More than anything else, the Green Bay Packers of recent vintage have been known for an explosive offense. Only the New England Patriots have scored more points over the past five seasons, and ESPN’s Football Power Index projected that the Packers would own the league’s top-rated attack in 2015.But that was before the news that a season-ending ACL injury had taken out Jordy Nelson, football’s second-best wide receiver by the numbers. Now the Packers will have to make do without him — and in the process stage a natural experiment over how much credit a receiver should get in an offense that also features a great quarterback.That great QB: two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. Most would argue that he’s the engine that makes Green Bay’s offense go. But among Rodgers’s supporting cast, the most statistically decorated is almost certainly Nelson,1The only other candidate is perhaps guard Josh Sitton. who among wide receivers ranked second only to Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown in ProFootballFocus.com’s play-by-play grading system and FootballOutsiders.com’s Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR)2He was superior to Brown on a per-play basis, according to FootballOutsiders.com’s DVOA metric. over the past two seasons. (He ranked third, behind Brown and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, in Approximate Value.)That Nelson would emerge as a receiving superstar these past few years was somewhat of a surprise. Although he was drafted in the second round, Nelson produced modest numbers over his first three years in the league, and his monster 2011 campaign (1,263 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns) stood out so much among his first five NFL seasons that he once seemed a candidate for the biggest one-year wonders ever. It’s a testament to Nelson’s perseverance that he rebounded from an injury-plagued 2012, and he’ll have to call on that resolve again when rehabbing his torn ACL.But it will also be interesting to see how much worse Green Bay’s offense is without Nelson. Even in his absence, the Packers retain a great deal of talent on offense — not the least of which is Rodgers, the NFL’s most-efficient passer over the past two seasons. Granted, that passing efficiency was compiled, in part, while throwing to Nelson, which exemplifies the frustrating entanglement between QB and WR stats. But few receivers in NFL history have consistently shown the ability to significantly elevate their QBs’ efficiency metrics, which suggests that the Packers’ passing success was due more to Rodgers than Nelson. And that implies that the Packer offense won’t fall apart without Nelson, even though his individual receiving stats were as good as just about anybody’s.As a sample of one team in one season, Green Bay’s performance won’t offer any definitive conclusions about WR value, but it may provide evidence of just how much impact an elite statistical receiver can have.
A man who police say is connected to the murder investigation involving former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was arraigned in a Massachusetts courtroom Monday morning.Ernest Wallace, 41, was charged with accessory to murder in the death of Odin Lloyd.The police said Wallace along with Carlos Ortiz, who has already been arrested and charged in the case, drove in the car with Hernandez and Lloyd to the location where Lloyd was murdered. At this time, investigators have not said who fired the shots.All three men face life in prison if convicted.
The Washington Wizard franchise is banking heavily on John Wall– re-signing him to a max-level contract extension of $80 million over five years. But to minimize risk, the ball club has called on Hall of Famer Gary Paton to tutor the point guard.Wall has suffered injuries that made him miss about half the games in the season, but on top of that, he has shot only 24.4 percent from three-point range and 42.3 percent from the field in his professional career.Wall might now have the perfect tutor, J. Michael of CSNwashington.com states:“Wall still plans to hook up with Gary Payton, a Hall of Fame point guard who was one of the best of his generation, in Seattle before returning to train with the Wizards on Aug. 20. Plus, he had ample time to watch the nuances of Tony Parker as he led the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA finals and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley, who helped his team advance to the Western Conference finals.“‘Footwork also, just like catching the ball and working on pivots and stuff,’ Wall said about what he has done this offseason, in addition to refining his jump shot. ‘Floaters. Watched a lot of Tony Parker throughout the playoffs and I see how Mike Conley added to his game after I went to two of his playoff series.’“Wall also is going to lobby coach Randy Wittman to allow him to do something else.‘Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to post up this year,’ he said.“That’s where Payton, who also stood 6-4 and could be too physical for opposing point guards, could help most. Like Wall, he wasn’t the best jump shooter to start his career but became a solid one.“By his fourth season, Payton shot better than 50 percent from the field. He only was a career 31.7 percent shooter from three.”Time will tell if Payton’s lessons will have any effect on Wall. If they are noticeable there might be life after the NBA for many retired NBA ballers.
