The biggest trades of NFL draft picks took place weeks in advance, when Los Angeles and Philadelphia traded up with Tennessee and Cleveland, respectively, to acquire the top two spots. Then, on draft night, five more trades of picks were finalized. We can’t grade whether a team won or lost a trade until we see how those players turn out in the NFL, but we can analyze whether the trade made sense and whether a team under- or overpaid for the right to acquire that player. For that, I created a draft value chart to measure the expected marginal value provided, on average, by a draft pick based on the production of players historically drafted from around that draft spot. Let’s start with the splashiest move not involving a Twitter account of the night.Cleveland gives up: eighth pick overall, sixth-round pick (No. 176 overall)Tennessee gives up: 15th pick overall, third-round pick (No. 76 overall), second-round pick in 2017The Browns traded down and eventually selected Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman; if he was Cleveland’s target all along, this was an excellent move — Coleman was at little risk of going before the 15th overall pick. Tennessee moved up to take offensive tackle Jack Conklin after the Baltimore Ravens began the run on offensive linemen at No. 6, with Ronnie Stanley. Cleveland extracted significant value in this move, perhaps because of a mental accounting effect, as the Titans may have viewed the picks involved as found money after the Rams trade.Based on my marginal value chart, the Browns win the trade … even without considering the second-round pick in 2017! The 76th pick is a valuable one — more valuable than the difference between the eighth and 15th picks. If we value the 2017 second-round pick as equivalent to the 48th pick in this year’s draft, the Browns received a whopping 148 cents on the dollar for this trade. (The 48th pick is likely a worse pick than Tennessee’s 2017 second-rounder will be, but we’re eyeballing a markdown for having to wait a year.)The Jimmy Johnson chart is used by many teams as a framework for constructing trades even though its values are not reflective of how players from each round perform. In general, it overvalues higher selections. In this case, it would have the Browns receiving only 89 cents on the dollar before considering the 2017 second-round pick. However, even on that chart, this trade is a home run for Cleveland. Consider that if the Titans had traded the 85th pick in this draft rather than the second-rounder in 2017, the old Jimmy Johnson chart would still give a slight edge in this trade to the Browns. The Browns may have benefited from the Titans’ panic that the Giants wanted to take Conklin 10th overall.Chicago gives up: 11th pick overall, fourth-round pick (No. 106 overall)Tampa Bay gives up: ninth pick overallThis was a small price for Chicago to pay to move up two spots to select Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd; the trade may be a little harder to understand from the Buccaneers’ perspective. My chart has this as a nice deal for Tampa Bay — the team picked up 117 cents on the dollar. The Jimmy Johnson calculator has this trade as nearly dead even (it has Tampa Bay losing the deal by a tiny margin), which suggests that teams really do use that chart as a framework for trade discussions. Sometimes, teams need to overpay to acquire the players they want: The Giants were heavily linked to Conklin and Floyd at 10th overall and then saw teams trade up (and overpay) to No. 8 and No. 9 to take those two players. Giving up a high fourth-round pick is not insignificant, but the draft was light on pure edge rushers, so the trade makes sense if Chicago viewed Floyd as a great prospect (and far ahead of, say, Clemson’s Shaq Lawson) and pass rusher as a big need position.The only reason this struck me as a bit odd was that Tampa Bay traded down two spots to take a corner, Vernon Hargreaves, but watched the Giants draft cornerback Eli Apple in between! There’s no way of knowing how the Bucs valued Hargreaves relative to Apple, but presumably Tampa Bay got the man it wanted considering that Hargreaves had a higher grade by most analysts and was born in Tampa. Still, the Bucs could have lost Hargreaves to New York, so Tampa Bay likely viewed a free early fourth-rounder as worth the risk.Washington gives up: 21st overall pickHouston gives up: 22nd overall pick, sixth-round pick in 2017Using a trade chart to analyze this trade doesn’t make sense because it’s best understood as a matter of risk allocation. Houston, which was known to be after a wideout, traded up one pick to draft Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller. In addition, many mock drafts had the Vikings and Bengals selecting wide receivers with the 23rd and 24th picks, respectively. With Cleveland grabbing Coleman at No. 15, one fewer receiver was available for Cincinnati and Minnesota. And if either the Bengals or Vikings (or another team later in the draft) had Fuller as the top wide receiver left on their board, it would have made sense for either team to pay a small price to leap Houston by trading with Washington.The Texans presumably had Fuller and perhaps Coleman a tier above wide receivers Josh Doctson of TCU and Laquon Treadwell of Ole Miss even though most mock drafts had Fuller as the fourth player in that group. Houston’s giving up next year’s sixth-round pick is hardly a significant price for eliminating the risk of missing out on the man they were targeting, but it only makes sense if Fuller truly is a better prospect (or fit for the Houston offense) than Doctson or Treadwell. Putting aside value, we can safely say that Houston really wanted Fuller, which could mean good things for his fantasy football value this season.For Washington, which drafted Doctson at No. 22, the only knock on this trade is that it probably could have gotten more by trading with, say, Minnesota and picking Doctson or Treadwell. We can’t know for sure, but Washington likely was going to take Doctson over Fuller anyway, so the team simply picked up a 2017 sixth-rounder selection for free.Seattle gives up: 26th overall pickDenver gives up: 31st overall pick; third-round pick (No. 94 overall)On my chart, this was a great trade for Seattle — the Seahawks picked up 132 cents on the dollar. Seattle moved down five spots to pick up a third-rounder and selected Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi 31st overall. Seattle was heavily linked to him ahead of the draft, so this worked out beautifully for the team. Picking up a third-round pick, even a late one, is still very valuable: Remember, that is the same round where Seattle drafted Russell Wilson in 2012 and Tyler Lockett in 2015.The Broncos moved up to take Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. The trade was pretty even on the traditional chart, with the Seahawks picking up “only” 103 cents on the dollar. But even if Denver paid a premium based on my chart, that is often the cost of doing business when a team wants to trade up. Lynch was a possible top-15 pick in this draft, and given that he was the top quarterback prospect remaining in the draft, he likely would not have made it to No. 31 (Lynch would have made a lot of sense for Arizona at No. 29, and the Cowboys acknowledged a desire to trade up in front of Denver for Lynch). The Broncos didn’t get Lynch for cheap, but this was a much more reasonable trade than the franchise-altering ransoms paid by Los Angeles and Philadelphia for the top two quarterbacks.Kansas City gives up: 28th overall pickSan Francisco gives up: second-round pick (No. 37 overall), fourth-round pick (No. 105 overall), sixth-round pick (No. 178 overall)The 49ers traded up for Stanford guard Joshua Garnett but paid a serious price. Kansas City received 136 cents on the dollar according to my chart and 96 cents according to the traditional chart. San Francisco gave up an early fourth-round pick to move up just nine spots … for a guard! It’s one thing for the Broncos to trade a pick at the back end of the third round to move up five spots for a quarterback; to pay essentially the same price for Garnett is much harder to defend.Whereas Lynch was viewed as a potential first-rounder by many teams, the market for Garnett appeared to be much softer. Trading up for the last player in a tier at a position of significant value makes sense, but this trade by the 49ers is much tougher to justify. Valuable players are still available at No. 105; consider that since 2010, Kirk Cousins, Everson Griffen, Jordan Cameron, Devonta Freeman, Alterraun Verner and Perry Riley were all selected between pick 100 and 110. On the other side, a fourth-rounder is a valuable commodity — it’s the sweet spot of getting a solid prospect on a cheap contract for four years — so kudos to the Chiefs for pulling off a nice trade in exchange for waiting nine selections.
