much about our model’s love for the Raptors’ players as it does about the Warriors’ injury issues. Our ratings think that almost all of Toronto’s current rotation is composed of at least above-average players, if not really good ones: sara.ziegler: HahahaThe way the Warriors have played the Durant injury is really interesting to me. Do you guys think he’ll actually end up playing?neil: It’s a little concerning to me that he still hasn’t begun basketball-related activites yet.chris.herring: I have no idea what’s going on in his head, aside from a feud with Chris Broussard.JaredDubin: I think the more interesting question is: If he doesn’t play, has he already played his last game for the Warriors.tchow: Oh no, Jared, not this again.sara.ziegler: Tony’s just waiting for him to get here, LOL.JaredDubin: As a Knick fan who is all too familiar with their repeated free-agency failures, I will believe KD is signing with the Knicks when he is in Madison Square Garden wearing a Knick jersey during a regular-season game, and not a moment sooner.tchow: That’s so many months too late, Jared.sara.ziegler: LOLneil: I like that we have the two polar opposites of Knick fandom here.sara.ziegler: All Knicks represented.Looking beyond KD, will DeMarcus Cousins actually play in the finals? And will he actually help the Warriors?chris.herring: It sounds like he’ll play. Less sure about whether he’ll have an impactMy question there is, if the Raptors pull ahead in the series early, and Cousins simply doesn’t have it, can you afford to play him for long stretches? Answer seemingly is “probably not.”As badly as you want him to feel involved.JaredDubin: He seems more likely to have an impact against Toronto, where he can bang inside with Gasol, than Milwaukee, where Brook Lopez might space him off the floor.I also feel like whether OG Anunoby is ready to come back from his appendicitis matters a lot, especially if Durant is able to come back during the series. Toronto’s ability to go small for extended stretches against the Death Lineup depends on having another big wing alongside Kawhi.sara.ziegler: Though, Jared, our model actually thinks the Raptors are better without Anunoby.JaredDubin: OG had a tough year on and off the floor (his father passed away during the season), but having another big wing is important in a matchup where you might need to go small a lot.chris.herring: Jared’s point is spot-on.That would be either my biggest or second-biggest question with Toronto.They usually have one of Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka on the floor. If the Warriors go up-tempo, with Draymond as their 5, it could be tough for them to match that.JaredDubin: Is your other biggest question, “How will Kyle Lowry deal with guarding Steph and not disappearing on offense at the same time?”chris.herring: Yes. It is/was.Lowry’s been pretty good in this series. Curry would be a brutal matchup for him, though.And Fred VanVleet is playing the series of his life at the moment. But I don’t think that would continue in the next series.JaredDubin: It was like a week ago that everyone was wondering if it was time to bench him because he hadn’t hit a shot in (seemingly) three years.neil: A lot of things were different for Toronto (and Milwaukee) about a week ago.chris.herring: Tell me about it!Only five teams in NBA history have come back from down 2-0 to win a conference final in the best-of-seven era.neil: Last one I remember being quite this surprised by might have been OKC beating the Spurs in 2012.chris.herring: And Ibaka was on that team, which was the last team to do it.JaredDubin: Stat! Teams trailing 3-2 in a series are 27-162 all-time, but when a team goes up 2-0 at home and then loses three straight, they are 8-7. All seven wins by the team leading 3-2 have come in Game 6. The team that went up 2-0 and then lost three in a row has won all eight Games 7. sara.ziegler: Ooooh, that’s interesting.I’m still trying to FEAR THE DEER.chris.herring: It’s a bit hard to.tchow: So Game 6 is Toronto’s Game 7.neil: That’s why Game 6 is so huge in these circumstances. According to this playoff leverage thing I did, Game 6 with the home team up 3-2 is the second most crucial possible situation.Trailing only (obviously) Game 7.chris.herring: Also, Toronto is a really difficult place to play anyway, let alone in a scenario where the Raptors can clinch a ticket to the FinalsMilwaukee made a lineup change, but it kind of feels like they’re stuck in the mud on offense when they aren’t in transition.JaredDubin: It feels like Mike Budenholzer really needs to lean in to the lineup he started last night, though. They crushed the Raptors with Bledsoe-Brogdon-Middleton-Giannis-Lopez and got destroyed in the other minutes. But he said before the game that he thinks it’s better to have 36 peak