Tiger Woods Seen Confused Stumbling On Police Dashcam Video

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — His speech slow and slurred, Tiger Woods couldn’t follow simple instructions or keep his balance during a dazed and disoriented encounter with police before he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.The video images came from dashcam footage that Jupiter police released Wednesday night, and they show Woods with little capacity to stand still without swaying, repeat simple instructions or put one foot in front of the other.The footage came from his arrest Monday in the dark of early morning when Jupiter police noticed his Mercedes parked on the side of a six-lane road, part of it in the road and part of it in the bicycle lane.Police found Woods asleep behind the wheel, according to an incident report. The engine was running, the brake lights were on and the right turn signal was blinking. Police also released photos of his car that showed two flat tires and minor damage around the bumpers.When the officer asks Woods where he had been, the 14-time major champion says, “LA.” He says he was headed down to Orange County.The 1 hour, 39-minute video starts with Jupiter police approaching Woods’ car and ends with the cruiser pulling into the Palm Beach County jail with Woods in handcuffs behind his back and sitting in the back seat.Woods told the officers he had not been drinking, and two breath tests at the jail registered a 0.0 blood-alcohol level. Woods issued a statement nearly 10 hours after he was released from jail on Monday that alcohol was not involved.“What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications,” Woods said in his statement. “I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”He told police he was taking prescription medicine. When asked what kind, he gave an answer that was redacted from the videotape. The arrest affidavit listed four medications, including Vicodin, that Woods reported taking.Woods is to be arraigned July 5 in Palm Beach County Court.The video brings to life the troubling images contained in an incident report from the four police officers who were at the scene.His speech is slurred from his first words. When the officer points out that Woods’ shoe is untied, Woods places his right foot on the front of the police car and starts to fiddle with the laces.“It’s your other shoe that’s untied,” the officer says as Woods unties the laces.“Now, that one is, too,” the officer adds.When Woods is unable to tie the left shoe, the officer tells him he can take them off. Woods then tells the officer he doesn’t remember what happened or being asleep in his car when police approached.The field sobriety test was a failure from the start.Woods struggled to simply put his feet together. When he did, he leaned forward after losing his balance.He couldn’t follow a red light the officer moved from side to side. When asked to walk a straight line by going heel-to-toe nine times, Woods staggered from the starting position. He never connected heel-to-toe. He often strayed outside the white line and occasionally lost his balance.Woods couldn’t raise one leg 6 inches off the ground.On his third try of understanding instructions to recite the alphabet, he made it from A to Z.The next instruction from the officer was to place his hands behind his back as they cuffed him and told him he was being arrested.Woods, who had his fourth back surgery in three years on April 20, has not played since Feb. 2 in Dubai when he withdrew after the first round because of back spasms. The surgery means he is out for the rest of the PGA Tour season. read more

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Jordy Nelson Is Behind The Packers Renaissance