Jerry Sandusky hadn’t been on the Heister Street mural in State College since the early days of the scandal that rocked Penn State. Now, the chair left vacant in the painting is being occupied by a poet who uses her work to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence.Artist Michael Pilato took Sandusky out of the mural, which features hundreds of Penn State figures throughout history, in November. In his place, Pilato painted a blue ribbon which symbolizes child abuse awareness. That wasn’t enough for Pilato.“The title of the mural is ‘Inspiration’, so the people in the mural are inspirational people,” the artist told Onward State. “With just the blue ribbon there, you still saw Sandusky.”Poet Dora McQuaid was the symbolic choice to replace the convicted sexual offender. According to her website, McQuaid “combines her passion for language and performance with her dedication to activism, using poetry, performance and speaking to raise awareness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence, and teaching writing […] as means of empowerment and healing.”The blue ribbon isn’t gone though. Pilato painted one around the neck of a Nittany Lion that’s in the lower corner of the mural.Joe Paterno remains in the center of the painting. Pilato hopes to add the late coach’s wife, Sue, and son, Jay. Like all deceased figures in the painting, Paterno is depicted with a halo above his head.
It was the fifth inning Friday night when Homer Bailey looked up to see how many innings he had pitched. He learned something more: that he had not given up a hit to the Pittsburgh Pirates.Bailey did not let that news change the way he pitched. Instead, the 26-year-old stayed the course and spun baseball’s seven no-hitter of the season, as the Reds won 1-0.“I looked up at the scoreboard (after the fifth inning) to see if I had hit 200 (innings) and saw a couple of zeros,” Bailey said. “That’s when I knew I had a chance at a no-hitter. It’s not something you think about doing.”It was the 15th no-hitter in Reds history and first since Tom Browning’s perfect game against the Los Angles Dodgers on Sept. 16, 1988. The seven major league no-hitters match the modern record for one season, tying 1990 and 1991. There were eight no-hitters in 1884.“I don’t think there is any reason why there have been so many,” Bailey said. “There is a real fine line there in throwing a no-hitter. A bloop can fall in the outfield or an infielder can be in the wrong position and there goes your hit. You have to be extremely fortunate to throw a no-hitter, and we had luck on our side tonight.”Bailey (13-10) struck out 10 and walked one. He threw 115 pitches and retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out pinch-hitter Brock Holt and inducing Machael McKenry and Alex Presley into pop outs. Bailey was mobbed near the mound by happy teammates and doused with water.Bailey improved to 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA in six career starts at PNC Park. All three of his complete games and both his shutouts have come against Pittsburgh.It was the first time the Pirates had been held hitless since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson pitched the lone no-hitter of his career in 1971 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Cincinnati, which clinched the NL Central title last Saturday, improved to 95-62. The Reds are tied with Washington for the best record in the NL.
Mark Jackson had never coached before the Golden State Warriors tabbed him as their head man two years ago, a move that surprised many. But Jackson quickly ascended into a winning coach, taking a downtrodden club and making it one of the most exciting teams in the NBA last season.Jackson’s way – heart-to-heart, candid communication – won over his players, and they performed under him at a high level. So much so that the team picked up the option on Jackson’s contract for the 2014-15 season on Wednesday.The move prevents Jackson from feeling as if he were coaching in a lame-duck situation the upcoming season, while also allowing more time for the sides to create a long-term deal for the former point guard of the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers.“I trust in God. I’m in the best hands possible, and I don’t mean Arn Tellem,” the ordained minister joked after the season ended in May. By then, his team had already upset the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, solidifying his stature as an up-and-coming star coach.He took the Warriors from a 23-43 record during the lockout-shortened season his first year to a 47-35 team that earned the Western Conference’s sixth seed and eliminated Denver in the first round of the playoffs. The eventual conference champion San Antonio Spurs knocked Golden State out in six games in the second round.The Warriors posted the second-highest winning percentage improvement behind Brooklyn. Golden State also is positioned for more success with point guard Stephen Curry anchoring a collection of promising young talent, and Jackson made it work. His players trusted him and his solid career as a point guard in the league gave him credibility.
Just as Buffalo Bills rookie EJ Manuel established himself as the potential starting quarterback, he injured his knee and will be sidelined for the remainder of preseason, the team announced Saturday.Manuel will undergo a “minor knee procedure,” the Bills said.“He will miss the remainder of the preseason and then be re-evaluated at that time,” coach Doug Marrone said in a statement.Veteran Kevin Kolb, who Emanuel is competing with for the quarterback position, will get the start for the team’s third preseason game next Saturday against the Washington Redskins.Manuel came in the second half of Friday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. The young player completed 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Emanuel was injured in the game, but the team did not announce the injury until Saturday.Throughout two games this preseason, Manuel completed 26 of 33 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and ran four times for 29 yards.