Giannis minutes than 40-plus of like 90-percent-ish minutes, basically.chris.herring: I won’t dwell on it too much, but I was so, so impressed by how many big plays the Raptors came up with at the end of a game on the road. So perhaps seeing that is reason enough to leave open the possibility that the Bucks can do that with their backs against the wall in Toronto.tchow: Can we talk big picture for a moment? Neil asked me this question this morning and I wanted to ask the group here: What would you put the chance of Kawhi staying in Toronto right this second? Before we know what happens in Game 6 or the end of this series.chris.herring: I imagine it’s really high if they win the series. It will show that you essentially can’t do any better from a team success standpoint than the situation he was traded into. So at that point, if you leave, it clearly becomes about wanting to play in another market. And with the exception of LeBron James, it’s hard to find a lot of first-rate players having done that.JaredDubin: I can’t imagine him finding a better running mate from a fit standpoint than Pascal Siakam. And if he stays, the Raptors can be even more aggressive in seeking out help for him than they were this year, and they were pretty aggressive in trading for Gasol at the deadline this year already.chris.herring: Then again, it’s Kawhi, and no one has ever been more quiet in terms of their overall persona. Who knows?He may be intrigued by being able to partner with a team on going out and getting a second max talent.sara.ziegler: He’s loved in Toronto, too. He’d obviously be second fiddle in L.A.chris.herring: Not with the Clippers!sara.ziegler: LOLOK, fair.JaredDubin: Kawhi would probably hate being second fiddle.tchow: * Kawhi laugh *chris.herring: I said this last night, but even if the Raptors lose, you have to feel content with having gone all-in at this point.You got a legitimate superstar, and he’s given you everything you could ask for at this point, especially if they reach the finals. All you wanted was a chance to win the whole thing.tchow: Yeah, definitely. Last night’s game kinda proved that’s why you risk it for a player like Kawhi, even if you end up losing him.chris.herring: If you get to that round, and he leaves anyway, that’s more about what he wanted and less about anything you as a team did wrong.JaredDubin: Masai Ujiri, president of the Raptors, has also been trying to do a full-on rebuild with this team for years. It started with trading Rudy Gay, but then James Dolan supposedly nixed a deal for Kyle Lowry, and the Raptors turned into the Raptors team we’ve seen over the past several years. Dealing for Kawhi with a year left on his deal set them up to either extend a window of contention around a player who is likely better than any the franchise has ever had, or pivot to trading guys like Lowry and Ibaka, and build around Siakam, Anunoby and some of the other younger guys they have.sara.ziegler: In other NBA news this week, the All-NBA teams were announced on Thursday. Any big surprises?chris.herring: I thought Bradley Beal would make one of the teams. But honestly, when you don’t make the playoffs, it’s always a crapshoot if you’re borderline like that.JaredDubin: There were less “surprising” things than just the reveals of incredibly tough calls. Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid for first team center, and Beal vs. Kemba Walker vs. Klay Thompson for third-team guard.neil: It was weird seeing LeBron only be third-team All-NBA.sara.ziegler: It was sort of weird to see LeBron make it at all!neil: Well, he hadn’t missed first team since 2007. (But yes, it made sense for him to drop, given how much time he missed.)chris.herring: I can’t tell whether people are sad for Klay having missed out on the supermax, or if they’re simply relaying the news that he missed out. This would have been a weird season to make a passionate argument for him, in my opinion.All in all, I thought the teams were generally fine — I just think the setup of contracts and incentives being based on how the media votes is somewhat dumb. I think they should change it in the next CBA, but I don’t know how it should work going forward.JaredDubin: I don’t think there’s anybody in the media who wants to have control over how much money players make.tchow: It’s such a weird thing.JaredDubin: But we’ve also seen with player votes for All-Star teams that they don’t necessarily take voting even as seriously as the least-serious media voters, so maybe this is the best of bad options. (Aside from getting rid of supermax qualifications based on voting altogether.)tchow: I wonder if it goes through the minds of the media members who do vote where they ask themselves if they see a player like Klay or Beal “deserve” a super-max contract, and if answering “no” factors into their All-NBA selections.chris.herring: As I explained all this to my girlfriend yesterday, she was quick to remind me that these guys who are up for potential supermaxes all are due to make well in excess of $100 million anyway.It’s a crazy amount of money, but I think it’s easy to forget that A) it wasn’t really the media’s choice to have this role in the process and B) we’re talking about the very best players, and it’s not easy to decide which are the 15 best all the time.JaredDubin: I feel like, even if I were due to make $190 million, I would still prefer to make $220 million. But I also have no idea what it feels like to make $190 million, which I’m sure surprises everyone.sara.ziegler: 🤣chris.herring: Yeah.neil: The alternative is something like the baseball arbitration system, where a formula determines pay.chris.herring: * ding ding ding *neil: (And that is obviously also very fraught.)JaredDubin: It has always seemed strange that the percentage-of-cap maximums are determined by your years of service in the league. It almost always leads to guys being underpaid early and overpaid late.neil: Although that’s basically how every sport runs its business now. (Or again, if we go with the baseball model, they underpay early and then don’t pay late.)tchow: I hope we see an angry Klay in the finals play like someone who just lost out on $30 million and irrationally blames it on the Raptors/Bucks.JaredDubin: In the unlikely event the Finals gets to Game 6, I bet we see a Klaysplosion then. He’s incredible in Game 6.neil: Those Toronto and/or Milwaukee based writers clearly had a vendetta against him.sara.ziegler: Maybe the writers vote based on who gives the best interviews.neil: He’s a great interview, if the topic is scaffolding.Check out our latest NBA predictions. sara.ziegler: Toronto won more games on the season than Golden State and has fewer injuries. Toronto would have the home-court advantage in the finals. Aren’t those important points in the Raptors’ favor?chris.herring: I can’t bring myself to think it matters all that much. At least not yet.Golden State has shown it can win despite not having home-court advantage.JaredDubin: I think I’d be more inclined to give those things weight if this were the first year of the Warriors’ run and not the fifth, and if we didn’t know that the Warriors essentially treat the regular season as an extended preseason. Draymond Green didn’t even start caring until he went on his crash diet in March, and he’s been one of the, like, three best players in the playoffs.chris.herring: If anything, the Durant injury is the thing to watch. They’d obviously be better positioned, and make the Raptors work a lot more, if they had him. (If for no other reason because of Kawhi presumably having to guard him at times.)But the Warriors haven’t given us any reason to suspect they can’t win the way they are. Also, one of the Raptors’ wins over the Dubs was a game in which Curry didn’t play.sara.ziegler: I guess my point here is that the opinions on who we think will win are based most on knowing that Golden State has won.chris.herring: That’s fair.But I also don’t think Toronto is a particularly great postseason match for Golden State.sara.ziegler: I get that.And the model is about the people playing — not about how they’ll play against the specific guys on the other team.chris.herring: I would have felt much better about the Bucks and think I’d favor them.neil: For what it’s worth, Vegas still has it as Warriors 69 percent, Raptors 18 percent, Bucks 13 percent.tchow: Hypothetically, if the Bucks were up 3-2, based on the CARMELO scores, they would also be favored against the Warriors in the finals at this point, no? Would we think there’s something wrong with the model then?chris.herring: * ding ding ding *neil: Tony, I think it might. Both teams currently have identical full-strength CARMELO ratings. Our model still thinks the Bucks and Raptors are pretty interchangeable, talent-wise.sara.ziegler: That’s kind of amazing.JaredDubin: This series has essentially shown that to be true, right? The Bucks and Raptors being relatively equal, talent-wise. Each team has a blowout, and the other three close games could have gone either way.tchow: The model has been really high on Toronto, compared to other models, all playoffs long. That prediction is looking pretty good so far this series, which is making us Bucks believers (fear-ers?) look bad. Maybe I’m still salty about being wrong about Toronto, because my initial reaction on seeing the new finals projections was also “no f-ing way.”neil: I mean, that was my honest reaction too, Tony:
