The sight of blood seeping out of the nose and mouth of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Saturday night in Las Vegas was an unfamiliar one, but it just might be the image that catapults the new WBA Junior Middleweight champion into conversations about boxing’s all-time great champions, even among his detractors.For sure, at 43-0 now, after dominating a tough and determined Miguel Cotto for a 12-round unanimous decsion at the MGM Grand, no one can deny his overall brilliance as a fighter, nor his will to prevail in a nontraditional fashion for him. This victory for the 35-year-old may have been his toughest, but he handled it with aplomb, and it featured a willingness to trade punches more than ever before.Consider that Cotto, from Puerto Rico, controlled the pace of the middle rounds with tough inside punches while Mayweather was on the ropes. At times, Mayweather inflicted damage from there, but it also was where Cotto was most effective.When asked afterward about the in-fighting, Mayweather, almost untouchable in the center of the ring, intimated he stood there uncharacteristically to please fans.“When fights are on pay-per-view, you want to give the fans what they paid for and that’s excitement,” Mayweather said. “[The bloody nose and mouth] comes with the territory when you fight a future Hall of Famer like Miguel Cotto. I had to fight hard, suck it up. He’s a tough competitor. I knew I’d have to come in the ring, fight hard and execute the game plan.“Cotto is a future Hall of Famer. He’s no pushover, and he came to fight. He didn’t come just to survive, he came to fight. I dug down and fought him back.”Mayweather would have been foolish to stay on the ropes, even as his deft defense minimized Cotto’s assaults. Mayweather is a smart tactician who maneuvered most of the fight in the center of the ring, where he pounded Cotto with an assortment of punches, even as blood trickled down his face. He located a weakness in Cotto’s defense and repeatedly rained looping right hooks to the side of his head, outside of his gloves that were held up to protect him.Neither fighter went down, but a vicious combination in the 12th round—right hook and left uppercut—wobbled Cotto. Mayweather did not follow up with much after that, instead using the ring to display his footwork in a coronation of sorts until the final bell.Mayweather, who is now 20-0 in championship bouts, earned a boxing record $32 million (plus some of the pay-per-view take), Cotto $8 million (plus some of the pay-per-view take). This historic payday for Mayweather came with a prison stint hanging over his shiny bald head. In less than a month, on June 1, he starts an 87-day stint at Clark County Detention Center for domestic violence and harassment stemming from a 2010 incident involving his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris. That prospect did not deter him from a fantastic effort in the ring.Rapper and close Mayweather friend 50 Cent said the time away “can be a therapeutic kind of thing for him. It can clear his mind and he will come back from it even better. Spending one day in jail is two days too long.”“You deprive a man of his liberty,” 50 Cents added, “and it is such a powerful thing. It is a test of character and resilience. But here is the thing about Floyd; he has all the character that you could ever want. He knows how to fight in life. His whole life is a fight and I’m not just talking about boxing. He has come through that. That’s why he is the greatest.”Mayweather insists he wants next to fight champion Manny Pacquiao, who reportedly has refused to take a blood and urine test to prove he is not on performance-enhancing steroids. Certainly Pacquiao saw in Mayweather a fighter many had not seen before Saturday—one willing to exchange punches more than ever before. And if that meant losing some of his blood, so be it. It only showed the depth of his boxing character.