1San Francisco20123.192.570.634.50 11Baltimore20183.122.710.434.61 8New England20173.082.650.445.05 But an NFL offense is not just at the mercy of the defense when it comes to running against stacked or light boxes. Play-callers actually have a large degree of control over how many defenders near the line of scrimmage they will have to face. When an offense trots out three or more wide receivers, the defense nearly always matches with an equal number of defensive backs, which limits the number of linebackers on the field and lightens up the box.Since the 2009 season, the number of rushing plays that faced six or fewer defenders in the box has skyrocketed. This is a reflection of an evolving offensive philosophy, not a defensive one. The increasing number of light boxes was a response to the massive shift by NFL offenses to the “11 personnel”: 1 running back, 1 tight end and — most importantly — three wide receivers. Over the course of the past decade, the 11 personnel became the most popular personnel package in the NFL. It’s now the base NFL offense. And nickel5Defenses with five defensive backs on the field. is the current base defense — a sea change from the previous decade when 3-4 and 4-3 defensive fronts were the norm. 16Kansas City20103.062.700.374.44 10Washington20123.162.740.434.24 In fact, if all you know about a running play in the NFL is the approximate field position of a team and the number of defenders near the line of scrimmage, you’re able to predict the leaguewide yards per carry with an extraordinarily high degree of accuracy: 96 percent of yards-per-carry totals are explained by the offense’s field position and the number of men the opponent has in the box. How many defenders are in the box is almost certainly the most important factor in determining rushing success in football, so it follows that we should try to account for it. Todd Gurley began the 2018 season on fire, accumulating yards and scoring touchdowns at a historic pace. Despite missing the final two games of the season, the second-highest-paid running back in the NFL led the league in rushing touchdowns and finished fourth in yards from scrimmage. And yet, Gurley may start Super Bowl LIII as a backup. Since returning from injury, the Rams star has been outplayed by fill-in journeyman running back C.J. Anderson, who has more or less relegated Gurley to a change-of-pace role.How is this even possible? How can a player go from being the league’s premier running back to backing up a guy who was cut by the Denver Broncos in May, the Carolina Panthers in November and the Oakland Raiders in December? We’ve seen backup running backs fill in admirably before — when the Chiefs released star RB Kareem Hunt this season, Damien Williams was just as, if not more, productive1Williams averaged 114 yards from scrimmage and 1.6 TDs in regular-season games he started, while Hunt averaged 109 yards from scrimmage and 1.4 TDs. — but it’s hard to remember it happening to a back as seemingly indispensable as Gurley, let alone on a stage as big as the Rams are on now. The 2012 San Francisco 49ers — who were 5 yards from winning a Super Bowl under Jim Harbaugh and QB Colin Kaepernick — take the honor of fielding the best run-blocking offensive line since 2009. Thinking back on the number of big plays Frank Gore broke off against stacked boxes, the ranking certainly passes the smell test. The 2010 Jaguars offensive line, ranking just ahead of the Rams, was also formidable: It opened massive holes for Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings, who combined for nine touchdowns and 1,783 yards on the ground despite QB David Garrard doing nothing to scare opposing defenses away from crowding the line and trying to stop the run.The Rams still fielded the fifth best offensive line in our time frame and easily the best this year. But much of the credit for the success of the running game should probably go not to Gurley, Anderson or the Rams offensive line, but to Sean McVay. The second-year coach has put his players in the very best position to succeed through his scheme and play-calling. Running the ball out of the 11 personnel helps dictate to the defense and lightens the box for his linemen, allowing them to open holes even thrice-cut journeyman running backs can run through.While league observers can fall into the trap of over-weighting the effect of coaching, in some cases the credit and praise is warranted. The distribution of talent across teams is so even, it’s really not so much a matter of who you run the ball with — or behind — it’s a matter of when you run it. McVay chooses his spots as well as anyone in the NFL, and the Rams are in Super Bowl LIII because of it.Check out our latest NFL predictions. 3New Orleans20113.312.730.594.95 *Box-adjusted line yards adjusts for number of defenders faced near the line of scrimmage.