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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Even The Orioles Have A Shot In The AL East

emmaspan: Oh my gosh. I changed my mind: Orioles are going all the way this year. New York Yankeesneil: All right, let’s move on to the Yankees. According to the numbers, at least, they might be the most underrated team in baseball — which I never thought I’d actually hear a Yankee team described as.dszymborski: One surprising — and positive — thing about New York is just how young its good pitching is. I do this thing called “contribution age,” in which I weight a team’s age by its projected WAR, and the Yankees actually have the second-youngest pitching staff based on where they’re getting the value from (slightly behind the Mets).emmaspan: Do you think those young guys are ready, Dan? Luis Severino did look really strong last year, but small sample size and all that.dszymborski: Oh, I’m frightened by the downside, but a lot of the contributions that they’re going to get will need to be from those young/youngish guys. I’m bullish on Severino especially, simply because he’s one of the few starters that actually has his arm completely intact.emmaspan: Speaking of which, I worry about Michael Pineda staying healthy. I mean, also every other pitcher in the league, but Pineda has a long list of injury issues.neil: Masahiro Tanaka, too, has his own injury history as well.emmaspan: A good chunk of the Yankees’ season probably hangs on Tanaka’s elbow, which is pretty precarious. And I think at CC Sabathia‘s age, it’s unlikely he’ll get back to his top form, which is too bad, because he was enormously fun to watch.dszymborski: He was one of the great hopes for the next 300-game winner for a while, too. Watching his ZiPS career projection for wins come down year after year is very depressing. It peaked at 274 five years ago. Now it’s down to 231.emmaspan: Aw, CC. At least it sounds like he’s in a good place off the field and that’s great.neil: But is it fair to say the Yankees will probably once again be somewhere between OK and pretty decent on both the runs scored and allowed fronts? That was their formula last season, but it fell short of what are always the ravenous expectations in the Bronx.dszymborski: That seems about right. It’s an old risky team that can still patch together enough of a run to remain solid.emmaspan: That’s what I think. Their lineup is still overly reliant on old (by baseball standards) players but they shored it up a bit this offseason. I think it’ll be serviceable, and like the last few years, probably enough to put them in contention for a wild card. Money can’t buy you a championship, but it can keep you from totally sucking.dszymborski: I find using “old” a more loaded term these days, given how quickly baseball is running out of players that are older than I am.emmaspan: You should love the Yankees, then, Dan. Speaking of old, I thought for sure A-Rod would be cooked last year, but he was one of their best players. Is there any way he manages that again?dszymborski: I think he could. The question before last year was whether, after injuries and missing a year, he’d be able to do it at all. That he did it once should make us slightly more optimistic.neil: A-Rod’s regression potential, though, is another limiting factor for that lineup that probably keeps them more “OK” than “great.”dszymborski: Some of the issues in the offense would look less urgent if not for the Greg Bird injury.emmaspan: Yeah, not a great idea to go in without a good Mark Teixeira backup plan.neil: And what do we make of this bullpen Death Star they’ve built when Aroldis Chapman returns from suspension?emmaspan: It could make up for some of those rotation question marks — you don’t need to rely on length from that group of starters. For me, it would be more fun to watch if their buy-low on Chapman while he was under investigation for domestic violence hadn’t been so discouraging. But yes, from a pure baseball perspective, it’ll still be a spectacle.One of the more impressive aspects of the Yankees’ recent history is that for all their issues, they’ve done a good job replacing Mariano Rivera, which is a tall order. None of these guys are Mo, don’t get me wrong, but the bullpen hasn’t really been one of their problems. Baltimore Oriolesneil: You guys have just told me why any of the Jays, Red Sox, Yankees or Rays could win this division without anything too crazy happening. Does it stand to reason that Baltimore, who won this division as recently as two years ago, also fits that description?dszymborski: Pretty much. Although there’s something depressing about the fact that the Os had to increase their payroll to $150 million just to essentially maintain last year’s roster. (Which went 81-81.)emmaspan: They would surprise me the most of any AL East team, but even for them I would say they still have a shot. They’re gonna clobber a ton of home runs. That pitching, though.neil: The rotation looks especially shaky.dszymborski: It’s essentially four soft-tossing righties and Kevin Gausman, who they spent all of last year trying to use in the most awkward way imaginable.emmaspan: We did a big article on Jake Arrieta this week. Between what he said about his time in Baltimore and what the scout we talked to said about Gausman, yikes. Developing pitching prospects is risky for any team, but the Orioles desperately need to break this pattern.dszymborski: I think the Os lead the league in home runs, go 81-81, and the organization can’t quite figure out why.emmaspan: Their path to success is similar to last year’s Jays: out-slug all comers. But, again, for the Jays that involved picking up one of the best pitchers in baseball at the deadline, and that’s a tall order.dszymborski: Baltimore’s closer to a rebuild than any of the other AL East teams, I think. The farm’s dried up, they can’t increase payroll any more, and Manny Machado’s only got three years to free agency now.emmaspan: I feel awful for Orioles fans if the team doesn’t extend Machado and he goes elsewhere. Oof.dszymborski: I’m from Baltimore! I’m slowly coming to terms that he’s signing somewhere else for $300 million.emmaspan: I do think they have kind of a secret weapon in Buck Showalter, who can win you a few extra one-run games. And Yovani Gallardo should be pretty solid. It’s not an inspiring signing, but it’s something.dszymborski: Despite the doom and gloom, they do have a playoff scenario. It’s just that they’re going to have to face some tough questions quicker than the others.emmaspan: Your 2015 Baltimore Orioles: “Well, It’s Something.”neil: Better or worse than “Why Not?” neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): All right — the AL East is perennially one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, but the balance of power has shifted a bit away from the classic Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in recent years. Do we think that will persist this year with Toronto winning again, or do we have reason to think New York and especially Boston will return to their former glories?dszymborski: Well, both teams have a plausible case to contention, though either could come off the rails very quickly. I think it’s truer than ever that there are no great AL East teams or even any great AL teams, period.emmaspan: I’d agree with Dan that the AL East is pretty wide open. It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these teams squeak into a wild-card spot. And I believe SI’s preseason predictions for the AL East last year ended up being an exact inversion of the final standings. So everyone should definitely listen to me.dszymborski: The nice thing about the “all teams are plausible!” prediction is that people end up having to be less specific in their anger at me by the time the season ends.emmaspan: I think Boston will be pretty good this year, although to be fair, I also thought that last year, and, well. But I think the race is likelier to be between the Red Sox and the Blue Jays than the Yankees. All three of those teams have a lot of question marks in their rotations, but I think the Sox and Jays have lineups that can cover for a lot of that, and I’m not sure I’d say the same for New York. Tampa Bay Raysneil: Maybe the real wild card in this division (not literally the AL Wild Card, just the figure of speech — although maybe the literal Wild Card, too) is the Tampa Bay Rays. PECOTA is picking them to win the division, on the strength of a really outlier-ish fielding performance. What do you think? Are the Rays back?dszymborski: Yeah, ZiPS had the opposite: Rays at 80-82.neil: I think most other sources were more in line with ZiPS. Vegas pegged them with an over/under of 78 wins.emmaspan: I don’t think the Rays are back quite yet, but they’re better, and if a few things went right for them, the Wild Card is pretty realistic. I do think they’ll have good defense (Kevin Kiermaier by himself is basically a good defense), and potentially a strong rotation.dszymborski: Yeah, it could happen for sure. They’re a non-terrible team in a wide-open division.emmaspan: I just don’t see them hitting enough. But a few surprise performances and a couple of trades and who knows?dszymborski: You’re really seeing some of the effects of their recent drafts not bearing fruit yet. Only a single drafted Ray since David Price in 2007 has five WAR in the majors: Kiermaier.emmaspan: I’m pretty fascinated to see if Kiermaier’s insane defensive stats hold up. I mean, he’s obviously an excellent, excellent centerfielder — but worth five wins on defense alone?dszymborski: There’s gotta be some regression on that. Defensive stats are just so volatile. But even at +15, he’s a valuable player.emmaspan: Yeah, generally you take a single season of defensive stats with large grains of salt. That said, you watch him field, and he really is awesome. Obligatory plug — check out last week’s issue of SI for more on Kiermaier and his crazy centerfielding.dszymborski: I prefer “centerfieldery.” Sounds better after “feats of.”emmaspan: You’re right. Let’s go with “crazy feats of centerfieldery.” I won’t tell the SI copy desk if you don’t.neil: But it sounds like you both are somewhat skeptical of that +56 fielding runs above average PECOTA is spitting out for Tampa. Do they have much of a plausible path to the division crown if that doesn’t end up happening? Looking at the rest of their roster, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough else there.dszymborski: To establish +56 as a baseline, you gotta do it longer. (It’s like projecting Bonds in his 73-homer season. Even though he did hit 73, you probably shouldn’t have projected it beforehand.) And without that +56, it’s tougher for the Rays. But remember, I don’t see them being quite that good defensively and still think there’s a path — just not