Just How Bad Were the Bad Boys

This Thursday, ESPN1Corporate parent of this website, among others. will air its latest “30 for 30” documentary special, “Bad Boys,” which explores the notorious Pistons era that brought Detroit back-to-back NBA championships 25 years ago. Along with my colleagues at Grantland who are running “Detroit Week,” I’ll be publishing articles relating to the “Bad Boys” narrative and legacy. This is Part 1, in which I’ll examine whether the Bad Boys really earned their nickname.How “bad” were they? That seems like just the kind of thing a data-driven operation might want to quantify. But to figure it out we have to first make sense of what “bad” means in the Bad Boys narrative.Wikipedia lays it out as bare fact that the Pistons’ “physical, defense-oriented style of play” was responsible for the nickname. Sports Illustrated adds a touch of violence, listing “on-court mayhem” as one of the main ingredients. ESPN’s promotional material for its new film makes a telling generalization:For some, the team was heroic — made up of gritty, hard-nosed players who didn’t back down from anyone. And for others, it was exactly that trait — the willingness to do seemingly anything to win — that made them the “Bad Boys,” the team fans loved to hate.There may not be full agreement among sources, but this “willingness to do seemingly anything to win” formulation is key to the qualitative aspect of the Bad Boys narrative. It’s also something we can begin to assess empirically.2We could build an ad-hoc model for “badness” based on perimeter defense, offensive rebounding, fouls, technical fouls, ejections and other things we normally associate with the Pistons of this era. But such models are just numbers-y versions of opinion.When we hear that a player or team is “willing to do anything to win,” it often means they’re willing to practice more than the next guy, spend more time studying film or drawing up plays, or any of the things that we associate with being a good sport. But there’s another connotation: that an athlete or team is willing to do things that others aren’t. They’re willing to transgress the norm of sportsmanship — to be unsportsmanlike in order to gain an advantage.Fortunately, there’s a statistic that captures unsportsmanlike conduct: technical fouls. It’s enshrined right there in Rule 12 of the Official Rules of the NBA:A technical foul shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike tactics such as:(1) Disrespectfully addressing an official(2) Physically contacting an official(3) Overt actions indicating resentment to a call(4) Use of profanity(5) A coach entering onto the court without permission of an official(6) A deliberately-thrown elbow or any attempted physical act with no contact.Though there are some technical fouls not relating to unsportsmanlike behavior, and some behavior that doesn’t ever get penalized, this stat is the closest we have to an official determination of “bad” behavior.But willingness to transgress sportsmanship is meaningless if it doesn’t actually gain you an advantage. If you’re just violating competitive or moral norms for no reason and you’re actually worse off for it, people won’t even respect you enough to hate you for it. So for a team to earn a nickname prominently declaring how “bad” it is, the players should be using their badness to make them better.To see how the Bad Boys Pistons rated in both badness (technical fouls) and goodness (winning), let’s start with a simple scatter plot showing the technical foul rates for all teams since 1982 against their win percentages3Technical fouls aren’t kept in normal box scores at either the team or player level, so the relevant data is hard to find and gets weaker and weaker the further back we go (unfortunately the Bad Boys played in the pre-play-by-play era). However, I’ve compiled all the data on individual player technical fouls from ESPN.com’s player stats database. Though incomplete (many less-well-known players don’t have stats), most of the high-minutes players from back into the early ’80s are covered, so reasonable team estimates are possible. Fortunately, we don’t have to discriminate between a bunch of close cases.:The Pistons between 1986 and 19924There is dispute over what constitutes the “Bad Boys Era.” For example, Wikipedia lists it as 1979-1994. Perhaps that’s true for the broader narrative, but for analytical purposes I’ve chosen to use the seven years when Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer all played together. are the red points. If the first thing you notice is a curiously strong relationship between technical rate and winning (note that every team that had more technicals than the “baddest” Pistons team had a good record), kudos! But we’re going to put that on ice until my next article later this week.So the Pistons look pretty bad, but even their baddest team (1989’s) had only the 15th most technical fouls since 1982. The 1995 Seattle Supersonics (who came within two games of beating the 1995 Chicago Bulls for the NBA title, which is probably more impressive than most championships) were badder and better than both the baddest and the best Pistons squads.But that’s not an entirely fair comparison. The Bad Boys Pistons practically led the revolution in unsportsmanlike play in the NBA, practitioners of the technical foul just as the technical foul became more prevalent.The red part is the “Bad Boys Era,” though the numbers are league-wide.5The league-wide technical foul rate before and during the Bad Boys Era may have been even lower than it appears in the chart. Because of the Pistons’ prominence and success, they are better-represented in the older, less complete data than a normal team would be — meaning they may be skewing the league averages towards themselves. Meanwhile, that 1995 SuperSonics squad came at the all-time peak for technical fouling.To see how these Pistons would have looked to people in their era, here’s the first graph above, but with all the non-Detroit teams after 1988 filtered out.Now that’s more like it. All six of the seasons after 1986 (Dennis Rodman’s rookie year) are badder than every season prior to 1989 in our data set.6Not shown: After the Pistons won their first championship (1988-89 season), you start to see an uptick in aggression in the NBA — though hard to prove, this may be a result of other teams emulating the Pistons’ style. Detroit only finished one season below .500,7In the 1992-93 season, the Pistons actually won 58 percent of their games with Dennis Rodman in the lineup, but went 4-16 without him, leading to their only losing season of the era. More on Rodman’s impact later this week. and won two championships in the other seasons.In addition to the shifting strategic landscape, a variety of otherwise minor rule changes, rule clarifications and scorekeeping instructions in the NBA may affect cross-era comparison (such as breaking out flagrant fouls into their own category, or turning illegal defenses into 3-second violations). But we can compare each team’s performance in a given season to what the rest of the league was doing at the time.8In addition to making rankings like this possible, this turns out to be the best technical-related metric for predicting current and future team success.To do this, I took the technicals per game for every team with 10,000-plus minutes recorded in our data set and divided it by the league average for the season. I then ranked the teams by their “badness” relative to their contemporaries and plotted them in rank order. In all, I plotted every qualifying team from 1982 through last week.9The presence of more teams near the top of the rankings suggests that the league hasn’t just been getting more technical-prone uniformly, but that the increase is being driven by the extremes. Boom! Using badness relative to a team’s era as the measure, the top two baddest teams are the two Bad Boys teams that won championships. For once, a harder look at the data seemingly confirms rather than undermines a popular sports narrative.But there’s something even more fascinating going on here: Technical fouls are bizarrely predictive of success. Individually, they give the other team a free attempt at another point, which should have about the same effect on the game as a turnover; they have no business indicating strength as well as they do. But they do. Not only are better teams more likely to get technicals (and vice versa), but “bad” plays may themselves add value. In other words, the Bad Boys may have been onto something.How and why this effect works turns out to be a fascinating and complex issue, and it will be the subject of the next article in this series, out later this week. read more

Finally Mike Trout Is The MVP

In what’s quickly becoming an annual rite of summer, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels once again led the American League in wins above replacement (WAR), the single-number metric of choice for most sabermetricians when it comes to measuring a player’s all-around value. But this season, Trout’s WAR crown came attached to a more conventionally recognized accolade: The AL MVP award. Trout, 23, was announced Thursday as the unanimous choice for the honor, becoming the youngest to ever achieve the distinction.Trout’s quest for the MVP had become something of a cause célèbre for statheads after two seasons of fiercely battling Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera for the award. As a rookie, Trout bested Cabrera by a landslide in WAR (10.8 to 7.2) but finished as MVP runner-up because Cabrera won the triple crown (leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs — a somewhat arbitrary feat derided by new-school writers as an out-of-touch relic of the pre-sabermetrics era). The following year, Trout once again out-WARed Cabrera (8.9 to 7.5) and finished second in the voting.By that time, Trout vs. Cabrera had become what NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra called a “proxy battle in a larger cold war” — namely, the religious conflict between baseball’s traditionalists and a still relatively new breed of number crunchers who came of age reading Bill James. You could tell a lot about a fan’s viewpoint on the game from which player they decided to back in the AL’s MVP derby.This year, though, Trout had no such opposition. Once again, a Tiger was his closest competitor — designated hitter Victor Martinez finished second in the voting — but Trout easily topped Martinez (and everyone else in the AL), according to WAR. As for Cabrera, his numbers were down across the board this season, limiting his ability to contend for a three-peat.The irony of Trout finally winning the MVP, of course, is that his 7.9 WAR in 2014 represents the worst full season of his career to date. The WAR edge he had over the AL’s No. 2, Josh Donaldson (who trailed Trout by 0.5 WAR), was lower than the margin by which Trout defeated runners-up Robinson Cano in 2012 (2.4) and Donaldson in 2013 (0.9 WAR). Now that the floodgates have opened, Trout — who has more WAR through age 22 than anyone in baseball history — will probably rake in more MVPs as his career goes on, even though he may have already peaked. read more

