Joel Embiid Potential NBA No 1 Draft Pick Suffers

Joel Embiid, the Kansas big man considered by many to be the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s NBA Draft, has sustained a right foot injury that likely will impact his stock, his agent and his mentor both confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday.“He suffered a foot injury to his right foot sometime over the last few days,” agent Arn Tellem told ESPN. “He’s getting evaluations from various doctors and experts in the field. We’ll know more Friday.”One source told ESPN.com that Embiid “may have broken” his foot, but Tellem wouldn’t speculate on the seriousness of the injury until he heard from doctors. Tellem also said it was unlikely Embiid would be doing any more workouts before the draft, which is June 26.Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Embiid’s mentor, also was not sure of the extent of the injury.“I just heard he got hurt,” said Mbah a Moute, who is overseas.Embiid was scheduled to work out for the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the second overall pick, later this week.The 7-foot native of Cameroon was already dealing with health questions regarding his back, which forced him to miss the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.He worked out earlier this month for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and sources said he fared well and that the medical testing also came back without much concern.Embiid also participated in a one-on-none workout in front of NBA teams in Santa Monica, Calif. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks this past season as a freshman at Kansas.Cleveland could also opt to select Duke freshman Jabari Parker or Kansas young star Andrew Wiggins. read more

BillionDollar Billy Beane

The film version of “Moneyball” depicts many establishment baseball types as ignorant of where wins in baseball come from and clueless about how to properly value talent.Take, for example, the scene when John Henry — the billionaire owner of the Boston Red Sox — tries to recruit the Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane. Henry tells Beane that any managers not rebuilding their teams with Beane’s system in mind are “dinosaurs,” and then hands him a slip of paper. On it, there’s an offer for Beane to become the new Red Sox general manager for the insane amount of $12.5 million over five years. His fictional colleague tells us that the offer would make Beane “the highest-paid GM in the history of sports.” Despite appearing tempted, Beane ultimately declines the deal, claiming, “I made one decision in my life based on money and I swore I’d never do it again.”1In real life, Beane briefly accepted the Red Sox’s offer before changing his mind (citing community and family reasons). He even began negotiating with the A’s over what compensation the Red Sox would have to give his old team for stealing him away. At the press conference announcing that he’d changed his mind, Beane was asked about that negotiation (from a contemporary news report):“Asked from a baseball talent-evaluator perspective what he was worth, Beane laughed and said, ‘I had one opinion before [accepting Boston’s job] and once I got there, I had a different opinion.’”Beane may not be the highest-paid GM in the history of sports, but he may be the most famous. An outfielder originally drafted 23rd overall by the New York Mets in 1980, Beane made his MLB debut in 1984, but was never successful against top competition. After getting washed out of the league, he became a scout for the A’s and eventually worked his way up to GM in 1997. As GM, he has used Bill James-style advanced statistics to inform his decisions, and taken a strictly economic approach to valuing and acquiring players. Under his leadership, the A’s have been a very successful franchise despite routinely carrying one of baseball’s smallest payrolls. Beane’s story caught the attention of author Michael Lewis, who made him the central character in his 2003 bestseller “Moneyball” and something of a cultural icon for sports analytics.Beane’s methods continue to be analyzed and celebrated by sabermetricians, and the A’s continue to massively exceed expectations given the amount they spend. They own the best record in baseball so far this season, and have the fifth-lowest payroll.2While also being rated as the “unluckiest” team this year. They currently lead MLB in Pythagorean wins by an even wider margin. It’s the best 100-game start of Beane’s career, and the best for the organization since its 1990 pennant-winning squad. Over the last 15 seasons,3The period covered by Baseball Prospectus’s payroll data. the A’s under Beane have had the fifth-best winning percentage in baseball, with the fourth-lowest total payroll. (The data used here is current through Monday, July 21.)Beane has been a godsend to the frugal A’s, enabling them to achieve top-tier performance at bottom-tier prices. For this, the A’s have paid him fairly modestly4In general, good GMs are probably way underpaid, but Beane is even more so. — but since we don’t know how much winning is worth to the A’s organization, it’s hard to say exactly how much Beane has been worth to them.For a team like the Red Sox, however, the picture is much more clear. Over the last 15 years, they’ve happily spent over $2 billion in the pursuit of wins — and because they’re one of baseball’s most successful franchises, no one in Beantown is complaining.From a strictly economic perspective, not offering Beane however much money it took to get him may have been one of the Red Sox’s poorest decisions since letting Babe Ruth go to the Yankees for next to nothing. And I mean that literally: Over the past 15 years, Billy Beane has been nothing less than the Babe Ruth of baseball GMs. The Red Sox offered Beane $2.5 million per year,5The 2002 Boston Red Sox paid Dustin Hermanson — a relief pitcher with a 4.21 ERA — $5.5 million, or more than twice as much in annual salary as they offered Beane. but even $25 million would have been a bargain.Finding Beane’s potential dollar value to the Red Sox is relatively simple: It’s the amount the team spent under general managers Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington, minus the amount it would have had to spend for the same performance with Beane as GM.6Hat tip to Jeremy