Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins was named the NBA’s 2014-15 Rookie of the Year on Thursday. The announcement came as no surprise: It’s an award he’s essentially been a lock to win since at least February.But there’s a big disconnect between what the eye test (plus basic statistics such as points per game) and the analytics say about Wiggins, both in terms of his current production and his future potential. And because of that discrepancy, Wiggins is emblematic of what’s long been one of the most difficult problems to solve in basketball analysis.According to conventional analysis, Wiggins had a standout rookie campaign. Despite being a callow 19-year-old, he averaged nearly 17 points per game for the season, including 19.1 PPG from New Year’s Day onward, and provided some of the most sharable Vines of any player in the league. On top of his scoring output, he’s also regarded by scouts as a player with elite defensive potential because of his length and athleticism. Viewed in those terms, Wiggins’s Rookie of the Year nod could be seen as a launchpad for a Hall of Fame career.The advanced statistics are far less impressive. As others have noted, according to Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) Wiggins had one of the worst seasons by a Rookie of the Year winner since 1973-74, which is as far back as the statistic can be calculated. Also judging by VORP, 60 other rookies provided more value to their teams this season. And even after a high-scoring spike in performance at midseason, Wiggins’s final 2014-15 Statistical Plus-Minus (SPM) of -2.4 was barely better than the -2.9 mark that could have been expected by simply regressing his stats to the mean back in December.ESPN’s single-season Real Plus-Minus (RPM) for Wiggins’s offense was higher than his SPM, suggesting he makes an impact at that end that can’t be fully detected by the box score. But in his supposed strong suit — defense — RPM ranked Wiggins in the 14th percentile of all NBA players in terms of per-possession performance, even after adjusting for the quality of his teammates (or lack thereof) and the opponents he faced. And Synergy Sports judged his capabilities as an individual defender only marginally better, ranking him in the 32nd percentile of defenders according to its video-scouting metrics.So what gives? Why are the eyes so high on Wiggins, but the numbers so down?Part of it is age. If we give a bonus to Wiggins’s SPM according to an aging curve, setting every Rookie of the Year winner on equal footing at age 22,1The average age of all NBA rookies since the 1976-77 season. Wiggins shoots up the list of winners, from No. 40 (out of 41) in rookie wins above replacement (WAR) to No. 27. Kyrie Irving201219-220.127.116.11+3.8 Chuck Person198722-2.75.05.00.0 Chris Paul200620-8.513.216.4+3.2 There was also the matter of Wiggins’s awful teammates. According to SPM,2Specifically, a calculation estimating how poor the team’s efficiency differential would be if we removed the player from the roster and gave his minutes to a replacement-level player. Wiggins was saddled with the ninth-worst teammates of any Rookie of the Year winner since the ABA-NBA merger. Teammate Zach LaVine posted the worst WAR of any player in the league, Anthony Bennett ranked 17th-worst, and Adreian Payne was sixth-worst in the league based on his time in Minnesota alone, despite not joining the team until February. Simply put, Wiggins had to carry more of the Timberwolves’ load because he played with a truly terrible supporting cast.But that doesn’t explain all of the disparity between Wiggins’s conventional accolades and his feeble advanced metrics. After all, the quality of a player’s teammates is barely correlated3Since the merger, there’s only a correlation of 0.098 between a player’s “teammate rating” and his own SPM; there’s also a correlation of 0.117 between the year-to-year change in a player’s teammate quality and the change in his (age-adjusted) SPM. with his own performance. A bigger reason might relate to a question APBRmetricians have grappled with for years: How exactly should we deal with high-volume scorers?Former ESPN Director of Production Analytics (and current Sacramento Kings Director of Analytics and Player Personnel) Dean Oliver devoted an entire chapter (titled The Problem With Scorers) in his seminal book “Basketball on Paper” to the issues involved in statistically evaluating players who perform what seems the most essential of on-court acts: putting the ball in the basket. Although he determined that per-possession efficiency was the best measure of a team’s offensive prowess and developed equivalent efficiency metrics for individual