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 4Jacksonville20103.202.620.594.63 12Carolina20113.112.710.424.32 6Miami20093.012.550.474.44 Returning to Los Angeles, the Rams used the 11 personnel more than any other team in the NFL in 2018. So it’s possible that instead of the Rams being generationally superior at run blocking — or instead of Gurley being a one-of-a-kind game-altering running back — the Rams’ offensive line just faced fewer crowded fronts than other teams. This would at least provide some context for their overwhelming success — and help explain how Anderson could Wally Pipp an MVP candidate in the playoffs.To find out, I created a reasonable facsimile of Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards and then calculated the number of yards each team earned either over or under expected based on the number of men in the box and the field position from which the play originated.6I removed QB scrambles but left WR run plays in. I also did not adjust for shotgun. Finally, I did not scale the adjusted line yards metric so that it looks like running back yards per carry. My version of adjusted line yards will not agree exactly with Football Outsiders, but there still is a high degree of correlation. Each metric predicts the other at an r-squared of 0.68.Both Football Outsiders’ line yards and my version agree that the Rams had the best rushing offensive line unadjusted for box count. When we look at line yards over expected after accounting for box defenders, however, the Rams aren’t the best run-blocking offensive line ever. In fact, they’re not even in the top four since 2009. 7New Orleans20183.122.690.455.19 5Los Angeles20183.312.830.515.49 15Seattle20123.142.780.374.42 17Dallas20092.982.600.374.48 Teamseason538 adj. line yds538 box adj. line ydsbox adj. line yds over expectedfootball outsiders adj. line yds 13New England20183.042.650.415.03 18New England20093.062.720.364.43 2New England20103.322.730.604.82 The Rams have the fifth-best offensive line since 2009NFL offensive lines by two metrics for regular-season adjusted line yards, yards accounting for the number of defenders in the box and yards over expected based on defenders in the box, 2009-2018 14Houston20103.012.610.414.52 19Tennessee20163.052.700.364.63 One explanation is that the Los Angeles Rams offensive line is just very, very good, and Gurley has been reaping the rewards. But I think there’s another factor at work — one that has more to do with the head coach than with the players on the field.Some football observers have gone so far as to suggest that the Rams 2018 run-blocking unit might be the best in the history of the NFL. While offensive lines are perhaps the trickiest position to evaluate with data, there’s actual evidence for this scorching-hot take using a metric created by Football Outsiders called adjusted line yards. Adjusted line yards are calculated by looking at each running play and using a formula to attempt to assign the proper credit to the offensive line. The metric punishes blockers for losses on run plays, credits the hog mollies with half of the yardage on runs from 5 to 10 yards, and gives the line zero credit for any field position gained 11 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.2Football Outsiders also adjusts for plays from shotgun, down, distance and situation, and it removes any scrambles and handoffs to players who aren’t running backs. By this measure, the Rams are the best-performing line in at least the past 22 years, the period for which data is available.31996 to 2018.But one problem with adjusted line yards is that the metric doesn’t account for the number of defenders the offensive line has to face during any given play, which has huge implications for how effective a rush will be. Running the ball when there are seven or eight defenders near the line of scrimmage is much harder than running against six or fewer. If a team runs more of its plays against light fronts, we should expect it to have more success in general. We’d also expect the offensive line in particular to have an easier time opening holes against defensive fronts that have fewer, rather than more, defensive players near the line of scrimmage that they have to block.Looking at 10 years’ worth of data from ESPN’s Sports & Information Group,4For a total of 126,154 running plays. We excluded scrambles and any plays for which no defender data was given. that’s exactly what we find. If we split the field up into 10-yard chunks, there isn’t an area of the gridiron that exists where running against seven or more men in the box is easier than running against six or fewer. 9New York20103.172.730.434.56