Kahan — a hedge fund analyst and good friend of mine — for zeroing in on the Red Sox angle to this question.To show this, we first we need to figure out just how many A’s wins Beane has been responsible for, and how much those wins would cost on the open market.Let’s start by comparing the A’s performance under Beane’s leadership to the performance we would expect from a typical GM with the same payroll.7Prior to their change in ownership in 1995, the A’s maintained a healthy payroll, including the largest in the league in 1991, following their World Series appearance the year before. By the time they started downsizing, Beane was already with the team. This means there’s no way to compare Beane’s performance to that of a different A’s GM with a similar payroll. I created a logistic regression model8A type of model used to predict things like win percentages. that predicts a team’s win percentage by season based on the team’s relative payroll (excluding Oakland from the data), as measured by how many standard deviations it was above or below the average MLB payroll for each season. Below, I’ve plotted the non-Oakland team-seasons from 2000 to 2013 (on which the model is based) in groups of 15 by payroll (so, the dot farthest to the right represents the 15 team-seasons with the highest relative payrolls), and plotted the model’s prediction as a red line. I then plotted Oakland’s 15 seasons through 2014 as a single green point:The point on the upper right represents the 15 team-seasons with the highest relative payrolls. These teams were 2.68 standard deviations above the mean payroll on average and won 58.5 percent of their regular-season games on average.9Note there’s not much difference from a linear regression, which would have an underlying (season-by-season) R-squared value of .183 (though this can be increased by using less noisy metrics such as run differential). Oakland, on the other hand, averaged .81 standard deviations below the mean payroll and won 54.8 percent of its games on average.From this we can take each team’s expected wins per season based on payroll,10The logistic regression formula in Excel is: =1/(1+EXP(-(-0.009677+0.127212*[SD Payroll]))). and then see how many games above or below average it ran. Here’s Oakland, broken down by year (Note: 2014 is through the season’s first 98 games only):This comes out to 180.2 wins above expectation given the A’s payroll (165.5 prior to this year). That’s 12.0 wins above expectation per season (and there’s a good chance of that per-season average rising).“Wins above expectation” may sound familiar to you. It’s conceptually very similar to wins above replacement (WAR), the stat we use to evaluate how many wins a player earns a team versus how many games that team would expect to win without him.11There are two main differences between wins above expectation and wins above replacement:WAR is based on direct player performance metrics like hitting, fielding, etc., while a general manager’s wins earned are imputed indirectly from his team’s performance (both of these methods have their pluses and minuses).WAR is above “replacement,” meaning it’s the number of wins a player earns not over an average player, but over a borderline player — someone you would pay the minimum. A GM’s wins here are measured above what we would expect from the average non-Beane GM.But the difference between a “replacement” GM and an average GM is unclear to me: They all cost a pretty similar amount, and how much value they add is a mystery, so I thought an average GM was the appropriate baseline. Regardless, this means that this comparison could be understating Beane’s value. For example, Babe Ruth earned only 126 wins above average as a batter, compared to his 163 wins above replacement.Beane’s 12 wins per season above what we would expect of an average general manager is slightly more wins than Barry Bonds earned when he hit 73 home runs in 2001 (11.9 WAR). The most WAR earned by any batter over his entire career was 163 by Babe Ruth.12At least for now, Ruth does maintain a slight edge over Beane in total WAR (with 183.6) on account of his 20.6 WAR as a pitcher. In fact, if you assemble the top 15 position player seasons of all time, they still trail Beane’s 15 seasons as GM, with 180.1 WAR combined versus Beane’s 180.2 wins above expectation.No one can get that lucky. If you’re expected to win 1,116 out of 2,364 games, winning 1,296 games instead may not look impossible, but that’s because our intuitions about these things are terrible. Excel’s binomial distribution function makes calculating such odds pretty easy:13The Excel formula to calculate odds of winning a certain amount given an expected win rate is: =BINOM.DIST([Games]-[Wins],[Games],1-[Expected Win Percent], TRUE). In this case they’re somewhere around one in 13 trillion — effectively zero.14Granted, though odds that they’ve just gotten lucky overall are nil, it’s likely that the A’s have been “running well” to some extent — meaning, their performance has probably exceeded their true expectation. But this is true of any top team. Of course, we can’t know to what degree Beane alone is responsible for the A’s success. But as GM, Beane is formally responsible for the A’s performance, and there aren’t any other obvious causes that would suggest he isn’t responsible (there have been several different managers and 100 percent turnover of players during Beane’s tenure).Imagine the A’s wanted to have exactly this level of success and were willing to pay whatever it cost. With Billy Beane, the A’s have paid $839,902,108 to their players from 2000 up to and including the start of the 2014 season (but prior to recent acquisitions). How much do other teams normally have to pay for this level of success?There are a lot of estimates for the price of wins out there, ranging from ESPN’s Dan Szymborski’s $5.5 million per marginal win and FanGraphs $6 million on the lower end to Lewie Pollis’s $7 million and up to Hardball Times’ $7.6 million on the high end. To make things a little more complicated, the price of wins has also risen substantially with the growth of payrolls in the last decade15I’ll stick with FanGraphs and Hardball Times, because their historical estimates are readily accessible.:If we use these values to price wins above or below expectation on a year-by-year basis for every team