When Angels star Mike Trout went down for six weeks with a thumb injury at the end of May, it suddenly looked like the American League’s most valuable player title was anybody’s to claim. Would it be rookie sensation Aaron Judge? Or perhaps diminutive Astros sparkplug Jose Altuve would claim his first MVP crown. Could Boston’s strikeout machine Chris Sale work his way into the conversation? The race seemed wide open.Four months later, it’s becoming clear that we may have underestimated the best player in baseball.Trout returned from his first career DL stint after the All-Star break and started knocking home runs like he’d never left. In 51 games since his recovery, Trout has slashed .305/.457/.563, accruing a total of about 21 runs above an average player. Trout’s hitting has been so otherworldly that he has almost entirely closed the gap between himself and the best offensive players in baseball. Here’s a chart showing Trout’s Weighted Runs Created, which quantifies a player’s total offensive value, relative to the rest of the league since the start of the 2017 season. Throw in Trout’s decent defense and proficient base-stealing, and you have the league’s fourth-highest WAR total. And he’s gaining fast on current AL leader Altuve, who slowed down his pace of production slightly as the summer wore on, posting his worst on-base plus slugging rate in September. It’s a long shot, but Trout could pass Altuve in the next couple of weeks.Trout has been among the best players in baseball each full season he’s played. But he’s not only the best in his generation, he’s also the best player in history through ages 21-24. He’ll have to make up a little ground on Ty Cobb to extend that streak to age 25, but there’s no doubt that he’s on his way to an inner-circle Hall of Fame career.Even if Trout doesn’t manage to catch Altuve (or Cobb), he still has a legitimate shot at his third AL MVP award. While the WAR leaderboard doesn’t care about how good your team is, the same cannot be said for MVP voters. And that may be the best argument for Trout’s claim: The Angels are unexpectedly in the running for a wild-card spot, and they owe much of their success to Trout’s bat. To the Angels’ credit, they managed to slightly improve their playoff position in Trout’s absence, but their chances didn’t really take off until he came back.In retrospect, perhaps it was inevitable that Trout would make a run at league MVP. He is the king of consistency, after all. We can just add “injury” to the long list of factors, such as aging and opponent adjustments, that could end a mortal man’s career but barely seem to slow Trout.
Ultimate should be fertile ground for analytics. The mostly amateur sport first blossomed at universities and remains popular with engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians and teachers — curious, creative nerds eager to break down the sport and share what they learn. Its profile is growing, too. This summer, the International Olympic Committee made the sport eligible to be included in a future Summer Olympics.When I attended the under-23 world tournament in England this summer, I saw hundreds of the sport’s future stars coached by some of its brightest minds, but I also saw a sport missing something vital: detailed data.It’s easy to take sports data for granted in an age when cameras track and quantify the movement of players and balls in baseball, basketball, tennis and soccer. The biggest challenges for analysts in those sports is how to wrangle and make sense of all that data and to get fans to look past traditional box-score numbers.But in ultimate, there are hardly any traditional box-score numbers. Other sports have digitized stat-keeping even at the college or high-school level. But for ultimate, even at a relatively organized and well-run event like the under-23 worlds, the sport’s best young players checked opponents’ scores on schedules filled in by hand. Coaches — including my FiveThirtyEight colleague Jody Avirgan, an assistant coach for the U.S. men’s team — carried clipboards to log who played each point, with paper flapping in the wind and ink blurring in the rain. Players got a glimpse of what wealth can bring to a sport every time they walked past one of Watford FC’s brand-new 500,000 pound ($750,000) fields, but rope fences made clear that the Premier League team’s training ground was off-limits — as were stats as advanced and sophisticated as the EPL’s.At best, ultimate box scores — such as those posted on the under-23 worlds website — contain just goals, assists and Ds (discs knocked down or intercepted). “That is Stone Age material to work with,” said Sean Childers, an ultimate player and co-author of a study on ultimate presented last year at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, in an email. “Imagine a baseball or basketball box score from 50 years ago, but worse.”Ultimate coaches dream of stats corresponding to some of their favorites from other sports. Several wished hockey assists — the pass that leads to the pass for the score — were tracked. Bob Krier, head coach of the U.S. men’s under-23 team, wants to see a shooting percentage for the most difficult passes into the end zone. Others want stats on “pulls,” ultimate’s version of kickoffs: Coaches suspect pulls matter a lot in helping a team set up its defense, both for how long they hang in the air and for where they land.A catch-all metric for player value such as wins above replacement would be nice, too. But Martin Aguilera, who coached the U.S. mixed team at the under-23 championships this year, said, “We’re so far away from that.”Many coaches said they look to basketball for stats they want to see for ultimate. On the surface, ultimate has more in common with football (passing toward a score in an end zone), soccer (a field sport with fluid positions and no play clock) and tennis (starting a point on offense is like serving, and scoring on a defensive point is called breaking). But ultimate has similar defensive principles to basketball, with players switching suddenly from offense to defense and both teams resetting after each score.Plus, basketball has lots of cool data. Ultimate nerds speak with envy and awe about SportVU, the system of cameras that ring NBA arenas and produce data about where the players and ball are at every moment of each game. And they cite the shooting charts of FiveThirtyEight’s Kirk Goldsberry as models for charts they’d love to see, ones that would map success rates for players’ shots at the end zone by field position.Other sports are also seeking better data than their traditional, limited box scores provide. In volleyball, “the official stat sheet is basically useless,” said Todd Dagenais, coach of the University of Central Florida women’s team. He’s seeking better stats to help his team but says there’s a dividend for spectators, too: A smarter sport is more fun to watch. “When an offense is run well, fans love that, which causes the defense to have to make more spectacular moves and more spectacular plays, which is also very entertaining,” he said.Ultimate’s stats are stuck in the Stone Age in part because it takes a lot of work to get not a lot of insight. To improve on the kind of time-consuming, manual stat-keeping process that some coaches at the world championships were using, ultimate players developed an app to track players moving around the field. The Ultiapps Stat Tracker can generate heat maps showing the best scoring spots. Childers and a fellow researcher used data from the app to figure out where those spots are and which players were best at getting the disc there. What they found mostly reinforced basic tenets of the sport, like the importance of keeping the disc in the middle of the field. The heat map above, which is from the paper by Childers and Jeremy Weiss, shows a team’s likelihood of scoring from different points on the field. As a team moves closer and closer to the end zone (at the top of the chart), its chances of scoring increase (the higher the number, the better). The large dip in the 40-percent zone — shown as 0.4 — suggests that a team is just as likely to score from about 50 yards outside the end zone (marked as 20 on the heat map) in the middle of the field as they are from 35 but stuck on the sideline.But data collected at one level of the sport with, say, little wind may not translate into a different level in windy conditions. Partly because of limitations like that one, teams mostly have stopped using the app to collect data.