Celtics4754+7 Long-midrange attempts are 2-point jump shots from between 16 and 23 feet.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Grizzlies3521-14 Long-midrange attempts3-point attemptsFree throws Lakers3237+5 T-Wolves5047-3 Spurs5047-3 Projected season wins TeamPreseasonCurrentDiff. INDIANAPOLIS — Even before this season, a campaign in which they’ve pieced together the NBA’s best record, the Houston Rockets and their unusual goals on offense have been an object of fascination. For years, there’s been intrigue surrounding Houston’s desire to shatter records by taking threes whenever possible. More recently, the team’s historic ability to score 1-on-1 has garnered attention. The Pacers and Rockets have different philosophiesHow the Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets compare in key offensive metrics, 2018-17 season through March 21 Mavericks3026-4 Pelicans4347+4 Cavaliers5748-9 Clippers4644-2 Raptors4561+16 Bulls2627+1 Nets2926-3 Indiana Pacers119.3%2728.3%2522.7 Magic3726-11 Warriors6461-3 Rockets5766+9 Hawks2624-2 Indiana’s ahead of scheduleProjected win totals for NBA teams if they continue their current pace compared with FiveThirtyEight’s 2017-18 preseason win projections Blazers4250+8 Jazz46460 Houston Rockets304.4149.9230.7 76ers3949+10 Nuggets4843-5 Pistons3438+4 Thunder5548-7 Suns3121-10 Hornets4636-10 Knicks30300 Current pace for games through March 21 TeamRankShare of all shotsRankShare of all shotsRankper 100 FG attempts Kings2426+2 Heat4045+5 Wizards46460 Pacers3245+13 Bucks4542-3 Far less talked about are the Indiana Pacers, arguably the league’s most surprising team this season. At 41-31, Indiana is vying for home-court advantage in the playoffs and is only a shade behind the reigning three-time conference champion Cavaliers. More interesting is how the Pacers are doing it: They have become the Anti-Rockets.Indiana’s offensive approach is diametrically opposed to the league’s best team. The Rockets are notorious for avoiding midrange shots; the Pacers hover nearly just as far above the league average in how often they take long twos as the Rockets are beneath it. The median team shoots from the 16- to 23-foot range about 12 percent of the time; Houston takes 4.4 percent of its shots from that distance, while Indiana takes a whopping 19.3 percent of its shots from there.The contrasts in shot selection don’t end with midrange jumpers. Unlike the Rockets, who take a league-high 50 percent of their shots from 3-point range and get to the free-throw line at the second highest clip in the league, the Pacers rank among the NBA’s bottom six in both 3-point attempt rate and free-throw attempt rate.A fair amount of that seems to stem from coach Nate McMillan’s offensive philosophy,1Larry Bird’s hiring of McMillan was initially criticized by many because of his reputation as a coach who slowed things down — a trait that ran counter to Bird’s stated desire to play more up-tempo after parting ways with Frank Vogel. McMillan, who’s since sought to get the Pacers to play faster, has argued that the long-held perception of his coaching style was unfair, given the sorts of rosters he was working with. which encourages pulling the trigger quickly if a defender is allowing the solid jump-shooting team more than a few feet of space.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/midrange2.mp400:0000:0002:18Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“We talk about playing early, playing late,” McMillan told me. “If you have an open look or a rim attempt early (in the shot clock), take it. If you don’t, then make teams defend. But when we have open looks, we want to take them.” The Pacers have often done that, with the caveat being that, in today’s NBA, those midrange attempts are often ones the defense would like for Indiana to take.Indiana has launched 1,273 open and wide-open 2-point jumpers,2From 10 feet and farther. “Open” means no defender was within 4 feet at the time of the shot. “Wide open” means no defender was within 6 feet at the time of the shot. over 100 more than the next closest team, according to Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats. And in keeping with McMillan’s wishes, the Pacers rank third with 205 open attempts from midrange in the first eight seconds of the shot clock.Simply put, the Pacers aren’t in the business of turning down open looks — even the ones thought to be the least efficient. Al Jefferson, a Pacers backup big man and former All-NBA center who’s been forced into action because of recent injuries to Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, told me that his teammates have gotten frustrated with him at times for not always adhering to that shoot-it-if-you’re-open game plan.“They got on me in Philly because I turned down some open midrange shots. So I told them, ‘I guarantee you the next game, I’ll shoot it,’” Jefferson said after a loss to the East-leading Raptors. “Then tonight came and I turned down another open look and did a dribble handoff instead. And they all yelled at me: ‘Shoot the ball!’3Look carefully at the first clip, and you’ll notice a fan sitting in the third row (on the bottom left of the screen) standing up, gesturing to Jefferson that he should have taken the first open shot. Luckily for me, I shot the next one, and it went in.”Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/aljefferson.mp400:0000:0001:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“I guess that’s just the new NBA. I’m more old-school. But that’s the shot. You look at a lot of the bigs (on defense), and they back off when you set that pick. If the pop is open? That’s when my teammates will get mad at me if I don’t take it,” Jefferson said. “Even if you might miss it, take it. Because that’s what the defense is giving you.”It would be hard to say this approach hasn’t worked for Indiana, a team that was expected to struggle mightily on offense after trading Paul George. No one is more integral to Indiana’s strategy than Victor Oladipo,4Perhaps the simplest measure of his value: The Pacers, 41-25 with Oladipo, have gone 0-6 in games without their All-Star this season. who’s made the huge leap from mere starter to All-Star. (Not only have the Pacers improved slightly since last season, jumping from 15th to 12th in offensive rating, but they also sit in fifth place in the East.) But it’s also worth noting that their heavy reliance on jumpers — ones that some teams avoid like the plague — hasn’t hurt them. If anything, Oladipo and the Pacers have taken advantage of a market inefficiency by launching, and making, midrange tries at a much higher rate than other teams.Of course, the midrange shot is far from the sole reason Indiana is outperforming every preseason projection. Darren Collison is leading the league in 3-point percentage. The Pacers’ defense has improved and uses its length to create the second-most deflections in the NBA; they’re also tied at third for forcing the highest turnover percentage. Oladipo’s gambling instincts as a free safety occasionally help shorten a handful of defensive plays, not only helping keep Indiana’s young bigs out of foul trouble, but also creating quick, efficient looks the other way in transition.5The Pacers are sixth in offensive efficiency after forcing a live-ball turnover, and their possessions last an average of just 9.1 seconds after such plays, the NBA’s 11th-fastest pace, according to Inpredictable.Forward Thaddeus Young put it in much simpler terms: “We’re just playing basketball. We’re having fun,” he told CBS Sports. “When you have a team that’s just full of ISO players and it’s just isolation basketball, it’s not as fun. You’re just standing around watching.”While no one will mistake this offense for the perpetual-motion ones used in San Antonio or Utah, the Pacers seem to benefit from added movement in their sets — particularly in screen-handoff scenarios, where Indiana is one of the NBA’s most efficient, aggressive teams on a per-play basis.6They rank first in field-goal attempts stemming from direct handoffs and rank fourth in points per direct handoff, according to Second Spectrum.The real question with Indiana — beyond its tough schedule to close out the season — is how the club will adjust come postseason if the midrange looks don’t fall as frequently, or if opposing clubs begin crowding the Pacers’ space more than they’re used to. This month is already testing the former, as McMillan’s team has shot its worst percentage of the season7March has been the Pacers’ worst month from midrange by a country mile. They were shooting 36.9 percent from there heading into Friday’s game, a mark that would rank 25th. Their worst percentage prior to this was last month, when they hit 42.7 percent of those attempts, still good enough for the NBA’s ninth-best mark. from that part of the floor.Indiana has shown it’s capable of beating just about anyone in the East.8The Pacers took won three of four against the Cavaliers, split four games with the Celtics and won their first matchup with Toronto back in November. But if that cold spell carries into the playoffs, Oladipo and his teammates may be required to force the issue a bit more and use a more aggressive style than the one we’ve seen much of the season. “There’s plenty of times I walk up to him in games and say, ‘Don’t let them off the hook,’” Young said of Oladipo.9Oladipo is rare in the sense that he’s just as dangerous after a considerable number of dribbles as he is off the catch. His effective field-goal percentage is nearly the same after using seven dribbles or more as it is when he doesn’t use a dribble at all, according to data from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/dipo.mp400:0000:0000:54Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.If the Pacers can avoid doing that, these Anti-Rockets could transform themselves into a tough out next month.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
OSU junior Kyle Snyder declared victor in a bout against Nebraska on Jan. 17, 2016. Credit: Lantern File PhotoSt. John Arena once again will roll out the Block-O stamped mats, reveal new championship banners and welcome anticipating wrestling fans for the first time this season on Thursday night, when it hosts a bout between top-ranked teams.The No. 4 Ohio State wrestling team will face off against the No. 5 Missouri Tigers at 7 p.m. “I am excited to be back home,” said junior heavyweight Kyle Snyder. “Just the fans and being able to compete in front of your home crowd and see the people who really support you is always a big reason why I came back, and why I like to compete.”A varsity debut is being made Thursday night, as Luke Pletcher, freshman at 141 pounds, had his redshirt status pulled and will replace redshirt sophomore Ke-Shawn Hayes, after an undisclosed injury put Hayes out of competition for the rest of the 2016-17 season.OSU coach Tom Ryan has confidence in the newly called-up freshman before the dual match, looking into Pletcher’s future as a solid reason behind having him step up and compete earlier than expected.