Klay Thompson subscribes. You can too for just 11 cents a day for 11 months + receive a free Warriors Championship book. Sign me up!LOS ANGELES – When the crowd is not marveling at his moves, Kevin Durant tries to spend his other waking hours perfecting them. When defenders are not trying to disrupt his shots, Durant fine-tines them to ensure they can’t.In the Warriors’ 129-110 Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Durant showed how his behind-the-scenes work can produce a …
Man Utd duo De Gea and Pobga ruled OUT of Liverpool clashby Ansser Sadiq9 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United will be without David De Gea and Paul Pogba for Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.De Gea was substituted during Spain’s draw with Sweden on Tuesday due to an abductor problem, while Pogba has missed United’s last five games with an ankle injury.”David needs a scan,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports of his Spanish goalkeeper. “I think he’ll be out. It certainly looked like it anyway judging on last night so it’s just one of those things.On Pogba, Solskjaer added: “Paul had an injury, he came back, he worked really hard. He came back and played a couple of games, maybe played through the pain barrier.”He had a scan after the Arsenal game and maybe needed a few weeks’ rest in a boot so hopefully he won’t be too long, but he won’t make this game, no.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
Daylon Mack HitYou remember that Jadeveon Clowney hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith during the 2013 Outback Bowl, right? Of course you do.Well, Texas A&M freshman defensive tackle Daylon Mack just did his best Clowney impression on a poor Nevada ball-carrier. Note to Aggie opponents: probably unwise to leave this guy unblocked like Nevada did right here. My goodness. Keep in mind this is the same kid who did this last week.Mack is going to be a good one.
It’s Black Monday — the day after the NFL’s regular season concludes — when 20 to 25 percent of teams (usually of the non-playoff-bound variety) have historically begun their offseason by firing (or otherwise parting ways with) their head coaches. This year, the New York Jets have fired Rex Ryan, Mike Smith is out in Atlanta and Jim Harbaugh left the San Francisco 49ers in a mutual split. Further changes may be coming.Teams don’t take these coaching changes lightly, but for all the focus on the coaching carousel, it’s been difficult for researchers to figure out how much who’s wearing the headset matters.Teams that change coaches have a strong tendency to improve the following season, which could be taken as prima facie evidence that swapping in a new coach makes a profound difference. But it also could simply be the residue of regression to the mean. A poor record is generally required for a team to consider dismissing its coach, but much of the differences in NFL team records is due to luck and not the comparative skill levels of the teams themselves. When that luck evens out, the team appears to improve, even if its underlying skill didn’t change all that much.And this phenomena is essentially what the research on NFL coaching changes has found. Although the average team to change coaches since 1994 has seen its winning percentage improve from .383 to .428 the next season, that’s mostly regression to the mean at work. In fact, once we account for the teams’ previous Elo ratings and the inexorable pull that a .500 record exerts on NFL teams from year to year, there’s little evidence that changing coaches helps teams at all.The aforementioned sample of teams had an average Elo rating of 1437 at the end of the regular season with their old coach, which tends to translate to a .463 winning percentage the following year whether a team changes coaches or not. But the season after making the change, those teams averaged a .428 winning percentage — about 35 points lower than we’d have expected based on their previous Elo ratings. This may speak to broader institutional issues that are correlated with coaching changes but beyond the influence of the coach himself, such as dysfunctional ownership, a poor general manager or players who consistently win less than point-differential-based metrics would predict.These types of findings lend credence to the theory that NFL coaching changes offer franchises little more than the illusion of control over their future. While it may feel satisfying to fans and owners to fire a coach after a disappointing season, it’s tough to quantify the real benefits of such a move — if any even exist.
