Euro 2012 Soccer Racism and Soccer Are in Play

Read the rest of this story on Nytimes.com The most important sporting event in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall begins June 8 with the European soccer championships hosted by Poland and Ukraine.But a complicated racial issue has arisen as the families of two of England’s black players have said they will probably not attend the 16-team tournament, fearing abuse or violence in Ukraine, where the team will play its first three matches. A BBC documentary depicting racism at soccer games there has further inflamed emotions.At the same time, one of England’s top players, defender John Terry, faces a criminal charge after the tournament of racially abusing a black opponent during a club match last October in the English Premier League. The charge led to Terry’s being stripped of his captaincy of the English national team.Although racism in soccer has been a continuing problem in England, Italy and Spain, it has by degree seemed to be more virulent at matches in Eastern Europe, with some fans making monkey chants and throwing bananas at black players, while others have given Nazi salutes and chanted, “Sieg heil.”In 2011, the Bulgarian soccer federation was fined after fans made monkey chants toward the English players Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Ashley Cole during a European qualifying match in Sofia. Also last year, the Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos walked off the field when a banana was thrown  toward him at a league match in Russia.The British government and the chairman of the English soccer association have expressed concerns about the possibility of racial abuse of players and fans in both host nations, particularly Ukraine. Few families of the English players are planning to attend the tournament, called Euro 2012, a spokesman for the soccer association said.Ashley Walcott, the brother of the English wing Theo Walcott, said recently on Twitter that the family was avoiding Euro 2012 “because of the fear of possible racist attacks/confrontation.” He added, “Some things aren’t worth risking.”A third of England’s team is black. Mark Chamberlain, a former player and the father of the teenage forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, has said he will skip the group matches in Ukraine but may attend the tournament’s later stages. The final will be played in Kiev on July 1.“It’s a major concern,” Chamberlain said in a British television interview. “I think your safety is more important than a game of football. It’s just prudent to keep myself away from it.”Not since the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow and the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo has Eastern Europe staged a sporting event the magnitude of Euro 2012. As co-host, Ukraine hopes to showcase itself 26 years after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and two decades after it gained independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.Yet the soccer championships will be played amid a planned political boycott of Ukraine by some European leaders over the imprisonment of a former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, and accusations of an erosion of democracy. Widely publicized concerns have been expressed about racism, sex trafficking, overly aggressive police, the spending of more than $13 billion to host the event in a struggling economy and exorbitant hotel prices charged to visitors.“When Ukraine got this, people were saying it would be a showcase, to show its democracy, that its economy was growing, that it was part of Europe,” said Steven Pifer, a former United States ambassador to Ukraine who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Now that it has arrived, the price gouging, corruption, the perception that Ukraine is going back on democracy and the decision by some European leaders to stay away is going to put a rain cloud over their parade.”There has long been a strain of xenophobia in the Slavic cultures of the former Soviet Union. While anti-Semitism has waned, it has often been replaced by racism toward people from the Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa.Club soccer at the top level in Europe, however, is increasingly inclusive, with players from different nations, races and ethnic groups joining to form the highly regarded teams at Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. National teams in England, France, the Netherlands and Germany also field multicultural squads. read more

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Pacman Jones Arrested Says He Was Defending Himself

Adam (Pacman) Jones, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive back whose arrest record is long as his sleeve, tweeted Monday that he had been arrested again, this time for assault for striking a woman in the face outside a Cincinnati bar.Jones, who has been arrested now at least nine times since joining the NFL, said he was “protecting” himself.Jones’ agent, Peter Schaffer, told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Jones was approached by two intoxicated women who wanted to have their photos taken with the football player last Wednesday. When Jones refused, one of the women threw a beer bottle at him and Jones responded by slapping her.Jones turned himself in Monday afternoon and was released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.Jones had attended the Cincinnati Reds’ game that night with several teammates, according to Schaffer.“Just got arrested for protecting myself, I will not let this break me or change what I have work so hard for,” Jones wrote Monday on Twitter.Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan told ESPN, “We don’t feel it’s appropriate to comment on unresolved legal matters.”The team begins a three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday and Jones is expected to participate.NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN, “We’re aware of it and will review the facts at the appropriate time.” read more