The English Premier League is the only league among the 24 that are part of FiveThirtyEight’s club soccer predictions that has six teams in the top 20 of the global team rankings (although it has no teams in the overall top five). However, these rankings suggest that the Premier League’s also-rans would not compete particularly well with the mid-table of other major leagues. Everton, the seventh EPL side, sit 47th. This places the Toffees behind 10 German Bundesliga clubs and 13 teams from La Liga. Even Atalanta, the seventh club in Italy’s Serie A, places above Everton.To explain why this happens requires some discussion of the method itself. League strength is compared in two ways; first, based on how well clubs from different leagues have done in direct competition with one another, such as in the Champions League. And second, the estimated market value of a team’s players, drawn from the website Transfermarkt. The former factor — head-to-head competition — receives much more emphasis when leagues play each other frequently, as teams from the top European leagues do in the Champions League and Europa League. That gives the big European leagues a more natural hierarchy.The relatively poor showing of the Premier League, compared with La Liga and the Bundesliga, is notable particularly because of the massive economic advantage that the English league holds over its continental competitors. The Premier League’s domestic TV contract pays in the range of a billion dollars more per year than Spain’s or Germany’s.1The new domestic Premier League TV contract is estimated to be worth $2.20 billion per year, compared with $1.04 billion for La Liga and $1.36 billion for the Bundesliga. The estimated values of Premier League clubs run about 20 percent higher than the values of clubs in the Bundesliga or Serie A and about 10 percent higher than La Liga. But these values have not translated into strong performances by Premier League teams in European competition. Judged over recent inter-league competition, La Liga’s performance has been about 27 percent better than the Premier League’s, while the Bundesliga’s performance has been 20 percent better. Despite its financial advantage, the Premier League has won only one European Cup in the past four years, compared with seven for La Liga sides. During that time, 19 teams from La Liga have advanced to the quarterfinals of the Europa or Champions League, and 10 Bundesliga sides have done the same. Only six Premier League clubs, barely more than one per year, have advanced to the final eight of the major club competitions.Just as Premier League sides come in below similar clubs from Germany and Spain because of the English league’s struggles in European competition, the continuing failure of MLS clubs to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League leaves American and Canadian sides behind the best teams in Mexico. Other than Toronto FC (171st), no MLS side places above the top 10 teams from Liga MX.The rankings further suggest that the best clubs from South America, such as Argentina’s Boca Juniors (81st) and Brazil’s Corinthians (88th) and Cruzeiro (99th) could hang with the teams at the bottom of the Premier League such as Watford (93rd) and Crystal Palace (102nd). Meanwhile, MLS teams would generally fall in either the second or third divisions in the English pyramid. NYCFC — the second-highest ranking MLS side, at 259th — rates below the top 10 teams in the Championship.MLS still has a long way to go to match up with the top levels of club soccer. These ratings and rankings will move as the various international tournaments play out through the fall, winter and spring. If sides from the Premier League or MLS mean to move up the rankings, they will need to have better results in direct competition with sides from other leagues. When comparing club soccer teams, it’s fairly easy to figure out who is the best of the best. The most talented players in the world play in a handful of European leagues, and the best teams of these leagues face off each year in the Champions League.Judging below this level is more difficult.How do you compare the English club Arsenal, which got through the group stage of the most recent Champions League but lost in the first round of the knockouts, with Celta Vigo of Spain, a semifinalist in the Europa League? And what about the European teams that didn’t play anyone outside their nation’s borders — like Stoke City in England and Freiburg in Germany?Even more difficult is comparing across continents. How well would the best MLS clubs do if they played in the Championship, the English second division?FiveThirtyEight has a new way of answering these questions. The global club soccer rankings compare 426 men’s teams that compete in leagues across Europe, North America and South America. As you might expect, the top three are Real Madrid of Spain’s La Liga, Bayern Munich of Germany’s Bundesliga and Barcelona, also of La Liga. It gets more interesting from there.
