The US Is Twice As Likely To Win The World Cup As

“Time heals all wounds” is kind of a nonsense saying when it comes to sports. If it were true, rivalries wouldn’t exist and 35-year-olds on the brink of retirement wouldn’t hang on for one last World Cup. More than half the likely starters on the U.S. and Japanese national teams in the Women’s World Cup final this Sunday were there for the agony and ecstacy — depending which team you were on — of the 2011 final game, when Japan defeated the U.S. on penalty kicks. Japan now has a chance to repeat history, and join Germany and the U.S. as the only countries to win two World Cup titles. The U.S. is looking to break its 16-year World Cup drought and secure its place in history as the greatest World Cup dynasty of all time (in either the women’s or men’s game).This championship game might not be the greatest of all time, but it’s one with a lot of still-fresh wounds, so here’s a look at how it’s shaping up.Things are more even than they seemBack in 2011, some betting lines put Japan’s chances of beating the U.S. around 28 percent, not so far from where they are this time around. Coming off a huge semifinal win over Germany, FiveThirtyEight’s model says the Americans should win 67 percent of the time, but the two teams’ performances in this World Cup have been pretty similar. Both teams have created the same number of chances (59) and scored the same number of goals (nine), despite having traveled very different paths to the final.It’s likely that goals won’t come easily for either side. The U.S. hasn’t been scored on since its opening game, and Japan has conceded only three goals in six games (one of which was an egregious keeper error). It may very well come down to who can capitalize on the few good opportunities the defense allows, and which team doesn’t miss early chances like the U.S. did in the 2011 final.A battle of two very different stylesJapan is arguably the most technical team in the world; it has had the highest pass completion percentage of any team at the World Cup (80 percent compared to the Americans’ 74 percent) and its players have touched the ball and attempted almost 1.5 times as many passes as the U.S. players. Japan plays a quick, one-and-two-touch style of soccer that is different from the styles of most teams the U.S. has faced so far. The closest comparison is probably Colombia — and the U.S. struggled a bit to win the ball back in the midfield in that game.Where the U.S. will excel against Japan is with its physicality and speed; by pressuring the defense and surprising Japan by playing the ball in behind. This is how the first U.S. goal came at the 2011 World Cup: The midfield collapsed to win the ball back, Megan Rapinoe played a long ball in behind, and Alex Morgan outran her defender and scored with just two touches. In the semifinal game against England this year, Japan struggled when the Lionesses pressured and stepped to win the ball back, and the U.S. must do the same thing if it hopes to break down Japan’s tremendous organization. The Americans are undoubtedly faster and stronger than Japan, but they’ll also need to be able to win the ball from a team that hardly loses it.Slow and steady wins the race (at least for one team)Both teams’ chances of winning didn’t change significantly throughout the tournament aside from a bump after the semifinal games; the U.S. hovered around 30 percent and Japan around 10 percent for the majority of the World Cup. Neither team looked stellar during the group stage — eyes were on Germany, France and even Brazil’s early dominance — but these are the two teams that have made it to the World Cup final.“These are two talented teams with a lot of history and rivalry, and I think it will be a classic matchup,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said about Sunday’s final. The score in head-to-head matchups is one to one right now — one World cup victory for Japan to one Olympic gold medal for the U.S. — but everyone knows a World Cup trophy tastes sweeter than gold. read more

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Say What Kevin Ware Back on Court in October

Injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware could return to play as early as October.Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino said Tuesday that he is impressed by Ware’s progress in rehabilitation, which recently included riding a stationary bicycle.Ware fractured his leg with a gruesome injury during Louisville’s regional final win over Duke. The incident caused the regrouping the Cardinals needed to go on to win their third NCAA title.“He’s just riding the bike, and you can almost see from the X-rays the bone healing,” Pitino said. “I’d say in another month he’ll be healed, and then he’ll start working out a little bit.” read more

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Tiger Woods Returns Rusty But Back on PGA Tour