the most likely one.emmaspan: Right. I don’t think it’s likely but, again, it wouldn’t be shocking. Chris Archer is awesome. Matt Moore’s looked great. I think Drew Smyly can be good. Combine a really good rotation with very good fielding — even if it isn’t +56 fielding runs above average — and stranger things have happened.neil: In fairness, I should also say their catchers — specifically, Hank Conger and René Rivera — are really good framers. So some of that is being factored into PECOTA.emmaspan: Evan Longoria going back to his star levels would go a long way towards helping. I don’t know how likely that is. And even if it did, I still think they need a couple bats. But I don’t think they’re far away from contending.dszymborski: No, just need some things to go right. Like when you don’t want to do your homework and there’s a 40 percent chance of snow in the forecast. In honor of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, which starts Sunday, FiveThirtyEight is assembling some of our favorite baseball writers to chat about the year to come. Today, we focus on the American League East with Sports Illustrated senior editor Emma Span and ESPN analyst Dan Szymborski. The transcript below has been edited.Toronto Blue JaysBoston Red SoxNew York YankeesTampa Bay RaysBaltimore Orioles Embed Code dszymborski: I know the whole “Why Not?” song. I had the 1989 team video on VHS. It also included a Mickey Tettleton version of “I Love Mickey.” Ben Lindbergh joins the Hot Takedown podcast to preview the 2016 MLB season. Toronto Blue Jaysneil: Well, let’s talk about the team that won the division last year, the Blue Jays. They were arguably the best team in baseball last season (sorry, Royals), but neither FanGraphs nor Baseball Prospectus’s projections think they’re the frontrunners this season. What do we think? Was last year their peak, or can they be as good this time around?emmaspan: The Blue Jays are my pick to win the division this year. Like last year, their lineup should be terrifying, but their rotation is less steady than you’d like. They’ll miss David Price. But when you can outscore everyone on the planet like that, it makes up for a lot.dszymborski: I think they come back to earth a bit. Not a lot went wrong last year. They’ll score a ton of runs, but there’s certainly some downside risk there. Though they’re still competitive, like the rest of the AL East.emmaspan: Even assuming that Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion won’t all have 40-HR seasons like last year, they can still bludgeon a lot of pitchers. They should also have a full year of Marcus Stroman, which could be huge (though I do worry a little about putting so much pressure on a kid who only had five starts last year).I covered the Blue Jays in the playoffs last year, including that crazy ALDS Game 5, and it was something else. I actually might be overestimating them a little because of how insane that moment was.neil: It was an incredible moment. But at that stage of the season, they’d also been buoyed by deadline pickups (in addition to actually playing to their run differential). Do they need to go out and get pieces again?emmaspan: I think they need a pitcher. Though there probably won’t be another David Price lying around.dszymborski: And even if there was, trading for a second David Price is tough.emmaspan: Yes. And their new GM has expressed reluctance to make those huge moves, which I know has some Jays fans worried.dszymborski: Yeah, say that the Nats are terrible and Stephen Strasburg is available. That’s all well and good, but it will be harder for the Jays to come up with another trade package in 2016.emmaspan: But one other thing in their favor — their offense was that good without Troy Tulowitzki hitting very well. He’ll help their defense regardless, but if he can return to even kinda his usual form, that’s huge. Even if you don’t get another ace at the deadline, even just a solid mid-rotation guy can be enough when you score 18 runs per game. (Slight exaggeration.)neil: Only slight.emmaspan: They also could use another reliable bullpen arm or two, I think. That might be easier to come by.dszymborski: But they have the mid-rotation guys. It’s the ace-type that you can confidently start six times in the playoffs they don’t have.emmaspan: I think Stroman can be that guy, though they’ll want to watch his innings this year.dszymborski: It’s a lot to put on a guy who just came back from one injury.emmaspan: Also, I personally am ready for the R.A. Dickey renaissance. Is it likely? OK, no. But it would be wonderful and you never fucking know with knuckleballers. (Please feel free to edit out my profanity — I get very worked up about knuckleballs.)neil: Profanity is fine, but only in the context of knuckleball pitchers.dszymborski: Dickey hasn’t been disappointing even, just not super inspiring: a slightly above-average pitcher that never misses a start. He’s also only 41 — he can be around for another decade or so.emmaspan: Right, but I vividly remember his Cy Young season for the Mets. That was crazy fun.dszymborski: That mid-year stretch when nobody scored on him ever!emmaspan: And he had a few great starts last year, too, if I recall correctly. It’s still in there, somewhere, maybe!dszymborski: 2.80 second-half ERA!emmaspan: There you go. In my mind the AL Cy Young is already sewn up. Everyone else can go home.neil: You said it, Emma — you never (fucking) know with guys like that. But barring some kind of Dickey renaissance, the Jays’ only really question mark is the rotation, it seems. Emma said she’s picking Toronto as favorites; what say ye, Dan?dszymborski: Slightly picking Red Sox. But again, this is a year in which I can just project everybody to have a fun time.emmaspan: Red Sox were a close second for me. We pretty much agree, which means this is probably the Rays’ year. Boston Red Soxneil: You guys sound high on the Red Sox, despite the last-place finish a year ago. How much of that is the offseason additions (David Price, Craig Kimbrel, etc.) and how much is simply the guys who had down seasons a year ago bouncing back in some way, shape or form?dszymborski: I’m slightly higher on them than the Yankees. I actually picked them as very slight division favorites, but a lot can still go wrong.emmaspan: The latter, for me — the Red Sox played much better the second half of last year than the first. It looked like things were starting to come together. And any time you can add a durable (so far) ace like Price, it’s a big boost.dszymborski: Hard to go wrong signing David Price!emmaspan: I don’t think Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval will necessarily return to form, but if they can just be decent, there’s still a lot to like in that lineup.dszymborski: Ramirez at least seems to have more buy-in about playing first base. I urged people not to overrate how good he’d be in left field, but I didn’t see that disaster coming. I’m less optimistic on Sandoval. It was such a strange pair of signings. Third base was the logical reason to sign either Hanley or Sandoval going into last winter, but then they signed both.emmaspan: I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic about Sandoval, either, but last year was his worst ever and he’s still only 29, so I don’t think a return to (at least) mediocrity is out of the question. But yeah, those were strange moves even at the time. Personally, I will miss the sheer adventure of Hanley in left. A real adrenaline rush.dszymborski: I think the GM change is good for the Red Sox not just because of any managerial issue, just because it’s easier to walk away from various Sandoval/Ramirez experiments if they go poorly. Dave Dombrowski has nothing personally invested in Sandoval’s contract working out.emmaspan: That “if” is very generous of you.dszymborski: I’m a sunny optimist.neil: Yeah, I wanted to ask about the regime change there — Dombrowski is demonstrably one of the best GMs in baseball, but what is he going to do to succeed where Ben Cherington failed? And what do we make of that story where John Henry backed away from sabermetrics a bit as a guiding strategy?emmaspan: We’ll obviously have to see how it plays out, but I think the John Henry quotes got a little overblown — I think what he was saying is that they want to use a good mixture of analytics and scouting, which at this point is hardly controversial. Or shouldn’t be.dszymborski: Yeah. His comments also came at a slow time in the news cycle, so they got blown up a bit. Though Ruben Amaro and their “secret analytics” was highly entertaining for a few days.emmaspan: One of the most fun aspects of SI’s baseball season preview every year is we talk to a bunch of scouts, anonymously, about every team. They have some really fascinating (and funny) insights that you don’t get from even the best statistical analysis — but, of course, they also are spectacularly wrong sometimes. The Red Sox obviously did very well by sabermetrics and I don’t see them tossing it over the side. Almost all the best teams in baseball right now are teams that have done a good job balancing those perspectives.dszymborski: It used to be you had a serious divide between teams using data well and teams that don’t. That’s so much not the case these days.emmaspan: One thing to watch with Dombrowski is how much freedom he gets from ownership. That was an issue with Cherington, apparently, at several key points in his tenure.dszymborski: Yeah, he never really had the political capital that Theo Epstein did.emmaspan: You can be the best GM in the world, but if the owners insist that you hire Bobby Valentine, well …neil: Fair enough. So if Red Sox fans had any reason to panic, it should be more about maybe, say, the back end of that rotation than any grand shift in organization direction.emmaspan: Yes, although ownership meddling is something to be wary of in that and other areas.dszymborski: As organizations have more complex management structures and ownership groups continue to get more involved, I think chalking moves up to a specific GM isn’t as useful as it once was. A FiveThirtyEight Chat More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed neil: So, to recap: slight edge to the Jays, but maybe the Red Sox, Yankees or even the Rays … And the Orioles will either finish last or recapture the spirit of ’89 in song and performance.emmaspan: That about sums it up on my end.dszymborski: Seems like a reasonable wrapup. And hi, Nate. I see you typing.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Thanks, Dan and Emma!emmaspan: Hi Nate! [waves]natesilver: Was gonna say that we really need to work on an oral history of the 1991 Detroit Tigers: Tettleton + Fielder + Deer + Incaviglia = AWESOME.neil: Save it for the AL Central chat, Nate. :)emmaspan: And don’t give me any ideas you don’t want me to steal. read more