“Teams liked our analysis but found collecting and inputting the data was too onerous to justify the time investment,” Childers said.Part of would-be ultimate analysts’ challenge is that top ultimate players don’t play that many meaningful points1Each game of ultimate is played to a certain number of points, and each team must keep the same group of players on the field until the next point is scored. in a season. Players might play during only eight or 10 points of a game because top teams are deep, usually with more than twice the number of players on the sideline as are on the field at any time. And the roster is rarely the same from tournament to tournament.2Even in an age when ESPN is airing ultimate, no one makes a living playing the sport. Top players often skip tournaments because of personal or job conflicts.Even if everyone could agree on which new stats are needed in a sport like ultimate, a tough question remains: Whose job should it be to collect the stats? Tournaments are mostly run by volunteers focused on tasks such as ensuring players find the right field, have enough water and uphold the sport’s unique spirit of the game during play. That leaves coaches to keep any extra stats they’d want for analysis. But they’re also busy doing lots of other things during tournaments. It’s often easier to collect advanced stats during tryouts or practices instead.For the under-23 tournament, U.K. mixed coaches had to choose 26 players from 93 who showed up at trials. They divided them into six groups and filmed them, rating them in 24 categories. None was scores, assists or Ds. The categories were more subtle: essential but hard-to-measure ultimate and interpersonal skills. One, for example, was “nicehead,” which gauged how well someone played with others. “What we didn’t want to do is pick very skilled players who couldn’t interact with other human beings,” coach Megan Hurst said. She and her fellow coach Felix Shardlow entered all the stats into a big spreadsheet and looked for players whose low ratings came in categories they could easily improve, like catching. Aguilera thinks that more ultimate should be filmed and that more film should be watched. He filmed games at the under-23 worlds from atop a ladder he’d bought for 30 pounds ($45) just before the tournament. Many top college basketball players have seen hundreds of games by the time they get to campus. Incoming college ultimate players might have watched fewer than 20 ultimate games, Aguilera said.Absent data, coaches have to rely on scouting to get ahead. Film analysis has become a hallmark of the best college and club programs in the country. And it was on display at the tournament in England, too.Take, for example, the women’s final between the U.S. and Japan. Mike Whitaker, the head coach of the U.S. team who’d been scouting that Canada-Colombia game with his assistants near the start of the tournament, said that Japan used “advanced scouting more than any other team at the worlds.” The Japanese team brought personnel dedicated to the practice, which played a big role in the final’s outcome. He noticed Japan made adjustments to its defense after its group-stage game against the Americans (the U.S. won 17-13) and scouting other U.S. games.Eri Hirai, Japan’s head coach, said the team tracked which players on other tournament teams threw the most long passes and which ones ran the most. Harai said this kind of scouting is standard practice in Japan. “It’s very important because we knew nothing about other teams before the tournament,” she said in an email interview conducted through a translator. By the end of the tournament, the Japanese team knew enough about the Americans to win the final in a big upset, 17-15. It was the only game any U.S. team lost in the tournament. ST ALBANS, England — On a field 20 miles north of London, three people were camped on the edge of a field wearing USA Ultimate hoodies, notebooks open in front of them. They were the coaches of the U.S.’s under-23 women’s team, and they were scouting two of their biggest Ultimate Frisbee rivals, Canada and Colombia, who were about to play in a group-stage match of the 2015 world championships. The coaches barely even had any data on their own team — but there they were, scrounging for some on their future opponents. Read more: A Plea For More Frisbee Data From A U.S. Ultimate Coach Riley Erickson records video of future opponents for the U.S. mixed team. Carl Bialik Head coach Mike Whitaker and assistant coaches Carolyn Matthews and Lauren Boyle of the U.S. women’s team. Carl Bialik
One of baseball’s most prestigious groups has a new member: Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols joined the 3,000-hit club Friday with a single in the 5th inning of L.A.’s game against the Seattle Mariners. Pujols was a future Hall of Famer regardless of his club membership, of course, but the achievement helps bring into focus just how incredible a hitter he has been over his nearly two-decade-long career.Including the brand-new entry, 32 batters have broken the 3,000-hit barrier, from Cap Anson in 1897 (maybe?) to Pujols 121 years later. Of those 32, only the scandal-ridden1e.g., Pete Rose and Rafael Palmeiro. aren’t either honored in Cooperstown already or bound for the Hall when eligible. But even among that group of baseball’s best-ever hitters, Pujols stands out. While many members of the 3,000-hit club (such as the recently quasi-retired Ichiro Suzuki) secured their memberships by rapping out single after single, Pujols did it with power and patience. He’s tied with Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez for the highest isolated slugging percentage (a stat that measures raw power) of any 3,000-hit-club member, and he has the club’s very best career ratio of extra-base hits plus walks to singles:To be sure, others in this club mastered the art of waiting for the right pitch and crushing it. Willie Mays, for example, had almost as many extra-base hits plus walks per single (1.42) as Pujols does (1.45). But it’s still pretty uncommon, and Pujols is perhaps the greatest practitioner of the style among 3,000-hit-club members. It’s hard to get 3,000 hits against major-league pitching at all, much less to do it while also swinging for the fences.Perhaps this partially explains why Pujols hasn’t aged as well as other hitters; heck, one outlet went so far as to call him the worst player in baseball last year. (Oh wait, that was us.) A base-hit maestro like Tony Gwynn or Craig Biggio might naturally fare better as the baseball odometer ticks up. But despite a steep slowdown in production, Pujols still made it into the 3,000-hit club — a milestone other hitters with power and patience never reached (think Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Schmidt or even Babe Ruth). It’s a testament to the 21st century’s most fearsome hitter.
With just under 30 seconds to go, Ohio State sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop hit a corner 3-pointer to cut 10th-ranked Virginia’s lead to just three points, 61-58. But after not being able to steal the ensuing inbounds pass, the Buckeyes were forced to foul, sending the Cavaliers to the free-throw line. Virginia cashed in on a pair, eventually dodging the upset bid from OSU to win 64-58. The loss drops OSU to 2-4 on the season, while also giving the Buckeyes just their fourth four-game losing streak since the turn of the century. Virginia moves to 6-1 after the victory.OSU had three players in double-figures, highlighted by forward Marc Loving’s 19 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting, including netting three of his six 3-point tries. The junior forward also chipped in five rebounds. Joining Loving in double figures was Bates-Diop, with 15 points, powered by him shooting 3-of-6 from deep, and sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate with a dozen. Tate added eight rebounds, five of which came in the second half. Although they might have picked up the loss, the Buckeyes churned in, arguably, their best performance of the season.“I definitely think we’ve gotten better,” Tate said. “It just seems like all our games come down to the wire. We just have to figure out a way to bring it home. We’re so close.”One of the main reasons why the Buckeyes could not bring it home was the performance of Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon. The redshirt senior guard led the way for his team, scoring 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including six 3-pointers. It seemed that as soon as OSU would close the gap, Brogdon would be there to hit a big shot to swing momentum back toward the Cavaliers. “That kid is one of the best players, honestly, I’ve seen,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “He’s so patient, he’s so smooth, he’s so efficient when he plays … when he made his first couple shots, I was so like, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’” As Matta mentioned, Brogdon got out to a hot start, scoring nine of Virginia’s first 13 points. But after being down 13-6, the Buckeyes climbed back into with an 8-2 run to make it a one-point game. The Cavaliers seized momentum back from the Scarlet and Gray from there to go up 26-17 with 2:39 left in the first half. The nine-point advantage was the game’s largest by either team, but instead of rolling over, the Buckeyes fought back to behind a personal five-point run from redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson. A key to the Buckeyes entering the locker room trailing by just two was their defense. OSU held Virginia to just 26 first-half points, a season-low, on 37 percent shooting. Freshman center Daniel Giddens was instrumental in the strong defensive showing, as any time a Cavalier player got into the paint, he was there to alter their shot. In the first half alone, he had three blocks. Because of his presence, Virginia often was passive, settling for jump shots. But for the Buckeyes, it turned out to be a double-edged sword, as the Cavaliers shot an efficient 4-of-9 from deep.