After 109 days outside the ropes, Tiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour Thursday, showing that his surgically repaired back is fine, if not his swing.Woods carded a 3-over 74 after seven bogeys in the opening round of the Quicken LoansNational, a tournament that benefits his Tiger Woods Foundation. That’s why he surprised fans by announcing last week that he would make his return this week.The rust was evident, as Woods missed many routine-for-him scramble opportunities at the difficult Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C.. He was 6 over par at one point, but rallied in his last six holes to score three birdies.”I made so many little mistakes,” Woods said. ”So I played a lot better than the score indicated.”From a health standpoint, he said he was fine. ‘The back’s great,” he said. ”I had no issues at all – no twinges, no nothing. It felt fantastic. That’s one of the reasons why I let go on those tee shots. I hit it pretty hard out there.”Woods last played at Doral on March 9, when he closed with a 78 while coping with pain in his lower back. He had microdiscectomy surgery March 31, causing him to miss the Masters and U.S. Open.He made it clear the surprise return was not risking further injury by playing now.Woods found some rhythm on his home holes, hitting an approach from 196 yards on the 467-yard fourth hole to 3 feet, and ending with short birdie putts on the par-3 seventh and short par-4 eighth by wisely using the slopes in the greens to feed it close to the hole.More telling was his final hole. He thought he had a chance to end his round with a 35-foot birdie putt, and as it broke just right of the cup, he quickly dropped to a crouch and then rose up to go mark his ball. That was the best evidence there was no problem with his back.”We saw what happened when he found his rhythm,” one of his Thursday playing partners, Jordan Spieth said. read more

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I Unleashed A Super Bowl Troll And Im Sorry

Mea culpa!The assassin’s murder weapon was Twitter, that scourge on the ignorant masses. By creating an account with the Twitter name “[team name redacted] Won SB 50,” the assassin was able to force what Last Manners call “The Knowledge” (aka who won) upon unsuspecting players through favorites and replies. He took out as many people in eight hours as had been eliminated in the entire second week of the competition.The Last Man Twitter account, which had announced on Sunday that active coverage of the survivors would be winding down, sent out a warning to “go dark like it’s post-SB week again.”I had to know what would lead someone to become a Last Man assassin (and see if I could assuage my own guilt), so I used his medium of choice to get in touch. Over Twitter DM, the assassin declined to offer his full name but confirmed that he was a man who had seen my article, wanted to see how many players he could take out and made the Twitter account as “a spur of the moment thing.” He said that spoiling the result seemed like fair game, as he felt the players should have expected that this could happen. (Someone pulled a similar stunt last year.1Without my involvement!)But the reactions of eliminated players on Twitter, some more profane than others, have given the anonymous assassin pause. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel bad,” he told me. There hasn’t been a death recorded in the Last Man database since 9:43 p.m. on Tuesday, and the assassin’s Twitter account doesn’t appear to have taken any additional action since earlier that afternoon. On Wednesday, he told me that he won’t be collecting scalps next year. Nor will he be competing himself: He’s a fan of football and acquired The Knowledge the conventional way, by watching the game. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. — Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”There are some people out there who can’t leave an iced-over puddle unstomped, a freshly poured slab of concrete unmarked, or innocence unspoiled.On Tuesday, we published a story about a competition called Last Man, a challenge to see who can be the “last” American to still not know who won the Super Bowl. More than two weeks after the football game, 29 of the initial 199 Last Man players remained, and the competition had largely gone stagnant.But then a reader of my piece started targeting the remaining players. By the end of Tuesday night, 28 percent of the remaining competitors had been taken out, leaving only 21 players. UPDATE (Feb. 25, 4:58 p.m.): Since publication of this post, the Last Man organizers have acknowledged that their database did not include one contestant who was still viable in the competition. She has since been eliminated, but the numbers in this post would be slightly different if the database had been correct at the time of publication. read more

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Last Years Warriors Werent The Best Ever But This Years Might Be