The NBA free agent season could be extraordinary this summer. . . or not so much. Miami Heat’s Big 3 — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — could opt out of their contracts and field suitors, which would create much drama, reminiscent of four years ago when James and Bosh left their respective teams to join Miami. Of course, they also could remain with the Heat.The three met before they made their free agent decision in 2010 and could have another such meeting before their June 30 opt-out deadlines, which allows them to leave in 2014, 2015 or 2016.Wade said: “As players, you only have so much time and you only have so many moments where you have the ability to control your own fate, so it’s not a bad thing at all if that’s what someone is thinking. I haven’t had that conversation with Chris. I haven’t had that conversation with Bron.”Wade revealed in an ESPN The Magazine story that the three, who have gone to three straight finals and won the last two, plan to have that conversation at some point.“When we sat down and we signed our deals and all of us made sure we had an opt out in that fourth year, that was our option,” Wade said. “So the option is there and you would hope that someone wants to be able to use their option as a player.”Wade took a pay cut and took less than a max deal to help the Heat add some depth to their roster in 2010, and it’s possible the Heat could approach him about doing so again this summer.Wade is due $42 million over the next two years, which would be the most lucrative contract years of his career. But the Heat could try to convince Wade and the others — in the name of more titles — to take another discount.“I’m at a position where I don’t really have to worry about it,” said Wade, who also won a title for the Heat in 2006. “I’ve been with the same organization for now 11 years. We’ve won multiple championships, so it’s no reason where I need to think about that yet. I’m not at a point where we are a bad team and I need to think about the future, so right now I’m really focused on just enjoying this team, enjoying our quest to try to ‘Three-peat.’ And when the season is over, and whatever happens, then I will sit down and I will sit down with Chris and I will sit down with Bron and I will sit down and make the best decision for myself and my family.”
PERTH, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer’s wish is about to be granted — he’s getting the chance to return Serena Williams’ powerful serve.The famously unflappable Swiss acknowledges being excited about the prospect of taking on his fellow tennis great on Tuesday in a Hopman Cup mixed doubles match between Switzerland and the United States.Serena Williams from the U.S. reacts during a match against her sister Venus, on the opening day of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)“I admire everything she has done both on and off the court,” Federer said. “I have always thought how is it to return that serve and go head-to-head with her.”Federer made an impressive start in preparation for his Australian Open title defense with a seemingly effortless 6-1, 6-1 victory over Cameron Norrie on Sunday.His playing partner Belinda Bencic also won to seal defending champion Switzerland’s victory over Britain in Group B.Federer and Bencic will next take on Williams and Frances Tiafoe to kick-start the New Year with arguably the most anticipated match in the tournament’s three-decade history.Tickets were sold out soon after being released for the showpiece encounter, which pits Federer and Williams on court for the first time. The 37-year-olds have won 43 Grand Slam singles titles between them.“It’s very exciting for us. I hope tennis fans tune in and watch it because it’s going to be one time and probably never again in this type of competition,” Federer said.By most people’s standards, the two stars have an unusual meeting place.“I don’t know her that well. I only know her from some champions’ dinners at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “We have busy lives and a big entourage, so it’s rare to really deep dive. We can relate to each other more so now, being parents.”Federer will head into the clash in form after a masterclass 57-minute thrashing of Norrie. The 20-time Grand Slam champion moved around the court well and hit the ball crisply to overwhelm Norrie.“I was very happy that I was able to come out tonight and put in a good performance,” Federer said. “I was happy with all aspects of my game. footwork, offensive play, serve, return. It was all there.”
You have to feel for Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. Yes, Davis is being paid handsomely ($23 million) this season, and he’s had a solid 12-year major league career. But he currently finds himself mired in one of the most inglorious streaks in baseball history: zero hits in his past 49 at-bats, a new MLB record for futility.Davis broke the nearly 8-year-old mark set by former Dodgers infielder Eugenio Vélez, who went 0-for-46 over a 30-game span that lasted more than a calendar year. Vélez himself “surpassed” a record (45 at-bats) that Craig Counsell had tied earlier the same summer; the original 45-at-bat mark was set by Bill Bergen in 1909 and matched by Dave Campbell in 1973. Here’s a progression of all hitless streaks (among nonpitchers) that lasted 40 or more at-bats over time since 1908, the earliest season in Baseball-Reference.com’s game-level data:1This data set was compiled in part using Baseball-Reference’s Streak Finder but may be incomplete for streaks before 1973, when Baseball-Reference’s play-by-play data coverage begins. Before the season, FanGraphs’ depth chart projections called for Davis to hit just .200 this year, largely by virtue of the awful .168 mark he posted last season — already tied for 34th-worst ever by a hitter in a season that qualified for the batting crown. After Davis’s 0-for-28 start in 2019, FanGraphs now see him with a .193 projected batting average over the rest of the season, implying that they believe his true batting-average talent to be 7 points below the Mendoza Line. (Most of the time, players with extremely low batting averages have substantially higher true talent but are also very unlucky.) Combining that with the at-bats he’s already banked, Davis projects to finish the season with a .181 average, which would once again give him one of the 75 or so worst batting-average seasons in MLB history — for the second time in as many years. (So much for reversion to the mean!)But the irony is that Davis is actually hitting the ball better this season, at least according to MLB’s Statcast tracking system. Davis’s average exit velocity of 91.3 miles per hour is higher than it was in 2016 (90.8), when he hit 38 home runs and was a meaningful contributor to plenty of Oriole victories. The big problem is that Davis strikes out so much that he doesn’t have a chance to make use of those powerful swings. So far this season, he has struck out in 47 percent of his plate appearances, more than double the MLB average rate. (Last year, he struck out 37 percent of the time.)Although Davis ought to have broken out of his hitless streak by now — Statcast reports an expected batting average of .119 for Davis this season, based on the quality of his batted balls — his strikeout totals have made it impossible for him to be a functional hitter. The only real question is how much longer the Orioles will continue to pencil him into the lineup and give him more chances to extend the now-record streak of ineffective hitting.Check out our latest MLB predictions.CORRECTION (April 9, 2019, 7 p.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the hitless record tied by Craig Counsell. The record was 45 at-bats, not 45 games.