Aaron Rodgers was in the midst of the worst statistical year of his career, had just suffered losses in five of the previous six games and was about to spend Thanksgiving watching the Detroit Lions pull 2.5 games ahead of his Green Bay Packers. Yet Rodgers somehow knew there was enough talent in the huddle, on the sidelines and in his arm to win the NFC North.“I feel like we can run the table,” Rodgers said at a news conference on Nov. 23. “I really do.” On Sunday night, he finished the task by leading the Packers to the division title with a masterful 300-yard, four-touchdown performance. What felt like an offhand comment in the moment looks like a Namathesque guarantee in light of the Packers’ six-game win streak.But how did Rodgers and the Packers flip the switch midseason? The same way they flipped it in the middle of Sunday’s season finale: by using fully healed wideout Jordy Nelson to dictate matchups and exploit mismatches.Although Packers head coach Mike McCarthy declared Nelson 100 percent at the start of the season, it was clear that Nelson wasn’t nearly in top form early on. Having missed all of 2015’s regular season with an ACL tear in his right knee, Nelson was slowed over the summer with an injury to the other knee. In Week 1 of this season, his first competitive action since the 2015 Pro Bowl, Nelson got nine targets and six catches, but for only 32 yards and a touchdown.This mincing performance — Nelson averaged just 5.3 yards per catch — set the tone for the first half of the season. Across the first eight weeks, Nelson caught just 51.7 percent of his targets, averaging four catches and 59 yards per game.Though Nelson remained effective in the red zone, his yards per target (6.9) were far below his career average of 9.9. He struggled to get open deep, struggled to break short passes long and failed to help his fellow pass-catchers by drawing coverage to his side.As Rodgers forced passes to well-covered receivers, his numbers sagged, too: Through five games, Rodgers’ completion rate, touchdown-to-interception ratio, passer efficiency rating and average yards per attempt were all below his career-worst season marks.But as Nelson regained his explosion, the Packers offense found its groove. Even as they lost shootouts in Nashville and Washington in Weeks 10 and 11, Rodgers and Nelson put up big numbers. But he’s really come on since Rodgers’s prediction. Over the first 10 games, Nelson caught just 56.4 percent of his targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group; over the final six, he caught 83 percent of them.The routes Nelson was running weren’t that much deeper than they had been — his air yards per target, meaning how far past the sticks the ball traveled, only went from 11.87 to 12.43. But the effect of an improved Nelson opened up the offense. Through the first 10 games, only 19 percent of Rodgers’s pass attempts went 15 or more yards down the field; 10 percent went 20 or more yards. Since then, those numbers have spiked to 24.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively.In the first half against Detroit on Sunday, Nelson was shadowed by top Lions corner Darius Slay. With both teams playing conservatively and relying on their ground game, Nelson saw only one target before halftime. The Packers went into the locker room down 14-10, and the winning streak was in serious danger.But on the first drive of the second half, Nelson lined up primarily in the slot — and sliced through the Lions’ linebackers and safeties for gain after gain. On that drive alone, Nelson had three catches for 42 yards, streaking through holes in the Lions’ zones and setting up a go-ahead touchdown.As the Lions’ defensive backs shuffled around to contain Nelson, receiver-cum-tailback Ty Montgomery did damage out of the backfield, and undrafted free agent rookie wideout Geronimo Allison roasted the Lions down the sideline for a team-high 91 yards and a score on the day.This is the Packers offense as it’s supposed to be: Defenses scrambling to cover all of Rodgers’s targets, Rodgers picking them apart and making unknowns look like world-beaters in the process. During their table run, the Packers offense averaged 30.8 points per game, third-most in the NFL — after ranking just 11th in scoring offense over the first half of the season with an average of 24.8.During the six-game win streak that won the Packers a division title and made Rodgers an MVP candidate, Nelson averaged nine targets, seven catches, 99 yards and a score, with a healthy yards-per-target average of 10.6.“I believe in myself and my abilities, but I also believe in this team,” Rodgers said after Sunday’s win. “This wasn’t just a shot in the dark. It was an optimistic belief in my teammates that we were going to start handling adversity better.”But now the Packers are in the playoffs, and arguably the hottest team in football. Can they handle the adversity of winning three straight playoff games to make it to the Super Bowl? As long as Nelson keeps changing the math of how teams defend the Packers, it’s possible.Check out our latest NFL predictions. read more

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Beside The Points For Thursday Feb 22 2018

All newsletters Oh, and don’t forgetIs this the secret to ice dancing? We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeTeam USA did it!In a thrilling finish to what’s become one of the greatest rivalries in international sports, the Americans beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout after overtime to win the gold medal in women’s ice hockey. Four years ago, Canada beat the U.S. in Sochi 3-2, and in this game, the Americans had to overcome a fierce Canadian power play with less than 2 minutes to go in overtime to win. [SB Nation]Russia, not so muchRussia has never won a gold medal in Olympic ice hockey. Naturally, the Soviet Union was an international ice hockey juggernaut, but the Russian Federation hasn’t had their luck, winning only a silver and a bronze over the past six games. Moreover, while the Russians at this games are playing great, they aren’t actually playing for Russia, more just the Olympics in general. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?U.S.A. not so much eitherThis is poised to be a rather disappointing games for the United States, with the Americans (as of Tuesday) coming in 10.8 fewer medals than we’d expect at this point given the team’s historical performance in the winter games. Norway is sucking up all the gold in the room, with 9.3 medals above expectations. [FiveThirtyEight]Louisville actually didn’t win that time it turns outThe Louisville men’s basketball program’s 2013 national championship — and it’s 2012 appearance in the Final Four — will be wiped from the books, as the team was ordered by the NCAA to vacate the wins in light of penalties levied against the school. The allegations that lead to the penalties include a report that “a former Louisville staff member arranged for striptease dances and sex acts for players and recruits.” [ESPN]Try out our brand new super fun quiz, Which Winter Olympic Sport Is Best For You? I got ski jumping!The mom did it!Cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, the only mom on the U.S. Olympic Team, gave birth since her last appearance at the games in Sochi but still managed to not only return to the Olympics but win gold as part of the women’s team sprint race with Jessie Diggins. It’s the first time an American woman won a medal in cross-country skiing, and Randall’s trip back to competition can tell us lots about work-life balance. [Anchorage Daily News, FiveThirtyEight]U.S. curling makes the finalA 5-3 upset over defending world champion Canada puts the United States in the final against curling juggernaut Sweden. The team never beat Canada before and hasn’t made the podium since 2006. [ESPN]Big Number56.3 percentThe percentage of 2017 MLB revenue that went to players in the form of overall compensation, including MLB player compensation, benefits, postseason payments and minor league signing bonuses, salaries and benefits. Looking strictly at the majors, that figure is 50.1 percent of revenues, down about a point since 2010. [The Ringer]Leaks from Slack: walt:HAHAHAHAHAHhttps://twitter.com/TMortimerFtbl/status/965539277911285760kyle:yes that story rules she’s a criminalPredictions NBA See more NBA predictions read more