There was plenty of “greatest of all time” speculation swirling around the Golden State Warriors at this time last year, as they tore through the Western Conference after breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for regular-season victories. As it turns out, though, the Warriors weren’t even the greatest team of the 2015-16 season, since they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. I suppose we all learned our collective lesson, because there hasn’t been anywhere near as much GOAT chatter this time around.The irony, of course, is that this version of the Warriors might actually be the best NBA team ever. Although they “only” won 67 games during the regular season, the 2016-17 Warriors had a better schedule-adjusted point differential than they did in their 73-win season, and then they rattled off what is so far the most dominant postseason of any team in recent memory (including the fabled 2001 L.A. Lakers).And if they can take care of Cleveland without much trouble in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, they’ll officially become the GOAT — at least, according to the Elo ratings, our pet system for judging an NBA team’s strength at any given moment.As my boss wrote on Saturday, the LeBron James Cavaliers have had a tendency to make Elo look silly. But by now, Elo has learned from its mistakes and is (mostly) giving Cleveland its due. The main reason our prediction system is still giving the Cavs a minuscule 10 percent chance of defending their championship, then, is that the Warriors are just so ridiculously dominant.Golden State’s Elo rating is currently 1850.5, which ranks second in NBA history to the peak rating of the ’96 Bulls (1853.1) — which was set after Chicago took a 3-0 lead over the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals. (The Bulls’ Elo would dip to a final rating of 1823 after they lost two of the next three games to the Sonics.) 6Bulls1996-972/4/97471811.3 TEAMSEASONDATEGAME NO.DURING PLAYOFFS?ELO To surpass those Bulls and set a new peak-Elo record of 1853.2, the Warriors would need to prevail by eight or more on Thursday night. That’s far from an unreasonable goal; Golden State has the superior rating and is at home, so Elo actually considers them nine-point favorites for Game 1. (The Las Vegas betting line for Game 1 has the Warriors winning by seven.) According to research by Wayne Winston and Jeff Sagarin, the probability of a nine-point NBA favorite winning by at least eight is about 54 percent.But even if Cleveland plays the Warriors close in Game 1, a new Elo record is inevitable as long as Golden State keeps winning. A string of one-point victories in Games 1 through 3 would be enough to push the Warriors past the Bulls’ mark with at least a game to spare in the series. But any loss could be a major setback for the record-breaking bid. Even a three-point loss in Game 1 would need to be followed by four straight four-point wins to pull Golden State ahead of Chicago; a stray double-digit loss would require four 10-point wins in a row. And two losses in the series might prove too much for the Warriors to overcome unless they also rack up offsetting blowout wins, particularly if the Cavs’ wins are spaced apart in the series (Elo gives more weight to more recent games).Then again, it’s also possible that the Warriors could set an all-time peak Elo record after Game 1 and then the Cavs could rally back to win the series. In that scenario, Golden State’s season would parallel that of the 2007 New England Patriots, who set the NFL’s peak Elo record when they rattled off 18 straight wins before losing the Super Bowl. We’re guessing the Warriors would probably rather have the title. 7Spurs2015-163/19/16691800.1 1Bulls1995-966/9/9697✓1853.1 3Warriors2015-1612/11/15241838.6 9Bulls1997-986/10/98101✓1788.3 8Lakers2008-096/14/09105✓1790.0 Source: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com The best peak Elo ratings in NBA history 10Pistons1988-896/13/8999✓1788.1 5Celtics1985-865/29/8696✓1815.7 4Warriors2014-156/16/15103✓1822.3 2Warriors2016-175/22/1794✓1850.5 read more

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5 things to watch for Ohio State football spring practice