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Derrick Rose Giving Away 400000 In Scholarships I Hope

In the last week alone, there have been two NBA stars who’ve done something major for young students.After LeBron James opened his “I Promise” school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio a few days ago, Derrick Rose launched a new scholarship program called “The Rose Scholars,” where he’ll be giving away more than $400,000 in tuition money.Instagram“Through ‘The Rose Scholars’ program, I hope to provide students a path to college that was not previously available to them,” said Rose in a statement. “Investing in school-age youth has long been a passion of mine, and I am proud to continue to help children pursue higher education as a means to better themselves and their communities.”Trying to better one’s community is a big part of the scholarship program since recipients will have to be “civic-minded and demonstrate a willingness to lead” in order to win.On top of that, applicants will have to submit a 600-word essay and upload a photo or video on social media that explains just how they led in the past.Those interested will also need to have a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average with at least a 1230 SAT score. The program is only open to high school sophomore, juniors and seniors. As far as the grand prize, the winner will get $200,000 of tuition money, and $25,000 of it will be paid each semester for four years. Second and third place winners will get a one-time tuition payment of $20,000 to be paid in the semester of fall 2018.This isn’t the first time the Minnesota Timberwolf has given back to the youth. In 2014 he donated $1 million to a Chicago based charity called After School Matters, an organization that links teenagers with apprenticeships.The deadline to submit applications for “The Rose Scholars” is September 30, 2018, and the winners will be announced on Oct. 15. read more

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Who Are The Best WNBA Prospects From The Final Four