“We haven’t gone against a team that is able to block shots like that yet,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, adding, “When we’d try to go to the lane, they’d just block it.” In every one of OSU’s four losses, the game has been very close at halftime. In fact, it even led in two of the three prior to Tuesday’s matchup. However, the problem for the Buckeyes had been less-than-stellar second halves. Against Virginia, the opposite happened. Bates-Diop and Loving hit early 3-pointers to grab OSU its first lead since five minutes into the game. The cliché about basketball being a “game of runs” was definitely true in the second half, as the team’s traded runs for much of the final 20 minutes. “I just think that we were hungry for a win — everybody, coaching staff, teammates,” Tate said about finally having a strong second half. “I feel like that was the key. Everybody was locked in.” OSU’s final lead came with 13:20 left in the game, but it had multiple trips to the offensive end where it could’ve taken the lead or tied the contest. Loving hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut Virginia’s lead to just one point with just over eight minutes left to play. The Buckeyes forced a missed shot by the Cavaliers on the ensuing possession, give them a chance to grab the lead. Instead, freshman guard JaQuan Lyle kept up with what has been plaguing OSU all season long: turning the ball over after dribbling into traffic. In those critical moments, the young Buckeyes just continued to come up short. As for why, Matta said he was clueless. “I don’t know,” the coach said, chuckling. “That one I don’t know the answer to. You look at this team and just how few a plays away we are from turning the corner.” And against the Cavaliers, it was certainly just a few plays here and there that, had they gone the other way, perhaps OSU would be celebrating its upset. Because of just how close it was, Loving said the loss leaves him with mixed emotions. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It’s bitter because we lost but it feels good to know that we’re getting better each and every game to the point where we’re able to compete with top-10 teams. “We’re just taking each day in practice to get better and prepare for our next opponent.”That next opponent is a team from the same commonwealth as the Cavaliers, in the Virginia Military Institute. The Buckeyes and the Keydets are scheduled to be in action at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday inside the Schottenstein Center. OSU freshman guard Austin Grandstaff (3) dribbles around Virginia’s Malcom Brogdon during a game on Dec. 1 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost 58-64. Credit: Bree Williams | Lantern Photographer
“The Strength of the Pack Is the Wolf. The Strength of the Wolf Is the Pack.” A sign bearing this mantra hangs just inside the entrance to the Columbus Crew locker room. Never has its meaning been more on display than in the 2-0 Crew victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday night.With the Galaxy’s lone wolf, David Beckham, not making the trip to Columbus with his team because of an ankle injury, the Crew cruised to victory with a starting lineup devoid of its top scorer, Guillermo Barros Schelotto.Following the victory, Crew coach Robert Warzycha summed up his “no man is above the team” mentality. “We don’t have reserves,” he said. “We have 23 players right now that can step up anytime.”On a dark and rainy night, less than an hour after the Buckeyes’ victory over Illinois, the conditions were prime for a subdued crowd. The raucous fans in Crew Stadium’s Nordecke, however, would not let that be.As pyrotechnics erupted, the Crew players made their way onto the field through a tunnel of supporters while black-and-gold-clad fans cheered wildly from the northeast corner of the stadium. This particular section of the crowd brought the energy to a fever pitch early with a variety of chants, cheers and songs that reverberated throughout the stadium from start to finish.Less than five minutes into the match, the fans in the Nordecke were chanting, “Where’s the Spice Boy?” in reference to the absent Beckham, husband of Posh Spice.Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven kicked off the scoring in the 33rd minute with a slick header off a pass from Emmanuel Ekpo following a free kick.Forward Steven Lenhart, who spent much of the match being knocked to the ground, made the last goal for the Crew with a soft shot off a rebound that Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts couldn’t handle.The only significant scoring opportunity for the Galaxy came off a free kick, which was tapped by Galaxy star Landon Donovan to Chris Birchall. Birchall’s shot took a hard bounce off the left post and the follow-up shot sailed high above the goal. It was a chippy, physical game in which eight yellow cards were issued. Crew team captain Frankie Hejduk received one for a reckless tackle in which he and another Crew player sandwiched Donovan. The yellow card will result in Hejduk’s suspension for the Crew’s next match.At one point, during a free kick for the Crew, the referee stopped play to admonish players from both teams who were roughly jockeying for position.When asked about the scrappy game and the physical play of Lenhart in particular, Warzycha said, “I don’t think there were any cheap fouls. I think this guy (Lenhart), he likes this kind of game.”With the victory, the Crew (12-4-10) remains atop the Eastern conference and pushes its home unbeaten streak in the MLS to 22. The Galaxy (10-6-11) also holds steady in its second-place position in the Western conference.Following the game, the Crew players saluted the ‘blackout’ effort of the announced, sellout crowd of 20,966 by joining hands and taking a bow. Several players also tossed jerseys to eager fans.
It’s tough to say who was colder Thursday night; the students jumping in Mirror Lake or the Ohio State men’s basketball team.In the 2K Sports Classic semifinal game against No. 6 North Carolina, the Buckeyes shot a frigid 9-31 from the field in the first half, en route to a 77-73 loss.“We had a rough first half,” junior guard Jon Diebler said. “If we had come out with a little bit more intensity, the game probably would have been different.”In the second half, the Tar Heels extended their lead and were up 19 points before the Buckeyes finally made a run. Five quick points by Dieber, coupled with two free throws from junior Evan Turner, sparked a 7-0 run. The Buckeyes got as close as two points after a Diebler three-pointer with 15 seconds to go. Carolina’s Larry Drew then made two free throws to end any hope of a miracle, and the Buckeyes were handed a four-point loss. “Obviously we made a great comeback,” coach Thad Matta said. “Finally late in the second half we started making some shots and got a little rhythm to our offense. I’m proud of the way our guys fought back into it, but it obviously wasn’t enough.”The Buckeyes dug themselves too deep of a hole with their first half shooting woes. Though everyone struggled to make shots, it was sophomore William Buford who had the most trouble. Buford made only two of 10 shots in the first half and finished an abysmal 3-16 from the field.In addition to scoring difficulties, Turner struggled to hold onto the basketball. His 23 points led the team, but the Buckeye point guard turned the ball over 10 times. “Sometimes I might have thought about the situation too much, whether I should shoot or pass, so I traveled here and there,” Turner said. “I just have to make sure it never happens again.”However, Turner and Co. had little time to work out any kinks. OSU played the following day against California in the tournament’s consolation game. Junior center Dallas Lauderdale got his first start of the season against California, completing his return from a preseason hand injury. Lauderdale scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in 30 minutes of play.More importantly, he anchored the Buckeyes on the defensive end, blocking seven shots. “He gives us a different look both offensively and defensively,” Matta said. “He has pretty good timing. It allows us to do a little bit more on the perimeter knowing he is back there.”Friday’s game had a similar feel to Thursday’s, but with reversed roles. It was the Buckeyes that dominated the majority of the game, and with about 15 minutes to go in the game, they had a 22-point lead. Then, like OSU the night before, California began a comeback. California promptly went on a 17-2 run to cut the Buckeye lead to nine. But on the shoulders of Turner’s 22 second-half points, the Buckeyes were able to hold on and earn a 76-70 victory. “Basketball is a game of runs,” Turner said. “Fortunately we are mature enough to keep a lead. We handled what we had to handle, and we took care of business.”Turner finished the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds and, along with Diebler and David Lighty, played all 40 minutes. Friday marked the fourth time in as many games that Turner has recorded a double-double. “It has been a good stretch of games,” Turner said. “I am just trying to play hard.”The Buckeyes return to play Lipscomb Tuesday at the Schottenstein Center.