2. Carlos Hyde is gone, but he’s not the only Buckeye who can run the ballAlthough Miller is set to play another season for OSU, there is no such thing for running back Carlos Hyde. One of OSU’s all-time most prolific running backs — sixth in career rushing yards in program history (3,198), seventh best single season total (1,521) and tied for third in most yards in a single game (246 against Illinois Nov. 16) — Hyde will be difficult to replace. The Buckeyes do return numerous backs from last season, perhaps none more poised to take over for Hyde than rising sophomore Ezekiel Elliott. Although rising senior Rod Smith and rising sophomore Warren Ball came into 2013 with more hype, it was Elliott who impressed the most during the season. Finishing the year fifth on the team in yards and second on the team in average yards per carry, Elliott likely has the inside track to the first team carries in 2014. But don’t count out the electric rising sophomore Dontre Wilson, who is likely to get more touches with a full offseason of workouts and time to bulk up under his belt. Then-redshirt-freshman quarterback Cardale Jones (12) avoids a defender during a game against Florida A&M Sept. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 76-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor1. Braxton’s back, all right. But who will be his backup?The mood of Ohio State fans across the country changed Jan. 9 when rising senior quarterback Braxton Miller announced his decision to return to school after days of speculation. Although it remains unclear how close he was to actually leaving, his return still leaves some questions unanswered. Despite being the starting quarterback for each of the last three seasons, Miller has yet to get through a whole season without injury. If this trend continues — Miller is likely not going take a snap during spring practice — a young inexperienced quarterback will have to take the helm for OSU. Kenny Guiton is gone, and the only quarterback who has thrown a pass in college other than Miller is rising redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones. Jones might have some competition for the No. 2 spot though with incoming freshman Stephen Collier and rising redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett. An insight into the battle will likely be given when the team announces the starters for the Spring Game, although it likely won’t be until the start of the season that coach Urban Meyer makes his decision. 5. New faces, new philosophies on defensive side of the ballIt’s no secret the OSU defense was not what fans were accustomed to seeing, particularly at defending the pass — a ghastly 112th in the country while giving up 268 yards per game. Meyer certainly addressed the defensive issues on the recruiting trail, bringing in 11 defensive players. But he also did the same on the coaching staff, adding Larry Johnson as the defensive line coach in place of the departed Mike Vrabel and Chris Ash to coach the secondary after Everett Withers took a head coaching job at James Madison. Johnson and Ash have excellent track records at Penn State and Arkansas/Wisconsin, respectively, and it will be interesting to see how quickly their presence will be evident. Both are big-time recruiters, which Meyer loves, but both also bring to the table the intensity that was missing late last season in the losses to Michigan State and Clemson in the Big Ten Championship game and Orange Bowl. 3. A new brand of bulk to protect Braxton MillerIt cannot be overstated how important the Buckeye offensive line has been to OSU’s success. The experience of Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell was vital for OSU in Meyer’s first two seasons at the helm. But now all four of those players have finished their careers in Columbus, and the Buckeyes are looking to young players to fill, and create, the gaps. Rising junior Taylor Decker is the only returning starter from last season, although it is likely that rising redshirt-sophomore Pat Elflein, who in place of a suspended Marcus Hall, did enough to earn himself a spot in the starting lineup. That still leaves three open spots on the line with Decker moving to left tackle. Rising junior Jacoby Boren played a significant amount of the season opener when Linsley had to sit because of an injured foot. Rising senior Darryl Baldwin, rising junior Tommy Brown and rising sophomore Kyle Dodson were listed as backups last season and the 2014 class has five incoming freshmen who will all be battling it out for the remaining starting positions. 4. Without Ryan Shazier, what will the linebackers do?Meyer said Feb. 5 on National Signing Day the linebacker position is undergoing “an overhaul right now,” and is surely one to be under a microscope for the entirety of spring practice. Everyone knows who is gone — first-team All-American and Big Ten performer Ryan Shazier and his league-leading 143 tackles — but who is set to return? Rising senior Curtis Grant and rising junior Joshua Perry are the main two players who will have some experience from last season, but their experience is likely to be tested with the addition of four true freshmen. Led by the crown jewel of Meyer’s recruiting class Raekwon McMillan — who enrolled in January — the young blood will push for playing time. McMillan is the lone linebacker who enrolled early, but Meyer has said he has no plans to redshirt either McMillan or the other three — Kyle Berger, Dante Booker and Sam Hubbard — players who are looking to fill Shazier’s shoes. Surely to be a storyline throughout the season, spring ball will go a long way to determining who is next in line at the position. read more

