Concussions suffered by three quarterbacks and a running back Sunday has prompted NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith two renew his call for the league to hire “concussion specialists” with no team affiliation who would man the sidelines to oversee concussion protocols and treat players.The players’ union continues to be frustrated over what it perceives to be an inconsistency among teams to adhere to concussion guidelines.The concussions suffered Sunday by quarterbacks Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and running back Fred Jackson drew particular attention Monday from the union, which will review the injuries and adherence to guidelines based on initial observations, NFLPA sources said. Players are entitled to file a grievance if they want to pursue claims against teams. Union sources say most players are reluctant to file complaints for fear of decreased job security.Only one of the defensive players involved on the hits to the quarterbacks is under league review for potential discipline, a source told ESPN. Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins drew a penalty flag for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cutler and could be fined.Smith suffered a concussion when tackled by Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Vick left with a concussion after being hit by Cowboys linebacker Ernie Sims. Neither of those hits were penalized and the league has determined both were perfectly legal.NFLPA sources said the union wants the league to accept responsibility for creating a disciplined, prompt and safe environment for players who are injured during the course of a game. They said the union wants concussion specialists, paid not by the teams but by the league, to assume the duties of caring for players, in accordance with normal employer workplace oversight.In last year’s collective bargaining negotiations, the union gained access to player medical information and the ability to conduct its own reviews of how teams evaluate and treat all injuries, including head and neck trauma.
Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Jan. 11, 2018), LaVar Ball has been making headlines for calling out Lakers head coach Luke Walton, saying the players “don’t want to play for him.” Neil, Chris and Kyle break down the stats to see if these claims hold any merit. Next, the Minnesota Timberwolves are having an impressive season, perhaps even impressive enough to contend for the Western Conference championship. Who’s responsible for their season’s turnaround? We investigate. Plus, a small-sample-size segment on Steph Curry’s incredible numbers of late.Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Lonzo Ball and Luke Walton responded to LaVar’s comments.The Ringer took a look at the Timberwolves and Jimmy Butler’s rise.Wednesday night, Steph Curry was out again with an ankle injury. Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed
107Eastern MichiganMAC344.5-15.1-7.0 44CaliforniaPac-12613.6+9.2+3.2 125North TexasC-USA366.1-18.1-11.2 60WyomingMW315.5-9.0+0.6 119South CarolinaSEC716.3+2.0-9.4 31ColoradoPac-12534.2+6.8+4.8 51Middle Tennessee StateC-USA423.2-2.2+1.7 7TempleAmerican449.3+7.5+10.0 3NavyAmerican324.8+6.4+15.4 41Virginia TechACC652.6+11.6+3.5 18BaylorBig 12639.8+15.4+7.9 42TroySun Belt363.0-3.8+3.3 48Ole MissSEC786.2+17.4+2.3 8OklahomaBig 12776.7+24.4+9.8 9WashingtonPac-12683.5+19.3+9.6 10ToledoMAC444.9+6.6+9.3 118HawaiiMW385.3-14.8-8.9 113SMUAmerican460.4-10.1-8.1 13WisconsinBig Ten639.8+15.9+8.4 55New MexicoMW364.5-5.7+1.3 25TCUBig 12648.0+15.1+7.2 37MinnesotaBig Ten525.8+5.3+3.8 92ConnecticutAmerican412.9-9.0-4.6 54TennesseeSEC812.2+18.0+1.6 99Kent StateMAC336.2-14.3-5.8 120UCFAmerican497.4-9.7-9.6 40StanfordPac-12772.2+17.9+3.5 32USFAmerican546.8+7.3+4.7 23UtahPac-12577.2+11.6+7.4 124Fresno StateMW403.8-15.9-11.0 22HoustonAmerican542.1+9.9+7.6 