Some upsets aren’t as big as the seed lines suggest; some are bigger. Two years ago, the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils were upset by No. 15 Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But Duke was the weakest No. 2 seed in 2012, according to the FiveThirtyEight projections that year, whereas Lehigh was unusually strong for a No. 15. Our model had given Lehigh a 10 percent chance of winning.Something of the same pattern held last season when No. 2 Georgetown lost to No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast in the first round. Georgetown was just the 15th-best team in the country, according to our ratings, and was badly overseeded as a No. 2. Our model gave that upset a 10 percent chance of occurring as well.This afternoon, as a No. 3 seed, Duke lost to 14th-seeded Mercer — but the Blue Devils (and the FiveThirtyEight model) have fewer excuses. In fact, Duke was the strongest No. 3 by some margin this year, according to our ratings and other indices like Ken Pomeroy’s power ratings. Our projections had Mercer with just a 7 percent chance of winning before the game began.
Related: Hot Takedown The offense has worked because Durant and West are excellent all-around players; they rank third and fourth, behind Curry and Green, for assist percentage on the Warriors. But without Durant around to cover for regression from players like Green, or for deficiencies in the roster created to make room for Durant himself, the Warriors will need improvements from a few key contributors. That could be Green and Iguodala hitting shots they hit last season, or it could mean continued improvement from JaVale McGee in a thin and aging frontcourt.So the Warriors are in a tough spot for a while, as any team would be with the loss of a player as good as Durant. But if after four weeks it looks as if Durant will have to miss a significant portion of the postseason, the Warriors will be in better shape than just about any team in NBA history to carry on without their star and make a run at the title.Check out our latest NBA predictions. As a rule, losing a superstar player to injury in the NBA means a team’s title chances are history. That means every NBA title run is, in a real way, a matter of luck. A team has to be better than its opponents through four seven-game series, but it also has to dodge largely random injuries to its most important players. A team can be as good as it wants, but there will always be a certain, irreducible chance that it loses its star, and its chance at a title, at the worst possible time. That is, unless it finds a way to tilt those odds.Kevin Durant is familiar with ill-timed injuries. Over his final four seasons in Oklahoma City — the seasons after James Harden was traded away to Houston in 2012 — the Thunder’s playoff runs were marred by injuries in all but one season (Durant in 2015, Russell Westbrook in 2013 and Serge Ibaka in 2014) . They made the Western Conference Finals in 2016, and held a 3-1 lead over the defending champion Warriors, sure, but they never returned to the NBA Finals after 2012. The Thunder had one of the most talented lineups in the league, but without Harden, they’d sacrificed an advantage that, to some, had looked like a weakness: redundancy.The Warriors understand this need better than most. Last April, after the Warriors had won an NBA-record 73 regular season games, league MVP Stephen Curry left Game 4 of the team’s first-round playoff game with a Grade 1 MCL sprain, after having missed Games 2 and 3 with a sprained ankle. Golden State limped through the remainder of that series and the beginning of the next without Curry, and fought through a tough matchup with Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals. But that glimpse of life without Curry in the postseason, and that Curry never really regained his MVP form afterward, made it clear that even the best regular season team in history is vulnerable to injuries at the top of the roster.To insure against this kind of thing happening again, the Warriors pursued redundancy, signing Kevin Durant in the offseason. On Tuesday, Durant was the one who went down. The Warriors announced Wednesday morning that Durant has a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise, and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. The team has not ruled out a regular season return, to say nothing of the postseason, so the Warriors may well end up at full strength by June. (Bookmakers have already updated their NBA championship odds, and Golden State remains the favorite.) But losing a player as good as Kevin Durant, even just for a month, is never a good thing. However, the Warriors are uniquely equipped to handle such a loss, because they’re uniquely stacked.Last season, according to data from Basketball Reference’s count, the Warriors were 22.2 points worse per 100 possessions without Curry. (Strangely, in the playoffs, the Warriors were 2.7 points per 100 better without him on the floor, possibly because Curry was diminished by injury.) This season’s Warriors are worse by 15.6 points without Curry and by 6.7 points without Durant. Those are still big numbers but far more manageable than the massive gulf last season.And they still have Curry, of course. One of the things that separates great NBA players from merely very good ones is the ability to take on workload without sacrificing too much efficiency. In fact, that’s been one of the defining characteristics of Curry’s rise to NBA superstardom. Without Durant, Curry is likely to recover the drop in his usage rate, and he’s shown in the past that he can thrive while taking on added work. Having players who can take on more possessions when necessary is a nice luxury; having ones who can step into the lead role on a championship-caliber team minus an All-NBA teammate is an advantage few teams have ever had.But Durant’s absence will be felt. While his presence insulated Golden State from an injury to a player of Durant’s caliber, he also provided coverage for a different sort of issue: regression. The Warriors offense runs on shooting, and this season’s roster isn’t as rich in gunners as last season’s. Golden State has just four players who have taken more than a handful of threes who are making them at better than a league-average rate, compared to eight such players last season. As a team, their 3-point percentage has gone from 41.6 to 38.5.This goes deeper than a mere shooting slump from Curry, or Durant taking a lot of threes and hitting “only” 37.8 percent. Draymond Green attempted 3.2 threes per game last season and made 38.8 percent; this season he has attempted 3.4 per game and made 32.6 percent. Andre Iguodala’s overall 3-point percentage has held steady around 35 percent, but his percentage on corner threes — the threes that come to him most naturally in the offense — has fallen from 43.1 percent to 31.5 percent. And the bench, which last season had gunners such as Brandon Rush (41.4 percent from three), Leandro Barbosa (35.5 percent), Ian Clark (35.7 percent) and Marreese Speights (38.7 percent), this season has only Clark (39.3 percent) shooting well, instead running with midrange specialists such as David West and Shaun Livingston. When Did Sports Become So Political?