players, Oliver also posited that a player’s offensive efficiency was prone to changes based on how much of a scoring workload he took on.That theory, which has largely been borne out by subsequent studies, implies that a player’s efficiency numbers aren’t even close to being all his own — and that, crucially, high scorers such as Wiggins represent the group most centrally affected by such interplay between teammates. Furthermore, raw scoring ability may suggest heightened potential even after controlling for a player’s actual rookie production. If you run a regression attempting to predict a rookie’s remaining career WAR from his first-year statistics, the second-most important predictor (though dwarfed by the effect of his age-adjusted rookie WAR itself) is usage rate, a measure of how frequently a player was called on for scoring attempts within his team’s offense, regardless of their success.The idea that Wiggins’s scoring and athleticism speak volumes about his potential in a way that can’t be captured by his rookie-season value metrics goes a long way toward explaining the gulf between his subjective reputation and the numbers. Only time will tell which is right, but that differential could position Wiggins as his generation’s Allen Iverson or Antoine Walker — players who served as early battlegrounds in the war between analytics and conventional wisdom. Tim Duncan199821-0.412.213.8+1.6 Larry Bird198023+2.612.211.1-1.1 PLAYERYEARAGETEAMMATE QUALITYRAW WARAGE-22 EQUIV. WARDIFF Andrew Wiggins201519-9.0-0.75.1+5.8 Blake Griffin201121-7.510.311.9+1.6 Kevin Durant200819-18.104.22.168+5.4 Derrick Coleman199123-6.14.03.1-1.0 Brandon Roy200722-22.214.171.124.0 Mark Jackson198822-126.96.36.199.0 Phil Ford197922+0.94.34.30.0 Patrick Ewing198623-6.83.02.3-0.7 Pau Gasol200221-10.66.17.6+1.5 LeBron James200419-5.46.312.4+6.1 Shaquille O’Neal199320-2.910.614.0+3.5 Walter Davis197823+0.47.46.4-1.0 Allen Iverson199721-188.8.131.52+1.5 Mitch Richmond198923-184.108.40.206-1.0 Adrian Dantley197720-220.127.116.11+3.2 Michael Jordan198521-7.616.918.5+1.6 Emeka Okafor200522-18.104.22.168.0 Steve Francis200022-22.214.171.124.0 Chris Webber199420-2.09.312.0+2.8 Derrick Rose200920-126.96.36.199+3.4 Grant Hill199522-10.36.16.10.0 Ralph Sampson198423-188.8.131.52-1.0 Vince Carter199922-184.108.40.206.0 Amar’e Stoudemire200320+0.51.94.8+2.9 Terry Cummings198321-220.127.116.11+1.3 Mike Miller200120+0.12.45.1+2.7 Darrell Griffith198122-5.0-2.7-2.70.0 David Robinson199024-2.515.113.2-1.9 Damon Stoudamire199622-18.104.22.168.0 Elton Brand200020-22.214.171.124+3.4 Michael Carter-Williams201422-126.96.36.199.0 Larry Johnson199222-188.8.131.52.0 Damian Lillard201322-184.108.40.206.0 Jason Kidd199521-220.127.116.11+1.3 Buck Williams198221-18.104.22.168+1.4 Tyreke Evans201020-22.214.171.124+3.0
Parents:Scratch that football off the Christmas list for your son.Instead, go out and buy him a new glove and bat.Make no mistake about it. That’s the prudent move if you’re trying to steer your future baller to a sport.If you aren’t sure, check out the contract Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton agreed to on Monday: a record-setting 13-year, $325 million deal.All guaranteed. Yep, Stanton, who is 25 and half-black, will get every thin dime.The business of baseball is ridiculously profitable. The sport is healthy and has plenty of money to spend.Last year, Robinson Cano left NYC to join the Seattle Mariners. No one thought Cano would leave the Yankees for the Northwest. But the Mariners spent cash the way the Yankees have, giving Cano an eye-popping 10-year, $240 million deal.At the time, it tied the third-largest deal in sports history. Not baseball history, but professional sports history. Yes, including the NFL, NBA and NHL. Heck, even those money-rich soccer leagues in Europe.In fact, baseball owns 21 of the top 22 biggest contracts in the history of sports. Only Floyd Mayweather’s two-year, $180-million deal with Showtime ranks on that list at 12.That should be enough incentive to get your son signed up for Little League this spring. There are plenty of other jobs in baseball at the minor league level, too.Somehow, we’ve lost our way in baseball. African Americans make up just 7.8 percent of players in MLB in 2014.The biggest missed opportunity is in college. There are plenty of scholarships to play baseball. In the African-American community, fewer kids are playing baseball at a higher level. Hence, even historically Black colleges have given the scholarships to white and Hispanic kids to play baseball for their teams. Crazy.We get it. Basketball is easier. All a kid needs is a ball, a hoop and all day at the park. But there are only 400 jobs in the NBA and only 