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The 2019 Favorites And Breakout Picks For The National League

Nationals15368973+7459%38%6% How Elo is forecasting the NL East race How Elo is forecasting the NL West race Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB seasonSources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport Welcome to our two-part guide to the 2019 MLB season through the lens of our MLB prediction model. In each division, we’ll outline the key teams in the division race, discuss the incoming players who will make the biggest difference and classify the tanking teams you should ignore on principle. Let’s start with the National League: How Elo is forecasting the NL Central race Phillies15198478+2839213 Padres14847587-50146<1 Rockies15158280+1334173 Braves15168478+2437192 D-backs14977983-192191 Pirates14997983-2121111 The division race: Welcome to the tightest division race in baseball. Four teams in the East are projected to win at least 84 games, the most in any division this season. The Washington Nationals are slight favorites despite losing Bryce Harper, thanks to an existing core that includes SP Max Scherzer (8.8 wins above replacement1According a mix of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs’ competing versions of the metric. last season), 3B Anthony Rendon (5.2), SS Trea Turner (4.4) and 20-year-old LF Juan Soto (3.3) — all of whom were better than Harper last year anyway. Add in a few notable offseason additions, and Washington has a ton of talent. Another team that loaded up this offseason is the New York Mets, who will return a dominant rotation of Jacob deGrom (9.7!), Zach Wheeler (4.3) and Noah Syndergaard (4.1) to go with an overhauled lineup and bullpen. We see them improving substantially on last year’s 77-win record, though it might not be enough to get back to the playoffs. The Philadelphia Phillies have also improved a bunch since last season, when they collapsed down the stretch (and had the run differential of a 76-win team anyway). Staff ace Aaron Nola (7.5) might quietly give deGrom and Scherzer a fight for the title of division’s best pitcher. But like the Mets, Philly could also get caught up in the East’s numbers game. Finally, the Atlanta Braves are the defending division champs, and their award for that accomplishment is the fourth-best forecasted playoff chances this season. Our projections are skeptical about Atlanta’s staff (both in terms of health and performance), and the model generally dings teams the year after making huge leaps in record — the Braves went from 72 wins in 2017 to 90 in 2018 — particularly in the absence of big personnel upgrades. But keep an eye on LF Ronald Acuna Jr. (3.9), who could develop into an MVP-type talent before too long.The difference-makers: Harper (2.4 WAR) got all the headlines for his move from Washington to Philadelphia, though he might not be the most important new face on his own team. He trails C J.T. Realmuto (4.5) and SS Jean Segura (4.1) in terms of incoming WAR. As for the Nationals, big additions such as SP Patrick Corbin (5.5) and C Yan Gomes (2.5) — as well as top prospect CF Victor Robles — should keep them afloat without Harper. The Mets’ big-name pickups include closer Edwin Diaz (3.3), 2B Robinson Cano (3.1) and C Wilson Ramos (2.5), part of maybe the best influx of net WAR any team added this offseason. (Don’t sleep on prospect 1B Pete Alonso, either.) Finally, the Braves snagged former MVP Josh Donaldson (1.3) in free agency and will give a bigger role to up-and-coming SP Touki Toussaint — though, to the consternation of Atlanta fans, they added little else of consequence for their division-title defense.Gone tanking: The Miami Marlins. (The less said, the better.) Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB seasonSources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Giants14667191-9363<1 Brewers15298676+4246%29%4% TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Reds14967785-331891 Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB seasonSources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport Cubs15218478+2338233 Dodgers15629567+12379%66%13% The division race: This looks like a tough three-team fight at the top. We give a razor-thin edge to the defending division champ Milwaukee Brewers, who bring back a core featuring the NL’s 2018 MVP, RF Christian Yelich (7.6 WAR), plus CF Lorenzo Cain (6.3), 3B Travis Shaw (3.8), 1B Jesus Aguilar (3.2) and a dominant bullpen that ranked among baseball’s best last season. The rotation has question marks, though, including breaking in a couple of young converted relievers in Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. The St. Louis Cardinals should be right on Milwaukee’s heels either way, thanks to a couple of big-name additions — see below — on top of a deep group that was already good for 88 wins last season. Third baseman Matt Carpenter (4.9) remains an underappreciated WAR star, and 2018 breakout SP Miles Mikolas (4.5) anchors a solid, hard-throwing rotation. Finally, we have one of the most polarizing teams in baseball going into the season: the Chicago Cubs. Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections forecast only 79 wins (!) for the Northsiders this year, and while other systems are higher on the team, the Cubs appear to be far removed from their glory days of 2016. That said, Chicago still has plenty of productive talent, including SS Javy Baez (5.8), SP Kyle Hendricks (3.1) and a pair of likely bounce-back candidates in 1B Anthony Rizzo (2.8) and 3B Kris Bryant (2.1). It would be foolish to discount the Cubs from this division race.The difference-makers: The biggest NL Central pickup of the offseason belonged to the Cardinals, who traded for 1B Paul Goldschmidt (5.3 WAR) in December. With a 7.9 WAR season under his belt in 2015, Goldy is legitimately capable of mounting an MVP bid. Also of note, St. Louis added RP Andrew Miller (0.3) in free agency; Miller was injured for most of 2018 but isn’t far removed from being a game-changing bullpen weapon. Cardinal pitchers Dakota Hudson and Alex Reyes could also make a difference off the farm. Milwaukee’s consensus top prospect, 2B Keston Hiura, might make an MLB appearance this year, but the Brewers’ most important acquisition was former Dodgers backstop Yasmani Grandal (4.1), a big upgrade over last year’s Manny Pina/Erik Kratz timeshare. As for the Cubs, the meager additions of utility man Daniel Descalso (1.3) and reliever Brad Brach (0.5) may pale in comparison to the impact of getting SS Addison Russell (1.7) back in early May from a 40-game domestic violence suspension.Gone tanking: Nobody? Although the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will struggle to figure into the division battle, both teams are in range of .500. The Pirates are projected to win 79 games, which will presumably help continue their reign as the most average franchise in sports. And the Reds picked up a few name-brand players (RF Yasiel Puig; SPs Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood) who should help them be more competitive. Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Mets15238577+3642233 Marlins14376498-1581<1<1 Cardinals15258577+3844284 The division race: Unlike the other two National League divisions, this doesn’t seem like much of a battle on paper. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the prohibitive favorite here, with a projected 13-win cushion over their next-closest foe. L.A. lost Grandal and Manny Machado in free agency and traded away Puig, but this remains the most impressive collection of players in the entire NL, spearheaded by starters Clayton Kershaw (4.0 WAR) and Walker Buehler (3.4) along with 3B Justin Turner (4.4) and a host of multipositional talents including Max Muncy (4.7), Cody Bellinger (3.9), Chris Taylor (3.6) and Kiké Hernandez (2.9). The Colorado Rockies are the most logical candidates to challenge Dodger supremacy — which they happened to do all of last season, tying L.A. with 91 wins through 162 games and forcing a one-game playoff for the West crown. Colorado brings back 3B Nolan Arenado (5.7) on a fresh extension, but the team lost 2B DJ LeMahieu (2.5) and RP Adam Ottavino (2.3) while adding few impact names. The projections think they’ll be weaker. And it’s not clear how the San Diego Padres (who aren’t tanking anymore but don’t appear ready to contend yet) or the Diamondbacks (who lost Goldschmidt, Corbin and A.J. Pollock) could step up to push L.A. Then again, you could have said something similar last year, and the Dodgers barely managed to win the division.The difference-makers: This West’s biggest offseason acquisition was easily Machado (6.0 WAR), who signed with the Padres in February. Along with new 2B Ian Kinsler (2.4) and infield prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias — plus top-40 prospect pitcher Chris Paddack (who could pair with fellow spring breakout Matt Strahm to raise eyebrows his year) — Machado will help make San Diego relevant again, even if its division odds remain slim. As for the Dodgers, they signed Pollock (2.5), a 7-win player back in 2015, and ex-Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly (0.5); maybe young OF Alex Verdugo can also make some kind of dent in a crowded field. Meanwhile, Colorado added 2B Daniel Murphy (-0.1) — who was highly productive in 2016 and 2017 but injured and ineffective in 2018 — and little of note otherwise. The Rockies will look ahead to the future with infield prospects Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson. Arizona made some moves at the margins, but its offseason storyline was mainly about shedding established talent and restocking the farm system. And the Giants had a terrible winter, striking out in the Harper sweepstakes and barely upgrading a roster that won 73 games last season.Gone tanking: The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants. (Maybe?) The D-backs aren’t bad enough to fully qualify yet, but they seem to be steering in this direction. And while the Giants would never commit to a full tear-down with their attendance numbers being what they are, it’s not totally obvious where the franchise goes from here — with the core of its dynasty eroding and a lack of reinforcements on the way. read more

