Live By The Three Die By The Three Is Mostly A Myth

Were the Warriors just unlucky? Their opponents, the Cleveland Cavaliers, were not a particularly good defensive team during the regular season, either overall or against perimeter shooters, although they may be better with Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson getting more minutes because of injuries. The Cavs forced the Warriors into some bad possessions, but the Dubs also missed on some good looks, shooting just 2-for-11 on corner threes.But there’s also the old adage: Live by the three, die by the three. If your shooters are going to get crazy hot on some nights, isn’t it inevitable that they’ll shoot a bunch of bricks on another, rendering a team’s offense more inconsistent and making it more upset-prone?Let’s look at some data from the 2014-15 regular season. In the chart below, I’ve sorted teams by the percentage of their field goals that were taken from 3-point range. Then I’ve looked at their game-by-game scoring, calculating their scoring range (as I’ll describe it throughout this article) as the span including the middle 80 percent of their games (that is, throwing out their top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of performances).The Warriors, for instance, averaged 110 points per game in the regular season, while their scoring range ran from 98 points (at the 10th percentile) to 126 points (at the 90th percentile), a 28-point difference. That seems like a wide range … but it’s perfectly normal. The average NBA team this season had a 27-point scoring range. The average range since 1979-80 (when the 3-point shot was introduced) is 28 points.The Warriors weren’t the league’s most three-happy team, however. They were just seventh — behind the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers. So maybe the Dubs were pretty steady, but were those other teams inconsistent?The Cavaliers were inconsistent: Their scoring range spanned 33 points, tied for the second-highest total in the league after Oklahoma City.2Like the Thunder, who dealt with injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Cavs went through numerous lineup changes and new “looks” over the course of the regular season. So that may reflect personnel changes more than inconsistency per se. But Houston, which took 39 percent of its attempts from long range (easily an NBA record), had a scoring range of just 25 points, below the NBA average. The three-happy Atlanta Hawks had a scoring range of just 24 points.What’s going on here? Are teams that shoot a lot of threes actually more consistent than others? (Maybe they’re more resilient when facing different types of defenses or benefit from having better floor spacing?)Actually, it’s mostly just because this data is pretty noisy. I ran a regression on all NBA teams since 1979-80 to predict their scoring range based on (i) the percentage of their field goal attempts that came from behind the arc and (ii) their per-game scoring average. Both variables have a positive and highly statistically significant relationship with a team’s scoring range. Teams that score more points have a wider scoring range, and, once you control for that, teams that shoot more threes do also.But statistical significance is not the same thing as practical significance. In the context of an actual basketball team, this result will make very little difference.Suppose, for instance, that a team scores 100 points per game and that 40 percent of its field-goal attempts are 3-pointers — higher, even, than this year’s record-setting Rockets. Its scoring range, according to the regression analysis, projects to be 29.7 points.What about a team that scores 100 points but does so with only 10 percent of its shots being threes? No team has shot such a low percentage of 3-pointers since the 1999-2000 Philadelphia 76ers, but we’ll run the numbers just for fun. That team, according to the regression, would have a scoring range of 28.0 points. So it’s more consistent, but only barely so; its scoring range is only 6 percent narrower. This just really doesn’t matter much.What matters a lot more, of course, is how effective a team is at scoring overall. The Oklahoma City Thunder, as I mentioned, had the most inconsistent offense in the regular season. But their 10th percentile score, 88 points, was still better than two-thirds of the league because they had a high per game scoring average.And Golden State’s 10th percentile score, 98 points, was better than what almost a third of NBA teams scored on average per game. The Warriors will have better shooting nights than they did Sunday, but their bad nights aren’t indicative of a fundamental problem — they’re just bad nights.CORRECTION (June 9, 11:45 a.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that if the Golden State Warriors had made 3-pointers at their regular-season accuracy rate, they would have won Sunday’s NBA Finals game 117-95. They would have won 111-95. “You’ll shoot your eye out,” I kept thinking while watching Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. The Warriors hoisted 35 3-point attempts and made only eight of them en route to scoring just 93 points. It was a maddening, sloppy game full of what-ifs. So … what if the Warriors had sunk threes at their normal accuracy rate?1The Warriors shot .398 on 3-pointers during the regular season, which would equate to making 14 of 35 shots. They would have won 111-95. read more