From ABC News: The WNBA draft will be held on Wednesday, just three days after the women’s NCAA Tournament wrapped up. It’s an incredibly tight turnaround for the players and their prospective teams, particularly for anyone who made it to the Final Four. The tournament therefore serves as both a fitting capstone on collegiate careers and a real-time combine for a league that doesn’t have one for its tops prospects.Take Notre Dame, which fell 1 point short of a second-straight national title on Sunday. It has four elite seniors and one junior expected to hear their names called; they will have had less than 72 hours after finishing their work in Tampa to prepare for the moment their professional dreams come true.“They don’t have time to search for agents, and they don’t have time to make decisions,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said Saturday. “Every game they go into, they’re thinking about their future. Because if they play poorly, they’re wondering is their stock going to drop? If they play well, is their stock going to rise?”McGraw is right about this reality: WNBA coaches and GMs are scrutinizing every last possession to make sure their draft preferences reflect the most current reality. So at FiveThirtyEight, we decided to let the players and coaches make their best cases for themselves or their soon-to-be-former players while measuring their claims against the statistical record. Here’s what we found on the best pro prospects at the 2019 Final Four.1One quick note: We are looking exclusively at the stars of the Final Four, but only three teams are listed below. Oregon’s do-everything guard Sabrina Ionescu led the program to its first every Final Four appearance and was pegged as a possible No. 1 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft. But our analysis will have to wait until next year, as Ionescu announced Saturday night that she’s returning to school for her senior season.Notre DameWe’ll start with Notre Dame. Arike Ogunbowale is best known for her dual buzzer-beater shots last season, and UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, whose team was victimized by one of them, called her “virtually unguardable one-on-one” this past weekend.Ogunbowale will transition well into the WNBA “because she can play the same type of position she’s playing now,” McGraw said of her senior guard. “I think she’s ready. I think her body is ready. … I think she’s ready right now for the next level.”The numbers back McGraw and Auriemma up. Just four players have logged 800 offensive possessions this year, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Ogunbowale is not only one of them, a tribute to Notre Dame’s reliance on her, but she also easily leads that group. She does so in a variety of ways, shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 35.9 percent on threes, with a turnover rate below 10 percent for the third straight season despite all her ball dominance.At 5-foot-8, Ogunbowale will also be asked to play some point guard by most potential teams at the next level, so her elevated assist rate — 19.0 percent, an improvement from 13.6 percent in 2017-18 — only bolsters her WNBA case further.Interestingly, the same is true of her backcourt mate, Marina Mabrey, who was forced into primary point guard duties because of other injuries last year and has proved herself to be a combo guard candidate for the WNBA, with most league evaluators expecting her to be chosen in the second round.“I feel like it’s helped me because if there’s somebody at my position at the two that’s playing, I can still play at the one,” Mabrey said Saturday. “It will give me a better chance at getting on the floor quicker.”The numbers support this. Mabrey’s assist rate this season jumped to 23.9 percent, but it hasn’t come at the expense of her shooting efficiency (54.4 percent from two, 40.8 percent from three). So a WNBA team drafting Mabrey can add the fourth-best spot-up shooter, according to Synergy, of the 1,212 shooters with at least 75 such possessions in Division I this season.Forward Brianna Turner, meanwhile, has been a primary driver of Notre Dame’s improved defense.“If anybody is looking for someone who can defend any position on the floor, I think she would be a tremendous fit for any team,” McGraw said of Turner on Saturday. Turner is slated to go early in the second round.Her fellow big, Jessica Shepard, brings an unusual skill to the table: her passing.“I think my passing is what will separate me from other things,” Shepard, also pegged to go early in the second round (or even late in the first), said Saturday. “And also my versatility to shoot the ball on the outside.”McGraw, too, praised Shepard’s ability to share the ball while lamenting that the Irish system didn’t allow her to shoot the three as she did in her previous college stop, at Nebraska, where she shot 31.5 percent from deep her sophomore year.“She can shoot threes and play on the perimeter probably more than I let her,” McGraw said.Again, though, Shepard’s passing skills are on the record. Her assist rate was up to 18.3 percent this past season, extremely high for a 6-foot-4 big. And it’s been north of 14 percent in all four of her college seasons, even during the two years at Nebraska, when she served as the team’s primary scoring option. Moreover, she is particularly adept at the outlet pass, which doesn’t lead to assists most of the time but sets up her team in transition offense. The result: Notre Dame was sixth in Division I in points per possession in transition, at 1.107, according to Synergy, and the Irish got more of those opportunities than any other team in the country, with transition plays accounting for 25.3 percent of their total possessions.And that brings us to Notre Dame’s final top prospect: Once those chances came along, almost no one was deadlier on those fast breaks than junior Jackie Young, who renounced her final year of eligibility. Among players with 150 transition possessions, according to Synergy, Young’s 1.236 points per possession ranked third in the country. Like seemingly everyone else in McGraw’s offense, Young is also an excellent distributor: She posted a 23.4 percent assist rate despite sharing point guard duties with Mabrey and Ogunbowale.BaylorBaylor coach Kim Mulkey has one crystal clear WNBA prospect in 6-foot-7 Kalani Brown. Mulkey has repeatedly made the argument that Brown is quick enough to dominate at the next level, addressing the primary weakness brought up by WNBA talent evaluators. But as Mulkey noted on Saturday, that conversation obscures what are the astonishing strengths Brown brings to the table as well.Brown has always been fundamentally sound, Mulkey said — she’s always been able to shoot, defend and rebound. But, Mulkey said, she has matured, working on her defensive mobility at the high post and her endurance.So let’s take these each in turn. Brown shot 61.4 percent from the field this season, with more shots taken further from the basket. She shot 75.2 percent at the free-throw line, which traditionally suggests that she will be able to expand beyond the 3-point line at the next level. Her block rate also jumped to 7.1 percent this year, from 4.9 percent a season ago. Her rebound and assist rates remained static, but they were already pretty good. And Brown did start to play for longer stretches; her minutes per game, at 26.8, were almost double what she managed her freshman season. And most encouragingly, Brown logged 35 minutes in both the Elite Eight win over Iowa and the Final Four semifinal victory over Oregon; she reached 37 minutes in the final over Notre Dame — a tribute to both her conditioning and ability to stay out of foul trouble. Brown hasn’t fouled out of a game all season and has only reached four fouls in a game three times all season, remarkable for a big.ConnecticutDespite its so-called down year, Connecticut still lost only three games this season — and reached a record 20th Final Four — thanks largely to a pair of Huskies who will get their names called very early on Wednesday night: wings Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson.For Collier, the key is less that she can do one thing amazingly and more that she does everything well, according to Auriemma.“The competition’s going to be tougher, and she’s pretty good at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim,” Auriemma said. She also has something to fall back on if they won’t let her catch the ball in the lane, he said. “She makes just enough jump shots from the perimeter that you have to go out and guard her. She’s got a little bit of everything for whatever the occasion calls for.”The results have been 1.152 points per possession this season, according to Synergy, second in Division I among players with at least 600 possessions. Notably, too, Auriemma is right about her varied strengths. While she trailed Iowa’s Megan Gustafson in this category, 411 of Gustafson’s possessions came in the post-up this season (55.5 percent of her total). Collier accumulated points in post-up, cut and transition on more than 100 possessions this past season.As for Samuelson, the numbers speak to what she can be at the next level — an assist rate of 20 percent means that she will be the wing facilitator needed in the modern WNBA offensive sets, while her turnover rate finished below 10 percent for the second year in a row. She shot the ball extremely well from the field, 53.6 percent from two, 37.6 percent from three, a season after those numbers checked in at 59.6 and 47.5, respectively. Her free throw rate of 87.6 percent reflects the truth of her shot. Indeed, there’s no WNBA coach who won’t give her the green light, especially with her 6-foot-3 length that allows her to shoot over most defenders.But what stuck out to Auriemma was her toughness, playing through a back injury to score 29 against Louisville in the Elite Eight and a team-high 20 against Notre Dame in the national semifinals.“She doesn’t look it, but she’s a tough kid,” Auriemma said after last week’s 80-73 UConn win over Louisville to lift the Huskies into the Final Four. “There’s a certain toughness about her.”You can be sure all that registered with WNBA front offices, busy finalizing their lists and checking them twice. read more