The Warriors Chances Of Getting 73 Wins Are Back Up

7343.960.1 The Warriors are just fine.Two nights after a loss to the Boston Celtics dropped Golden State’s odds of breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 regular season wins to 54.6 percent according to our CARM-Elo projections, the Warriors thumped the Portland Trail Blazers 136-111 and those chances are back to 60 percent. Stephen Curry scored 39 points on 21 shots and made nine of 13 3-pointers; Draymond Green had 22 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and two steals.The Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard had a good game — 38 points on 27 shots — and Portland kept it tight through two and a half quarters, but the Warriors pulled away late with James Michael McAdoo taking Anderson Varejao’s minutes in the second half. (The Warriors played much of Sunday’s game without a true center, with Andrew Bogut out with a rib injury and Festus Ezeli, back after a 31-game absence, playing just nine minutes.) 7416.216.2 WINSEXACTLY THIS MANY WINSAT LEAST THIS MANY WINS 700.7>99.9 7231.691.7 69<0.1%100.0% The win takes the Warriors to 69-8 with five games to play. Projections for an exact number of wins are volatile as the season winds down, in large part because there are so few games left, and also because the Warriors are such big favorites in most of their games (CARM-Elo said they were an 89-percent favorite to win against the Celtics) that any loss has an outsize effect. Even after the loss to the Celtics, however, the Warriors’ most likely record was still 73-9, one game ahead of the ’95-’96 Bulls.Assuming it can sweep the other games in its schedule, Golden State still needs to win at least one of its two remaining games against the San Antonio Spurs to break the record. As usual, it’s hard to tell what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will do; with his team already in the playoffs, he has been alternating playing his normal rotations and resting core players. The Spurs’ starters played heavy minutes against Toronto on Saturday, though, so they haven’t closed up shop just yet.Beyond that, CARM-Elo says the Warriors have about a 74.2 percent chance of winning the other three games on the schedule — one against Minnesota (95.6 percent) and two against Memphis (83.0 percent and 93.5 percent) — going by current ratings. Chances the Warriors finish with: 717.699.3 read more

Shaqtin A Fool Vol 3 Episode 2

On the next Shaqtin’ A Fool: vol. 3, episode 2, there’s no JaVale McGee this week, but Shaq still had plenty of material to work with on this episode’s nominees.Carmelo Anthony gets caught up in a defensive trap and he panics. The best thing that Anthony can come up with is throwing the ball into the stands. Knicks head Coach Mike Woodson’s reaction was priceless.Corey Brewer gets screened by Chandler and puts on a bit of a performance to get the attention of the refs, but whatever he was selling, nobody was buying. Jazz rookie Enes Kanter is wide open for a 15-foot shot, but he rather shoot for the fans in the stands rather than the basket.The No. 1 2013 draft pick Anthony Bennett, who remains scoreless this entire season, gets a fastbreak and there’s nothing between him and his first two points of his professional basketball career, sadly it doesn’t end well for the Cleveland rookie.If they don’t get your vote then repeat offender Kendrick Perkins will. On a well executed pick-and-roll, Perkins attacks the basket with a reverse lay-up that goes horribly wrong.As always vote for your favorite at NBA.com/fool read more