Pace Is the Most Consistent Pitching Stat

In my article Friday about what’s slowing down Major League Baseball games, I use a relatively new stat called “pace.” It’s a measure of how much time elapses between pitches in the same plate appearance, making use of the PITCHf/x tracking system installed in every major league park. It can be applied to pitchers for all batters they face; and to batters for their plate appearances.One thing we already knew about pace is that it’s remarkably consistent from year to year. FanGraphs makes it possible to test that with a tool for calculating correlation between the same statistic across seasons. Pace’s year-to-year correlation is 0.859 among the 1,554 pairs of consecutive pitcher seasons for which FanGraphs has pace stats — from 2007 to 2013 for pitchers with at least 40 innings each season. That’s far higher than strikeout-to-walk ratio, which has a year-to-year correlation of 0.528; Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), an ERA-like stat (0.443); winning percentage (0.081); and other fielding stats. The correlation persists over a gap of more than one season: It’s 0.757 from one season to another three years later.That suggests that the biggest factor affecting pace is the pitcher. Pitchers can change catchers, teams or leagues; face a mix of batters; and pitch in front of a different defensive alignment or in different contexts. Yet their pace of play stays largely the same from season to season.This is evident in the leaderboard: Five of the 10 slowest pitchers with at least 100 innings last year were among the 10 slowest in 2012.Like other new stats, pace is a work in progress. For example, there are two versions — one on FanGraphs, the other on Baseball Prospectus — akin to the competing versions of wins above replacement. FanGraphs registers more average time, typically, which BP’s Ben Lindbergh attributes to his site’s exclusion of pickoff attempts.One mystery is whether pace is associated with other pitching attributes. In a quick check using the FanGraphs correlation tool, it looked like pace was modestly correlated with FIP and Win Probability Added. But that was probably because relievers tend to have better stats than starters, and also a slower pace. There’s no reason to think one causes the other. When I restricted the sample to only pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched — thereby excluding most relievers — I found there was essentially no correlation between pace and FIP or WPA. Pitchers don’t seem to get any particular value out of a slow pace, though it’s possible they would have worse results if they had to hurry between pitches. In the spirit of their deliberate play, we won’t rush to judgment. read more

