Month: September 2019

NHL Sides Take Step Backward In Negotiations To End

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman  was “thoroughly disappointed” in three counter-proposals from the players’ association on Thursday and left the negotiating table pessimistic about a resolution.No new talks have been scheduled, and the possibility of a full hockey regular season is quickly shrinking.“Today is not a good day,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.Thursday’s meetings, according to Bettman, were a “step backward,” while Fehr insists the NHL was only willing to work off its offer from Tuesday, rejecting the players’ three counteroffers.The union offered multiple options in response to the NHL’s offer on Tuesday that called for an 82-game season and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between owners and players.Said Blues captain David Backes in a text to ESPN.com: “We feel our newest proposal took a great step toward getting a deal done. It’s too bad the owners don’t feel that way and I fear that we may miss an extended amount of time now.”Bettman said that proposal was the “best that we could do” and added that the two sides are still far apart.“None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time,” Bettman said.“It’s clear we’re not speaking the same language.”Fehr said two of the union’s proposals would have the players take a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the term of the deal, provided league revenues continued to grow.The third approach would be a 50-50 split, as long as the league honored all existing contracts at full value.Deputy commissioner Bill Daly contradicted what Fehr said was included in the third proposal, saying in a statement: “The so-called 50-50 deal, plus honoring current contracts proposed by the NHL Players’ Association earlier today is being misrepresented. It is not a 50-50 deal. It is, most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement.“The proposal contemplates paying the Players approximately $650 million outside of the Players’ Share. In effect, the Union is proposing to change the accounting rules to be able to say ’50-50,’ when in reality it is not. The Union told us that they had not yet ‘run the numbers.’ We did.”Further, Daly told ESPN.com that in the league’s view, none of the three offers from the NHLPA guarantee ever getting to a 50/50 split.Bettman said he was still hopeful the league can have a full season, but time is running out to make that happen.“I am concerned based on the proposal that was made today that things are not progressing,” he said. “To the contrary, I view the proposal made by the players’ association in many ways a step backward.”Bettman said Tuesday the sides would have to reach an agreement by Oct. 25 for a full season to be played. read more

ARod Not Concerned About January Surgery

Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees’ injured third-baseman, said he looks forward to left hip surgery and a healthy return to the lineup.“I’m not concerned,” Rodriguez told The Associated Press. “I’m actually, in many ways, relieved that there’s something tangible that we can go fix.”Rodriguez had surgery on his right hip in 2009, missed about the first month of the season and still finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs — plus helped the Yankees win the World Series.This surgery, however, is not the same as the other one. It reportedly will be more complex, since it’ll repair not only a torn labrum but also a bone impingement and a cyst. The surgery is next month because it was determined he needed some time to strengthen the hip first.“I am fully committed to a very hard road back,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve done it before in ’09 and it was a great result, both on a personal level and on a team level, more importantly. I take it as a great challenge and I’m excited for the challenge.”A 14-time All-Star and baseball’s priciest player at $275 million, Rodriguez plans to further discuss the hip situation at a news conference later Saturday afternoon.He batted .120 (3 for 25) with no RBIs in last season’s playoffs, including 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. He originally thought he was having issues with the right hip again — he wasn’t — and it wasn’t until November that the issues within the left hip were detected.Rodriguez finished this past regular season batting .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. He now has 647 career homers, fifth-most in baseball history and 13 shy of the No. 4 player on that list, Willie Mays. read more

Adrian Peterson Vikings Lose to Carolina Panthers

Adrian Peterson added to his tough week when the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Carolina Panthers Sunday.Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another TD as his team rolled over the mourning Peterson and the Vikings 35-10.The running back, Peterson averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and finished the game with 62 yards on 10 carries and 21 yards on three receptions. However, the Vikings (1-4) didn’t play the star after halftime.Friday, Peterson learned that his 2-year-old son died in South Dakota after suffering injuries from alleged child abuse. The man involved, Joseph Robert Patterson, was arrested and charged in the case.“It’s tough. It’s a crazy situation,” Peterson said. “Anytime you lose a child, no matter the circumstances, it hurts. I can’t describe it. But I’ve got a good supporting cast.”Said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier: “I thought he handled it as well as you can.” read more

Team USAs World Baseball Classic Championship Didnt Come Easy

DATEROUNDTEAMALL-TIME SRS RANKUSA’S RESULT 3/22FinalPuerto Rico5thW 8-0 Team USA’s path to the championship Team USA finally did it. Buoyed by a tremendous pitching performance from starter Marcus Stroman — who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning — the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 in Wednesday night’s title game of the World Baseball Classic, securing America’s first-ever championship at the event.Going from mediocre (they went into 2017 with a 10-10 all-time record in the tournament) to championship worthy wasn’t easy for the U.S. Although the American roster was stacked with major leaguers, the team once again found itself facing elimination after losing to Puerto Rico last Friday. Keeping its tournament hopes alive meant beating the Dominican Republic — the second-best team in WBC history by my calculations,1I used the Simple Rating System to rank every team in WBC history. (and one that had roared back to beat the U.S. a week earlier) — in a do-or-die qualifier, then beating Japan (the greatest team in WBC history) in the semis, and then turning the tables in a rematch with Puerto Rico (who were undefeated and playing as well as any WBC team ever).Talk about a difficult path to a championship: 3/11Round 1Dominican Republic2ndL 7-5 But the U.S. persevered through it all, and now they are WBC champions. And who knows — perhaps the win will even persuade more marquee players to represent America at future World Baseball Classics.Now, if only they could do something about those painfully ’90s-looking uniforms. Share on Facebook OPPONENT 3/18Round 2Dominican Republic2ndW 6-3 3/17Round 2Puerto Rico5thL 6-5 3/12Round 1Canada17thW 8-0 3/15Round 2Venezuela9thW 4-2 The Simple Rating System (SRS) adjusts a team’s per-game run differential for strength of schedule. This SRS ranking uses data from all WBC matches since 2006, with extra weight applied to games in later rounds.Source: Wikipedia 3/10Round 1Colombia11thW 3-2 3/21SemisJapan1stW 2-1 read more