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Buckeyes almost where they need to be

Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer (6) runs the ball into the end zone after a reception during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorMistakes were made, records were broken, and it was cold.In the middle of all that, Ohio State (9-1, 6-0) found a way to pick up a second-consecutive road win against a team ranked in the College Football Playoff top 25.The Buckeyes — ranked No. 8 in that poll — overcame a pair of fumbles lost and an interception to leave Minneapolis — where the temperature was just 15 degrees at kickoff — with a 31-24 win against No. 25 Minnesota (7-3, 4-2) Saturday afternoon. But if OSU wants to keep rising in the poll going forward, things can’t go the way they did at TCF Bank Stadium — at least that’s how Tom Herman felt after the game.“Obviously we’re not going to be able to go where we want to go turning the ball over like that,” OSU’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach said.All season long, coach Urban Meyer has stressed that the place the Buckeyes want to be is in a position to “compete for championships in November.”Now more than halfway through the 11th month, Meyer and his team are just a win — or a Michigan State loss — away from locking up a spot in the Dec. 6 Big Ten Championship game. The Buckeyes’ next shot to book that trip to Indianapolis is set to come next Saturday against Indiana at home.That means OSU is close, but sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott agreed with Herman that the Buckeyes are a few mishaps away from being where they want to be.“We’re almost where we need to be,” Elliott said after he rushed for 91 yards against the Golden Gophers. “We keep making these little dumb mistakes but without those mistakes, the game last weekend and the game this weekend would’ve been a different outcome.”While OSU beat then-No. 8 Michigan State, 49-37, a week before topping Minnesota, both games saw the Buckeyes turn the ball over multiple times, leading to points for their opponent. In fact, all three Minnesota touchdowns came on the ensuing drives after each OSU turnover.Herman said turnovers come with the game, but added he was glad to see how the Buckeyes responded to the mistakes.“You can’t take those turnovers away,” he said. “They are what they are and that’s what made the game close. But I was proud of our guys to continue to battle back and continue to make plays.”Perhaps nobody felt the weight of the turnovers more than redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall, as he had two fumbles in the game. One of those fumbles came on what would have been a likely touchdown for OSU, followed by an 80-yard touchdown drive from the Golden Gophers for a 14-point swing.Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer — who had a chance to recover that Marshall fumble in the end zone before the ball popped free — said the numbers on the scoreboard didn’t show how well the Buckeyes actually played.“We cut out those turnovers, it’s a completely different ball game,” Spencer said after the game. “But I feel as a team we had a really good team win, and that was a really great team that we just played.”Praise for Minnesota and the idea of a strong group effort were common themes among the OSU coaches and players after the game, and Meyer summarized it in his opening statement.“Great team win. Not great execution, but great team win,” he said. “Bottom line is 11 a.m. game against a very good team that we have a lot of respect for.”Herman mentioned the Golden Gopher’s standing in the national picture, and again praised OSU’s ability to overcome mistakes as a team.“This was a top-25 team with a top-20 defense on the road with very unfavorable conditions,” he said. “And we turned the ball over I don’t know how many times, and we still found a way to win.”Part of the reason OSU did pull out a victory was the play of redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett. He had some of his own mistakes — including an interception — but set three new school records.His 86-yard touchdown scamper was the longest run ever by an OSU quarterback, while his 189 rushing yards was also the top single-game output by a Buckeye signal caller in program history. And to top it off, Barrett’s second-half touchdown toss to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas was his 37th total touchdown this season, moving him one ahead of the record set by then-junior quarterback Braxton Miller last year. He added a 38th touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard pass to senior wide receiver Evan Spencer.Barrett’s three touchdown passes in the game also moved him within one of Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith’s school record of 30 in a season set in 2006.The signal caller’s big day helped OSU to 489 yards of total offense, while the Buckeyes’ defense held Minnesota to 303 total yards.OSU’s defensive performance only faltered after the three turnovers. While two of those turnovers were undoubtedly on Marshall alone, Meyer said the Buckeyes won’t leave him out of game plans going forward.“We’re gonna come right back to him,” he said. “That’s what good teams do, they pick each other up.“He’s a good player, we’ve gotta get that fixed.”Aside from the turnovers from Marshall and Barrett and a shaky first-half performance from the run defense, redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee stressed that the Buckeyes still came away with the No. 1 thing that matters.“You’re never really satisfied, and that wasn’t really the best performance defensively and offensively in the first half,” Lee said after the game. “But we came together as a team in the second half and just regrouped and calmed down and did our job, and we finished the game.”Kickoff between OSU and Indiana is set for noon at Ohio Stadium. read more