A player had to be very good in order to even suffer so large a decline in the first place, and Anthony certainly fit that bill … once upon a time. Many of the names on that list managed to bounce back and be quality contributors going forward, though few were as old (and none as bad) as Anthony has been recently. So in that sense, the collapse of Anthony’s game has been historic — we’ve never really seen a star’s numbers fall off quite so much in such a short time.If the Rockets do end up cutting ties with Anthony, he may still draw interest from certain NBA teams. (At the very least, the Melo-to-the-Lakers rumor mill is already starting to rumble back to life.) And, however small, there is some evidence Anthony could be more effective in a different system than that of the Rockets, where his game never meshed with Mike D’Antoni’s overarching philosophy at either end of the court. But whether due to fit or declining skills, it has been a nothing less than stunning fall for Anthony these past few seasons. 5Dwyane Wade28-31+9.4+5.9+6.33.9-5.5 Carmelo Anthony may have played his last game as a member of the Houston Rockets. Or maybe not. Who knows? Either way, the Carmelo Experiment in Houston hasn’t gone according to plan over the first month of the season. Coming off a charmed 65-win campaign in 2017-18, this year’s Rockets are below .500 — and while Houston’s problems run deeper than Anthony, he has done little to suggest they’re merely coincidental with his presence on the team.Going into the season, my colleague Chris Herring wrote that Anthony’s success or failure in Houston would largely depend on his ability to curtail his usual scoring tendencies and play effectively off the ball — finding opportunities for open shots (presumably off passes from Chris Paul and James Harden) and knocking them down. In addition, Anthony would need to prove he wasn’t a total liability on defense, considering Houston lost lockdown forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute over the summer.Unfortunately, Anthony hasn’t really done much in any facet of that role so far. He has dialed back the share of team offense he’s using — down to a career-low 20.5 percent usage rate — which would normally be a positive sign of accepting a diminished function in the offense. But he’s also stopping the ball too often — he has assisted just 2.9 percent of teammate buckets while on the floor — and his shooting hasn’t been up to par. Anthony is hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers at an effective field goal percentage of just 51.8 percent, which according to Second Spectrum ranks 32nd out of 48 shooters with at least 50 attempts. More concerning, Anthony also ranks 224th out of 266 qualified shooters in overall quantified shot quality, Second Spectrum’s metric for judging the expected value of a shot (based on distance, defender proximity, etc.). Anthony has always excelled at making tough shots, but in order to fit into Houston’s obsessively efficiency-maximizing scheme, he needed to prove he could generate easy ones, too.Moreover, Anthony has been a prime culprit in Houston’s drop from sixth in defensive efficiency last season to 20th this year. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Rockets are allowing an eye-popping 119.2 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the court, 10.1 more than they do with him off the floor. That 109.1 mark without Anthony would rank 14th in the league anyway, so it’s more than just Anthony that’s causing the Rockets to slip from their defensive form of last season. His arrival certainly hasn’t helped the cause, though.Anthony’s friend (and fellow Banana Boater) Dwyane Wade tweeted Sunday that fans and journalists were trying to make Anthony “the fall guy” for Houston’s slow start, and he has a point. Looking beyond Anthony, Houston has three rotation players — Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and Michael Carter-Williams — with true shooting percentages below 50 percent. Harden hasn’t quite recaptured his MVP form from last year, and Paul appears to be slowing down at age 33. The Rockets look sluggish (they rank 28th in pace) and are making only 32.7 percent of their many three-point attempts, which ranks a shocking 25th in the league.1For comparison’s sake, they ranked 13th last year.But Anthony is also hitting new statistical lows in what has been an otherwise Hall of Fame career. At age 33 with Oklahoma City last season, he’d never been worse according to Player Efficiency Rating (12.7), Win Shares per 48 minutes (.071) or Box Plus/Minus (-3.8). Although there was hope he’d just slumped in a bad situation on OKC, Anthony is blowing away those old career-worst marks this season: He currently has a PER of 11.5 with .043 WS/48 and a BPM of -5.1.It’s not unheard of to see a player dip so drastically in production as he ages into his 30s, but it is shocking to see it happen to a player who has been as good as Anthony has been and also hasn’t suffered a major injury. According to Basketball-Reference’s data, Anthony’s 7.7-point decline in BPM from 2015-16 to 2018-19 is tracking to be the largest since the ABA merger for any player who logged at least 50 percent of team minutes over each season in a four-year span. PlayerAgesYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 44-year Change 8Terry Porter27-30+6.1+3.1+2.41.0-5.1 4James Worthy28-31+4.0+2.3+0.7-1.6-5.6 20Kevin Willis29-32+1.0-0.4+1.1-3.2-4.2 12Bobby Jones25-28+7.7+5.1+3.83.1-4.6 18Dwyane Wade27-30+10.7+9.4+5.96.3-4.4 Few players have ever declined so much as Melo, so quicklyBiggest decline in Box Plus/Minus (BPM) for qualified NBA players over a four-season span, 1976-2019 6Kareem Abdul-Jabbar37-40+4.9+4.5+1.6-0.6-5.5 7Derek Harper28-31+4.3+2.8+0.7-0.9-5.2 10Kevin Garnett27-30+9.9+9.7+7.95.0-4.9 2Mookie Blaylock29-32+7.2+3.6+4.90.2-7.0 9John Drew23-26+3.1+1.3-0.7-1.8-4.9 11Ricky Rubio25-28+1.9+0.8+1.7-2.9-4.8 13Julius Erving31-34+7.8+6.3+5.93.2-4.6 14Shawn Kemp24-27+6.5+3.1+3.82.0-4.5 15Dirk Nowitzki27-30+5.7+6.7+5.21.2-4.5 16Ray Williams25-28+4.0+3.1+3.9-0.4-4.4 BPM by Year in Span … 3Michael Adams28-31+4.4+1.7-0.1-1.6-6.0 1Carmelo Anthony31-34+2.6-0.7-3.8-5.1-7.7 19George Gervin30-33+1.1-0.4-1.3-3.3-4.4 Includes players who played at least 50 percent of available minutes each season in the four-season stretch.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 17Scott Skiles26-29+1.6-1.4+1.0-2.8-4.4