Texas Tech863-5 Syracuse100-1 Villanova515050-1 Chances based on BPIDifferences may not add up exactly due to roundingSource: ESPN Stats & Information Group West Virginia857-2 Loyola-Chicago102+1 Chances of making Final Four Gonzaga9%23%28%+20 Nevada2120 Purdue323025-8 Texas A&M2220 Kansas St.104+4 Duke423749+7 Kansas172319+2 Gonzaga’s good luck has gotten even betterChances of making the Final Four for 2018 Sweet 16 teams before the bracket was released, after the bracket was released and if we had known each team’s opponents this far in the tournament before it began Kentucky is the envy of the college basketball world for its soft Sweet 16 landing in a region that is suddenly without any of its top-four seeds. But if we’re looking for the luckiest team in the NCAA Tournament this year, a case can be made that it’s not the Wildcats. It’s Gonzaga.That’s not to say that Kentucky hasn’t been fortunate. John Calipari’s perennial powerhouse entered the tournament with just a 2 percent chance to reach the Final Four, per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, and an 8 percent chance based on FiveThirtyEight’s projections. Looking at each model now,1BPI is one ingredient in the FiveThirtyEight projection cocktail. that number has ballooned to 45 percent on BPI and 57 percent on FiveThirtyEight. Part of that increase is because of the strong teams in the region that fell early, but part is also based on Kentucky winning its first two games — and being only two wins from the Final Four, instead of the four it was at the start of the tourney.But what if we could isolate the effect of the upsets so far on a team’s chances? What if we had known before the tournament began that Kentucky would face Buffalo and Kansas State after opening with Davidson (avoiding Arizona and Virginia) and then face either Loyola-Chicago or Nevada in the Elite Eight (avoiding Tennessee and Cincinnati)? Given that information, Calipari’s team would have had a 21 percent chance per BPI to reach the Final Four,2FiveThirtyEight’s model doesn’t have “pre-bracket” predictions. a whopping 19 percentage point increase just because the right teams lost before Kentucky had to see them.So yes, the seas have parted for Kentucky in its region, but Gonzaga has arguably benefited more from circumstances outside of its control.Let’s do the same pre-tournament exercise with the Bulldogs. If we had known before the tournament that after the first round they would face Ohio State, Florida State and the winner of Michigan-Texas A&M, the Bulldogs would have received a modest boost (23 percent to 28 percent) to their Final Four chances, thanks to the losses of regional competitors like Xavier and North Carolina. They also would have received an increase to their title game and championship chances by 11 and 3 percentage points, respectively (compared with 8- and 2-point boosts for Kentucky).What’s helping out the Bulldogs so much? First, there’s the fact that Michigan — a worse team than Gonzaga, in BPI’s mind — is the toughest remaining out in the region for Mark Few’s squad. But then there’s this: In the Final Four, Gonzaga will basically reap all the same benefits that Kentucky received, getting to sidestep Virginia, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arizona. At worst, the Bulldogs will face Kentucky, which is 3 points per game worse in team quality than Gonzaga on a neutral court, per BPI. If the schools met up in the Final Four, Gonzaga would have a 61 percent chance to win, according to the BPI model. In the best-case scenario for the Bulldogs, they would end up with one of the even more feeble options from the South region in Kansas State, Loyola-Chicago or Nevada.Is it cut and dried that Gonzaga has been more fortunate than Kentucky? No. But the numbers since the tournament began aren’t the whole story. See, Gonzaga’s chances also received a healthy bump from the selection committee’s layout of the bracket, which paved a relatively easy path for the Bulldogs en route to a possible trip to San Antonio — even if the bracket played to form. Before anyone had taken the court, Gonzaga’s chances to reach the Final Four increased by 14 percentage points over BPI’s pre-selection projections based on the teams it needed to get past in its region, so its Final Four chances in total have increased by 20 points (after rounding) overall. Meanwhile, the selection committee actually hurt Kentucky quite a bit, knocking its pre-selection Final Four chances down by 6 percentage points, meaning that outside forces improved the Wildcats’ Final Four chances by only 13 points. Clemson554-1 Florida St.111+1 Michigan131315+3 Kentucky8221+13 TeamPre-BracketPost-BracketPost-Bracket with Opp.overall Diff. So while the Wildcats have been lucky since the tournament began, they started out at a disadvantage. The same is true for a team like Duke, of course, whose current projection has benefited from Michigan State’s loss to Syracuse but whose original projection was hurt an awful lot by the Spartans’ nearby placement in the bracket. Duke and Villanova have seen slightly larger increases to their respective championship chances based on the bracket selection and other contenders’ losses relative to Gonzaga, but neither has been as positively affected as the Bulldogs in their chances to reach the Final Four or national championship game.If Gonzaga’s good fortune ends up helping to send the Washington school to the title game, it would not be unprecedented. Among all teams to reach the NCAA Tournament championship game since 2008, none benefited more from other teams losing than the 2017 Bulldogs, which faced No. 11 seed Xavier in the Elite Eight and No. 7 seed South Carolina in the Final Four. So while no one will feel sorry over Kentucky’s cushy path to the Final Four, it’s Gonzaga that — at least in the past two years — has had more luck on its side.Check out our latest March Madness predictions.