as we did for Oakland above, and then sum up by team, it would look like this:FanGraphs’ value for Oakland’s performance adds up to $812 million since 2000, while the Hardball Times’ value adds up to $891 million. Over three-quarters of a billion dollars — that’s huge! We can smell-check these numbers by looking at the overall picture. Leaving aside standard deviations and year-by-year breakdowns for a moment, we can see how each team’s total payroll over the last 15 years has compared to its performance:That trend line shows us how well teams have performed relative to how much they’ve paid, but we can also use it for the reverse:16By solving for Win Percentage. In Excel: =([WPct]-0.4130893)/(0.0000669). The Oakland Athletics have won 54.8 percent of their games, so the corresponding 15-year payroll (the amount we would expect a team to have paid for that win rate) is about $2.02 billion — about $1.18 billion higher than the Athletics actually paid.So the smell-check turned out a higher number than the estimates based on the normal price of wins, when that normal price already seemed absurd.This isn’t broken down year by year, so it could just be that the A’s won a lot more in years when wins were cheaper. To correct for this, we need a more empirical method for pricing wins. On a year-by-year basis, how big would each team’s payroll have to have been to buy its performance? Using the regression above (and some fancywork in R17This is done using the inverse of the logistic regression built above, which leads to very complicated math, but can be done fairly easily in R using the boot package (where “mod” is the logistic model):require(boot)invPred <- function (W,G,mod) {(logit(W/G) – coef(mod)[[“(Intercept)”]]) / coef(mod)[[“payroll.sd”]]}I should note this leads to some very valuable-looking seasons (like Seattle’s 116-win season in 2001), because that kind of success is virtually impossible to “buy.” But it sums up across seasons very accurately.), we can model this and see that wins may be harder to buy than standard win-valuation models (FanGraphs, Hardball Times, etc.) would suggest. Valuing each team’s relative season-by-season performance this way leads to a very different accounting from above:Over the past 15 years, the A’s have exceeded expectations by close to $1.38 billion — even better than our smell-check estimate of $1.18 billion. This suggests that they’ve performed slightly better in years when they were at a bigger payroll disadvantage (at 2013 market value, those A’s wins would cost closer to $1.78 billion).18Note: though I use a logistic regression so the price of wins isn’t perfectly linear, this approach corresponds roughly to a price per win of around 4.7 wins per standard deviation of payroll. So the table of win prices over the years corresponding to those of Hardball Times and FanGraphs above would look like this: Yes, that’s “billion” with a B. (Or two.)* * * * *Now that we have a sense of Beane’s performance and how much it would cost to replicate it, let’s turn back to the Boston Red Sox and their failure to sign him (or even to offer him anywhere near his worth).The situations in Oakland and Boston aren’t directly comparable. Exploiting market inefficiencies is probably easier for Beane than it is for a successful big-money team, because he has never had to face the winner’s curse or the diminishing returns of spending. On the other hand, the A’s have been way above average, not just a little above average. Aside from the Red Sox’s post-season successes,19I should also note that, while not having any championships to show for it, the A’s have made the playoffs the same number of times the Red Sox have (seven), and they’ve been remarkably unlucky, losing all six series-deciding Game 5s they’ve played. the team has only performed 0.6 percent better than the A’s over the 15-year period — for which they’ve paid an extra $1.2 billion in salaries.But some of that money was spent and some of those wins came before the Red Sox attempted to hire Beane. To be conservative, let’s just look at the period since Henry made Beane his offer: In the last 12 years, the Red Sox spent $1.714 billion on payroll, while the A’s spent $736 million. We can then break down what it could have looked like if Beane had worked for the Red Sox like so:Let’s say it would have cost Boston the same $736 million that it cost Oakland to get the A’s performance with Beane.At the hypothetical $25 million-per-year salary I suggested earlier, Beane would have cost the Red Sox another $300 million. (It’s possible that Beane would have wanted more, but it’s even more possible that they could have gotten him for less.)The difference in performance between the A’s and the Red Sox over that period (where the Sox were as successful as at any point in the franchise’s history, and the A’s were supposedly stagnating after Beane’s early success) has been about 50 games for Boston. Since we don’t know exactly how good Beane would be at procuring additional wins above his Oakland performance, let’s assume that the Red Sox would have had to pay the typical amount teams have paid for wins in the period to make up the difference. According to the year-by-year price of wins from my calculations above, those 50 wins (taking when they happened into account) would have a market value of about $370 million (though this might have been lower with Beane in charge).If we combine these — the price of the A’s performance ($736 million) plus Super-Expensive-Billy-Beane’s salary ($300 million) plus the additional 50 Red Sox wins at high market estimates ($370 million) — merely duplicating their previous level of success still would have saved the Red Sox more than $300 million relative to what they actually spent, and that’s with reasonably conservative assumptions. That’s money they could have pocketed, or spent making themselves even better.In other words, failing to understand Beane’s true value may have cost the Red Sox hundreds of millions of dollars or more. “Moneyball” isn’t just some nerdy obsession that helps a few teams save a bit of money. It’s about more than nickels and dimes; it’s about millions and billions.CORRECTION (July 24, 7:10 p.m.): A footnote in an earlier version of this story misstated the most recent year the Oakland A’s played in the World Series; it was 1990, not 1991. read more