FSU QB Jameris Winstons DNA Linked to Accuser in

Photo by Palm Beach Post.Jameis Winston, the Florida State star freshman quarterback, has been linked to the accuser in a criminal sexual case by DNA evidence compiled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.The DNA analysis matched the sample taken from the underwear of a woman who has accused him of sexual battery.ESPN.com viewed a DNA analysis report Wednesday indicating that the Florida state crime lab determined that the chances of the DNA in the woman’s underwear are a match for someone other than Winston is 1 in 2.2 trillion.Police obtained a sexual assault kit on Dec. 7, 2012, when the accuser reported the alleged incident had occurred at an off-campus apartment. Winston’s DNA was recently obtained through a buccal swab he provided to authorities investigating the case.The DNA match alone does not prove that Winston, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, sexually assaulted the woman, as the accuser’s family claimed in a statement released by a Tampa-based attorney on Wednesday. But it does indicate that Winston, who has yet to talk to Tallahassee police or the state attorney investigating the case, had his DNA associated with the accuser on Dec. 7, 2012, when the accuser claimed she was sexually assaulted.William Meggs, the state attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit, said his office is still investigating the case, which was only referred to his office by Tallahassee police last week.“Everybody wants to know what’s going on,” Meggs said earlier Wednesday. “So do we. We’re in the process of trying to figure out what’s going on. We haven’t determined how it’s going to turn out.”Meggs said: “I’m pretty confident, as much as anybody can be. There are two kinds of evidence: testimonial and physical. We’ll have what we have at the end of the day and then we’ll evaluate what we have.”On Wednesday night, Tallahassee interim police chief Tom Coe said the accuser stopped cooperating with police in February. A statement released earlier Wednesday by the accuser’s family through her attorney, Patricia Carroll of Tampa, said Tallahassee police warned the accuser not to pursue the case, saying Det. Scott Angulo told Carroll, “Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.”Coe contends Tallahassee police made the case inactive only after the accuser stopped communicating with them. Coe told the Tallahassee Democrat on Tuesday that the police department reviewed the case after media outlets filed open records requests for the case file. Coe said the open records requests alone couldn’t change a case from open-inactive to open-active, but that new evidence or leads would have to be found to change the investigation’s status.“In February 2013, the case was classified as open, but inactive, when the victim in the case broke off contact with TPD, and her attorney indicated she did not want to move forward at that time,” Coe said.In a statement released to the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday, the accuser’s attorney said, “It was never the intent of the victim or the family for this to become public,” but went on to provide a scathing review of the police’s handling of the case.The woman accusing Winston initially reported the incident Dec. 7, 2012. Coe said police investigated the incident, taking witness testimony and collecting evidence.According to Jansen, who has been representing Winston, police approached him about the case in February, but soon after assured him the case was no longer being investigated. Jansen said he reported that to both Winston and Florida State.When records requests from multiple media outlets were made to Tallahassee police last week, investigators re-examined the case and forwarded it to the state attorney’s office. Meggs is currently reviewing the case and will decide whether charges will be brought against a potential suspect.Meggs told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he probably will not take the case before a grand jury, saying his office would ultimately decide whether it believes it has sufficient evidence to charge Winston with a crime.“I’m not stupid,” Meggs said. “It is a young man whose life is in a fish bowl right now. I think about that. There’s also a young girl whose life has been turned upside down and her life will never be the same, either. We look at it and say, ‘Which one of those is most important?’ Both. It is a search for the truth and the truth is kind of elusive sometimes.”Carroll’s statement also said police failed to do a proper investigation, did not collect blood work or DNA samples from Winston, and refused to interview Winston’s roommate, who the accuser says witnessed the attack. The statement also criticized police for approaching Winston’s attorney in February with details of the case.Coe did not specifically contradict any of the claims made in the accuser’s statement but said, “There are many statements being made daily, some of which are factual, some are not factual. We can’t go into detail on that tonight, but there will be a point in time when we can comment on those issues.” read more

Podcast The Greatest Dynasty Of All NBA Free Agency And AllStar Baseball

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. Hot Takedown Welcome to this week’s episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (July 7, 2015), we discuss whether the U.S. women’s national soccer team is a dynasty, review NBA free agency and turn to the MLB All-Star Game. Plus, our Significant Digit of the week: Serena Williams’s great record in the third set of matches.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above.Below are some links to what we discuss on this week’s show:Nate Silver says the U.S. women’s national team may be the greatest World Cup dynasty of all time.Jill Ellis was the villain — and then she fixed it all!The Mavs get DeAndre Jordan.Neil Paine on the Royals dominating the All-Star Game.Significant Digit: Serena Williams’s 17 straight wins when she reaches the third set. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS read more

The Miami Heat Are The Most Impressive Playoff Team So Far

With the first round of the NBA playoffs nearing its halfway point, much has played out according to pre-playoff expectations, and that’s been good news for the better-seeded team in each series. Six of eight matchups have had double-digit average per-game victory margins; hell, the San Antonio Spurs have thumped the Memphis Grizzlies by an average of 29 points per game. It’s a massacre out there.But not everything has followed that pattern. Using our Elo ratings (which measure a team’s strength at a given moment), we found the teams that have exceeded their regular-season expectations the most since the playoffs tipped off last weekend. And even given the lack of first-round surprises so far, some teams have managed to raise eyebrows with their play, as we highlight in the video below:Chief among those teams: the Miami Heat, who are, um, torching [One of you owes me 20 push-ups. — Ed.] the Charlotte Hornets in their series thus far. Although our model expected Miami to win by 3.9 points per game, the Heat have prevailed by an average margin of 22 a game. With guys like Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow in the mix, you might think the Heat’s defense — stingy during the regular season — is behind this run. But no, it’s an unstoppable offense that’s driving the Heat’s blowouts.That Heat attack is averaging 1.24 points per play, according to Synergy Sports Technology; that’s the best of any team in the playoffs. According to data from the NBA’s player-tracking SportVU tech, Miami’s pick-and-roll performance has jumped from 91.1 points per 100 chances created by those plays during the regular season to 121.8 per 100 chances in the playoffs. Luol Deng is hitting 55 percent of his 3-pointers; Whiteside is shooting 88 percent around the rim; and Dwyane Wade is scoring 22 points per game with an assortment of crafty, old-man moves.Josh Richardson is perhaps most emblematic of the Heat getting, well, hot [Forty. — Ed.]. The rookie averaged only 21 minutes over 52 games this regular season, but he’s second on the Heat in minutes during the playoffs and, according to Synergy, is tied for the league lead in spot-up attempts — and leads outright in makes.As a team, the Heat are shooting out of their minds. So on to the natural question: Can this last? According to SportVU data that estimates shot difficulty using variables such as location, shot distance and the defender’s proximity, the Heat are taking extremely difficult shots — their playoff shot selection is of a similar difficulty to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ during the regular season, which was third-worst in the league. The difference is, their effective field goal percentage on those shots is 14.2 percentage points higher than you’d expect, given the types of shots they’re taking. (For reference, no team finished the regular season more than 4.1 percentage points better than expectation.)But although the Heat will probably cool off [I’ll just let you know when you can stop. — Ed.] before their series against Charlotte is over, our predictions now list them as 82 percent favorites to advance into the second round. If Miami gets there, a matchup against Toronto — which has underperformed its own expectations in the first round — seems likely, so we might even get to witness a fun experiment in whether “momentum” can carry over from one round to the next.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 NBA Playoff Predictions. read more

Mens swimming Ohio State set to swim backtoback dual meets

The OSU men’s swimming team practices leading up to meets against Michigan State and the University of Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 and 21. Credit: Sydney McNulty | Lantern reporterThe Ohio State men’s swimming team is set to compete in back-to-back dual meets this weekend, starting on Friday at Michigan State and continuing in Columbus on Saturday, hosting the University of Pittsburgh.The Buckeyes head to East Lansing, Michigan, after a dominant performance against Cincinnati, setting three pool records at Keating Aquatic Center.Carrying that momentum is vital heading into a double header, graduate senior Josh Fleagle said.“It’s definitely not easy,” he said. “We just take it one practice at a time, one meet at a time and we look forward to new challenges, competition and we love racing.”It will be a quick turnaround, but Fleagle believes the team’s experience will give the Buckeyes an upper hand.“When we go to Big Tens and NCAAs, it’s four or five days of just swimming,” he said. “So two days isn’t that bad, granted we will get back a little bit later on Friday from Michigan State. But we are pretty used to it.”The Buckeyes will swim against the Spartans for the first time this season. Senior Matt McHugh said the results of the meet will give some insight into the team’s level of conditioning.“It’ll be good to see how we go up against Michigan State in a dual meet,” he said. “It’s a good indication to see where we need to improve, and what events we need to put certain people in.”In facing both a conference and a out of conference opponent this weekend, the Buckeyes are keeping the same mindset: competition is competition, said Fleagle.“I think right now the positivity is really up and obviously, the goal is to get best times in everything we do,” he said.Competition is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Friday and at noon on Saturday. read more

OSU volleyball rebounds with Big Ten victory

Coming off losses at Indiana and Purdue last weekend, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team got a much-needed win against Iowa Friday night at St. John arena to stay in the Big Ten hunt. “It was definitely a really important win,” senior Sarah Mignin said. “We just tried to come out with a lot of intensity and a lot of energy.” Coming into Friday, the Buckeyes had been struggling in Big Ten play, but knew that a couple of quick wins would bring them right back into the clustered Big Ten race. “This conference is ridiculous,” OSU coach Geoff Carlston said. “Every team in this conference has a chance to make the tournament.” OSU took the momentum early and didn’t give it back the rest of the match, finishing off the Hawkeyes, 3-0 (25-10, 25-16, 25-17). “Iowa is a good team, so it’s good to come out and finish them off 3-0,” senior outside hitter Katie Dull said. Junior middle blocker Kelli Barhorst led the team in scoring with 18 points and also recorded a match-high with 14 kills. The Buckeyes seemed to have the Iowa defense confused all night and Iowa was never able to adjust. “I thought our setters did a nice job of distributing the ball,” Carlston said. “We’ve been too predictable and tonight we did a nice job of spreading the offense out.” The win pushed the Buckeye’s conference record to 3-4 on the season. “A lot of it is just focusing on our side of the net,” Dull said. “In the Big Ten, everybody is good so it is just about taking care of your business.” The Buckeyes carried their momentum for Friday’s win right into Saturday, defeating 19th-ranked Minnesota, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-17). Barhorst led the Buckeyes for the second straight night, recording match highs in points, 14.5, and kills, with 11. The win evens the Buckeyes’ Big Ten record at 4-4 and improves their overall record to 16-5. The Buckeyes take on Penn State Wednesday at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena. read more