30 players get a guaranteed deal each year.The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s 2004 deal for $136.4 million is the first basketball contract on this list, ranking only 34th.Yes, there are more gigs in the NFL—more than 1,600 jobs compared to about 800 in MLB.There are two big differences, though. The average career is just 3.5 years in the NFL. And the rise in brain trauma injuries emphasizes the long-lasting dangers of football. Additionally, most NFL contracts are not guaranteed.The Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson is the first NFL player on the list. His $132-million pact signed in 2012 ranks 37th—but only $53 million of it was guaranteed.But the health concern in the football is serious business. Many former players have talked about all their health problems after they left the sport, including Hall Of Fame-bound quarterback Brett Favre.Favre holds the NFL record for consecutive games played at 297. In the process, he also was sacked a record 525 times in his 20-year career.A year ago, Favre said he didn’t know if he would allow his son to play football, if he had one.According to ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” there’s been a 9.5 percent drop in Pop Warner football participation from 2000-2012.It’s not too late to get that glove for your boy and start playing catch as soon as the weather breaks. In the meantime, you guys can hit the batting cage.Baseball isn’t just fun. It’s pays, too. Boy, does it.—Rob ParkerRob Parker is a Detroit-based sports columnist who was the first black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press and Newsday in NYC. Parker also co-hosted a radio show “Parker and The Man” for a decade and worked for ESPN for eight years.
Last weekend, the UConn women’s basketball team punched its ticket to a 26th straight Sweet 16 with an 82-74 win over Buffalo. It was business as usual except for one small detail: the Huskies are a No. 2 seed, making this the first year since 2006 that the Huskies are not a No. 1 seed. The selection committee’s decision was controversial, but UConn Coach Geno Auriemma shrugged it off, saying, “We’re not going to practice differently because we’re a 2 instead of a 1.”Auriemma surely hopes his team doesn’t play any differently, either, as the Huskies have advanced to the Final Four in each of the past 11 seasons. In that span, they have won six national championships.But seeding aside, are this year’s Huskies any different? After all, this team only lost two games and none in the American Athletic Conference. Are UConn fans right to be upset about the No. 2 seed, or is the seed a real reflection of the fact that this year’s Huskies aren’t quite as elite as their title-winning predecessors?2018-19 UConn versus 2015-16 UConnUConn most recently won an NCAA title in 2015-16, led by the dominant trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck. That team went 38-0 and won by almost 40 points per game, including a 31-point victory over Syracuse in the national championship game. According to Her Hoop Stats, UConn led the nation in most traditional and advanced statistics, including points per game, points allowed per game, field goal percentage, points per scoring attempt, assists per game and block rate.As an exercise, I selected 23 statistical categories from Her Hoop Stats on which to compare the 2015-16 and the 2018-19 teams. These included statistics on offense and defense—and on shooting, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and fouls — in an attempt to represent the full range of each team’s abilities. Eight of the statistics happened to be categories in which UConn led the nation in 2015-16. This year’s UConn team leads the nation in just one of these statistics — foul rate — and bettered the 2015-16 team’s numbers in only three. This year’s team holds opponents to a lower shooting percentage on three-pointers, records assists on a higher percentage of its baskets, and has a slightly lower turnover rate than the 2015-16 team. This year’s Huskies lag behind the 2015-16 champ teamBased on 23 selected offense and defense statistics comparing the 2015-16 and 2018-19 University of Connecticut women’s basketball team 2018-19 UConn forward Napheesa Collier vs. 2015-16 forward Breanna Stewart in 17 statistics where Stewart leads Collier 2015-162018-19Is 2018-19 better? Minutes per game32.529.1 Block rate4.7%11.9% Foul rate2.7%2.6% Field goal share7215634 Block rate16.1%10.5% Opponent points per scoring attempt0.790.82 Collier is averaging 21.