Does Tennis Need a Shot Clock

Tennis players are allowed to take 20 seconds before serving at Wimbledon, as they are in all Grand Slam tournaments. Some players think it’s time for this rule to start being enforced — with a “shot clock,” a phrase borrowed from basketball and other sports.“I think it’s the only way to go, to be honest, because how are you supposed to know as a player how long 20 seconds is, or 25 seconds, between a point?” asked Andy Murray, last year’s champion, in a post-match press conference Monday. Two other players — Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki — have also endorsed the idea.The 20-second rule is almost never enforced. Some players complain this gives those who abuse it an unfair advantage, by giving them extra time to recover. Slow play can also turn off fans and disrupt tournament schedules. Yet some players value extra time to gather their thoughts, catch their breath and wipe their brows. The issue starkly divides the men’s game’s two living legends, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have comparable career accomplishments but very different paces of play.A first-time violation of the 20-second rule at a Grand Slam match earns merely a warning. The next and all subsequent violations cost a point. But because umpires almost never hand out time violations, players often flout the rule — sometimes dozens of times in a single match.That last sentence is qualitative, not quantitative, because data isn’t readily available. Umpires are supposed to track time between points from their chairs, but unlike other stats and events they monitor during a match — the score, aces, first serves in — time between points isn’t reported as an official stat. And the Grand Slams, the men’s tour and the women’s tour don’t include time violations among player stats.Without an official shot clock to refer to, I took an unofficial one — the stopwatch on my smartphone — to two men’s matches on Centre Court at Wimbledon on Saturday. The first pitted Nadal, known for his slow play, against Mikhail Kukushkin. The second featured Federer, famously fast between points, against Santiago Giraldo.1I counted the time between when the prior point was officially over — the ball landed out of play or bounced twice — and when the server made contact with the ball for his first serve. I didn’t count the time before a player’s first serve in a game, nor his first of two serves in his serving turn in a tiebreaker, nor just after changing sides of the court in a tiebreaker. I didn’t include any serves which were delayed by factors outside the server’s control — such as a challenge to a call, or a loose ball on the court. I also missed a handful of points in Federer-Giraldo because, hey, I’m not a human stopwatch.According to my stopwatch, Kukushkin and especially Nadal were in no hurry, while Federer and Giraldo raced through their encounter. Kukushkin averaged 18.7 seconds before serves, and went over the 20-second limit about one-third of the time. Nadal averaged 22.5 seconds before serves, and went over the limit more than two-thirds of the time.Meanwhile, Federer averaged 15.3 seconds before serves, and went over 20 seconds on just 4 percent of his service points. Giraldo averaged 16.6 seconds, and went over the limit 18 percent of the time.2If Nadal and Kukushkin had played at Giraldo’s pace, their match would have been faster by 13 minutes and 57 seconds. If they’d served at Federer’s pace they would have been done 19 minutes and 9 seconds sooner.The pace of these Saturday matches was particularly relevant because two days earlier, Nadal’s defeated opponent in the second round, Lukas Rosol, complained that Nadal wasn’t penalized for slow play. In his post-match press conference Rosol said, “The referee was not going with the rules.” He added, “Always best players, they’re taking much more than the normal players, you know, and nobody is telling them nothing.”Federer weighed in that same day, saying, “I just think it’s important that we, as players, play up to speed.” He added, “What I don’t want is that we lose viewers because we play too slow” — noting that he recently found himself among such impatient viewers while watching a match on TV. “They were playing so slow I was like, ‘OK, I really — I can’t watch it.’”Raw averages don’t tell the whole story. Perhaps Nadal and Kukushkin were playing bruising rallies that required longer recovery time, or were playing many pivotal points, at deuce or break point. To see which factors were significant drivers of how long players took between points, I cross-referenced each serve with stats that Wimbledon data-provider IBM offers journalists at the tournament: how many strokes the prior rally had, and whether it ended with a winner, an unforced error or a forced error. I also tagged each point as either significant or not. Significant points included any point in which the server trailed — since breaking serve is so rare on Wimbledon’s fast grass — plus 30-all, 40-30, deuce and any advantage or tiebreaker points. Then I combined all the serve timings I had for each player from Saturday’s matches — 302 timings in all, at least 50 for each man. And I ran a series of ANCOVA regressions.It turns out long rallies do make a difference: According to the regressions, each extra stroke in a rally adds about four-tenths of a second to the time the server takes before the next point. The four players also added about two seconds to their pre-serve routine before crucial points. But even after controlling for these factors, the identity of the man serving mattered, too. Kukushkin added about two seconds per serve compared to Federer, while Nadal added seven seconds.3Giraldo didn’t add a significant amount of time, nor did it matter how the prior point ended — by winner, or forced or unforced error — so I removed that from the final analysis. Rally length, importance of points, and the presence of Kukushkin and Nadal all were highly statistically significant (p<0.0005).Many tennis fans know that Federer plays faster than Nadal. The two all-time greats often have been compared on pace of play — such as in this video showing Federer finishing a service game in the time it takes Nadal to play one service point — as well as on more significant accomplishments, such as number of Grand Slam titles won. This analysis, of just one match for each, won’t settle anything — and I have better things to do than time every match.4Federer and Nadal sometimes go against the grain. I timed a handful of their serves in their Tuesday matches. Federer sped through his penultimate service game of his fourth-round match against Tommy Robredo, but he slowed down significantly when serving for the match — not when a man in the crowd yelled out, “Roger, marry me!” but after Robredo won three straight points and threatened to break. Nadal, meanwhile, was brisk, by his standards, late in the second set of his fourth-round match against Nick Kyrgios. In the next set, as he bounced the ball before serving at three games apiece, umpire Carlos Bernardes gave Nadal a time violation — a mere warning Nadal shrugged off to win the point. However, Nadal went on to lose the match in four sets. Without more comprehensive data, the analysis does suggest that Nadal’s pre-serving routine — including toweling off, picking between at least three balls, touching his face and clothing, bouncing the ball and then rocking his body — affects his pace of play more than the punishing rallies he’s known for.There are other, incomplete or indirect indicators of players’ pace of play, many of which corroborate the finding that Nadal takes his time before serving. I’ve stopwatched players at prior Grand Slams and found there, too, that Federer is fast and Nadal is slow. Occasionally television broadcasts report average time between points during matches. “You can see on TV the stat, sometimes the average time is 28 or 30 seconds,” Wawrinka said. Federer was told in his press conference that a broadcast of Nadal-Rosol showed Nadal averaged 25 seconds between points. These stats are unofficial, however, and not recorded or compiled in a systematic way.The crudest method to approximate pace of play is to divide the total time a player is on the court by the number of points he or she plays. Nadal ranks first among men’s tour regulars in time per point, at 46.5 seconds over the last year. Federer is among the fastest, at 38.5 seconds.5The WTA Tour, which governs women’s events outside Slams, doesn’t report as many stats as the men’s ATP World Tour, making comparisons difficult. Also, time between points has been a bigger priority for the ATP, which attempted to crack down on slow play at the start of last year with rule changes and an emphasis on greater enforcement. The WTA, like the Slams, allows 20 seconds before serves at its events.Simply dividing time by points is crude because it doesn’t account for time elapsed during points themselves. It also bundles together Grand Slams — where players get 20 seconds before serving — and tour events, where men get 25 seconds. One indicator that the Slam rules aren’t enforced and aren’t heeded by players: Nadal, Federer and the average man all take longer per point at Grand Slams than at tour events.At Wimbledon, Nadal averaged 40.7 seconds per point, while Federer has averaged 7.2 fewer seconds — with Novak Djokovic and Murray, the other two men to win Wimbledon in the last decade, closer to Nadal’s pace. Again, this measure includes actual tennis, not just time in between tennis. Just 23 percent of rallies in Federer matches through the fourth round extended past four shots, compared to 27 percent for Nadal and 39 percent for Murray.Will Wimbledon take up players’ suggestions for a shot clock? It’s not clear. I saw Pascal Maria, the umpire who presided over the Nadal-Kushkin match, outside Centre Court on Tuesday and asked him about my data and about time violations. He declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the All England Club, which hosts the tournament, told me umpires had handed out 33 time violations as of Tuesday — or fewer than one every six matches. Some of these were mere warnings; she didn’t know how many times players lost points for playing slow. She declined to comment about slow play and the possibility of a shot clock.CORRECTION (July 2, 6:14 p.m.): An earlier version of this article said the analysis consisted of a series of logistic regressions. It was a series of ANCOVA regressions. read more

