Kaka admits he had problems with Mourinho at Real Madridby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveKaka has spoken of his problems with Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.The Ballon d’Or winner admits he had issues with ‘The Special One.'”I was convinced that Real Madrid would be good, I think I was persistent, I got as far as I could, to my limit,” he said to Grande Circulo de SporTV.”My problem at Madrid was continuity first and then the coach, as I spent three years trying to convince Mourinho that I should have more opportunities but it was his choice, it was out of my control.”The first year I had a hip problem, then the adductor and I was operated on.”I was out of action for six months and when I returned, it was Mourinho.”I was an excellent professional, and today I can say with great joy that I can go to Real Madrid and the doors are always open.”Florentino says that I was one of the most professional athletes in the club.”Once Mourinho left, however, things didn’t get any better for the Brazilian.”In the 2013/14 season, with the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, Florentino Perez wanted to renew the team with players from the academy and new players, and Ancelotti was very clear with me.”He told me that the president had asked for these people to play and I told him that I had to play because I wanted to be at the World Cup, so the best option was to leave. “With football being such a small world, it was inevitable that Kaka would cross paths with Mourinho again.”There’s no problem,” he added.”I went to Manchester to a sponsor’s event, I stayed at the same hotel as him and we stayed talking for two hours.”Mourinho is exactly what people see on camera, at the time he’s explosive, but he is an extremely intelligent, very prepared guy, so what people see in the interviews is all prepared.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
TagsOpinionAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Nabil Fekir Q&A: Real Betis star on season start, Rubi & Europeby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveWhile Real Betis have stumbled in the first weeks of the season, Nabil Fekir is happy with how he’s settled. We caught up with the midfielder to discuss his first impressions… Question: Well… to begin with, thank you very much for welcoming LaLiga to your new home, here at Real Betis. First of all, welcome to LaLiga, Nabil, it’s a pleasure that you are here. What attracted you to LaLiga?Answer: Well, everyone knows this championship, it’s one of the best championships in the world and coming here to play was something I was really looking forward to from the very beginning and well, now I have been able to make that challenge come true.Q: What did you see in Real Betis’ project that brought you here?A: I had a meeting with the directing board and it went well, they explained me the project they had and that they wanted to be on the top of the table, and also take a ticket to Europe next season, I liked that and I did not hesitate one second. Q: How do you see the team now, not having had a perfect start?A: Frankly, we have a great team. It is true that in the two first games, the results were not the expected but there are new players and a new coach and a new technical staff. We need to let time go by so that everyone learns to get to know each other and learn to work together and I hope that we do that very soon. Q: Before the interview we spoke about Sevilla, a very sunny, hot city, very attractive to live in. What do you think about your new home?A: I like it very much, frankly, it’s very, very good. It is true that it is a bit hotter than in France but it’s a pleasure to be here. It makes me happy. This is a calm city, there are many fans and it is a pleasure to see that so many people are involved with the club. Q: Have you had the time to visit around the city a bit?A: Yes, I have, and as I said, it’s a nice city, very calm, small and very comfortable to live in. Q: How did you adapt to the club and how did they welcome you here?A: To be honest, the welcome to the club was really, really good. They all welcomed me very well: the players, the board and the technical staff. They all did their best so that everything worked out well and it’s great they put so much effort in making a player feel good. Q: We have already talked about the first two games of the season, that left a bitter taste, but you all showed a good level. What’s there to improve in the team?A: We can improve it all, as I have said, this is the beginning of the season and I hope that the team is able to play together, finding the automatisms needed and that we are on a good mood. I don’t have any doubts on the way we train and I know that there’s great quality so I hope that we start winning from Saturday on and that the machine starts working perfectly.Q: Back there we can see the Benito Villamarín, how do you feel the support of Real Betis fans?A: As I said previously, they are amazing fans. We need them and we will need them all throughout the season. It’s now our turn to do everything we have to do so that they are happy and everyone is satisfied. Q: You have played under Rubi and you have completed the pre-season with him, you know him a bit better now. What have you learnt from him? What is he asking from you?A: He asks for me to play with freedom. We are working on the tactics and the positions. He is a new coach and that is brand-new for us. But, so far, everything’s going well and we home that we continue working in the same way we are doing now. We are working well and that’s the important thing. Q: Individually, you have shown a great level and you have marveled the world of Spanish football with your good game against Real Valladolid and your superb goal at Camp Nou. How are you feeling?A: I am feeling very well, I am happy here. Furthermore, the most important thing is the team, not me as an individual. We are a team and the most important thing is that the team wins and that things go well, but anyway, I am going to do everything possible to give my best for this club. Q: Can you tell us more about the goal you scored at Camp Nou?A: We recovered the ball upfront, after, Sergio gave it on to Loren and then Loren gave me a through pass and I put the ball where I had to put it to’ be able to score.Q: When you scored, you seemed relieved, is that a correct feeling?A:No, I was not stressed out, but obviously I like to score goals, especially being an offensive player as I am. It’s always nice to score to gain confidence but as I said, I am not the most important thing. The team is the most important thin and if the team is going well, I will be fine. Q: What do you think is the team’s goal for the season?A: The goal for the season is that we do well on the pitch, that we are focused and on a good mood, and that we can have the chance to fight for the upper spots of the table and to return to Europe, because we have a group with great quality and that is the goal we have set at the beginning of the season. Q: We have talked about Europe, I imagine that’s a dream for the team, playing in Europe and, if possible in the Champions League, right?A: Well, that will be complicated, but