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Davidson Basketballs Sixth Man The Math Department

Earlier this week, we read with interest in The New York Times that Davidson College’s math department is helping its men’s basketball team win games. Since this combines three of our favorite subjects — sports, math and using math to win at sports — I asked Tim Chartier, a professor in Davidson’s mathematics and computer science department, to elaborate on the unusual partnership between his department and the Wildcats.He was understandably reluctant to spill too many details — particularly regarding how the math department analyzed the data about Iowa, Davidson’s round-of-64 opponent in the NCAA tournament Friday, or Gonzaga and North Dakota State, one of which Davidson will face if it reaches the round of 32 and both of which he’d already started scouting. But Chartier did shed a little more light on the math behind the surprise Atlantic 10 champs. And it sounds a lot like what we do at FiveThirtyEight, except with a goal of winning basketball games instead of writing articles about winning basketball games. Here are edited excerpts of his reply:So, what do we offer the coaches?Heat maps: Two members of Cats Stats, as we call our group, track the games for heat maps. They mark who takes a shot and estimate the location by clicking a computer program that I wrote. Then, as you see, regions of the court are marked as hot and cold regions. Two members of the group met with coaches in January and went through heat maps not just at the team level but player level and then various combinations of players. The coaches found this very helpful and discovered things that led them to analyze player combinations with similar tendencies that they then recognized.Lineup efficiencies: Here we show Dean Oliver’s Four Factors for offense and defense for every five-man lineup and the total amount of time that lineup has been used. Then, we also found various subsets of lineups, as well, like guard trios and forward pairs. For example, we might see that two big men are most efficient/inefficient when in the game together.Personal scouting: Here we produce a detailed breakdown of players’ tendencies and how well they performed in each aspect of the game. Here no new statistics were created. We presented data and numbers so that the coaching staff could easily implement the reports into their game plan. It could range from things like whether or not a player liked to shoot off the dribble and how effective they were in those situations to things like how effective a player might score driving left out of isolation situations. Said another way, we look for the tendencies in the numbers, especially outlier numbers. We think of these as creating data points or dots. Then, we dig into the video that accompany these stats on Synergy and figure out the story/tendency behind the number. That gives context and, in a sense, connects the dots. For example, if a player drives to the right 80 percent of the time and scores much better than going left, that is important. But, then the video can help see that his first step when driving is quicker going right than left, allowing him to beat his man more often. read more