The Ohio State defensive line boasts a preseason All-American, a projected first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and multiple players that were five-star prospects coming out of high school. The unit many claim to be one of the best in the country at its craft hasn’t lived up to expectations thus far this season, though. Through two games against Miami (Ohio) and Central Florida, the stat line for the Buckeyes’ front four reads: three sacks and five tackles for loss. In other words, not the production first-year coach Urban Meyer expected out of his pass rushers. Not even close, really, Meyer said. “The negative I see right now is I don’t see the quarterback getting hit. And that’s something that has to be addressed,” Meyer said after Saturday’s 31-16 win against UCF. The talent on the defensive line is evident in practice, but those skills have not been translating into performance on gameday. “I feel like when we get to the game, we forget about all our moves and everything. I don’t know, we’re just not living up to our potential,” said freshman defensive end Noah Spence, a top-10 player from the 2012 recruiting class. After a lackluster outing in the Sept. 1 season opener against Miami (Ohio) in which the Buckeyes’ front four recorded only two sacks, Hankins and Simon vowed that they, along with their teammates, would be better. That wasn’t the case, though. OSU’s defensive front was worse against the Knights than it was against the RedHawks, at least statistically. On Saturday, sophomore defensive end Steve Miller was the lone Buckeye to record a sack after two players got to the quarterback Sept. 1. The absence of hits on opposing team’s quarterbacks has not just disappointed Meyer; it’s been somewhat of a shock to the players. “I’m a little surprised. We just have to keep working hard and keep getting better every week and start trying to put a little more pressure on the quarterback,” Spence said. Rushing the passer has been something OSU has been stressing in practice, and Tommy Schutt, a freshman defensive tackle out of Illinois, said the Buckeyes might have to be more creative with their schemes. “I think just different ways to get to the quarterback. Different rushes, different blitzes, different techniques and some moves,” Schutt said. The quarterback can’t be hit if the pass rushers don’t have enough time to get him, though, and that’s been the case for OSU’s defensive line in the majority of their games so far. Miami used a three-step drop most of the time in their game against the Buckeyes, and UCF, for the most part, followed suit, irritating OSU players. “It’s very frustrating because you prepare to get off the ball and get to the quarterback, and all of a sudden you get there and the ball is already gone,” said freshman Adolphus Washington, a highly recruited defensive end from Cincinnati. Spence echoed his teammate. “It’s real frustrating. You work so hard on the line and everything like that, and for him to drop back three steps or whatever and just throw it immediately … but it’s no excuse for what we’re doing right now. We need to get better,” Spence said. While the quick passes annoyed OSU defensive linemen, the Buckeyes’ front four also recognized the respect Miami and UCF showed them. Many players also said it’s something they expect to continue for the rest of the year, too. “So far, that’s what it’s really looking like. The good thing for us is it shows the respect they have for our defensive line,” Schutt said. Washington agreed with Schutt, but said that eventually, OSU’s talent on the defensive line is going to shine. When that does happen, Washington said Meyer and the rest of Buckeye Nation will see opposing team’s quarterbacks on the ground, a lot. “If they hold that ball too long, then we’re there, without a doubt, we’re there,” Washington said.
While his name is not present on Ohio State football’s official depth chart this week, a familiar face is slated to make his return against Wisconsin on Saturday. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino will strap on his pads when OSU makes the trip to Madison, Wis. to play Wisconsin this Saturday, after missing the last four games because of a broken right fibula. “Yeah, I can’t tell you what percent (health) he’s at, but he’s in the starting lineup for the game,” Meyer said. Sabino, who suffered the fracture during the Oct. 6 Nebraska game, needed surgery to fix the damage. In six games before the injury, Sabino recorded 37 total tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Even though he has been out since the first quarter of the contest against the Cornhuskers, missing the last four games, he is tied for the seventh-most total tackles on the team. Senior defensive end John Simon said Sabino’s play in practice hasn’t changed since the injury. “He looks great, you can’t even tell there was ever an injury,” Simon said. When Sabino went out, the defense’s productivity decreased, specifically in scoring defense. In the first six games of the season, OSU’s defense gave up an average of 20.5 points per game. Since Sabino’s injury, however, it has allowed an average of 29 points per game, including the 49 points Indiana scored in Sabino’s first contest out on Oct. 13. Although the first four games were against non-conference opponents perceived to be inferior to Big Ten opponents, the loss of the Miami, Fla., native forced the Buckeyes to pull senior Zach Boren, who once started at fullback, to help fill the void Sabino’s absence left. During an Oct. 15 press conference, Meyer called Boren’s switch from offense to defense “temporarily permanent.” Evem with Sabino’s return, the change is looking more permanent now that Boren was also announced a starter for the upcoming game. “The three that broke the starting lineup today, on Monday, is (sophomore Ryan) Shazier, Zach Boren and Sabino,” Meyer said Monday. As a starting linebacker, Boren has collected 29 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Against Indiana, Boren was the leading tackler for the Buckeye defense. “He’s been a stabling force for our defense,” Meyer said. “One of the most undervalued characteristics of a football team is leadership, and that’s what No. 44 (Boren) gives you.” For the first time this season, Boren, Sabino and Shazier will play together on defense. Boren said he is excited to play with Sabino, but the three are trying to get used to playing as a unit. “I definitely think Ryan’s and my play has elevated because of what Sabino brings to the table,” Boren said. Junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said he believes Sabino brings the same leadership intangible. “He’s one of our key guys that is at the linebacker position. He’s the leader of the defense, so it’s good to have him back,” Hankins said. “I feel like he is going to be at full force and he is going to be ready.”
Since the beginning of collegiate athletics and the birth of the NCAA, a war has been waging.Should student athletes be paid?These players, particularly in football and basketball, help bring in potentially millions of dollars at major universities, but because of NCAA restrictions, they are unable to profit from this themselves.But if they want to make money, and have the talents to do so, why can’t they just skip a level and head straight to the professional ranks? Nothing is making these student athletes attend college, right?Again the NCAA rears its ugly head.Although certain sports like baseball and soccer currently have no restrictions on when an athlete can start making money in their given field, basketball players have the option to be “one-and-done” and head to the NBA after their freshman year, and football players can leave campus after three years.ESPN reported that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday that the idea of forcing athletes to attend a university before they go into the field is ludicrous.“Maybe in football and basketball, it would work better if more kids had a chance to go directly into the professional ranks. If they’re not comfortable and want to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish,” Delany said.These years spent in college are often for the protection of the players, and it would be incredibly difficult for a player to make the jump directly from high school to the NFL due to the change in speed. I tend to agree with Delany.Before the NCAA and NBA implemented the rules in basketball that forced a player to wait at least a year before joining the league in 2005, there were numerous athletes who made the jump and succeeded. Players like Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in 1996, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard in 2004 and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett in 1995 have all been perennial All-Stars since joining the league. Not to mention the fact that Miami Heat forward Lebron James in 2003 will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the game without ever playing a minute of college basketball.Sure for every Lebron there is a Kwame Brown, center for the Philadelphia 76ers, that cannot cope with the speed and physicality, but they should be allowed to take that risk themselves.If a player judges they are capable of holding their own in the league, that should be their choice and theirs alone, not one of a larger governing body.In most other fields, this sort of thing would come off as utterly ludicrous. Imagine if Michael J. Fox or Justin Timberlake were forced to postpone their careers in entertainment for a couple of years because a group decided they needed the experience college could grant them.Even if a player does have that extra experience, there is no guarantee they will become a star. Former Ohio State center Greg Oden is considered one of the NBA’s biggest busts because of suffering through a multitude of knee injuries. Oden even spent his required year in college instead of just jumping straight from high school.While the discussion continues about whether or not players should be paid. it is time for a change in the NCAA rulebook.The removal of a player’s requirement to attend college will slow, at least partially, the number of scandals involving student athletes being compensated that have surfaced in recent years.Overall, a rule change would be beneficial to all parties involved, so it would only make sense if such a rule change were to be implemented.Delany said it best.“Why is it our job to be minor leagues for professional sports?”