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OSU men finish seventh women sixth at Big Ten Championships

The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to the University of Wisconsin’s Thomas Zimmer Championship Course this weekend for the 2010 Big Ten Championships. The results for both teams and their outlook for the remainder of the “championship season” portion of their schedules stand in stark contrast. Despite falling to the newly crowned Big Ten Champion Michigan State Spartans, a determined Buckeye women’s team scrapped for 162 points, which was good enough for sixth place in the conference. The Buckeye women placed two runners in the top 20, with senior Ellen Birmingham taking 10th overall with a time of 20:38:2 and freshman Meredith Wagner finishing 16th in 20:48.9. Birmingham’s effort earned her All-Big Ten Second Team honors and praise from OSU assistant coach Chris Neal. “Ellen’s effort today was the best individual [women’s cross-country] performance in the last 20 years at Ohio State,” Neal said. “The team as a whole ran very tough today.” Rounding out the scoring for the Buckeye ladies were sophomores Molly Jacobson and Tori Brink, and senior Sarah Foster, who covered the course in 21:20.6, 21:22.7, and 21:44.2 respectively. “We’re getting healthier every week, we’re running better every week,” Neil said, anticipating the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships. “We’ll be ready.” The Buckeye men’s team hoped to improve on its runner-up finish at last year’s Big Ten Championships, but fell to 12-time defending champion Wisconsin and could only manage a seventh place finish. On a day when the men’s squad needed solid scoring efforts from all of its runners, only senior Chad Balyo cracked the top 20 with a time of 24:10.2. Close behind was junior Jake Edwards who charged to 22nd place in 24:18.0. “I was very pleased with Chad and Jake today,” OSU coach Robert Gary said. “They closed well and moved well throughout the race.” Beyond Balyo and Edwards’ contributions, Gary described the day’s result as “very disappointing.” “We gave a pretty poor effort today,” Gary said. “The guys didn’t get out well, we were buried in the middle of the pack and we got out-hustled.” Trailing the Buckeyes’ top two finishers were sophomores Donny Roys and Chris Fallon, and junior Taylor Williams, earning times of 24:44.8, 24:45.4, and 24:45.3 respectively. “I never thought we’d fall all the way to seventh place, so we didn’t do ourselves any favors” Gary said. “I just hope our guys haven’t given up on the team.” read more

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Mens basketball ready for rare nonconference challenge