Related: The Lab Back in October, when Draymond Green of the Warriors was asked to assess the Rockets’ offseason efforts to narrow the gap between Houston and Golden State, Green didn’t mince words.“They want [a matchup with us] to be a shootout, which is fine,” he said. “But we’re gonna play some defense. Yeah, we score pretty well. But we’re a damn good defensive team, too.” Green, last season’s defensive player of the year, was clearly implying that the same couldn’t be said for Houston, which ranked in the lower half of the league defensively the past two seasons.Green also seized upon a remark from Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni about neither team being able to stop the other. “I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” he said.But a quarter of the way through the season, that question is no longer up for debate: Houston’s defense is elite, and it could finally make the Rockets balanced enough to challenge Golden State. This Might Be James Harden’s Year With an immense focus on the Houston offense — specifically, its addition of nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and its continuing 3-point shot crusade — the team’s vast improvement on defense has flown beneath the radar. Entering Thursday’s game with the red-hot Utah Jazz, Houston’s defense is surrendering just 100.9 points per 100 possessions, fifth-best in the league. That defensive rating is slightly better than the Warriors’ and represents a night-and-day difference from last season, when the Rockets ranked just 18th, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessions.A handful of things explain why the club’s defense has performed so well after a pair of lackluster defensive seasons. Among them: The Rockets have gotten much better at protecting the rim and other high-value spots on the court that once troubled them; the team’s weakest defenders are performing better (or getting luckier?) than they did in the past; and Houston has used its own scoring ability to pay dividends on the other end.Of course many of these improvements, if not all of them, stem from the same thing: the club’s getting solid, versatile defenders during the offseason. Paul’s track record on that end is well chronicled — he’s a perennial leader in steals. But because he was replacing fellow all-defensive first-team member Patrick Beverley, other pickups have had even greater opportunities to take the unit to new heights.Wing players PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute have been game changers for this defense, giving the Rockets — who already had one of the league’s very best perimeter defenders in an overburdened Trevor Ariza — the ability to switch assignments on the fly when teams set screens against them. They communicate well and don’t get lost backdoor (an area the Rockets struggled mightily with last season). And because both players are tall and strong enough to defend three different positions, Houston can use extremely quick smallball lineups with them, Paul and MVP candidate James Harden, who for years was criticized for his inattentive defense.To get a sense of how just valuable Tucker and Mbah a Moute have been as primary and help defenders, consider this: The Rockets are allowing just 94.1 points per 100 possessions with that duo on the floor this season, third-best in the NBA among two-man lineups that have shared at least 300 minutes together thus far. (Only Boston’s Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart and OKC’s Paul George and Andre Roberson have been better.) At times, Houston almost looks as though it’s playing a zone — with each defender responsible for a man and a half — because of how synchronized the defense is with Tucker and Mbah a Moute. Watch here, as the Nets struggle to get anywhere near the lane because of how every ballhandler sees two Rockets ready to make a play on the ball.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/almostzone.mp400:0000:0000:26Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Even when only one of them is in the game, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, who has been fantastic this season on both ends, is another option aside from Ariza. And because of the trust that Tucker and Mbah a Moute have helped establish, Clint Capela and Nene, the team’s bigs, have felt comfortable wandering farther out on the perimeter to meet opposing ballhandlers. That was often a big mistake last season, when the Rockets ranked dead last in rim protection and allowed opponents to shoot 67 percent from inside the restricted area. (This season, Houston has leaped into the top half of the league on that defensive metric.)With smarter, more switchable defenders on the floor, the Rockets have also taken away many of the corner 3-point opportunities that were there for opponents in years past. And so far this season, Houston ranks among the NBA’s top 10 in limiting those attempts. That’s a big shift from last year, when the Rockets were among the 10 worst teams at stifling 3-point attempts from the corner, and the year before, when Houston’s opponents took a greater share of their 3-point attempts from the corner than any other team’s.Perhaps the biggest shift that has taken place this season: Out of nowhere, Houston has become the NBA’s best defensive-rebounding club, nabbing 81.4 percent of opponent’s misses. Limiting second chances is key for the Rockets, who ranked 21st last year and were last in 2015-16, Dwight Howard’s final season with the team.None of this is to say that the Rockets aren’t capable of backsliding on defense. One area they haven’t gotten better in, transition defense, is something an uptempo team like the Warriors could exploit. (We illustrated last season that Harden — despite his ridiculous passing ability — often gets back on defense slowly after a turnover or what he perceives to be a missed call.) And even though the Rockets have had no issues getting stops in half-court situations, there are indications that they’ve been the beneficiaries of good fortune at times. Only three teams (Cleveland, Orlando and New York) are surrendering higher-quality shots than Houston, according to data from Second Spectrum.Some of those looks have stemmed from opponents getting wide-eyed when they see an opportunity to go 1-on-1 against Harden or the slow-footed Ryan Anderson,1Anderson does look far better defensively than he has in years past, in part because of some weight he dropped during the offseason. who has been isolated more than anyone this season outside of the Lakers’ Julius Randle. Both players have held their own — especially Harden, who’s allowing one of the lowest scoring rates among guards2Who defend at least one isolation play per game and have played in at least 15 games. on those plays, according to data from Synergy Sports Technology. But it’s unclear whether that would hold up for an entire season (Anderson’s case is worth watching, because teams are challenging him 2.5 times a game).If anything, though, there’s reason to suspect that the Rockets could get even better on defense before the season concludes. Much has been made of the Harden-Paul duo, which has yet to fully jell because of Paul’s early-season injury. But if those two figure out how to play off each other and make an already impeccable offense even better, it will pay enormous dividends on the other side of the ball.Houston is sloppy with the ball and bad in transition defense, but they lead the NBA in defensive efficiency after a made basket this season, allowing just 95 points per 100 possessions, according to Inpredictable.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/fullgameposs.mp400:0000:0000:23Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.So, when it’s Rockets vs. Warriors, we aren’t going to see a 1990s-style Eastern Conference slugfest, in which the first team to 90 points wins, break out anytime soon. These teams shoot too well for that to happen. But it’s time to stop wondering whether Houston has the defensive horses to be mentioned in the same sentence with Golden State — this Rockets team is different.