Embed Code FiveThirtyEight If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (June 28, 2016), we discuss legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, who died Tuesday. Kate Fagan describes what she meant to generations of young women desperate to play the sport. Then, The Wall Street Journal’s Chris Herring joins us to chat about the trade of Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, and we wonder why the Knicks never seem to acquire quality talent. Finally, Chris sticks around to talk about this year’s NBA free agents and whether the Golden State Warriors would be set up for an 82-0 season if they got Kevin Durant. Plus, a significant digit on Buddy Ryan, the NFL defensive coordinator who helped lead the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl titles. He died Tuesday at the age of 85.Links to what we discuss are here:Kate Fagan tells us what Pat Summitt meant to her and generations of women basketball players.Neil Paine dives into the numbers that show Summitt built the best women’s college basketball program of all time.Gary Smith’s 1998 profile of Summitt in Sports Illustrated looks at her through the eyes of a 16-year-old college basketball prospect.In 2012, Dave Zirin asked in The Nation: Are we brave enough to say goodbye to Pat Summitt?Chris Herring wonders how Derrick Rose will fit in with the Knicks.Chris also writes that the Knicks are setting their sights on Kevin Durant now that Rose is on board.But Matt Borcas at The Ringer thinks Durant will never go to the Knicks.Neil Paine thinks a Durant-led Thunder will be a better team without Serge Ibaka.The Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg agrees.Significant Digit: 72. That’s the number of sacks Buddy Ryan’s 1984 Bears put up — the most in a single NFL season. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed
Jamal Crawford43.9243.52 Porzingis has vaulted up the bad-shot leaderboardLowest-ranked players in quantified Shot Quality (qSQ) in 2017-18 and how those players ranked a year ago “The stars in this league take tougher shots because defenses are focused on them. He’s 22, he’s going through that for the first time, and teams are gearing up on him, and not letting him spin or get a clear opportunity to pass the ball,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek told me before a recent game.Without Anthony to worry about, defenses have aggressively seized on Porzingis. A little more than halfway through the season, he’s already been double-teamed in the post 79 times (about twice a game), the fourth-highest total in the NBA and more than he faced during his first two seasons combined, according to Second Spectrum. This effectively is a way of daring him to make a quick, accurate pass to the right man — which is not his strength.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/passes.mp400:0000:0000:52Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Porzingis turns the ball over nearly twice as often as he records an assist, and averages fewer assists per game than any of the other players who rank among the NBA’s top 10 in post-ups. If opponents don’t double him, they will often crowd him on the catch, force him to put the ball on the floor, and bring a help defender so he’s forced to see two bodies.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/kpreel.mp400:0000:0001:08Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The latter strategy, in particular, has worked well since Porzingis still lacks the physicality he needs to push some defenders — even small guards, who give up 6 or 7 inches — off their square.In theory, you could argue that Porzingis is better equipped to take the sorts of shots Anthony did because of how much taller he is, giving him clearer looks at the basket. But despite being the NBA’s tallest player,2He’s tied with Detroit’s Boban Marjanovic — a FiveThirtyEight favorite — who doesn’t see regular playing time. Porzingis’s midrange jumpers have been blocked more often than anyone else in the league. (Anthony is tied for third.) The budding star has an unusually low average release point of just over 9 feet on his midrange attempts, the third-lowest among the league’s 46 volume shooters,3This included players who’d taken at least 100 midrange attempts at the time of publication. according to an analysis run by senior data analyst Matt Scott of STATS SportVU at FiveThirtyEight’s request.Porzingis is the first to acknowledge that he began rushing his offense too much after the blistering pace he set to begin the season. “I think now I’m starting to realize it doesn’t need to be that way,” he told ESPN’s Ian Begley. “I can just let the game flow and see what happens. I can make the right play and not force and try to get those numbers.”No one would be foolish enough to write off Porzingis at this juncture, for his Melo-like shot selection or any other reason. This is his first year as the primary option — he wasn’t even the second banana last season, when both Anthony and Derrick Rose averaged