we are going to give our best. We have to be ambitious and I believe all players here are ambitious and that we are all eager to play at the highest level, and the highest level is in Europe and we are going to give our all to achieve it. Q: We all know that Real Betis have an astonishing midfield: Canales, Guardado, William Carvalho, Tello and yourself… How do you connect with each other and how do you play together?A: We understand each other well, as you said, it’s a high-level midfield, with great players and in a great club and now, I will have been here for a month already, we are starting to get to know each other well and everything is going better and better. Q: Joaquin is probably the most charismatic player at Real Betis and he is a club legend. How is he personally and as a player?A: He is very good, I have no complaints. He gives us his good humor and it is important to have someone like him on the team that gives his support to everyone. He has a good spirit and the mood you always have to have and in spite of being a 38-year-old he still has great quality and you can see that on the pitch. Q: Let’s go back to talking about your way of playing. We can see that it has maybe varied a bit from Lyon to Betis, because it seems as though here you have more freedom to do whatever you want and to move around freely. Is that so?A: Well, in Lyon I had a lot of freedom too, but I had been a long time there and I needed new challenges. I came here with great ambition and they paid a high amount for me and so I will give my all to show the level that they are expecting from me.Q: How do you explain the fans of Real Betis the that the team will have on the pitch under Rubi and after the great signings of Borja Iglesias and yourself?A: Well the is based on the possession. We try to hurt the opponents and we use the spaces in the best way possible with Borja upfront, intriguing them with the attackers. I hope that we can already express everything we have on the pitch.Q: Now, in LaLiga you have met many teammates from Les Bleus: Griezmann, Dembélé, Varane. Lemar, Umtiti… it seems as though LaLiga is in vogue in France. A: Yes, that’s good. As I said, this is a very attractive championship that attracts the greatest players and I hope that it continues being as it5 is and that we always have great players in this championship. Q: I imagine that the people in the club have told you about the great rivalry there is between Sevilla FC and Real Betis, how do you see Sevilla FC?A: It is true that it is the derby, but we have to take it game after game and I try to think about the present moment. This is game after game and we will already think about preparing the game against them in the week of ther derby. We will do our best to win that game. Q: Have they already explained you that the city is divided between the red and the green colours in the derby days?A: Yes, they have told me something about it, but there is nothing better than just seeing things by yourself and as I said, I am at ease, there are many games before the derby and we are preparing them, when we get to the derby week, we will focus on that game. Q: What would be the dreamt result for you in both derbies? A: The most important thing is to win. As we say in France, you don’t play a derby, you win a derby, so the most important thing is that we play a good game and that we bring it home. Q: To finish, What’s the coolest or funniest thing that happened to you ever since you arrived at Real Betis?A: Ever since I arrived at Betis… I think it was the hazing in the stage in Mexico, when they made me sing.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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
Barcelona can win the title the next weekend in the match against Real Madrid but Zidane confirmed that they are not going to give their opponent the guard of honour – but Valverde insisted that at least Iniesta would deserve it…Andrés Iniesta revealed that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season and it is going to be his last El Clasico as a player for him – and his coach admitted that he is irreplaceable.The Spanish manager spoke about the midfielder as he said, according to Football Espana:“He deserves the whole stadium to give him a guard of honour.”Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“We’re very excited and we’re going to give it our all. We want to be the best. We’ve been working since our first day together.”“It’s been very difficult. When you win a trophy, everything seems simple, but there are many games and months behind you.”“I didn’t expect us to win it by such a big margin, I thought it would be tighter, but the players have been extraordinary.”“What I’ve learned from Iniesta? The decisions he makes at each moment of a game, how he positions himself before receiving the ball and how he already knows where he’s going to play it.”
Vinicius Junior must bide his time at Real Madrid and focus on adapting to the team’s style of play, says retired Brazilian winger SavioAfter an impressive pre-season with Los Blancos in their US tour, Vinicius was left as an unused substitute in their UEFA Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid and last Sunday’s opening day win over Getafe in La Liga.With a €40m price tag on him following his summer move from Brazilian side Flamengo, expectations are high for the 18-year-old.But Vinicius is not the only talented youngster at Real and he will have to work hard for opportunities in the first-team.“I understand the situation and the desire of Vinicius to play as soon as possible,” said Savio, according to Marca.“It is normal for Real Madrid fans to want to see him on the field, but I also know that it is not easy.“They have a top-quality squad, with young players who they occupy the same position.“In the United States he did very well, but he has to be calm, very calm, and work hard.“He has to adapt to the Real Madrid style, the Spanish style and the style of play in Europe.“He has to improve his tactical ability and adapt with his teammates and see the standard of the Spanish league.“He is a very young player, he is 18 years old.“You have to be calm, he must know how to wait for his chance and when he has to try to do his best.”Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.Hoj é dia de estreia na @LaLiga Que Deus nos abençoe! #halamadrid pic.twitter.com/k0IE0yKLno— Vinicius Jr (@vini11Oficial) August 19, 2018But Savio is certain that his young compatriot will be given chances by coach Julen Lopetegui later on this season.“I also understand the part of the club and the coach, that you have to go slowly to get to know the player and to start playing him at the right time,” he continued.“Here in Brazil I really want to see him on the field because he is a very young player, but a very talented one.“He has a lot of speed, a lot of technique and is good at dribbling.“But he has a lot of things to do, he has to be calm and work.“He is at the club where everyone wants to play.“I really like him as a player and as a person and I am very happy that he is at Real Madrid.”Real’s upcoming home game against Leganes may provide Vinicius his first opportunity of competitive action for the club.