103BuffaloMAC330.0-15.2-6.4 70Boston CollegeACC534.0+0.2-1.7 17Brigham YoungFBS Indep.525.2+9.4+8.0 95Arizona StatePac-12687.5+5.1-4.9 100Oregon StatePac-12534.8-4.0-5.9 104FIUC-USA361.5-13.6-6.5 14Kansas StateBig 12504.5+8.7+8.3 33Ohio StateBig Ten904.9+25.6+4.3 87MissouriSEC638.3+3.8-3.6 34Georgia TechACC586.4+8.8+4.2 36AlabamaSEC982.3+29.3+4.0 28North CarolinaACC676.3+15.5+6.2 102MassachusettsFBS Indep.347.3-14.1-6.2 47Arkansas StateSun Belt439.8-0.5+2.5 74IndianaBig Ten562.3+1.3-2.1 76SyracuseACC514.5-1.3-2.2 57NorthwesternBig Ten604.7+6.4+0.8 15Oklahoma StateBig 12641.8+15.7+8.1 108Louisiana-LafayetteSun Belt425.8-11.4-7.6 4Appalachian StateSun Belt323.1+5.0+14.1 20IowaBig Ten565.9+11.3+7.7 68Michigan StateBig Ten717.5+10.3-1.2 122TexasBig 12830.1+7.3-10.1 98AkronMAC428.2-9.2-5.6 50Mississippi StateSEC679.6+11.5+2.0 49Central MichiganMAC384.3-3.8+2.1 66DukeACC581.5+3.4-1.0 38PittsburghACC630.5+10.6+3.6 112Florida AtlanticC-USA405.0-12.9-8.0 89Notre DameFBS Indep.849.8+14.4-4.0 69Iowa StateBig 12540.6+0.9-1.4 11ArmyFBS Indep.159.1-8.5+9.2 39MichiganBig Ten852.0+22.1+3.6 59LSUSEC903.5+21.8+0.6 I mentioned the service academies — Air Force, Navy and Army — because they are the biggest outliers here. Although their recruiting process works largely the same as at other schools (with the biggest exception being a lack of scholarships specifically for athletics), they face unique barriers to hauling in top talent, including mandatory military service after graduation, tougher academic requirements and even size restrictions for incoming players.2Guidelines for weight and body fat, for instance, can make it difficult for top linemen to qualify. That’s why, according to the Team Talent Composite, the academies are mostly filled with players who were lightly regarded coming out of high school. But whether because of their emphasis on character and discipline, or just their predilection for triple-option schemes that can trip up the most formidable defenses, these programs have produced far better results than their talent would suggest.Among Power Five schools, the top outperformers are a generally unsurprising collection of well-coached programs, such as the perennially overachieving Wisconsin Badgers, the Washington schools (both UW and WSU), plus Bill Snyder’s K-State and Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State squads. But ahead of them all might be a surprising team: the Oklahoma Sooners. OU got a reputation for losing big games under former coach Bob Stoops, but Stoops probably should have also gotten more credit for putting the Sooners in position to play those games in the first place, given the way they outplayed the expectations of their recruiting classes.Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, there are programs that recruit like crazy but achieve only modest outcomes, like South Carolina, Texas and Georgia. The latter two in particular are storied programs that recruit off of their prestige, but both teams have found a way to mess up that advantage in recent seasons. There’s also no shortage of teams that field average talent but manage to be awful anyway, like Kansas and Rutgers. All of these schools serve as testament to the importance of coaching and player development in any program’s fate. Although a team like Nick Saban’s dominating Alabama squad can be No. 1 in recruiting and No. 1 in performance on the field, most schools have to make the best out of what they’ve got.How much bang does your favorite school get for its recruiting buck? Find out in our searchable table below. 