more shot attempts per game — and aside from Tim Hardaway, Jr.,4Whose month-and-a-half-long absence coincided with Porzingis’s slump. he has no other teammate that qualifies as a true playmaker. He plays within the offense more than Anthony did. (Almost two-thirds of Porzingis’s 2-point baskets are assisted, while just under a third of Anthony’s 2-pointers in New York were.) And Porzingis provides enormous value as a rim protector, even when he’s not doing well on offense.Similar to Anthony, Porzingis can be lethal when teammates get him the ball in scenarios that allow him to make quick decisions off the catch. Hornacek’s best weapon to do that — playing Porzingis at center as part of a five-out lineup — deserves more spin, and would help things flow a bit more. Outside of that, the Knicks have been good at setting up these looks in transition, when Porzingis is trailing a play and can simply square up to shoot from the top of the key. Porzingis posts a whopping 56.7 percent effective field-goal rate when he shoots within two seconds of getting the ball, a rate that puts him in the same stratosphere as Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis as far as efficiency is concerned. But he becomes the equivalent of one of the two or three worst shooters in basketball, around 40 percent, when he attempts a shot after holding it for any more than two seconds. (More evidence of this: his 0.73 points per possession in one-on-one situations rank last among the 33 NBA players who isolate at least twice a game.5And have played at least 20 games.)New York’s made an effort to run plays for Porzingis — they run about 19 off-ball screens for him per 100 possessions, according to Second Spectrum, up from 10 last year — though it doesn’t always result in a touch, because of all the defensive attention he’s facing. “Even if I’m not open, it means someone else is open,” Porzingis said. “When we’re in movement, those are good plays for us.”This maturation process — figuring out how to create separation when defenses load up on a single player — was the one Anthony spent the most time helping Porzingis with early in his career.The pair often played one-on-one at practice, and every couple minutes, Porzingis would stop the game to ask Anthony for advice with certain moves. “[Working with him] has been fun,” Anthony told me back in 2015. “For me, it’s knowing that one day I’ll be gone, and somebody else will be here. And he’s the future.”For New York’s future to be brighter than its cloudy past, they’ll need Porzingis to navigate this stretch and learn how to find better shots than the ones Anthony feasted on as a Knick. Kristaps Porzingis45.6448.871 Jarrett Jack*44.83—— When the Knicks finally traded Carmelo Anthony last offseason, both he and the organization itself viewed it as an opportunity to get out from under a cloud. With the Oklahoma City deal, Melo joined a contending team that already had two All-Stars and left the club that fumbled his prime — one that then gladly handed the keys to the franchise to 22-year-old Kristaps Porzingis.For awhile, that experiment was going swimmingly. Porzingis averaged 30 points per contest through his first 11 outings of the season, a highly impressive, if clearly unsustainable, rate. Yet that hot start to the campaign probably camouflaged something that’s come into clearer focus as both the big man and his team have cooled down: For all the trouble New York went through to move on from Anthony and his ball-dominant tendencies, Porzingis launches many of the same heavily contested shots that prompted so much head-scratching and frustration among Knicks fans.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/badshots.mp400:0000:0001:49Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Going into the Knicks’ nationally televised game in Utah Friday, Porzingis has taken far more heavily contested jumpshots than any other NBA player this season. The majority of those attempts come from the antiquated midrange part of the floor, where New York continues to take more shots than any other team despite the firing of team president Phil Jackson, who insisted on using an unpopular triangle offense. Porzingis takes more than seven shots a game from midrange, the NBA’s second-highest mark; more than Anthony, who considers that area his sweet spot. Perhaps most eye-opening of all: according to Second Spectrum data, Porzingis is tied for the league’s fourth-lowest1Among those who’ve taken at least 300 shots for the season. quantified Shot Quality (qSQ), which measures the likelihood of a shot going in if taken by an average player. To put that into context, last season, Porzingis ranked 71st-lowest in the NBA by this measure, while Anthony had the NBA’s fourth-lowest shot quality profile during 2016-17.In other words: Kristaps Porzingis’s shot selection has essentially morphed into Carmelo Anthony’s. PlayerShot QualityRank (lowest)Shot QualityRank (lowest) DeMar DeRozan43.8%142.2%1 Devin Booker45.6546.012 * No rank for 2016-17 due to injuryqSQ measures the likelihood of a shot going in if taken by an average player; minimum 300 shots.Source: Second Spectrum 2017-182016-17