Every NBA Teams Chance Of Winning A Title By 2019

Does this underrate OKC? Yeah, probably. As I’ve said, our simple method is liable to underrate teams dealing with injury problems. The Thunder have played pretty well since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have returned to the lineup. But two points to consider.First, when a team has the talent the Thunder do, there’s no time like the present to win a title. But the Thunder are unlikely to win the championship this year. They’d be the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs started today, and while Hollinger’s method may underrate them, there’s a big gap between the Thunder and the top seven seeds. Even if they improve to (for instance) the No. 6 seed, they’ll probably have to win four playoff series as the road team to win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Not. Easy.Second, Durant is a superstar by any definition, but the degree of superstardom matters. If Durant is the star Sirius, as he was last season, shining brighter than anyone else in the NBA firmament, the Thunder will always have a leg up on the rest of the league, other things held equal. If he’s merely “in the conversation” as the league’s best player, along with Curry, James, Chris Paul, James Harden and Davis, then the Thunder will perennially compete with Curry’s Warriors, James’s Cavs, Paul’s Clippers, Harden’s Rockets and Davis’s Pelicans — but not necessarily beat them.To be even more geeky about it, championship contention in the NBA is nonlinear function. Being a 56-win team instead of a 60-win team — because, say, Durant has become a half-step slower or more injury-prone — could matter a great deal.But how overjoyed Gotham would be if blue and orange stood for the Manhattan Thunder and not the Knicks! The Knicks, obviously, will not win the championship this season. And here’s how the model pegs their chances over the next four seasons. In 2015-16, they have a 0.3 percent of winning the title. In 2016-17, their chances are 0.6 percent. And then in the two subsequent seasons, 0.9 percent and 1.0 percent. Overall, there’s about a 3 percent chance the Knicks will win the NBA title in the next five years.Three percent is not zero percent, so naturally you’ll find the exception to the rule if you dig in deep enough. The 2007-08 Miami Heat, who finished at 15-67, are the most favorable precedent. Their situation wasn’t entirely different from the Knicks’; in a down season, their roster featured one star (Dwyane Wade) and a lot of aging and overpriced “talent” around him. Three seasons later, they signed LeBron James, and in 2011-12 they won the NBA title.So, maybe the Knicks will luck into Jahlil Okafor in next year’s draft. And maybe Durant signs with them two years from now, and maybe Anthony has a gentle decline. I’m telling you there’s a chance, Knicks fans! It’s just not bloody likely.The Knicks, however, do not quite have the worst projection in the league; instead that belongs to the 76ers, whose title chances are lower still.If your eyes are on the long-term, wouldn’t you rather be in a tanking rebuilding situation like Philly than in the predicament of the Knicks or Lakers? Maybe, but the history of teams who have been as laughably bad as this year’s Sixers is not good. Since the ABA merger, 51 teams have finished with fewer than 20 wins in a 82-game season or the equivalent amount in a shortened season. How many of them won a championship in the next five years? Only one — the aforementioned 2007-08 Heat, whose situation was more analogous to that of the Lakers or Knicks than that faced by the 76ers.The thing about starting from a 15-win baseline is that you can add a 20-win megawatt superstar from the draft, and sign a 10-win free agent, and have another guy develop into a five-win talent … and still be a 50-win team, a No. 5 or 6 seed. It’s not clear there’s anyone on the Sixers’ roster who is a good bet to develop into a better-than-average NBA player. A team like the Detroit Pistons, who at least have Andre Drummond, is about twice as likely to develop into a championship contender, according to the model. The Pistons also face extremely long odds, but you’d rather have Drummond and a slightly inferior lottery position than the other way around. Tanking doesn’t pay, kids!But there are a lot of ways to be awful in the NBA, and only one team wins the title. Golden State is the best bet to be pouring the champagne soon. I can see Madison Square Garden from my Manhattan apartment. This year, the arena installed LED lights along the exterior columns of the building — blue, red and white for New York Rangers games; orange and blue for New York Knicks games. They outshine everything else along a drab stretch of Eighth Avenue. When the Knicks colors shine, I’m reminded that there’s a dreadful basketball team playing a few blocks from me.The Knicks are 5-22 on the year, on pace for their worst season in the not-exactly-glorious history of the franchise. But unlike a lot of bad teams, the Knicks are not yet in rebuilding mode. Their only players to have performed at an above-average level so far this season1According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus are 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony, 32-year-old Amar’e Stoudemire and 37-year-old Pablo Prigioni. They have a few (not many) good players and a few (not many) young players, but there’s almost no overlap on the Venn diagram.Just how dire is the Knicks’ situation? Are they worse off than the Los Angeles Lakers? Than the Philadelphia 76ers, who very much are in rebuilding mode and are 2-22?Let’s take a longer view. What are the chances any of these franchises will field a championship-caliber team over the next five seasons (from this year through 2018-19)? On the flip side, which NBA franchise has the most reason to be optimistic about its future? Would you rather be the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors? Would you rather be the Memphis Grizzlies, with a sterling record so far this season but no superstar, or the New Orleans Pelicans, who aren’t so good yet but have a potential world-beating talent in Anthony Davis?There have been some valiant attempts to answer such questions before (see ESPN’s NBA Future Power Rankings). Our method here will be simpler and more statistically driven. The idea is to project the number of NBA championships a franchise might expect to win over the next five seasons based on three easily quantifiable factors:How good is the team now?How old the team?How good is its best player?To be clear, we are not claiming these are the only things that matter. You’d probably want to give a team some extra credit if it’s run by a genius like Gregg Popovich. You’d probably want to dock it if it has traded away some of its future draft picks (as the Knicks have) or if its salary cap situation is poor. And our approach will not be so great at handling teams with injuries to star players. But simple models like these can be a useful tool for understanding how NBA franchises evolve.Some modestly technical bits follow. You can skip ahead a few paragraphs if you’re not sweating the small stuff.As I mentioned, our goal is to estimate the likelihood of a team winning an NBA championship over the next five seasons. The method won’t give much credit to a team for being just decent. Unlike in certain other sports, an NBA team almost never backs into a championship by being slightly above average and then getting lucky in the postseason. A 52-win team in the regular season will win the NBA championship only about 2 percent of the time; a 64-win team will win it something like half the time.More specifically, the model takes the form of a logistic regression analysis where the inputs are three factors I described above — age, overall team quality and the quality of its best player — and the output is the projected number of championships won.2More specifically, the model treats championships probabilistically based on regular-season win totals. For example, a 60-win team is treated as having about a 20 percent chance of winning the title based on the process described here — whether or not it did so. I believe this to be a more robust method than treating championships as binary outcomes; it has the effect of reducing the impact of postseason luck. I’ve used data from the ABA-NBA merger season of 1976-77 onward.To measure overall team quality, I’ve used the number of games a team won.3Win totals are prorated to 82 games in the event of seasons shortened by labor disputes. But when looking toward future seasons, a team’s most recent win-loss record isn’t all that matters; so does the distribution of its talent. The presence of an actual or potential superstar significantly improves its chances of winning championships.This shouldn’t be surprising. In the NBA’s economic structure, there are two types of players who routinely produce a high return on investment: young players (who often make far less than they would as free agents under the rookie salary scale) and superstar players (who are often underpaid because of the maximum salary). Teams built around superstars face downside risk; if the superstar leaves town or gets hurt, they’re screwed. But in the NBA, you’d rather take a high-risk, high-reward approach than settle for a No. 8 seed every year.Our measure of superstar talent is how a team’s top player rated according to the statistic “wins added,” which is described at more length here. Wins added is based on a combination of Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating (PER). Neither metric is perfect (far from it), but because each can be computed from readily available “box score” statistics, they allow us to compare players and teams on a level playing field dating back to 1976-77.Having a younger team helps, of course, but it’s better to evaluate the age of a team’s best players rather than everyone on its roster. So, our calculation of a team’s average age is weighted based on wins added.4In the calculation, negative wins added totals are treated as zeros. This is important. The average New York Knick, weighted based on the number of minutes played this season, is about 28 years old. But the team’s better players are old; its average age is closer to 30 when weighted by wins added.There are a couple of further details in the footnotes,5The model also accounts for the number of teams in the league; it’s easier to win a title in a 23-team NBA than a 30-team NBA. I also calibrate the numbers such that the cumulative odds of a title win in any given season is one exactly among all teams in the league. There’s only one trophy to go around. but let’s see how this works in practice. Here’s how the 30 NBA teams ranked in future championship potential based on their statistics at the end of last season. We’ll run the numbers based on the current season’s data in a moment.At the end of last year, the Oklahoma City Thunder had the most hopeful situation in the league, projecting to win 0.8 championships over the next five years. This total includes cases where the Thunder would win multiple championships, so this is not quite the same as saying they had an 80 percent chance of winning at least one championship. (Titles in the NBA can come in bunches.)Still, this was a reasonably impressive figure; since 1976-77, only 12 teams had a better projection. The top one belonged to the Chicago Bulls going into the 1996-97 season. They projected to win 1.2 more championships to go with the four that Michael Jordan had won already; Jordan won two more in reality.But the NBA is a tough league. Some of the teams that projected almost as highly as Jordan’s Bulls never won a championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers projected to win about 1.2 championships over their next five seasons heading into the 2009-10 season — but LeBron James left, and they didn’t win any. (A championship in Cleveland this season now that James has returned would be one year too late to count within the five-year window.) Other teams appeared likely to follow one championship with more but failed to do so. The Philadelphia 76ers, coming off a 67-win championship season in 1982-83, projected to add another title to Julius Erving’s mantle but never did.Last season is old news, however. So, we’ve also come up with a projection that accounts for roster turnover and a team’s performance so far this year. This required a few modifications to our original model:Team win totals are projected based on John Hollinger’s playoff odds, which account for potential reversion to the mean.6For instance, the Knicks have a .185 winning percentage so far this year and are on pace to go 15-67. But they’ll probably improve on that at least a little bit, according to the Hollinger standings, which project them to finish with a 25-57 record instead.For individual players, wins added are projected based on a combination of a player’s performance so far this year and in recent past seasons.7For each player, I made a preseason projection based on his age and wins added over his past three NBA seasons, then averaged this with a projection based on his wins added per game so far this season, assuming he’ll play in 95 percent of his team’s remaining games. I did not consider players like the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George who have not played this year.Team ages are weighted based on projected wins added.To estimate a team’s chances of winning a title this year (2014-15), I used Hollinger’s playoff odds simulation. For the remaining seasons in the five-year window through 2018-19, I used the figures from our model instead.All projections are based on stats through Tuesday evening.One team is clearly ahead of the pack. It’s the Golden State Warriors.The Dubs project to win 0.95 championships between now and 2018-19. Some of that is because they’re the favorite to win the title this year, according to Hollinger’s method, with a 36 percent chance. But they also rate as the best bet to win the championship in each subsequent season through 2018-19.This isn’t rocket science: the Warriors are really good. They’re young — in fact, their average age has declined slightly from last year as older players like Andre Iguodala have come to play less important roles. And they have a superstar in Stephen Curry.Following the Warriors on the list:At No. 2, the Los Angeles Clippers. They’re not off to the start the Warriors are, and they’re a little older. But they have the talent they’ll need.At No. 3, the Cavaliers, who have a young core surrounding James, but who don’t yet look like they’ll stand head and shoulders above the pack as James’s teams did some years in Miami.At No. 4, the Toronto Raptors, another obvious choice. They’re young, Kyle Lowry is on the verge of being a superstar, and they have the benefit of playing in the Eastern Conference.8The model does not explicitly account for which conference a team plays in. It may account for it implicitly, however, because it uses W-L totals without adjusting for strength of schedule. It’s easier to win the same number of games with lesser talent in the Eastern Conference.At No. 5, the Houston Rockets, whose projection is largely unchanged from the end of last season despite a disappointing off-season.At No. 6, the Grizzlies. Note, however, that this year is probably their best hope of a championship drive. The roster is fairly old, and there’s not a true superstar to build around.At No. 7, the Pelicans. They haven’t gotten off to an especially strong start this year and have little shot of title contention this spring. But Davis has as bright a future as anyone in the league and the team’s average age (weighted by wins added) is just 23.6. They project to be the second- or third-best team in the league by the end of the five-year window, according to the model.At No. 8, the Portland Trail Blazers, whose numbers are similar to the Raptors across the board but who play in the tougher conference.At No. 9, the Chicago Bulls. Theirs is a decent projection, but the Bulls are older than you might think, and Derrick Rose hasn’t played like a superstar lately, even on the rare occasion he’s played. Instead, wins added thinks that Jimmy Butler is their best player.And at No. 10, the Thunder, whose projection has declined more than any other team since the end of last season. read more