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Softball Ohio State starting Big Ten climb on the road at Michigan

OSU sophomore Emily Clark (20) tags Rutgers freshman Nicole Bowman (88) for an out during the game against Rutgers on April 1 at Buckeye field. Credit: Emily Hetterscheidt | For The LanternAfter getting a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the No. 25 Ohio State women’s softball team is on the road again. This weekend, the team is traveling to East Lansing for a three-game series against the Spartans.The Buckeyes are currently 27-11 overall and 10-4 in the Big Ten, with a 9-3 mark in road conference contests. Michigan State is 21-17 overall and 5-8 in the conference play. “Michigan State always shows up to play,” OSU junior Becca Gavin said. “It’s one of those games where you can never underestimate an opponent based on their rank or how they’re playing.”OSU leads the all-time record between the conference opponents, 66-43, and is 9-2 against Michigan State since 2013.  The last time the Buckeyes made the trip to East Lansing, they swept the Spartans in a three-game series. Home or away, playing any Big Ten team is hard, junior outfielder Bailee Sturgeon said. In order to come out of Secchia Stadium with some Big Ten wins, the Buckeyes need to focus on defense and pitching.The Spartans have some powerful forces at bat, with junior outfielder Lea Foerster leading the way. Foerster has a .395 batting average and is first in the Big Ten in doubles (15) and runs scored (47). Michigan State sophomore Ebonee Echols ranks No. 1 in the NCAA with 11 triples, the most of any Big Ten player since 1999. For OSU, sophomore infielder Lilli Piper leads the team with a .405 batting average, 42 RBI and 51 hits.  Senior outfielder Alex Bayne has notched the most Buckeye home runs with 13 and has a .336 batting average. Six players from the Scarlet and Gray batting lineup have an average of .300 or better. “We don’t fall off when we get to the bottom of our order,” said OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. “The bottom of our order is very strong so it could be them stepping up, it could be the middle, it could be the top.”Even if Michigan State gets some big hits, it’s vital for the OSU to keep its composure on the mound, Kovach Schoenly said. In the Buckeyes’ win over Pittsburgh, senior pitcher Shelby Hursh registered her 11th win and had eight strikeouts, six of which were the final out of the inning. “If she could do that every inning, that would make me happy,” Kovach Schoenly said. “I think she’s starting to pitch some of the best she’s pitched in her career right now and I’m really proud of the way she’s handled the pressure.”Hursh is 11-4 with a 2.24 ERA (2.81 in conference). She has pitched in 97 innings and has five shutout victories.Michigan State junior pitcher Bridgette Rainey is 12-7 with a 4.32 ERA. Rainey has recorded 105 strikeouts in her 95.2 innings pitched so far this season.Last season, the Spartans made the trek to Columbus and took the series, 2-1. Now, the Buckeyes are looking to take back the series. “Our focus going into these games is definitely getting back to finding our competitive edge, finding that aggressiveness that we came out the beginning of the season with and getting back to our fundamentals defensively and offensively,” Gavin said. read more