Success in Columbus is nothing new for Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger. Most recently, the former member of the Ohio State men’s hockey team showed his playmaking ability during opening night of the most anticipated season in franchise history.“It’s a joy to play in front of these people with all my friends and family,” Umberger said.“When you’re happy off the ice and you’re excited to come to the rink, you can do big things.”The All-American Buckeye got the sold-out crowd on its feet after scoring the Jackets’ first goal of the season in the second period. Columbus went on to defeat the Minnesota Wild, 2-1, Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.The second-year Blue Jacket broke Minnesota’s back defensive line on its power play before faking left, shooting right and sneaking the puck between Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom’s legs for a 1-0 Columbus lead.“It’s just kind of the pressure we were trying to put on them when we were short-handed,” Umberger said. “‘Verm’ [Antoine Vermette] made a good play on the board and we flooded it with me coming over. I was able to get loose and I went post-to-post with it and was able to get it through his legs.” The short-handed goal was Umberger’s 76th score in his fourth season in the NHL. Last year, he led the Jackets with nine power play goals and ranked second in goals.“Our motto and the way we play has got to be hard with 60-minutes style hockey,” Umberger said. “Execution for the first game probably wasn’t the best, but sometimes you can outwork your opponent … that’s what we’re about. The goal really put a lot of pressure on their top line. If we keep guys off the board, we have a chance to win those types of games.”Jacket’s coach Ken Hitchcock told the media after opening night that the 27-year-old will make plays for the team whenever he gets the chance, especially when he is alongside veteran players such as forwards Samuel Pahlsson and Jason Chimera.“R.J. is going to get 25 or 30 [goals], no matter who he plays with or where he plays,” Hitchcock said. “He’s going to the net, he’s driving to the net. They could have had four or five tonight with that line. If they play their game, they’re not going to be easy to play against because when you got foot speed, skill and size, and you can bring it like that group can, it’s a good sign.”Umberger did big things at Ohio State, too. In his three-year Buckeye career, Umberger posted 129 points, tied for 31st in the OSU record book.He was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Year in 2001 and was the highest draft pick out of Ohio State. The Vancouver Canucks selected him with the 16th overall pick in 2001.As a former Buckeye, Umberger said the support he has received in Columbus had a positive impact on his game.“It does make a difference sometimes when you’re happy where you’re at and comfortable off the ice, you can come to the rink with a smile,” Umberger said, who signed a four-year contract with Columbus in 2008. “I have great teammates here and I’m just happy to be a part of a great group.”During his college years, Umberger said he imagined what it would be like to suit up for the then-new Columbus Blue Jackets franchise.“You don’t know what’s going to happen with your future as a college hockey player,” Umberger said. “One day when I was at Ohio State, I wanted to play here and hoped that someday I could.”For Umberger, Buckeye dreams do come true.
Junior center Amir Williams (23) attempts a lay up during an exhibition game against Walsh Nov. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 93-63.Credit: Kelly Roderick / For The LanternThe Ohio State men’s basketball season tips off Saturday against Morgan State. Here’s a look at five things The Lantern’s sports editors believe will loom largely this winter as the Buckeyes look to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row.1. Does Aaron Craft continue to develop on offense?Since coming to campus in 2010, senior guard Aaron Craft has been known as a defensive force on the basketball court. In his second season with the Buckeyes in 2011-12, Craft earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors for his ability as an on-ball defender. But the difference between Craft and some of the nation’s best point guards is his inability to be a leading threat in scoring. Although Craft did average a career-high 10 points per game last season, he only averages 8.6 per contest over his career. That number that will need to increase if Ohio State hopes to achieve the lofty heights it has reached each of the last two seasons. Craft spent the offseason working on his jump shot after never shooting higher than .500 in a single season. The defensive presence will be there, but OSU needs to Craft to be a more prolific scorer to continue the program’s recent success.2. Does LaQuinton Ross step up as a leader?Junior forward LaQuinton Ross is talented — there is no denying that. Just look at what he did during OSU’s NCAA Tournament run last season. Ross averaged 15 points a game in the tournament, including hitting a game-winning 3-pointer in the Sweet Sixteen against Arizona. But now Ross will be a starter for the Buckeyes for the first time in his career, and most fans expect him to step up in a big way. Although his career scoring average is only 7.1 points per game, the flashes of brilliance last year show the dynamic that Ross could bring to the team as a big man who can hit 3-pointers. In 2012-13, Ross finished second on the team behind junior forward Sam Thompson in 3-point percentage at .389. If Ross can keep up his upward trend, expect a big season from the Jackson, Miss., native.3. How long is Thad Matta willing to wait on Amir Williams?Although he stepped in valiantly when Jared Sullinger was in foul trouble two years ago in OSU’s 77-70 Elite Eight victory over Syracuse, the junior center has not yet blossomed into his full potential. At times last year, Williams seemed finally ready to take the next step and be the dominant force down low OSU so desperately needed. But at other times, he would commit silly fouls, forcing Matta to go with a smaller lineup. Williams said at OSU Media Day Oct. 10 he has bulked up in the offseason in preparation to take more hits in the paint. But