Buckeye Brainteasers Ohio State vs Purdue

Can Ohio State vanquish their demons and be successful in West Lafayette? West Lafayette, Ind., has not been friendly to the Buckeyes. The last time OSU traveled to Purdue in 2009, the then-No. 7 Buckeyes lost to a 1-5 Purdue team, 26-18. The upset was not an isolated incident. The Boilermakers have actually won three of their past five home games against OSU. Coach Luke Fickell said he can recall almost every detail from the 2009 game and is very aware of how difficult it is to walk out of Purdue with a victory. “We’re 2-2 over there in the last 10 years,” Fickell said during his press conference on Tuesday. “If that’s just not enough to open your eyes and make sure you understand. It will be pounded home … it’s going to be a battle.” Which players on Purdue’s offense could hurt OSU? The Boilermaker offense is balanced, but has lacked explosiveness as of late. The team hasn’t scored more than 18 points in any of its past four games, but averages 25.9 points per game on the year. Its rushing attack, ranked 44th nationally, features junior running backs Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers. The duo splits the majority of the carries and have rushed for eight touchdowns on the year. Junior Caleb TerBush starts at quarterback for the Boilermakers. He’s thrown for 1386 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, but is also a threat on the ground. Overall, the 16th ranked Buckeye defense shouldn’t have any problems. With the possible return of Jordan Hall will Carlos Hyde get some playing time? It may come as a surprise, but OSU’s leading rusher this season is sophomore Carlos Hyde. Despite that fact, Hyde’s playing time has been limited when fellow running backs junior Jordan Hall and senior Daniel “Boom” Herron have both been available to play. With Hall sidelined for last week’s 34-20 win over Indiana, Hyde ran for 105 yards and a touchdown. All signs seem to indicate Hall will be available for this week’s game against Purdue and Herron will surely be the Buckeyes’ starter at running back. Fickell would not commit to Hyde receiving playing time. “Not sure just yet,” Fickell said. “We need to see how those guys practice. A lot of that stuff depends on how you practice.” Will the Buckeyes have their Big Ten Championship hopes derailed? OSU has a legitimate chance to win the Big Ten Championship. If the team can win the remainder of its games and Penn State loses twice before the season ends, the Buckeyes will win the Leaders Division of the Big Ten and appear in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Purdue has other plans, but Fickell will be sure his team knows what’s at stake. Expect the Buckeyes to continue their success running the ball and rely on a defensive that has a clear athletic advantage over the Purdue offense. Barring a disastrous, turnover-plagued game from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes will take the game, which will be closer than the score indicates. Final score prediction: Ohio State 34, Purdue 21 read more

OSU knocks off Syracuse 7770 for trip to Final Four

BOSTON – After the final buzzer sounded, the Ohio State men’s basketball team leapt high and far.  These were celebratory jumps and chest-bumps. They were higher than any attempt for a rebound or a basket, and the smiles that accompanied them unmistakable – they were the smiles of a team headed to the Final Four. Because that’s what the second-seeded Buckeyes were on Saturday at TD Garden in Boston – a team that defeated top-seeded Syracuse, 77-70, in the NCAA Tournament East Region Final to gain passage to the Final Four in New Orleans in a week. In a game marred by questionable officiating decisions and foul trouble for both the Orange (34-3) and the Buckeyes (31-7), OSU outlasted its opponent in the nervy, closing moments of the game. After missing most of the first half with foul trouble, sophomore forward Jared Sullinger ended the night with a game-high 19 points. Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas added 14 points and fellow sophomore Lenzelle Smith, Jr., had 18 points of his own. OSU, which advances to the Final Four for the first time since coach Thad Matta led the team to the National Championship game in 2007, does not yet have an opponent for its next game.  The Buckeyes will play the winner of the Midwest Region Final between top-seeded North Carolina and second-seeded Kansas in the Final Four on Saturday. The Tar Heels and Jayhawks will tip Sunday at 5:05 p.m. in St. Louis, Mo. “Obviously, I thought a high-level college basketball game, probably the way it’s supposed to be in the Regional Finals,” Matta said after the game. “We beat a tremendous team tonight.” The Buckeyes bumped and hassled their way to an early 9-8 lead, which held through the first media timeout. Sophomore guard Aaron Craft had a hand in Orange senior guard Scoop Jardine’s face early and often. Buckeyes starters were falling fast, though – guard Smith Jr. took a blow to the head and went back to the locker room before the first media timeout. At the 13:42 mark, Sullinger was slapped with his second foul of the half and forced to retreat to the bench. Smith Jr. would return minutes later, but the significance of Sullinger’s absence from the court wasn’t lost on Matta. When play stopped at the 11:22 mark of the first half with the Buckeyes leading, 16-15, Matta walked across the court and shouted to the CBS television broadcasting team to see if the correct call was made. The broadcasters appeared to indicate the call was incorrect, and Matta stomped on the floor in frustration. Sullinger zipped his warm-up jacket up – he was in for a long break from the action. The player said he wasn’t expecting Matta to call him back to the bench. “These guys have played without me before, so they know what they have to do,” Sullinger said. “We just kept competing on the defensive end. I think that’s what won the basketball game.” Matta said the team pulled together after Sullinger was forced to the bench. “It’s something we’ve been preaching with this basketball team, and came down (in) the second half to guys making big plays,” Matta said. The game was called tight both ways, and each team had multiple players in foul trouble. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was called for a technical that led to a made free-throw for senior guard William Buford. Boeheim, who said after the game that he thought the technical foul was the first called on him about three years, declined to comment on the officiating decisions during his post-game press conference.  Boeheim wasn’t getting the foul calls, but his team’s famed zone defense was working just fine. The Orange forced OSU into a shot clock violation with less than four minutes to play in the half. The Buckeyes stumbled without Sullinger in the lineup, scoring just 13 points after his departure. Despite the lack of scoring, OSU held Syracuse in check and the teams went into half tied at 29. The Buckeyes shot just more than 34 percent, connecting on 10-of-29 attempts in the first half. The Orange were just as ineffective and shot at a clip of nearly 35 percent. Senior guard William Buford and Thomas each scored six points in the opening 20 minutes to pace OSU while the Orange were led by Jardine’s seven points. Officiating decisions continued to impact the game after the intermission as Orange freshman forward Rakeem Christmas was whistled for his fourth foul and had to leave the game. OSU took advantage and quickly built a five-point lead with less than three minutes gone in the second half, forcing an Orange timeout. OSU’s quick start became a 13-3 run that saw it extend the advantage to 45-36 with 13:51 to play. Sullinger was back, and the entire building knew it. The big man dumped six points on the Orange during that run. All the calls were going the Buckeyes’ way now. The many thousands of orange-colored T-shirts sat quietly as the Scarlet and Gray-clad OSU supporters that dotted the stands roared with approval at the very top of their lungs. But the fouls kept coming. Both teams were in the penalty by the 12:09 mark of the half, and OSU had only connected on 15-of-25 attempts from the charity stripe. Syracuse used its bonus free-throw attempts to narrow its deficit before back-to-back buckets by Jardine cut OSU’s lead to 52-50 with 8:01 to play. Then Smith Jr. and Orange junior guard Brandon Triche traded 3-point baskets with less than seven minutes to play. A crowd of 19,026 was rocking, the end was nearing and OSU held a one-point advantage. Given the high stakes of the game, some might have expected a back-and-forth slugfest down the stretch, but what fans got was a free-throw free-for-all. Sullinger made the most of the chances, though, and used the double bonus to push OSU to a 60-55 edge with 3:45 to play. A bucket by Thomas with less than two minutes to play pushed OSU out in front by seven. But it wasn’t over yet. Craft fouled out of the game with 48.8 seconds to play after he fouled to send Triche to the line. Triche connected on two free-throws to make the score 68-64. Before leaving the court, Craft said he issued instructions to each teammate that would remain in the game. “I had a couple words for everybody,” Craft said, “but I don’t know if they were too good. I was just trying to keep us all together (and) help everyone understand the game wasn’t over.” Smith Jr. made it a six-point game on OSU’s next possession, but Orange sophomore guard Dion Waiters completed a 3-point play to halve the deficit. Syracuse continued to foul after that point and it became evident that the Buckeyes would need to earn their ticket to New Orleans at the foul line. Trailing by four with the shot clock unplugged, Triche pulled up for a 10-foot jumped that clanked around the iron and was rebounded by OSU. Smith Jr. went back to the line and connected on two additional free-throws to make the score 73-67. The Orange missed their next shot. That was it. In what could have been his last game, Buford iced the contest with two more free-throws. And Thomas tacked on two more. Cue the celebration for Ohio State, and the leaping. And don’t forget the hoisting of the East Region Championship Trophy, and cutting the nets off the basket. Thomas said he planned to sleep with the portion of the net that he cut off.  “(The win) just feels great,” Thomas said. “We’re going to try to cherish this game.” Buford agreed. “It feels great,” he said. “Nobody on this team has ever made it this far. In past years, I got put on the Sweet 16. To make it this far is kind of a relief to know that hard work pays off. “We’ve been working hard throughout the summer and throughout the season, and to make it to the Final Four is just great for us.”  Start time for OSU’s National Semifinal game has not been announced. read more