Even Pretending To Be A Professional Tennis Player Is Terrifying

CARL BIALIK STATSMOJJOMOJJO NEWCARL CHARTING Based on my experience covering tennis, professional players usually remember to bring their tennis shoes to the court. On a June Thursday, as I walked into Courbevoie Sport Tennis outside of Paris, I realized I hadn’t. I was there to try out a new technology from Mojjo — a French company that makes what Emmanuel Witvoet, one of its founders, calls “Hawk-Eye for everyone.” Hawk-Eye is the advanced camera-based system that tennis tournaments use to adjudicate disputed line calls and to provide advanced stats for television. It’s sophisticated, impressive and expensive — out of reach for most amateurs, in part because it uses 10 cameras. Witvoet said he and his co-founders had figured out how to do much of what Hawk-Eye does with just one camera, making it affordable for the masses.Unlike the masses, pro players have ready access to the kind of data that Mojjo was about to provide me. They get all sorts of detailed stats after every match, and at tournaments like Wimbledon, they get more. After matches, they receive DVDs that allow them to toggle between points or watch only, say, their backhand errors. It’s not easy for amateurs like me to get that kind of information, but we are clamoring for it. Some 70 million fitness trackers like Fitbit were bought last year, and smart watches like Apple’s bundle fitness tracking with their smartphone features. In tennis, rackets from Babolat and racket attachments from Sony measure things like spin and speed of shot — but their accuracy is questionable.Now, for one surreal, amazing, frustrating and delusion-shattering morning, I would finally have the data. A camera would capture the flight of the ball, software would analyze what happened on each point, and detailed match stats — my detailed match stats — would be put online. I was treated like a pro, but the data showed me how far I had to go to play like one.My friend Alex Duff came along to help me test Mojjo out. Duff is a data geek and amateur tennis player who once recorded video of one of our matches so we could review our performance later. For this match, we were instead armed with two laptops — so that we could each predict the match stats beforehand.After telling the Mojjo courtside kiosk which of us was serving first, Duff and I took the court atop a light dusting of red clay, the same kind of stuff the pros would play on later that day at the French Open five miles away.I told Duff not to be too self-conscious even though a camera was running. I then proceeded to be incredibly self-conscious because a camera was running. I can’t remember starting another match as poorly as I did this one. My head was full of excuses, and I felt self-conscious every time a club employee walked on court, which was often: I felt his eyes staring at my shoes, as if he were the Mona Lisa.Mojjo was the main problem. I’d recently read the classic book “The Inner Game of Tennis” and knew I was supposed to think less and clear my mind. I didn’t — and instead was rushing during points. Silver lining: That meant we’d play more points in our allotted two hours, and more points meant more data.Despite my struggles, I won the first set 6-3. And after extending my winning streak to six straight games, I started to consider secondary goals, like looking good for the camera. I couldn’t do much about my sweat-stained shirt, but I could at least retuck my shorts pocket after pulling out a ball for a second serve. I promptly lost eight straight points.I started playing a little better and went up 5-3 in the second set. That’s when we played our best game of the match by far. We both hit winners and saved game points. After four deuces, I closed out the set. I asked for one more — and cruised to a 6-0 win.Then the email containing our stats arrived from Mojjo, and our amateur match suddenly felt like an official one. We had numbers that looked, if you squinted sideways, like numbers from the pros. We each had one ace. I hit four double-faults; he hit five. We each made a little over 50 percent of our first serves. These weren’t crazy numbers for a clay-court match by pros. Andy Murray and David Ferrer, two of the best players in the world, had just put up roughly similar numbers in their match at the French Open the day before.The video uploaded to Mojjo’s site later that day, and it was odd — not only because it depicted my awkward-looking one-handed backhand. At times, it showed scores that didn’t make much sense and seemed to include shots hit after rallies were over, like to get a ball back to the server, as part of the match.When I could get past the technical hiccups, I saw that unlike the emailed stats, which could have passed for professional-grade, the video looked nothing like match footage I was used to watching. Even with the unusual perspective of the single-camera wide shot, it was clear that my strokes weren’t Grand Slam-ready. And the tennis looked like it was being played at half-speed. Our bodies and the ball crept through the frame — even when the video wasn’t glitching. Second-serve returns in percentage81%81%81% Double-faults455 First-serve returns in percentage77%78%85% Second-serve in percentage89%87%86% Percentage of all points won61%61%61% Aces101 Special Podcast: Check out Baseline, a U.S. Open mini-podcast with Carl Bialik, Louisa Thomas of Grantland, and others from the National Tennis Center grounds. Listen here, and subscribe to the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown on iTunes now so you don’t miss an episode! First-serve win percentage64%61%57% Break points of opponent’s serve202012 Win percentage for rallies of 10+ shots100%50%33% Win percentage for rallies of 1-3 shots60%61%64% Mojjo isn’t the only tennis tracker around. An Israeli company named PlaySight uses four cameras to Mojjo’s one, and its technology is more mature: Clubs have already installed it in about 130 courts. It provides a glimpse of what Mojjo could eventually do and of how a more advanced system could do things for amateurs that even some pros don’t get.Over Skype, PlaySight’s CEO and co-founder, Chen M. Shachar, said his system cost $10,000 per court — about three times what Mojjo will charge — plus a license fee for each facility. As is the case with Mojjo, the club, not the player, pays the PlaySight fee. But clubs most likely pass this cost on to players through higher per-match prices.Shachar said PlaySight has much bigger plans. For instance, he said the software eventually will be able to compare, say, me to its database of other players and tell me how my serve, backhand and other shots compare with the averages. And he envisions an improvement on current systems for remote coaching, which require coaching companies to download and tag video: I could instead share my PlaySight account — including video and data — with a top coach on the other side of the world. That’s better than pros can do when they’re playing on courts without Hawk-Eye.PlaySight already can do things Mojjo doesn’t immediately plan on. For instance, PlaySight live-streams matches. And its courtside kiosks provide in-match stats and video replay. It also offers a level of precision that makes it possible to review line calls, which Mojjo doesn’t.While Mojjo lacks the precision to make line calls with certainty, its camera nonetheless gave me a rare chance to review my own calls. Pros don’t call their own lines, but amateurs like Duff and I do. And I could tell while watching the raw video of my match that I’d made some questionable out calls.That’s not the only lesson I learned from my experience with Mojjo. My serve and volley stinks — I won 25 percent of those points, and that was lucky. My backhand is much weaker than my forehand (43 percent on backhands without slice vs. 63 percent on forehands without slice). I also landed fewer first serves than I predicted I would — and that I thought I had right after the match.I wasn’t nearly as good at intuiting stats while playing a match as I’d thought. Shachar said this isn’t unusual for people in high-stress activities — including sports and higher-stakes contests. PlaySight founders adapted their tennis platform from one they developed to allow fighter pilots to review their actions. “The gap between what really happened and what you think happened is huge,” Shachar said.2Pros, too, can have trouble tracking stats in their head. Gilles Simon, one of the most stat-conscious men on tour, said after defeating big-serving Milos Raonic at the Queen’s Club tournament in London last month that he’d thought Raonic had landed the vast majority of his first serves in the first set, only to learn when looking at the scoreboard between sets that Raonic had made just 52 percent.On the plus side, I learned that statistically, tennis looks pretty similar when played by two people of similar ability, no matter what that ability is. I even found a match that had roughly similar stats and scoreline to my match with Duff. It happened 15 years ago at Wimbledon. The winner was Fabrice Santoro, who like me had unconventional strokes.3He also had the very cool nickname “The Little Magician.” The loser was Andrea Gaudenzi, which sounds a little like Alex Duff in Italian.4To find a similar match, I examined stats from 12,379 best-of-five-set matches made available on GitHub by Sackmann. Then I zeroed in on the 855 straight-set wins with scores closest to ours of 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Finally, I calculated z-scores for 15 stats in our match and for each of the 12,379 pro matches: seven for each player (ace percentage, double-fault percentage, percentage of first serves that went in, percentage of first-serve points won, percentage of second-serve points won, break points against, and break points converted against), plus the dominance ratio (the ratio of the percentage of return points won to the percentage of serve points lost by the winner of the match). I summed the absolute value of the difference of the z-score for each of the 15 categories for our match and for each of the 855 matches. Santoro d. Gaudenzi came out the closest. Pros: They’re just like us.I also came to a fairly obvious realization that nonetheless troubled me. Before my Mojjo match, I considered myself a smart player, adjusting my tactics to take advantage of each opponent’s weaknesses. But with Mojjo, whatever I learned, my opponent would too — we’d both get the same stat sheets. For instance, from my charting, Duff landed 22 serves directed at my forehand and lost 20 of those points. If he notices that stat, he probably won’t serve to my forehand nearly so often the next time we play. Maybe having post-match stats would help my opponents more than me, by removing what I think is my tactical advantage from having an approximate handle on what’s working and what’s not. There’s also the risk I’d overthink things; even pros like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic said in media conferences at Wimbledon this year that they don’t normally look at their own stats in too much detail.But even if data can’t improve my game, my curiosity is stronger than my competitiveness. Now that I’ve experienced what very few players have, it’s been hard to go back. Each match uncharted feels like a lost opportunity to learn more about my game — including just how ugly my backhand is. While I wait for Mojjo to fix its bugs and come to courts near me, I’m awfully tempted to start filming and charting my matches myself.Maybe I’ll use a GoPro. Win percentage for rallies of 4-6 shots60%61%61% First-serve in percentage53%51%58% Win percentage for rallies of 7-9 shots54%54%50% Second-serve win percentage50%51%54% Break points converted151510 The next day, Witvoet, Duff and I met at the picnic tables outside Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Witvoet acknowledged that there were plenty of bugs still to work out. He and his fellow 30-something co-founders — Charles Chevalier, the chief technology officer, and Julien Vernay, the chief operations officer — had just installed Mojjo permanently at the club the prior week. “You are one of the early birds,” Witvoet said. “As you’ve seen, it’s not all polished. We know definitely it’s not totally ready.”After matches, the founders compare the footage from the Mojjo camera to the stats and use any discrepancies to hone the system. On their to-do list: a voice-recognition system that detects when players call balls out; social sharing of points so you can, for example, brag about an ace on Facebook, with video; and a gamified system so coaches can set statistical targets — like hitting a higher percentage of service returns in the court — and players can collect badges for achieving them. They’re also considering a pure software version that will allow players to use Mojjo to analyze footage they’ve shot themselves. “Our idea is, in some future, you GoPro yourself, and it’s done,” Witvoet said.Because of the video problems, Witvoet agreed to share with me the raw video of the match. I decided to check the stats for myself. I used a system developed by Jeff Sackmann for his Match Charting Project, which has enlisted volunteers to chart nearly 1,000 pro matches. During my Eurostar trip from Paris back home to London, I alt-tabbed between the video and the spreadsheet to log every shot — its type, direction and outcome.1For example, for one long rally I lost, I entered 4f29b2f2f3b2b2f+1f1# into a cell in the spreadsheet. Then I compared the results with Mojjo’s. They were off, in some cases by a lot.Duff hit 13 double-faults by my count, not the five Mojjo counted. I was making more first serves, but losing those points more often than Mojjo said. Both Duff and I were making more first-serve returns than estimated. And the break-point stats were way off for Mojjo, off even from the realm of possibility: The system showed that I’d faced five break points but been broken six times. (I counted four breaks off nine break points.) When Mojjo rolled out the next version of its software, correcting for problems reading high balls, and applied it to our match video, some but not all of these stats were more accurate — you can see just how accurate for my stats in the table adjacent to this paragraph. Chevalier estimated that the error rate on who won each point was below 5 percent. Score one for humanity over machine, so far at least, when it comes to logging tennis stats. But also score one for the pros, that special subset of humans who have someone doing the statkeeping for them. read more