61IdahoSun Belt259.6-11.9+0.5 Sources: 247Sports, ESPN Stats & Information Group FOOTBALL POWER INDEX 126Texas StateSun Belt356.1-20.6-13.2 12Washington StatePac-12531.7+10.6+8.8 121RiceC-USA397.2-15.1-9.8 94UCLAPac-12806.2+11.3-4.8 30TulsaAmerican406.6+0.9+5.6 35Georgia SouthernSun Belt413.3-0.3+4.1 64East CarolinaAmerican422.9-4.5-0.5 79NevadaMW385.0-8.5-2.6 84CincinnatiAmerican518.1-2.1-3.1 78Georgia StateSun Belt328.7-11.3-2.5 105TulaneAmerican398.1-11.7-6.5 19ClemsonACC826.8+25.0+7.8 75NebraskaBig Ten695.8+8.2-2.1 77San Jose StateMW408.5-7.0-2.3 97New Mexico StateSun Belt259.4-18.0-5.5 86Ball StateMAC357.9-10.8-3.5 81IllinoisBig Ten527.4-1.5-3.0 FOOTBALL POWER INDEX▲▼TEAM▲▼CONF.▲▼TALENT▲▼ACTUAL▲▼VS. EXPECTED▲▼ 45OhioMAC351.6-4.8+2.9 83VanderbiltSEC614.4+3.0-3.1 2Western KentuckyC-USA377.7+11.8+18.1 123CharlotteC-USA317.3-19.7-10.2 6MemphisAmerican416.5+6.8+11.0 71MiamiACC759.6+11.8-1.9 College football teams’ success vs. their recruiting programsTeam Talent Composite vs. Football Power Index rating for FBS college football programs, 2015-16 73FloridaSEC794.1+13.5-2.0 90OregonPac-12747.9+9.0-4.1 91ArizonaPac-12611.6+1.6-4.4 114South AlabamaSun Belt378.3-14.7-8.4 72Texas A&MSEC822.5+15.1-1.9 111Louisiana-MonroeSun Belt307.8-17.9-7.9 93MarshallC-USA487.6-5.1-4.6 96KentuckySEC643.3+2.2-5.4 62Texas TechBig 12623.0+6.8+0.2 101UTEPC-USA273.3-17.9-6.2 16LouisvilleACC647.6+16.0+8.1 67Wake ForestACC507.6-0.6-1.1 80Old DominionC-USA333.4-11.3-2.7 88UNLVMW354.5-11.4-3.9 5Western MichiganMAC442.6+9.1+11.9 58Bowling GreenMAC413.1-3.8+0.7 115VirginiaACC643.0-1.1-8.6 ▲▼TEAM▲▼CONF.▲▼TALENT▲▼ACTUAL▲▼VS. EXPECTED▲▼ 21Boise StateMW558.9+10.9+7.7 46N.C. StateACC613.3+8.9+2.8 53ArkansasSEC692.2+11.9+1.7 106Texas-San AntonioC-USA377.0-13.1-6.8 24San Diego StateMW488.5+6.9+7.4 109GeorgiaSEC874.9+12.0-7.7 117MarylandBig Ten627.9-1.9-8.7 College football can feel like a hopelessly deterministic sport sometimes. In this week’s preseason AP poll, for instance, it was revealed that the recruiting machines at Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and Southern Cal are also the top favorites to win the College Football Playoff. Ho-hum.But although raw talent has a pretty strong correlation with on-field success, it doesn’t completely guarantee it. Teams with good rosters can always let their fan bases down, while others can achieve far better results than we would expect from their recruiting hauls alone. (Hello, service academies!)To get a sense of which teams have gotten the most — and the least — out of their talent, I took ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) ratings for each FBS program over the past two seasons,1Ideally, we’d be able to look at this over a longer timeframe, but the data I’m using for this story only goes back to the 2015 season. and plotted them against 247Sports.com’s Team Talent Composite scores. (The latter measures a roster’s strength by tracking how many highly touted prospects a team has at its disposal.) The overall relationship between FPI and roster talent is relatively strong — recruiting scores explain about 65 percent of the variation in team performance — but some teams have managed to rise above college football’s penchant for predestination. 82AuburnSEC865.4+16.2-3.0 116Miami (OH)MAC407.6-13.4-8.6 26Louisiana TechC-USA444.7+4.4+7.1 65Florida StateACC898.3+20.1-0.8 110PurdueBig Ten523.5-6.6-7.9 85USCPac-12931.8+19.5-3.2 52Colorado StateMW400.7-3.4+1.7 56Southern MissC-USA456.1-1.0+1.2 29Utah StateMW344.3-2.0+6.0 1Air ForceMW57.8+1.4+24.3 43Northern IllinoisMAC392.0-2.3+3.3 63Penn StateBig Ten737.4+12.3-0.3 127RutgersBig Ten593.9-8.6-13.6 128KansasBig 12495.5-14.4-14.2 27West VirginiaBig 12640.2+14.0+6.5
By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On Monday’s show (April 16, 2018), Neil, Kyle and Chris recap the first games of the NBA playoffs. They focus on the weekend’s big storylines: The Pacers trounced the Cavs in Cleveland, the Blazers had no answer for Anthony Davis, and the Sixers looked like real contenders.Here are links to what the podcast discussed this week:Keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, updated after every game.Chris wrote about how Ben Simmons is outsmarting his defenders.