Offense dazzles Ohio State football romps over Bowling Green 7710

Junior H-back Curtis Samuel lines up before a play against Bowling Green on Sept. 3. OSU won 77-10. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorJunior H-back Curtis Samuel was called the primary playmaker for Ohio State by coach Urban Meyer during the spring. On Saturday afternoon, Buckeye fans got a taste of how effective the junior can be, as Samuel scored twice as a receiver and once as a rusher against the Bowling Green Falcons, propelling the team to a 77-10 blowout victory. Although the offense was clicking for most of the game, the 2016 season got off to a bit of a bumpy start for OSU. On the first offensive drive for the Buckeyes, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Bowling Green sophomore outside linebacker Brandon Harris.The 7-0 lead the Falcons enjoyed would be their only one of the afternoon, as OSU responded with 21-straight points.OSU freshman wide receiver K.J. Hill hauled in a picture-perfect pass from Barrett on his way to a 47-yard touchdown reception. The long strike tied the game at seven, and the Buckeyes never looked back.The Buckeyes would strike two more times before the first quarter ended. Samuel and senior H-back Dontre Wilson were on the receiving ends of perfectly placed passes by Barrett. Samuel made a quick cut to the middle, creating a three-yard gap between himself and the Bowling Green defender. With no deep safety help, Samuel broke free untouched for a 79-yard touchdown.Samuel ended his day with 261 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.“It’s a great feeling to be one of the first people out there to touch the ball,” Samuel said. “I have to keep my mind right. I just want to ball out and make opportunities for my team.”After a field goal from Bowling Green sophomore kicker Jake Suder brought the Falcons within striking distance, OSU redshirt sophomore Noah Brown responded with his first career touchdown reception. Brown made the back-shoulder catch while being blanketed by a defender in the right side of the endzone.Brown ended his day with four receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt senior wide receiver Corey Smith failed to hail in a pass, and he saw limited time on the field.The ball was spread to multiple Buckeye receivers, tight ends, running backs and H-backs throughout the afternoon. By halftime, six different receivers had receptions in the game, and by the end of the game, nine different receivers caught a pass.After OSU regained the ball, Barrett made use of his legs, picking up a nine-yard touchdown run with just 26 seconds left in the half.Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber, who had been named the starter on Wednesday, used a bruising running style to wear down the Falcon defense. The Detroit native pounded away, averaging 7.2 yards per carry and amassing 136 yards total.Weber produced at a high level for a player in his first collegiate game. Meyer jokingly said he could not remember his running back from last year, and also noted he expects to see Weber produce at a level near now departed Ezekiel Elliott.“He’s still young,” Meyer said. “We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and continue to improve.”The Buckeyes outscored the Falcons 42-0 during the second half of play, powered for much of the third quarter by Barrett and Samuel.Tossing his sixth touchdown, Barrett set a new OSU record for touchdowns responsible for with seven. After the impressive showing, Barrett bowed out for redshirt freshman Joe Burrow.OSU finished the day with 776 total yards. This total surpassed the previous record of 718, set against Mount Union in 1930.The OSU defense surrendered just 244 total yards to Bowling Green. A question mark for much of the spring, the Silver Bullets stifled much of the Falcons offense, not allowing a single offensive touchdown all afternoon.Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker proved his worth as the starting safety for the Buckeyes. An acrobatic interception deep in Bowling Green territory and an over-the-shoulder pick on a deep pass set up a pair of touchdowns for OSU.The defense of the Buckeyes took a shot, however, as redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle sustained a knee injury early in the game. He did not return to the game.“We have the best defensive lineman coach in the country in Larry Johnson,” OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “He’s had experience with situations like this. We’re all going to pitch in and work through it and find a solution.”Burrow and fellow freshman Demario McCall both scored their first career touchdowns on a 36-yard reception by McCall. Following the trend of firsts, freshman defensive end Nick Bosa picked up his first career sack near the beginning of the fourth corner.The Scarlet and Gray will look to keep the momentum entering next Saturday when the Buckeyes are scheduled to face Tulsa at noon in Ohio Stadium. This story has been amended with quotes following a press conference after the game. read more