By the numbers Ohio State versus Bowling Green

OSU center Pat Elflein wraps his hand around the football during the first game of the 2016 season against Bowling Green on Sept. 3 in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 77-10. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditCoach Urban Meyer couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season as 107,193 fans watched his Ohio State Buckeyes put on a historic offensive showing as they beat Bowling Green State University 77-10 in the ‘Shoe.  A dominant showing by the Buckeye defense combined with redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett’s seven touchdown performance helped the buckeyes start the season on a winning note.Despite finishing the game strong, Barrett started off sloppy.  With the Buckeye offense driving towards the end zone, Barrett threw an interception that sophomore Brandon Harris returned 63 yards as Bowling Green took a shocking 7-0 lead.  However, Barrett rebounded putting together an impressive number of total yards on way to a rout over the Falcons.With Barrett in control, the Buckeyes scored three unanswered touchdowns in quick succession.  By halftime, the Buckeyes had already racked up 456 yards of offense and 24 first downs, led by five touchdowns from Barrett.  The Buckeye defense also stepped up to limit the Falcons to only 244 yards on the day and a measly 3-for-16 on third down.Despite getting taken out in the third quarter, Barrett still finished the game with seven total touchdowns, tying his own school record of six touchdown passes, while completing 21 of 31 passes for 349 yards.  Junior H-back Curtis Samuel had an incredible day as he rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while adding nine receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns.  Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber pounded out 136 yards rushing on 19 carries.On the defensive side, redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker had two interceptions and freshmen Rodjay Burns added an interception for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to pad the score even further.By the Numbers776: Ohio State racked up a program record 776 yards of offense for the day.15: Head Coach Urban Meyer might have had a case of déjà vu today, as he began his head coaching career with the falcons fifteen years ago.95: With the win over Bowling Green, Ohio State has now gone an incredible 95 years without losing to another in-state school.  Their last loss to an Ohio school was to Oberlin in 1921.5: This was the fifth meeting all time between Bowling Green and Ohio State, with the buckeyes coming out on top in every matchup.4: A total of four redshirt freshmen or true freshmen scored for the Buckeyes on Saturday.67: The buckeyes won the game by 67 points, which was their largest margin of victory since defeating FCS school Florida A&M 76-0 in 2013.9: A total of nine Buckeyes caught a pass on Saturday.41: OSU gained 41 first downs against Bowling Green, the most since Cincinnati in 2014 where OSU had 45 first downs.7: Not only did Barrett account for an individual program record seven touchdowns, redshirt freshman Joe Burrow threw his first touchdown pass with the Buckeyes making a total seven team passing touchdowns. That ties a school record that occurred in 1995 against Pittsburgh. read more

