Lionel Messis Majestic Season

This Saturday, the magisterial Lionel Messi will lead FC Barcelona against Italian powerhouse Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final. For you non-cosmopolitans, this is like Messi’s Super Bowl — if more people watched the Super Bowl.1Although claims of worldwide television audience can often be exaggerated, the UEFA final is one of the few events (along with the World Cup) to actually, regularly outdraw the Super Bowl in TV viewership. After winning La Liga last month and the Copa del Rey2Spain’s national cup. Sort of like the playoffs for Spanish soccer, except it runs throughout the year. last weekend, Barcelona is poised (and favored) to give Messi his second “treble,”3Although there are a lot of “treble” scenarios, it mostly requires that a team win its league (in this case, La Liga), its country’s national cup (in this case, the Copa del Rey), and its continent’s inter-league championship (in this case, UEFA for Europe). Note that Juventus is also playing for a treble. which would make it the first European squad to accomplish the feat twice.That Messi is once again on the precipice of glory isn’t entirely unexpected considering his talent and reputation. But not long ago, it seemed far from a sure thing.Messi’s 2014 World Cup performance was somewhat disappointing and even a little strange. Despite winning the Golden Ball (controversially) and leading Argentina to the final before succumbing to Germany in overtime, he only facilitated one goal (albeit on a game-winning assist) in the knockout rounds and curled a potential Cup-winner wide. By the end of the tournament, Messi’s bursts of brilliance were accompanied by the spectacle of him often strolling or even standing still on the pitch — he covered the least distance per minute of all forwards in the tournament. Was he exhausted? Or was he playing some bizarre metagame?A disappointed Messi returned to an uncertain situation with his club team. Barcelona was under new leadership, and despite already having Messi and Brazilian megastar Neymar, it acquired English Premier League (EPL) standout Luis Suarez as well. Although Suarez is now an essential member of the “holy trinity” of Barca forwards, it was unclear what all this meant for Messi at the time. Some wondered if Messi’s best years were behind him, and with many seeing Neymar as the future, rumors spread that Messi might be transferred to Chelsea or some other EPL squad.Barcelona started the season strong, but it lost its most important first-half test — taking a 3-1 beating at Real Madrid — Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid. Messi failed to score or assist in the game. When Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or for the second year in a row, the choice wasn’t even controversial.Oh how far we’ve come in a few short months. Messi’s season — once mired in disappointment and doubt — has turned unambiguously triumphant. Regardless of what happens this weekend, Messi’s 2014-15 season weaves together aesthetic achievement, statistical accomplishment and compelling narrative into a tapestry of genius.Your eyes do not deceive youDuring last year’s World Cup, I wrote “Lionel Messi Is Impossible” — a casual ditty of over 5,000 words and 15 charts — so I could wrap my head around something that my eyes already knew: This little dude is unreal.For example, let’s take this instant-classic goal from last weekend’s Copa action:In that incredible run, Messi takes on a defender close to midfield, finding space down the sideline. Two more defenders descend, and Messi takes on — and beats — all three. Yet another defender gets in front of him, with two more rapidly approaching as he breaks left and curls it in past everyone (the person who appears to have come closest to derailing the play is teammate Suarez).Messi’s unparalleled ability to make plays on his own when necessary is thrilling to behold, whether on TV, in viral Internet clips or in amazing scatterplots. In particular, his skill at taking on defenders is as much nerd-candy as eye-candy:In the past five years, Messi has taken on defenders one-on-one (or one-on-more-than-one, as in the Copa) 1,995 times, with 55 percent of those succeeding. The forwards with the next-most attempts are Suarez with 1,113 (success rate of 35 percent) and Ronaldo with 872 (success rate 43 percent). In the 2014-15 season, Messi has taken on defenders even more often (averaging 9.6 attempts per game vs. 8.3 in the previous four seasons) without sacrificing his success rate (56 percent vs. 55 percent).Statistics inform aesthetics (and vice versa). In this case, the statistics help us understand the scope of what we can see already: It’s not just that Messi is good, but that he plays the game a whole different way.The reckoning (plus Messi vs. Ronaldo)Messi’s 2015 success has brought narratives of resurgence, redemption and maturation. His statistical accomplishments inform those narratives, although I believe they ultimately lead the story somewhere slightly different.Let’s look at the