Sibling love Hill joins brother in Columbus

Ohio State basketball is betting on the fact spectators will be seeing a lot of the Hills this season.  No, not the brain-numbing, MTV reality show featuring Lauren Conrad and her catty band, but rather the sibling duo of P.J. Hill, a guard on the men’s basketball team, and his sister Tayler, a newcomer to the OSU women’s basketball team.There are undeniable similarities between the two. Both play guard and took the number four for their jerseys.P.J. Hill has long been a favorite of Buckeye fans. The 6-feet 1 inches guard has made a name for himself by coming off the bench and instantly raising the team’s intensity level with a key steal or assist. This year, Hill is being counted on this season to expand his role.“Last year, a lot of teams got away with not guarding me,” he said. “I took that personally, like ‘you can’t shoot, you’re not effective on offense, you’re not a threat.’ So I took that stuff personally. When I get in the games, I’m going to step up and knock those shots down with confidence. I’m going to be an impact player. I’m going to be a threat on both ends of the court.”While senior Hill enters the final act of his career with the OSU men’s basketball team, freshman Tayler Hill begins hers with the women’s team.Tayler Hill comes to the Buckeyes as one of the most decorated players in Minnesota basketball history. She is Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer in high school basketball, boys and girls, and was selected as a 2009 McDonald’s All American. While leading her team to a state high school championship, she averaged 31.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.7 steals per game. She finished her high school playing career with 3,894 points. She joins a deep, veteran women’s basketball team that has already established leadership. “If Coach [Jim] Foster wants me on the floor, that’s where I’m going to be at,” Hill said. “If he needs me on the bench cheering my team on, then that’s what I’m going to do.”Rather than be daunted by the prospect of becoming another cog in the machine, as opposed to its centerpiece, she is embracing the positives that come with it.“I’m excited,” she said. “There were times when games got tough in high school when I had to have the ball in my hands at all times. I can rely on other players on this team, I can pass and screen away.”The pride Tayler has for her older brother shines through when she speaks of him. His non-traditional path to the OSU basketball team, which saw him transfer before his sophomore year from tiny Midland College, is a lesson to her in persistence.“My brother is my role model,” she said. “Seeing him work every day and keeping the faith that he has, I know that if he can do it, than I can too. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”There’s a double meaning in that statement. Although the particulars of P.J.’s role in helping bring Tayler to OSU are unclear, his influence is not.“He was a big factor in this because my brother and I are best friends,” Tayler said. “Knowing I can count on him when things get hard was a really big deal for me.”Foster was guarded in his praise of Tayler Hill.  “She’s talented and she can go up and down the floor,” Foster said. “When you’ve scored 4,000 points in your high school career, how many times have you been on the floor with players better than you?”But her freshman status does not necessarily exclude her from cracking the starting lineup in her first year, as evidenced by the playing time given to Jantel Lavender and Sammy Prahalis in their freshmen campaigns.“If you’re a great player or have the potential to be a great player, room is made for them because they earn it,” Foster said. “We’ll find out.”When asked about P.J.’s role in recruiting Tayler to OSU, Foster was glib.“I would say that he’s not disappointed that his sister’s here,” he said.Junior center Jantel Lavender, the team’s leader on the floor, likes what she sees in Tayler.“She’s a great shooter, she’s a great passer, she’s a great leader and she works extremely hard all the time,” Lavender said of Hill. “Those are the attributes that you need.” read more