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross (10) takes a free throw during an exhibition game against Walsh Nov. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 93-63.Credit: Kelly Roderick / For The LanternDeshaun Thomas. Jared Sullinger. Evan Turner. Three names that live in Ohio State basketball lore — Buckeye stars that took a boatload of points with them when each left college ball.Since 2009, those three players each led OSU in scoring over the course of a season. Thomas averaged 19.8 points per game last season, Sullinger scored 17.5 per contest in 2011-12 and Turner tallied 20.4 in 2009-10. All three players are now in the professional ranks, and OSU is looking for someone to fill their shoes.Many OSU faithful are looking for one junior forward from Jackson, Miss., to be that player for the Buckeyes this season: LaQuinton Ross.Ross was fourth on the team in 2012-13 with 8.3 points per game, a total he managed while only averaging 16.9 of the 40 minutes during a game.Although the season has yet to officially get under way, Ross is already off to a good start after tying the team lead with 15 points in an exhibition match against Walsh Sunday.Ross said during OSU Media Day Oct. 10 even if he isn’t the team’s leading scorer this year, he feels like he has grown into a leader for the Buckeyes.“That’s one thing I worked on too, also — communicating with my teammates more. Because I think down the line, they’re going to need me a little bit more than they needed me last year,” Ross said. “Knowing that if I’m not talking to them, they’re not going to look at me in the game.”Ross added in his expanded role this season, he has had to bulk up to be able to defend bigger players.“I don’t think it was as much getting points, I think it was more just being able to take that contact in the Big Ten,” Ross said about adding weight. “With the Big Ten being physical, and this year, seeing how small we play, (I’ll) definitely (be) having to guard (bigger players) this year … It might have some plays where I switch off and we’re playing Purdue and I have to guard (a big guy) and I can’t be under 200 pounds doing that.”Because he might have to defend those larger players, Ross said he now weighs 225 pounds, up from the 215 he played at last season.Senior guard Aaron Craft said Ross has grown into more of a team player instead of a just a player who looks to shoot first.“He’s done a phenomenal job coming in right now and not taking everything on himself. Is he playing perfect? No. But he’s doing a great job of playing with other people right now,” Craft said at Media Day. “He’s communicating. He’s talking on defense and offense and that makes us a better team. He’s feeling that role pretty well.”But Craft made clear Ross wasn’t expected to step in and be exactly what Thomas was last season.“Is he going to be Deshaun? Absolutely not. But he’s bringing his own twist that Deshaun can’t do either,” Craft said.Craft added that although Ross is talented, replacing the scoring Thomas brought to the table is going to be a team effort this season.“You can’t replace Deshaun with just one person,” Craft said. “Even with him, we shot one of the worst percentages in coach (Thad Matta’s) career here at Ohio State (45.1 percent). Our biggest focus is being able to knock down open shots, elevating our shooting percentage and that opens up countless other things on the offensive end.”Ross was vital to OSU’s run to the Elite Eight last season, as he averaged 15 points per game during the NCAA Tournament, including scoring 17 against both Iowa State and Arizona.Against Arizona, Ross made an impression, hitting a game winning 3-pointer with two seconds left on the clock.Matta said Ross finished last year well, and that since the season ended, he has grown into a more aware player.“LaQuinton finished the season on a high note, I think that he had hit his stride in terms of having a better understanding of what we need him to do and how we need him to do it,” Matta said during Media Day. “One of the biggest things I’ve noticed thus far is he’s got a much broader vision offensively than what he had in the past.”Consistency should be a big focus for Ross this season, Matta added.“From the standpoint of LaQuinton, his entire playing career a lot has been based on potential and he and I have had that discussion,” Matta said. “It’s time to be productive, but probably more important it’s time to be consistent and that to me would supersede any expectations that anybody outside of the program can possibly put on him.”OSU is scheduled to begin regular season play Saturday at noon against Morgan State at the Schottenstein Center.
Left: OSU junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington (92) makes a tackle during a game against Navy on Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. OSU won, 34-17. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorRight: OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs celebrates during a game against Wisconsin on Nov. 17, 2012 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. OSU won, 21-14, in overtime.Credit: Lantern file photoWhile 109 miles of interstate and city streets separate Ohio Stadium from Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, there are deep ties connecting the programs that play in each arena.From Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington, there are numerous Buckeye coaches and players who have, or could have, spent time on the Bearcats’ sidelines.After a brief stint in minor league baseball, Meyer played defensive back at Cincinnati before graduating in 1986. OSU cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs was on the Cincinnati staff from 2007-11, tight ends coach Tim Hinton was an assistant with the Bearcats from 2004-09 and Washington — one of four Cincinnati natives on the team — received his first collegiate scholarship offer from the Bearcats as a freshman in high school.Meyer described his ongoing connection to Cincinnati as a “very strong, emotional attachment,” even beyond his own experience at the school.“My sister is associate provost at Cincinnati, my other sister was a homecoming queen there,” he said Monday. “Obviously my dad, my grandfather, just a strong history at UC.”While he played college ball at Nippert Stadium, Meyer never spent time on the sidelines as a coach like Coombs and Hinton.Coombs said the personal and professional connections he and his wife have to Cincinnati led to his turning down offers from other major college football programs before Meyer came calling.“When we had the opportunity to go to Notre Dame, we were staying in Cincinnati,” Coombs said. “Cincinnati is our home.”The Colerain, Ohio, native said he and his wife, Holly, grew up within miles of each other and added the draw of coaching at OSU under Meyer was the only thing that could have torn him away from Cincinnati.“When Urban called, I called my wife and said ‘Hey, I just wanted to let you know I got this phone call today, and kind of before I tell him no I just wanted to let you know that,’” Coombs said. “She said ‘Don’t you tell him no,’ and I said ‘Is that right?’”Coombs said his wife told him “let’s go do this, we can make it work,” with the simple reasoning that Columbus is less than two hours away from their lifelong home in Cincinnati.While his wife made the decision easier, Coombs called the conversation “terrible” that he had with then-Cincinnati coach Butch Jones to tell him he was leaving for OSU. He said conversations with others were just as bad.“It was hard for me to tell anybody,” he said. “I mean, that’s my hometown, and I grew up on the Reds and the Bengals and the Bearcats.”Coombs said growing up with exposure to the Buckeyes made his transition easier, but added that telling the players he recruited to Cincinnati was the hardest part about leaving. He said some of the players he recruited still play for the Bearcats, but one player he tried to get to Cincinnati is set to be on the OSU sidelines when the two teams play on Saturday.Washington said he took an official visit to Cincinnati and had the Bearcats just behind the Buckeyes on his final list.“It actually was my second choice,” he said. “Coach Coombs, when he was there, did a great job of recruiting me, but I just felt like Ohio State was the best place for me.”Like Meyer and others around the OSU program, Washington’s connection to Cincinnati goes beyond recruiting letters and official visits.“I went to basketball games (at Cincinnati), because my granddad worked there for like 35, 40 years,” Washington said. “He was a janitor and he would get tickets and we would go to basketball games there.”Just like Coombs said the draw of coaching under Meyer was a key to his decision to move to OSU, Washington said the chance to play for the two-time national champion was too much to pass up.“Didn’t know a lot about him (Meyer), but I knew he had won two national championships (at Florida),” Washington said. “So I figured I could probably get one under my belt in the four years he was there.”While the draw of potentially winning titles contributed to Washington’s decision to pick OSU, Hinton said he was fortunate to be at Cincinnati — which has yet to win a national championship — for some of the program’s most successful seasons.“It was a phenomenal run, you’ve got an Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl,” Hinton said of his time with the Bearcats. “And how special was that when you’re a UC guy? It was very, very special.”Whether Washington will win the national championship he hoped for is yet to be seen, but he is set to at least have a shot to win one game against the school he nearly attended on Saturday.Coombs said the matchup will be fun for him, but because of his deep-lying connections with the Bearcats, he said the game will be more difficult than his average Saturday on the sidelines.“Football is always fun, I don’t have any days that aren’t fun,” Coombs said. “But it’s harder, for all those reasons, I think it’s harder.”The Buckeyes and Bearcats are set to kick off at 6 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) eludes a Minnesota defender during a 2nd round game of the Big Ten Tournament on March 12 in Chicago. OSU won, 79-73. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorCHICAGO — After defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, the Ohio State men’s basketball team is getting set for yet another rematch.The Buckeyes are set to meet the No. 3 seed Michigan State Spartans Friday night, a team that dispatched OSU, 59-56, on Valentine’s Day.The matchup has brought out the best in both schools as of late, as Michigan State holds a 5-4 edge over the Buckeyes in the past four years.Two of those games have come in the Big Ten Tournament, with the teams splitting the pair.