Month: September 2019

Louisville Shouldve Been a No 1 Seed But It Might Play Like

TeamYearSeedAvgGames wonExpected winsOver-performance Pittsburgh2013870%00.67-0.67 Utah St.20051477%00.09-0.09 Miss. Valley St.20081626%00.000.00 Louisville2014470%TBD1.48TBD Louisville is FiveThirtyEight’s pick to win the NCAA tournament even though it’s a No. 4 seed. That doesn’t reflect a bluegrass bias, or a weak draw, or a bug in the model (we hope). Instead, it reflects how massively underseeded the Cardinals are. According to our calculations, Louisville is the seventh-most underseeded team in the past 12 tournaments, and the most aggrieved this year.That’s the good news for Cardinals fans, whose team has a 15 percent chance of winning the title, according to our model. Louisville is also the plurality pick for Midwest Region champion of ESPN, Yahoo and CBS readers who picked brackets. It even has the backing of President Obama, who has the defending champion Cardinals returning to the final (though losing to Michigan State).Now here’s the bad news: Although teams that receive rough treatment from the selection committee outperform their seed on average, there are plenty of exceptions. The most underseeded team among top-four seeds since 2003 — Memphis in 2009, a No. 2 seed rated by some analysts as the strongest team in the country — lost in the Sweet Sixteen.We can place Louisville’s No. 4 seed in historical context in several ways, none ideal. I chose to calculate, for each team in the tournament since 20031As far back as our data set goes., its expected winning percentage against the other teams that received that seed during that period, using ratings from college basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy. So, I’m pitting Louisville against the other 47 teams that got No. 4 seeds since 2003, in a hypothetical mini-season, to see how much stronger the Cardinals are than their peers.2To make it easier to compare teams across different years’ tournaments, I used Pomeroy’s Pythagorean rating for a team: his estimate of that team’s winning percentage if it played a schedule full of average teams. He bases it on teams’ schedules and their offensive and defensive efficiency — how many points per possession they score and allow. (Pomeroy provided, at my request, his Selection Sunday ratings for each year going back to 2003.)We can get win probability for a game using a relatively simple calculation involving the teams’ Pythagorean ratings, outlined here. Teams in different seasons aren’t usually compared in this way, because each season’s ratings are benchmarked to that season’s average team. In our case, we’re looking for a team’s strength relative to its peers in a given season — compared, in turn, to the strength relative to its peers of another team that got the same seed. So the calculation is appropriate.Comparing teams to just the other teams with their seeds in the same season produces similar results. Louisville would have won 70.6 percent of games in a hypothetical season against the other three No. 4 seeds this year: Michigan State, San Diego State and UCLA.Other ratings also take into account similar factors to Pomeroy’s; ESPN’s Basketball Power Index adds the feature of accounting for injuries but goes back just three seasons. Some other possession-based ratings rank Louisville even higher than Pomeroy does. That is reflected in FiveThirtyEight’s model, which gives Louisville a 15 percent chance of winning the title, compared to 12.3 percent by Pomeroy. So another rating might show Louisville to be even more underseeded than Pomeroy’s does.According to these calculations, Louisville would have won 69.8 percent of games against other No. 4 seeds, assuming strength in each season was the same. That’s the highest winning percentage relative to seed since 2003 for a No. 4 seed. At the other end of the spectrum, Vanderbilt, in 2008, would have beaten just 29.6 percent of fellow No. 4 seeds — the lowest of the group.These calculations don’t necessarily mean the selection committee hasn’t done its job when seedings don’t perfectly reflect team strength. Some years, the gap between the four best teams and the next four — or eight or 12 — is greater than it is in other years. Also, sometimes rules such as preventing early meetings between conference rivals can force the committee’s hand. This season, the committee mostly got things right. Only one team other than Louisville is badly underseeded: Tennessee, the No. 11 seed in the Midwest.However, the selection committee chairman, Ron Wellman, said that his panel continues to use Rating Percentage Index to evaluate whether brackets are balanced. RPI’s continued influence, despite its well-known drawbacks, suggests that some teams do get bad breaks.One reason the committee might not feel it needs to change its seeding practices: Teams like Louisville haven’t always soared. Despite being stronger than their seeds suggest, many underseeded teams underperform.Five of the six teams that were more underseeded than Louisville fell flat. Four lost their first games. (One of those, Lamar in 2012, lost a play-in game.) Memphis, in 2009, fell in the round of 16 despite its impressive stats. Only Florida last year, as a strong No. 3 seed, exceeded expectations, falling in the Elite Eight.Outperformance of seed is a tricky concept. The simplest way to evaluate how teams should do is to assume they should beat all lower seeds, but that supposes that all No. 1 seeds will always make the Final Four, which is far from automatic. So for each team since 2003, I started with the number of games it won — from the round of 64 on — and subtracted from that the average number of wins for all other teams in that period with that seed.3This is known as “performance against seed expectation” and has been calculated going back to the start of the current tournament format.  So, for instance, the average No. 2 seed since 2003, excluding Memphis in 2009, won 2.4 games. Memphis won two. So it underperformed by four-tenths of a game.There’s a small, positive correlation4R=0.12 between a team’s hypothetical winning percentage against teams with the same seed and a team’s wins relative to expected wins for its seed. So, on balance, teams that are underseeded do prove the selection committee wrong. But the effect is so minor, and clouded by so many exceptions, that they hardly add up to a compelling case against controversial seeding decisions. There are too many examples like Memphis in 2009 to set against cases such as Davidson in 2008, a No. 10 seed that would win two-thirds of games against other 10 seeds and that made the Final Four. Virginia2007430%11.49-0.49 Vanderbilt2008430%01.51-1.51 Memphis2009270%22.40-0.40 Belmont20111371%00.30-0.30 Florida2013370%32.160.84 UNC Asheville20031627%00.000.00 Gonzaga2006330%22.19-0.19 Louisville can search its own media guide for examples of teams that should have done better than their seeds but didn’t. In 2004, the Cardinals were heavily underseeded at No. 10. That suggested they were between the 37th- and 40th-strongest team in the tournament, despite being ranked 16th in Pomeroy’s ratings. Louisville drew a Xavier team that was ranked lower by Pomeroy but that lost by 10. In 2011, like this year, Louisville got a No. 4 seed it could have complained about, because Pomeroy rated the Cardinals 11th and five teams rated lower got better seeds. Yet the Cardinals lost their first tournament game.The potential for upsets that makes the NCAA tournament so exciting could also reduce the Cardinals quickly from title favorite to disappointment, which would end any debate over whether they were underseeded. Anyone lobbying the selection committee to reconsider its decisions should beware of staking the case on any one team, even one as strong and as underseeded as Louisville is. After all, even our model anointing it the favorite gives Louisville an 85 percent chance of not repeating as champions. read more