ongoing saga of Messi vs. Ronaldo. At the year break, each had 32 goals plus assists for their club teams (not counting penalty kicks4Note that Ronaldo is historically a little better than Messi at PKs, but the value of this skill (as I’ve previously estimated) is perhaps 1 goal per year at most, not the several goals that may separate them any particular season.). But what had been a tight battle then started going more and more Messi’s way.For the most part, Messi’s brilliance in 2015 is just a linear extension of his brilliance in 2014. The separation from Ronaldo is more a product of Ronaldo’s slightly flatter production.Of course, the broader Ronaldo/Messi debate rages on, and in the abstract, I don’t want to take sides. They’re both outrageous outliers who play very different styles, and they’re both so deep in the zone of incomprehensibility that perfect knowledge of their true value is likely impossible:On the other hand, insofar as we have created statistical metrics to compile and measure our observations, they pretty much side with Messi: He scores more goals, shoots more efficiently, gets more assists, passes more aggressively, passes more accurately, and more.For more detail on the subject, I would again direct you to my longer piece from last year. The 2014-15 season changes little. If anything new has developed, it may be that Messi’s defensive contributions are greater than ever. Messi has 40 tackles this season with a tackle rate of 58.8 percent (high for a striker), compared with Ronaldo’s 10 tackles and 38.5 percent rate. Messi also had 16 interceptions to Ronaldo’s four.5Ronaldo continues to dominate Messi in clearances (he has 42 to Messi’s one) and aerials won and aerial win percentage (78 to 16 overall and 52.3 percent to 34.0 percent). While defensive stats in soccer are limited, what we do have for Messi was already perfectly adequate for a high-volume striker, and for 2014-15, his “defensive plays made per opponent possession” is now in the upper echelon of his cohort.Here is the goal production (non-penalty goals plus assists) over the past five years for Messi, Ronaldo and 3,280 other forwards and midfielders:In other words, both players have shifted back toward their multiyear performance.6That third line, which managed to match Ronaldo at its peak last season, is Suarez.Aside from his injury-affected 2013-14 season (which was still pretty great), Messi’s otherworldly production has been rather consistent. Despite the drama and protestations and the thousand Internet discussions, the most remarkable thing we’ve learned in 2015 is that Messi is pretty much as he ever was. That may not sound like the most thrilling observation, but when you’re as big of an outlier as Messi, staying the same is amazing in itself.Beware the fury of a patient MessiAlthough the data mostly suggests that Messi is just being himself, the revenge narrative that has emerged is enticing, and not even the most cold-hearted stat-geek can resist it.In addition to reclaiming his statistical throne from the man who usurped him as the official “best player in the world” by winning the last two Ballon d’Ors, Messi led Barcelona to victory against Real Madrid in Camp Nou, 2-1.7On a lighter note, Messi has presently moved in front of the usually-dominant Ronaldo in that most important of metrics, Google searches. Unfortunately, Real Madrid lost to Juventus in the Champions League semifinals, denying us the ultimate rubber match.But Messi’s revenge narrative truly converged with his aesthetic accomplishment in Barcelona’s 3-0 thrashing of Bayern Munchen8As a former resident of Germany, I reserve the right to call them this. I hope my editor agrees! [Ed note: I only kept this because I forced you to find a synonym for “scientia” higher in the article.] in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal. That Bayern team — led by Messi’s former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola — features many of the Germans who denied Messi in Brazil, and he carved them up. He had two amazing goals, virtually back-to-back, including this one:The opposition on that goal: the same two guys Messi faced on his missed potential Cup-winner, all-world goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng.Messi’s performance against Bayern was a master class in what makes him so good. In addition to his two goals (one from long range, one that put a defender on the ground), Messi also had three successful through ball passes in four attempts (including on this cringe-worthy Suarez miss). In the past year, Messi has attempted through-ball passes more than twice as often as any other player and has had twice as many assists from them as a result (and he has been doing that for years as well).For a 10 minute distillation of Messi greatness, watch this 10 minute supercut of his touches from that game (and watch for the through-ball attempts — they can be just as impressive as goals). It’s Messi being Messi. And the fact that Messi is still Messi may just be the most beautiful thing in sports. read more