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game for the Huskies. She ranks in the top 10 percent of players nationally in usage rate (27.0 percent), meaning that more than one in four Huskies possessions while she’s on the court ends with her shooting the ball or turning it over. (She registers an assist on another 21.5 percent of UConn possessions while she’s on the court.) Despite such a heavy workload, she is among the most efficient players in the nation, ranking 19th in field goal percentage (61.9%) and 22nd in points per scoring attempt (1.30).In March, anything can happen. Sometimes a player puts a team on his or her back and carries it to a championship. Basketball fans in Storrs know something about this: Kemba Walker did it for the UConn men in 2011 and Shabazz Napier followed suit three years later. In other years, the best team does win, as shown by UConn’s four undefeated seasons from 2008-09 to 2015-16. In other years, it’s a little of both — such as in 2002-03, a dominant season for the Huskies that Auriemma famously summarized as, “We have Diana [Taurasi] and you don’t.” This year, whether the title goes to an excellent team or to a transcendent individual talent, the UConn women have a good chance of taking home the trophy. The Huskies may not be quite as intimidating as they once were, but the 2-seed is still among the nation’s best. And, of course, they have Napheesa, and other teams don’t. Turnover rate11.0%10.0% Field goals attempted per game13.912.8 Steals per game7134256 Opponent 3-point share29.9%28.3%✓ Steals per game1.51.8 Opponent 3-point rate30.2%32.2% And here are the categories in which Stewart comes out on top: Source: Her Hoop Stats Rebounds per game6723414 Field goals made per game8.67.4 Total rebounding rate17.3%17.0% Assist-to-turnover ratio1.821.70 Source: Her Hoop Stats Season ranking 3-point share6215374 Foul rate15.6%16.9% Source: her hoop stats However, the 2015-16 team set an incredibly high bar; comparing any team to that team feels akin to saying, “These UCLA Bruins are OK, but they’ve got nothing on John Wooden’s 1972 squad.” Not only did the 2015-16 UConn team go undefeated, but it didn’t win a single game all season by fewer than 10 points. Seniors Stewart, Jefferson and Tuck became the first three picks in the 2016 WNBA draft — the only time three players from the same school have ever been the top three picks in the WNBA or NBA draft.2018-19 UConn versus UConn title teams since 2009Her Hoop Stats only offers advanced statistics on teams from the 2015-16 season to the present, but UConn makes plenty of traditional stats available in its women’s basketball archives. Here is how this year’s UConn team compares to the six most recent UConn champions in 16 categories: Offensive rebounds per game3.22.2 Opponent effective field goal share38.0%38.8% Assist rate21.5%22.7% Steal rate16.6%11.8% Blocks per game1.53.4 Assist-to-turnover ratio3131555 Opp. rebounds per game7126425 Opp. field goal share7523416 Points per game88.183.4 Opponent 3-point share4632517 Steal rate2.6%3.5% Opp. points per game7342516 3-point share28.0%42.6% Assists per game5132467 Turnovers per game1342675 Free throw share71.3%83.6% Assists per game3.64.0 Defensive rebounding rate72.6%69.9% Assist rate63.2%64.0%✓ Source: university of connecticut Opp. turnovers per game7146235 Free throw share4153267 Turnovers per game2.01.6 3-point rate28.5%30.5%✓ 3-point share38.1%36.3% Total rebounds per game10.78.7 Effective field goal percentage59.0%55.8% 3-point rate8.8%19.9% Points per game21.119.4 Opponent average win percentage59.5%56.2% Turnover rate14.2%14.1% Offensive rebounding rate11.6%9.4% 2018-19 UConn forward Napheesa Collier vs. 2015-16 forward Breanna Stewart in 11 statistics where Collier leads Stewart Defensive rebounding rate21.9%23.3% Assist-to-turnover ratio1.802.45 Collier (2018-19)Stewart (2015-16) Points per game4216573 Season Free throw share80.0%73.5% Record6th1st5th1st7th1st1st Possessions per 40 minutes70.970.8 Blocks per game7321456 Opponent turnover rate25.3%19.1% Usage rate27.0%26.8% Effective field goal share63.4%62.8% Points per scoring attempt1.301.32 2018-192015-162014-152013-142012-132009-102008-09 Fouls per game1.61.4 Collier (2018-19)Stewart (2015-16) Free throw rate15.9%16.0% Defensive rebounds per game7.56.6 This year’s UConn team ranks the best of the seven Huskies teams in just one category (fewest turnovers per game). It also trails the pack in several categories, most of which are on the defensive end. The 2018-19 Huskies generate the fewest steals and opponent turnovers of any UConn champion since 2009, allow the most points and the best shooting percentage, and give up the most rebounds. They are also shooting the worst percentage from the field, but they are still scoring more points per game than three of the previous six UConn champions.If you