“They have a great team, I feel like we have a great team as well. We have played each other so many times, regular season and (Big Ten) tournament it feels like every year,” OSU senior guard Shannon Scott said of Michigan State. “It always comes down to the wire with them. We just have to be ready for that.”Thad Matta, who became OSU’s winningest coach with the victory over Minnesota, agreed with Scott, joking that the the Buckeyes and Spartans shouldn’t even play the entire game.“The battles over the years that we’ve had, honestly tomorrow what we should do is just start with one minute on the clock and save ourselves,” Matta said. “They always seem to come down to the last minute of the game.”That was the case earlier this season when Spartan junior guard Denzel Valentine buried a fadeaway 3-pointer in the final seconds to give Michigan State the win over OSU.Scott, who scored a career-high 21 points in the win over the Golden Gophers, said the feeling around the OSU locker room is that the Buckeyes are now a different team than they were when they lost in East Lansing, Mich.“We are a hungry team. We know they beat us earlier. We know we could have won that game,” Scott said. “Every single guy on my team feels like we can win this game coming up.”While Scott led the Buckeyes in scoring in the Feb. 14 loss with 15 points, it was his backcourt counterpart who struggled against the Spartans.Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell scored just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting that day while the OSU bench accounted for just three points.That was not the case for the Buckeyes on Thursday night against Minnesota as the they had three players in double figures scoring – Russell and Scott with more than 20 each – and senior forward Sam Thompson adding nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.Russell said if the Buckeyes can maintain their consistency throughout the team and the tournament, Michigan State will have a hard time disposing of them.“Good luck with it. We weren’t playing great basketball against them last time,” Russell said. “Them being physical, I couldn’t go where I wanted to go. We are a different basketball team now.”Whether the Buckeyes are a different team or not, Matta said he will look at the film from the last matchup between the two teams before taking the floor Friday night.“As crazy as it sounds, I actually look forward to tomorrow night because I know it’s gonna be a heck of a basketball game,” he said.The Buckeyes and Spartans are set to tip about 25 minutes after the Maryland vs. Indiana matchup, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Maryland junior running back Ty Johnson (6) runs the ball during a game agaisnt Howard University. Credit: Courtesy of Maryland AthleticsLocation: College Park, Maryland2016 record: 6-7 (3-6)Head Coach: D.J. Durkin2017 record: 2-0All-time record vs. OSU: 0-3What Has Happened Thus Far In 2017?Maryland played spoiler to Texas’ home opener with an impressive 51-41 win. The Terrapins entered as 18.5 point underdogs and left with a signature win for a football program that has been constantly overlooked. Unfortunately, the Terrapins lost their starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome to a season-ending ACL injury late in the third quarter of the Texas game, which means the Terrapins must now rely on true freshman Kasim Hill to lead the offense for the rest of their season. In Week 2, Maryland defeated Towson, 63-17. Impact PlayerJunior running back Ty Johnson has the potential to be one of the best runners in the Big Ten. As a sophomore, Johnson led the Terrapins in rushing with 1,004 total yards, six touchdowns while averaging 9.1 yards per carry. In the offseason, Johnson was named to the 2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List. Against Texas, Johnson ran for 132 yards on just 12 carries including one touchdown. Johnson needs to continue his strong performances if Maryland wants to be relevant in the Big Ten.StrengthsThe backbone of the Terrapins’ offense is its ground game. Last year, its running game was ranked in the top 50 in the country. Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are the scoring catalysts for Maryland this season and pose as legitimate threats to any opponent they play. Johnson is coming off a strong sophomore season, and Harrison was a highly touted recruit with the potential to be the future star of Maryland football.WeaknessesThe loss of Pigrome means the Terrapins have a question mark at the quarterback position. Coach D.J. Durkin and his coaching staff face a unique challenge, as they now have to prepare for Hill to start the rest of their games. Moreover, the former four-star recruit will have only one more game to adjust to the college level before Maryland opens Big Ten play with back-to-back away games against Minnesota and Ohio State. Hill’s performance will be something to keep an eye on as the Terrapins progress through their season.
Ohio State freshman center Kaleb Wesson posts up against Michigan center Moritz Wagner in the matchup between the two teams on Feb. 18, 2018. Michigan won 74-62. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor for ContentA new season begins for the Ohio State men’s basketball team.That seemed to be the narrative of the team after its loss to Penn State in the Buckeyes’ first game of the Big Ten tournament. It will take time to shake off the loss, but their season is not over.That new season begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday when the fifth-seeded Buckeyes travel to Boise, Idaho, to face 12th-seeded South Dakota State in Ohio State’s first game in the NCAA Tournament since the 2014-15 season.Should Ohio State advance past the Jackrabbits, it will likely take on fourth-seeded Gonzaga, a team that stomped the Buckeyes 86-59 in the first meeting between the two. After that, it could be top-seeded Xavier. Projected StartersSouth Dakota StateG — Brandon Key — Junior, 5-foot-10, 180 lbs., 6.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 3.3 apgG — David Jenkins — Freshman, 6-foot-2, 190 lbs., 16.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.6 apgF — Skyler Flatten — Senior, 6-foot-6, 215 lbs., 7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apgF — Reed Tellinghuisen — Senior, 6-foot-7, 215 lbs., 12.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 apgC — Mike Daum — Junior, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs., 23.8 ppgs, 10.4 rpg, 1.3 apgOhio StateG — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.9 apgG — Kam Williams — Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 185 lbs., 8.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.7 apgF — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.9 apgF — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 19.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.7 apgC — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 270 lbs., 10.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 apgScouting South Dakota StateTeams that have given Ohio State issues this season have been teams with large or athletic guards that have been able to challenge the Buckeyes to lean more on their smaller guards — C.J. Jackson, Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich — to step up defensively. That has not been the key to South Dakota State’s success in 2018. One of its starting two guards is under 6-foot, and the other is only 6-foot-2, meaning the Buckeyes should not run into a size mismatch like it has in the past against teams like Penn State.Instead of relying on their guards, the Jackrabbits have received solid production from freshman guard David Jenkins, but they have leaned on junior center Mike Daum when they need production. Nicknamed “The Daum-inator,” the 6-foot-9 center has demonstrated an ability to score from all areas on the court, making 47.4 percent of shots from 2 and 42.9 percent from 3. Ohio State has had mixed levels of success against star centers this season. It held Michigan’s 6-foot-11 Moritz Wagner to a combined 26 points in the two games played and North Carolina center Luke Maye to nine points in the one game between the two teams. However, the Buckeyes allowed Purdue’s 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas to drop 18, Butler forward Kelan Martin to score 24 and Gonzaga center Johnathan Williams to put up 21 points.However, most of the struggles came earlier in the season. Ohio State freshman center Kaleb Wesson has improved his defense since those games — he was matched up with Williams in his first career start. Though his defense is still far from perfect and needs improving, he should be able to prevent Daum from posting his 13th 30-point game on the Buckeyes.Overall, the Jackrabbits are not a team that would appear to give Ohio State much matchup problems. South Dakota State has struggled to force turnovers this season, which is good for an Ohio State team that has run into turnover issues throughout the campaign. The Jackrabbits have also struggled to defend against opponents who derive most of their offensive production in the post. Opposing teams have generated 52.4 percent of their points from inside the arc and are shooting 49.8 percent inside. Ohio State, on the other hand, has scored 55.4 percent of its points inside this season, 30th-highest in the nation, while shooting 55.1 percent inside, 29th-best. South Dakota State won’t make any mistakes — it has the lowest turnover rate this season. It also has lived and died by the 3 this season, posting a 26th-best 39.2 percent shooting rate from 3 while generating 37.5 percent of its offense from beyond the arc, 37th-highest in the country.Opponents have find about average success against Ohio State from 3, shooting 34.6 percent (149th-best), but have consistently found that to be the way to attack the Buckeyes. Ohio State has seen opposing teams score 35.1 percent of their total points from 3, the 55th-highest rate in the country.The Bottom LineThis game in a way has that feeling of a typical five-seed vs. 12-seed matchup in the tournament. Many are not giving South Dakota State a chance. They don’t have the typical characteristics of a team that has given Ohio State trouble this season and do not have a single Tier-A win — a top-50 win adjusting for location — on their schedule, according to advanced statistics website KenPom.com. The ability of the Jackrabbits to shoot 3s with success should make the game interesting, but outside of Daum, they do not have the interior defense to be able to stop players like redshirt junior Keita Bates-Diop and Wesson from having big games.PredictionOhio State wins 77-68