The Case For Russell Westbrook MVP

Russell Westbrook is the MVP. You are likely already familiar with Westbrook’s claim to the award because every conversation that suggests someone else is the MVP must do the work of explaining why it is not, obviously, Westbrook.Westbrook’s case for MVP is self-evident. His season-long triple-double is a historic accomplishment, and its grandeur only grows when adjusted to account for the way the game is played today. Here are the top seasons for the triple-double stats sorted by John Hollinger’s Versatility Index, which shows how good players are at those three metrics, combined1Versatility Index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists per 100 possessions., which adjusts for pace: Source: NBA.com SEASONPLAYERPOSS. PER GAMEPTSREBOUNDSASSISTSVERSATILITY INDEX Versatility index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists (per 100 possessions).Source: basketball-reference.com 4’14-’15Westbrook95.741.110.612.517.6 3’15-’16Westbrook96.733.911.315.118.0 LeBron James126+15.140.667.332.124.6 Jimmy Butler141+12.831.563.041.329.4 … 34’61-’62Robertson124.926.710.89.914.2 PER 100 POSSESSIONS 1’16-’17Westbrook97.844.815.114.721.5 James55.152.3+2.840.937.2+3.7 DeAndre Jordan105+3.21.968.818.723.4 5’04-’05Garnett89.131.419.18.016.9 Isaiah Thomas163+18.225.065.446.026.4 2-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE3-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE Kawhi Leonard137+24.023.055.440.428.5 Source: NBA.com PLAYERCRUNCH TIMENET RATINGASSIST %TS %USAGE %PIE DeMar DeRozan139+16.128.854.842.926.1 PLAYERTEAMMATES’ WIDE-OPEN 3-PT % James42.4 Source: NBA.com Top NBA players by involvement during crunch time In general, the more possessions a player uses,2Plays on which a player takes a shot, draws a shooting foul or commits a turnover. the less efficient his personal offense becomes. You can see the frontier of exceptional player seasons forming a rough diagonal, sloping down from Kevin Durant’s 2016-17 in the upper left to Westbrook’s in the lower right. Generally, that’s the frontier of achievement for maximizing efficiency and usage, and anything that breaks past the outer rim is in the running for the best season in NBA history. Curry’s 2015-16 was more or less unprecedented, but was followed up quickly by Isaiah Thomas and Harden this season, each putting up absurd efficiency numbers with what have traditionally been extremely high usage rates. Then there’s Russell Westbrook.While a glance at the advanced stats (55.4 true shooting; 41.7 usage percentage) will give you the gist of the relationship — less efficient, more usage — they mask just how far out of the norm Westbrook has been. He has bucked the trend that’s afflicted super-high-usage NBA players for as long as the league has existed: Westbrook’s usage has exploded … and his efficiency hasn’t really changed. As a challenge to the basic makeup of NBA efficiency trends, Westbrook’s season is just as much of an aberration as Curry’s 2015-16.This is the final entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the cases for James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James and Stephen Curry. Also, check out our NBA predictions.That said, just because Westbrook’s season has been impressive does not necessarily make it useful or valuable. And while it’s undeniably hard to do what Westbrook has done, it’s been an open question how much value there is in his tirelessly filling up the box score while also eating up possessions. Players such as Curry and Harden, who shake up the ratio by adding efficiency to a standard-issue star player workload, are far easier to evaluate. But a player who can take on limitless responsibility with seeming immunity to defensive attention is a dangerous tool in situations where good possessions are hard to come by, even if he isn’t the most efficient guy on the floor. We’ve seen Westbrook deliver in those situations this season.An unstoppable, moderately efficient forceWestbrook has been laboring under LeBron-esque playoff demands all season long as the late-game anchor for a severely offensively handicapped team.Westbrook’s crunch-time numbers this season are comical. We’ll define “crunch time” here as the last five minutes of a game (or overtime) in which neither team has a lead greater than five points. In those situations, Westbrook has been unstoppable. His already absurd usage percentage jumps from “just” 41.7 to 62.3. (Sixty-two point three!!!)Something else interesting happens to Westbrook during crunch time: As his usage goes up, so does his efficiency. His true shooting percentage creeps up to 56.9, and his assist percentage goes to 58.3. While he’s on the court in crunch time, the Thunder is outscoring opponents by 21.7 points per 100 possessions (up from +12.5 overall). In fact, Westbrook’s work rate late in games is so prolific that he produces as much value as entire teams. No, really.We know this thanks to a little-noticed stat on the NBA’s stats site called Player Impact Estimate, or PIE. PIE is the share of all box score activity in a game (so points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) with deductions for negative stats (turnovers, missed shots, personal fouls). The average for a player should be about 103Since there are 10 players on the court., and the average for a team about 50.4Since each team makes up half the players. It’s an especially useful stat when used in tandem with net rating, because you can then see both how well a player is doing individually (the PIE rating) as well as how well the team is performing overall (the net rating).5Net rating is just a team’s scoring differential per 100 possessions.Anyway, Westbrook’s PIE in crunch time is 40.3, meaning he accounts for about 40 percent of both teams’ combined activity all on his own — a greater share of game stats in his clutch minutes than five teams6The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Nets and Suns. collect as a whole. The Thunder as a team has a 61.4 PIE in crunch time, fourth in the league, which tracks more or less with its 19.9 net rating, which ranks second overall. Westbrook58.2%48.6%+9.633.1%31.4%+1.7 Harden62.652.5+10.134.037.6-3.6 A player totally unfettered from the effect of a defense is dangerous all game long, but a particular nightmare late in games.Team composition mattersOK, so Westbrook can get his whenever he wants to get his. No one really doubts this. But Westbrook’s ability to get his teammates quality shots is a lingering question because Westbrook is not Curry, who distorts the parameters of the game without even touching the ball. Curry’s teammates find better shots and make more of them without Curry ever having to generate a traditional assist. But Westbrook’s teammates … let’s just say not even Curry could charm Andre Roberson into hitting his wide-open 3s.The Thunder roster is not quite as bereft of talent as it’s sometimes made out to be — Steven Adams is a very good center, and Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo and a few young players like Domas Sabonis all have their uses. But the team’s players are the worst long-range shooters in the league.This is made clear when we separate out the team’s doomed long range shots. 2’16-’17Harden100.038.410.714.818.3 PLAYEROFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFFOFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFF Curry40.0 Anthony Davis163-2.78.351.736.124.8 Harden38.3 The best pace-adjusted triple-double seasons Nevertheless, clucking about the righteousness of one MVP candidate over another inevitably returns to an epistemological debate about “value.” And there are a variety of cases to be made for players who had less outstanding, but perhaps more “valuable,” seasons than Westbrook did. James Harden moved to point guard and turned in a season that was two parts Steve Nash, one part Corey Maggette, and his Houston Rockets have faint yet plausible finals hopes. LeBron James had the best statistical season of his career at age 32, in his 14th year in the league. And Kawhi Leonard squeezed 61 wins out of a depleted San Antonio Spurs roster on which Dewayne Dedmon has a reasonable claim to being the second-best player. Each of those players’ teams has a far greater chance than Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder of making the finals and winning a championship.But what if a player is uniquely valuable when the stakes are highest? We’ve seen an example of this before: LeBron James during the 2015 Finals. During that series, James took two games against the ascendent Warriors basically all by himself. James led all players in points, rebounds and assists, and did so while carrying a true shooting percentage of 47.7 and a usage percentage of 39.3. It was a marvelous series for James despite his poor efficiency, in part because his efficiency remained basically in proportion to what’s expected of the most efficient stars despite an altogether absurd workload.Russell Westbrook has done over 82 games what James did for six. He has scrambled our sense of what game-altering dominance looks like in the age of advanced stats, and he’s done it largely without the benefit of the most important tool of the modern game: reliable 3-point shooting, from himself or his team. Westbrook’s success this season has argued convincingly that top-end efficiency isn’t an absolute requirement for success in today’s NBA, so long as you can make up for a dip in quality with sheer force of quantity.Efficiency is not a vacuumAmong a certain part of the advanced stats-minded crowd, Westbrook is easy to dismiss as an outdated, high-usage, low-efficiency volume shooter in an NBA that has moved beyond ball hogs. This makes sense if you view the split between Westbrook and high-efficiency players like Harden as a proxy battle in some broader war for the aesthetics of basketball. On one side you have the game played as a brutal, Pat Riley-style combat sport, and on the other the spread-’em-out game of the Rockets or Warriors. But Westbrook is defying the norms of efficiency, too. He’s just doing it in his own way.Take a look at this chart showing usage percentage and true shooting percentage, which originally ran in an article by my colleague Ben Morris, in which he made the case for Steph Curry as the MVP: How teammates shoot after passes from their stars Russell Westbrook148 min+21.758.3%56.9%62.3%40.3 When a Westbrook pass leads to a 2-point shot, his teammates are shooting 58.2 percent; when they take 2-pointers not directly following a pass from Westbrook, they shoot 48.6 percent. This is a massive difference, but also a logical one: Players shoot better when their point guard sets them up for shots.Things go downhill quickly once OKC ventures out beyond the arc. There, Westbrook passes lead to makes on only 33 percent of attempts; without Westbrook passing to them, his teammates make 31.4 percent. Both numbers are staggeringly bad. The Thunder simply don’t have players who can shoot NBA 3-pointers. Westbrook30.9% Curry58.555.5+3.041.835.6+6.2 STATS DURING CRUNCH TIME Leonard47.249.6-2.443.838.3+5.5 As a team, the Thunder were a bit above average at creating wide-open 3s (meaning the nearest defender was six or more feet away). Getting open 3s is good! Except, they shot 32.4 percent on those wide-open looks, good for dead last in the league. Westbrook himself shot 40 percent, which means the rest of the team shot 30.9 percent. Again, on wide-open 3s. No defender within six feet. Thirty point nine percent. A tabletop cactus could shoot 30 percent with the defense out to lunch.So while Westbrook does not have as profound an effect on his teammates’ shooting as his peers, this is hard to pin on Westbrook himself when he’s holding the bag for an Oklahoma City front office running back the ’93 Knicks.“Stat hogging” is not a phenomenonOne final line of suspicion about Westbrook’s stat line revolves around the notion that the numbers are inflated by methods unnatural to the game. One of those allegations: that Westbrook’s teammates let him collect rebounds to help stuff the stat sheets.But it’s not that simple. For one thing, stars have always received preferential treatment on cheap rebounds. There’s an old story about Rockets players getting gassed up when Yao Ming finally began to yap at teammates who tried to scoot in on missed free throw rebounds — generally the easiest to collect — because those are reserved for the star big man, and the NBA runs on hierarchy. And Kevin Love made a habit of grabbing the ball at the ends of quarters, just after the buzzer sounded, and doing a quick turn, point and grin in the direction of the scorer’s table trying to get credit for the board.7These anecdotes came from Bill Simmons interviews that are lost to history after Grantland was shut down.The Thunder also aren’t as blatant about giving Westbook rebounds as they’re made out to be. Yes, it’s conspicuous that Westbrook is pulling in 8.5 uncontested rebounds per game, up from 5.9 a season ago. But we can track how often teammates give up a rebound so that a nearby teammate can pick up the ball: It’s a stat called deferred rebound chances. This season, the number of the Thunder’s deferred chances has decreased to 16.8 per game from a league-high 17.7 a season ago. What’s changed? Well, the 6.6 uncontested rebounds per game Kevin Durant collected in 2015-16 needed to be redistributed somewhere.Unlike shooting or passing, rebounding suffers from severe diminishing returns. There are only so many rebound opportunities, and only so many bodies needed to corral them. Oklahoma City finished first in overall rebound rate, and third in defensive rebound rate. The Thunder have decided to use this surplus of rebounding to leak extra bodies out into the break, knowing their point guard can collect the rebound and start the break. In other words, the Thunder have made a conscious effort to let Westbrook get the rebounds because they think it helps them win, not just because they wanted Westbrook to hoard triple-doubles. The Thunder are fifth in percent of points scored via transition, so it’s working out for them.But there’s a downside: This strategy often leads to Westbrook playing abysmal defense as he hunts for the rebound — the number of shots he contests is dismal, and by far the lowest among league leaders in defensive rebounds, though they are more or less in the same range as those contested by Harden and LeBron. But then, Westbrook has never been a great defender, and it makes a certain amount of sense to have him sacrifice already questionable defensive attention in service of the offense, especially since the defense manages just fine (10th in efficiency) without him. That’s not an ideal outcome, of course. In a perfect world, Westbrook would be more engaged defensively, and have teammates with shooting range that extends beyond the college 3-point line. But the Thunder’s willingness to let Russell be Russell is its own sort of progress.For years now, we’ve been hearing about how evolutionary players such as Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis or even Steph Curry were set to move the NBA game forward. That has largely turned out to be true: Offense in the league has improved at record rates, primarily because players and front offices have maximized efficiency at every opportunity. The league has found a way to squeeze more production out of more specialized players. And that works just fine as a general rule. But Russell Westbrook’s season proves that’s not the only way to remake the NBA in your image. Shaving away minor imperfections in pursuit of the ideal less-for-more ratio isn’t necessary if you come equipped with a never-ending supply of more. Stephen Curry90+10.827.361.836.123.3 Which stars have teammates who can shoot? James Harden133-3.040.055.651.021.5 Leonard41.4 read more