if he is unable to show he can rebound and defend consistently without fouling, don’t expect Matta to wait on him too long. Junior center Trey McDonald could see more playing time, or we could see more of the smaller lineup that the team used last year.4. Are the Buckeyes ready for another brutal Big Ten season?When it comes to college basketball, the Big Ten is the best. Although perennial powers Kentucky, Kansas and Louisville are always tough, their respective conferences do not hold the same weight as OSU’s. With the loss of Deshaun Thomas leaving scoring in question, the Buckeyes will need to defend like they always do in order to compete. OSU was 27th in scoring defense last season in the country, only giving up 59.4 points per contest. In a loaded conference, team defense like that again will be key. Any injury to a starter, particularly if it is a leader like Craft or Lenzelle Smith, Jr., could really test the depth of the team as it slugs through the Big Ten part of its schedule starting New Year’s Eve.5. Lenzelle Smith Jr.Smith has been a staple to the Buckeye starting five for two seasons already, and is nothing short of a solid player. He rebounds well for a guy who is only 6 feet 4 inches tall and is always willing to defend bigger guys in order to shut them down for OSU’s benefit. However, Smith seems hesitant to shoot the ball despite his 37.4 shooting record from beyond the arc. It is no secret the team as a whole needs to score more because of the void left by Thomas, but Smith and Craft need to be the guys who lead the charge.
Redshirt sophomore wrestler Kollin Moore gets his hand raised after defeating Penn State’s Matt McCutcheon at 197 pounds on Feb. 3, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Nicholas McWilliams | Former Sports EditorThe No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team returns three former individual national champions and multiple members of the team that won a national championship in 2015. There are 10 Ohio State wrestlers — one in each of the 10 weight classes — are ranked in the top 12 of FloWrestling’s preseason individual weight class rankings. Given the depth of the roster, it might seem like national championship or bust for the Buckeyes.Head coach Tom Ryan took it one step further. “In March, not only do we want to win, I want to be the best team to ever walk on the mat,” he said. “I want this team to have more points and more champions than any team in the history of the sport.” Ohio State opens the season Saturday with the Princeton Open in Princeton, New Jersey. The open will strictly feature individual-weight brackets in lieu of a team competition. Ohio State opens its dual-meet season at home Sunday against Arizona State. Ryan’s roster is headlined by a trio of seniors looking to become the first four-time All-Americans together in NCAA history. That group features senior heavyweight and Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder, redshirt senior and 2015 national champion Nathan Tomasello (125 pounds) and redshirt senior and 2017 Big Ten champion Bo Jordan (174 pounds). For the first couple months of the season, however, the 125-pound class will be anchored by Columbus product and freshman Brakan Mead. He will be stepping in for Tomasello, who sustained a right knee injury while competing internationally last month. It was believed initially that Tomasello would return in January, but the recent prognosis now points toward December, Ryan said. The lineup is supplemented by No. 2 junior Myles Martin (184 pounds), No. 1 redshirt sophomore Kollin Moore (197 pounds) and No. 4 redshirt junior Micah Jordan (157 pounds). Two competitors with NCAA tournament experience — sixth-ranked junior Joey McKenna (141 pounds) and 12th-ranked Te’Shan Campbell (165 pounds) — transferred to Ohio State during the offseason. No. 6 sophomore Luke Pletcher dropped from 141 pounds to wrestle at 133 pounds. Ryan finds it hard to contain his enthusiasm when he looks at his lineup, which he said is likely the most talented in Buckeye history. “Sustained excitement,” Ryan said. “That’s what I think of. I think of just one after the other. They all bring so many unique things to the sport, to wrestling, their styles. They have different styles but they’re all uniquely good. I’m just looking forward to seeing the team compete. I think they feed off each other, they will feed off each other and it’s just going to be an exciting year up and down the lineup.”Though it can sometimes be hard to view the upcoming season as anything other than national championship or bust, Martin said outcomes can often be unpredictable and that only a lack of effort would be considered a failure this season. “If some guys around nationals time get nervous, they like hold back, get a little conservative, I feel like that’s a failure,” Martin said. “Just because all year we focus on putting all we have out there and trying to put the best wrestling and just wrestle through every position and just leaving it all on the mat. If that doesn’t happen up and down the lineup then it’s probably a failure.” Two away dual meets in February loom large. The Buckeyes will travel to meet No. 1 Penn State on Feb. 3 and head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the No. 4 Wolverines on Feb. 11. Ohio State wrestles in the Schottenstein Center twice this season, once on Jan. 12 against No. 6 Minnesota, then on Jan. 21 against No. 7 Iowa. For now, the Buckeyes are simply just ready to wrestle opponents outside of the Steelwood Training Facility. “It’s been getting chippy in the wrestling room,” Martin said. “A couple of the bigger guys have just been pushing each other. We beat each other up all the time, we fight every day.”