Members of the Ohio State Hall of Fame class of 2016 were inducted on Friday, Sept. 9 at the Ohio Union. Credit: OSU Athletics.The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame welcomed eight new members this Friday, including two of the greatest basketball players ever to play at Ohio State.The new members are Evan Turner (men’s basketball), Jantel Lavender (women’s basketball), John Machado (baseball), Justin Kronauge (men’s tennis), Dan Taylor (men’s track and field), Sam Marder (softball), Randall Larson (diving) and Paul Zelenak (pistol).Headlining the class are the two basketball stars, Turner and Lavender, who both ended their Ohio State careers among their respective team’s all time leading scorers.Turner, who was taken with the second overall pick back in the 2010 NBA draft, played both guard and forward for three seasons (2007-2010) at Ohio State and helped lead the club to a 2008 National Invitational Tournament championship, runner-up in the 2009 Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball tournament and then to victory in the conference tournament the following season.During Turner’s career, he led the Big Ten in scoring in both his sophomore and his junior season. Turner currently sits 18th on the all-time Ohio State scoring list with 1,517 points. He was also an All-Big Ten player in his two final seasons and a first team consensus All-American in his junior season. On Feb. 16, 2015, Turner’s number was retired during the Ohio State vs Michigan game.Turner said that he has been humbled by everything that has gone on to celebrate his legacy as a Buckeye.“The Ohio State is so close to my heart,” Turner said. “To be able to come back here and get honored, to be able to do things most guys aren’t able to do is a blessing. Like I said, I’m a big Buckeye. This is all unreal to me still.”Even after looking back at a career that has spanned six seasons in the NBA to this point, Turner still remembers his time fondly at Ohio State, saying that it is where he has had “the best memories.”“Still sometimes I go to my mom’s house and look at the trophies and things I was able to do here,” Turner said. “We were able to accomplish that, I was able to be a part of that, that’s unreal and to be appreciated for your hard work and your efforts is always a blessing.”The other basketball star joining the ranks of Buckeye immortality is all time leading scorer of the women’s basketball team Jantel Lavender. Over her four year career at Ohio State, Lavender averaged 20.7 points per game and totaled 2818 points and collected 1422 rebounds (most all-time in Big Ten women’s basketball history). Lavender played from 2007-2011 and reached double-digit scoring totals in all 136 games, an NCAA record. She is also the only athlete in the history of the Big Ten to be given the title of Big Ten Player of the Year in every season she played.During her tenure, Lavender led the Scarlet and Gray to three Big Ten regular season titles, three tournament titles, an appearance in the NCAA tournament in every season and a pair of Sweet 16 appearances.After her career at Ohio State was over, she was drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks and was named an All-Star in 2015.Lavender has looked back on her successful career with a lot of pride and has felt that it is a tremendous milestone to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.“For me to become just eligible to be in the Hall of Fame and to be inducted, it’s unbelievable,” Lavender said. “I don’t think it’s really hit me 100% yet. I just know I put in so much work and I put myself forward to the game and gave my teammates so much that I think it’s well deserving and I’m happy about it and I’m just happy to be here.”The new Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s football game against Tulsa.
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer announces the team’s offensive and defensive players of the week during his weekly press conference, but this Monday, he did something different. His offensive award was not to a single player, but to an entire unit: the offensive line.“Our offensive player of the week ran for 210 yards, had 15 knockdowns, scored 17 points and on the last drive of the game, killed four minutes and 30 seconds running the ball against a very good defense, so our offensive player of the game is our offensive line,” Meyer said of the unit’s performance in the Buckeyes’ 17-16 victory against Michigan State on Saturday.That offensive line consists of redshirt junior left tackle Jack Mewhort, junior left guard Andrew Norwell, redshirt junior center Corey Linsley, redshirt junior right guard Marcus Hall and senior right tackle Reid Fragel. Each has started all five games so far this season.Meyer expressed his satisfaction with the performance and progression of the offensive line through the season’s first five games, and especially in its most recent game.“Those five guys right now are locked and loaded, they’re together, they’re being well-coached, and they found a way to rush for 200 yards against a very stout team that doesn’t give up much rushing yardage,” Meyer said. “That’s the group right now that I’m most pleased with.”Coming into the season, however, the Buckeyes had less certainty with their offensive line, as they had to replace three starters from 2011.Norwell is the only returning starter in his same position from 2011, while Mewhort moved from right guard to left tackle. Hall had started five games at right guard in 2011, while Linsley and Fragel, the latter of whom was a tight end in his first three years with the Buckeyes, had never started a game as an offensive lineman at OSU.Mewhort said this year’s starting offensive line has come together well.“We’re really gelling well, and we’re getting better every day, so we’re really excited about the places we’re going,” Mewhort said.Offensive line coach Ed Warinner said the unit has “continued to grow” over the course of the season thus far.“They’ve played together for five games … we’re not a finished product there … we still have a lot of things to continue to grow and clean up and get better at, but I think they’re really playing hard, they’re starting to understand what we want in the spread offense, we’re trying to be physical up front,” Warinner said. “They practice that way and they’re starting to carry it to the game field and it was good, it was good to be able to finish off that game the way we did, and for them to be recognized by the head coach and the offensive staff as a unit that made the big impact, that was great.”Warinner said Meyer’s stamp of approval is meaningful to the offensive linemen because of the work they’ve put in.“I think it validates the hard work that they’ve put in, and just how hard they’re playing,” Warinner said. “There were four starting offensive linemen in this building at 6:30 this morning without anybody telling them they had to be here, without anybody making them have to be here. That tells me right now that they’re pretty all in.”Meyer specifically pointed out the progression of Fragel as a first-year offensive tackle for the Buckeyes.“Reid Fragel has become an offensive lineman. He wasn’t an offensive lineman at first, who are we kidding? He was a tight end playing offensive line that was trying to figure it out. His last two games, he’s now an offensive lineman, an Ohio State offensive lineman, which is, you say that around here, that’s pretty powerful stuff. We’ve had some great offensive linemen throughout the years,” Meyer said.While Meyer did praise the five starters, he expressed concern about the offensive line’s depth.“Unfortunately, we only got five (starting-caliber offensive linemen),” Meyer said. “(We) should have eight of them, we don’t. We have five guys right now.”The next test for the No. 12 Buckeyes’ offensive line is scheduled for Saturday in a home game versus No. 21 Nebraska at 8 p.m.Warinner said his unit will have to “be at our best” while going up against the Cornhuskers’ defensive front.“They have big defensive tackles that try to knock the guards back, they have defensive ends that are aggressive, quick,” Warinner said. “It’s a challenging defense … They are good up front. We’ll have to take it a notch up from last week.”