This Is Rory McIlroys Masters To Lose

“Rory is in a great place right now,” said James Jankowski, a specialist putting coach who is currently working with players on the European Tour.Behind blistering tee shots and gorgeous iron play, McIlroy had one of the best starts to a career in modern golf history. But for years, it has felt like he is being held back by one club: his putter.Inexplicably, the same guy who made driving greens on par-4s feel ordinary could also five-putt at Pebble Beach. “If Rory McIlroy could only putt well,” The Telegraph’s James Corrigan wrote last year, “he would win every week.” Indeed, one of the sport’s most gifted ball-strikers finished the past three seasons 97th, 159th, and tied for 135th in strokes gained per round with the putter. What’s perhaps most remarkable this season, then, is that McIlroy ranks 57th in the metric.He’s sinking 92.9 percent of his putts from 5 feet, which ranks sixth on the tour and is a full 12.2 percentage points higher than last season. He hadn’t ranked higher than 92nd in the metric in the past three seasons. Inside of 10 feet, he’s draining 88.3 percent of his putts, tied for 56th on tour, after finishing 64th last year. He ranked outside of the top 130 in the metric in 2016 and 2017.“Mentally, he seems to be better (this year),” Jankowski said of the man who once screamed, “Who can’t putt?!” at a fan. “Making more important putts and seeming more relaxed about the outcome.”And while those numbers could certainly dip as McIlroy tallies more rounds, he has never putted this well relative to the field at this juncture of the season. And in terms of total true strokes gained, he is doing better than any previous winners had from Jan. 1 until the Masters started. 2013Rory McIlroy13+0.52+1.41T25 2017-0.10+0.18+0.50+1.10+1.65 2014Rory McIlroy12-0.15+2.10T8 True strokes Gained Per Round 2010-0.16+0.01+0.45+0.83+1.41 2009-0.30-0.02+0.37+0.45+1.42 2015Rory McIlroy10+0.26+2.294 2014Bubba Watson16+0.30+2.251 2008Trevor Immelman20-0.91+0.011 2013-0.02+0.06+0.57+0.74+1.04 2006Phil Mickelson23+0.55+2.841 2016Danny Willett8+0.64+1.461 2012Bubba Watson23-0.34+2.151 Source: Data Golf 2019+0.40+0.42+0.97+1.51+2.83 Rory is outdoing himself this yearTrue strokes gained per round in different areas for Rory McIlroy, 2009-19 2005Tiger Woods21+0.20+2.871 2013Adam Scott12+0.18+2.431 2009Angel Cabrera14-0.34+0.171 2019Rory McIlroy23+0.41+3.48? YearPlayerRounds measuredPuttingTotalMasters Finish 2017Rory McIlroy8+0.02+3.02T7 2016-0.15+0.26+0.61+1.38+2.24 2011-0.12-0.09+0.57+1.05+1.94 2010Phil Mickelson25-0.08+1.521 2015+0.02+0.28+0.70+1.27+2.38 SeasonPuttingAround GreenApproachOff The TeeTotal 2010Rory McIlroy10-0.69+0.95CUT McIlroy is in better form than previous Masters winnersHighest true strokes gained per round from Jan. 1 through the start of the Masters for previous Masters winners and Rory McIlroy, 2007-19 2018Patrick Reed23+0.18+1.181 Major-championship season tees off this weekend in Augusta, Georgia, so settle in for some high-definition azaleas, a sweet-sounding Jim Nantz overture and a musky aura of self-importance.The 2019 Masters is not short on juicy questions. In pursuit of his first major victory in more than 11 years, is Tiger Woods about to have a green jacket for every day of the work week? Can Dustin Johnson add the Masters to his list of vanquished tournaments after posting three consecutive top-10 finishes at Augusta?1Johnson didn’t play in the 2017 Masters after falling down a staircase. Could this year’s winning putt possibly elicit a more tepid reaction from the gallery than Patrick Reed’s did in 2018?But there is one debate that can be shuttered before it attracts oxygen: The hottest player on the planet is Rory McIlroy, the pint-sized Irishman with bionic power off the tee. No one on any tour is playing better golf than McIlroy.2He leads the PGA Tour in total strokes gained, strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained off the tee, among other valuable metrics. In eight starts this season, McIlroy has a tour-leading seven top-10 finishes, including a win at the Players Championship. Bettors are aware, installing 8-1 odds, the shortest of any player, for the 15-time PGA Tour event champion.A win at Augusta National would make McIlroy just the fourth player in golf’s modern era to complete a career grand slam before turning 30, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group.3Joining Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Bobby Jones completed an in-season grand slam in 1930 at age 28, but that was before the first Masters, when the U.S. and British amateur tournaments joined the open events in both countries as the four majors. And there’s reason to believe this week represents the best opportunity the 29-year-old has had to capture the green jacket that has eluded him.By true strokes gained, which adjusts regular strokes gained for field strength,4True strokes gained appraises the number of strokes better or worse a golfer was in a given round than the average PGA Tour professional in a given season. McIlroy is playing the best golf of his career this season, picking up an average of 2.83 strokes on the field — nearly one full stroke better than his 2018 performance and even more exceptional than his 2014 campaign (+2.56), when he won three tournaments, including two majors. 2011Rory McIlroy8-0.87+1.36T15 2012+0.14+0.31+1.19+1.23+2.49 Source: Data Golf 2018Rory McIlroy15+0.62+1.81T5 2015Jordan Spieth27+0.84+2.551 2011Charl Schwartzel16+0.67+1.491 2009Rory McIlroy12+0.14+1.93T20 2012Rory McIlroy8+0.27+3.24T40 2007Zach Johnson20+0.98+1.281 2004Phil Mickelson23+0.37+2.931 2018+0.15+0.38+0.51+0.91+1.92 2017Sergio Garcia12-0.56+2.231 Strokes Gained 2014+0.36+0.08+0.78+1.52+2.56 2016Rory McIlroy14+0.44+2.12T10 But that will be tested this weekend. Augusta’s sloping bentgrass greens boast nightmare-inducing undulation. Former and current players have described playing on them as “very intimidating,” “the most difficult” and “Mickey Mouse, miniature golf.” Legendary golfer Ernie Els once six-putted to start the tournament and later intimated that he might soon quit the sport. Last year, two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson sent an eagle putt into a greenside bunker. “It embarrasses you,” Charles Coody, who won the tournament in 1971, told Sports Illustrated. “Sometimes you do stuff where you want to walk off and hide.”McIlroy would have been forgiven if he had done just that last year. Trailing Reed by three strokes entering the final round, he logged a 2-over-par 74 and was irrelevant by the back nine. Not trusting his putter, McIlroy told reporters, “made a big difference.”5Nearly half of McIlroy’s 10 highest total-putt performances at majors have come at Augusta.McIlroy is on record, though, not putting too much stock in putting — particularly at the Masters. “At Augusta, you don’t need to putt great,” McIlroy said last year. “You need to not waste any shots.” He isn’t alone with that hypothesis — and there’s more evidence pointing to that conclusion.6Draining shots on the green obviously doesn’t hurt a player’s chances, considering that strokes gained while putting drives 35.8 percent of score variation on tour, more than any other shot category, according to research conducted by Data Golf. Mark Broadie, who pioneered the strokes-gained metrics, found that Augusta has the highest three-putt rate of any stop on tour.7From every distance, pros are 80 percent more likely to need three putts to finish at Augusta, Broadie found. However, Broadie also noted that because the greens are so well manicured, players also sink more putts inside of 10 feet at Augusta than anywhere else. The issue, then, is sticking approach shots within a reasonable distance of the flagstick to limit lag putts and mitigate long-range misreads. McIlroy has been doing just that, picking up 0.97 true strokes gained on approach shots, the second best mark of his career. Additionally, if he maintained his current numbers, McIlroy would set a new career best in three-putt avoidance (1.98 percent of putts). The past 15 champions were picking up 0.18 strokes on the field with the putter entering tournament week. McIlroy is picking up strokes at more than twice that rate.Away from the green, precision from the tee box is valuable, to be sure, but the Masters layout doesn’t exactly do any favors for McIlroy’s preternatural power. His 263.2 yards per drive at the Masters is well below his tee-shot averages in recent seasons and his historical averages at golf’s other marquee events. Although he bashes par-5s like you’d expect, he struggles on par-4s, where on average he’s plus-3.6, according to Golf Stats.Rory’s hot start this season has plenty of observers excited, though it’s not at all rare for McIlroy to surge out of the gate. When his past 11 seasons are compared with the pre-Masters performances of the past 15 Masters champions, McIlroy holds the top three marks in true strokes gained entering the tournament. But his 2019 performance has been prodigious.That McIlroy’s sensational play is setting him up for a potential historic win is made all the more riveting by the baggage he carries into the Georgia pines. In 2011, the then-21-year-old held a four-stroke lead after 54 holes before stumbling to the finish line with a final-round 80, giving him a 15th-place finish. It was the highest closing round by a 54-hole leader in 56 years and is still tied for the fourth-highest round of McIlroy’s professional career. “Rory needs to fly very quickly to Northern Ireland,” broadcaster Nick Faldo said as McIlroy tapped in the final bogey of the day. “And I’m sure that his whole country will give him a big hug.”But eight years later, is this finally when he puts it all together and earns the time-honored tradition of an uncomfortable post-victory interview in Butler Cabin?“The Masters has now become the biggest golf tournament in the world, and I’m comfortable saying that,” McIlroy said last year. “I don’t care about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship, it is the biggest tournament in the world. It is the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype. The most amount of everything is at Augusta.” read more