The Jets Deal For LeVeon Bell Makes Sense Were Surprised Too

The Jets often put Sam Darnold in a tough spotAmong 2018 NFL quarterbacks, the greatest share of all dropbacks* that were on third down and long 7Alex SmithRedskins3696116.5 8Marcus MariotaTitans4076716.5 In an era when NFL success is defined by passing, one New York team said goodbye to one of the most electrifying young receivers in league history, and the other decided to make a 27-year-old running back the centerpiece of its new offense.Odell Beckham Jr. is out in New York football, and Le’Veon Bell is in. Bell’s move was nearly a year in the making, as he sat out the entire 2018 season in hopes of landing a long-term contract from a new team. It was assumed that he would pick a franchise on the precipice of winning a championship, but instead he chose the Jets, who went 4-12 last year and have a 21-year-old quarterback in Sam Darnold.Can Bell, five seasons and 1,541 total touches into his career, still perform at a Hall of Fame level? Through 2016, it looked as if Bell may have been worse for all the wear from his historic rushing and receiving workload, but he actually rebounded in 2017, his last season.When we last saw Bell, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs for that 2017 season, he was the best player on the field. And the fact that Bell stopped the clock last year on his touches could work to the Jets’ benefit. According to my research last year at The Wall Street Journal, running backs typically maintain peak rushing efficiency through about career touch 2,400 (not including touches in the postseason). At Bell’s current per-game pace, that’s about 34 games (or two-plus seasons) away. So the Jets are making a good bet that Bell will earn his $35 million guaranteed on his four-year, $52.5 million deal — less than the Jets reportedly were prepared to pay linebacker Anthony Barr before he backed out of that deal to return to Minnesota. 6Dak PrescottCowboys61010316.9 1Lamar JacksonRavens2034019.7% 2Sam DarnoldJets4598919.4 5Josh AllenBills3967117.9 Dropbacks 3Josh RosenCardinals4518619.1 RankPlayerTeamTotal3rd & LongShare 9Russell WilsonSeahawks4998116.2 The Jets seem to have needed Bell more than Bell needed the Jets. They were simply awful last year running the ball. The Jets’ play success when running on first and second down last year ranked 31st in the league, at just 31.8 percent, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. This meant that the Jets were routinely behind schedule in terms of down and distance, forcing Darnold to play uphill. 10Deshaun WatsonTexans61910016.2 4Ryan TannehillDolphins3156019.1 * Pass attempts and sacksBased on a minimum of 170 total pass attemptsSource: ESPN Stats & Information Group Enter Bell, who in his previous two seasons had a 41.4 percent success rate on first and second down.It’s may be surprising that Darnold, who posted mediocre numbers on the whole during his rookie year, could attract such a top free-agent receiving target at the peak of his ability. Darnold wasn’t Baker Mayfield last year. He struggled mightily, especially before missing three games with injury beginning in Week 10. But upon his return, Darnold was excellent — without receiving the fanfare that Baker Mayfield generated in the season’s second half. In weeks 14 through 17, the rookie from USC was actually was the top quarterback in football measured by Total QBR. And Darnold achieved this distinction despite being saddled with the least successful running game in football in that period.Darnold and Bell could be well-matched. As a rookie, Darnold showed an ability to make plays on- and off-script.“Darnold is going to be really good,” said Josh McCown, his backup and mentor last year. “Making plays in and out of structure is the key. He has that thing that Aaron Rodgers and a few guys have — an ability to get outside the pocket and make something happen when the play isn’t working. It’s a special gift.” McCown compares Darnold to Tony Romo. And Romo is among Darnold’s biggest fans, correctly predicting in midseason the dramatic leap in his performance that was yet to come.And Darnold’s growth in the season’s home stretch coincided with great success passing to running backs. That success came throwing to the likes of Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon. Now he gets to throw to one of the most prolific receiving running backs through age 25 in NFL history.Bell leaves a Pittsburgh Steelers team that boasted the best offensive line in football for a Jets team that, well, does not. But the Jets already made a major move to improve that unit, adding Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade with the Raiders. And last season in Miami, new Jets head coach Adam Gase was able to reinvigorate the seemingly moribund career of ancient Frank Gore, who posted by far his most efficient rushing season since 2012.The sudden shift of star power in East Rutherford, N.J., is already allowing the Jets to win the back pages of New York tabloids. Now they’ll have to see if they can make up ground on the field, too. read more