OSU Deputy Athletic Director Martin Jarmond highlights future OSU football schedules at the Fawcett Center. Credit: Lantern file photoOhio State University Deputy Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond will be the next Athletic Director at Boston College University, Boston College announced today.At OSU, Jarmond functioned directed external and internal relations and day-to-day operations of the athletics program, and served as sport administrator for Buckeye football, men’s basketball, baseball, and men’s and women’s golf programs.Jarmond was an integral part in compiling football schedules for OSU, which includes out of conference opponents until the year 2024. The Buckeyes will be playing teams like Oregon, Notre Dame and Texas at home over the next few seasons, thanks to the work of Jarmond.“I am humbled and honored to serve as the William V. Campbell Director of Athletics at Boston College,” Jarmond said in a statement. “I am grateful to (University President) Fr. Leahy and Boston College for entrusting me with this role. I have always believed that the commitment to high academic standards and competing at the highest level athletically are not mutually exclusive.”OSU Senior Vice President and Athletics Director Gene Smith, who has worked alongside Jarmond since 2009, said in a statement he was pleased to see his collegaue move to a prestigious position, but will also miss his presence.“Martin is one of the best administrators I have ever worked with,” Smith said. “His leadership skills are exceptional. It has been a tremendous honor working with him and watching him develop into a premier athletic administrator. His contributions to The Ohio State University have been significant, and he will be missed.”
Ohio State’s Bo Jordan wrestles Kaleb Young in the dual-meet against Iowa on Jan. 21 in the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team (12-0, 7-0 Big Ten) beat up on Purdue (6-6, 0-5 Big Ten), defeating the Boilermakers 35-7 Sunday afternoon at Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio.Ohio State’s Bo and Micah Jordan competed in their high school gym for the first time since they graduated. No. 5 Micah beat redshirt sophomore Cole Wysocki 21-9 at 157 pounds, and No. 3 Bo won 9-4 against No. 10 redshirt sophomore Dylan Lydy of Purdue at 174 pounds.Two other matchups between ranked wrestlers occurred, with Ohio State No. 11 junior Joey McKenna edging out No. 18 sophomore Nate Limmex 6-0 at 141 pounds. Ohio State No. 4 senior Nathan Tomasello beat No. 15 senior Luke Welche 18-5 at 125.Ohio State redshirt junior Cody Burcher upset No. 19 Jacob Morrissey with a pin just 34 seconds into the match. Burcher was wrestling in replace of No. 13 junior Te’Shan Campbell, who has struggled recently and lost his fourth consecutive match against Michigan State Friday.No. 2 junior Myles Martin won 20-4 with a technical fall against Purdue junior Jonathan Morales, securing the victory in the 184-pound division. No. 1 sophomore Kollin Moore won 18-3 against Purdue sophomore Christian Brunner.Ohio State No. 6 sophomore Ke-Shawn Hayes competed against redshirt sophomore Austin Nash at 149 pounds, and came away with a 24-6 win. Redshirt junior Ben Thornton beat Ohio State freshman Brakan Mead 10-2 at 133 pounds. Mead wrestled in place of No. 2 sophomore Luke Pletcher.Ohio State redshirt freshman Kevin Snyder lost to No. 15 freshman Shawn Streck 5-2 at heavyweight. Snyder was wrestling in replacement of his brother Kyle Snyder, who won the Yarygin Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Sunday morning. Ohio State’s next meet starts at 8 p.m. Saturday in University Park, Pennsylvania, against No. 2 Penn State. The matchup will be streamed on Big Ten Network.
Ohio State then-sophomore forward Maddy Field (22) takes on Minnesota redshirt senior defender Lee Stecklein (2) during the Buckeyes game against the Gophers on Oct. 22. Credit: Emily Lehmkuhl | For The LanternThe No. 5 Ohio State women’s hockey team opens Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference play this weekend against Minnesota State. The Buckeyes are coming off a challenging early series matchup against No. 8 Colgate. Ohio State split the series, winning the first game by a score of 4-3, then earning its first loss of the season, as Colgate overcame a 2-0 deficit after the first period to come back and win 5-2. “I think for us it was a huge deal to play Colgate,” senior forward Charly Dahlquist said. “ Playing a team that is so skilled so early in the season and seeing our success against that team gave a little bright side showing that we can compete with a team that was at the Frozen Four last year.” Minnesota State looks to be a easier opponent than Colgate, with the Mavericks coming off a 5-28-1 record with a 3-21-0 record in WCHA play last season. Minnesota State has not had a winning season since the 2003-2004 season, the only winning season for the Mavericks since their team began playing back in 1998. However, so far in this current season, the Mavericks are 2-0, having won a weekend series against RPI, and Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said the team cannot overlook anyone.“Every year there is a little flair, that’s a little different,” Muzerall said. “There’s new players or coaches might tweak things with the personnel they have. And with head coach John Harrington being who John Harrington is, a 1980 Miracle on Ice player and his wisdom, you never know what he could have up his sleeve.” The Buckeyes will have an advantage of being able to look at several players to contribute on the ice instead of just their star players. In just four games played, 15 players have scored a point, with seven of those 15 scoring multiple points. “When you have secondary scoring, that’s very reassuring for the depth that you have,” Muzerall said. “You’re not always relying on the same players. You feel comfortable about bringing out your second, third or even fourth line. Knowing that they can execute what you ask of them shows that we’ve come a long way and don’t rely on just three people anymore.”The Buckeyes have been lethal on the penalty kill, keeping the opposing team from converting on a power play 17-18 times in the four games played so far.. The 94.4 percent success rate on the penalty kill is tied for No. 10 in the NCAA, trailing only teams with 100 percent success rates.“I think a big thing for us with the penalty kill is we are relentless,” Dahlquist said. “We don’t let down, we realize we are down a player and we need to get the puck out. I think we’re just a gritty team that isn’t willing to let down and that’s why we are so successful.” The Buckeyes play on Friday and Saturday against Minnesota State at the OSU Ice Rink. Friday’s game is set to start at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game starts at 1 p.m.