Commentary Ohio State football players Twitter outburst not reflective of entire team

Stupid is as stupid does and, Friday, one Ohio State football player tweeted something very, very stupid. Buckeyes third-string quarterback freshman Cardale Jones seems to be facing a bit of an existential crisis. On Friday morning at 8:43 a.m., Jones, from his Twitter handle “Cordale10,” had this brilliant thing to say to his nearly 3,000 Twitter followers and, consequently, the rest of the world: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS” The tweet, which received 50 retweets and 12 favorites, has since been deleted. Thanks to Deadspin, though, it now lives in interwebs infamy for people who, like me, missed it on the first go-around. This, arguably, is the most damning tweet I’ve seen an OSU football player send since first-year Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer came to Columbus last November. And while it would be equally impulsive and reckless for Meyer to suspend Jones for blasting, you know, the purpose of a university, one can only imagine what the former Florida coach will have to say to him today or tomorrow. Regardless of how Meyer chooses to handle it all, Jones’ outburst tells me a lot of things. First, to Meyer’s credit, it seems by the looks of it that Jones is probably in class – or doing something productive – at 8:43 a.m. on a Friday. Moreover, for one to tweet such a thing, it likely means Jones is going to class and, at the very least, going to sign the attendance sheet or appease Meyer’s henchmen who check up the players’ presence in the classroom. But it shows me that Meyer isn’t messing around with his squad’s academic endeavors-even if some, not all, players are taking classes like basket weaving and underwater croquet. Second, Jones’ tweet absolutely, positively cannot be taken as an indictment of the entire football team’s opinion on getting a free education, as doing so would be as ignorant as the tweet itself.  Jones’ outburst is probably embarrassing to the many players on the team who take school as seriously as they take playing for Meyer and the Buckeyes. On freshman linebacker Josh Perry’s twitter account “RIP_JEP,” his little info box below the account handle says: “School, sports and The Ohio State Football #STUDENTathlete #1LFD” For Perry, who was named an OSU Scholar-Athlete after enrolling early to school in January, emphasis, obviously, is on the “student” aspect of being a student-athlete. Like Perry, the John Simons, Etienne Sabinos and Michael Bennetts of the world exist, likely, in the dozens on OSU’s football team. Per Jones’ tweet, it seems he doesn’t subscribe to such a similar mindset. But I don’t know Jones personally. I’m, clearly, not his friend, nor have I ever bumped into him at Big Bar. As a student-journalist, I’ve never interviewed the kid. Jones could be a model citizen doing the right things off the field for all we know. His Twitter bio, after all, says “Trying To Make A Difference In Everyone’s Life Who’s In Mine.” His tweet, above anything else, shows various degrees of immaturity and a misguided sense of purpose at OSU. And while the tweet can’t be reflective of an entire team of 100-plus people, I wouldn’t doubt that there are a handful of players in Jones’ corner saluting his 119-character Psalm of wisdom. read more

DAngelo Russell one step ahead as he prepares for NBA career

D’Angelo Russell declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday, becoming the first OSU one-and-done player since Byron Mullens.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographerD’Angelo Russell officially announced his intentions to leave the Ohio State men’s basketball program for the NBA, leaving after a year in which he earned a first-team All-American honor, the inaugural Jerry West Award for the nation’s top shooting guard and the eternal admiration of OSU coach Thad Matta.“I got to the point where I just kinda enjoyed the game,” Matta said about watching Russell play. “There were times in the game where I could say to him, ‘take over,’ and he’d look, wink and he’d do it. I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”In OSU’s regular-season opener, a 92-55 win at home against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the freshman scored 16 points to go along with four rebounds, six assists and three steals. This performance inspired UMass-Lowell coach Pat Duquette to call Russell “as good a freshman as I’ve seen” following the game.It didn’t even take until the regular season for Matta to see that same spark.“It was probably our preseason scrimmage at West Virginia when he scored 33 and he hit the game-winner,” Matta said. “I kinda scratched my head and said ‘Uh oh, this kid.’ He was doing things that we hadn’t even talked about yet in terms of drill work.“‘If he plays half this well (as the scrimmage), he’s one of the best guards in the country.’ And he only got better from there.”Not everything was smooth sailing for Russell and the Buckeyes throughout the season, however. In losses to Louisville, in which Russell shot 6-of-20, and Indiana, in which he shot 3-of-15, the guard was criticized by some for trying to do everything himself.Russell, who declared for the draft on Thursday, said he never had NBA goals in mind, but rather that he was returning the trust in his coach when Matta trusted him to try to take over the game.“I didn’t think about ‘I’m trying to be a top-five pick, I’m trying to be a first-team All-American, I’m trying to be this, that,’” Russell said. “I just came in like, ‘Coach, I’ll do whatever you need me to do.’”According to ESPN, Russell had offers in high school from powerhouse programs such as North Carolina, Virginia and Louisville, which is his hometown.But it wasn’t the number of Final Four appearances that ultimately was the deciding factor. Nor was it the opportunity to put up flashy numbers or the quality of the rest of the starting lineup.“The reason we picked this school is he built a great relationship with the head coach … Once we made that bond and that connection, there was no other school,” Antonio Russell, D’Angelo’s father, said.Matta said he knew from just about the first time he saw D’Angelo Russell in practice that there was a high probability he would leave after his freshman season — despite the guard being brought in on a two-year plan. It was at that point when Matta realized he might need to find D’Angelo Russell’s replacement for next season.It was also at that point when D’Angelo Russell became a recruiter in addition to a leader on the court, as he was instrumental in landing his likely replacement — guard JaQuan Lyle.“Getting JaQuan, he and D’Angelo were very close during the process, and D’Angelo helped us get him, which, once again, speaks volumes to how committed he is to our program,” Matta said.Lyle, originally in D’Angelo Russell’s high school class, committed to Oregon before last season. The Huntington, W.Va., product was denied admission in Eugene, however, after he was found to have not completed enough credit hours.Lyle ended up playing a post-graduate season at IMG Academy in Florida before he committed to OSU in January.Although there was nothing he would have liked more than seeing D’Angelo Russell return for another season, Matta said the bond formed between the two over the last year made it impossible to not advise him to do what he felt was best for him and enter the draft.“This is a goal achieved for me, in terms of being a head coach, because I think one thing I’ve always tried to be in situations like these is selfless,” Matta said.OSU has not had a player leave for the NBA after one year since Byron Mullens in 2009, who at the time was the fifth player in three years to be one-and-done.While Matta has since put a stronger emphasis on building a program with players who stay for longer, he said he knows D’Angelo Russell is not a typical talent, but rather one who will excel at the next level.“He’s one step ahead of the game,” Matta said. “And that’s very, very rare, from the time he was 18 years old, to be thinking that way.” read more

What happened to Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett during the 3120 win

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett helped off the field in the third quarter of the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan Saturday. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was not worried about injuries. He had no reason for concern. The game had not begun. Yet, nearing the game’s noon kickoff, he was told his quarterback, redshirt senior J.T. Barrett, was on the ground.“I look on the sideline and he’s down,” Meyer said after his team’s 31-20 win against Michigan Saturday. “And I’m like, ‘What happened?’”One of the hundreds of media members with cameras on the sidelines had hit his quarterback with a camera, knocking his knee, Meyer said with a rarely seen fury.“Somebody just tried to squeeze through I guess just to not get close to our bench which is fine,” Barrett said. “I don’t really care as long as you don’t hit me, and he hit me and my knee kind of just shifted in and, like I said, twisted up on me and we were able to lock it out before the game, but that’s how it was.”Meyer ominously said, with dozens of photographers and videographers in the press conference room, he plans to find out who hurt Barrett. He seemed unable to comprehend how something like that could happen to his star quarterback, muttering “major college football” over and over. “Too many damn people on the sideline,” Meyer said with disdain.Meyer has reason for his anger. He was worried Barrett, who was looking to become the first quarterback in the history of the rivalry to win four games, would not be able to play through the injury. But he sent Barrett into the game, anyway. “He’s so tough, he went out there and played and obviously we didn’t do very well and then we got going and then tied things up at 14,” Meyer said.In nearly three quarters behind center, Barrett completed just 3-of-8 passes for 30 yards. Without much success in the air, Barrett took to the Buckeyes’ ground attack. He had 15 rushes — third-most in any game this season — for 67 yards, including a 21-yard scramble for a touchdown in the second quarter. He led two scoring drives, but Barrett also accumulated minus-three yards combined on his other seven drives as quarterback.Then, with 6:07 remaining in the third quarter and his team down six points, Barrett fell to the ground after a 10-yard rush and the rowdy crowd quieted. Trainers helped Barrett up. But rather than have them look at him on the sideline, Barrett walked back to the locker room. His night was over. He returned to his team on the sideline in the fourth quarter, but did not have his helmet.Meyer said Barrett’s knee “locked up” when the person with the camera hit the quarterback, but the trainers managed to “unlock” it. However, they could not manage to “unlock” it during the third quarter when Barrett reaggravated the injury, Meyer said.“I mean before it happened the second time I looked like, running, cutting, playing, throwing the ball — like all that was fine, so it hasn’t affected me,” Barrett said. “It’s just in those little moments when it happens and then today I wasn’t able to pop it back in so it’s not injured. “I’ll play next week,” Barrett added.This was not the first time Barrett has aggravated his knee injury, he said. Barrett said he dealt with this injury earlier in the season in Ohio State’s 49-21 season-opening win against Indiana.He said he has played with the issue for the entire year. “When it happened in a game, I’d just lock my leg out and it’d pop back in and I’d continue to play,” Barrett said. “I didn’t need to go run into the trainer’s and tell anybody, like I was good and I felt fine running around cutting. Meyer did not offer an update on Barrett’s status following the win against the Wolverines, unlike Barrett.Whether Meyer makes the decision to start Barrett or replace him with Haskins next week, who looked solid in three drives that totalled 10 points, has not been determined. Given Barrett’s experience, it is hard to imagine Meyer would turn to Haskins with the season winding down, especially since Barrett said he will play in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin on Saturday. Barrett had not missed any snaps this season due to injury, so how someone with a camera running into him reaggravated the issue remains unclear. Meyer said he’s “going to find out who” injured Barrett and “think about that.” read more