Significant Digits For Wednesday July 29 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.1 coachThat’s the number of female coaches in the NFL after Jen Welter was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern. The NBA also has one female assistant coach, while MLB and MLS have no female coaches. As my colleague Leah Libresco tweeted: “We were going to graph the share of female coaches in men’s sports, but the bars were too small to see.” [FiveThirtyEight]4 jokesConan O’Brien is being sued for stealing jokes from Twitter. A man who says he was a longtime writer for Jay Leno claims an airline joke (wow, I’m laughing already) as well as jokes about Tom Brady, Caitlyn Jenner and the Washington Monument were pilfered from his feed and used on O’Brien’s show. Conan’s production company believes the suit is without merit. Coco, I’m gonna do you a solid: I’m tweeting a joke right now, just for you. I waive all rights, please feel free to use it in tonight’s monologue. [The Hollywood Reporter]8 farmsI’ve got my tent firmly pitched in the pro-cilantro camp, but my allegiance is being tested. The FDA has banned some cilantro imported from Mexico after investigators discovered “human feces and toilet paper in and around growing fields.” Eight of the 11 farms and packing houses investigated in the Mexican state of Puebla had “objectionable conditions” and five were linked to hundreds of outbreaks in the U.S. of cyclosporiasis. [CNN]15 percentShare of Americans who do not use the Internet. They must be so happy. [Pew Research Center]63.5 percentHomeownership in the U.S. is at a 48-year low. The seasonally adjusted homeownership rate is now 63.5 percent, down from pre-recession highs of above 69 percent. Both the homeowner and rental vacancy rates, however, have also fallen. This means a tight housing market — to which I can anecdotally attest, having recently hunted for an apartment — and a possible boon to the economy in ensuing construction. [The Wall Street Journal]200 to 400 feetAmazon has proposed that some prime (get it?) airspace, from 200 to 400 feet off the ground, be reserved for high-speed drones. The company has visions of one day delivering its packages by drone. [The Guardian]10,000 textsTom Brady’s four-game “Deflate-gate” suspension has been upheld by the NFL. In a statement on the decision, the league said Brady had destroyed his cellphone, despite investigators’ requests to access it. The phone had been used to exchange 10,000 text messages over four months — or just more than 80 texts a day. Even still, Brady’s got nothing on the 18 to 24 set — those kids send and receive more than 125 texts a day! [The Washington Post]$50,000 in bunny careAfter 103 rabbits were seized from her home, a Brooklyn woman has been ordered to pay $50,000 for their care. The bunnies had become celebrities in their neighborhood. [New York Post]$2 million a yearYou have to pay about $1,500 to license the song “Happy Birthday.” Yeah, that “Happy Birthday.” Two filmmakers upset by that fact have uncovered evidence that they say negates Warner/Chappell Music’s 1935 copyright and puts the song in the public domain. The copyright has at some points netted its owners about $2 million a year. [Ars Technica]304 million core usersTwitter’s stock price slumped more than 11 percent Tuesday, after slower than expected growth in its average monthly users. The company said it now has 304 million “core users.” That’s up from 302 million last quarter, but the growth was the slowest since the company went public. [Reuters]Don’t worry, Walt Hickey’s return is nigh. But today, for those of you who a) use the Internet and b) are on Twitter, if the significance of a digit moves you, please tweet it to me @Ollie. And have a super Wednesday!If you haven’t already, you really need to sign up for the Significant Digits newsletter — be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news. read more

Ohio State mens basketball hoping lessons from practice carry over vs Northwestern