Big Ten champs Buckeyes knock off Illini on senior night win conference

The night started with tears dripping down the face of senior Mark Titus.It ended with a floor full of Buckeye nuts celebrating Ohio State’s first Big Ten Championship since the 2006-07 season.Behind a barrage of 3-pointers by junior Jon Diebler, the No. 6 Buckeyes raced past Illinois to win 73-57 on senior night at the Schottenstein Center.Diebler drained seven shots from behind the arc, including five in the first half. He paced the Buckeyes with 21 points.With the win, Ohio State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title. Illinois didn’t make it easy, though.The Illini matched Diebler’s first-half onslaught, nailing six 3-pointers of their own to stay within 37-33 after the first frame. Junior Demetri McCamey knocked down four of his five attempts from 3-point range en route to 12 first half points.Still, Illinois never mustered the run it needed to threaten the Buckeye lead down the stretch.OSU turned up its defensive pressure in the second half, forcing turnovers with a full court press and allowing fewer open shots from outside. Illinois managed just 24 points after halftime, shooting a woeful 2-for-10 from 3-point range. McCamey was limited to six points in the half.In perhaps the final home game of his illustrious three-year career, Evan Turner contributed 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Junior David Lighty chipped in 15 points and sophomore William Buford had 17, giving the Buckeyes a well-balanced offensive attack.OSU used a 12-2 run in the second half to grab a 65-51 lead and never looked back.With the lead intact, coach Thad Matta emptied his bench, allowing his seniors one final cameo on their home floor. For Titus, it was an opportunity to achieve one last “trillion,” the term he coined for recording one minute of playing time with no statistical output.The team gathered with its fans on the court following the victory, rejoicing with plastic sharks commemorating “The Shark” Titus and chants of “one more year” directed at Turner, who experts have penciled in near the top of June’s NBA Draft, should he decide to forgo his senior season of eligibility.Michigan State and Purdue can join in on the Big Ten Championship party by winning their last two games, respectively. Even so, by virtue of a plethora of tiebreakers, OSU will earn the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. read more

Sunday Morning Quarterback Evaluating Ohio States 1716 win against Michigan State

Ohio State outlasted Michigan State on Saturday for a 17-16 victory and its first conference win of the season. Here’s what we learned about the Buckeyes in their slugfest with the Spartans. The MSU measuring stick Want a barometer for how far this offense has come in a year? Look no further than the Buckeyes’ loss to the Spartans last season. To say that OSU’s offense was ineffective in their 2011 conference opener, a 10-7 loss to MSU, would be a gross understatement. It was embarrassingly inadequate. Those Buckeyes limped to 178 yards of total offense, and only found the end zone in the waning seconds when a Spartan victory was inevitable. Braxton Miller threw for 56 yards while having the worst game of his career as a runner. Things got so bad for the then-freshman quarterback that he was benched in favor of former Buckeyes quarterback Joe Bauserman. Earlier in the week, coach Urban Meyer said that his sophomore quarterback had come a long way since last year’s match with MSU. Miller backed up Meyer’s words with a statement performance on Saturday. The Buckeyes’ signal-caller threw for 179 yards and rushed for 136, accounting for more than 82 percent of the team’s total offense. But it wasn’t just the Buckeye’s biggest star that shined against the Spartans. Junior receiver Corey “Philly” Brown nearly matched his production from all of last season, hauling in a career-best 12 receptions. Sophomore receiver Devin Smith once again showed his big-play ability with a 63-yard touchdown catch that put the Buckeyes ahead for good. It wasn’t a perfect game for OSU’s offense, though. There are several areas where they need to improve, starting with ball security – Miller threw an interception and fumbled twice. But as a group, they are certainly heading in the right direction. The defense is flawed, but in the right places Entering Saturday’s game, the “Silver Bullets” ranked last in the Big Ten conference in total defense. Does OSU really have the league’s worst defense? Probably not. Does the defense have flaws? Absolutely.  In MSU’s first two games against ranked opponents, Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw three interceptions and averaged 217 yards per game. The junior played turnover-free football against OSU while throwing for 269 yards. Perhaps the first-year starter is just becoming more comfortable in the pocket as the season progresses, but it’s fairly clear that the Buckeyes don’t have an elite secondary. Fortunately, they really don’t need one. With all due respect to the likes of Indiana and Purdue, only three teams on the Buckeyes remaining schedule really pose a threat to OSU’s chance at a perfect season – Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan. What else do those three teams have in common? They all employ a run-first mentality. Just ask MSU how that type of game plan works against the Buckeye’s frontline. Spartans running back Le’Veon Bell entered the contest averaging 152 yards per game on the ground. The junior saw his impressive average, and perhaps his Heisman chances, plummet at the hands of OSU’s defense, which held Bell to just 45 yards on 17 carries. Give an extra helmet sticker to… The Buckeyes’ entire offensive line, which is perhaps the most improved unit on this year’s team. The big boys surrendered just one sack, and dominated the line of scrimmage while Miller and company ran for 204 yards.  Granted, some credit should go to Miller, who eludes would-be sacks better than just about any other quarterback in the country. But while facing a quality Spartan pass rush, the offensive line proved its merit. It’s important (and when they’re winning, fairly easy) to enjoy the Buckeyes in Meyer’s debut season. But whether it’s because of this year’s bowl ban, or the fact that Meyer doesn’t yet have the ideal personnel to run his system, it’s also hard not to look ahead. Of the five starters on OSU’s improved unit, only one is a senior. The future looks bright in Columbus, and as with almost anything in football, it all starts with the offensive line. read more