Coach Says Football Player Convicted of Juvenile Rape Earned

Ma’Lik Richmond walks toward the victim and her family to apologize after he and co-defendant Trent Mays were found delinquent on rape and other charges during their trial in juvenile court in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool, File)CLEVELAND (AP) — Youngstown State football coach Bo Pelini says a player convicted of rape as a teen has earned a second chance by staying disciplined, focused and out of trouble.Ma’lik Richmond will be allowed to remain on the team’s active roster after settling a lawsuit Monday against the school, which told him he wouldn’t be allowed to play this season after he made the team.Richmond was 16 in 2013 when he and a Steubenville High School teammate were convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party. Richmond served about 10 months in a juvenile prison in a case that garnered international attention through social media and included allegations of a cover-up to protect a storied high school football team.Pelini told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he gave Richmond a chance after hearing him accept responsibility for his conviction.“I didn’t make this decision lightly,” Pelini said. “He was extremely remorseful. I saw a young man who was desperately wanting to better his life and those of the people around him.”Pelini said Richmond stood out from other 21-year-olds because of his focus, discipline and maturity.Richmond was released in January 2014 and attended colleges in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before transferring to Youngstown State in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore.Richmond and his legal guardians spoke with Pelini and YSU President Jim Tressel about joining the team after he enrolled. Pelini researched Richmond’s past before meeting him, then said he made no promises and told Richmond he’d have to earn good grades and stay out of trouble to be on the team.“He stuck with it,” Pelini said. “He went over and above. He knew he had no room for error.”Richmond began practicing with the team as a defensive end after Youngstown State’s loss in the Football Championship Subdivision title game in January. Pelini said Richmond, a walk-on player with no scholarship, showed talent but was a “work in progress.”When The Youngstown Vindicator wrote a story in August noting that Richmond was on the team, a student circulated a petition calling for the school to bar Richmond from playing football. Youngstown State subsequently sent a university-wide email that said Richmond could continue to practice but could not be on the active roster this season and would lose a year of eligibility.Richmond quit the team after learning of the email and went home to Steubenville, prompting Pelini, another coach, and three teammates to visit him and convince him to return to school.Pelini said he told Richmond during the visit: “You need to get your butt back to campus and trust that things are gonna work out. You can’t walk away from school, you’ve come this far. It’s time to stick it out.”It was a mistake not to publicize Richmond’s place on the team or address concerns earlier, Pelini said.“I’m not stupid,” Pelini said. “I understand that the opportunity to be a part of the team raises questions.”Richmond returned to school. Less than two weeks later, he was in class when he learned his father, 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond, was killed when he shot a judge in a courthouse parking lot and a probation officer returned fire. Pelini said it was another blow to Richmond, whose once-absent father was becoming more involved in his life.Richmond grew up in a troubled home. He began living off-and-on with his youth football coach, Greg Agresta and Agresta’s wife, Jennifer, when he was 8. They became his legal guardians and mentored him as college coaches began recruiting him in high school.Pelini said Richmond’s rape conviction and the intense public attention sharpened Richmond’s focus and determination to rise above his past.“He’s been through a lot,” Pelini said. “It makes you grow up in a hurry.”The day after Richmond’s lawsuit was filed, a federal judge ruled that Richmond could play for Youngstown State. He got on the field during the second half of a blowout win against Central Connecticut State on Sept. 16, but didn’t play Saturday in a 19-7 win over South Dakota State.“He really puts his nose to the grindstone and brings it every day,” Pelini said. “He understands the scrutiny that goes with this story, that with his background, he can’t make another mistake.” read more

How A Data Scientist Whod Never Heard Of Basketball Mastered March Madness

A 13-year-old in Illinois. A 47-year-old English woman. A 70-year-old Vegas oddsmaker. At first blush, there isn’t much linking them. But last year, all three were among the most successful March Madness prognosticators. That’s where the similarities end.With methods ranging from gut instinct to computational learning theory, these three characters demonstrate just how wide and varied the spectrum of strategies can be. But which strategy will you employ for your own bracket? Watch this video collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and Fictionless and decide for yourself.