OSU redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson (32) during a game against Maryland on Jan. 31 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost 66-61. Credit: Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo EditorOf all the Ohio State men’s basketball team’s games this season, its matchup against Northwestern on the road on Jan. 6 might best encapsulate the issues plaguing it. On that evening, redshirt sophomore Kam Williams came off the bench to ignite the otherwise struggling Buckeyes en route to a 65-56 victory. The guard had 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. The next-highest scorer was redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson, who had 12 points. And besides Williams’ career-high performance from downtown, no other Buckeye made a 3-pointer. What the game showed about the whole season is a lack of consistent performances, resulting in a continuous reliance on a new unsung hero nearly every night to rescue the team. Against Indiana and Rutgers, it was freshman guard JaQuan Lyle. Sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop propelled the team with a 22-point burst against Penn State. The first game versus Maryland it was no one, then sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate shouldered the load in the rematch.  Thompson took his turn in the victory over Illinois on Jan. 28 when he scored a team-high 16 points. It’s not that scoring by committee is necessarily a bad thing for a basketball team. In some ways, it’s a plus for the Buckeyes that they have myriad players who can step up and score. But the lack of a go-to scorer to count on through thick and thin is seeing its effects on the Buckeyes. It perhaps might explain why one night OSU looks like a threat to challenge for a Big Ten title and on others, a team destined for the National Invitational Tournament. OSU coach Thad Matta acknowledged that a lack of steadiness has hampered his team, but as the Buckeyes get ready to welcome Northwestern for a rematch Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center, he said he’s hoping for a change.  “We’ve talked about everybody coming in being dialed in, being focused, whether you’re in the game or out of the game,” he said Monday. “Whatever we’ve got to do to get that consistent effort across the board is what we’re after.”That unwavering performance might happen against the Wildcats, the coach said, if what has been displayed at practice lately shows itself come tip-off. In practice, a litany of roster combinations have been used. None of them have had any “rhyme or reason,” Matta said. These random practice assignments are done in an attempt to bring as much hustle, energy and effort as possible instead of just having the starters practice against the bench. “These guys have worked their tails off,” Matta said. “I want to see the carryover from what we’ve been doing in practice.” If those things do carry over, Tate said he thinks the Buckeyes are in good position beyond just their game against the Wildcats. The 6-foot-4 sophomore said OSU hasn’t hit its stride quite yet, but if it does soon, it will have positive trajectory heading into postseason play.“We’re sitting right in that middle area of the Big Ten,” Tate said. “(Tuesday) versus Northwestern is a start, we could start a win streak, get some momentum going into these last couple weeks.”No loveAfter scoring in double figures in 12 of OSU’s first 15 games, including five performances of 18 points or more, junior forward Marc Loving seems to have lost his shooting stroke. In the Buckeyes’ last nine games, the Toledo native is averaging just 9.2 points a game, including six consecutive games of below 36 percent shooting. While speaking to the media Monday afternoon, Loving was noticeably dejected, consistently allowing Tate to answer a bulk of the questions. When he did speak, his answers were terse, his tone subdued. “The ball just isn’t going in the rim,” Loving said when asked to explain his struggles. “I feel like I’m taking decent shots, the ball just isn’t going down.” Matta offered a little more explanation for why he thinks his team’s most veteran player has been underperforming as of late. The coach said he thinks Loving has a propensity to carry mistakes with him. Rather than leaving a missed shot or turnover in the rear-view mirror, Loving continues to focus on them, he said, therefore clogging up his mind and making it difficult to break out of the slump. “He’s worked very hard the past few days,” Matta said, later adding, “I’m hoping, as a junior, he understands the ramifications of how well we need him to play.” Northwestern notesNorthwestern (16-8, 4-7) comes to Columbus feeling good after it curtailed its five-game losing skid on Thursday against Minnesota in emphatic fashion.The Wildcats throttled the Golden Gophers 82-58 to get back on the winning track for the first time since Jan. 12. Coach Chris Collins’ squad is powered by strong guard play from sophomore Bryant McIntosh and redshirt senior Tre Demps. They both average 14.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. The duo likes to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, with more than 40 percent of Northwestern’s attempts coming from the two. McIntosh, who also distributes 6.6 assists per game, connects at a higher clip — 38 percent to Demps’ 28.“We’re definitely going to have to guard the 3-point line,” Matta said. A different wrinkle about the Wildcats this time around compared to the first meeting this season is that they will have senior center Alex Olah back on the floor. The 7-footer missed the Jan. 6 game, but since returning from injury, he’s shown flashes of the player who posted three 20-plus point performances early on. Matta said OSU will have to account for Olah’s presence on the floor, meaning Thompson and freshman center Daniel Giddens will be instrumental in the Buckeyes picking up the season sweep. Sometimes when a team has beaten an opponent already, the victor can relax heading into the rematch instead of placing the same importance on the game. Tate admitted this can happen at times, but he said the Buckeyes understand how crucial Tuesday’s tilt is.“We’ve got to come out with the same fire that we would any other team,” Tate said. “This one is vital in my opinion.”Up nextAfter taking on the Wildcats, the Buckeyes are slated to head east to Piscataway, New Jersey, to square off against Rutgers. OSU toppled the Scarlet Knights 94-68 on Jan. 13. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday. read more

Mens basketball Ohio State – Marshall preview

Kam Williams (15) shoots the ball during the Buckeyes home opener against North Carolina Central. The Buckeyes won 69-63. Ashley Nelson | Sports DirectorWhen the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Marshall Thundering Herd on Friday night, only one team will remain unbeaten after 40 minutes. It will be one of OSU’s tougher tests in the early part of the season, as the Buckeyes look to move to 6-0 before a game with No. 7 Virginia on Wednesday. OSU has earned two quality wins over Navy and Providence through the first five games, so securing another solid victory against Marshall could help keep the morale high, and help propel OSU through some upcoming challenging games, both out of conference and within the Big Ten. Marshall, a 4-0 team from Conference USA, is OSU’s final game in the Global Sports Invitational. In the unbracketed event, both teams have wins over North Carolina Central, Western Carolina and Jackson State. The Buckeyes and the Herd each took care of NC Central and Western Carolina, but it was Jackson State that made the distinction. Jackson State was the most recent win for both Marshall and Ohio State, but while OSU took care of business on Wednesday with a 30-point win, Marshall was in a tight game, only edging the Tigers by 10 points, after trailing at half. However, OSU coach Thad Matta said that Marshall’s athleticism will bring challenges for his team. Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni has experience in the NBA with his brother Mike D’Antoni, coaching in Phoenix and New York.“They’re wide open,” Matta said. “That’s their style … They got a heckuva point guard and guys that can flat out shoot the basketball.”For Ohio State, the key to the game will be keeping Marshall’s offensive productivity to a minimum. While the Buckeyes have yet to eclipse 80 points in a game, the Herd have exceeded that mark in all but one game. OSU has been a fairly stout defense, holding opposing teams to just 56.6 points per game and 42.5 in the past two games. The Buckeyes should be the toughest test for Marshall so far, and if the Herd can find a way to produce offensively like it has all year, there could be a shootout brewing.The Buckeyes strong-suit is their defense, but their offense has not been particularly bad this year, either. OSU averages 73 points per game and is led by junior forward Jae’Sean Tate who scores 13.2 points per game. Sophomore point guard JaQuan Lyle is coming off a double-double against Jackson State in which he had 11 assists. Redshirt junior guard Kam Williams and senior Marc Loving had 15 and 19 points, respectively last game. The Herd are led by junior guard Jon Elmore who averages 19 points per game. Marshall will be without starter Ryan Taylor because of a suspension after being ejected from his last game against Jackson State. Taylor averages 8.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop is still questionable to play. He suffered a sprained ankle against Providence on Nov. 17 and sat out the last two games. read more