NC State Michigan State advance from NCAA Tournament Nationwide Arena

Several college basketball teams saw their NCAA Tournament runs end at Nationwide Arena in Columbus this past weekend. North Carolina State and Michigan State were able to stave off elimination, though, and advance to the Sweet 16.  North Carolina State 66, Georgetown 63 Jason Clark had a chance. The Georgetown senior guard had a shot from the right wing that could have sent the game between the No.3-seeded Hoyas and No.11-seed North Carolina State into overtime as time was expiring. Clark missed, sending the Hoyas (24-9) home and the Wolfpack (24-8) into the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years on a 66-63 victory in the third round of the Midwest Region in the NCAA Tournament in Columbus. “I felt like (the shot) had a chance. But it was off. We pushed the ball up the court, tried to get a last shot,” Clark said. “I felt like it had a chance, but it didn’t.” N.C. State, led by sophomore forward C.J Leslie, junior forward Scott Wood and senior guard C.J Williams, who scored 14 points a piece, rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half with balanced scoring and a plethora of offensive rebounds on way to a win. “I’m extremely proud of our team and these young guys. We came back, took the lead, and just how tough-minded they have become. It makes you feel very good as a coach, very proud of them,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. Junior forward Hollis Thompson dropped 23 points for Georgetown. Clark added 10, while fellow Hoyas’ senior, center Henry Sims, only played 22 minutes due to foul trouble. The first half was full of runs by both teams. Georgetown got out to a 5-3 lead on a floater and a 3-pointer by freshman forward Otto Porter. The Hoyas followed that with a 6-2 run, but not before Sims picked up two fouls, both of which came driving into the lane. Sims was forced to sit for the majority of the remainder of the half, but Georgetown was able to get out to a 25-15 lead with him on the bench, thanks to poor shooting by the Wolfpack and an array of 3-pointers by Clark, freshman forward Greg Whittington and freshman guard Jabril Trawick. “We came out kind of slow. We weren’t up-tempo like we wanted to be,” Leslie said. Around the seven-minute mark, Georgetown coach John Thompson III went with a lineup featuring four freshman and Clark, and N.C. State’s run followed shortly. The Wolfpack outscored Georgetown 15-2 to end the half, with most of their points from inside the paint, and took a 30-27 lead into halftime after a steal and breakaway dunk by sophomore forward CJ Leslie. “We got some fast breaks, got some easy buckets,” Gottfried said. “And then the game started to loosen up for us a little bit better.” N.C. State continued to play tough inside as the second half began. Sims picked up his third foul around the 15-minute mark, and the Wolfpack extended their lead to 45-34 after a jumper went for junior center DeShawn Painter. N.C. State grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game. Georgetown rallied with a flurry of buckets by Thompson. With less than two minutes to go, Sims, with four fouls, hit a lay-up, his first points of the game, to cut N.C. State’s lead to three, 62-59. After Wolfpack sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown missed the front-end of a one-an-one, Sims was fouled inside, and hit both free throws to make it 62-61. Wood, a 92 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, only hit 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled, and the Hoyas had a chance to tie the game, but Porter missed a contested jump shot from the base line. Brown was fouled, and hit one of two free throws before Clark’s shot went wide.  Michigan State 65, St. Louis 61 For the 10th time in his career, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is headed to the Sweet 16, but it didn’t come easy. The top-seeded Spartans (29-7) outlasted No.9-seed Saint Louis (26-8) in a physical battle in the third round of the West Region of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus on Sunday, 65-61. “I don’t know if you would believe this or not, but I thought to myself the game would go just like it went. I didn’t know who would win, but I told my guys I know what good a coach (SLU coach Rick Majerus) is,” Izzo said. MSU senior forward Draymond Green came up big for the Spartan in the win, making play after play in the game’s final moments, finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Spartan sophomore guard Keith Appling added 19 points, three assists and three rebounds. “I think (Green)’s the best player in the country,” Majerus said. “If I had to take a kid right now to win the national championship, I’d take Draymond Green.” The Billikens hung tough with the Spartans thanks in part to their defensive effort and the play of junior guard Kwamain Mitchell and senior forward Brian Conklin, who scored 13 and 11 points, respectively. “We fought our guts out. (MSU)’s a terrific team. I don’t know that we could have played better,” Majerus said. Physical defense dominated the game’s opening 20 minutes. After back-and-forth scoring, SLU took a 15-11 lead on the Spartans after a 3-pointer by Billikens’ sophomore guard Jordair Jett. It did not take MSU long to regain the lead. The Spartans went on a 13-2 run, capped by a driving finger-roll layup in the lane by Green with just less than four minutes to play in the half. Both teams had opportunities to score in the final minute, but the defenses held strong, and MSU took a 26-21 lead into half time. Coming out of the half, SLU sophomore guard Mike McCall Jr. hit a 3-pointer to bring the Billikens within two, but MSU followed with a 15-8 run to go up, 41-32. After Appling hit an open jump shot, one of the many SLU gave him, MSU went up 49-42 with just under seven minutes to play. “All night they pretty much had me begging to shoot the ball. We got in the huddle in one of our timeouts, Draymond (Green) instilled some confidence in me, told me I was a 41 percent 3-point shooter last year, so shoot the ball,” Appling said. Majerus said he was surprised by Appling’s ability to knock down open jump shots. “Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “I think with Appling, Izzo played it really smart, told him to shoot.” Following Appling’s jumper, Billikens’ sophomore guard Jordair Jett hit a rainbow floater, and on the next possession, got fouled and hit both free throws to make it 49-46. From there, the game went back-and-forth, with both teams scoring and hitting tough shots. With fewer than three minutes to go, Green started to take over. He hit a tough, outside jump shot with 2:47 to play to put MSU up, 55-51. A little more than a minute later, Green drove to the bucket and found Appling wide open in the corner, which he drilled, giving MSU a 58-51 lead with 1:34 remaining in the game. SLU made a couple more shots to keep MSU fans nervous, but the Spartans were able to hold on. read more

Kenny Guiton preparing alongside Braxton Miller for Penn State

No. 9 Ohio State travels to Penn State this weekend for a battle between the Big Ten’s two teams ineligible for postseason play. OSU coach Urban Meyer and PSU coach Bill O’Brien weighed in on the status of Buckeye quarterback Braxton Miller at the weekly Big Ten football coaches teleconference. Preparing for Miller Time Miller was injured in the third quarter of last Saturday’s overtime win against Purdue, and Meyer said that the sophomore quarterback is still nursing a very sore neck. Meyer confirmed that Miller has been cleared to practice, but said backup redshirt junior Kenny Guiton will be prepared to play. “We’re going to have two ready,” said Meyer. Nonetheless, O’Brien said his team is preparing for OSU’s typical offense, in which Miller is the team’s leading passer and rusher. “Obviously, we’re preparing for Braxton Miller,” O’Brien said. “He’s one of the top players in the country, at the end of the day, that’s the guy that we have to prepare for.” High praise for Heuerman Buckeye fans might be celebrating Jeff Heuerman for his receiving skills right now – the sophomore tight end caught the game-tying two-point conversion last Saturday – but Meyer has been impressed with a different aspect of Heuerman’s skill set. “He might be the best blocking tight end that I’ve ever had in my head coaching career,” Meyer said. Heuerman’s contributions might not jump off a stat sheet with six receptions this year for one touchdown, but Meyer said that Heuerman’s blocking has been extremely important this season. “He’s giving us a component that we’ve never really had at that spot,” Meyer said. “He’s a point guy that can really block a defensive had . That’s really great to have.” Better left unsaid? Michigan has not won a Big Ten title since 2004, and coach Brady Hoke said that he uses the program’s conference championship drought to motivate his players every day. “Let’s face it,” said the second-year Michigan coach. “Besides graduating and honoring your name, the expectations are to win Big Ten Championships. We embrace it and we are not going to shy away from it.” Hoke’s approach is fundamentally different than that of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who said he just tries to keep his team focused on getting better every day. “I don’t talk about (winning the conference) daily,” Pelini said. “Our players understand what’s out there and what the challenges are.” Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) and Nebraska (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) meet this weekend, and whether the coaches want to talk about it or not, the game has major implications on the conference championship picture. To maintain its undefeated conference record, Michigan will have to do what it’s failed to do twice this season – win a night game away from home. The Wolverines were handled, 41-14, on a neutral field against Alabama on Sept. 1, and fell to Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., 13-6, three weeks later. “We haven’t played our best football,” Hoke said. “We are going to need to this week.” read more

Mark Osiecki out as Ohio State mens hockey coach

Mark Osiecki is out as the Ohio State men’s hockey coach. OSU announced Monday morning that Osiecki would not return to his position after three years in Columbus. “We are making a change in our head hockey coaching position,” said OSU athletic director Gene Smith. “There was a difference of opinion over the management of the program that could not be resolved.” Osiecki guided the Buckeyes to a 16-17-7 overall record and 13-10-5 mark in Central Collegiate Hockey Association play before losing to Notre Dame in conference tournament’s semifinals. Osiecki compiled a 46-50-16 record at OSU. According to OSU, associate head hockey coach Steve Rohlik “will be the primary point person for the program, student-athletes and recruits.” Osiecki did not immediately return The Lantern‘s request for comment. read more

Freshman Johnnie Dixon to have knee surgery out for season

Before ever catching a pass as a Buckeye, Ohio State freshman wide receiver Johnnie Dixon will have to wait until next season to step back on the field.OSU coach Urban Meyer said on 97.1 The Fan that Dixon is set to have knee surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. Meyer said Dixon’s healthy issues stem from tendinitis in both of his knees.Dixon was praised by the coaching staff during fall camp and expected to contribute early in his career, but didn’t play in OSU’s first two games of the season. He made his Buckeye debut against Kent State on Sept. 13 and carried the ball four times for 20 yards in the 66-0 victory.Per NCAA rules, Dixon will be eligible for a medical redshirt. In order to be eligible for a medical hardship waiver, the injury has to be season-ending and the player has to have taken part in less than 30 percent of the team’s entire season.OSU’s next game is scheduled for Saturday against Cincinnati at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. read more