Sports writers The sports beat itself is not the beat

To say that I am lucky to be the sports editor of Ohio State’s daily student newspaper is a gross understatement. In fact, I’m spoiled rotten. I get a front-row seat to some of the best sporting events in the country so that I may observe, chronicle and comment on them. My objective in this privileged position, as I understand it, is to help keep an unbiased history, and occasionally impart personal opinion, on the sporting happenings taking place during the relatively small window of time that I’ll be on this campus. And so, in an ideal world, I should think professional sportswriters of America have these same aims, to inform the citizenry of their publication services. At various times, and particularly in recent weeks, though, I’ve observed sports scribes taking pot shots at each other’s work, bickering about issues that only affect sports writers, and really just serving ourselves and not our respective audiences. We’ve lost our way as sportswriters. Heck, I almost lost my own way yesterday. Here’s an example: Orlando Sentinel sports columnist Mike Bianchi, prior to coming to Ohio Stadium to cover Central Florida football’s Saturday game against OSU, accused members of the Buckeyes’ football media troupe of “printing lies” and generally supporting a perceived agenda of first-year coach Urban Meyer with “fluffy” stories. “No, these charges don’t come from some paranoid politician or neurotic football coach; they come from another member of media: Me,” Bianchi wrote in a Sept. 7 column. Bianchi was firing back at a commentary from the Columbus-based website, theozone.net, which faulted him for sparring with Meyer during a Big Ten teleconference. There’s a way to debate the coverage of an event or issue, Here’s another example: OSU’s own “Twitter-gate” scandal. Like outlets and writer-personalities all over America, The Lantern reported on OSU athletics spokesman Jerry Emig’s request to media to delay tweeting content from Meyer’s press conferences until the event was over. In an email to The Lantern, Emig said the policy was intended as a courtesy to both reporters and football personnel. It was not until after the press conference, Emig said, that he was told Meyer’s press conference was being broadcast live by Columbus radio station WBNS 97.1 FM and streamed on the athletic department’s website. “I simply asked those in attendance to not tweet while an interview was taking place,” Emig told The Lantern. “Once I was reminded of (the live broadcast) – after the press conference – I realized that courtesy or no courtesy, we can’t ask people to delay tweeting. So even though many in attendance were supportive, we won’t ask to delay tweeting any longer.” The Lantern was the first to learn that this request was being lifted, and after I tweeted the news out to the world from our sports Twitter account, the news was re-tweeted by members of the media. Fan interest in that particular matter, though? I don’t think there was a morsel of it. Again, we’re talking about our audiences – there’s a market for new and social media that would take great interest in that story, but a Buckeyes’ season ticket holder? Doubtful, and it’s reckless to assume the audience will gobble up any given sportswriter’s every experience. I’ll grant you this, there was concern that our free-speech rights were being infringed upon, and that had broader appeal because of the inherent legal issues that could accompany a situation like that. But does the average OSU football fan care if it takes an extra half-hour to hear about Meyer’s assessment of his players? I think they’re just happy to consume Meyer’s brutally direct evaluation of the program, even if it arrives a bit late. Finally, we arrive at the example I almost presented to the world via Twitter yesterday. I got all hot and bothered by the fact that Meyer, speaking at his weekly press conference Monday, said he wasn’t aware of a Sunday water main explosion that caused 2,000 OSU students to be uprooted from their dormitories and displaced. I don’t want to delve too deeply into my feelings about Meyer’s lack of knowledge about the water main explosion, but you could say I was bothered by it. So I took to Twitter and saw that some were making light of the fact that Meyer was even asked a question about the water main explosion, a question I assigned a Lantern reporter to ask. Well, I had really had it at that point. I fired off tweets that hinted at my feelings about 1.) the validity of the question and 2.) how I felt about Meyer having no knowledge of this major incident on campus. Then a couple people disagreed with me – I was really, truly ready spout off. But I didn’t spout off – I had to stop. The simple fact is that some blogger’s opinion of a question asked at a press conference doesn’t matter, nor does my criticism of he or she matter. Think about it: as OSU football beat writers, we’re covering the team, not the beat itself. In that moment, as in the aforementioned cases, the beat itself became the beat and that is simply a pigheaded practice. I imagine that sports writers’ respective audiences care about our finished products – accuracy in reporting, good writing and informative content. Do we really think they care more about our own petty, online squabbles? No, of course they don’t. Does anyone care to hear me critique the sports-writing practices of UWeekly? Do you care to read about what UWeekly thinks about me? I think (and hope) you’d prefer to consume quality coverage of the teams you care about. Period. As a student journalist, my head is buried in journalism texts on a daily basis. Maybe that constant exposure to the fundamentals of journalism, and the fundamentals of sports writing, make it too easy to for me to call for all sportswriters to share my idealistic vision for this profession. Maybe I’m naïve – sometime in the future I might get so hot about someone’s column or story or a concern about my access to the teams I cover that I’ll force my frustration right down the throat of my audience. I started to on Monday before, mercifully, I stopped myself. If I ever get that close again, someone come tap me on the shoulder and tell me to get lost. Clearly, I’ll no longer be serving anyone’s interest in my own at that point. The beat itself is not the beat. The sportswriters of America themselves are not the story. Don’t forget that, and don’t let me, my colleagues at The Lantern or any other outlet forget it. read more