Ohio State wide receivers impress in fall camp

Cody Cousino / For The LanternThen-junior Corey Brown avoids the defense during a game against Michigan on Nov. 24, 2012 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 26-21.Prior to coming to Ohio State, Urban Meyer’s teams had at least one thing in common: a healthy pass offense.It is an area that Meyer is looking to improve on in his second season at OSU, and he is counting on the wide receivers to grow and develop this fall into a group that could be similar to what he had when he was the coach of the Florida Gators.While Meyer was at Florida, the Gators only had one season where they averaged less than 213 yards per game through the air, a total that in his first season at Ohio State the Buckeyes fell far short of.During their undefeated season, OSU failed to reach the 200 yard mark through the air in all but four games, including only throwing for 97 yards during a 21-14 overtime victory at Wisconsin Nov. 17.Part of the problem with the Buckeyes’ passing game last year was the receiving corps, which only had two players who racked up more than 300 receiving yards. But with another year under their belts, along with an influx of young talent from Meyer’s second recruiting class, the OSU wide receivers are looking to make a big difference in the offense this season.Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said the receivers were weak last year, but in the offseason they have grown to become threats in the offense.“They’ve had trials, tribulations, had hard times, had great successes and so they have grown and learned from mistakes to the point where now they’re able to be a mature group and able to use those learning points in the past to make sure they don’t happen again and grow from them,” Smith said. “I’m pleased with the growth from them in the last year.”Junior quarterback Braxton Miller hinted that he’s looking to spread the ball around more this year, with his top two receivers senior Corey “Philly” Brown and junior Devin Smith returning this season.“We did less throwing last year, and there is going to be a lot of throwing this year,” Miller said.Brown, who led the team with 669 yards and 60 catches in 2012, is expecting a big jump in the team’s offensive production.“I think this year you can expect our offense to shoot up the charts if we keep doing what we are doing and try to eliminate the stupid mistakes, we could be one of the top offenses in the country,” Brown said.A lot of talk from fall camp surrounds junior Evan Spencer and his development into a potential star receiver.“What (Spencer has) shown flashes of at times, he’s really done consistently,” Zach Smith said. “He’s probably the one receiver that I’m most pleased with the step he’s took. That’s not to take away from Philly or Devin or guys that have taken steps. Evan has really taken a bigger step.”Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman made it clear Spencer is a starter and the rest of the receivers have also improved this fall.“The first thing that I’ve said earlier in camp was that our veterans are improved,” Herman said. “They’re better. Evan Spencer’s had a great camp. Evan Spencer’s a starting wide receiver at The Ohio State University. Philly Brown is better, Devin Smith is better. We’re better.”At OSU Media Day Aug. 11, Meyer said the top three receivers on the team were Devin Smith, Brown and Spencer, but that Spencer was having a great camp.An issue Spencer said he had last year was with hitting his routes and winning balls in the air, but has become much more confident as a player heading into the 2013 season.“Myself personally, I feel like I’m developing a little more as a route runner,” Spencer said Aug. 10. “That was my main thing this year that I was focusing on, making sure I am lowering out of my cuts, making sure every time the ball is up in the air I’m going up and getting it.”Spencer said he has taken on more of a leadership role this offseason, trying to get some of the younger players to feel more comfortable in the offense.“As an older guy, I take it upon myself to make sure that they know what they’re doing,” Spencer said. “I try to pride myself and make sure that they know what they’re doing all the time so they can go 100 percent.”Known as a big play receiver last year when he averaged 20.6 yards per catch, Devin Smith is hoping to have a big year with Miller throwing him the ball.“We talked all summer, trained all summer, we know where he’s going to place the ball, how I’m going to run my route and things like that,” Smith said about his relationship with Miller. “So it’s all about timing and we certainly got that down.”Spencer likes what he sees out of his fellow receivers, and said the offense is starting to come together.“Devin is running great routes with good speed and getting hands off, and Philly (is) explosive as always,” Spencer said. “It’s just good to see it’s all coming along.”Zach Smith is looking for his guys to have a big year, and help Miller improve on the weak passing numbers from last season.“Every guy that we’re counting on, every guy that we think is gonna be a contributing factor in our offense is capable and has shown the capability to be a dominate player,” Zach Smith said. “At least a good, functional player. We just need to see that consistently from every rep from every guy that we’re counting on.” read more