Womens Soccer Ohio State ties 00 with No 21 Rutgers

Ohio State senior goalkeeper Devon Kerr (1) prepares to take a goal kick in the second half of the game against Florida Gulf Coast University on Sept. 7. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe Ohio State women’s soccer team (7-5-2, 4-2-2 Big Ten) drew a 0-0 tie with No. 21 Rutgers (9-1-5, 5-1-3 Big Ten) this Friday evening on alumni weekend at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.With neither team able to score in the first 45 minutes of the game, the score was tied 0-0 at the end of regulation. Rutgers finished the day with 20 total shots, but with only two shots on goal. Freshman forward Kayla Fischer, senior forward Eleanor Gabriel and senior midfielder Sarah Roberts combined for six of Ohio State’s eight total shots, with Fischer and Roberts each recording a shot on goal. Then, the Buckeyes and the Scarlet Knights went into overtime, but couldn’t find either opponents net. Rutgers freshman goalie Megan McClelland and Ohio State senior goalie Devon Kerr both ended the match with two saves and a pair of clean sheets.Last weekend, the Buckeyes fell 1-0 to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, but then won 1-0 in a match against the Spartans. The Buckeyes will look to come out on top against Maryland this Sunday at 2 p.m. when they return to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Teachers Racist parents pull children from RE classes because they dont want

first_imgThe motion urged the union to work with others to “determine the nature and extent of the selective use of the right of withdrawal”.A Department for Education spokesman said: “Good quality religious education can develop children’s knowledge of the values and traditions of Britain and help foster understanding among different faiths and cultures.”Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or any part of religious education, but schools should make sure that parents who want to do this are aware of the religious education syllabus and its relevance to all pupils.” Mr Griffiths told the conference: “I’m sure you are well aware of the dangers of members of society closing themselves off to the rest of the world, the dangers of social media channelling an ever more extreme reflection of people’s beliefs, without balance, and the dangers of those children who are ignorant of other religious beliefs and non-beliefs, and lack an understanding of the way that individuals, regardless of religion, can work together and make a positive difference to society are increasingly vulnerable to targeting by extremists.”Kim Knappett, the union’s vice president, said she had been shown a letter by a headteacher from a parent who was asking to selectively remove their child from RE and that “the letter was so foul” her answer was that they should refer it to the relevant authorities.She said in another case, she had been talking to students of different ages about RE in sixth forms and they told her they believed it was important that they learn about each other, and to question and debate. “Prejudiced” parents are pulling their children from Religious Education classes because they don’t want them learning about Islam, teachers have warned. Mothers and fathers are abusing their right to withdraw children from the classes, and this is hampering schools’ attempts to “prepare a child for life in modern Britain”, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference heard.Delegates have agreed a resolution urging the Government to take steps to prevent parents from selectively withdrawing their children, specifically from the teaching of individual religions.Proposing the motion, Richard Griffiths from the union’s Inner London branch, said that RE today has developed into a subject “that allows for critical thinking, big questions, allows children to explore their own and other religious beliefs and non-beliefs”. He highlighted a recent investigation which indicated that there had been a 48 per cent rise in hate-related crimes linked to race and ethnicity between 2015/16 and 2016/17. He said the resolution was not against parents’ right to withdraw youngsters, but was concerned about evidence which suggested an increase in the abuse of the right, and the potential for it to be abused.Mr Griffiths argued that the right in the “rare cases” where parents’ religious beliefs provided genuine grounds for withdrawal was “very different to the cases of parents with certain prejudices including Islamophobia and antisemitism who wish to remove their children from certain lessons or visits to places of worship that would significantly hinder the ability of the school to prepare a child for life in modern Britain”. Parents with certain prejudices including Islamophobia and antisemitism who wish to remove their children from certain lessons… would significantly hinder the ability of the school to prepare a child for life in modern BritainRichard Griffiths, from ATL’s Inner London branch Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Care home insolvencies rise amid pressure from living wage costs

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. A study by NatWest last year found that staff costs in nursing homes run by small and medium businesses had reached 55 per cent of turnover.Separate research carried out by Opus Restructuring and Company Watch also found that one in four of the UK’s 2,500 home care companies was at risk of insolvency.Lee Causer, a partner at Moore Stephens, said: “Care homes should be benefiting from the demographics of the UK – an ageing population. But they are not.“Care homes are not receiving enough local Government funding to sustain the profit margins necessary to run a successful business.“Many companies are finding it difficult to cope with the rising costs associated with the care industry.“Without additional income, care homes will not be able to offer the levels of care required whilst remaining solvent.” The number of care home businesses going bust has nearly doubled in a year as experts warn that the new living wage could be putting standards at risk. Official figures show that the number of residential care businesses entering insolvency during the year to the end of March rose to 148, up from 81 during the previous financial year. The first quarter of this year had a higher number than in any previous recorded quarter, with provisional data from the insolvency service suggesting 44 businesses were newly insolvent. Analysing the figures, accountancy firm Moore Stephens said that the cost of providing quality care had risen, in part because of the introduction of the national living wage two years ago. As of April this year workers aged 25 and over must be paid a minimum of £7.83 an hour following pay reforms introduced in April 2016. Staffing costs have been identified as one of the pressures on social care, with experts warning that some businesses risk becoming over-reliant on expensive agency staff as they struggle to recruit quality full-time employees. While higher pay could attract more people to the sector, there is concern that some businesses are struggling to stay afloat as fees paid by local authorities for council-funded residents are too low. read more

Sats are no better than teachers at predicting pupils GCSE and ALevel

The research comes ahead of thousands of Year 6 children starting their SATs on Monday.Last month the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that if elected, he would scrap Sats because primary school children are “unique” and should not have to go through “extreme pressure testing”.Mr Corbyn said that children should be “encouraged to be creative” and allowed to “let their imagination roam” rather than be subjected to the “unnecessary pressure of national exams”.A Labour government would replace Sats with an alternative form of assessment that would take into account “the learning needs of each child”, which parents and teachers would be consulted on before it was designed.   Ministers have said that axing Sats would cause “enormous damage” to education and undo decades of improvement in children’s numeracy and literacy.  Earlier this week, the chair of Ofqual said that Sats in primary school are necessary to show that taxpayer money is being well spent. Roger Taylor said that the assessments are necessary so that the public can be “confident” that the education system is fir for purpose. Sats are no better than teachers at predicting pupil’s GCSE and A-Level results, a study has found.Researchers from King’s College London (KCL) say their findings call into question the benefits of standardised exams. The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found teacher assessments at age 7, 11 and 14 were just as effective as using Sats results to predict pupils’ subsequent exam success.Dr Kaili Rimfeld, one of the report’s lead authors, said: “We have shown for the first time that teacher assessments predict GCSE and A-level results just as well as earlier exam scores.  “The fact that exam scores correlate so highly with the teacher assessments raises questions about the value of the testing culture that characterises compulsory education in the UK.”  Currently children take Sats at the end of their final year of primary school, while the tests for seven-year-olds are being phased out in favour of “baseline assessments” for children at the end of Reception.  The researchers made the comparison by linking data from more than 5,000 twin pairs in the Twins Early Development Study with teacher assessments and exam scores in the National Pupil Database.   Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Berbice man killed by African bees on his sons birthday

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedSugar worker killed in deadly bee attack – several other GuySuCo workers injuredMarch 27, 2016In “latest news”Berbice machine operator killed by African beesOctober 21, 2017In “Crime”Rice Mill labourer killed after door fell on him – crushing his chestApril 13, 2016In “latest news” Dead: Ravendranauth “Earo” NarineRavendranauth Narine, also known as “Earo,” of Lot ‘A’ 47 Number 12 Village, West Coast Berbice, died after a swarm of African bees stung him while he was operating heavy-duty machinery in uprooting trees at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice.The incident occurred late on Thursday afternoon, and the 51-year-old father of four died while receiving medical attention at the New Amsterdam Hospital on Friday at about 21:00hrs.One of the dead man’s co-workers, a teenager named Azim Habid, said that at the time of the incident they were uprooting trees to clear a way for the construction of a new road when the bees swarmed them.He indicated that after the bees launched their attack he fled the scene, leaving his co-worker behind.He related that it was Narine who first had seen the bees and raised the alarm. Habid, who also received several bee stings, said he sprinted away, leaving Narine in the distance.“When I look back I see bees covering he whole skin,” he said.He recalled running for about 30 minutes to get help, but noted that persons were reluctant to offer assistance.However, he was able to persuade someone to offer assistance after about an hour.Habid related that when they arrived at the scene, Narine’s body was covered with bees, resulting in them utilising an excavator to remove him out of the area.The man’s wife, Roopwattie Narine, told this publication that she received a phone call on Thursday, informing her of the incident. She said relatives rushed to the hospital and began to inquire about the condition of her husband.Roopwattie said that when she got to the hospital, she saw her husband surrounded by doctors and nurses.She added that it was almost impossible to recognize him, since his face was swollen almost triple its original size.Narine leaves to mourn his wife and four children. He died on his son’s third birthday.Many beekeepers have indicated that it is the African bees’ swarming season, and they are urging the public to ensure they exercise caution at this time. read more