Phil Baty, editor of the rankings, said: “It is fantastic news that the University of Oxford has topped the World University Rankings for the first time. It is a great result for the UK higher education sector and cements its position as one of the greatest university nations in the world. “However, the UK will have to watch out for Asia’s continuing ascent. Although the notion of Asia as the ‘next higher education superpower’ has become something of a cliché in recent years, the continent’s rise in the rankings is real and growing. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Rankings have been produced by the Times Higher Education The University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, also feature in the top 10, while University College London (UCL) slipped from 14th place last year, to 15th this year.Overall, the UK takes 91 of the top 980 places in the 13th annual Times Higher Education rankings; 88 of these make the top 800 compared with 78 last year.It is second only to the US for the number of world-class universities featured in the top 800. Within the top 200, the UK has 32 representatives – two less than last year. The University of Oxford has knocked the California Institute of Technology off the top spot in annual league tables, becoming the first UK institution to lead the rankings.The five-time champion, Caltech, dropped to second place, swapping places with the elite UK university, while the rest of the top 10 positions remained unchanged from last year. He continued: “[In the UK, Brexit] is already causing uncertainty for the sector. As well as some top academics reporting they have been frozen out of collaborative research projects with EU colleagues, many are admitting that they might look to relocate to a university outside the country.“The UK must ensure that it limits the damage to academics, students, universities and science during its Brexit negotiations, to ensure that the UK remains one of the world leaders in higher education.”Use our searchable table
I understand it has come from donations of property mainly… from people who have no family and leave the lot to the charitysource on alleged theft Mr Price is alleged to have flown to Spain soon after. He was arrested at Birmingham International Airport on Friday morning.West Midlands Police confirmed a 52-year-old man has been arrested and bailed on suspicion of theft after a complaint from a Birmingham charity.A source said: “He threw an extravagant wedding to his now-wife, which left people asking ‘how did he afford this?'”Apparently the wedding was very extravagant – there were actors breaking into song and everything.”Referring to the allegation that £450,000 had gone missing, the source added: “I understand it has come from donations of property mainly.”It has come from people who have no family and leave the lot to the charity in their wills.”The most recent documents on Companies House show the charity had £2.7million via donations, gifts and legacies last year – with £1million coming from a single will.The charity helped rehome 3,356 dogs last year and has just completed a new £6million facility in Solihull.The charity has several patrons, including the mayors of Birmingham and Solihull, Lord Aylesford and the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson. In a statement in the Birmingham Dogs Home’s end of year report, chairman Richard Temple Cox paid tribute to “hero” Mr Price.He thanked trustees for their work on the new facility, adding: “However, the real hero is the chief executive, Simon Price, who attended every design and site meeting over the 13-month contract period.”Dedicating the final section of the letter to Mr Price, he added: “Finally, I record my appreciation to Simon Price for his patience, understanding, support and friendship over the past six years.”We have shared a vision together and I hope not that the legacy of the new home will inspire future generations to extend the distinguishes history of this outstanding charity.”A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “A 52-year-old Solihull man has been arrested on suspicion of theft on morning of 11 November after a complaint was received from a Birmingham charity. An investigation is under way.” The chief executive of an animal charity has been arrested at an airport after £450,000 of donations were allegedly stolen from legacy donations.Simon Price, 52, has been the CEO at Birmingham Dogs Home since 2003 and was described in the chairman’s last statement as “the real hero” of the cause.Suspicions were said to have been raised after he married 37-year-old co-worker Alayna Warner in an extravagant wedding in September, with “people asking ‘how did he afford this?'”, it has been claimed.Trustees at the 122-year-old charity are said to have spoken to him about the missing cash at the end of October. Simon Price was described as ‘the real hero’ at Birmingham Dogs Home by the charity’s chairmanCredit:Dave Evitts/SWNS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Organised criminal gangs are blackmailing growing numbers of young men after using social media to entice them into performing sex acts on screen.Police have revealed an unprecedented rise in the new crime of webcam blackmail – known as ‘sextortion’ – with more than 900 cases reported so far this year.That is already more than double the total for the whole of 2015.But senior officers at the National Crime Agency fear the true scale of the problem is far bigger, with many victims too ashamed to report their involvement to police.Among recent victims were four young men who became so desperate at the thought of being publicly humiliated that they took their own lives.Police are now launching a campaign to raise awareness of the problem, including an hard-hitting film to be shown on Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms to warn of the dangers of entrapment. The phenomenon has mushroomed alongside the use of social media by growing numbers of people, particularly in their teens and twenties.Some of the victims are as young as 14. While the majority are in the 18 to 24 age bracket, there are also some in their 50s to 80s. More than 90 per cent of victims are male.Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for adult sexual offences, said: “This is a really worrying, emerging new threat. As a result to this crime we’ve already had four young men in the UK kill themselves because they saw no way out of the situation they had got themselves into.”Roy Sinclair, head of operations at the NCA’s anti-kidnap and extortion unit, added: “There is huge under-reporting of these kinds of offences, often because victims feel ashamed or embarrassed, but of course criminals are relying on that reaction in order to succeed. This kind of offence is being perpetrated by organised crime and we will take it seriouslyAssistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Still from National Crime Agency film warning of sextortion gangs enticing social media usersCredit:National Crime Agency “This is still a relatively new and emerging type of crime. However the trend is clear. Cases of webcam blackmail – or sextortion – are going up dramatically. As recently as 2012 we were only getting a handful of reports, now we’re getting hundreds.”The crime is deceptively simple, typically involving the intended victim being approached through social media by an ostensibly attractive young woman who entices into engaging in explicit conversation culminating in a sex act.As soon as the act has been caught on camera the victim receives a demand for cash, ranging typically from £50 to £500, with the treat the recorded film will be sent to all their friends and contacts – downloaded while the victim was online – and broadcast across the internet.Behind the young woman used to enticing the victim on-screen will lie an organised crime gang, sometimes operating in the UK but frequently based overseas, targeting hundreds of other victims at a time.British police have traced a number of the gangs to Morocco, the Philippines and the Ivory coast, where officers are working with the local authorities to help smash their operations and bring the perpetrators to justice.Forty men were arrested in the Philippines after two raids in June following intelligence supplied to local police by British officers.One of the cases being brought to trial involves one of the four suicide victims, though police would not reveal further details because of the extreme sensitivity of the case.Among the other victims this year was a man in his 20s from Northern Ireland who was blackmailed after being approached on through a dating app by a young woman. After sharing explicit photographs of himself the woman threatened to send them to his family and Facebook friends and demanded payment.The young man, known only as Jimmy to protect his identity, sent her £150 via PayPal before going to the police.He said: “I was so worried about what my friends and family would think. I’ve spoken to my mum about it, that was tough enough, but I still can’t talk to anyone else. I’m OK now but at the time it was so hard.”The NCA film, featuring a young blackmailer called ‘Jess’, is to be broadcast on Facebook, Youtube and other social media platforms to warn of the dangers of sextortion.Police advice social media users never to do anything compromising online with someone they don’t know or trust; cease all contact immediately if they receive a blackmail demand; never under any circumstance pay the blackmailer; and immediately report the matter to the police.Assistant Commissioner Hewitt said: “This kind of offence is being perpetrated by organised crime and we will take it seriously.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