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Ohio State spun out of AP Top 25 Poll after Miami loss

Under the direction of first-year head coach Luke Fickell, Ohio State football entered 2011 touting the slogan “Shock the world.” The biggest shock of the season so far was the Buckeyes’ Saturday loss and the accompanying uncertainty they now face. OSU began the season with an impressive Week 1 win against Akron, bolstering the lofty expectations of some in Buckeye Nation. The follow-up performance was a too-close-for-comfort win against in-state rival Toledo. And then came Saturday’s game against the Miami Hurricanes. The unranked Hurricanes took control of the battle of embattled programs in the first quarter as senior quarterback Jacory Harris completed two three-yard touchdown passes to sophomore wide receiver Allen Hurns to give Miami a 14-0 lead, and eventually a 24-6 win. The Miami defense held the then-No. 17-ranked OSU offense down throughout the game, limiting redshirt senior quarterback Joe Bauserman and true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to 4-of-18 passing for 35 yards and 209 total yards of offense. Junior running back Jordan Hall featured on OSU’s first scoring drive of the game, carrying seven times on a 16-play drive that sophomore Drew Basil capped with a 22-yard field goal. Hall, along with sophomore defensive back Corey Brown and junior defensive back Travis Howard, were each suspended for the Buckeyes’ first two games for receiving white envelopes containing $200 from a university booster at a Feb. 19 charity event in Cleveland. Daniel Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas will remain suspended until the team’s Oct. 8 game at Nebraska for selling OSU football memorabilia and receiving improper benefits in the form of tattoos. The mock hurricane siren that called fans to cheer throughout the game at Sun Life Stadium was, perhaps, a harbinger for the Buckeyes. “(Miami) kept making plays … and we didn’t execute,” linebacker and game captain Tyler Moeller said. “You can never get too high or never get too low. I know I’m going to fight and I know my teammates are going to fight. We’re not going to give up.” Bauserman agreed. “Plain and simple, we didn’t execute,” he said. “We didn’t finish. It was frustrating for everybody.” Equally shocking to Saturday’s result was the Sunday revelation that OSU had fallen from the Associated Press’ Top 25 poll for the first time in nearly seven years. Few would have predicted that after the Akron win. The Buckeyes managed a convincing 42-0 win against the Zips at Ohio Stadium to open their season despite the offseason suspensions and distractions. Junior tight end Jake Stoneburner snagged three touchdowns receptions in the game — a modern-day record for an OSU tight end. Miller made his debut in Scarlet and Gray, and tossed his first career touchdown pass to fellow freshman Devin Smith. The Buckeyes ascended to the No. 15 spot in the Associated Press’ Top 25 poll the following week, and all appeared to be right in Buckeye Nation. But the team’s steady regression began. Week 2 saw the Buckeyes battle Mid-American Conference favorite, Toledo. OSU hung on for a 27-22 victory, but only just — John Simon keyed a last-minute defensive stop as the Rockets came to within 16 yards of what would have been the game winning score. “We knew we had to stop them or they were going to win the game,” Simon said. “The secondary did a great job in coverage and getting me some extra time to get back there.” Simon hurried sophomore Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens on fourth down, forcing an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs with 48 seconds remaining to clinch the win. “We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Fickell said after the game. “We’re excited about how the guys fought, how they battled and how they kept their chins up.” There was no excitement in Columbus, or in the Buckeyes’ locker room, after Saturday’s game against Miami, though. To be sure, Fickell was always going to be hard-pressed to fill the shoes of former coach Jim Tressel. However, Fickell has contributed to the uncertainty that now surrounds the team. After beating Akron, Fickell declared that OSU would continue to utilize both Bauserman and Miller at quarterback. One week later, Miller did not play a single down against Toledo, a decision which Fickell said was a “gut feeling.” Fickell then said that sophomore running back Carlos Hyde was the team’s starter after narrowly defeating Toledo, though Hall ended up with the start against Miami. The Buckeyes now face a new challenge: responding to defeat. “You really find out what kind of character you have from a loss,” Fickell said. “We’re not going to sit here and point fingers at anyone in particular. We know we have to get a lot better. We’ve got to get a lot better as a team.” The Buckeyes’ (2-1) character will be tested again on Saturday as it closes the non-conference portion of its schedule against Colorado at the ‘Shoe. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by ABC. read more