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Julius Peppers Admits Posted Transcript Is His

Chicago Bears star defense lineman Julius Peppers confirmed it was his North Carolina academic transcript that was posted on the school’s website and displayed a 1.8 GPA But he insists there was “no academic fraud” with it.“I can assure everyone that there is no academic fraud as it relates to my college transcript,” Peppers said in the statement. “I took every course with qualified members of the UNC faculty and I earned every grade whether it was good or bad.“I was never given unapproved assistance or preferential treatment in terms of my academic career because I was a student-athlete. I was also never deemed ineligible to compete on any of the football or basketball teams.”Peppers said the exposure of his transcript has not been a pleasant experience.“This week has been an upsetting and challenging week for me, as one of my most private academic documents appeared on the university’s website for public examination,” Peppers said. “I’m terribly disappointed in the fact that my privacy has been violated, as well as frustrated with whoever negligently and carelessly committed such a flagrant error.”The school never confirmed the authenticity of the transcript, which lists Peppers’ name at the top, but has said it is investigating how the document wound up on the website. School officials removed the link and have said they can’t discuss confidential student information covered by federal privacy laws.The link showed Peppers received some of his highest grades in classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM). A school investigation has since found fraud and poor oversight in 54 AFAM classes between summer 2007 and summer 2011, with football players making up more than a third of the enrollments and student-athletes making up 58% of the overall enrollments in those suspect classes.Nine of the 10 classes in which Peppers earned a B-+, B or B- that could’ve helped ensure his eligibility came in the AFAM department where he was majoring, according to the transcript. Three were listed as independent study classes, another problem area cited in the school’s probe for a lack of supervision of work — often a research paper — performed by students.The transcript lists a 1.824 GPA, beginning with classes during the summer of 1998 and finishing in the fall of 2001 during Peppers’ last year on the football field for the Tar Heels. The link lacked grades for five classes in summer and fall 2001 terms.The transcript could raise the possibility that the AFAM troubles go back much further than the four-year focus of the investigation, though the school’s report in May acknowledged the misconduct could reach before 2007.Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Thursday that former Gov. Jim Martin will lead a newly created panel to address issues stemming from the internal investigation. read more