It was a classic case where in the absence of a domestic warrant an EAW warrant should not have been issued. It’s a dodgy caseJudge Khalid Quereshi A former star of the BBC quiz show, Eggheads, will not face extradition to the Netherlands, despite claiming he had killed someone there almost 30 years ago.CJ de Mooi, whose real name is Joseph Connagh, was wanted for questioning by the authorities in Amsterdam after writing in his book that he had killed a mugger there in 1988. But attempts to extradite him from Britain were blocked when a judge rejected the Dutch applicationThe 46-year-old, who was a regular on the BBC afternoon quiz that pits members of the public against quiz experts, claimed he punched a knife-wielding robber and then threw his body in a canal, while working as a rent boy in the city.Writing in his controversial autobiography, he confessed: “I fully suspect I killed him.” Mr de Mooi was arrested at Heathrow Airport in September after Dutch Police issued a European Arrest Warrant.But the document was thrown out at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after it was revealed that the Dutch had not even provided a name for the alleged victim. CJ de Mooi was a regular on the quiz show EggheadsCredit:BBC/12 Yard Productions Rachael Scott, prosecuting, said: “Towards the end of last week a letter was received from the Dutch authorities responding to questions from the Crown Prosecution Service.“It addressed two heads, whether there was a domestic arrest warrant in the Netherlands, an essential requirement for a valid warrant, and secondly, whether a decision had been made to charge Mr Connagh.“The response to this set out that no, there was not a domestic arrest warrant, and he was not being charged.” The judge described the case against CJ de Mooi as ‘dodgy’Credit:Peter Macdiarmid/London News Pictures A final extradition hearing had been set for November 28, but after no domestic warrant was issued, Myles Grantson, for De Mooi, applied to discharge the European Arrest Warrant. Granting the application, Judge Khalid Quereshi said: ‘It was a classic case where in the absence of a domestic warrant an EAW warrant should not have been issued. “In the circumstances in the absence of a domestic warrant and the absence of any decision to charge I dismiss the European Arrest Warrant in the name of Joseph Connagh.”Dutch police began to investigate the alleged crime following reports of De Mooi’s book launch in September 2015.He revealed he had slept rough for three years around Europe and was forced into prostitution after a troubled upbringing in Rotherham, south Yorkshire.Mr de Mooi, who lives in Monmouthshire with his husband, left the Eggheads show in 2011 only to return earlier this year.He has since left the programme and has announced plans to pursue a career in acting.His manager said in a statement: “CJ is obviously very pleased with the result of today’s hearing, and will continue to co-operate with the Dutch authorities until this matter is finally concluded.”He would like to thank the tens of thousands of people who have contacted him via social media and in person, for their lovely words and support during this traumatic time for him; he really does appreciate each and every one of the kind messages he has received.” 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 cyclist rips off the wing mirror Credit:Facebook / Viral Thread Another wrote: “Absolutely disgusting cretins and whilst I can not support the heat of the moment mirror damage I can understand why.”Jungle Creations says its production team “create and curate the best content on the internet to entertain and engage our audience”.Its production team also produces “original viral video concepts”, guaranteeing “clients a minimum of 1 million views on each of these films”.Jungle Creations has been contacted for comment. It was posted on the Viral Thread Facebook page, which is run by viral video media company Jungle Creations.The post asks viewers: “Who is in the wrong here? Cyclist girl gets revenge on catcalling van drivers.”Jungle Creations co-founder Paul Bieboer said his company did not produce the video, telling the newspaper: “It’s a source we’ve never used before.”The clip shows the cyclist hitting out at the van driver, who responds: “Woah, woah don’t be like that!”She responds: “Go away!”“Woah! That’s not very lady-like is it, ay? Oi, what charm school did you go to ay?” the van driver responds. He adds: “You wanna tell your mum and dad to get their f—–g money back.“Shut up you old dog … You on your period?”After the cyclist takes revenge, the man who filmed the footage tells them: “That’s exactly what you deserve, you scum!” The footage, filmed in Tottenham Court Road, central London, was captured on a moped rider’s helmet cam and racked up over 10 million views on Facebook in less than 24 hours.However, eyewitness Scott Deane told The Sun it was staged, he said: “They practiced the scene two of three times with the motorbike riding behind them.“You could see there was already damage to the wing mirror, it was loose … I couldn’t believed it when I saw the video online.” A viral video of a female cyclist ‘taking revenge’ on a catcalling van driver was staged, an eyewitness has claimed.It shows a van driver verbally abusing the woman before she later gets revenge by ripping the motorist’s wing mirror off. 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 video has attracted thousands of comments on Facebook.Nicole Skinner wrote: “There shouldn’t even be a question of who is in the wrong here. Anyone with a right mind can see that woman was harassed and had every right to get angry and defend herself.”
Loading… Princess Charlotte is celebrating her second birthday, and her mother the Duchess of Cambridge has released a photograph of her.Many were excited to see the new picture of the Royal child, and have been discussing who she most resembles.Does she look like her mother? Or does she look more like the Queen?Vote below – the votes of other people as well as yours will create a ranking. 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.