“Luke’s ready to wrestle,” Ryan said. “He’s been working really hard, where he’s won his first two tournaments. So he’s ready to roll.”Snyder anticipates a competitive match between wrestlers from both teams, noting the hype surrounding the top-ranked dual, headlined by two U.S. Olympians competing under one roof. Missouri’s J’den Cox, a senior at 197 lbs., who earned bronze in the 86-kg freestyle event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, whereas Snyder won gold in the 97-kg division. “Missouri’s got a good team,” Snyder said. “Our team’s got a bunch of dudes who can wrestle hard and score a lot of points, so that’s what we’re going to try to do.”The 197-pound bout between OSU redshirt freshman Kollin Moore and Missouri’s Olympian, Cox, was one of several matches Ryan highlighted on Tuesday. He also said redshirt freshman Jose Rodriguez will make the varsity start in the 125-pound match.OSU won the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend, but Ryan said there were still plenty of improvement to be made before wrestling against Missouri.“We’re working quite a bit on defense to leg attacks,” Ryan said. “(Being on) bottom is a big issue for us, so heavy focus on getting out — we’ve struggled there a little bit.”Snyder’s focus lies mostly with the team victory rather than reveling in individual achievement against a top-five opponent.“I’m just going to wrestle, and I need to get bonus points,” Snyder said. “Maybe pin (his opponent), and we’ll see what happens.”
Members of Ohio State’s men’s ice hockey team celebrate a goal by freshman forward Tanner Laczynski (9) in the third period of the Buckeye’s game against Bowling Green on Oct. 22. The Buckeyes won 6-1. Credit: Breanna Crye | For The LanternNo captain, no problem.The No. 11 Ohio State men’s hockey team (12-4-6, 3-2-1-1), without senior forward, captain and leading goal scorer Nick Schilkey, returned to conference play in a big way this weekend with a series sweep over top-ranked Penn State. OSU recording a shootout win after a 3-3 overtime draw on Friday and a 6-3 victory Saturday over the No. 1 Nittany Lions (16-3-2, 5-2-0-1).Game OneAfter trailing the Nittany Lions by a one-goal deficit three different times, the Scarlet and Gray clawed its way back to tie the home side 3-3, behind the sticks of senior defender Josh Healey and sophomore forward Mason Jobst.The extra period ended in a 3-3 draw, but freshman forward Sam McCormick slotted the puck past Penn State freshman goaltender Peyton Jones in the seventh round of the subsequent shootout, giving the Scarlet and Gray an extra point in the conference standings.Penn State jumped out to an early lead with 12:12 left in the first period with a goal from junior forward James Robinson, but Healey would level the score at one with under 10 minutes left in the second.The hosts entered the final frame with a 2-1 advantage, but just seven minutes into the period, Jobst would equalize for the Buckeyes. And after the Nittany Lions led 3-2 with 7:19 left, it was Jobst again with his second of the night and third in the last two games.Senior goaltender Christian Frey made 56 saves against the nation’s top offense.Game TwoOhio State ended the weekend with a 6-3 victory over the top-ranked Nittany Lions behind goals from six different Buckeyes, and 41 saves from Frey.The finale of this conference series began similarly as the first, as OSU found itself in a quick 1-0 hole just three minutes in after senior defenseman David Thompson opened the game’s scoring.Despite this, Ohio State would recover quickly, as sophomore forward John Wiitala and Jobst would net a goal each in the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Jobst’s goal marks his 27th point of the season, and 15th in the last eight games.The Scarlet and Gray scoring, however, would not stop there.Just 18 seconds into the second period, sophomore forward Dakota Joshua went one-on-one with Jones and beat the netminder for his third of the season to add to the OSU lead.Nevertheless, after the Nittany Lions answered with two goals of their own from freshman defenseman Kris Myllari and sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz, we entered the final period of the series in a 3-3 deadlock.The Buckeyes would quickly put the game away in the third, as junior forwards Matthew Weis and Luke Stork scored with under two minutes into the period, and just over a minute apart, to give the Scarlet and Gray a 5-3 lead.Junior forward Christian Lampasso would add extra insurance with 2:50 left in the game, as the Amherst, New York, native netted his first goal of the season to make it 6-3.Frey came up big once again for the Buckeyes in this matchup, notching 41 saves in the game and 97 overall on the weekend.Up NextThe Buckeyes are back in action on Thursday night, as they welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to the Schottenstein Center. Game 2 will feature a neutral site, as these two Big Ten teams travel to Madison Square Garden for the finale of the season series.Puck drop for both Thursday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m.