Opposing teams might be afraid of Ohio State’s combo of Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis, but it is actually the other players on the team they should be cowering from. Lavender has been a mainstay at center for OSU for nearly three seasons. The addition of the sophomore guard Prahalis, who threw a coming-out party at Michigan State last Sunday, has made OSU a mountain too tall to climb for most opponents.“[Lavender’s] sophomore year, I don’t think she played with someone with the ball-handling ability of Sammy [Prahalis],” head coach Jim Foster said. “Those two run the pick and roll like two savvy NBA veterans.”Tonight’s opponent, Illinois, has already witnessed this power first-hand.Although Lavender and Prahalis combined for 45 of OSU’s 76 points at Illinois on Dec. 28 and 52 of 65 at MSU, that is not the story of the whole season. In fact, the reason for their success lies in the hands of a few other role players on the team.“[An important thing is] playing your role on the team. My role has changed since high school,” freshman guard Tayler Hill said. “It’s a team effort when you get to college.”OSU’s main threat is the 3-point field goal, not the inside game of Lavender. OSU ranks eighth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage mostly because of two players, senior forward Sarah Schulze and junior guard Brittany Johnson.Both starters are deadly from behind the arc. Schulze is 31 of 67 (46.3 percent) on the year and Johnson is 36 of 71 (50.7 percent).Their presence on the floor forces opponents to play man-to-man defense, which gives Lavender the ability to dominate in the paint and Prahalis her chance to drive the lane.“A team may initially double team, but because you can kick it out and [the other players on the floor are] knocking down shots it just makes me a better player because I get that one-on-one post opportunity,” said Lavender. She had 31 points against Illinois on Dec. 28.The third role player is also a familiar name to Big Ten fans, guard Shavelle Little, the reigning two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.When Little comes off the bench, she changes the game instantly with her ability to steal the ball and shut down opposing players. The defensive specialist leads the Buckeyes in steals with 31 on the season, eight of which came against Illinois in their last meeting.The last piece of the puzzle is no less important than the other three. Senior center Andrea Walker is having a phenomenal season off the bench.Walker is Lavender’s replacement when she is off the floor and her 6-foot-5-inch partner in crime when both are on the floor, allowing them to steal control of the paint from any player. They have already handled tough opponents this year. Illinois’ leading scorer, center Jenna Smith, was held to only 11 points against Lavender and Walker and MSU center Allyssa Dehaan was limited to only four rebounds, despite her 6-foot-9-inch frame.“We prefer to play basketball and some teams like to wrestle, but the fact of the matter is we can pull up our sleeves and wrestle,” coach Foster said.Even though Walker only plays an average of 13 minutes per game, she is still tied for the team lead in blocks with Lavender at 20, and she averages 4.4 rebounds per game, the same rate at which Lavender rebounds.These four players along with the rest of the team make the dominance of Lavender and Prahalis possible by spreading the floor, creating turnovers, changing the pace of the game and allowing them to rest on the bench without losing control of the game.“I think everybody is starting to really understand their roles and how you can help this team by playing in that role,” Lavender said. “Players are more accepting of the role they are playing in and it makes for a better team.”OSU defeated Illinois 76-47 on the Illini’s home court in Champaign, Ill. last December. The perfect team chemistry of the Buckeyes was too much for Illinois once already this season and the Buckeyes are hoping to make that twice Thursday night.