take the average in each statistical category, this year’s UConn team also ranks below average in all but two categories: turnovers per game and assist-to-turnover ratio. All together, these comparisons suggest there is some truth to the idea that this year’s UConn team isn’t as much of a juggernaut as it has been for most of the past 10 years.Where does that leave this year’s Huskies?Don’t panic, Huskies fans. None of this means the 2018-19 team cannot take home another championship. In fact, FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions give UConn a 70 percent chance of making its 12th straight Final Four and a 16 percent chance of winning the championship. The latter is the third-best odds of any team left in the tournament. And UConn may have an ace up its sleeve in the form of senior Napheesa Collier. The 6-foot-1 forward was inexplicably left off the list of four finalists for the 2019 Naismith Player of the Year Award, but many of her numbers actually compare favorably to what three-time Naismith Player of the Year Breanna Stewart did in her senior year in 2015-16. Here are the stats in which Collier tops Stewart: Total rebounding rate57.9%54.6% Opponent points per game48.355.3 Offensive rebounding rate39.8%35.6% Points per scoring attempt1.231.17 This year’s Huskies aren’t quite at previous levelsHow the six recent UConn championship teams and the 2018-19 rank in selected statistics
OSU then-junior defenseman Cara Zubko (2) passes the puck during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 at the OSU Ice Rink. OSU lost, 5-3. Credit: Ed Momot / For The LanternAfter dropping both games against the Wisconsin Badgers last weekend, the Ohio State women’s ice hockey team opens its home schedule on Friday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, winners of last season’s NCAA tournament.The Buckeyes lost both games against Wisconsin by a combined score of 15-0, but spent the following week in practice trying not to dwell on the past.“I think what’s key is to not look back on what’s happened, but to look forward,” senior forward Julia McKinnon said. “Obviously, every team says that at the beginning of the year, but I think we need to focus on D-zone for us most importantly, blocking the shots, looking to get man-on-man.”The difficulty for OSU as it welcomes Minnesota and its high-powered offense is continuing to balance preparing for opponents with the developmental aspects of hockey.“Yes, I can implement systems where the score might have been a little bit closer, but I want our team to get better at being hockey players and knowing what our weaknesses are and what our strengths are,“ OSU coach Jenny Potter said.Eight Golden Gophers are ranked in the top 30 scorers in the country, and Potter spent much of this week preparing her squad for another up-tempo competitor.“We’ve been playing to high speeds in practice, not just stepping in and expecting to be skating that fast, knowing that that team’s coming in,” senior defender Cara Zubko said.Zubko said she believes that at this stage of the season, it was good for both OSU’s newcomers and veterans to receive the lessons that come with back-to-back blowouts on the road.“I think no one goes into the first weekend of the year expecting losses like that. But I think it was a wake-up call in a good sense that, just because we know we have lots of work to do,” Zubko said.Zubko was not the only member of the program looking to take positives away from its series against Wisconsin, and the team is eager to get right back on the ice tonight against another tough conference opponent.“I think it’s a lesson in life as far as how much work you put in, or lack thereof,” Potter said. “For us as a group, seeing where we are and where we want to go, with Wisconsin being a great team, Frozen Four team last year, ranked No. 2 right now, this team wants to be in those positions, so it’s a stepping stone.”Against Minnesota, OSU will look to compete with one of the best, if not the best, program in the nation. The Golden Gophers set an NCAA record with eight goals in a single period en route to an 11-0 victory over St. Cloud State last Saturday, and are led by freshman forward Sarah Potomak, who ranks fourth in the nation in scoring.But for a glass-half-full team like the Buckeyes, the opportunity to erase memories of last week’s sweep by facing off against another elite team is one not to pass up.“We know we have lots of work to do,” Zubko said. “We can’t look back on that, there’s a lot of hockey and a big season in front of us and we’ll be ready for this weekend.”The Buckeyes drop the puck in Game 1 against Minnesota at 6:07 p.m. on Friday and at 2:07 p.m. on Saturday in Game 2.