Football Scouting Rutgers Scarlet Knights

BreakdownRutgers is on the rise as a team, improving in multiple positions statistically from last season and earning its way to a .500 record thus far.But it will take more than just a little improvement to knock off an OSU team that is outscoring opponents by more than 44 points, and averages 3.7 takeaways a game.OSU has too strong of an offense and too stout of a defense for Rutgers to potentially upset the Buckeyes. With Big Ten play opening this Saturday, the Scarlet and Gray should have no problem emerging with an unblemished record. OffenseThe offense of Rutgers benefitted from the dynamic play ability of Grant, who currently leads the team in both rushing touchdowns and receiving yards. But the Scarlet Knights will need to look elsewhere for offensive production this week.Leaning heavily on a potent running attack led by junior running back Robert Martin, Rutgers has averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Overall, the team has totaled 881 rushing yards, a mere 38 yards behind OSU’s rushing attack.In terms of passing, senior quarterback Chris Laviano has struggled to provide consistency. Completing just 52.5 percent of his passes, the team has struggled to put the ball in the hands of its receivers, resulting in a passing offense that ranks 110th in completion percentage.Senior wide receiver Andre Patton has recorded three of Laviano’s five touchdown passes this season, He averages 13.5 yards per reception. Sophomore wide receiver Jawuan Harris is second on the team with 183 yards, trailing only Grant.The offensive line has struggled to keep pressure away from Laviano. On average, he has been sacked 2.3 times per game. With the play of OSU’s defensive lineman so far, it could be a long day for the senior. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights make their entrance before an NCAA football game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sept. 24 at High Point Solutions Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of TNSIt’s been more than a week since the Ohio State football team took the field against an opponent. With rain expected this Saturday, Buckeye fans will most likely need to don their ponchos and rainboots to watch OSU open Big Ten play against Rutgers.Led by former OSU defensive coordinator Chris Ash, the Scarlet Knights have earned their way to a 2-2 record so far, with wins over Howard University and New Mexico. Last week, Rutgers fell to Iowa 14-7 in a defensive battle that saw each team netting more than 350 total yards a piece, but failing to frequently find the endzone.While Rutgers is in good hands with Ash at the helm, the Buckeyes appear to have the upper hand in this matchup, both statistically speaking and in terms of skill.Two top performers for the Scarlet Knights — wide receiver Janarion Grant and defensive tackle Darius Hamilton — were lost to injury last week. OSU coach Urban Meyer gave his sentiment to the team and the injured players.“Any time a young guy gets hurt you just wish them the best, and they’re both really good players,” Meyer said. DefenseRutgers has struggled to slow opposing offenses this season. Surrendering 399 yards per game, the Scarlet Knights have not produced similar numbers with Ash at the helm as OSU did during his tenure in Columbus.Although the team has not shown a stout defense this year, Meyer said the schemes Rutgers runs are Ash’s through and through, and look nearly identical to the Buckeyes approach.“Yes, it’s our defense,” Meyer said.Redshirt sophomore Kiy Hester currently leads the team in total tackles, followed by sophomore linebacker Deontre Roberts. Last season, Rutgers ranked nearly last in pass yards allowed. After ranking 118th nationally in that category, the Scarlet Knights have underwent a complete overhaul of the position.Opposing offenses have been limited 206.7 yards per game against Rutgers. Even with the improvements of the secondary, the team’s defense has been gashed so far this year against the run.OSU has leaned heavily on its rushing attack this season, while the Scarlet Knights have struggled to keep opponents under 200 yards per game on the ground. read more

Josh Dezse poses dual threat for Buckeye baseball team

Josh Dezse’s name has been written on coach Greg Beals’ lineup card before all 25 games this season. He begins each game as either the designated hitter or the first baseman. But when the eighth and ninth innings roll around, Dezse can be seen jogging down to the bullpen. The 6-foot-5 freshman is a two-way player. In one game, he can play the field, get in some at-bats and make a relief appearance. He is not used in these ways simply because he can do it. He has succeeded in all facets of the game, and the Buckeyes’ coaching staff recognizes that. “He’s a great athlete, and when you have a great athlete like that, you need to get him on the field and use him as much as possible,” Beals said. As of Saturday, he is batting .316, leads the team with 17 RBIs and has the team’s second-most hits (30) and third-most doubles (5). In his 12 relief appearances this season, he has posted a 3-1 record with three saves, 13 walks, nine strikeouts and a 6.14 ERA. “It’s a special tool to work with,” pitching coach Mike Stafford said. “He has got a lot of arm strength, he’s got a good frame and his ability is ahead of him. It’s very exciting to work with a guy at that high a caliber of talent.” The Powell, Ohio, native was a three-year starter at Olentangy Liberty High School. As a high school junior, Dezse batted .348, drove in 19 runs and was 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA as a pitcher. His senior year he hit .410 with five home runs and 33 RBIs. On the mound, he was 5-2 with a save and a 2.44 ERA. His performance as a senior earned him a spot on the All-District first team and an honorable mention for the All-State team. The New York Yankees drafted Dezse in the 28th round of the 2010 first-year player draft. He turned down the pinstripes for the chance to be a Buckeye. “It would be a dream to play pro ball. To play for the Yankees, it’s like a whole different level,” Dezse said. “It was tough, but I’m proud to be at Ohio State.” He knew he was going to be a two-way player in college, and he was pleased to find out that Beals and Stafford had coached Kolbrin Vitek, a two-way player they trained while at Ball State. “That made me feel pretty comfortable,” Dezse said. Vitek was a second baseman and starting pitcher for the Cardinals. He, like Dezse, was drafted in 2010. The Boston Red Sox selected him with the 20th overall pick. Dezse was used as a two-way player in consecutive games on April 3 against Northwestern and Wednesday against Miami (Ohio). Dezse played an integral role in the 15-14 win against Northwestern. He was 1-for-3 as the designated hitter with an RBI, two walks and two strikeouts. With a 14-10 Buckeyes lead, Beals called for him to pitch the ninth inning. “Your mindset is totally different,” Dezse said. “To jump on that mound, it’s almost like a different mentality, absolutely different. You just got switch it on.” He struggled getting ahead early in the count and the Wildcats tied the game, 14-14. Dezse gave up four runs on as many hits, and walked a batter. He failed to preserve the lead, but he earned the win when OSU won the game in the bottom of the inning. The Buckeyes did not have much to be happy about after a 12-4 loss to the RedHawks on Wednesday, but Beals said he was most pleased with Dezse’s performance on the mound. “We had a little talk with him before the game about his mental preparations to pitch and handling the dual duties that he has,” Beals said. “Just being able to switch back and forth and be mentally prepared, and he had at it tonight.” Dezse was 0-for-4 at the plate that night, but he showed poise as he transitioned smoothly to the pitching mindset. In his only inning of work, he gave up one hit but he struck out the side. He said the outing was a huge confidence booster for him. “It’s challenging at times because two-way players in college are not around as much as single players,” Stafford said. “You have to manage your time wisely and put in double the work. It takes a special person mentally to do that.” The freshman was selected as the Big Ten’s first Freshman of the Week. In that week, Dezse hit .583 at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge to lead the Buckeyes, and finished both games he entered as a pitcher. Dezse had multiple hits in his first three games for OSU. He had two hits and an RBI in a loss to Cincinnati, two hits against No. 28 Louisville and three hits, a run scored and an RBI in the win against St. John’s. The right-hander allowed one run in one inning of work against No. 20 Louisville. He also picked up the win in against St. John’s, a game in which he pitched two shutout innings. He was selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week again two weeks later, after leading the team offensively in its 7-1 victory against Army on March 13. He was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Dezse scored the first two runs of the game, and broke the matchup open with a bases-loaded double that gave the Buckeyes a 6-1 lead. He is the first two-time winner of the award. “He has proven that he can hit, and has proven he could pitch at this level,” Beals said. “Now it’s just a matter of he and our coaching staff polishing him up and getting him the best he can be.” read more