Ohio State rushed the ball 32 times against Indiana on Saturday. First-string running back Brandon Saine had no carries. “I think the way it worked out, I was more of a receiver today,” Saine said. Saine was second on the team in receptions and receiving yards and recorded a touchdown through the air. “We definitely switched that up this week,” fullback Zach Boren said. “I think we changed it because Brandon is great out in space. That’s what he is best at, and (Dan) ‘Boom’ (Herron) is best back in the ‘I’” formation. Herron has established himself as the team’s featured running back. He led OSU in carries for the third consecutive game Saturday. Saine lining up at receiver also allowed reserve Jordan Hall to see playing time early. “I was in in the first quarter,” Hall said. “The (coaches) just said, ‘be ready.’” It was the first time this season that Hall saw playing time while the game was still in doubt. Saine’s struggles on the ground might have been a contributing factor. Saine had rushed for just 80 yards and no touchdowns in the three games before Indiana. Giving him less carries and more receptions was a way to get him more involved in the offense. “We said going into the game we were going to try to figure out more ways to get him the ball,” coach Jim Tressel said. Players agreed that the team was playing to Saine’s strength. “He’s really dynamic,” center Mike Brewster said. “It’s hard for guys to cover him when he is running routes. No linebackers are going to keep up with him.” Saine agreed. “I think that it’s a great way to get mismatches with linebackers and safeties,” he said. Those mismatches have resulted in four receiving touchdowns for the running back this season, twice his number of scores on the ground. The team has confidence in Saine regardless of his role. “Brandon is such a good athlete; he can play receiver, running back, anything,” offensive linemen Justin Boren said. “He is going to make plays.” The team won’t be surprised if the roles of the running backs continue to change as the season goes forward, Hall said. No matter how the repetitions are divided up in the backfield, Saine is happy to be contributing. “Whatever I’m doing, it’s to help the team, and that’s what matters,” he said. “I’m just excited to be able to get out there and run around with this jersey on.”
Ohio State sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas is a shooter, but not in the same way Jon Diebler, former OSU guard and all-time Big Ten leader in made three pointers, was. Thomas is a shooter because he likes to shoot – a lot. In high school, Thomas shot whenever he wanted because that’s what his team asked him to do. When he graduated, he was the No. 3-leading scorer in the history of the basketball-rich state of Indiana. So when Thomas came to OSU as a freshman, Thomas did what he had always done. He kept shooting. He was shooting so much that coach Thad Matta had to tell him to slow down, but at the same time he didn’t want to discourage Thomas to the point that he lost confidence. “He’s one of the best scorers in the nation,” OSU sophomore forward James “JD” Weatherspoon said. “You can’t take that away from his game. He’s going to knock down shots. It’s what he does.” Thomas averaged 7.5 points a game in an average of 14 minutes of action as a freshman last year. His ability to score a high volume of points in a short amount of time earned him the nickname of “microwave offense.” This year, with the departure of seniors Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale, who started the majority of the games last year, Thomas plans to step into a starting role for the upcoming season. It’s a role Matta, along with Thomas’s teammates, said he’s grown to accept. “He’s got a much better understanding of how to play,” Matta said. “He understands the importance of the defensive end of it. He understands the importance of the pass, the moving, the rebounding. I’ve been very, very pleased with his progress.” Matta also said Thomas has learned about when to shoot and when to pass. “The other day in the workout he threw a pass away and one of the coaches started to say something,” Matta said. “I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. He passed. I’ll teach him how to connect the dots.’” Senior guard William Buford laughed when asked about Thomas shooting too much, but said it was a thing of the past. “No, not no more,” Buford said. “He used to. You know he used to. He’s learning like what’s a good shot, what’s a bad shot. He’s passing more. He’s just a smarter basketball player.” But that doesn’t mean Thomas is going to stop shooting anytime soon or ditch the “microwave” mentality. Thomas embraces it. “I’m going to go out like everybody call me — the microwave,” Thomas said. “I’m trying to heat up at any minute so I’m just going to be the same old me with more time out there and having fun.” More than just shooting, Thomas has worked on the physical aspect of the game as well and has taken full advantage of the Buckeyes’ offseason-conditioning program, Matta said the changes are noticeable. “You can obviously look at him and tell a lot of things have happened to him over the summer,” Matta said. “It’s amazing how he looks this year compared to how he looked last year.” The Buckeyes open their season Nov. 11 against Wright State at 9 p.m. and with the beginning of a new season, Thomas said he’s ready to begin his next chapter too. “I’m here to show everybody what I really got,” Thomas said.