Mens Volleyball Ohio State advances to conference championship with 32 win against

Redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson (11) prepares to spike the ball against Quincy University at St. John Arena on Feb. 18, 2018. Ohio State defeated Quincy in three matches. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo EditorDespite winning the first set of the MIVA semifinals 25-8, the No. 7 Ohio State men’s volleyball team found itself tied with Lewis at two sets apiece.However, Ohio State dominated the fifth set 15-8 to defeat its challengers 3-2 and secure a spot in the conference tournament finals.  The Buckeyes kept Lewis attackers at bay with 16 team blocks. Redshirt freshman opposite hitter Jake Hanes and redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson led the team with seven and 11 blocks, respectively. Ohio State stormed out of the gates in the first two sets, winning by a combined score of 50-26, but lost narrowly in both the third and fourth sets. Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said his team played well in all facets of the match in the first two sets, but that quickly changed.“Their kids responded well because they’re competitors and it was a little bit frustrating as a coaching staff to see our guys become tense and become unsettled about that sort of thing,” Hanson said.Lewis redshirt sophomore outside hitter Ryan Coenen has been one of his team’s most productive players, but struggled in the first set, racking up three attacking errors before Lewis’ first timeout at 11-6.  The Flyers scored only two kills in the 25-8 loss. The Buckeyes had five blocks in the first set, shutting down Lewis’ offense. By the second set, Lewis’ offense picked up and the team’s hitting percentage breached zero, climbing from -.300 in the first set to .029 in the second. Coenen met Ohio State’s offense with five kills in the set.  The Buckeyes maintained their net presence with seven blocks and 12 kills in the second set to beat the Flyers 25-17. The Buckeyes began to lose steam in the third set. Their hitting percentage dropped from .417 to .118 they picked up just 2 1/2 team blocks. Lewis picked up the tempo, surpassing Ohio State with a hitting percentage of .316 and adding 3 1/2 blocks. Lewis took the 13-12 lead and managed to stay ahead of the Buckeyes for the remainder of the set to win 25-22. The two teams kept the fourth set close, but Ohio State was slow on its feet, seemingly still recovering from the energy exerted in three straight sets without intermission. Lewis put on a more energized performance, ultimately collecting the 25-20 win.  Despite his team finding itself tied at two with Lewis, junior setter Sanil Thomas said he was not worried about the outcome of the match.“We came out pretty strong, we knew what was at hand,” Thomas said. “I think since the first two kind of went a little easier than we expected, we took a little step back and they also adjusted very well and we couldn’t really cope with that because we were a little lackadaisical.”The Buckeyes took an 8-4 lead in the fifth set prior to switching sides, then pulled away with the win. With six kills, four service aces and a block, Ohio State took the set, winning 15-8. read more

Womens Basketball Ohio State returns to win column in 5550 comeback victory

Ohio State guard Carmen Grande (1) dribbles the ball up the court in the second half of the game against Indiana on Jan. 10. Ohio State won 55-50. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State had not found success from 3. Through three quarters, the Buckeyes had made only one of 11 attempts from deep — a buzzer-beater 3 by freshman forward Dorka Juhasz to end the first quarter. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Ohio State instead shifted its focus on what head coach Kevin McGuff had previously said makes his team perform well: a stingy defense and taking care of the basketball. After recording three consecutive possessions with a steal, each ending with three fastbreak layups, Ohio State (5-8, 1-4 Big Ten) set the tone for a fourth quarter, ultimately defeating No. 25 Indiana (14-2, 3-1 Big Ten) 55-50 for its first conference win of the season and the Buckeyes’ first win against a ranked opponent.Ohio State has been in this position before against a ranked team: going into the fourth quarter against No. 4 Maryland Friday with a 58-57 lead. This time, redshirt senior guard Carmen Grande wanted to use momentum created to come through with a win. “I think we just looked at each other and we were like ‘Guys, we can win this,”’ Grande said. “We want to win a game. We are always right there and we never knock it down, so we were like ‘Come on, let’s do it.’” Taking a 38-36 lead with 8:19 left in the game after scoring eight unanswered points, the Buckeyes and the Hoosiers traded leads for much of the final quarter. But freshman guard Janai Crooms scored five points in a 7-0 run for the Buckeyes, giving the Buckeyes 51-46 lead with 1:26 left in the game. Crooms finished the game with 12 points, making 55.6 percent of her shot attempts, but only 2-of-6 attempts from the free throw line. This was something that plagued Ohio State all game, as the team combined to make 56.3 percent of attempts from the charity stripe. Despite allowing a 5-0 run for the Hoosiers, bringing the game to within one with 20 seconds left, Grande hit four free throws to secure the five-point victory. In the second half, the Buckeyes missed only two of 10 attempts from the line. Ohio State recorded 11 steals against Indiana, five of which were in the fourth quarter, scoring 24 points off turnovers with 11 fastbreak points. “Everything starts with the defense, so if you are able to steal the ball or get good stops, you are always going to get easier baskets,” Grande said. “We just saw that three stops could get us the win, so let’s keep it rolling.” McGuff said the success of the team hinges on the success of its defense and rebounding, bringing them in a lot of close games. In this case, the head coach said it was vital to not only record those steals, but to have those turnovers lead to scores. “We were also struggling a little bit to score,” McGuff said. “Not only were we getting stops, we were turning those turnovers into points and just a really critical point in the game that I’m really proud of the kids for stepping up and making those plays.” The Buckeyes began the game with a 14-2 deficit to overcome, making only one of its first 11 shots, turning the ball over five times. “We weren’t getting enough good shots and weren’t making the ones we got,” McGuff said. “We settled for tough quick shots in the first half, and that’s not going to do it for us.” Then Ohio State began to heat up, shooting 46.7 percent in the second half as Grande led the team with seven points, making 3-of-5 shots from the field. Ohio State, outscoring the Hoosiers 15-10 in the quarter, cut its deficit to 24-20 at halftime. Grande had a rough start, missing each of her first four shots from the field, including one 3-point attempt in the first quarter. However, as Ohio State started to heat up offensively, so did she, shooting 54.5 percent from the field for the remainder of the game. She led the team with 19 points.In the post, Indiana redshirt junior forward Brenna Wise, despite being four inches shorter than Juhasz, recorded 12 rebounds, with the Hoosiers recording 10 more rebounds than Ohio State on the game. Ohio State has its first win in conference play, its first win since Dec. 16. Crooms wants this win to bring momentum to a team that she feels is improving. “We know we can play together and we are good when we are all clicking together,” Crooms said. “I feel like in the next game we will all just come with that momentum because people are doubting us.” Ohio State will try and continue to build off its first Big Ten win of the season at home against Michigan State Monday at 7 p.m. read more

Billionaire property tycoon Christian Candys historic garden plan thrown out after council