Ohio State traveled to Gainesville, Fla., two weeks ago to play the then-No. 9-ranked Florida Gators. In what remains the only true test for the Buckeyes so far this year, OSU cruised to an 18-point victory on the shoulders of center Jared Sullinger’s second double-double in as many games. Since that game, however, things haven’t been quite as easy for the freshman. Although the Buckeyes won each of their last three games handily, Sullinger has scored no more than 12 points and has failed to reach double digits in rebounds since his 26-point, 10-rebound performance at Florida. Tonight, he will again have the chance to prove himself on a national stage when the Buckeyes return to Florida, this time to Tallahassee, to play Florida State as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Sullinger said perhaps he wasn’t quite as motivated as he needed to be against the Buckeyes’ lesser opponents and knows it’s something he’ll need to fix. But more than anything, Sullinger said, teams have been more prepared for him in recent games. “Sometimes, as a freshman, you walk out there and you think, ‘I’m just going to do the same thing I did last game,’” Sullinger said. “Coach (Thad) Matta told me, ‘The first couple games, you’re going to get what you want and later down the season, it’s going to be tough.’ I see what he means now.” Matta, who has extensive experience with talented freshmen in his five years at OSU, knows better than anybody that playing at the collegiate level can take some getting used to. The difference in the amount of effort needed in the high school and college game, he said, is something most freshmen take a while to get adjusted to. But as Matta said, both he and Sullinger know it’s all part of the process. “I think that there is a learning curve there,” Matta said. “I think that there are certain times in high school where you can show up and be 60 or 70 percent and still get 20 points, eight rebounds and a couple of steals. But now everybody is on scholarship, everybody wants to win and everybody is a little bit more athletic.” That is not to say, however, that Sullinger has been a disappointment. He leads the team with more than eight rebounds per game and is second with just more than 15 points per contest. It has been the lack of consistency early in the season that has hampered Sullinger. It’s something Matta said can only improve with time. “You can’t create experience. They’ve got to get it,” Matta said. “Sometimes you have to stumble, fall and learn from it.” Much like two weeks ago against Florida, several freshmen are expected to play in tonight’s game and will have to play well if the Buckeyes hope to win. Along with Sullinger, fellow freshmen Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft will likely see plenty of playing time tonight against the Seminoles. Though they might be inexperienced, Sullinger said he and his teammates know what to expect. “The crowd is going to be loud and they’re going to say some negative things toward you and toward your family. But you just have to let that go in one ear and out the other,” Sullinger said. “They paid for their seats and they’re going to say what they’re going to say and try and get you out of your game. You just have to play through it.” Tonight’s game against the Seminoles, which Matta referred to as a “Big Ten-type game,” will give the young Buckeyes much-needed experience. Though FSU has lost some of its better players from last year’s team that the Buckeyes beat by 13 points in Columbus in November, they do return Preseason All-ACC forward Chris Singleton. Singleton, a junior, averages more than 15 points a game and is the biggest contributor to what Matta called a “high-powered” FSU offense. Stopping Singleton, or at least slowing him down, will potentially be the job of senior David Lighty, the Buckeyes’ best defender. Now in his fifth year in the program, Lighty has quietly played perhaps the best basketball of his career. “He’s one of my all-time favorites because of how he practices and the dedication he’s given to the program,” Matta said. “Watching him play at the level he’s played at thus far is very exciting to me.” Known for his prowess on the defensive end, Lighty has rarely been one to control the game on the offensive end. But when the team needs him, he has been dependable. This season has been no exception. With the freshmen and even some of the veterans struggling at times, Lighty has been forced to take a more active role on the offensive end to give the Buckeyes a spark. Take last Friday’s game against Miami (Ohio), for example. After a sluggish start, the Buckeyes led by just five points in the second half. Lighty then took a more aggressive approach on offense, and OSU pulled away with a 21-point win. Lighty finished with 21 points to lead all scorers and made all four of his 3-point attempts. “I’m just going out and playing, sticking to the system, reading defenses and trying to attack as much as possible,” Lighty said. “I pretty much do anything or everything, so if it’s get a defensive stop, that’s what I’m going to do. If it’s to score at the time, then that’s what we’re trying to do. “I’m just out there playing the game like I’ve been doing.” Whether it’s Lighty, Sullinger or another Buckeye handling the bulk of the scoring, Matta just hopes someone will step up. “We’ve played five games and we’ve had four different leading scorers,” he said. “I don’t know who it’ll be (tonight), but hopefully he’s got a lot.” read more

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Adrenaline rush Becoming a Tough Mudder

Everyone on my team bears the same exhausted look on their face. Our bodies look like something out of Man vs. Wild. We are all cut, soaked, covered in mud, in pain, yet still excited. We only have one more obstacle in front of us before we can cross the finish line: the electrical wires. This is what I did on Saturday, April 9 in Allentown, Pa., at the Bear Creek Ski resort. Billed “probably the toughest event on the planet,” I participated in what’s called the “Tough Mudder.” Similar to the Warrior Dash, the Mudder is longer and harder. This is made clear by signs throughout the course that say “If you did the Warrior Dash, you’d be done … but you didn’t.” Created by British Special Forces and with the proceeds going toward the Wounded Warrior Project, the Tough Mudder is a 10-plus mile course with 20 military obstacles peppered throughout. The story begins about five months ago when my brother found the event and decided to put together a team. I knew I was in for something crazy when I saw the course and signed up. I was immediately greeted with a waiver that said on the bottom: “Remember, the goal is not to win, but finish.” A new training regime was vital. Lifting weights and running at 6 a.m. is hard; it’s even worse when it’s the first of two daily workouts. Also, include swimming, running hills, protein shakes and an incredibly strict diet. Soon, I was in the best shape I had been in in years. Everyone on my team was constantly texting each other with new workout and health tips. The day comes, we are ready. The event begins with the national anthem, then the Tough Mudder pledge. In the pledge, we vow to finish, not to whine, and to help all fellow Mudders, not just those on our team. Our adrenaline is firing, we start by running up the tallest ski slope on the mountain. The obstacles follow, each more difficult than the next. There are climbing ropes, walls, crawling through tubes full of rocky mud and running miles and miles of trails that are covered in rocks. On a wacky turn, my foot catches a rock and I roll my ankle. It hurts, but I am only three miles into the course. My team helps me up, gets me moving again, and I run on it. That is only one of the many instances in which we helped each other, not including the numerous times we worked out someone’s crap or pushed them over an obstacle that was too high. We do the same for others we see; we all stop, help them up, and get them moving. Some, we even help to the next obstacle. Eventually, we get to the high dive. I am afraid of heights. My girlfriend climbs up the rope, and says she will jump with me. We count, we jump, we hit the water. The freezing water is amazing; it takes the breath out of your lungs. When I surface, my adrenaline is firing and I scream, louder than I ever have in my life. Seven miles later, we get to the end. The electrical wires are right in front of us. We all run through, then gather our prizes: a headband, T-shirt, bananas, protein bars, and a Dos Equis beer. A man with a microphone tells everyone who crosses that they are now warriors. No, the warriors are the ones around us, some with visible wounds from actual combat. We are just trying to help them as best we can. That night, we pig out on Five Guys Burgers and Fries, chocolate and beer. We can’t stop talking about the race, complimenting each other and talking about everything that happened in the last five months. What I will remember most is the teamwork. We were able to do it together, including all the training tips that went into it for months before. We are already looking forward to next years’ race, there is even discussion of maybe doing two. read more