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Steelers Legend LC Greenwood Dies

Photo by bestsportsphotos.com.L.C. Greenwood, one of the dominant defensive figures of the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, died of natural causes Sunday in a Pittsburgh hospital. He was 67.Greenwood was a six-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman, a key component of the “Steel Curtain” that was a big part of the team’s four championships in six seasons.“L.C. was one of the most beloved Steelers during the most successful period in team history, and he will be missed by the entire organization,” team chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement.Greenwood, “Mean” Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White formed the bedrock of the defense that helped turn a perennial loser into a dynasty.L.C. Henderson Greenwood was born Sept. 8, 1946, in Canton, Miss., the oldest of nine children. He was taken in the tenth round of the 1969 NFL draft — nine rounds after Greene — from Arkansas A&M (now Arkansas Pine-Bluff). He blossomed into a tenacious pass rusher who used his superior speed to blow past offensive tackles and into the backfield. Though sacks did not become an official statistic until after his retirement, Greenwood posted 73½ during his 13-year career.The 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound Greenwood thrived in the postseason. Greenwood was a showman. While recovering from an ankle injury during the 1973 season, Greenwood wore a pair of high-top cleats that a friend painted gold. He wore them twice — both Steelers wins — and went back to his usual cleats after the ankle healed. The Steelers lost the next game, and the gold cleats soon returned.Knee problems forced Greenwood to retire before the 1982 season. He remained in Pittsburgh after his retirement, working as an entrepreneur and motivational speaker.Despite support from his teammates — including Greene — Greenwood has not been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a finalist six times, the last in 2006. read more

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The Indians Win Streak Wasnt MLBs Longest — But It Might Be