Jokes over Ohio State needs to give JK Dobbins the ball

Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in the second quarter of the Ohio State-Iowa game on Nov. 4. Ohio State lost 24-55. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe Monday after No. 6 Ohio State’s 39-38 comeback win against Penn State in which freshman running back J.K. Dobbins took 13 carries for 88 yards, head coach Urban Meyer was adamant he would not “micromanage” which backs deserved carries. Two days following the victory, Meyer said he deferred to running backs coach Tony Alford and co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson when determining who carries the ball. Two days after that, Wilson said Alford controlled carry counts and had no idea the total number of carries Dobbins had until he was told because he is a “big-picture guy” and was focused on “getting the offense going.”Dobbins, who leads the team with 119 carries for 914 yards (7.7 yards per carry), carried the ball four times for 50 yards in the first quarter against the Nittany Lions, then did not touch the ball again until the third quarter.In the Buckeyes’ 55-24 loss to Iowa, the issue resurfaced after Dobbins had four carries for 45 yards in the first quarter, but finished the game with just six carries for 51 yards. On Monday, Meyer said the coaches discuss running back carry counts and added he believes the star freshman deserves more touches.Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) warms up prior to the game against Rutgers on Sep. 30. Ohio State won 56-0. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“We have conversation about it,” Meyer said. “If there’s a huge disparity between — I think, [redshirt sophomore Mike Weber is] playing hard. I think J.K. is our starter, had a couple of nice runs. Those are things we talk about. But once again I think coach Alford does a nice job. He should have more than six carries, but we got behind and started throwing it a lot.”Dobbins’ usage against Iowa and inconsistent playing time against Penn State come in stark contrast to his high carry counts at the beginning of the year. Starting in his first-ever collegiate game due to Weber’s injury, the freshman totalled 29 carries for 181 yards, more carries and yards than both Weber or former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott had in their debuts.In six of the next seven games, Dobbins received between 12 and 14 carries. He has not rushed for less than 5.5 yards per carry in a single game. “I want to wear him out,” Meyer said on Oct. 11 following Dobbins’ 13-rush, 96-yard performance against Maryland. “Seriously, I want to wear him out.”That has not happened. In contrast, Ohio State fans have worn themselves out yelling for Dobbins to get more carries.This is not the first time Ohio State’s star skill position player has not consistently received touches. On nearly every occasion, quarterback J.T. Barrett has tallied more carries than the running back or H-back. While Dobbins had just six carries against Iowa, Barrett rushed the ball 14 times for 72 yards, averaging four yards less per carry than the freshman.In Ohio State’s loss to Oklahoma earlier this season, Barrett had 18 carries for 66 yards while Dobbins took 13 carries 72 yards. In the loss to Penn State last year, Barrett had 17 carries for 26 yards while former H-back Curtis Samuel had two rushes for 71 yards and caught six passes for 68 yards. In a 2015 loss to Michigan State, Barrett rushed 15 times for 44 yards while Elliott had 12 carries for 33 yards. Like many other teams during Barrett’s tenure as Ohio State’s quarterback, Iowa focused on keeping the ball out of the running back’s hand and forcing the dual-threat to beat them on the ground. Meyer said he and the offensive coaching staff must figure out how to improve the game plan to get more handoffs to the running backs.Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) tosses the ball to freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) in the first quarter of the Ohio State-Iowa game on Nov. 4. Ohio State lost 24-55. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor“A lot of times when you’re struggling, [Barrett running is] your kind of get-out-of-jail-free card,” Meyer said. But Barrett’s increased runs have not got the Buckeyes out of jail. Instead, they take the ball out of the more dynamic playmaker and give it to Barrett who, despite being a dual-threat quarterback, averages 2.6 less yards per carry than Dobbins.Meyer said he prefers his quarterbacks to run between eight and 12 times per game, and noted he does not want Barrett to run as much. However, he also said he and the assistant coaches have talked about whether Ohio State has passed the ball too much in favor of trying to focus on improving the aerial attack, which struggled early in the season.“We discussed that as well,” Meyer said. “Really through about a six-game run there, we were a nice balance as far as run-pass ratio, throwing for a little bit more than we have. But, yeah, that’s much different makeup right now than when we were a heavy, heavy — used to be about a 70 percent run. It’s about 65 [percent run], about 55/45 now.”Ohio State has rushed the ball on just 52.2 percent of its plays this season. Last season, the Buckeyes rushed the ball on 58.8 percent of offensive plays. In Meyer’s four prior seasons, his teams did not run the ball on less than 62.8 percent of its plays.Since Meyer wants less quarterback runs and has considered whether Ohio State has become too pass-happy, only one antidote exists: increased running back carries.It should be an easy change. All Ohio State must do is hand the ball to one of its most explosive skill position players. Yet Meyer has dealt with this issue in years prior and it continues to surface. The time to “micromanage” Dobbins’ carries is not now. It was before Iowa embarrassed Ohio State and eliminated it from playoff contention. read more