Commentary Gus Johnsons departure leaves void in tournament coverage

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament never will be the same. No, it’s not because Connecticut and Butler made James Naismith spin in his grave with an unprecedentedly awful championship game. Nor is it because of further expansion. After failing to agree on a new contract with CBS, Gus Johnson will no longer call tournament games for the network. So, for the foreseeable future, the tournament will lack the voice that captured the frenzied nature of each game. Imagine if Jim Nantz called Ron Lewis’ shot against Xavier in 2007. As we transitioned to commercial, we would’ve been hit with some unbearable pun, such as “a three for Ron and overtime for all — the Musketeers and Buckeyes after this.” Yes, we’ll still get our dose of Johnson during Big Ten play, as he still is expected to do basketball for Big Ten Network. No one can turn each play in an Iowa-Northwestern game exciting quite like he can. Big Ten fans won’t lack his pizzazz, but most of the nation will — on the big tournament stage. He called NCAA Tournament games for 16 years, but now his presence will be replaced by guys like Tim Brando, who unleashed this gem of a call after Butler’s Matt Howard beat Old Dominion with a buzzer-beating tip-in: “Butler … did it again!” Clearly, there are few who can capture the moment quite like Johnson can. Traditionalists might prefer an understated announcer, in the Pat Summerall mold. Yet, it’s hard to mimic his voice and simultaneously speak so eloquently with such few words. Summerall and Johnson are on opposite ends of the spectrum — really. Most announcers try to strike a balance between the two … unless you’re Joe Buck, who is in a class of his own. He always sounds like he just found out his dog died right before going on air. Johnson reactions are more genuine than most. Sports fans tend to get excited when they see a remarkable play in a tense moment, and Johnson’s announcing style mimics this. Take his call of OSU’s Matt Sylvester’s game-winner against an undefeated Illinois in 2005. After he hit the shot, Johnson screamed uncontrollably, much like Buckeye fans. This informal style apparently is appealing to the Internet savvy. In March, someone created an online soundboard for Johnson, capturing his best bytes, including “here comes the pain” or “he’s got getting-away-from-the-cops speed.” CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell conducted an informal poll on Twitter, which showed that two of every three people say Johnson gets them to watch a game they normally wouldn’t watch. Apparently Johnson’s stronghold in the social media realm is something that CBS, which caters to its viewers’ median age of 55, doesn’t understand. As the lead college football announcer for Fox, Johnson may be taking a step forward in his eyes. Still, the entertainment value of the NCAA Tournament takes a clear step backward with his absence. read more

Mens gymnastics No 3 Buckeyes hungry for a win at last meet

Ohio State senior Andrew Rickly competes on the parallel bars against Michigan on Feb. 4 at St. John Arena. Credit: Walt Middleton, Courtesy of OSU AthleticsAfter recovering from a loss against the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners, the Buckeyes are ready to take on the floor once again at their last meet of the season on Friday against No. 4 Illinois. The Buckeyes will enter the competition ranked No. 3 in the nation with a score average of 417.333 and a No. 2 ranking on pommel horse with an average score of 70.350.The Buckeyes took last meet’s loss against Oklahoma, their toughest competitor yet, as a way to build up their confidence and prepare for the challenges to come with the rest of the season.“Oklahoma is the No. 1 team, so even comparing ourselves to who was number one gave us a bit of confidence going into this week. Oklahoma was our biggest competition in the Big Ten, so we’re looking to take a lot of confidence from this meet (against Illinois) going into Big Ten,” said sophomore Joey Bonnano. “We’re looking for a successful performance that will drive us for the rest of the season.” Illinois is ranked No. 4 in the nation with a score average of 415.233 and No. 3 on the high bar (70.517) and floor (70.817). Illinois is the only Big Ten opponent to register a win against Ohio State this season. The Fighting Illini and the Buckeyes met at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 14, their first meet of the season. Illinois won with a score of 412.150 and OSU placed second with a tally of 403.450.The Buckeyes take on their last meet of the season with four athletes ranked in the top 10 nationally. Sophomore Alec Yoder has the best pommel horse individual routine in the nation, scoring a personal best of 15.400 at the meet against No.1 Oklahoma. Redshirt senior Jake Martin is ranked No. 4 in the all-around and high bar and redshirt junior Jake Dastrup is ranked No. 4 on the parallel bars. Redshirt junior Sean Melton has a season-best score of 15.050 on floor from the Winter Cup on Feb. 18, ranked as the second-best in the NCAA. Melton was also named a member of the 2017 U.S. National Team after his performance at the Winter Cup, placing in the top six spots of each of the four events he competed in. The Buckeyes are prepared to take on their final meet of the season and are striving for the win.“The past couple weeks have been really good for us as a team in terms of practice, getting our minds ready and recovering a bit from Oklahoma … but I think we are ready, I think we’re hungry, I think we’re motivated, and we’re energetic,” said junior David Szarvas. The meet will be televised on the Big Ten Network at 8 p.m. read more

Mens basketball Andre Wesson receiving treatment for medical issue Buckeyes optimistic he

Ohio State freshman forward Andre Wesson attempts a 3-pointer against Northwestern on Jan. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports EditorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team could be dealt with a heavy blow as the Buckeyes might be missing forward Andre Wesson for an undisclosed period of time, a university spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.Wesson has been undergoing tests for a medical issue over the summer, which was first reported by Eleven Warriors.The university spokesperson issued the following statement to The Lantern:“Ohio State sophomore forward Andre Wesson has been undergoing testing and monitoring over the summer for a medical issue. Additional testing will be conducted in the coming weeks. The Ohio State men’s basketball program is optimistic Andre will be able to continue his athletic career with the Buckeyes this season.”As a freshman, Wesson averaged 11.6 minutes per game while appearing in 29 of the Buckeyes’ 32 games. The former three-star prospect averaged 2.3 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game. He shot 36.5 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, while succeeding on 53.6 percent of free throw attempts.Wesson is the oldest brother of freshman center Kaleb Wesson and the elder son of Keith Wesson, a member of the Ohio State men’s basketball team from 1982-1987. read more

Field hockey Ohio States Maddy Humphrey hoping to end career on a

Senior forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey (23) leads the Ohio State field hockey team in goals, points, and shot percentage. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsOhio State senior forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey never intended to play field hockey. But she decided to give it a shot in seventh grade since her best friend’s family was greatly involved in the sport.Humphrey, now one of the most decorated players to come through the Buckeyes’ field hockey program, had participated in other sports, including soccer. But the thought of playing field hockey had never entered Humphrey’s mind. The moment she picked up her stick, though, everything changed.“I just really enjoyed field hockey when I first started,” Humphrey said. “I continued through high school and played travel ball, and that’s what got me here.”Of all the sports the Virginia native played, soccer best prepared her for her career in field hockey — perhaps a little too well. “Playing soccer is the first and foremost thing that got me ahead of the people I was playing with,” Humphrey said. “It’s such a similar game. When I started field hockey, I didn’t have to learn about the game because it’s so similar to the way soccer is played. I just had to learn how to play with my stick and not my feet.”When she stepped on campus in 2014, it was clear Humphrey could be a star for the Ohio State coaching staff. Humphrey was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week three times and led the Buckeyes with 32 points (12 goals, eight assists) her freshman season.It was a clear sign of things to come for Humphrey, who said she has tried to involve her teammates in the offense.“Throughout the years, I’ve tried to bring people with me instead of just me being the attacking force,” Humphrey said. “When I get all my teammates on board, it excels my skills even more because I have all that support behind me.”With much of her final season left to go, Humphrey has already compiled many accolades.She’s been named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s second team All-West Region (2014), first team All-West Region (2016), and the second team All-Big Ten (2015, 2016).While those honors are nice, being selected three times to USA Field Hockey’s Young Women’s National Championship, the most exclusive tournament in the United States for high-level field hockey athletes, will always stand out in Humphrey’s mind.“Getting the elite training was big,” Humphrey said. “That pool of girls are the most skilled and competitive in the country. Having that experience, learning from each other, learning from coaches, it’s all really shaped the way I play. Learning from all the different coaches and having such great diversity all come together at this one elite event really broadens all those athletes’ skill levels.”This year, Humphrey has continued her trend of leading the team offensively.Humphrey leads Ohio State in goals, points and shot percentage. At times, she’s been the lone source of offense, which was the case when her two-goal effort wasn’t enough in a 3-2 overtime loss to Northwestern Friday.Jarred Martin might’ve just been named head coach at the end of the 2016 season, but he understands how much Humphrey has meant to Ohio State field hockey.“Maddy is an elite player,” Martin said. “She will go down as one of the best OSU field hockey players to ever put a jersey on. What she does on the field, what she does at practice — he intensity and speed she plays with, it’s special. When she gets on the field, she’s a game-changer.”Although Ohio State has yet to finish with more wins than losses in a season since she arrived, it has not been the result of a lack of effort from Humphrey through the past three seasons. There’s been no shortage of effort left on Buckeye Varsity Field.Sitting with a 4-3 record with four games remaining before the Buckeye Invitational, Humphrey hopes that when her days at Ohio State are over, she is remembered as someone who was there for her teammates rather than just a great player.“I would say an elite team player because I want to set that standard for my teammates to rise with me,” Humphrey said. “Being an elite person and a team player is the best way to be an athlete on the field because you bring everyone into the same goal. That’s what I want to be remembered as, just someone who was there for their teammates and tried to bring them up to be elite.” read more