It had to end sometime. After sustaining a perfect record and a staggering 142-37 scoring margin over more than three weeks of play, the Cleveland Indians finally lost Friday night, dropping a tight contest to the Kansas City Royals. It was their first loss after winning 22 straight games. Now that The Streak is over, Cleveland can go back to focusing on the playoffs like any contending team.Just because the Indians can put their streak in the rearview mirror, though, doesn’t mean that we can’t dwell on it a little more. It wasn’t the major league record for consecutive wins — if we include unofficial ties in between victories, the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-game mark still reigns supreme. But we can compare the Indians’ streak to that Giants’ run and determine exactly how difficult baseball’s best winning streaks were in general. (And, because I can’t resist, compare the Indians’ accomplishments with winning streaks in the NBA.)Depending on how you measure the streak’s likelihood, the chances of a team like Cleveland pulling off their streak might have been as low as 1 in 65,000.To judge this, I compared all the MLB streaks to one another, assuming they were done by the same, generic contending team. I set up a simulation under which a team with a fixed Elo rating — our method for determining how good a team is at a given moment — would take a crack at the particular opponents1Including the location of the game and the opposing starting pitchers. faced by every real MLB team who had a winning streak2Again, including streaks interrupted by ties. of at least 18 games since 1901.A few more technical details of the simulation: I gave all the teams the same fixed rating, 1560, which is the average Elo of a World Series participant since 1903, when the first modern Fall Classic was staged.3For context, the average Elo rating is about 1500. For comparison’s sake, the Indians’ rating at the beginning of their streak was 1555. I also assumed the streaking team had a five-man starting rotation, with the team’s rotation slot for the initial game of the streak randomized.4The generic team’s Elo pitcher ratings were then based on the long-term average for that slot number in the rotation. The opponent’s was still the real-life version that reflects the actual starters a team faced during its streak. (This matters because a team that goes into a potential streak with its No. 5 starter is much less likely to get off on the right foot than a team putting its ace on the mound.)After running the first round of simulations, here were the odds of our generic contending team pulling off each streak: Which MLB winning streak was most impressive?Probability of a generic contending team matching MLB’s eight longest winning streaks since 1901 1904New York Giants181471.466.41,691 What if we account for rotation size and era?Probability of a generic contender matching the longest winning streaks, adjusted for historical spread of Elo ratings and shorter rotations in past According to this model, the hardest streak still belonged to the 1916 Giants — which isn’t too surprising, since they won four more games in a row than the Indians. And sorry, Billy Beane: the 2002 “Moneyball” A’s also fall behind lesser streaks because of the weak opposition they faced during their streak. But another thing that stands out are the odds, which are much more favorable than if we simply ran them on a .500 team. 1904New York Giants181471.468.9860 (We’ll have to leave the impressiveness of the Dodgers’ feat — winning 52 out of 61 earlier in the season — for another time.)The difference is because a 1560 Elo squad is (by design) no ordinary .500 team. Our generic team is going to be predisposed to running off a stretch of games like this, which only makes sense — average teams don’t go on these kinds of tears. And our simulation teams only got hotter as they won — that is, a team’s rating is fixed at 1560 before the streak begins, but then it gains steam with each victory, making the odds of winning again higher.But there’s another layer we can add to the simulation to make it more reflective of the conditions under which each streak was actually compiled. Most clubs didn’t use the five-man rotation, for instance, until the 1970s or early ‘80s; likewise, the best teams of the past used to be much stronger Elo-wise, making it more likely we’d see such a run of greatness earlier in baseball history. We can account for these wrinkles by assigning a four-man rotation to teams before 1980, and adjusting our generic team’s fixed rating to be slightly higher in the past than in later seasons.5The adjustment, which is based on smoothing out changes in the average World Series team’s pre-playoff Elo over time, isn’t huge for most comparisons, but it does drop our fixed rating from about 1580 in 1903 to about 1540 in 2017. After re-running the numbers with these two tweaks, here’s an amended list of the most difficult streaks: 2002Oakland Athletics201489.563.78,454 2017Cleveland Indians221496.763.029,951 1906Chicago White Sox191507.461.411,642 YEARTEAMSTREAK LENGTHAVG. OPP. ELOAVG. WIN PROB.GENERIC TEAM ODDS 1916New York Giants261493.465.2%1 in 76,702 1916New York Giants261493.567.234,720 1906Chicago White Sox191507.563.95,313 2017Cleveland Indians221496.660.9%1 in 65,566 1953New York Yankees181518.058.616,752 1947New York Yankees191506.260.813,297 1953New York Yankees181518.059.213,895 YEARTEAMSTREAK LENGTHAVG. OPP. ELOAVG. WIN PROB.GENERIC TEAM ODDS (ADJ.) In a plot twist, the Indians’ streak now rises to the top — a function of being accomplished in an era of (theoretically) more parity and a higher chance for some scrub pitcher to mess the streak up thanks to a bigger rotation than older teams had.So how does this stack up against notable streaks from another sport like, say, basketball? Using the same Elo-based method,6Except without any of the fancy starting pitching adjustments, obviously. I calculated the odds of a generic contending NBA team (with a 1660 Elo7The average Elo for an NBA Finalist since 1984, when the league adopted its current playoff format.) pulling off some of the longest streaks in pro basketball history. And even the most impressive streaks on the hardwood can’t compare with baseball’s hottest runs.The longest winning streak in NBA history, the 1972 L.A. Lakers’ 33-game winning streak, would have a 1 in 720 chance of being accomplished by our generic contender. The Golden State Warriors’ 24-game streak to start the season a couple years ago raises the bar a bit, with a 1 in 1,879 chance of being achieved by a generic contender, since the Warriors faced a much more difficult slate of opponents. But even a streak as memorable as the Houston Rockets’ 22-gamer from 2008 seems weak (1 in 247 odds) when compared with the baseball streaks we looked at above.Streaks are nice, but the Indians surely have another accolade in mind: the World Series trophy. As of now, we give them a 1 in 4 chance. Given what they just pulled off, doesn’t seem so hard, does it? 1947New York Yankees191506.261.710,223 2002Oakland Athletics201489.462.213,775 1935Chicago Cubs211499.663.119,477 1935Chicago Cubs211499.764.312,736 read more

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MarcAndre Fleury Is Having One Of The Best Playoffs In NHL History