The programme, set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie, is filmed in Guadeloupe as part of a joint British and French production.Gardner’s disclosure came during a discussion on the podcast of the comedian Sean Hughes. A star of the BBC crime series Death in Paradise has revealed that he contracted Zika while making the programme in the Caribbean.Tony Gardner, said it was possible that “quite a lot” of the 265 British travellers known to have been infected with the virus may have been involved with the series. There are now about 200 Brits who have had Zika, but quite a lot of them, possibly, come from the group of people that go out to Guadeloupe for six months a year to filmTony Gardner He said he could not say much more about it because of the possibility of the programme makers becoming a medical case study.But he added: “There are now about 200 Brits who have had Zika, but quite a lot of them, possibly, come from the group of people that go out to Guadeloupe for six months a year to film.” Tony Gardner (left) in Last tango in HalifaxCredit:Gary Moyes/BBC/Red Productions Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Gardner, who originally trained as a doctor, said there had been discussion about carrying out a study of the cast and crew to better understand the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes.The production company behind the programme said that a “small number” had become unwell and insisted that precautions had been taken. He said that he was likely to have picked up the virus while sitting out at night drinking beer, adding that he “probably should have been a bit more fierce” with the anti-mosquito repellent.“About a couple of hours before I flew out I got a rash,” he said.“And then for a week I wasn’t particularly well with joint pain and swelling and didn’t like the light… I just felt pretty rough actually.“It’s not a problem for me because I’ve finished my family.“It’s quite dangerous for people getting pregnant or men starting families.” Sara Martins and Kris Marshall in Death in ParadiseCredit:Mark Harrison/BBC A spokesman for Red Planet Pictures, the production company, said: “We take the safety of all of our cast and crew seriously and made all actors aware of the potential medical issues that may arise when filming in the Caribbean, including the risk of the Zika virus.“Information was provided on avoiding all mosquito born viruses and insect repellent was available on set at all times.“Despite these precautions, a small number of the team were unwell after having been bitten.” Tony Gardner as Michael in Lead BalloonCredit:Ellis O’Brien/BBC/Open Mike
The Duke and Duchess, together with Prince Harry, launched the Heads Together campaign to bring together mental health charities in a national effort to destigmatise mental health. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “If one of these other issues took so many young lives, there would be a national outcry. But there has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people.” Credit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended an assembly on children’s mental health at a primary school earlier in the dayCredit:Ian Vogler /PA He went on: “I was already experiencing the benefits of this open, positive approach to mental health in my work in Search and rescue and as an Air Ambulance pilot. In both these environments, every member of the crew is actively encouraged to admit to when we are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, whatever the cause – our work or our home life. “My employer, I’m proud to say, knows about the value of normalizing mental health, and treating it with the same respect that we confer on physical health. This should be the norm.” “But I got interested in mental health for another reason. One that was related to my work as an Air Ambulance pilot. “It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide. Credit:Eddie Mulholland It is the official charity of the 2017 London Marathon, which the royal trio hope will become the “mental health marathon”. The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a magenta outfit by Oscar de la Renta, were attending a symposium in London of the Guild of Health Writers at which Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said Britain was in the grip of an “anxiety epidemic”.He said the number of young men suffering from anxiety had doubled from 1.9 per cent to 3.8 per cent, and that men were more likely than women to keep quiet about it.But he said there was some good news, because the number of people seeking help had risen from 25 per cent to 37 per cent. Credit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph The Duke of Cambridge has stressed that “silence can kill” as he urged people struggling with their mental health to tell someone about it.Addressing an audience of health writers, he said he had benefited from a working environment as a helicopter pilot in which all crew members were encouraged to admit to feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.For others, though, minor issues can become serious for people who are afraid to talk about their problems, he said, so that on average it takes a sufferer 10 years to admit to a problem.As a result, said the Duke, suicide has become the leading cause of death in men under 40, a fact he described as “an appalling stain on our society”. Credit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph Mental health, said the Duke, is “the great taboo” and it is vital to “normalise” the subject so that it is viewed in the same way as physical health.He said that until now: “If you were anxious, it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing“Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they. But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it. Show more
On Tuesday, a coroner described the death as an “unintentional consequences of a deliberate act.”Paige was found by her mother on a bed in a caravan that they were renting at a holiday park in Fleetwood, near Blackpool, in Lancashire, the court heard.She was rushed to hospital where she died two hours later despite attempts to revive her. Police investigating the tragedy on July 18 last year found Paige’s can of deodorant lying on grass outside the en-suite bathroom, close to where she was found.Doctors said she had inhaled butane and isobutane from the tin but found no evidence of “chronic use”.Paige, a “bright and talented” girl who attended Royton and Crompton School in Oldham, Greater Manchester, had hopes for a career in music or art.She was staying at the Cala Gran holiday park at the start of the summer holidays with her parents Ann and Stuart and older sister Catherine.Mrs Daughtry, 36, told the Heywood hearing: “She would spend hours in the bedroom and would spray and spray as she didn’t want to smell. She used to spray it in small rooms and I used to tell her off. A 12-year-old girl died after being overcome by fumes from her deodorant as she sprayed it on inside her family’s seaside holiday caravan, a coroner heard. Paige Daughtry, had reportedly been so keen on ensuring her personal hygiene that she used the under-arm body spray as if “it was going out of fashion”.But it is feared she overused the deodorant so much that the fumes from the aerosol, which contained “volatile substances”, affected Paige as she inhaled them while listening to music. Cala Gran holiday park where Paige’s family were stayingCredit:Cavendish Press Paige Daughtry a schoolgirl aged 12 who died after she was overcome by fumes from her tin of deodorantCredit:Cavendish Forensic pathologist Dr Jonathan Metcalfe said Paige’s death had been caused by the “inhalation of volatile substances”.He added: “Analysis of brain samples revealed two substances present in aerosols – they are known as volatile substances. They are known to be present in deodorant which was present at the scene.”Their presence is consistent with inhalation. Death may result from the toxicological effects. The substances are butane and isobutane.”There was no natural disease that has contributed to her death. There was no evidence of heavy use and no direct evidence that there was chronic use.”Det Chief Insp Jason Richardson, from Lancashire Police, said: “A can of deodorant was found located on grass outside the caravan, outside the open window of the en-suite toilet attached to the bedroom Paige had been found – as if dropped out of the window.”It was found to be empty and was seized as evidence. Ann reported that she noticed Paige using a lot of deodorant.”A coroner’s officer said: “It was established Paige had previously used deodorant – a direct quote from Mrs Daughtry herself being ‘like they were going out of fashion’. An empty canister was found outside the caravan window.” Paige Daughtry a schoolgirl aged 12 who died after she was overcome by fumes from her tin of deodorantCredit:Cavendish Press “But there was never a point when we started to think there was an issue – not in the way we would have thought she was doing any sniffing or anything like that. There were no indications whatsoever, I would have noticed.”She was a strong character. My feeling is she was the way she was and there was no changing her no matter what we did she marched to her own beat, that was Paige.”She added: “Paige was looking forward to the holiday – we went every year. We did some swimming and went into Blackpool and came back. We were as a family together all day, she did have a bit of a strop that day – but that was her being a teenager.”Paige went into our bedroom and my husband went off to take some photographs on the beach. “From Paige going in her room and me shouting her, it was about 10 or 15 minutes. That room was a bit cooler and the window was open.”I think that’s why she decided to go in there and all the chargers were in there and she wanted to listen to music.”I shouted, there was no response, I went in and sought assistance. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, trying to pull her off her the bed and phone 999.” “It’s most likely that inhaling those fumes has most probably led to her heart rhythm being affected and led to her death.”It may have been in recent times she got into the habit of inhaling some fumes. I do find she was probably inhaling deodorant fumes for whatever reason during that day. Mr and Mrs Daughtry can I pass on the condolences of everyone here. “In a statement at the time of Paige’s death, her grandfather, John Delaney, described her as a “beautiful” and “happy-go-lucky” child.He said: “We can’t describe how we felt, our hearts have been broken, there is nothing more I can say, except a part of us has been ripped away from us.”Paige, our sweet baby girl, we will never forget you as long as we live and, every day we think of you, you will be alive in our hearts, night and God bless sweet, you will be up there teaching everyone to sing, so till we meet again, sleep tight.”A family statement said: “Paige was a bright and talented girl who still had her whole life ahead of her, she dreamed one day to do something with her singing or art.”Paige is sadly missed by friends and family. We are all still in shock and grieving for a loving, loyal friend, daughter, sister and granddaughter.” Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, coroner Alan Wilson said: “This is the unintentional consequences of a deliberate act. Paige was inhaling the fumes from the deodorant but what she didn’t intent is the consequences. Two holidaymakers, from neighbouring caravans, came to assist with CPR before paramedics arrived and took Paige to Blackpool Victoria Hospital. “I suppose that’s something every 12-year-old girl would do, spraying deodorant. But she was overusing deodorant – it was more than we would have expected any girl to put on. Cala Gran holiday park in Fleetwood, LancsCredit:Cavendish Press Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.