Ohio State footballs Kerry Coombs Chris Ash and I are going to

OSU cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs talks to the media on National Signing Day Feb. 5 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorWith the introduction of Ohio State’s new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash, some questions had to be answered.What is he going to do to fix a pass defense that finished 2013 ranked 112th in the country? How does he feel about the group of young players that will be playing next season?But perhaps the most important quandary is how cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs and Ash will get along.“What I would tell you is that Chris and I are going to function as a team in the back end. We will have one voice,” Coombs told the media on National Signing Day Wednesday. “We both may be saying it, but we’ll be saying the same thing so that when we meet together, when we coach together, when we’re practicing together, we’re all using the same terms, the same phrases, the same words, coaching things and I don’t know, the same style. I haven’t been able to watch Chris coach, I don’t know his style yet, but (we’ll be) using all of the same language and verbiage out there. And I think that’s very important.”Coombs, who has been with the program for each of the last two seasons, added that there is not a rigid set of rules dictating who coaches what on any given day.“I believe very strongly that those things, the more you can do things in a group setting, the better off you’re going to be,” Coombs said. “And so our approach — Chris and I will work together to make that happen and there will be times when we will be working right half and left half. And at times, we’ll be working corners and safeties and at times we’ll be functioning with four guys doing things together … I would think they would tell you the same thing, that all of that will lead, I think, to great communication, which should be our objective moving forward.”Ash spent 2013 at Arkansas after spending three seasons with one of OSU’s Big Ten rivals, Wisconsin.Agreeing with his new coaching partner Coombs, Ash said coaching on the defensive side of the ball will be all about balancing everyone.“Everything we’re going to do is going to be a team effort,” Ash said. “You know a lot of people have asked about coach Coombs and I coaching the secondary. It’s going to be a team effort, and the defensive staff is a team, putting this package together. Trying to identify the direction we’re going to go and what we need to get fixed, and gameday, it’ll be a team effort.”At Wisconsin, Ash was a part of three consecutive Big Ten Championships and led a pass defense that finished an average of 16th in the country during his tenure.A big part of improving the Buckeyes’ struggles against the pass is changing the mentality, Ash said.“Well you play fast, you play with reckless abandon, you’re fast, you’re physical, you throw your body around,” Ash said. “There’s no confusion, you know exactly what you’re doing. You can react to your key and there’s only one speed: it’s full speed. And that’s the way we gotta play.”Coombs agreed, saying the intensity of play is likely to increase in 2014.“Yeah, I would think you would see a more aggressive style of play across the board from alignment to attack and so forth,” Coombs said.The secondary is only returning one regular starter in junior cornerback Doran Grant, and Coombs said it’s impossible to predict who is going to win the starting positions because players are battling for them.“There will be some changes. The competition I would tell you is wide open,” Coombs said. “You’ve got to perform to play. And I think that the expectation on the part of every player on this football team is you gotta show up every day and you’ve got to perform in order to play in the fall. We’re going to work really hard on finding those guys who can compete and who will challenge in tough situations.”Coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday the defense needed something new after struggling in the latter part of the season.“We won a lot of games, but there were some holes,” Meyer said. “Holes very easy to blame players or blames coaches. Just overall, we need to freshen up our defense. That’s what’s going to take place over the next few months.”Ash and Coombs are set to receive their first chance to patrol the Buckeye sidelines together Aug. 30 when OSU is scheduled to take on Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. read more