The Flower is already among the eliteGoalies to post at least four shutouts in an NHL playoff run, 1980-2017 And while shutouts are good — they literally guarantee victory in the playoffs — it’s not just in the shutout column that Fleury has impressed: As it stands, he ranks ninth all-time in goals against average for a single playoffs among goalies post-1980 and second all-time in save percentage for a single playoffs among all goalies in the history of the NHL. All this even though the Golden Knights are giving up the most shots per game among teams that are still fighting for the Cup. And despite his reputation as a uniquely bad playoff goalie.That reputation cost Fleury last summer: Pittsburgh didn’t protect him, and the Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the NHL expansion draft. Despite being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft — and despite being part of three Penguins teams that won the Stanley Cup — Fleury was effectively cast off to the desert. The Penguins preferred to move forward with their newer, shinier model, Matt Murray. That decision didn’t pay off for Pittsburgh this spring: Murray had the worst playoffs of his young career, recording quality starts in just 50 percent of his games and stopping an abysmal 91 percent of the shots he faced. The top two playoff scorers to this point are Crosby and his teammate Jake Guentzel, yet the Penguins are no longer playing playoff hockey. The problem for Pittsburgh in these playoffs wasn’t putting pucks into the opponents’ net — it was keeping pucks out of their own. If only they’d hung onto that Fleury guy.To be fair to Fleury’s detractors, his playoff numbers before this season are right next to “bad playoff goaltending” in the hockey dictionary: His quality starts percentage in the playoffs is just 50, versus 55 in the regular season. For most of his career, the Flower has experienced a dip in play from regular season to the postseason. This season — for whatever reason — that dip has transformed into a massive ascent. So far this spring, Fleury’s quality starts percentage is an astonishing 80.Fleury’s metamorphosis has been especially impressive when viewed alongside the historically great playoff performances of his goaltending forebears. The majority of goalies on the list above made their mark in a season when scoring was notably down. From 2001-02 to 2003-04, the average goals scored hovered around 2.6 per team per game. It was in this window of dead-puck hockey — right before the NHL lost a season to the lockout — when the top five goalies on this list were tending net. In the 2017-18 regular season, scoring was up to almost 3 goals per team per game during the regular season. The only two goalies on the list who played in a more free-scoring season in this span were Mike Richter and Kirk McLean, who both posted four shutouts in the spring of 1994 en route to the Stanley Cup Final. 2010-11R. Luongo, T. Thomas2.79 GoalieTeamYearShutoutsTeam Result K. McLeanCanucks19944Lost in final M. FleuryGolden Knights20184? N. KhabibulinLightning20045Won Cup M. RichterRangers19944Won Cup Fleury is blanking teams in a high-scoring seasonGoalies to post at least four shutouts in one season’s playoffs and the average goals per game that season, 1979-80 to 2017-18 R. LuongoCanucks20114Lost in final M. BrodeurDevils20037Won Cup 1993-94K. McLean, M. Richter3.24 P. RoyAvalanche20014Won Cup It used to be difficult to imagine hearing “best goalie in the playoffs” and “Marc-Andre Fleury” in the same sentence, unless that sentence read, “Marc-Andre Fleury is most certainly not the best goalie in the playoffs.” But it also used to be difficult to imagine that Alexander Ovechkin would defeat Sidney Crosby in a playoff series, and yet here we are.Up is down, left is right, and Marc-Andre Fleury has been the best goalie in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs — and he’s doing it for an expansion team from Las Vegas. And depending on how Fleury plays from now until the end of spring, he might go down as the goalie with the best playoff performance in NHL history.Through his first 10 starts, Fleury — affectionately referred to as “the Flower” by fans and pundits — has pitched four shutouts. For his Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup,1We didn’t think they’d win the Stanley Cup, but we didn’t not think they’d win the Stanley Cup either. they have to win eight more games. If Fleury were to continue his current shutout pace of two in every five games — and conservatively assuming that the Golden Knights win each series in a sweep, limiting their netminder’s chances for shutouts — he’d tie Martin Brodeur for the most shutouts in a single Stanley Cup playoffs with seven. If the Golden Knights were to play the maximum number of games they could play for the remainder of the playoffs (14) and if Fleury continued his two in five shutout pace, he would finish with roughly 10 shutouts.And to be clear, shutouts aren’t just the cherries on top of a successful netminder’s playoff sundae — there have been 14 goalie-seasons from 1979-80 to 2016-172Or, since the NHL went to a 16 team playoff format. in which four or more shutouts were posted in a single playoff run, and in six of those, the goalie’s team won the Stanley Cup. 2003-04M. Kiprusoff, N. Khabibulin2.57 Source: Hockey-Reference.com 2001-02D. Hasek, P. Lalime2.62 P. LalimeSenators20024Lost in second round Source: Hockey-Reference.com 1997-98O. Kolzig2.64 E. BelfourStars20004Lost in final SeasonGoaliesAvg. Goals Per Game 2017-18M. Fleury2.97 M. BrodeurDevils20014Lost in final T. ThomasBruins20114Won Cup 2000-01P. Roy, M. Brodeur2.76 O. KolzigCapitals19984Lost in final 2002-03J. Giguere, M. Brodeur2.65 Who knows if the Flower will continue to bloom this spring, but history shows that he’s probably already done enough to earn his Golden Knights a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. And even if Fleury joins Patrick Lalime as the only goalie since 1980 to post four shutouts and not reach the Stanley Cup Final, a conference final berth is a decent consolation prize. And whichever way the pucks bounce going forward, Fleury will have gone further in these playoffs than the team that cast him off last summer. As the Penguins and their younger, shinier goalie march toward the beach, Fleury’s run to the Stanley Cup Final continues. D. HasekRed Wings20026Won Cup M. KiprusoffFlames20045Lost in final 1999-2000E. Belfour2.75 J. GiguereMighty Ducks20035Lost in final read more