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Mens Basketball Ohio State dominates Robert Morris 9564 to begin Holtmannera with

Junior guard C.J. Jackson signals to his team during Ohio State’s 95-64 win over Robert Morris. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorChris Holtmann received texts from coaches and friends before Friday’s game against Robert Morris telling him to enjoy the moment of his first game as head coach of Ohio State. He ignored those texts.Rather than feeling excited for the moment, he said he felt anxious, hoping to provide the 11,128 fans in attendance with a winning game in his debut. He did not disappoint as the Holtmann-era of Ohio State men’s basketball began with a resounding win as the Buckeyes (1-0) ran away to an easy 95-64 victory against Robert Morris (0-1).Ohio State finished the game going 40-for-67 from the field compared to just 23-of-65 for the Colonials. Though the Buckeyes turned over the ball 19 times, they made up for it by dominating in the paint, finishing the game with 51 rebounds to Robert Morris’ 23. The Buckeyes dominated the game nearly across the board, but it was the turnovers that stood out the most to the head coach.“The 19 turnovers is my overriding thought right now,” Holtmann said after the game. “They forced us into some things and then we had some foolish plays as well.” Playing in his first game since Jan. 1, redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop provided the spark Holtmann’s Buckeyes needed throughout the game, finishing with a team-leading 19 points and 11 rebounds. A primary question mark heading into the season was Ohio State’s depth at point guard. Junior C.J. Jackson was a bench player last season, but was expected to step up and be the starter at the one being that he was the lone natural point guard. He quickly impacted the game, making Ohio State’s first block of the season at 1:07 into the game and the first basket of the season for the Buckeyes. Jackson finished the game with seven points, three rebounds and six assists. All night Jackson was on point with his passing. At 14:18, he found freshman forward Kaleb Wesson under the net on a pick-and-roll play, leading Wesson to the bucket for an easy lay-up. Then with 5:12 left in the first half, Jackson floated an alley-oop pass to freshman guard Musa Jallow, who finished for the dunk to put the Buckeyes ahead 34-19.Ohio State stumbled briefly out of the gate and fell behind 6-2 to Robert Morris. But with 16:59 remaining, redshirt senior guard Kam Williams made a 3-pointer to give the Buckeyes a 7-6 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.It was all Ohio State from there. The Buckeyes went on an 18-5 run to plant themselves firmly out in front of the Colonials 25-11. Bates-Diop said the slow start for the team simply came down to nerves in the team’s first regular season game.“Just first game jitters,” Bates-Diop said. “And then we obviously cleaned it up quick as we could.”Shortly after the Buckeyes had put themselves ahead, Jallow stole the ball away from junior forward Malik Petteway and raced towards the basket before driving home a dunk with 11:23 remaining for the first two points of his collegiate career. He finished the game with 11 points and three rebounds. As Jallow ran away with the basketball, a simple thought lingered in his mind as nothing but the basket stood in front of him.“Don’t trip over my foot,” Jallow laughed. “That’s probably the first thing and then the second thing is just dunk it as hard as you can, just try to get the crowd into it. But it’s really exciting.”Jallow was not alone in stealing the show with his flashy plays. Young drove home a loud dunk with 0:51 remaining in the game. Eleven seconds later, he finished another as the fans stood up and remainded on their feet until the end of the game.The freshmen — Jallow, Wesson and forward Kyle Young — all proved to be crowd-pleasers throughout the game, and all played meaningful minutes for the team. Jallow, Young and Wesson each finished with impressive stat lines, registering 11, four and 13 points, respectively, in the contest. Jallow finished with three rebounds, Young with three and Wesson with seven rebounds.Holtmann said he did not enter the game with a number in mind for minutes on the freshmen, but as he has said all offseason, he knew the three would see the court. And with each one delivering some thrilling moments throughout the game, Holtmann said the move to use them will pay off down the road. “I think I knew that we were try to go a rotation is about nine or 10 deep right now, and we’ll try to, I would like to play guys now to get a feel for in how we can be moving into the later parts of the season,” Holtmann said. “But I think we had some good moments from everybody on the bench and we also had some moments that we can take film from and say, ‘Hey, listen, we’ve got to do this better.’”Unlike the first half, the Buckeyes came out firing on all cylinders to open up the second. On their first possession just 17 seconds into the half, sophomore center Micah Potter soared over the defense in the post to electrify the Buckeye crowd with a dunk. The next possession, Jackson missed a 3-pointer, but Bates-Diop recovered the rebound and scored five seconds later on a layup. With 16 minutes left in the game, Bates-Diop attempted a layup and missed, but fought through traffic to collect his own rebound and knock it in on a second layup attempt with 15:55 remaining. Another steal by the Buckeyes 14 seconds later, this time from Jallow, led to the freshman’s third dunk of the night to put the Buckeyes out in front 73-43. Robert Morris was forced to call a timeout. The Buckeyes are back in action when they host Radford at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Schottenstein Center. read more