Senior offensive lineman Connor Smith never takes the feeling of running into the Horseshoe on game day for granted. “I think if you don’t feel something every time you go in front of 105,000 people, there is something wrong with you,” Smith said. Smith has been used to the big stage since his high school days at Colerain High School in Cincinnati. He was a highly touted recruit, tabbed with labels such as 2005 Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year and Greater Miami Conference 2005 Offensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4-inches, 313-pounder was named first team All-Ohio in 2004 and 2005 and was on the 2006 Parade All-America team. Smith was also invited to the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, following his senior season at Colerain. Five years later, Smith is nearing the home stretch of his career as a Buckeye, but he would rather think about the tasks ahead. “I try not to think about it,” Smith said. “We have to get better because we can’t get to where we want to go if we are not progressing.” Smith redshirted his freshman year at OSU in 2006 and earned his first varsity letter the following season in 2007 playing some at the right guard position. Smith also won letters his sophomore and junior seasons, providing stability to a deep offensive line, mostly in a backup role. A seasoned veteran in his fifth year with the Buckeyes, Smith knows that this year’s team has to improve every day if it want to accomplish its goal to be national champion. “Every day we work on what we need to accomplish that day,” Smith said. “We need to improve efficiency when we are running the ball.” Smith also stresses the importance of winning games on the road, especially after scares like the team had at Illinois earlier in the season. “Being away from home is different; we have got to improve on the road definitely,” Smith said. Smith may always be thinking of ways the team needs to improve on offense, but is happy to be part of the offensive line where all the players seem to clique. “The O-line is a tight-knit group,” Smith said, “the tightest group out of everyone on the team.” Though Smith isn’t in the starting line-up, he takes every opportunity to be a leader for the younger players. “You just try to give them tid-bits about something you see in their game,” Smith said. Smith may be running out of time as a Buckeye, but makes the most out of every day for one last run at a championship.
Remember the video of Ohio State men’s basketball players Aaron Craft, Jon Diebler and Jared Sullinger singing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A?” Do you wish you could see those three sing the song live? If the OSU men’s basketball team had a midnight madness, that performance could happen. Started by Charles “Lefty” Driesell at the University of Maryland, midnight madness is currently a major part of the college basketball world, and it took place last Friday night. Driesell came up with the idea in 1971 to have his Terrapins’ first practice of the season at the earliest possible time that the NCAA would allow: midnight. Schools across the country have since adopted that idea, with the midnight practice now transforming into more of a preseason party hosted by the basketball team than work on the court. Students, alumni and fans gather at a teams’ arena to see their program introduce that year’s team. Different schools do different things, but the event usually involves the team performing a song or dance, the head coach giving a speech, and an intrasquad scrimmage. This year, Connecticut had a dunk contest, Syracuse got Carmelo Anthony to show up and interact with the crowd, and Maryland had an alumni scrimmage featuring some of their current and former NBA players. Nonathlete celebrities show up for the madness as well. Rapper Wale performed at Georgetown’s event last season, and 50 Cent appeared at Villanova’s five years ago. Basically, all the big-time programs have some form of a season tip-off event highlighted by entertaining performances and all-star game-type defense scrimmages. Except for the Buckeyes. It’s not as if OSU doesn’t have a big enough basketball program to host such an event. Two 30-win seasons and a national title game appearance in the last five years, along with an anticipated top-five team this year puts the Buckeyes among the nation’s top teams. Why not celebrate something that OSU does well? With the current state of the football program, the men’s basketball team should be the pride of the athletic department. Hosting an event that takes attention away from the football team and focusing it onto a basketball program that has done nothing but win and represent the school well in recent years needs to happen. The possibilities for the event are endless. A scrimmage between players, both former and current, would certainly entertain. Who wouldn’t want to see Sullinger posting up Greg Oden or William Buford trying to shake Evan Turner? Ohio natives Kid Cudi, Bow Wow, or Chip tha Ripper could perform. If those three aren’t available, I’m sure the crowd wouldn’t mind being serenaded by the voices of Craft and Sullinger. Who knows, maybe known Buckeye fan Lebron James would show up. Either way, OSU is missing out on a big part of the college basketball world, and it’s time for change.