Vanderbilt University announced Thursday that it was canceling its football program’s 2013 trip to Columbus to play Ohio State because of scheduling reasons. OSU athletic director Gene Smith didn’t approve of way Vanderbilt canceled the game – by letter – but he was promised an apology. David Williams, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director, said he takes full responsibility for informing Smith of the cancelation in a letter and plans to apologize by text, phone call or email. “I apologize to (Smith) for that. I’m sorry that he’s disappointed. Gene’s a good friend and a good (athletic director) and I’m sorry it was handled that way,” Williams told The Lantern. “I take all of the blame for that.” With less than a year until the teams’ originally scheduled Aug. 31, 2013, meeting at the Horseshoe, Smith and the OSU athletic department must seek a new opponent for the opening game of its 2013 season. Vanderbilt was to receive $1.2 million for its visit to Ohio Stadium, but coach Urban Meyer’s first season in Columbus without a bowl ban will have to begin against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. In a statement provided to The Lantern earlier on Thursday, Smith said the communication between the two schools could have been better. “I am disappointed that we find ourselves in this position. I would have preferred a phone call from the administration at Vanderbilt,” Smith said in the statement. “Nevertheless, we will work diligently to find a replacement opponent for the 2013 season.” Williams explained that the decision to inform OSU through a letter was a matter of record keeping. “I do understand (Smith’s) disappointment and I apologize for that, but if you cancel something by phone, then you don’t have record for it,” Williams said. “It may just be my legal training that we cancel by paper. We make deals by letters and we cancel by letters. I understand his disappointment and it would have been nice if I talked more about it. “That’s on me. That’s my bad and I apologize for that.” Rod Williamson, Vanderbilt’s director for athletic communications, said the cancelation of the OSU-Vanderbilt fixture came about as a result of the need to accommodate the Southeastern Conference’s addition of Texas A&M and Missouri. Vanderbilt also canceled its 2013 home game against Northwestern. The cancellation of the OSU and Northwestern games were “casualties” of that process, Williamson said. OSU’s current home schedule for the 2013 season includes Florida A&M (9/7), Buffalo (9/14), Wisconsin (9/28), Iowa (10/19), Penn State (10/26) and Indiana (11/23). The Buckeyes are scheduled to continue play in the 2012 season Saturday against Purdue at the Horseshoe. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
The Buckeyes sing “Carmen Ohio” following the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Nov 3. Ohio State won 36-31. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorNo. 10 Ohio State returned to the win column Saturday, defeating Nebraska 36-31 in Ohio Stadium. Even with some questions seemingly answered, including the success of the running game, the Buckeyes still have needed areas of improvement heading into a two-game road stretch, first against Michigan State. Here are three takeaways from Saturday afternoon’s game. Passing game remains integralOhio State’s game plan against Nebraska was to win, sure, but it seemed as though, as soon as the Buckeyes offense stepped onto the field, it had one goal: to fix the run game. So redshirt junior running back Mike Weber and sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins took a page out of what Dobbins called the “old Buckeye football” playbook, combining for 254 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns. While the two backs found success, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins put up uncomparable numbers to what he has done over the past three weeks. Completing 18 of 32 pass attempts, his lowest completion percentage of the season, he threw for 252 yards, his lowest total since Sept. 8, where he played only a half against Rutgers. He also threw two touchdowns and his sixth interception of the season. However, the Ohio State offense saw glimpses of the Haskins of old, finding redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon on a crossing route in the middle of the field who ran in 42 yards, with the help of good blocking on the outside, for the first touchdown of the day. Haskins said after the game he overthrew some passes, specifically one deep ball, trying to hit a receiver who was one-on-one on a post route in the middle of the field. The Ohio State offense may have changed a bit during the win over the Cornhuskers, but Haskins still showed his importance to what the Buckeye offense does. Rush defense improves After allowing