first_imgPlans for the development Cllr Danny Beales added: “There is fast-moving traffic on this road and a narrow pavement would be very dangerous for pedestrians, just so the people on the other side of the road could look at some trees and enjoy a garden.”Residents claimed the private garden offered no public benefit and would have a huge impact on resident parking, despite Mr Candy claiming he would offer private parking to reinstate the eight spaces lost by his garden.After chairwoman Councillor Heather Johnson called on the 12 Councillors to vote, ten rejected the plans while one abstained and another voted in approval.Following the decision Francesca and the other residents were delighted “that the facts came out”.Resident Michael Webber said: “We are absolutely delighted. Justice has been done. Nash never designed the garden and it was never created in his lifetime.”Dr Tyack gave evidence which shows that the garden never existed.” Christian Candy (left) with his brother NickCredit:Bloomberg The residents, who hailed “justice” after the proposal was turned down, claimed the plans would be also made worse by High Speed Two and Cycle Super Highway 11 would which will cause “gridlock” for residents.At a committee meeting, Mrs Cordeiro said: “The application proposes a plan which will narrow the passage for pedestrians and cyclists and traffic by reducing two lanes to a single lane.”No consideration has been given to Cycle Superhighway 11 or to High Speed Two. CS11 will create a huge amount of traffic through Chester Gate as will HS2.”HS2 will go on for 16 years and will result in absolute gridlock and chaos in Chester Gate. Considerations for the planning application should be postponed until the full impact of CS11 and HS2 is known.”Mr Candy had previously taken out a 150-year lease on the road next to Regents Park, central London, with the hope of returning part of the one-way street into a “historic garden”.The land which the garden would be built on is valued at £26.5 million according to Land Registry documents. Plans for the developmentCredit:SWNS We are also going to cut an enclave which could become an area for activities like drug dealing, other crimes and anti-social behaviour. This presents security issues.Cllr Lazzaro Peitragnoli Prof Cordeiro, an eye surgery specialist at Imperial College London, said: “Nash didn’t really have as much as an authority as they thought.”The odds were against us because the recommendation had been against us. They did not take on board the issues that we raised. It brought a danger to pedestrians and cyclists.”Another resident Kevin Mackenzie added: “I’m pleased to see that the council recognised that this private garden was never part of Nash’s plan.”Mr Candy, who was behind One Hyde Park, the world’s most exclusive residential development, is currently transforming the formerly commercial properties next to the proposed garden into three super-luxury homes.CPC London said on Friday it would appeal the council’s decision, which “defies logic”.A statement said: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision.”Camden Council’s rejection of the proposal, which seeks to bring additional green space to London, defies logic.”The proposal had been fully supported by the Council’s own planning officers.”Camden Council have not yet provided reasons for their decision, which we will appeal through the Inspectorate.”center_img His team had previously supplied a survey from 1834 which provided “beyond reasonable doubt” that the garden was part of the original layout.The Crown Estates Paving Commission also stated it believed the original garden existed.But Francesca Cordeiro said: “Dr Tyack is the leading academic in John Nash, not only in the UK but in the world.”He submitted a report that the planning application is not a reinstatement. It provides conclusive evidence that a garden did not exist during the working life of John Nash.”Dr Tyack clearly states what is being proposed is not a reinstatement of a garden designed by John Nash or even of a Victorian garden.”It is the creation of a new private garden through the appropriation of space that has been in the public domain for all but a few of the past 190 years.”Candy wants to increase the luxury and privilege of a private home. Camden is about to make a catastrophic error if this committee does not reject this application.”A spokesman for CPC London, the Development Manager for Cambridge Terrace where the work is taking place, said the property is currently an office space for which Mr Candy has permission to convert into three separate houses. Councillors also raised issues with the plans including concerns it could present an area for anti-social behaviour.Labour Cllr Danny Beales said: “The loss of public space for me is terrible and Nash did not design these homes as they are now. Narrowing this road could cause damage.”The amount of traffic now would make it a possible dangerous experience to walk down.”The enclave that could be created by making the road narrower would also make an area which would no longer be covered by trees and could create a space for anti-social behaviour.”Cllr Lazzaro Peitragnoli added: “There is a terrible design of the pedestrian side of the street. Mums with prams would not walk on that side of the road because there are four curbs.”We are also going to cut an enclave which could become an area for activities like drug dealing, other crimes and anti-social behaviour. This presents security issues.” Christian Candy (left) with his brother Nick Billionaire tycoon Christian Candy’s plans to transform part of a road outside his London property into a private garden have been thrown out following a sensational council U-turn.Dozens of disgruntled neighbours attended a council meeting to share their anger at the plans to re-install the garden, which was allegedly based on a design by John Nash.Officials at Camden Council had proposed the garden get the go-ahead but plans were thrown at a public meeting on Thursday night.Neighbours, spearheaded by chairman Francesca Cordeiro, had produced evidence by leading Nash expert and Oxford University professor Dr Geoffrey Tyack which claimed the garden was never actually proposed by the famous architect. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Jo Cox murder Accuseds medical evidence will not form part of defence

first_imgPosters around Batley in West Yorkshire on the day of the funeral of Jo Cox  (pictured top right). Her husband Brendan (bottom right) led mournersCredit:PA On June 22 – Ms Cox’s birthday – a flower-laden barge was towed from the houseboat that was her family’s London address to Westminster.An online fundraising page has raised more than £1.5million for causes she supported. Members of the public hold their hands above their heads to show their respects for Jo Cox during a memorial in Trafalgar Square Hilary Benn, John Bercow, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn arrive to pay their respects near to the scene of the murder of Jo CoxCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty Prosecutor Tom Little told the Old Bailey: “The court will have seen an email from the solicitors for Thomas Mair and on the basis of that the prosecution understand that the issues will be factual. There’s no medical issue.”Cairns Nelson, defending, confirmed that the defendant has been assessed by doctors and that medical evidence will not form part of the defence. Mair was arrested in Birstall and is charged with the murder of Mrs Cox and grievous bodily harm with intent against Mr Kenny.He is further charged with possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of a knife. Hilary Benn, John Bercow, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn arrive to pay their respects near to the scene of the murder of Jo Cox Mair’s case is being handled under the “terrorism protocol” as part of a terror list before Mr Justice Saunders.He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on October 4 for a plea hearing and a three-week trial has been listed to start from November 14.Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, was stabbed and shot as she got out of her car in Birstall, near Leeds, on the afternoon of June 16. Members of the public hold their hands above their heads to show their respects for Jo Cox during a memorial in Trafalgar SquareCredit:Paul Grover for the Telegraphcenter_img She had spent the morning visiting a school and a care home in her west Yorkshire constituency and was on her way to her surgery in Birstall library.Pensioner Bernard Kenny, 77, tried to help Mrs Cox, but was himself stabbed in the abdomen.Mrs Cox was pronounced dead later that afternoon and a post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be multiple stab and gunshot wounds. A gardener accused of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox will not rely on his medical history at trial, a court has heard.Thomas Mair, 52, is accused of shooting the 41-year-old mother of two dead as she made her way to a constituency meeting.A court heard Mair’s legal team will not be relying on any medical evidence relating to his physical or mental health at trial.He denies having anything to do with Mrs Cox’s death. Floral tributes and candles by a picture of slain Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament SquareCredit:DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP Floral tributes and candles by a picture of slain Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament Square Mair, from Birstall, West Yorkshire, was due to appear via video link from top security Belmarsh jail.But his barrister gave permission for the brief preliminary hearing to be held in his absence because there was a technical problem. Posters around Batley in West Yorkshire on the day of the funeral of Jo Cox  (pictured top right). Her husband Brendan (bottom right) led mourners Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Zoella reveals she turned down the chance to meet Prince Harry

first_img“I’m one of those people who think everyone should have a therapist,” she told the magazine. “People go to the gym, they eat healthily and visit the hairdresser’s but no one really looks after their mind.”Because of her anxiety, the star rarely visits London and instead films her vlog from her bedroom in Hove.She said: “My dream is to be able to just hop on the train one day and come back again, and I know I’ll get to that point but up until then I have to take lots of little baby steps.”One of my big things is to visit Australia and New Zealand. That’s my main goal.” She has revealed before that panic attacks have stopped her visiting restaurants and even going on public transport.The star said a particularly low point was when it was revealed her book, “Girl Online”, was written by a ghostwriter.”It knocked my confidence massively,” she explained.”When it came round to the second book, I felt I couldn’t and that it had all been ruined. It took a lot for me to put that behind me and move forward”. Zoella, real name Zoe Sugg, has spoken out about mental health ever since stunning her many YouTube followers in 2012 by revealing she had suffered from crippling anxiety from a young age.She is wildly popular on YouTube, boasting 11 million followers and 829 million views.Ms Sugg has fans all over the world, but says her success would not be possible without her therapist, who she speaks to every week. Popular vlogger Zoella has revealed she turned down the chance to meet Prince Harry.She spoke to Cosmopolitan about the anxiety which struck her down after she released her debut novel, “Girl Online”, in 2014.The vlogger told the magazine: “I was too scared. I’m working on this anxiety thing but I’m not quite ready for that. Hopefully he will invite me back. Sorry Prince Harry”.He had reportedly invited her for tea at Buckingham Palace, before she turned down his invite.center_img 1 broken back, 48 sharpies & 20,000 pages later 🎉💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/lFsYod4xfO— Zoë (@Zoella) October 1, 2016 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Overcast skies threaten to block views of partial solar eclipse in UK

first_imgIf you want to see a partial solar #eclipse in the UK, then about 10% of the sun will be obscured at around 8pm. Clear skies though?… pic.twitter.com/FjZviOAXb8— Simon King (@SimonOKing) August 21, 2017 Gloomy skies are set to stop Britons seeing a partial solar eclipse this evening, forecasters have warned.Just before sunset the moon will appear to take a “bite” out of the sun in a phenomenon lasting roughly 40 minutes.The mid-point will occur at different times around the UK, but overcast weather is likely to obscure the spectacle for most, the Met Office said.The movement of the moon between the Earth and sun will produce a much more dramatic event in the US, where a total eclipse will turn day to night for two minutes. “Anywhere in the east, including London, won’t see anything because it will just be clouded over; also Scotland and Northern Ireland.” Who needs the moon? UK experiences it’s own #solareclipse as clouds block out sun pic.twitter.com/gqWcwwmBjs— Gurjit Dehl (@GurjitDehl) August 21, 2017 Due to the partial eclipse occurring near sunset, there is unlikely to be an observable reduction in light, he added.For observers in Edinburgh, the peak of the eclipse is due to be at 7.58pm and for those in Cardiff at 8.05pm.Millions of Americans are gathering along a stretch from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the spectacle – the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast across the US in 99 years.Southern-most Illinois will have the longest period of darkness at two minutes and 44 seconds. The UK is able to see an eclipse today around 8pm. No one will notice, as its August and we’re inevitably going to be clouded over.— Barney (@KieBarnden) August 21, 2017 On British shores, only south-west England and South Wales are expected to have any chance of witnessing the moment through a break in the cloud.Met Office forecaster Martin Bowles said: “It doesn’t look very promising.”It is only going to be about 4% of the sun which will be blotted out, so even if it is perfect weather conditions you won’t see a lot.”From a meteorological point of view it is not looking very good because of the cloud – most people won’t be able to see a thing.”There will be some breaks in the cloud in the south-west of the country – South Wales and south-west England – there will be enough breaks that people who are looking specifically might be able to see a little chip out of the corner of the sun. It is expected to be the most observed and most photographed eclipse in history.Up to five solar eclipses occur each year, but each one is visible only within a limited band across the Earth’s surface where the moon’s shadow happens to fall.The Royal Astronomical Society warned anyone hoping to catch the phenomenon not to look directly at the sun. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Modern marriage is no longer patriarchal because of mixed hen parties lawyer