College basketball and football are being overrun with child agents who call themselves coaches or friends, when they’re actually looking to profit off of any child with a chance to make it big.Last Friday, USC coach Lane Kiffin offered a football scholarship to a 13-year-old boy from Delaware. David Sills made national headlines by verbally committing to USC after receiving the offer.The person responsible for this travesty is Steve Clarkson, a self-proclaimed personal coach — or a child-pusher.This sort of thing popped up at USC once before in basketball with O.J. Mayo. Mayo was given whatever he wanted, from clothes to money, by a sports agency called BDA in order to profit off of his pro sports contract.The USC basketball program paid for BDA and Mayo’s decisions by receiving various penalties from the NCAA. The program had to forfeit wins, money, aspects of recruiting and future postseason play all because a player did something and a coach allowed it to happen.Does anyone remember LeBron James? He was given one or more massive loans in high school by various people so he could live the good life in his Hummer H2. Although the loans were controversial, the team wasn’t penalized until James accepted two jerseys as a gift from a local clothing store. This violated Ohio High School Athletic Association rules and they declared him ineligible to play. James had to win a lawsuit to regain eligibility.How do these occurrences go unnoticed by the NCAA or these kids’ coaches? The only defendable case out of what I have mentioned is James’ loans, but his overwhelming popularity in high school was ridiculous.If people wanted to see James in action while he was in high school, they just had to turn on ESPN, which was nationally televising his games.This pimping of children is becoming much worse than it was in the past. Most of these child signees break their commitment to the school before signing day even comes, so it would seem that it is pointless to offer a scholarship in the first place.It’s not feasible to completely regulate these child agents and firms from contacting children, which is a failure of the system, but what about the coaches who accept these athletes?Kentucky coach John Calipari left Memphis and UMass with NCAA sanctions upon his departure to go to a different job, forcing the schools vacate their Final Four appearances.Memphis is the most recent infraction that Calipari allowed to happen. Derrick Rose was highly recruited out of high school, but an NCAA investigation a year after he went pro proved that someone took his SAT for him.Rose’s low high school grades compared to his high SAT score should have been enough for Calipari or the school to become suspicious immediately. Instead, it took the NCAA, which regulates thousands of athletes, two years to catch the wrong doing.The Rose/Calipari scandal by itself is enough reason for the NCAA to change its policies to punish coaches instead of schools.Why won’t anyone act on these sporting crimes? I know why. We’re too entertained to care.