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Ohio State womens volleyball pushes No 5 Washington to 5 sets but

OSU junior defensive specialist Valeria León (3) during a game against Robert Morris in the NCAA tournament on Dec. 4 at St. John Arena. OSU won 3-0. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorFor the first time in 14 matches, the No. 5-seeded Washington women’s volleyball team was on the verge of losing, as No. 12 Ohio State forced a fifth set.Despite a gritty effort, however, the Buckeyes couldn’t pull off the upset, falling in the back-and-forth Sweet 16 matchup (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 12-25, 15-8) in Lexington, Kentucky.The Huskies extended their winning streak to 14 and will advance to the Elite Eight to face fourth-seeded Nebraska on Saturday.Against a Washington squad that leads the country in hitting percentage, OSU was able to turn the match into a defensive battle. Even in defeat, the Buckeyes outhit the Huskies, .179-.154, and out-dug them 75-60.“It was the kind of match we wanted,” coach Geoff Carlston said. “We really wanted a brawl. It was a defensive battle. I was really, super proud of our team.”Freshman setter Taylor Hughes and junior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe led the effort on defense. Hughes added to her 44 assists with a career-high 22 digs and five blocks, while Sandbothe had eight blocks despite battling an illness that clearly took its toll.OSU held senior middle blocker Lianna Sybeldon — the nation’s leader in hitting percentage — to a .206 clip, though she still led Washington in kills with 14. Sybeldon added six blocks to give her a team-high 17 points.Senior middle blocker Melanie Wade was the Huskers’ most efficient hitter, posting a .406 hitting percentage with 10 kills and only one error.For OSU, Elizabeth Campbell was the driving force on offense, leading all players with 24 kills — including 18 over the final three sets. The senior outside hitter finished one away from her career-best mark of 25, which she set during her time at Duke.In the first set, the Scarlet and Gray hit only .070 and had five service errors but held the proficient Washington offense to a minus-.024 hitting percentage behind seven blocks, including five from Sandbothe.“The first set was indicative of what the match was going to be,” Carlston said. “It was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to be an easy match by anybody.”Neither team led by more than three points in the opening frame, but OSU was able to fend off the Huskies, giving them only their fifth loss in a set during their winning streak.But Washington got back on track in the second and third sets, shooting a combined .277 as the Buckeyes could muster only one block after their big performance in the opening frame.Faced with defeat in fourth, OSU buckled down and handed Washington its worst loss in a set this season. Once again, the Huskies had a negative hitting percentage (minus-.059) as the Buckeyes registered four more blocks.Although it had lost its momentum, Washington couldn’t be stopped in the fifth set. The Huskies didn’t make a single error, hitting .571 to end OSU’s upset bid.“Congrats to Washington,” Carlston said. “They made great plays, especially (in) the fifth set. We just weren’t able to get a rally going.”Aside from Campbell, three other seniors played in their final collegiate game. Middle blocker Tyler Richardson had six kills and four blocks (three solo), outside hitter Katie Mitchell sent home seven kills and setter Emily Ruetter picked up six assists. Middle blocker Andrea Kacsits did not appear in the contest.“As far as our four or five years are concerned, we have had memory after memory and it’s because of awesome people that we were surrounded by,” Kacsits said.OSU finished the season with a 25-10 record, tying its best mark under Carlston during his eight years in Columbus.“So thankful for this group and the opportunity to be here,” Carlston said. “It hurts, but in the locker room I told our team the feelings we have and the emotions in that room was a really unique experience. I wanted them to take a moment and get some perspective on it because it’s pretty cool.” read more