Football How Ohio State will replace right guard Branden Bowen

Ohio State right guard Branden Bowen raises his helmet to the crowd as he is carted off the field during the first quarter of the Buckeyes’ game against Maryland on Oct. 7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State’s offensive line had seemingly found its groove. Over the past several games, the line had provided quarterback J.T. Barrett with plenty of time each time he dropped back to pass, particularly in Saturday’s game against Maryland.But with less than two minutes left in the first quarter of Ohio State’s eventual 62-14 victory over Maryland, redshirt sophomore right guard Branden Bowen fell to the turf on a play that broke down and forced Barrett to scramble out of the pocket for a two-yard gain. The hulking lineman was carted off the field with a cast on his left leg and later was diagnosed as having fractured both his left tibia and fibula.“Keep Branden Bowen in your prayers,” head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “I think he’s going to have surgery tomorrow, broken leg. Clean break. And so just gotta get him healthy and get him back.”For a number of reasons, the loss of Bowen will affect the team. Emotionally, it is the loss of a teammate and a painful injury the team knows will cost Bowen the rest of his season. From a personnel standpoint, it leaves a hole on the right side of the offensive line that requires filling before the team travels to Nebraska.Even when Bowen is replaced on the line, the new starter will lack the previous game experience the starter possessed and the chemistry he had developed with the other starters.“That’s our brother. And as an offense, that’s our brother as well, so I mean, you’re losing one of the key cogs of the offensive unit with Bowen going down,” redshirt senior center Billy Price said. “That game experience that Bowen had, it’s irreplaceable. Even last year’s game experience and him coming in and taking that time.”Redshirt sophomore Matt Burrell took Bowen’s place Saturday. Burrell listed as the left guard backup on the team’s depth chart and who has been seen before games going through warmups as a center. Redshirt junior Malcolm Pridgeon was listed as Bowen’s official backup at right guard.Burrell had been among those competing for the starting right guard spot in the summer, but ultimately lost the position battle to Bowen. As it stands right now, Burrell figures to be the most likely candidate to inherit the starting job, but Meyer left open the possibility of another position battle.“Next man up, right now looks like Matt Burrell,” Meyer said. “And we’ll see if there’s any competition at that spot. [The depth is] alarming, but Matt played OK.”For now though, the expectation among the players is that Burrell will inherit the will fill Bowen’s vacancy. Bowen was a key factor in the momentum the line had built coming into the game, Price said. Now the mentality is next man up.“Matt came in for [Bowen] and he performed very well today,” Price said. “A guy who we always [tell] ‘You never know your number’s going to be called so you have to make sure you prepare.’”When Burrell lost the battle in the offseason, it was likely a major blow to his confidence as he had lost a position battle the season prior at the left guard spot to now-sophomore guard Michael Jordan.And as Price said, that lack of confidence still separates Burrell from Bowen for the time being.“He’s always questioning, ‘Hey did I do this right?’ or ‘Hey, did I do this right? And it’s again, football is a game of highs and lows and you’ve just got to go out and block,” Price said. “You can’t just sit here and constantly think about, ‘Hey, OK I’ve got to make sure that this is playing perfect.’ Playing offensive line, you’re not going to play perfect.” read more

Womens Soccer Ohio State set to face Morehead State and Notre Dame

Ohio State freshman forward Lexxe Lipsey battles for possession during the second half of the Buckeyes’ 7-0 win against Illinois at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sept. 14. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorThe Ohio State women’s soccer team will host Morehead State at 7 p.m. Thursday, then will travel to Indiana to take on Notre Dame at 1 p.m. on Sunday.Ohio State is coming off a win against Florida and a canceled home-opening match against the Duquesne Dukes because of weather, leaving the Buckeyes’ overall record 1-2-0 on the year.Leading the team to a 1-0 victory against No. 5 Florida, freshman forward Kayla Fischer was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, as well as co-freshman of the week. Fischer is the first Ohio State player to be named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week since Sammy Edwards in Oct. 2017. Fischer shares her first freshman of the week honor with Northwestern goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood.Last week, Fischer scored Ohio State’s first goal of the season against the Gators, becoming the first freshman since Lisa Collison in 2005 to score the first goal of the season for the Buckeyes. Morehead State is coming off three consecutive losses falling to Pittsburgh, Kentucky and Ball State, resulting in a 1-3 overall record.After winning the first three games of the season and falling to Butler in its most recent match, Notre Dame will play Ohio State at Alumni Stadium on Sept. 2. Last season, the Buckeyes defeated the Leprechauns 2-1, winning in a double-overtime showdown in Columbus. read more

Football Keandre Jones to transfer from Ohio State

Ohio State junior linebacker Keandre Jones (16) tackles Tulane’s offense during the first half of the game against Tulane on Sept. 22. Ohio State won 49-6. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorFormer four-star linebacker Keandre Jones is transferring from Ohio State, the program confirmed Tuesday. Ohio State has not confirmed Jones’ destination, but reports say that the linebacker will transfer to Maryland. An Olney, Maryland native, Jones played in 32 games with Ohio State primarily on special teams and never started a game at linebacker. He recorded 29 total tackles with a tackle for loss: a sack against Tulane on Sept. 22. Ohio State will have sophomore Baron Browning, sophomore Pete Werner, junior Malik Harrison and redshirt sophomore Tuf Borland returning at linebacker. Freshmen linebackers K’Vaughan Pope, Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell will fight for playing time in the middle of the defense as well. read more