Purdue senior running back D.J. Knox to average eight yards per carry in the Boilermakers’ 49-20 win over Ohio State on Oct. 20, the Buckeyes had to face an offense with a running game very similar to what the team ran under J.T. Barrett. While trying to defend senior running back Devine Ozigbo, Ohio State also had to be cognisant of a dual-threat quarterback: freshman Adrian Martinez. The Buckeyes allowed 158 yards on the ground between Ozigbo and Martinez, with the quarterback scoring two 2-yard touchdown runs and the running back recording one 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. However, Ohio State dealt with what they had to defend, limiting Ozigbo to 4.3 yards per carry after the same back had averaged double-digit yards per carry against Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman. The Buckeyes also forced Martinez to run more than he ever had in a collegiate game, recording a career-high 20 runs, averaging 3.6 yards per rush, lower than his 4.7 yards per carry season average. Nebraska hurt Ohio State in the ground game, but Ohio State, with what it was given, kept it at bay. Depleted secondary depth a major storylineOhio State came in with a bottom third pass defense in the NCAA. The losses suffered prior and in the Nebraska game did not help much. Sophomore Jeffrey Okudah did not play in the game due to a groin injury while sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor missed Saturday’s game with a shoulder impingement, entering the field without pads on. Head coach Urban Meyer said that both Okudah and Pryor should be good to go against Michigan State on Saturday. The Buckeyes also lost junior safety and captain Jordan Fuller after he was ejected for targeting in the second quarter. Ohio State saw some life, especially at the safety position as sophomore Brendon White had a career day, recording 13 tackles and two tackles for loss. However, the Cornhuskers still knew how to attack the pass defense, with Martinez completing a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. The other half of the pass defense, the pass rush, struggled as well. After a sack from redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones in the first quarter, Ohio State could not get to Martinez in the backfield, completing 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown.
The Ohio State Men’s Basketball team played Michigan State on Feb. 17 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, Mich. Ohio State lost 44-62. Photos by Casey Cascaldo Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson (34) attempts a shot in the first half of the game against Michigan State on Feb. 17. Ohio State lost 44-62. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor
However, an email sent to staff, and seen by Health Service Journal, warns that the problems mean some test results have been sent back to the wrong location, or without enough information to link them to the right patient.The failings of the trust’s pathology system occurred as a result of a hardware fault 10 days ago, and have also affected patients at neighbouring Bradford Teaching Hospitals trust.The Leeds trust said more than 100 procedures have been postponed so far. Senior managers said surgery was being cancelled for operations which were not urgent, where there was a risk of bleeding that could require transfusion.Bradford trust said it was reviewing all patients and prioritising urgent and emergency cases, which could mean some operations being rescheduled.Suzanne Hinchliffe, deputy chief executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals said GPs would be offered alternative services for routine blood tests until the problems were resolved.She said “all known” urgent blood tests had now been analysed, using manual systems.“There is an inevitable impact on routine non-urgent procedures for patients and for this we are very sorry but patient safety remains our top priority,” she told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “We have had to postpone 101 patients’ procedures as a result of problems with the pathology IT system.” ‘We have had to postpone 101 patients’ procedures as a result of problems with the pathology IT system’Suzanne Hinchliffe, deputy Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust is one of the largest NHS trusts in the country Credit:Dominic Lipinksi/PA Scores of operations have been cancelled at hospitals across Yorkshire after a major IT failure led to a backlog of 10,000 blood tests.Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust has ordered GPs to cancel all routine tests, after the failure of computer systems more than a week ago. Senior managers at the trust said urgent cases were being prioritised in order to maintain patient safety. 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.