Football Ohio State falls to No 13 in College Football Playoff poll

Urban Meyer prepares to lead the buckeyes out on to the field prior to the Ohio State-Iowa game on Nov. 4. Ohio State lost 55-24. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorJust like last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State finds itself on the outside looking in. The distance from the top four, though, has grown considerably. The Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) checked in at No. 13 in Tuesday’s playoff rankings, tumbling seven spots after their 55-24 loss to Iowa Saturday. Georgia (9-0), Alabama (9-0), Notre Dame (8-1) and Clemson (8-1) continued to occupy the top four spots, while Oklahoma (8-1), which beat Ohio State in Week 2, remains at No. 5. Of the six Big Ten teams in the top 25, undefeated Wisconsin is the highest ranked at No. 8. Penn State, which followed its loss to the Buckeyes with a loss to Michigan State, fell seven spots to No. 14. One of the conference’s biggest surprises, the Spartans (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) rose from No. 24 to No. 12.After their upset of the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes entered the rankings at No. 20.Here are the rest of the College Football Playoff rankings.GeorgiaAlabamaNotre DameClemsonOklahomaTCUMiamiWisconsinWashingtonAuburnSouthern CalMichigan StateOhio StatePenn StateOklahoma StateMississippi StateVirginia TechCentral FloridaWashington StateIowaIowa StateMemphisNorth Carolina StateLSUNorthwestern read more

Couple who sacked housekeeper who let boyfriend stay at £10m mansion and

first_imgI wasn’t expecting my job to be on the line and to be suddenly homeless and have to leave the propertyRobin Pyke However, Mr Pyke denied it was a formal disciplinary meeting and described it as just a “chat in the kitchen”.In June 2016 the issues came to a head again after Mr Pyke was asked to take Mrs Gottschalk’s mother to the airport.Mr Pyke said he had plans for a Father’s Day lunch so could not do the airport trip.Mrs Gottschalk said: “She’s quite independent, my mum, she lives three minutes away. I had said ‘if there’s anything she needs please go and help her out’. I found it very rude and was embarrassed by it.”However Mr Pyke retorted: “I’m not contracted to work weekends and I had been told I wouldn’t be needed until the following Monday.”Eventually Mrs Gottschalk sent him a text stating “f–k off and get out my house”. At the tribunal, she said: “I’m not proud of it.”Mr Pyke said he was shocked as he thought the issue was “sorted”.He said: “I said in the text message ‘I’ve left you a voicemail’. I have great respect for her and there’s no reason I would speak to her in the manner that’s being portrayed. Millionaire banker Maximilian Gottschalk and his company director wife Jane outside the tribunalCredit:Vagner Vidal/INS He told the judge that towards the end of his employment he could not keep up with the work the millionaire couple, who spent time in England with their five children at Christmas and in the summer, demanded of him.He lived-in at the property and told the tribunal that the had dismissal made him homeless.”I think I have been loyal and given everything for 13 years”, he said. “At no point had I ever been questioned about my trustworthiness and I think I did the job absolutely to my full ability.”When things went wrong I tried to contact them to resolve it. Some of the issues were resolved, most weren’t. There was never any threat my job was going to be affected or on the line.” However, the Gottschalks said Mr Pyke had “breached their trust”. Mrs Gottschalk told the judge: “There were a number of emails that the house wasn’t ready in terms of basic cleanliness and issues with the garden, despite having other employees to help.”I don’t think that the role we presented was very difficult, looking after an empty house with occupants abroad.”Mrs Gottschalk said there were issues with “cleanliness in the house and his over familiarity”. 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. I don’t think that the role we presented was very difficult – looking after an empty house with occupants abroadJane Gottschalk The Gottschalks also disliked Mr Pyke’s boyfriend staying at the property without their knowledge or consent, the panel heard.Mrs Gottschalk described one morning when she awoke at 6.30am to see a man on the property she did not know.”It would be nice to know who’s on the property when we’re there with the children, it’s just a courteous thing,” she said. Addressing Mr Pyke at the tribunal she said: “I had asked you to introduce him to me because I was uncomfortable with the situation.”The judge also heard the couple were unhappy that Mr Pyke had used their cars, including a Porsche, while they were away – although he claimed he had an arrangement with them.An email sent by Mr Gottschalk in January 2016 said he was “surprised” the cars were taken out for personal use.Mr Pyke said: “I never used their cars for personal use. I agreed with them I would use the cars to get them running.”There was an agreement to use them to get them running but other than that I would cycle everywhere.”The Gottschalks told the tribunal they had given Mr Pyke a “final warning” in March this year after a formal meeting following Mrs Gottschalk finding out about his financial arrangement to keep the dog.center_img “A reasonable employer would have asked ‘why have you refused?’ or something like that before dismissing the claimant. I am satisfied the claimant was unfairly dismissed.”The reason for the claimant’s dismissal was because Mrs Gottschalk believed the claimant had been curt and had flatly refused to take her mother to the airport. I have attempted to determine whether this was the case.”The brevity of the text, in my view, does not signify a curt response. It is the nature of the text message that it is succinct, however the text message does not make reference to the voicemail.”I am satisfied the claimant left a voicemail in which he gave an explanation for his inability to take Mrs Gottschalk’s mother to the airport.” “I would have been as helpful as possible. I heard nothing for three hours so thought that was job done and dusted. The next I heard was from the PA asking if I’d seen the email. A housekeeper who drove his millionaire bosses’ Porsche and had his boyfriend to stay at their home was unfairly sacked because his employers did not follow the correct procedures, a tribunal has ruled.Robin Pyke fell out with Jane Gottschalk, who runs a successful coconut water company, after she discovered his boyfriend was staying at her £10 million mansion in Henley-on-Thames, without her knowledge.She is also alleged to have been annoyed that he was looking after someone else’s dog at the property and charging the owner £500 a week.Mrs Gottschalk and her husband, financier Maximilian Gottschalk, eventually sacked him after he refused to drive the banker’s mother-in-law to London Heathrow airport on his day off. “I wasn’t expecting my job to be on the line and to be suddenly homeless and have to leave the property.”To suddenly receive this message, I had no idea what was going on.”Mrs Gottschalk said: “It was very clear your job was at risk. You had abused your situation as house manager. You had used vehicles, you let people onto the property without our knowledge, you made money off us on our property.”In his judgement, Judge Gumbiti-Zimuto said he was satisfied Mrs Gottschalk’s account of the disputes were “more likely” to be the accurate version of events.Referring to the incident with Mrs Gottschalk he said: “Mrs Gottschalk believed the claimant has been curt, rude, had refused to take her mother to the airport, and failed to offer any other assistance to her.”I am satisfied that it was the claimant’s conduct which caused the dismissal, it was a potentially fair reason for dismissal.”However, he added: “I am not satisfied that in this case there was any investigation. What happened was that Mrs Gottschalk had formed the genuine belief that the claimant had refused to take her mother to the airport and she dismissed.”What she did not do was carry out any sort of investigation whatsoever. A reasonable investigation would have involved, at the very least, the claimant being asked why he acted as he did. Millionaire banker Maximilian Gottschalk and his company director wife Jane outside the tribunal On Tuesday, in a reserved judgement following the Nov 7 tribunal, Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto found Mr and Mrs Gottschalk had unfairly dismissed Mr Pyke and the couple will now have to pay him £8,131.The tribunal had heard that Mr Pyke had worked at the house for 13 years. He was a former gardener at the luxury home before being appointed house manager in September 2014 when the couple moved to Hong Kong to live.He claimed he was unfairly dismissed by the family after they placed him under so much stress he was forced to seek professional help before he eventually received a text stating “f–k off and leave my house”.last_img read more