Amedeo Della Valle to leave Ohio State pursue professional basketball career in

Sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle (33) attempts a lay up during a game against Iowa Jan. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 84-74.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorAmedeo Della Valle’s days in the Scarlet and Gray are finished.The Ohio State sophomore guard sent a message from his personal Twitter account Saturday afternoon announcing his intentions to head back to Europe to pursue a career in professional basketball.“I wouldn’t trade this experience with anything else, B1G Champions, the run to the Elite 8, the 12-0 year, man that was special,” a screenshotted message from Della Valle’s account, @Ame_DV_33, read. “First of all mom, dad thank you for being on my side. I would like to thank not only my teammates but also the coaching staff that really helped me improve, you know without all the hard work I wouldn’t have been able to win the Mvp in the europe and compete in the B1G. To my friends THANK YOU, you guys made it special for me and will always have you for the rest of my life. I want to thank the best fans in the land. It is now time for me to begin new experiences as I decided to head back to Europe to continue to play PRO basketball.”An OSU athletic spokesman confirmed via email Della Valle’s departure to The Lantern Saturday.OSU coach Thad Matta said Della Valle informed Matta and the rest of the staff Saturday afternoon, according to an OSU press release.“Amedeo is passionate about the game of basketball and wants to return to Europe to pursue a professional career,” Matta said. “We appreciate all the work he put in to make our team better over the last two years. We wish him well.”Della Valle averaged 4.0 points per game this season off the bench, missing two of OSU’s 35 games because of a knee injury. A supposed three-point specialist from Alba, Italy, Della Valle shot just 32.4 percent (24/74) from beyond the arc this season.He averaged only 11.9 minutes per game this season for the Buckeyes (25-10, 12-9), who bowed out to Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, 60-59.After averaging 13 points per game at the U20 Euro Championships in summer 2013, Della Valle earned Most Valuable Player honors.With his departure, including the graduation of senior guard Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., OSU is set to have just 11 scholarship players on roster with the four players — guard D’Angelo Russell, forwards Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate and center David Bell — and that number could be smaller if junior forward LaQuinton Ross declares for the NBA Draft. Ross said after the Dayton loss he’d make a decision on his future “in the next few weeks.”Programs are allowed 13 scholarship players per season in college basketball.Della Valle did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment Saturday. read more

Strong goalkeeping not enough for Ohio State mens hockey

Senior forward Chad Niddery (19) is pinned to the boards during a game against Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 17 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 5-1, before falling again, 2-1, in Oxford, Ohio, on Oct. 18.Credit: Michael Griggs / For The LanternChristian Frey made 60 saves in one game and lost. That was the prevailing takeaway from the Ohio State men’s hockey team’s home-and-home series with No. 11 Miami (Ohio).After falling 5-1 in Columbus on Friday, the Buckeyes lost, 2-1, the following night despite their sophomore goaltender’s near-record-setting performance in Oxford, Ohio.“We have to look in the mirror and get better defensively,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us.”Frey came within six saves of setting a school record for most saves in a game on Saturday. OSU was outshot 62-20 in the game, the first time it had allowed more than 50 shots since Oct. 12, 2002, against Minnesota.“They shot the puck from everywhere, but I think they just outworked us in our zone,” Frey said. “We need to compete a lot harder.”The Buckeyes began Saturday’s game with the upper hand when RedHawk freshman defenseman Scott Dornbrock was ejected for interference at the 1:36 mark of the first period.Dorbrock’s game misconduct put OSU on a five-minute power play, during which the Buckeyes made it 1-0.Scoring opened late in the man advantage when OSU senior forward Tanner Fritz came barreling down the left-wing side, chucked a shot on net and junior forward Anthony Greco slapped in the rebound.“It was a tough play,” Miami junior goalie Jay Williams said. “I thought that as a whole, we responded really well … from that point on I think we took over the game.”The Buckeyes carried their lead into the first intermission, but saw it erased midway through the second period when Miami freshman defenseman Louie Belpedio fired a shot through traffic to tie the game. Frey said he never saw the shot.Less than two minutes later, RedHawks senior forward Alex Wideman scored the eventual game-winner on a wrap around.The RedHawks nearly added another later in second, but Miami senior forward Austin Czarnik’s goal was disallowed as the puck was frozen beneath Frey’s pad before it was pushed in.Despite catching a break, OSU couldn’t regain its first period momentum. The RedHawks outshot the Buckeyes, 25-5, in the second.“They just played more desperate than we did,” Rohlik said. “Once they started playing desperate and controlling the play, we were in retreat mode.”Miami preserved its 2-1 lead the rest of the way, attempting 62 shots to OSU’s 20.“It was tough, but I think we had a little bit better effort today,” Fritz said. “Maybe the shot clock didn’t show it but we did play hard, we competed.”Saturday’s one-goal game came on the heels of a 5-1 RedHawk win on Friday. But while OSU brought new energy on the road, it was without the services of senior defenseman Justin DaSilva and junior defenseman Sam Jardine.DaSilva and Jardine were issued game misconducts for illegal checks on Friday and served what Rohlik referred to as “team consequences” the following night.“We just made some decisions,” Rohlik said. “We don’t want to lead the country in penalty minutes so that’s going to end.”The ejections forced OSU to play with a shortened bench for the second half of Friday’s game.“We were playing behind and at that point having four (defenseman) doesn’t make it easy to get back in the game,” sophomore defenseman Drew Brevig said. “It would have been nice to have all six when you’re wanting to join the rush.”Brevig made it 3-1 early in the third period, but the RedHawks added two even-strength goals to put the game out of reach.Penalties were costly for the Buckeyes on Friday as the RedHawks went three-for-five on the power play.OSU sophomore goaltender Matt Tomkins finished Friday with 28 saves and the Buckeyes were outshot, 33-27.Loose Pucks• OSU freshman forward Kevin Miller made his collegiate debut on Saturday• OSU junior defenseman Blake Doerring made his Buckeye debut on Saturday read more