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New century of Ohio State mens tennis dawns

The Ohio State’s men’s tennis team’s first match of the spring season ushered in a new century of tennis at OSU Wednesday, and it has players and coaches reflecting on the history and future of the program. Founded in 1912, the men’s tennis team is in its 101st season. The seven-time Big Ten regular season champions begin the year on a 128-game winning streak at home, and have lost one of the last 57 road games. “Everyone wants to beat you and some guys come in here like we should have recruited them instead,” said coach Ty Tucker. Tucker, a former OSU student, left Columbus after his junior year in 1992 to play tennis professionally. Twelve years later, he was inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame. He has since been awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year the past six years in a row. During the 2006 season, OSU became known as one of the premier tennis teams in the nation. Two record-breaking Buckeyes, Ross Wilson and Scott Green, were the first doubles team in the history of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor All-American National Championship to win consecutive indoor titles. “We want to be a strong doubles team,” Tucker said. “Hopefully, come May, we’ll be there.” But an experienced coaching staff has not always guided the men’s tennis team. For two seasons, the Buckeyes had no coach at all. Between 1918 and 1919, OSU went 12-5 without a coach, posting its highest winning percentage at the time. The team went through three more coaches before settling on Herman Wirthwein in 1925. Wirthwein stayed with OSU for 33 years and remains the longest standing coach in program history. He also had one of the worst coaching records in Buckeye tennis, 117-147-3. The team has been strong leading up to a notable 100th season.  As the program celebrated the anniversary last year, the tone has been set for the next century. “No one wants to let the streak go,” said redshirt junior Devin McCarthy. “Everyone’s under pressure and they don’t want to be that guy that lets everyone down.” McCarthy said he and the others look up to the seniors that just graduated and try to guide the younger players to play their best. With a solid foundation, the Buckeyes hope the next chapter will bring continued success and their first NCAA national title. “In the last four years I’ve been here, we’ve been close,” said senior Steven Williams. “It would mean a lot to the coaching staff.” The dreams of achieving national recognition in the NCAA tournament might not be far off. OSU has a group of young players who have received numerous accolades at the conference and national levels, led recently by sophomore Blaz Rola, who is the No. 2-ranked singles player in the country. The combination of Rola and senior Chase Buchanan has baffled opponents for the last year. The pair is the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the nation. “It’s a good feeling knowing everyone wants to beat you,” Williams said. “We’ve gotten used to it and use it to as fuel  to practice harder.” Tucker said his goals for the team at this point include getting good grades, fighting for every point and “just trying to win.” The men’s tennis team continued its home winning streak by defeating Butler, 7-0, in a double-header at the Varsity Indoor Tennis Center Wednesday afternoon. OSU followed that with a second victory on Wednesday night against Xavier. The Buckeyes won, 2-0. The team will now prepare for Mississippi State, which will visit Columbus, Ohio, at noon Sunday. read more

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Ohio States Braxton Miller named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week