Womens Basketball The 113 run that propelled Ohio State past Minnesota and

Ohio State redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga attempts a shot during the Buckeyes’ game against Minnesota in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on March 3, 2018. Ohio State won 90-88 to advance to the championship. Credit: Alyssia Graves | Assistant Sports DirectorINDIANAPOLIS — Trailing Minnesota 85-79 with 4:40 remaining in fourth quarter, the Ohio State women’s basketball team had a sliver of hope to come back for a victory.A six-point lead does not seem like much on paper, especially with nearly five minutes left. But on a night in which free throws were not falling and baskets suddenly seeming hard to make, six points seemed like a lot to overcome. Coincidentally enough, a game full of runs was decided by one final run to close out the game. Ohio State made an 11-3 run in the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game to advance past the upset-happy Golden Gophers in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. The full 40 minutes almost weren’t enough to decide the outcome of the back-and-forth matchup filled with 16 lead changes and 11 ties. But midway through the fourth quarter, it seemed like there would finally be no more lead changes.A layup with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter by redshirt junior guard Kenisha Bell resulted in a timeout called by Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff. At that point in time, the Buckeyes were shooting 2-of-11 in the quarter and had not scored in more than two minutes.He only had one message to his team: keep fighting.“I thought both teams played really hard, and for a stretch in the third quarter I thought Minnesota played harder than we did, and I thought we played harder in the fourth quarter,” McGuff said. “They were getting a lot of 50-50 balls, then we were getting them down the stretch. That was what we kept emphasizing, just make sure we play hard.”A jumper by redshirt senior Linnae Harper on the Buckeyes’ second possession after the timeout sparked a much-needed run. Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell followed the bucket up with an and-one, pulling Ohio State within one point.The Buckeyes clamped up forcing Bell to miss her second shot in as many possessions. After a missed layup by senior forward Alexa Hart and redshirt senior forward Stephanie Mavunga’s missed put-back attempt, Hart got a second opportunity after sophomore guard Jensen Caretti’s offensive rebound and buried a shot from the block to give Ohio State an 86-85 lead with 2:40 remaining.After a defensive stop, the Buckeyes did not score, but had a possession McGuff called “probably the possession of the game.”Mavunga essentially killed a minute-and-a-half of time by herself. Strong effort on the glass resulted in two offensive rebounds by her. The rebounds didn’t result in points, but they minimized the Golden Gophers’ chances of a comeback. With the rebounds, she became the first player in Big Ten tournament history to pick up at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game. “It’s really an honor, I had no idea,” Mavunga said. “I wasn’t even going after trying to get a certain number of stats, whatever the team needed me to do is what I was there to do.”Mitchell ended the possession with a missed jumper, and Minnesota finally got a defensive rebound and pushed the ball in transition. Mitchell was the only player able to get back in time and as Bell went up for a layup, she stuck her hand in and pried the ball out. With only 34 seconds left, initially it was ruled Minnesota’s ball, but after a couple minutes of review, the officials was determined the ball came off Bell’s knee as it went out of bounds. For the remainder of the game, Minnesota played the foul game, in hopes of Ohio State slipping up. But the Buckeyes, who shot 50 percent from the free-throw line, did just enough to come out with a win.A pair of made free throws put the Buckeyes up three with 29 seconds remaining. Mavunga was forced to defend guards as a result of switching onto them and blocked two shots in the final 20 seconds of the game.Minnesota made a late 3-pointer to pull within two points with five seconds remaining and Ohio State missed four of its final six free throws, but the Golden Gophers missed their final shot and allowed the Buckeyes to move on to the tournament final Sunday against Maryland. read more