Ohio State freshman goalie Andrea Braendli (20) and sophomore goalie Lynsey Wallace warm up before their game against Minnesota State on Oct. 12. Ohio State won 4-0. Credit: Wyatt Crosher | Assistant Sports EditorOn the final weekend of the regular season, No. 1 Wisconsin puts its five-game winning streak on the line against the only team that boasts three Badger defeats in the past two seasons.The No. 10 Ohio State women’s hockey team (18-12, 12-10 WCHA) will hope to bolster its NCAA tournament resume ahead of the WCHA tournament when it faces No. 1 Wisconsin (28-4, 18-4 WCHA) in Madison, Wisconsin. “Every team, as the season goes on, becomes more vulnerable,” Ohio State sophomore forward Emma Maltais said. “I think we’re scary because we are in a position where we have to win and I think that other teams know that.”Ohio State lost to Wisconsin on Jan. 12, leading to a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season.Now at the tail-end of the season, Ohio State risks being eliminated from consideration in the eight-team NCAA Tournament. But a second season win on the road against the nation’s third-highest scoring offense could earn the Buckeyes favor among the selection committee heading into the WCHA Tournament. Coming off a bye week, Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said getting her team to refocus is not a concern.“They know what’s at stake,” Muzerall said. “They read all that stuff and they overanalyze it. You don’t have to get them revved up because at this level they’re already mentally prepared.”Wisconsin enters the series having outscored opponents 24-4 during a dominant five-game stretch. A series sweep of the Buckeyes would grant the Badgers their fourth consecutive regular season conference title.Spearheading the potent Wisconsin front line are freshman forwards Sophie Shirley and Britta Curl, as well as senior Annie Pankowski, who are three of the top four goal scorers in the WCHA. The trio has accounted for 42 percent of the Badgers’ 122 season goals and have racked up a combined 21 points during their win streak.Though all three forwards scored in Wisconsin’s most recent matchup against Ohio State, a 5-2 dismantling in Columbus, Muzerall said they will not be the focal point of her game plan.“The one tricky thing when you have a team of that depth, if you focus on those three, the others will catch you,” Muzerall said.Facing the brunt of the Wisconsin attack for the Buckeyes will be freshman goalie Andrea Braendli, who returns this weekend from a two-game absence due to an international tournament with the Swiss national team. Braendli holds the WCHA’s second-best save percentage at .934.On the opposite end of the ice, Wisconsin redshirt junior goalie Kristen Campbell is fresh off her NCAA-leading seventh shutout of the season against Minnesota Duluth last weekend, which earned her WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors.Maltais, the conference’s second-leading point scorer at 1.27 points a game, helms a Buckeye offense that has come alive of late, scoring 16 goals in its past four games, nearly doubling the nine goals the offense could muster in five straight losses before that.When facing a team of this caliber, Muzerall said the Buckeyes, who lead the conference with 7.5 penalty minutes per game, cannot afford to beat themselves.“[The Badgers] don’t have a terrible weakness. We just have to stay out of the box,” Muzerall said. “That’s what killed us in that second game that we lost.”Though the Buckeyes have been the victor in three of the past four Wisconsin matchups, including a 1-0 win this season, Muzerall said none of that will matter come Friday.“It is a different situation because it’s their senior weekend, it’s their opportunity to win the conference, it’s going to be sold out,” Muzerall said. “We have to start wrapping our mind around that and start visualizing what that sounds like, smells like, tastes like.”The WCHA rivals begin their final regular season series at 8:07 p.m. Friday in Madison.