Over 50 coaches to be certified for participation in National Robotics

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedSTEMGuyana to launch “Reading & Robotics” program in 13 librariesOctober 9, 2018In “Business”Ministry, NGOs partner to offer ICT training for citizensFebruary 6, 2018In “latest news”STEMGuyana Signs Agreement To Bring International Youth Robot Competition To GuyanaSeptember 23, 2018In “latest news” A series of Certification programmes for technology ‘buffs’, youth leaders and teachers interested in starting technology clubs in communities will be conducted by STEM Guyana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.Flashback: The STEM team which represented Guyana at the First Global Challenge in Washington, D.C.The one-day sessions will be held over three consecutive days from February 1 to 3.The seminars will begin with 20 coaches from across the country who had signed up online.  On the second day, 20 teachers from local public schools will participate in the sessions, while teachers from private schools in Bartica will be prepared for certification on the final day.The programme will focus on organising and guiding technology clubs, building and programming of robots, and the fundamentals of MIT Scratch programming.Scratch is a programming language and online community where tech-savvy individuals receive assistance in creating their own interactive stories, games and animations.The potential coaches will also learn about the International STEM League and how to use the League’s competition software.Following the Certification programme, the new Coaches will be expected to form clubs and then prepare their teams for competition in the upcoming Scratch and Robotics Guyana tournaments.These will be officially launched by STEM Guyana at the end of February 2018, and community teams led by more than 50 coaches are expected to participate.Sessions will begin at 8:30 am in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.This certification programme is the brainchild of one of the STEM Guyana co-founders, Leon Caleb Christian and is being coordinated by another co-founder, Karen Abrams, a Start-up Inclusion Consultant, and Ima Christian who is currently pursuing studies at Stanford University, California, USA.The sessions will also be facilitated by STEM Guyana’s local Master Trainers.According to Abrams, programmes such as Lego Mindstorm and MIT Scratch, teach computational thinking, problem-solving, logical reasoning and innovative thinking in a fun and engaging environment.She believes that “not only will these programmes help students to perform better in school, but they will also make students more aware of problems in their own communities, country, region, world and empower them to work on teams to fix these problems”.Abrams said the skills derived from these training sessions will enable Guyana to compete globally and to exponentially increase the rate of development. read more

After 24 surgeries Bangladesh tree man relapses

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedBangladesh’s ‘Tree man’ has his hands backJanuary 9, 2017In “latest news”Bangladeshi girl may be first female with ‘tree man syndrome’January 31, 2017In “latest news”Surgery success for Bangladeshi girl with three legsApril 28, 2017In “latest news” (AFP) – A year ago Abul Bajandar, a Bangladeshi rickshaw-puller dubbed “tree-man” for the bark-like growths that once covered his body, appeared to have made a full recovery from the rare condition that has afflicted him for a decade.But twelve months after doctors declared him all but cured following 24 surgeries, Bajandar’s hands are once again covered in the growths that characterise his rare condition.Surgeon Samanta Lal Sen, who last year hailed his cure as a milestone in medical history, now admits Bajandar’s case may be more complicated than first thought.His patient, who has been unable to work for years and whose young family lives in the hospital, says he fears he will never be cured.“I am scared to have any more surgeries. I don’t think my hands and feet will be okay again,” the 27-year-old told AFP at the Dhaka hospital where he first came for treatment in January 2016. Bajandar suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis, an extremely rare genetic condition known as “tree-man disease”.Intrigued by his condition, doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital treated him for free, surgically removing more than five kilos (11 pounds) of growths from his hands and feet. He has been there ever since with his wife and family, who live together in a small room in the hospital.“We thought we had achieved (a cure). But now it seems to be a time-consuming case,” surgeon Sen told AFP.“We will keep on investigating to reach the ultimate success, though it’s tough to say how long it will take.”This week Bajandar underwent his 25th surgery to remove some of the growths from his hands. For his wife Halima Khatun, life is on hold as she tends to her husband and looks after their four-year-old daughter.“We’re grateful for the free treatment, we couldn’t have afforded to pay for it,” said Khatun, who passes her time in the ward making jewellery for a little cash.Fewer than half a dozen people worldwide have epidermodysplasia verruciformis, according to Sen. Last year the Dhaka Medical College Hospital treated a young Bangladeshi girl suffering from the condition.Doctors declared surgery to remove the growths a success, but her father later said they had grown back in even greater numbers.He withdrew her from treatment, saying he did not want to watch her grow up in a hospital ward. “Nobody deserves to be in a hospital forever,” said a nurse working in the plastic surgery unit. “Unfortunately, he (Bajandar) may have to stay here for a while.”Meanwhile Bajandar worries about money, and how he will pay for his daughter’s education. “She’s growing up so fast,” he said.“I always wanted her to become a doctor. But if my condition worsens, how can I even send her to pre-school, let alone a medical college?” read more

Senior Counsel Rafiq Khan appointed as Acting Justice of Appeal

President David Granger, today, administered the Oath of Office to Senior Counsel Rafiq Khan, swearing him in as Acting Justice of Appeal. The six-month appointment takes effect from today (Wednesday).Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony at State House, the Head of State said that this appointment, which accords with Article 128 (2) (D) of the Constitution of Guyana, will serve to preserve and protect the rights of citizens to equal protection and benefit of the law.“The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is committed to ensuring equal protection and benefit of the law through its support for access by all to justice and the efficient and timely dispensation of justice by the courts. Equality before the law can exist only where there is access to the law. The absence of such access deprives citizens of equal protection and benefit of the law,” the President said.He also pointed out that an efficient and independent judiciary must include a full complement of legal officers, magistrates and judges, which enables judicial efficiency, to ensure that citizens’ cases are heard expeditiously. This, he said, will enhance public confidence in the rule of law.Meanwhile, Justice Khan, who was elevated to the status of Senior Counsel in 2017, said that he was interviewed for the position by the JSC in July last year. “What I think I can bring to the table is vast experience in civil procedures. When you come out of private practice and you go unto the Bench, you bring a different perspective,” he was quoted by the MotP as saying.Justice Khan has been practicing most Civil Law for the past 30 years. He also taught at the University of Guyana for about three years, served on the Rows Committee for 10 years and the Legal Practitioners Committee for 15 years.Last month, President Granger appointed Attorney-at-law Dr. Arif Bulkan as an acting Judge of the Court of Appeal. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedJustice Claudette Singh receives her Commission of Appointment as Senior CounselJanuary 11, 2017In “latest news”After 20 years: 9 Senior Counsel appointments commissionedJanuary 4, 2017In “latest news”Dr Arif Bulkan sworn in as new acting Court of Appeal JudgeJanuary 17, 2018In “Court” read more

Despite downpour Essequibo motorcade deemed a success

Thousands of Essequibians braved the heavy rainfall to get a glimpse of the Essequibo Coast Diwali Motorcade on Friday night.Residents lined the roadway from the starting point in Affiance and some followed on to the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground where they were treated to a rich cultural presentation.The Diwali motorcade organized by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha is a yearly event and residents will usually turn out in their large numbers with families, neighbours and friends to get a good look of the many decorated vehicles depicting Diwali, the festival of lights.One of the best vantage points in the Region is the historic Anna Regina High Bridge where families and friends gathered with their cameras and phones to take pictures of the many decorated vehicles.Although the weather was not friendly, causing the delay of the starting by hours, residents took shelter in their vehicles and other places just to get a glimpse of one of the most beautiful night celebrations in the Region.Eleven Mandirs and one private individual participated. It was not easy for the Judges to Judge the competition but the Golden Fleece Mandir was able to capture the 1st place, followed by Spring Garden 2nd and Reliance 3rd.Dr Vindhya Persaud, President of the Sabha said that the night was magical and thanked the local organizers, participants and residents who braved the inclement weather, and turned out in their large numbers to grace the occasion. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedDharmic Sabha’s countrywide motorcades set for October 22-29October 7, 2016In “Local News”Diwali Messages 2018November 6, 2018In “latest news”Scenes from Diwali motorcade at LBIOctober 30, 2016In “Local News” read more