Young talent leads Ohio State mens basketball into matchup with High Point

OSU freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) dribbles the ball up the floor during a game against James Madison on Nov. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 73-56.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / For The LanternThe Ohio State men’s basketball team moved up two spots to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll Sunday despite losing its first game of the year last week.OSU coach Thad Matta said he is hoping that his team will continue to improve each game.Seeming to do so are the young Buckeyes such as freshman guard D’Angelo Russell who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday.Matta said that the young players in particular have stood out in the early part of this season.“These guys are just out here playing. They are not trying to calculate or figure anything, worried about this or that. They are just playing basketball,” Matta said Tuesday. “When all of our guys play that (way) they appear to be better. That is how this team has to play that is when we play our best basketball.”Not only have the young players been contributing early on in the season, they are playing almost as many minutes as the seniors on the team.Russell, along with redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams, and freshman forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop combined are averaging 19.9 minutes per game while the rest of the Buckeyes are averaging 20.45.Tate said Tuesday that Matta told the young players they would be given an opportunity to contribute, and added he is just trying to take advantage.“Coach told us coming in that we had a special class. It’s a young team still, even with the seniors. In practice, we keep showing coach that we can play those minutes.No matter what their position or year, Matta said all players need to step up as the season progresses, and the production starts with the coaches.“We owe it to our guys to bring the best out of them regardless of what class they are in,” Matta said. “I have never really bought the term ‘gamer,’ so you have to show us (coaches) in practice what you are capable of doing.”Senior center Amir Williams said Tuesday that the upperclassmen are not feeling sorry for themselves despite sharing a significant amount of playing time with the freshmen and added he feels they all need to come together, especially on the floor.“I feel like we can definitely be playing better as a team,” Amir Williams said. “We got a couple guys who are just trying to get themselves together still on the offensive end and defensive end.”Wednesday, the Buckeyes are set to take on High Point University (6-2) which is tied for the early lead in the Big South Conference standings.Despite not being a power conference team, Matta said he expects a challenge from the Panthers.“I view this team as a team you could see in March in the NCAA tournament winning their conference,” he said. “(They have) a transfer we played against from South Carolina. I think our guys…respect the fact that they’ve got to battle.”The guard Matta referenced, Panther redshirt-senior Brian Richardson, played against the Buckeyes as a freshman member of the Gamecocks on Dec. 17, 2011, a game OSU won, 74-66.While Richardson only appeared in that game for three minutes without scoring a point, the High Point guard is now averaging 11.1 points per game as a redshirt-senior for the Panthers.The Panthers are led by redshirt-junior forward John Brown who is averaging 19.6 points per game to go along with 5.6 rebounds per game.The Buckeyes and Panthers are set to tip off Wednesday at 7 p.m. from the Schottenstein Center. read more

Football How offensive coordinator Kevin Wilsons offense at Indiana translates to Ohio