Passengers face Christmas chaos as unions threaten Gatwick strikes

first_imgA spokesperson for Unite said that members were “understandably angry”. Earlier this year, Gatwick announced a 77 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £141million.“Gatwick is highly profitable and we believe rather than closing the scheme, steps can be made to make up the modest shortfall in the scheme,” the spokesperson said.Unions are preparing to vote on strike action but would need to give Gatwick at least seven days notice before any walk out. A spokesperson for Gatwick said: “Gatwick Airport, like any business, will regularly monitor reward packages to ensure that they remain competitive and to safeguard the long-term future for our employees, passengers and local community.”We fully appreciate that pensions are a personal and sensitive topic and it goes without saying that we are taking this forward in a collaborative manner. We will continue to engage, consult and collect the views of employees and encourage members of the defined benefits plan to use the consultation process to air views, understand the issues facing the scheme and ask questions.”The south London airport is currently vying with Heathrow for permission to build a new runway, with a decision expected this month. Gatwick currently handles about 42 million passengers a year, but has a capacity for 45 million. Unions could strike in the busy period running up to ChristmasCredit:Getty Unions could strike in the busy period running up to Christmas British holidaymakers are facing the prospect of travel chaos in the run up to Christmas after unions at Gatwick moved to shut down the airport over a pension dispute.Firefighters, security staff and maintenance workers are preparing to vote on strike action, after Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which owns Gatwick, said it would close their final salary pension scheme because of a reported £90million shortfall.A security worker at the London airport told the Sun that GIP was trying to bulldoze the move through without a discussion with the unions. “If there is no fire service it could shut down the whole airport,” the worker said.last_img read more

Rolf Harris cleared of new child sex charges spanning four decades after

first_imgRolf Harris video link Judge Alistair McCreath summing up at Southwark Crown Court where Rolf Harris (right) was on trial Judge Alistair McCreath summing up at Southwark Crown Court where Rolf Harris was on trialCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA Harris, wearing a pale blue shirt, suit and patterned tie, showed no reaction as the not guilty verdicts were read out by the jury forewoman.Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the jury from deliberating on the further four counts he faced.The prosecution team asked for one week to decide if it will apply for a retrial. Rolf Harris performing on the main stage at Glastonbury  Show more Rolf Harris, the disgraced entertainer, has been cleared of three sex charges after a second trial.A jury took just under a week to find the 86-year-old Australian not guilty of three of the seven alleged assaults said to have taken place over four decades, following a second trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.Harris is currently in jail following a 2014 trial which saw him convicted of 12 sex offences against four female victims, one aged as young as seven or eight.But his defence team claimed the jury in the first trial had “got it wrong” and that the media frenzy had “without doubt made him vulnerable to people making accusations against him”.The pensioner declined to give evidence at his second trial, instead silently watching proceedings first on video from Stafford prison and then later from the dock with a hearing loop.center_img It also cleared him of groping a blind, disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977.And he was also cleared the most recent charge he was accused of – sexually assaulting a woman in her forties after the filming of a television show in 2004.Judge McCreath told Harris he must be present for a hearing next Wednesday, but not necessarily in person, to which he replied: “Thank you.” Harris was allowed to follow the first part of his trial by video-link from prisonCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA The jury took 26 hours and 16 minutes to clear Harris of two charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.The seven women and five men found he was not guilty of indecently assaulting a young autograph hunter when she visited him at a radio station in Portsmouth with her mother at the end of the Seventies. Rolf Harris performing on the main stage at Glastonbury in 2002Credit:Toby Melville/PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more