OSU coach Kevin McGuff yells during a game against Nebraska on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 96-70. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorA road matchup against No. 20 Michigan State (22-7, 13-4) was how the No.5 Ohio State (23-6, 15-3) women’s basketball team would end its regular season, and it surely was a thrilling conclusion. After losing to Minnesota just three days ago in overtime, the Buckeyes once again needed extra time to try and secure a win. However, they fell to the Spartans in not one, not two but three overtime periods, 107-105, on Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan. Despite the loss, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell set a single-game scoring record for OSU after dropping 48 points. Senior guard Ameryst Alston added 19 points and seven assists. It was Michigan State’s senior day, making it the second game in a row that the Buckeyes would battle against an opponent honoring its seniors. The inspired Michigan State roster followed the same strategy that Minnesota set in place against OSU by coming out in a zone defense. After facing a zone the past few games, though, the Buckeyes started to find a flow, moving the ball around the court and being patient until they found the shot they were looking for. The first half was bundled with highlight action from both squads, but neither team was able to take advantage of opportunities that were presented. At the halfway mark, the Buckeyes and Spartans were knotted up at 34 apiece.As could be expected from the matchup between ranked conference foes, the lead was exchanged multiple times between the two teams, with a total of 22 lead changes and 16 ties by the final buzzer. The Spartans came out of the locker room for the second half fired up, willing to do whatever it took so that OSU wouldn’t be able to celebrate a win on their home court, on their senior day.Michigan State swarmed the Buckeyes on the defensive end at the beginning of the second half, forcing five turnovers in a 2:18 stretch, then making OSU coach Kevin McGuff take a timeout to allow his team to regain composure with 6:08 to play in the third quarter.The Buckeyes would finish the game coughing up the ball 25 times, allowing the Spartans to score 18 points off those mistakes.Back and forth the two teams went until the final media timeout of the fourth quarter when the action began to get interesting.At the timeout, the score was knotted up at 63. With the Spartans controlling the final few minutes of play, the Buckeyes had a tough time regaining the momentum to help put them ahead.Down two points with under a minute to play and the game clock ticking down, Mitchell tied it up after making a nifty spin move in the paint and floating the rock through the net. With 25 ticks remaining, the teams were leveled at 72. Michigan State would not have to worry about the shot clock in the final seconds, but redshirt junior Ariel Powers, who has been the Spartans’ main scorer all year, missed the potentially game-winning pull-up jump shot, pushing the game into overtime.The continued exchanges for the lead continued in the extended time, and with 11 seconds left the Buckeyes thought they had the road win wrapped up with a two-point lead. They were wrong.Senior center Jasmine Hines, who finished the game with a career-high 36 points to make for an impressive senior day showing, would answer for the Spartans and tie the game, moving it to another bonus period.The second overtime was controlled by the Buckeyes; receiving contributions from Mitchell, Alston and sophomore guard Asia Doss. The defensive specialist Doss made a huge steal for her team and scored on the other end to put OSU ahead 92-88, but it was immediately was answered by Spartan redshirt sophomore guard Branndais Agee on a 3-pointer.Alston went to the charity stripe after getting fouled off the inbound, where she knocked down both and regained the three-point lead for the visitors.Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant then drew up a play during a timeout, which her team executed to perfection, as junior guard Tori Jankoska drained one from downtown to tie it up 94-94 with 11.1 seconds on the game clock.The Buckeyes put the ball in Mitchell’s hand for the final shot. Dribbling down the floor, the sophomore made a move to the left wing, but after being unable to create space for a shot, she looked to kick out to Alston. But the pass went awry, flying out of bounds.Triple overtime was next on deck.In the third and final overtime period Michigan State would dig down, eventually coming out on top when time expired. Jankoska was the hero yet again for the Spartans, knocking down her three free throws at the end to get the two-point lead and victory.Mitchell’s 48-point performance led all scorers, but with Alston and junior forward Shayla Cooper having a tough time from the field, Mitchell had no choice but to attempt to put the team on her back down the stretch. The Cincinnati native showcased her seemingly unlimited range and speed on the fast break, which she utilized to get to the basket and finish with contact. Mitchell is in the conversation for the national player of the year award, as she is averaging 24.5 points per game and continues to be the go-to option for the Buckeyes.Powers, who is also a nominee for the player of the year award for the 2015-16 season, had an impressive all-around performance, despite being quiet in the first half as she struggled to find her groove from the start.On Saturday, Powers showed that she can do it all, finishing with 23 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists. Before their next game, the Buckeyes will have to play the waiting game to see which team they will be playing in their first game of the Big Ten conference tournament. They will also have to wait to learn their seed in the tournament. A win Saturday would’ve locked up the top seed and a share of the Big Ten title, but instead a Maryland win over Minnesota on Sunday would give the Terrapins the outright title.Last year, OSU fell in the championship game of the tournament against that Maryland team, and it will look to flip the script this year in Indianapolis. Its quarterfinal matchup is set for Friday.