OSU co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson works with redshirt freshman tight end Luke Farrell during the opening spring practice for the 2017 season on March 7. Credit: Nicholas McWilliams | Former Sports EditorIt is no secret that Ohio State’s offense over the past several years has been heavily scrutinized by the fanbase.Now that Ohio State has hired a new offensive coordinator, all eyes will be on Kevin Wilson in his debut season as he tries to appease those cries for an improved offense. But with Wilson leaving Indiana for Columbus, many are probably wondering how this new offense will look. QuarterbacksCalling the plays for redshirt senior J.T. Barrett, Wilson will be presented with a new style of quarterback to work with. Over his six seasons at the helm of the Hoosiers, Wilson has coached 15 different quarterbacks, who have amassed a total of 1,820 rushing yards. Barrett has 2,465 rushing yards in three seasons. While mobile quarterbacks have never been a major part of Wilson’s offensive arsenal at Indiana, his signal-callers have always seemed to find success in the passing game. Since 2011, Wilson’s offense has led the Big Ten in passing yards three of the six seasons (2012, 2013, 2015) and finished second in 2016. In four of Wilson’s six seasons at Indiana, the Hoosiers’ aerial attack tallied at least 3,000 yards, a feat the Buckeyes have accomplished only once in the Urban Meyer era (2014). Twice, that milestone was reached by just one quarterback (Richard Lagow with 3,362 in 2016; Nate Sudfeld with 3,573 in 2015), without the assistance of a backup quarterback. While Wilson will likely conform a little to Barrett’s game and coach a more mobile quarterback, his track record indicates that Barrett might be counted on for a little more production in the passing game. Wide ReceiversSince 2011 Wilson’s first season as a head coach, 80.6 percent of Indiana’s receiving yards have been tallied by wide receivers. With wideouts like now-Denver Broncos wide receiver Cody Latimer and now-Jacksonville Jaguars pass-catcher Shane Wynn, the Hoosiers had for several seasons one of the more potent receiving corps in the Big Ten. This provided their quarterbacks — including Sudfeld, who now plays for the Washington Redskins — plenty of opportunities to air it out.During Wilson’s tenure, wide receivers averaged 13.6 yards per catch. Wideouts totaled at least 2,600 receiving yards, twice surpassing the milestone of 3,000, in four of Wilson’s six years.In Meyer’s first five seasons at Ohio State, wideouts have only accounted for 69.7 percent of all receiving yards, and just 64.4 percent of all receptions.With a wide array of wide receiving options available next season, including redshirt junior Johnnie Dixon, sophomore Binjimen Victor, redshirt sophomore K.J. Hill and redshirt junior Terry McLaurin at his disposal, Wilson can be counted on to make the Buckeye wideouts more heavily involved than in past offensive schemes. Tight EndsThis season, Meyer and Wilson will feature four former four-star recruits at tight end, including trusted senior Marcus Baugh, who will have to shoulder much of the burden with redshirt sophomore A.J. Alexander out for the season with a knee injury. And Buckeye fans should expect to see Wilson target those tight ends frequently when his offense gets near the end zone. Though Indiana tight ends tallied only 9 percent of total receiving yards during Wilson’s tenure, they accounted for 15.2 percent of the program’s receiving touchdowns over the past six seasons. The biggest season for Hoosier tight ends came in 2015, when they were on the receiving end of 18.5 percent of the team’s passing touchdowns that season and 13 percent of all receptions. Wilson’s tendency to distribute the ball to his tight ends might turn around a trend of reduced tight end usage by the Buckeyes over the past two seasons. After a 2014 season when the position was heavily involved, accounting for 19 percent of all touchdown receptions and 11 percent of all total yards, Barrett has not been targeting tight ends over the past two seasons, as they have only caught 4.4 percent of passing touchdowns and 9.4 percent of receiving yards.Running BacksSince Wilson took over the Hoosiers, no position has been drafted as frequently as the running back position at Indiana, with Jordan Howard going in the fifth round of the 2016 draft and Tevin Coleman going in the third round of the 2015 draft. Despite the individual success of Howard and Coleman, a rush-based offense was never something Wilson ran on. Still, the Hoosiers twice finished in the top three for total rushing yards in the Big Ten (second place in 2015, third in 2014). However, the ground game for Indiana dropped off a bit in 2016 as it finished 11th in the conference with only 1,979 yards (3.7 yards per carry).Running backs have also not proven to be a featured part of the passing game at Indiana, like they have at Ohio State. The position accounted for only 15.8 percent of all receptions, 10.5 percent of all receiving yards and just 7.2 percent of receiving touchdowns over the past six seasons. Wilson’s reluctance to fully utilize the ground game stands in stark contrast to Meyer’s track record of keeping the backs busy in both the rushing and passing game. Since 2012, 16.3 percent of all receiving yards, 21.9 percent of all receptions and 12.0 percent of all touchdown catches have come from Meyer’s running backs.Part of the reason for this has been Meyer’s consistent inclusion of an H-back, with Curtis Samuel being the most prominent example of this role. Samuel led the Buckeyes with 865 receiving yards a season ago, and finished fourth in 2015. It awaits to be seen exactly how Wilson features the running backs in 2017 and beyond, but Meyer’s past track record of keeping running backs heavily involved could mean Wilson will need to work on utilizing them in his offensive schemes a little bit more than in past years. read more