The Ohio State men’s hockey team just keeps on rolling. OSU came into a Friday afternoon contest against No. 14-ranked Northern Michigan unbeaten in its last five games, but fell behind Wildcats, 1-0, in the first period. The Buckeyes responded with four unanswered goals over the final two periods, however, and upset Northern Michigan, 4-1. OSU Sophomore forward Alex Szczechura tied the game in the second period and a third-period tally by sophomore forward Chris Crane put OSU in front for good. Senior captain Cory Schneider scored two goals late in regulation to clinch the upset. “I thought we got better as the game went on,” OSU coach Mark Osiecki said after the game. “We’re all about competing and work and goals by committee… It’s fun to coach these kids.” The Wildcats struck first, scoring on a shot from sophomore center Stephan Vigier shot at 16:07 in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Junior left winger Kory Kaunisto assisted on the tally, the only for either team in the first period. The Buckeyes came out firing in the second period. OSU took 12 second-period shots, and one found the back of the net early. Szczechura out-muscled a defender behind Northern Michigan senior goalie Reid Ellingson’s net. Szczechura then wrapped around the goal before firing a shot home from close range to tie the score at 1-1. “(We were) working hard down low and I just kind of got (the puck) and took it to the net,” Szczechura said of his goal. “Luckily for me, it just went in. Nothing special about it.” Two Wildcats penalties gave OSU a 5-on-3 advantage just minutes later, but Ellingson denied four Buckeyes’ shots and Northern Michigan held OSU off. OSU outshot Northern Michigan, 17-8, through two periods, but the 1-1 score held as the third period began. At 10:38 of the final period, Northern Michigan freshman defenseman Jake Baker received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for an open-ice hit on OSU senior Danny Dries. After having his head illegally contacted by Baker, Dries eventually returned to his feet. Moments later, the Buckeyes made the Wildcats pay on the resulting power play when Crane poked a goal passed Ellingson to put OSU up. “They took a five-minute major and we capitalized,” Crane said. “Going hard to the net — that’s our mentality as Ohio State and it worked out for us.” With just more than two minutes to play Schneider, a forward, jammed a goal passed Ellingson to clinch the upset. Schneider also added an empty-net goal in the final minute of play. Senior goalie Cal Heeter stopped 13-of-14 shots in the game to preserve the win, which improved OSU’s record to 7-3-1 overall and 4-2-1-1 in the CCHA. The Wildcats fall to 4-3-3 overall and 1-2-3-2 in the CCHA. The two teams will meet again at the Schottenstein Center Saturday with the opening face-off set for 7:05 p.m.
OSU redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Burrow (10) catches a snap during the Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 15, 2017. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Social Media EditorAfter the 2016 spring game, then-redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Burrow said he wasn’t ready to assume the role of backup quarterback. Now-redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins wasn’t in the mix for the job yet, having not arrived at Ohio State.On Saturday in the 2017 spring game, the two threw a combined 59 passes, completing 40 of them. Haskins was 21 for 32 with the Gray team and 5 for 5 with Scarlet. Burrow was 14 of 22 for Scarlet. Now exiting spring camp heading toward summer workouts and fall camp, whoever wins the backup quarterback job feels confident enough to be the next man up behind redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett.Haskins had the most opportunities in the passing game, playing for nearly the entire game on the Gray squad after Barrett played just the first quarter. Haskins completed five passes for more than 20 yards, throwing for 283 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Burrow connected on three such passes, accumulating 262 passing yards and three touchdowns on the day.Burrow said that the game has slowed down for him quite a bit from a season ago.“I see just about everything that’s going on on defense, know the offense way better — the ins and outs, what’s going on up front,” he said.Burrow and Haskins each stood in the pocket and sprayed the ball all over the field, not being afraid to throw it deep and let the receiver make a play in the air. The effect of a Ryan Day-Kevin Wilson offense was on full display for the first time for the Buckeyes and the passing game reflected that change the most.Burrow came into the spring game as the clubhouse leader for the backup quarterback job, but after a strong performance from both the Athens, Ohio, native and Haskins, OSU coach Urban Meyer will have a decision to make come fall.“I know it is very close. But I’m not prepared to say who is (No.) 2, who is (No.) 3, et cetera, yet,” Meyer said.Meyer continued saying that all four quarterbacks — Barrett, Burrow, Haskins and freshman Tate Martell — have been exceptional during spring camp. He added Haskins and Burrow played well Saturday.In his first time playing in a game scenario, Haskins confirmed beliefs about his arm. He overthrew receivers at time, but dropped in a few long passes on target to redshirt junior wide receivers Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin for his three touchdowns.When asked whether or not he thought Burrow and Haskins are ready to be the quarterback on deck, Dixon emphatically said he’s confident Burrow and Haskins each can be the leader of the offense, if need be.Haskins said that he did what he sought out to do this spring and did enough to win the backup job. But until fall camp, he and Burrow will have to wait to prove they’re the right choice to be the next up after Barrett.“As far as the competition goes, we’re just going back and forth rotating twos, ones,” Haskins said. “Doing everything we need to do to get each other better.