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson talks during an interview on National Signing Day Feb. 5 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash talks with media on National Signing Day Feb. 5 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorWhen Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer gets into recruiting mode, it isn’t all about the players. He finds a way to woo coaches, too.After the departures of co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Everett Withers and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, Meyer had two vital positions to fill on a defense that allowed an average of 377.4 yards per game and ranked No. 47 in the country.Now after hiring two new coaches — both of whom spent time at rival schools — Meyer said he is pleased with his new hires.“We replaced (Vrabel and Withers) with Larry Johnson and Chris Ash, but a couple of comments with those gentlemen we hired. First, they wanted to be here, they both had very, very good jobs and they wanted to be here,” Meyer said to the media Wednesday.Johnson, who takes over as defensive line coach after 18 years with Penn State, inherits a unit that is set to return all four starters and helped spearhead the country’s ninth ranked running defense.Johnson said he can’t wait for a chance to work with the group of players.“Just watching from afar and watching it on videotape, I think it’s a very talented young group,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I’ve had two chances to watch them and I’m like a little kid. It’s like I’ve got some new toys to play with. I’m really excited to impart my wisdom to these guys and see how they respond.”Junior Michael Bennett, sophomores Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington and freshman Joey Bosa totaled 24 of OSU’s 42 sacks this past season.Meyer said he took notice of Johnson when putting together his initial staff at OSU, but didn’t hire him at the time because of Vrabel.“Larry Johnson is a guy (I have) had great respect for (for) many years,” Meyer said. “Made a phone call two years ago when I was hired here in December whatever year that was, I called Larry. We discussed Ohio State, but then I made the decision to hire Mike Vrabel. We just didn’t have a spot. Noah Spence’s dad called and said Larry (Johnson) would like to talk to you about a position … And the communication was great. We went and met in Indianapolis … and it was a no-brainer on our end.”Although Johnson’s pedigree as a coach is impressive, his abilities as a recruiter find a way to be noticed.Johnson said it is his “brand” that allows him to recruit players well.“I think obviously it’s my niche but I think the brand that I have is, I’m a teacher, I’m a fundamental development kind of guy,” he said. “I want to develop players into outstanding people and players and I think that all goes together.”Although the defensive line heads into 2014 with momentum, the Buckeyes’ secondary — which is now headed by former Arkansas defensive coordinator and secondary coach Chris Ash — doesn’t have quite the same hype.The unit finished the year ranked No. 112 in the country with an average of 268 yards per game and also loses four regular contributors in redshirt-senior safeties Corey “Pitt” Brown and C.J. Barnett, senior safety Christian Bryant and redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby.Meyer said it is Ash’s job to work on the pass defense.“He’s got a serious responsibility. That’s to improve our pass defense. He’ll be in charge of the entire back end of our defense,” Meyer said.Ash — who was named co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach upon his arrival in Columbus — said Wednesday he understood what Meyer wanted out of him as a coach.“When we met first, he discussed his vision for the defense and what he wanted to see when the film was turned on … There has been a great tradition of outstanding defenses here at Ohio State, (but) the last couple years it just wasn’t to the level that they wanted. Coach wanted to make some changes and go a different direction,” Ash said.Ash added that he expects his team to play one way: at full throttle.“Well, you play fast, you play with reckless abandon, you’re fast, you’re physical, you throw your body around. You play without hesitation,” Ash said. “There’s no confusion, you know exactly what you’re doing. You can react to your key and there’s only one speed: it’s full speed. And that’s the way we gotta play.”In each of his last two seasons at Wisconsin, before he took the job at Arkansas for what ended up being his lone year there this past season, Ash coached defenses that finished in the top 20 in passing yards allowed per game.Even with the new additions to the coaching staff, Meyer said he plans on taking a more involved role in the defense in the coming seasons.“I’m going to be more involved than I ever have been, just to make sure that we get up to standard at Ohio State on (the) defensive side of the ball with emphasis on pass defense,” Meyer said.The Buckeyes are scheduled to get their 2014 season underway Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.But before the season kicks off, there are some things the coaches need to learn about being a part of the OSU program.“There’s so much to learn. I walked in the first day and someone said, ‘Hey coach, no blue pens,’ and I didn’t know that,” Johnson said. “So there’s a lot of little things that I’ve got to learn pretty fast when you’re talking the team up north … As far as football and all those things, that’s easy. The learning (of) the ins and outs of Ohio State football, that’s the challenge for me.”But even with all of the new things he has to learn, Johnson said at least one aspect of the change is a plus.“My wife said I look good in red, so that’s a good start.”