Then-junior Kyle Snyder lifts Penn State’s Nick Nevills for a takedown on Feb. 3, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 32-12. Credit: Nicholas McWilliams | Former Sports EditorOhio State’s final points tally last season would have won them the national championship in all but five years in the history of the NCAA. The reason it did not is due to the NCAA’s resident wrestling powerhouse, Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won six of the past seven team titles, with Ohio State being the only exception in 2015. The embarrassment of riches on the team rosters in both State College, Pennsylvania, and Columbus will carry over to this season.Penn State carries five defending individual national champions. Ohio State returns one in senior heavyweight Kyle Snyder. Three other individual titles have been won by current Buckeyes in years past: redshirt senior Nathan Tomasello, junior Myles Martin and Snyder. FloWrestling’s preseason NCAA wrestling rankings exemplify the dominance of both teams, but in a different way. Penn State includes just seven ranked wrestlers, but all seven are listed in the top five in their respective weight classes across the nation. Five No. 1 spots belong to Nittany Lions. Ohio State’s lineup is more balanced. The Buckeyes have a wrestler ranked in the top 12 at all 10 weight classes, with six being in the top five and three ranked at No. 1: Snyder at heavyweight, Tomasello at 125 pounds and redshirt sophomore Kollin Moore at 187 pounds. The Buckeyes might hold an advantage at the lower weights, with Tomasello at 125 pounds (No. 1), sophomore Luke Pletcher at 133 pounds (No. 9) and junior transfer Joey McKenna at 141 pounds (No. 6). No wrestlers are ranked for the Nittany Lions in those three classes. Penn State’s murderers’ row of middleweights stands as its linchpin. Every defending champion — Zain Retherford (149 pounds), Jason Nolf (157 pounds), Vincenzo Joseph (165 pounds), Mark Hall (174 pounds) and Bo Nickal (184 pounds) — holds top spots. Head coach Tom Ryan and the Buckeyes consider themselves to be reloaded and ready to dethrone the Nittany Lions in the 2017 season.Then-sophomore Myles Martin checks the clock as he looks for back-points against Bo Nickal of Penn State on Feb. 3, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 32-12. Credit: Nicholas McWilliams | Former Sports Editor“We know Penn State scores a lot of points, but we’ve got a lot of big point scorers as well,” Ryan said. “But that was a factor last year. They’ve got some guys that were pinning people and they have five champions back. We picked up Joey McKenna, who was a huge transfer for us; we picked up [transfer] Te’Shan Campbell. “So this team is stronger than it was last year. Ke’Shawn Hayes is coming off of an injury last year. So it’s a stronger team than last year and we have every reason to believe that if we are at our best and they’re at their best, it’s going to be a lot of fun in March.” McKenna was recruited by Penn State during the offseason and had a chance to survey the pros and cons of both programs. The junior ultimately mortgaged his remaining two seasons of eligibility on the Buckeyes to help him achieve success. “Looking at both programs from the outside, and being recruited by both, it was able to give me a little bit more of an objective view on what I really wanted and what program I feel like could take me to where I wanted to get to,” McKenna said. “I just thought that the things that would allow me to succeed the most were encompassed here at Ohio State. The energy, the motivation, the guys on the team, the structure and just the culture and the way everything was run.”Snyder, one of the veterans of the team that will go toe-to-toe with Penn State for the fourth time this season, said he thinks a lot about the Nittany Lions. It’s the dual meet the Olympic gold medalist is most excited for. “It’s going to be one of the most exciting dual meets, tournaments I think there’s ever been in NCAA wrestling history,” Snyder said. “We could both have five or six guys in the finals competing against each other for both teams. That’s more than half of the finalists in the tournament. The opportunity for that to happen doesn’t happen. It’s very rare.” Bo Jordan (174 pounds), another senior and veteran of three years of battle against the Nittany Lions, lit up while discussing the possibilities of the impending dual meet on Feb. 2 or 4 in State College, Pennsylvania, between two teams that just might shake the wrestling world. “It’s going to be sick,” Jordan said. “There’s so many cool matchups. A lot of individual matchups, me and Mark Hall one-on-one against each other. He beat me last year in the national finals, I’ll have him again. I mean, Kyle [Snyder], there’s so many good matchups. And Myles [Martin] and Bo [Nickal]. So many fun matches you’re going to be able to watch. It’s going to be cool. I’m looking forward to that dual.”
The Buckeye celebrate after a 3-point basket in the first half of the game against Rutgers on Feb. 2. Ohio State won 76-62. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe Ohio State Board of Trustees will discuss Thursday integrating variable ticket pricing into men’s basketball, pricing individual games according to whether it’s an exhibition, non-conference, conference or premier opponent. This past season, Ohio State listed its premier opponents as Syracuse, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The recommendation, as part of the finance committee meeting, also states that the arena will expand its four ticket price zones to six, establishing one in the lower level seating with an increase in pricing and upper level seating with either reduced pricing or remaining the same. For Zone 1 seating, the public can purchase tickets, depending on the level of opponent, from as low as $10 to $57. Season tickets will be $634. For the Zone 6 seating, tickets can be purchased from $5-14 depending on the opponent. The season ticket discounts will remain at approximately 12 percent off the total for the general public and 20 percent off the total price for Ohio State faculty and staff. Student pricing will remain at $9 for all opponents. The 2019-20 men’s basketball schedule has not yet been finalized.