The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive. He said that today’s “equal, modern society” meant the couple’s ideological opposition to marriage was weakened. Mr Eadie argued that a decision on the issue should wait until next year following a consultation so the Government could collect four whole years of data following the introduction of same-sex marriage.  He said civil partnerships were “essentially identical” to civil marriage and were created to give legal recognition to same-sex unions at a time “when society was not felt ready” to recognise such relationships as marriages.Mr Eadie told the judges it is accepted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have a “genuinely held” objection to marriage, but the Government’s decision to “take some time” before deciding on the future of civil partnerships is “justified”.”These are things for Parliament to consider and the more informed they are the better the legislative judgment is ultimately likely to be,” he said. The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage. He added that he number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 85 per cent in the first two years after the introduction of same-sex marriage.But Ms Monaghan argued the delay was unacceptable as they were “instantly” discriminated against from the moment the Marriage Act came into force.Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004, a decade before the law was changed to allow same-sex couples to get married. Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were allowed to appeal in August for a Supreme Court hearingA panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal earlier today.They reserved judgment for a later date.  But Mr Eadie countered that while “we do not quibble with the genuineness of their objection” and the history of the institution “comes with patriarchy attached”, modern marriage had shed many of its sexist attributes. Couples do not have to have “the giving away of the woman”, a white wedding dress, “or even a gender-segregated hen party”, he argued.  Modern marriage is no longer a patriarchal institution – because couples can have mixed stag and hen dos, the Government’s lawyer has told the Supreme Court. Responding to a case brought by a heterosexual couple who want a civil partnership, James Eadie QC, representing the Equalities Minister, said that many of the trappings which made marriage a patriarchal institution were no longer a necessary part of the tradition. Earlier in the day the lawyer representing the couple, academics Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, said they had “deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage.”Karon Monaghan QC told the court that marriage was “historically heteronormative and patriarchal” and the couple’s objections were “not frivolous”.She added: “These are important issues, no small matters, and they are serious for my clients because they cannot marry conformable with their conscience and that should weigh very heavily indeed.” 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. read more

Labour politician told family he was taking easy way out after MeToo

An independent investigation by the Welsh government, ordered by the first minister, has stalled due to Mr Sargeant’s family being granted a judicial review over how it will operate. Carl Sargeant’s wife Bernie, left, and his son Jack, rightCredit:The Telegraph/Andrew Price  The note said: “You deserve none of this adverse publicity because of my acts. I have failed you.”That aside, I love you more than you will ever know and I’m sorry I’ve taken the easy way out, leaving you with my s—.”Family members including his son Jack, who replaced his father as Alyn and Deeside AM, were at the hearing. Mrs Sargeant – known as Bernie – is due to give evidence later on Monday. Carl Sargeant's wife Bernie, left, and his son Jack, right A Labour politician accused of sexual misconduct left a note for his family apologising for “taking the easy way out” and “letting them down”, his inquest has heard.Welsh Assembly member Carl Sargeant, 49, was found hanged by his wife Bernadette at the family home in Connah’s Quay, North Wales.His death, on November 7, 2017, came four days after being sacked from his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children.The father-of-two was also suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping”, seen at the time as the latest wave of MeToo allegations.At the first day of his inquest at Ruthin County Hall on Monday, coroner for North Wales (East and Central) John Gittins read a statement from police constable Siwan Hughes, who was called to Mr Sargeant’s home after paramedics certified him dead at 11.30am.Pc Hughes said Mrs Sargeant told police she had found a note on the door of the utility room, where Mr Sargeant was found, telling her not to go in and to call the police.Another note, left next to his body, was addressed to his wife, children and family and friends, the court heard.In it, he apologised for letting them down and asked them to forgive him. His family say he was not told the details of what he was accused of and was unable to properly defend himself.It is understood details were withheld to protect the identity of the complainants involved, but Mr Sargeant’s family and solicitors say being kept in the dark caused him mental anguish.Mr Gittins said the inquest would be a “full and fair examination” of relevant matters and would not be a “trial by Press, politics or personality”.He said: “There is no place in my courtroom for accusation or speculation, simply evidence.”Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones is expected to give evidence to the inquest on Wednesday and a statement from Ian McNicol, now Lord McNicol – the then general secretary of the Labour Party, will be read. 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. read more

Thursday afternoon news briefing Sir John Major says Boris Johnsons reason to

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. BBC backs Laura Kuenssberg over ‘absurd’ social media claimsShe has more than a million followers on Twitter yet today the BBC has defended their journalist Laura Kuenssberg over accusations about a tweet she shared on the platform. The corporation said it was “absurd” to suggest she maliciously shared details of a father who confronted Boris Johnson at a hospital, who happened to be a Labour activist. Read on for details. Here is Charlotte Gill’s take on the bitter attack on Ms Kuenssberg. And Glenda Cooper asks if she really is “the most divisive woman on television”.Players will bare tattoos during World Cup despite mafia linksEngland will be hoping to make their mark on the Rugby World Cup in Japan but it is marks that have already been made which are catching attention.Players will bare tattoos during the tournament despite body art’s link to Japanese mafia gangs. Click here to see the tattoos of some of the squad. And here is a team-by-team guide to the tournament, which kicks off tomorrow.News briefingQueen and Scotland vote | Palace’s ‘displeasure’ at Cameron’s commentsPensioner power | Watch 81-year-old Doreen tackling cash machine ‘thief’Rights crackdown | Country poised to ban consensual sex outside marriageTyrants can tweet | Twitter says murderous dictators can stay on its serviceChildren’s meals | Burger King announces plans to ban plastic toysVideo: Trudeau apologises for ‘brownface’ pictureCanada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised today for wearing brownface makeup at a party 18 years ago, as he scrambled to get on top of a fresh blow to his re-election campaign. Time magazine published the picture one week into a federal election campaign with Trudeau’s Liberal Party in a tight contest against the Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer. Watch him apologise after the image emerged – as two more damning pictures come to light. CommentTom Harris | Clause 4? Corbyn may as well promise a full socialist utopia Ben Habib | The EU’s Achilles Heel: straightforward questions about BrexitBushra Shaikh | Why I decided to remove my hijab after 26 yearsOliver Brown | What Ben Stokes’ personal tragedy tells us about himJamie Roberts | Gatland can still lead Wales to glory despite Howley lossWorld news: The one story you must read today…Kennedy dynasty continues | Joe Kennedy III, a scion of one of America’s most storied political families, is set to announce he will challenge US Senator Edward Markey in the Massachussetts’ Democratic primary in 2020. Here is what you need to know about the 38-year-old grandson of Robert Kennedy.Editor’s choice How Friends really should have ended | By someone who was saved by the show’Just run! Run uphill!’ | The tsunami-struck Japanese town that was saved by rugbyFIFA 20 review | Sim takes on Fortnite in battle royale for players’ time and money Business and money briefingInvestors revolt | Almost half of Ryanair shareholders voted against a plan to hand boss Michael O’Leary a bonus package that could earn him millions.Interest rates | Bank of England gloomier on growth but refuses to make cutDefence to delivery | How the drone industry will change the way we liveStay on top of the markets | Live stocks and shares updates 24 hours a daySport briefingRugby World Cup | England’s XV take on Tonga in their tournament opener on Sunday. The Telegraph’s writers pick their teams for the clash in Sapporo.Injury worry | Loosehead prop Joe Marler a doubt for England openerTragic death | Former Burton defender shot dead in Amsterdam, aged 32Lack of ‘maturity’ | Harry Kane bemoans Spurs’ Champions League drawAnd finally…’Guilt-free’ food | Many of us are looking for ways to help the environment. Today, a peer has said restaurants should put invasive species on the menu to help Britain’s natural world. Here are the animals Lord Randall had in mind. If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here and try our Audio Briefings on WhatsApp.Former prime minister wades in as Supreme Court battle closesSir John Major has said Boris Johnson’s reasons for proroguing Parliament cannot be true, in an intervention on the final day of the Supreme Court challenge. The former prime minister, represented in court by Lord Edward Garnier, says the PM had “ulterior motives” and accused the Downing Street press office of misleading journalists. Yet Mr Johnson’s lawyers have urged judges not to order him to recall Parliament even if it rules the suspension is unlawful. Here is why. Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, said it’s hoped a ruling will be given early next week. You can follow the blow-by-blow account of today’s hearing in our politics liveblog. Aside from all this, the Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, has said the EU is not ready for a no-deal Brexit and warned it would cripple one country in particular. Here are the latest odds on Britain leaving without an agreement and the chances of a general election.In these tumultuous times, the one thing politicians may be feeling happy about is the retirement of John Humphrys, who presented his last Today programme this morning after 32 years on the show. Here’s what readers think of his career. And Charlotte Runcie’s review of his last episode says among all the backslapping, there was one thing his final programme will never let us forget. read more