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OSU Heisman trophy winner Eddie George earns spot in College Football Hall

Former Buckeye running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The announcement was made Monday on ESPN’s “College Football Live.” The rest of the class, which will include 14 former players and two former coaches, will be announced today. Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, The Detroit Free Press reported Saturday. Carr became Michigan’s coach in 1995, after serving seven seasons as the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator. During his career at Ohio State, George was 1-3 against Michigan. Carr was 6-7 against the Buckeyes during his head-coaching tenure at Michigan. Other Buckeyes on the ballot who could be inducted include former offensive tackle Dave Foley and former fullback Jim Otis. Both are former first-team All-Americans and were members of OSU’s 1968 team that went undefeated and earned the 1968 National Championship. Foley started at offensive tackle for three years under coach Woody Hayes, and was selected in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft by the New York Jets. Otis led the team in rushing during all three of his seasons with the Buckeyes. He spent nine seasons in the NFL and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1975 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. Since George won the Heisman trophy in 1995, only former OSU quarterback Troy Smith has won the award while wearing Scarlet and Gray, in 2006. Before George, running back Archie Griffin was the last Buckeye to win the Heisman trophy, earning the award in 1974 and 1975. In 1995, George set records for most rushing yards in a season (1,927), most games with at least 100 yards (12) and most rushing yards in a game (314) during a 41-3 victory against Illinois. George’s No. 27 is retired at OSU. Attempts for comment from George were not immediately returned. read more

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Tressels email tipster faces misconduct charge

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Counsel accused Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero of misconduct and filed a complaint Monday. The accusation relates to emails Cicero sent to Jim Tressel about Ohio State football players’ involvement with tattoo parlor owner Eddie Rife. The potential misconduct occurred when Cicero relayed confidential information from Rife, a prospective client, who met with Cicero on April 2, 2010, according to the documents released by the Disciplinary Counsel. This was the day after federal officials raided Rife’s residence as part of a criminal drug trafficking investigation and obtained several pieces of OSU football memorabilia. “During the meeting, Rife expressed his concern that their conversation would remain confidential,” the documents said. “(Cicero) assured Rife that everything Rife told (him) would remain confidential.” It was shortly after this meeting that Cicero notified Tressel about the players’ ventures with Rife, “divulging much of the information that Rife had told (Cicero) in confidence.” According to the documents, a second meeting between Rife and Cicero took place on April 15, 2010, where “Rife disclosed more information regarding his criminal case, the OSU memorabilia and his relationship to several OSU football players.” Without notifying Rife, Cicero sent two more emails to Tressel the following morning revealing much of what Rife had told him the day before, the documents said. Rife did not end up hiring Cicero to represent him in his criminal case, but according to the complaint, that does not exempt Cicero from being charged with misconduct. “Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal any information learned in the consultation,” the documents said. Cicero did not immediately respond a request for comment. read more

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Sullinger returns helps OSU outlast South CarolinaUpstate