Ohio State football’s sophomore quarterback, Braxton Miller was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, and  also received praise from OSU coach Urban Meyer about his play through the first three weeks of the season.“I have a lot of confidence in Braxton,” Meyer said. “He’s our best player right now on offense.”Miller led the Buckeyes to a 35-28 victory against California on Saturday, completing 16 of 30 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 75 yards and one touchdown.OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he has been pleased with his quarterback’s development this season.“In terms of progress, I think he’s seeing the field better. I think he communicates with me on the sideline better than maybe I had expected,” Herman said. “He’s come a long ways.”Miller currently ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards, and Herman said opposing defenses have been making adjustments to account for his ability to run the ball.“I’ve seen defenses in the last three weeks that I’ve never even dreamt of in my mind to try to stop the QB from running the football,” Herman said.While the coaches have praised Miller, they are not yet ready to advertise their quarterback as a contender to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.“I will not say he’s not (a candidate to win the Heisman),” Meyer said. “I don’t believe he is now. He’s not playing well enough yet.” read more

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Fast start not enough to propel Ohio State wrestling past No 1

The No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team fell victim to No. 1 Penn State, 29-18, Sunday in front of an electric crowd of more than 6,000 fans for Senior Day. With the loss, the Buckeyes dropped to 11-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions, the defending national champions, improved their record to 11-1 and 7-1 in the conference. OSU got off to a fast start, leading Penn State, 15-4, after the first four matches. Senior 125-pounder Nikko Triggas suffered a 9-1 loss in the opening match, but his team would soon catch fire, winning the next three matches in grand fashion. Redshirt sophomore and No. 1-ranked Logan Stieber started the rally by pinning redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway in 2:41 in the 133-pound bout. The crowd erupted in thunderous cheer as sophomore and No. 2-ranked Hunter Stieber matched his older brother by pinning senior Derek Reber in 1:20 at 141 pounds. Sophomore Cam Tessari then followed with a 3-1 victory against No. 7-ranked sophomore Andrew Alton in the 149-pound bout. “I had a game plan going in. His conditioning was suspect, so I wanted to keep the score low in the first period and take advantage in the second and third and that’s what I did,” Tessari said. Penn State remained resilient, however, going on to win five of the next six matches. The Buckeyes suffered setbacks in the next two matches as redshirt sophomore Josh Demas fell to No. 5-ranked sophomore Dylan Altman in a tight 4-3 decision at 157 pounds before freshman Mark Martin was pinned by No. 2-ranked junior David Taylor in 2:55 in the 165-pound weight class. Redshirt junior Nick Heflin at 174 pounds came away with the Buckeyes’ last win, narrowly beating No. 5 sophomore Matt Brown, 3-2. The Nittany Lions took the final three matches, as redshirt senior C.J. Magrum was pinned in 1:51 by No. 1-ranked junior Ed Ruth at 184 pounds and redshirt freshman Kenny Courts lost the 197-pound bout to No. 3-ranked senior Quentin Wright, 9-1. In the last match, heavyweight redshirt junior Peter Capone lost to sophomore Jimmy Lawson by injury default. Logan Stieber said he was disappointed with the loss. “We started off real hot,” he said. “We had things going our way, but we knew they had their big guns, and for us to win the dual meet, we had to limit their bonus points and we didn’t. We knew we’d have a shot but we came up a little bit short.” OSU coach Tom Ryan seemed pleased with the team’s effort but said his team needs to continue to improve. “I saw some great things,” he said. “I saw Cam Tessari wrestle the way he’s capable of. We saw the Stiebers do their job. We needed pins and they got pins. In dual meets you can’t give up too many points and in the upper weight classes we gave up too many points. I think overall the fight was good but we need to do more.” The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to action Feb. 22-23 when they travel to Minneapolis, Minn., for the 2013 NWCA/Cliff Keen “Mat Mayhem” National Duals. The first match is set to begin at 6 p.m. in Williams Arena at University of Minnesota. read more

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Ohio State footballs Jordan Hall still nursing injury academic issues