As the giants of the new broadcasting world, Amazon and Netflix are usually jointly cited as the future of television.But the eve of The Grand Tour appears to have sparked something of a price war between the two, as they battle for world screen domination.Amazon Prime has knocked £20 off its usual subscription to entice fans of the former Top Gear team to its services, as it announces it will expand the show into 200 countries.At £59, the last-minute special offer now leaves the service cheaper than Netflix, which costs £5.99 a month. The Crown is to help Netflix expand across the world Andy Wilman, the show’s executive producer, suggested the lack of public feedback would be welcomed by the team, who would instead watch social media to see how their work goes down.”We’ll never know the numbers because Amazon never give us the viewing figures,” he told Radio 4. “That’s a blessing in its own way, because you can just make something and never, ever have to be judged by looking for overnights and consolidated figures.”I guess this is the next step, that the show is just going to exist out there.” The Amazon show is likely to see them move way from pure motoring into more extravagant stunts The short-term deal was offered alongside adverts starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May , as they took their final steps towards launching the first episode of The Grand Tour at midnight on Friday.Initially released in five territories including the UK, the team have now announced it will move to 200 countries in December.Top Gear was seen in 214 countries in 2015, before Clarkson was axed from the BBC show. The expansion mimics the ambition of Netflix’s The Crown, broadcast into 190 countries after executives leapt on the idea of the lavish period drama to help it win viewers throughout the Commonwealth where, as writer Peter Morgan said, “the Queen is their grandmother”.Both shows will be watched closely by the BBC, which was outbid for The Crown by a Netflix offer of £100m and has retained the rights to Top Gear while Clarkson’s team are compelled to make their show suitably different.Unlike linear channels in the UK, neither online streaming service will give out viewing figures for their much-publicised shows. The last week has seen an array of publicity stunts in The Grand Tour host nations, with models of cars apparently crashed in city centres.Clarkson also found himself in the news after claiming to be a victim of a “hate crime” in a German airport, at the hands on an Argentinian intent on revenge after his Top Gear antics.The first episode of The Grand Tour will be reviewed in the Telegraph tomorrow (Saturday) Being axed by the BBC, he added, had been helpful in the long run, forcing the motoring team to be different.“We’ve had to think up new ideas but that’s no bad thing,” he said.Future shows, he hinted, may see less focus on cars, with the team taking a tent around the world to perform for audiences in Los Angeles, Whitby, Germany, Johannesburg and Lapland. A publicity stunt in Hackescher Markt in Berlin He added: “They’re all there with their thumbs banging away so we’ll get it from Twitter, I’d imagine.”Clarkson said the fundamentals of the show would appeal to a wide audience in any country, claiming: “It’s an international language, cars”.He said the first episode, which includes hybrid hypercars – the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Ferrari LaFerrari – is likely to be popular, proclaiming himself “very excited” about finally getting to launch day.”I think programme one will be all right,” he said. “I’d be extremely surprised if that was poorly reviewed.” Claire Foy stars in The Crown, one of the most written-about shows of this year The new Grand Tour tent, which helps the show circumnavigate the BBC’s ownership of the Top Gear format The trio are billed as “three friends on an adventure” in the promo for the new show 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.
But now BBC bosses have decided the contestants will have to compete in a Cha Cha Cha dance – in addition to their set rehearsed piece this week. Mr Balls, 49, has previously struggled with the Cha Cha, scoring well below the other celebrities on the Halloween show. And before the series even started he dubbed the Cha Cha Cha a “nightmare”. This weekend he will now have to rely on the public vote more than ever to avoid being in the bottom two and voted off by the judges. Producers are said to be keen to see him leave the programme because they want the focus to return to the dancing, rather than Mr Balls’ comedy performances. An insider told The Sun: “The challenge is almost definitely set to place Ed bottom of the judge’s leaderboard.”He’s the worst dancer on paper and even if he nails his rehearsed dance, he’s set to be voted off by judges.” Earlier this week, Mr Balls vowed he would stay in the competition for as long as he was saved – despite calls for him to step down. He may have avoided the dance-off for another week but a new Cha Cha challenge could finally see the end of Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing. The former shadow chancellor has managed to cling on week by week, despite repeatedly finishing bottom of the leaderboard. 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 former Shadow Chancellor said he will stay in the competition for as long as he is savedCredit: Jay Brooks/BBC He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “As it goes on in this competition, the dance becomes a bigger deal but in the end you’ve got to respect the voters.“The public decide who becomes, President or Prime Minister, or who stays in Strictly.”A Strictly spokesman said, “This Saturday, all couples will do two dances – their own routine as well as the Cha Cha challenge – to determine their place on the leader-board.All the couples have done a Cha Cha in the competition so they are already familiar with the technique. As per the rules each week, the leader-board accounts for only half of the final result with the public vote making up the remaining half.”