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Commentary What OSU must do to beat Michigan

For the first time in several years, Ohio State comes into “The Game” as underdogs and with, seemingly, very little to play for. But as former players Eddie George and Desmond Howard said Sunday night, for the OSU-Michigan game, everything goes out the window. To achieve an upset against the No. 15 Michigan team and hand them their third loss of the season, the Buckeyes will have to play inspired football at the Big House. Offense The Michigan defense is stronger this year than it has been in several years — improving from 108th nationally in total defense last year to 14th this far in 2011. Most of that is due to the change in defense from a 3-3-5 to a 4-3 or 5-2. The defense has also proven to be ball-hawks, forcing 26 turnovers for tops in the Big Ten and 11th nationally. The offense cannot afford to turn the ball over this week. Against the run, the Wolverines give up an average of 128.4 yards-per-game. However, with another 200-plus yards rushing against Penn State last weekend, the Buckeyes have proven they can run on anybody. Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron is averaging more than 119 yards and a touchdown per game in his career against “that team up north.” Big players have big games — and Herron is about as big of a player as the Buckeyes have this season. Being in the final week of the regular season, quarterback Braxton Miller is now closer to a sophomore than a freshman. He is the key to OSU’s other big-time playmaker, senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, getting his hands on the ball. If Miller can play up to or near the same level as Michigan’s Denard Robinson, the Buckeyes will have a chance. Defense Plain and simple, the defense is much more effective with senior linebacker Andrew Sweat in the lineup. Missing for much of the Purdue game and the entire Penn State game with a concussion, his presence has proven more impactful than he was given credit for early in the season. If Sweat has any choice in the matter, he will be playing against the Wolverines, but Fickell called his chances “questionable.” Regardless of whether Sweat plays, freshman Ryan Shazier will be in the lineup this week after another big performance that garnered Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said Shazier is going to be an “unbelievable” linebacker, and will need to play above his years again this week to stop the Michigan rushing attack that averages 231.1 yards-per-game. The key to “The Game” is big plays. The defense needs to make the plays, such as sacks or forcing turnovers, and not surrender them. Special Teams Sophomore kicker Drew Basil didn’t have an opportunity to get back on the horse last week against Penn State after missing his first extra point of the season against Purdue. Should “The Game” turn out to be a low-scoring defensive contest, the Buckeyes may be counting on Basil to nail down some important points. Junior punter Ben Buchanan, having a fantastic and unselfish season, will need finish strong by helping the Buckeyes control the field position battle. The coverage units have been steady all season long and will need to do so once again this week, though Michigan has less-than-stellar return men. Coaching The coaches on both sidelines are fully aware of what this rivalry means despite the fact that both Brady Hoke of Michigan and Luke Fickell of OSU are first-year coaches. As a former OSU player, Fickell should know how to fire up the troops and get them to play at the best of their abilities. As he said at his weekly press conference, this is now a one-game season. With questions surrounding his job security, adding OSU’s eighth-straight win in “The Game” and a winning record on the season would be a big positive. read more

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National recognition bestowed on bevy of Buckeyes players