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Womens Volleyball Seniors leaving lasting impact on young team despite losing season

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team keeps an eye on the ball at their game against Nebraska at St. John Arena on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Erin Gottsacker | Miller ReporterThe seniors on the Ohio State women’s volleyball team team (15-15, 8-11 Big Ten) have had nothing short of a long season, and their roles as leaders have never been greater.The Buckeyes have dealt with multiple injuries multiple injuries en route to a disappointing record. Through the good and the bad, the seniors have had to take active roles as leaders of the team. Outside hitter Ashley Wenz felt the weight on her shoulders Nov. 8 after the Buckeyes  swept Rutgers 3-0, and their star junior setter Taylor Hughes went down with an injury.“I looked around and there’s four freshmen and a sophomore and I’m like, ‘I’m the person that they look up to,’” Wenz said. “They made me really appreciate my role on the team.”Outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said she recognized the importance of the role she and her fellow seniors demonstrate this season, and how much they influence the younger players.With half of the roster consisting of freshmen and sophomores, Schirmer emphasized the importance of making the younger players feel comfortable on the team.“Leading them, I think, is the biggest thing we’ve wanted to do as a class of seniors, to leave a good legacy for our program,” Schirmer said.The Buckeyes have limped to the finish line this season, failing to put up the success they hoped to find when the season began. Despite the struggles, Wenz said she has seen improvement in the resolve of the team’s youth.“I think when the going gets tough, you also have to get more tough. It’s been amazing the things that our team has gone through, and the things that we’ve still been able to do with that,” Wenz said. “We need to finish out strong these last few games for sure, but looking back [at] what we’ve been through … it’s really remarkable to me, just our fight and our drive right now.”Ohio State head coach Geoff Carlston said he is proud of the seniors for stepping up to the challenge of dealing with a losing season, paving the way for the upcoming seniors and remaining underclassmen.“This has been the most challenging season of my coaching career, and I give them a lot of credit for the leaders that they’ve become this year,” he said. “They’re the leaders of this team, they’re going to be missed a lot. I’m glad to have been part of watching them develop and grow as leaders this year.”The seniors will play their final game Friday at home against Illinois. It’s their final moment to pass the torch to the returning players.After the season is finished, each of the women plan to move forward in separate directions. Schirmer is planning to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering and hopes to play professional volleyball overseas.Senior defensive specialist Kalisha Goree will earn her degree in sport management and plans to enter the workforce once the season is over.Wenz will receive a degree in marketing. She is currently undecided between playing professional volleyball or going to graduate school.The Buckeyes will more than likely not play in the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons, which is adversity that Ohio State’s new group of leaders will have to work through. read more

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