Ohio State men’s basketball sophomore forward Jared Sullinger is back. Sullinger scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 25 minutes of play off the bench as the No. 2 Buckeyes defeated South Carolina-Upstate, 82-58. It was Sullinger’s first game action since suffering back spasms during OSU’s Nov. 29 victory against Duke. Following the victory, Sullinger declared himself “back to health” and 100-percent recovered from the discomfort that caused him to miss the Buckeyes’ last two games. Sullinger, who was cleared after a morning workout, said he wasn’t limited during the game, but added that he was fatigued as a result of missing time. “I was tired,” he said. “Two weeks off is a killer. I did a lot of work on the treadmill these last few days, but I was still very out of shape tonight.” OSU coach Thad Matta said he was satisfied with Sullinger’s output. “(Sullinger) did a decent job for not playing since the Duke game,” Matta said. “He knew he was going to be winded. Hopefully now this gives him confidence to get back out there and go to work.” Wednesday marked the first time Sullinger has come off the bench in his career. The decision to leave him out of the starting lineup was made earlier in the day after Sullinger asked Matta to start junior forward Evan Ravenel, who had started in Sullinger’s place for the last two games. “It was my decision (not to start),” Sullinger said. “(Ravenel) has worked so hard these last few weeks and I felt he deserved a shot to start. He’s earned it.” Despite Sullinger’s return, Upstate had a major upset on its mind early. The Spartans held a four-point lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half before the Buckeyes went on a 20-7 run over the final eight minutes of the half to build a nine-point halftime advantage. Ravenel, who scored the first five points of the game for the Buckeyes, dunked in the closing seconds of the first half to put OSU up, 37-28. The Buckeyes didn’t look back. Ravenel finished with nine points in 12 minutes while sophomore forward DeShaun Thomas led OSU with 23 points, one shy of tying his career-high. Thomas has scored double-digit points in nine of OSU’s 10 games this season. Thomas said that he is starting to hit his stride as an offensive contributor. “As a player you have got to have a mindset each and every game, have your mind ready to play,” Thomas said. “I think I’m growing off of that.” Matta agreed with Thomas. “I think the biggest thing I’ve seen in (Thomas) is just the maturity of his mental approach to games,” Matta said. “…Everyone thinks this game is just about being out there playing but the mental side of things is just as important in my mind. And DeShaun is starting to grasp that.” Matta said the Buckeyes lacked intensity in the first half, but was happy with the way his team responded and finished the game. “We beat a very good basketball team tonight,” Matta said. OSU (9-1) continues non-conference play with a Saturday road game against South Carolina at noon. read more

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Urban Meyer Gene Smith fire back at critics of OSU football recruiting

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and OSU’s associate vice president and athletic director Gene Smith fired back Friday at in-conference criticism of the Buckeyes’ recruiting tactics. Meyer put the finishing touches his first OSU recruiting class Wednesday — a class rated No. 4 in the nation by Rivals.com. Several of the recruits that signed to play for Meyer had previously committed to other Big Ten teams, prompting criticism from Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Both Meyer and Smith defended the recruiting practices employed while assembling the Buckeyes’ newest class. During a National Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Bielema said that he thought Meyer’s staff had used illegal tactics to obtain recruits. Narduzzi spoke Monday of an unwritten agreement amongst Big Ten coaches, saying former OSU coach Jim Tressel and MSU coach Mark Dantonio would never call or talk to each other’s commitments. “People coach Dantonio knows well don’t come in and take players away,” Narduzzi said according to the Canton Repository. “When you do, you lose friendships over that.” In a Friday release, Smith condemned the use of the media to voice his concerns related to Big Ten football, though he did not specifically mention Bielema or Narduzzi. “I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches, and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting,” Smith said in the release. “In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your Athletic Director (AD). Then your AD will make the determination on the appropriate communication from that point forward. The ADs in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they have arrived.” The OSU athletic department also released a statement on Meyer’s behalf in which the Buckeyes’ $4 million-dollar-per-year coach said that his staff was in compliance with recruiting rules. “I was pleased to take part in a productive, regularly scheduled meeting of the Big Ten Conference coaches today in Chicago. We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with each other and conference staff, including those that have arisen this week,” Meyer said in the release. “It should be noted that my coaching staff is in full compliance with our recruiting efforts, and no one on this staff did anything illegal or unethical. We will continue to comply with NCAA rules and recruit with relentless effort, especially the great state of Ohio.” Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman declined to comment to The Lantern regarding the Friday coaches meeting. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who chaired the Big Ten coaches meeting, told ESPN.com Friday that the meeting was “nothing but great dialogue.” “We understand what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable in recruiting,” Fitzgerald told ESPN.com. “We also talked about regardless of what’s been reported, we agreed there’s been no basis for accusing any coaches of illegal or unethical recruiting. There’s been no gentleman’s agreement inhibiting recruitment of verbally committed players, but we’re going to do all of our recruiting based on respect for each other.” Meyer and the Buckeyes will pay visits to both MSU and Wisconsin during the 2012 season, on Sept. 29 in East Lansing, Mich., and Nov. 17 in Madison, Wis., respectively. read more

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