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer addresses the Buckeyes prior to the first practice of fall camp on July 27. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorComing off its 54-21 victory over UNLV, the No. 11 Ohio State football team (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) will be preparing this week for its matchup against Rutgers, the first Big Ten opponent the team has faced since the season opener against Indiana.Speaking on Tuesday’s weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference, head coach Urban Meyer was asked questions about the protests that were prominent in the NFL this week, and how he would react if one of his own players asked to protest racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.After he avoided providing a direct answer the day prior at a press conference regarding how the team has dealt with the protests, Meyer gave a similar answer in the teleconference, citing a culture of respect to deal with the varying opinions players and coaches might have on the hotly debated topic, while avoiding sharing his own opinion on the matter.“A culture of team, a culture of respect and a culture of focus. And so, I was unaware that anything was going on until yesterday,” Meyer said Tuesday. “I’ll talk to some players and we’ll do what we normally do after a conversation and I’ll let people have their opinions and never cross the ‘r-word’, which is respect.”Meyer later said that in a hypothetical situation in which a player might ask him about joining the protest over racial injustice and take a knee during the national anthem, any conversation on the matter would be kept private and not shared with the public.“That’s between me and the player and to be honest, I don’t know,” Meyer said. “And if I did, I probably wouldn’t share it with you since to me, that’s sanctuary-type meetings you have with your players that you have trust in. So it’s no different than if you said what if my son or daughter came home and asked me what would I do, that’s between me and them.”Here are more updates from Meyer during the Week 5 teleconference.On Big Ten locker rooms: “These players do a lot for us and do a lot for our conference. They should be treated right and that’s very clean environment, obviously the proper heat, proper air conditioner, air conditioning and a sanitary environment. And I would imagine that from this point forward that their people will look at that very closely.”On assessing the team: “Pass defense continues to be the No. 1 on the hit parade as far as we have three pass interference penalties last week. Other than that, we played well, but that’s No. 1 where we need to improve. And then No. 2 is consistency on offense, and especially you know when you start getting into conference play and facing the better defenses, you have to play much better.”On Tracy Sprinkle: “He’s one of our top players as far as leadership, as far as respect amongst our players, so they know how hard he works, what a character guy he is and how much he loves his teammates. He actually talked some today a little bit. He’s getting back to that group he was before he got hurt. So, his last two games have been much better and we anticipate him to continue to improve as he has more confidence on that leg.”On freshmen who impressed against UNLV: “I can see Pete Werner and Baron Browning. They’ve really made strides … plus they’re very talented guys. Jeffrey Okudah is a guy who has taken a giant step and earned some playing time. Trevon Grimes had a couple really good weeks of practice. He’s not in a position to be in the rotation yet, but he’s working towards that.”On Demario McCall: “We’re pressing along and trying to get him ready to go, but when you watched him play, that wasn’t the Demario McCall you’ve seen in the open field. So it is a real injury. It is something that’s getting better and it’s a guy that just needs confidence to become the dynamic player he could be.”
After coming off of a cancelled home-opening match against Duquesne last Sunday, Ohio State regained momentum after its win over No. 5 Florida by gaining an 8-0 victory against Morehead State.Ohio State (2-2) tied for the third-most goals in one single game in school history. Freshmen forward Emaly Vatne scored three of the eight goals in Thursday night’s win, recording the 15th hat trick in Ohio State history, scoring in the 41st, 68th and 73rd minutes against Morehead State. Vatne said she is most proud of her team’s professionalism on the field tonight. “We approached this game with a really good attitude,” Vatne said. “We didn’t let up in one moment of the game, so I think that’s something we should really be proud of.”In the 22nd minute, freshmen defender/midfielder Talani Barnett notched a goal from eight yards inside the right post, giving Ohio State the early lead. A minute later, freshmen forward Kayla Fischer found success by scoring a goal in the first half, recording her third goal of the year. Junior midfielder Alyssa Baumbick also picked up two goals, resulting in her first pair of goals of the season. In the 57th minute, sophomore forward Marissa Birzon, crossed over from the left wing to tally Ohio State’s fifth goal of the night. Vatne said, as a group, Ohio State really found a rhythm and were able to capitalize on the moments when they got the opportunity to play. Head coach Lori Walker-Hock spoke about the importance of gaining confidence looking ahead to conference play in a couple of weeks. Walker-Hock also said the best part of this kind of a game is being able to get a lot of people on the field and gaining some experience. “That’s where a game like this really benefits us is getting that experience for some of our young players and clearly our young players connected pretty good tonight,” Walker-Hock said. The Buckeyes will resume action this Sunday as they take on Notre Dame at 1 p.m at Alumni Stadium.