Ohio State women’s soccer senior forward Tiffany Cameron shattered another program record and received recognition from the Big Ten Conference. She was one of several players across OSU athletics to be honored for their performances this past weekend. Cameron was named Big Ten Player of the Week Monday for the second consecutive week after scoring twice in a 5-0 win against Indiana to become OSU’s all-time leading goal scorer. She led a parade of Buckeye athletes, including four members of the No. 9-ranked football team, in receiving national recognition.  After entering the match against the Hoosiers tied with former Buckeyes Lisa Collison and Lara Dickenmann for the all-time goals lead with 35, Cameron grabbed the record herself with a 38th-minute goal. Cameron then padded her record when she added goal No. 37 in 55th minute. The goals helped OSU advance to 13-4-1 on the season and clinch the No. 2-seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which the Buckeyes kickoff Wednesday with a match against No. 7-seeded Nebraska.  Women’s volleyball senior setter Amanda Peterson also had success against Nebraska, and for her effort, won Big Ten Setter of the Week honors after helping the Buckeyes to a 2-0 record this past weekend. Peterson notched a double-double, tallying 46 assists and a career-high 16 digs, against No. 4-ranked Nebraska Friday to help OSU to its first win against the Cornhuskers since 1991. Peterson also helped guide OSU past Iowa on Saturday with another double-double, which included 46 additional assists and 11 digs.  OSU women’s volleyball (17-7, 8-4 Big Ten) will continue regular season play with weekend matches against Wisconsin and Minnesota on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association named OSU men’s ice hockey senior goalie Brady Hjelle Goaltender of the Week after stopping 25 shots in a 1-0 win at Bowling Green on Friday. The shutout was the third of Hjelle’s career and helped the Buckeyes (2-2-2, 1-0-1-0 CCHA) claim their second win of the young 2012-13 season. OSU men’s ice hockey will continue play Nov. 9 in it’s series against visiting Alaska.  On the gridiron, OSU sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier received the Big Ten’s co-Defensive Player of the Week award for his effort in the Buckeyes’ 35-23 win at Penn State.  Shazier had eight tackles, two quarterback sacks, a forced fumble and an interception that was returned 17 yards for a touchdown against the Nittany Lions.  Three other Buckeyes – sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby – also advanced to the next stage of consideration for national end-of-year awards.  Miller was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award for the Collegiate Player of the Year as he has the Buckeyes aimed at a 10-0 start after helping lead the team to nine wins to start the season. Miller has 1,093 rushing yards and 12 rushing scores to go along with 1,526 passing yards and 12 scores through the air.  Hankins has been named one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, given to the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. Hankins has 46 tackles and a sack in 2012.  Roby was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding defensive back. Roby leads the nation in passes defended with 18, four of which came in the Buckeyes’ 35-23 win against Penn State on Saturday.   Kickoff for the Buckeyes’ game against the Fighting Illini (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten) is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. read more

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Ohio States Deshaun Thomas can shoot through anything

The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team will launch its 2012-2013 season Nov. 9 at the Carrier Classic game against Marquette. The season opener, which will be played onboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., might provide a rare experience for the Buckeyes. “It’s going to be dark, there’s definitely going to be some wind,” said junior point guard Aaron Craft. “It’s going to be fun though.” The Carrier Classic was inaugurated last year to honor America’s military. Proceeds are donated to charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and tickets were made available for veterans and members of the armed forces. “It means a lot to our team to be invited to play in front of the military guys,” said junior forward Deshaun Thomas. “That’s what it’s all about. The stuff that they did for us, fighting over there. It’s just motivation to play for them and go out there and play our best.” To play its best, OSU will have to overcome more than just a Marquette team that Thomas called “physical,” but also an unfamiliar environment. “I mean, it’s going to be different,” said Thomas, who voiced concern about falling into the ocean while diving for a loose ball. “I’m going to try to stay away from the edge a little bit.” In all likelihood, Thomas and the Buckeyes shouldn’t worry about going overboard. Bleachers surround the basketball court and the ship is docked. Coach Thad Matta said that he thinks his team will be surprised with the environment onboard the USS Yorktown, indicating that it might not exactly meet their expectations. “I think that they’ll be shocked with what they see, the normalcy of it,” Matta said. One thing that the Buckeyes should account for in an outdoor game is wind, which could make shooting more difficult In last year’s Carrier Classic, which saw North Carolina defeat Michigan State, 67-55, the Spartans struggled from the three-point range. MSU connected on 2-20 of their three-point attempts, while making a little more than 30 percent of their shots from the floor. Craft said that he isn’t worried about the wind, noting “anything that’s kind of out of the ordinary, or any type of adversity,” affects both teams. The junior also pointed out that the Buckeyes might have the perfect player for an outdoor game. “One thing I know is if someone can find a way to shoot the ball through the wind, it’s going to be my guy right here,” said Craft while pointing at a grinning Thomas. “He’ll find a way to put the ball in the basket.” Thomas agreed. “I can shoot through anything,” Thomas said. “You’re going to see some jumpers going in.” read more

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