Ohio State rising redshirt senior running back Jordan Hall was absent again Tuesday when the Buckeyes adorned full pads for their sixth spring football practice of the season. While Hall is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered earlier this spring, coach Urban Meyer indicated Tuesday that Hall is also dealing with academic issues off the field. “I think Jordan loves the game of football, but he’s got to take care of his business, too, and I trust he will,” Meyer said. The Buckeyes who were healthy and available Tuesday participated in a two-hour, full-contact practice inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. It was the third practice of the season open to the media. Standing out on defense One of the highlights of Tuesday’s practice came during goal-line drills, when rising redshirt senior safety Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown stuffed rising sophomore running back Bri’onte Dunn just outside of the end zone on a simulated fourth-down situation. Meyer said he hopes Brown develops into “a Reid Fragel,” an example Meyer has used on multiple occasions this year to describe players who he hopes will emerge to have breakout seasons. “I’m hoping he’s going to step it up,” Meyer said of Brown. “He hasn’t done a whole lot around here. He’s a nice kid with some talent.” Orhian Johnson’s departure following his senior season leaves an opening for playing time in the secondary behind the Buckeyes’ two starting safeties, rising redshirt senior C.J. Barnett and rising senior Christian Bryant. Brown, however, said he is trying not to get too caught up in worrying about his playing time next season. “I’m trying to do everything I can possible,” Brown said. “I just want to work hard … I just want to do whatever I can for the team.” While Brown impressed Meyer on Tuesday, safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said Brown still has a long way to go in his development. “I think he’s got to step out of his comfort zone, and that’s what we’re trying to push him to do,” Withers said. “I don’t think he had a very good scrimmage last Saturday.” Rising sophomore cornerback Armani Reeves, rising sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington, rising sophomore defensive end Noah Spence and rising junior defensive Michael Bennett were additional players Meyer praised Tuesday for stepping up for the Buckeyes’ defense this spring. More injuries In addition to Hall being away from practice, a few players left practice early Tuesday. Rising junior wide receiver Evan Spencer suffered a stinger, rising sophomore defensive tackle Tommy Schutt sprained his ankle and rising sophomore linebacker Josh Perry suffered an asthma attack. Meyer said all three of these issues are “nothing major.” No joke: Chris Rock joins OSU football Chris Rock, a former Michigan defensive lineman who happens to share his name with a famous comedian, has joined the Buckeyes as a walk-on. A product of St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, Rock redshirted for the Wolverines in 2011 but left the team in May 2012. He enrolled at OSU in August and will be a redshirt sophomore in terms of eligibility next fall. Rock wears No. 91 for the Buckeyes. Quarterback development Asked whether there is a noticeable difference in the development of rising junior quarterback Braxton Miller this spring, Meyer’s reply was “not enough.” “He’s doing good,” Meyer said. “Not great, but he’s doing very good. His quarterback development is behind a little bit. As a player, it’s not. He’s a good player.” With Miller firmly entrenched as the team’s starter, the Buckeyes tested their depth Tuesday. Rising redshirt senior back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton received some work with the first-team offense, while rising redshirt freshman Cardale Jones worked with the second-team offense. Meyer expressed concern about Jones’ performance Tuesday. “He wasn’t very good,” Meyer said. “We got to knock the rust off him and get him ready to play a little bit.” Running back depth The Buckeyes also tested their depth at running back behind rising senior starter Carlos Hyde on Tuesday, with Dunn and rising redshirt junior Rod Smith splitting most of the day’s repetitions. “I couldn’t tell you who our backup is right now,” Meyer said. “They’re both battling pretty good.” On the NCAA Tournament While Meyer’s focus might be on winning the next national championship in college football, he has been paying attention to March Madness as well. Meyer was asked about who he will be rooting for on Friday night when Florida, where he coached football from 2005-2010 and won two national championships, plays Florida Gulf Coast, where his daughter is a student and plays volleyball, in the Sweet 16 game. Meyer replied that he is “always a Gator,” adding that his daughter might attend the game. “It’s incredible for that school,” Meyer said of Florida Gulf Coast. “They’re good. I watched them the other day. That’s not like smoke and mirrors. They got really good players. That’s going to be a good game.” read more

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