Ukip volunteer faces 20 years in jail after admitting attempted dark web

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. At the time of his arrest at Chicago’s O’Hare airport Ukip described Cottrell as “an unpaid and enthusiastic volunteer for the party over the period of the referendum”.The party has declined to comment on his confession.A plea agreement filed by prosecutors in Phoenix, Arizona, in December, states that Cottrell admitted to communicating with the “traffickers” on March 27 2014.He said he had contacted individuals in Phoenix from London and worked with an associate called “Banker”.Cottrell said: “I explained various ways criminal proceeds could be laundered – for example, methods to transfer large amounts of cash out of the United States without triggering reporting requirements and ways to disguise the proceeds as legitimate business income for tax purposes.”I falsely claimed that I would launder the criminal proceeds through my bank accounts for a fee. Rather than launder any of the money, though, Banker and I intended to retain the money.”Cottrell had faced 21 charges but these were reduced to one count of wire fraud as part of the plea bargain. In court documents prosecutors said that around March 2014, Banker had advertised “money laundering consultation services” on an clandestine network using software called TOR (The Onion Router).”Undercover law enforcement agents contacted Banker, posing as drug traffickers seeking money laundering services for approximately 50,000 to 150,000 (£120,000) dollars per month in drug trafficking proceeds,” prosecutors said.”Banker agreed to help the undercover agents launder their money for a fee, and then proposed that the undercover agents speak with his associate, ‘Bill’.”The undercover agents talked with Banker and Bill on March 27 2014, via an encrypted group messaging platform online. Bill agreed to launder the undercover agents’ purported drug proceeds by transferring the property to offshore accounts ‘with complete anonymity and security’.”The undercover agents then met with Bill  later identified as George Swinfen Cottrell – in person in Las Vegas, Nevada.”Cottrell, who comes from a wealthy, aristocratic family, was arrested as he returned from the Republican Party convention with Mr Farage on July 22. Donald Trump, right, welcomes Nigel Farage, to speak at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi in August After his success in the EU referendum, the former Ukip leader spoke at a fringe event at the convention that later saw Donald Trump nominated as the Republican candidate for the White House.Cottrell’s uncle Lord Hesketh, a former hereditary peer, worked for former prime minister Margaret Thatcher before losing his seat in the Lords in 1999 as a result of the House of Lords Act. He later defected to Ukip.Cottrell’s mother, Fiona Cottrell, is the daughter of another peer.A Ukip spokesman said at the time of his arrest: “George was an unpaid and enthusiastic volunteer for the party over the period of the referendum.”We are unaware of the details of the allegations excepting that they date from a time before he was directly involved in the party.”On Monday a Ukip spokesman said: “We are not commenting on the matter.”The spokesman was unable to confirm whether or not Cottrell was a member of the party. He will reportedly be sentenced in March.center_img Donald Trump, right, welcomes Nigel Farage, to speak at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi in AugustCredit:AP Photo/Gerald Herbert A former aide to Nigel Farage faces up to 20 years in jail in the US after admitting attempting to defraud criminals on the “dark web” by masquerading as a money launderer.George Cottrell posed as a “financier” on a black market network where he offered to help transfer the ill-gotten gains of drug traffickers, according to court documents.However his prospective clients were in fact undercover agents, and Cottrell was arrested as he and the former Ukip leader travelled back to Britain following a trip to the US.The former aide, who is in his 20s, was charged with a string of offences including blackmail, extortion, money laundering.He now faces up to two decades in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 (£203,000) after reaching a deal with prosecutors. Show more last_img read more

David Davis and Michel Barnier kick off Brexit talks with an exchange of

first_img“You have to learn to put one foot in front of the other, because sometimes you are on a steep and rocky path. You also have to look at what accidents might befall you – falling rocks.”You have to be very careful to keep your breath, you have to have stamina because it could be a lengthy path. And you have to keep looking at the summit, the outcome. That’s what I learnt when mountain-walking.” First formal meeting between @EU_Commission and @DExEUgov. #Brexit #hiking pic.twitter.com/qDRF3OLTSu— European Commission (@EU_Commission) June 19, 2017 Our manifesto: Real political insight, free for 30 days.Rely on unrivalled insight and sharp analysis from our stellar team of Westminster insiders.Join the most trusted voice in politics. Follow Election 2017 with Telegraph Premium.Start your no obligation, 30 day free trial today. David Davis and Michel Barnier have kicked off the Brexit talks with an exchange of hiking-related gifts.The Brexit Secretary gave Brussels’ chief negotiator a rare book on mountaineering- a French language version of Regards vers l’Annapurna, signed by one of the two authors.Mr Barnier presented Mr Davis with a hiking stick a traditional carved wood walking stick from his home region of Savoie.  A UK source said: “Both gifts reflected their shared love of climbing and mountaineering.” 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. Speaking after meeting the Prime Minister in May, Mr Barnier said it had been an opportunity for them to discuss their “shared passion” of rambling and hiking in the mountains.And in a barely-veiled warning to Theresa May, he drew a parallel between the perils of mountain-walking and the negotiations ahead of her.”If you like walking in the mountains, you have to learn a certain number of rules,” he said.last_img read more

Cultlike fixation on normal birth fuels record rise in newborn babies with

first_imgThe number of babies left brain-damaged by NHS blunders has soared amid a campaign for “normal” births. Official figures show the number of claims against maternity units for cases which ended in life-time disability has risen by almost one quarter in just one year. Bereaved parents made 232 such claims against the NHS in 2016/17 – a 23 per cent rise from 188 cases the… Health service officials said future payouts could exceed £20 million per child, to cover the life-long costs of round-the-clock care.center_img Safety experts said a “cult-like fixation” on “normal birth” – with doctors kept out of the delivery room even when they were needed – has fuelled catastrophic errors and record negligence claims.last_img

School bans skirts to make uniform gender neutral for transgender students and

first_img“Pupils have been saying why do boys have to where ties and girls don’t, and girls have different uniform to boys,” he said. “So we decided to have the same uniform for everybody from Year 7.”Another issue was that we have a small but increasing number of transgender students and therefore having the same uniform is important for them.”There had also been complaints from the wider community about the length of school skirts, so this was another factor in the decision to ban them altogether. Some parents have however backed the headteacherCredit: Some parents have however backed the headteacher Priory School, Lewes Mr Smith said: “We know the current uniform is not necessarily worn as respectfully as it should be. “There were problems with decency and a number of issues raised by people in the community about how students were wearing uniform.” Priory School, LewesCredit: Brighton Argus/Solent News & Photo Agencycenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The new regime has divided opinion among parents and students, with some agreeing with it, while others have voiced their opposition. One mother said: “My daughter and her friends are appalled by this. The school is creating a hostile environment for girls.”Another parent added: “My daughter said she has got a gender and it’s female, so being gender neutral when she has got a gender is a big deal for her, as she proud to be a girl. I feel girls should be allowed to wear skirts if they want to.” The new uniform only applies for Year 7s but students in Year 8 to Year 11 are welcome to adopt the new uniform.Meanwhile other parents said they supported the move.  “I’m not in favour of uniform at all, but if you’re going to have a uniform I think it is great it’s gender neutral,” a mother said. It is not the first time that a school has introduced a “gender neutral” uniform.Earlier this year a Highgate School, a private school in north London, drew up plans to introduce gender-neutral uniforms in response to a growing number of pupils questioning their gender identity.And last year Brighton College, an independent boarding school, scrapped its uniform code in order to accommodate boys who identify as girls outside school and vice versa, breaking with hundreds of years of tradition. A secondary school has banned girls from wearing skirts to accommodate the growing number of transgender pupils, and to deal with complaints over the “decency” of short skirts.Priory School in Lewes, east Sussex has changed its uniform policy so that all new Year 7 students must wear trousers.Tony Smith, the school’s headmaster, said he bought in the change because pupils had been questioning why the uniform ascribed certain garments to boys and others to girls.last_img read more

Murder investigation launched after middleaged woman found dead with stab wounds in

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. A middle-aged woman has been found dead in a back garden, police said. The victim, thought to be in her 50s, suffered apparent stab wounds and was confirmed dead at the scene, according to the Metropolitan Police.Her body was found in the garden of a house on Tunnel Avenue, Greenwich, southeast London, following emergency calls at around 11.30am on Saturday, according to the Metropolitan Police.A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and is in custody at a south London police station.He is believed to have known the victim, but the incident is not thought to be domestic, police said.A post-mortem will take place at Greenwich mortuary on Sunday, and officers are in the process of informing the victim’s family.Anyone with information is asked to call murder detectives on 020 8721 4054.In a separate incident the London Air Ambulance was called to a stabbing in Harrow, northwest London, police said.The victim’s injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. read more