A national football powerhouse such as Ohio State expects to win every game. This is a stark difference from the aura that surrounds the Eastern Michigan program. The Eagles have lost 15 straight games. In the time since Eastern Michigan’s last victory, Barack Obama was inaugurated, LeBron James “took his talents to South Beach” and the Jersey Shore became a popular tourist site. The last time OSU lost consecutive games was in 2004, when they lost to Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa. That was the last season in which OSU did not play in a BCS bowl game. Safety Tyler Moeller doesn’t care that Eastern Michigan has not won since Nov. 28, 2008. “Any team can beat us any day,” Moeller said. “Ohio University proved that in 2008. They gave us a great game. We need to play our game every week and not let go of the throttle.” Are the Eastern Michigan Eagles really as bad as they seem? The team is led by senior linebackers Neal Howey and Tim Fort, who are both in the top five in tackles in the Mid-American Conference. Second-year coach Ron English, former defensive coordinator at Michigan under Lloyd Carr, leads a team that is predominately underclassmen. “He knows us better than his players know us, having been on Lloyd’s staff for all those years, coaching the secondary there at Michigan, and he knew the challenge when he took over,” said OSU coach Jim Tressel. Five of Eastern Michigan’s 15 consecutive losses have come in games decided by a touchdown or less. The Eagles’ losing streak is currently second behind Western Kentucky’s 23-game drought. Despite the disparity in team success, the message in the OSU locker room is quite simple. “We can’t have any letdowns,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said.
Members of the United State’s men’s national soccer team like to think of Crew Stadium as home. The American’s most recent visit to Columbus is yet another example of why there’s no place like home. The U.S. improved its all-time record at Crew Stadium to 6-0-3 with a 1-0 win against Jamaica in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match Tuesday. American forward Herculez Gomez struck a set-piece goal in the 55th minute to give the Americans a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard also helped keep a shutout intact for the Americans, who avenged their 2-1 loss to Jamaica on Friday in Kingston, Jamaica. With the win, the U.S. moves into a three-way tie for first-place in its World Cup qualifying group with Jamaica and Guatemala. The Guatemalans defeated Antigua and Barbuda Tuesday, 1-0, to keep pace in the group, from which only the top two teams can advance in World Cup qualifying. The Americans will resume World Cup qualifying Oct. 12 with a game against the group’s last-place team, Antigua and Barbuda, in St. John’s, Antigua. Crew Stadium was a powder keg and the U.S. came close to lighting the fuse numerous times in the first half. Chance after chance went just wide of Jamaican keeper Dwayne Miller’s goal. American midfielder Graham Zusi set the tone for the first half when he clanked an 18-yard shot off the upper right corner of Miller’s goal, which was besieged in the first half. All told, three U.S. shots caromed off the posts of Miller’s net by the time 30 minutes had passed. Other U.S. attempts whistled wide as the American fans standing on temporary bleachers waited to erupt. Howard, by comparison, wasn’t tested once in the opening half, and his teammates kept the pressure up on the other end of the field, outshooting Jamaica, 8-0, in the opening 45 minutes. Jamaica was barely hanging on, but the Americans weren’t able to break through and the teams went to half in a scoreless tie. Fans remained at a roar as the second half began and before long, the moment the entire stadium had been waiting for finally arrived in the 55th minute. After the U.S. earned a free kick from about 25 yards out, Gomez stepped to the ball and bent his kick around a wall of Jamaican defenders. Miller made a full-stretch lunge to save the shot, but could only manage to get part of his left hand on Gomez’s rip from distance. The white twine of the net rippled and Gomez had put the U.S. up, 1-0, to spark Crew Stadium to life. From there on out, it was all defense for the U.S. and few additional offensive chances. Howard and his backline of defenders managed to deal with Jamaica’s three second-half shot. In the midfield, Jermaine Jones, a dual citizen of America and Germany, pushed and muscled his way around the field to stop the Jamaican attacks. Jamaica never had a shot on goal. In the 82nd minute, Howard skied to tip a seemingly threatening corner kick away from the mouth of his goal, and most of the 23,881 still in attendance roared with approval. Jamaica, nicknamed the “Reggae Boyz,” wouldn’t mount another serious attack. After three minutes of extra time, Honduran referee Jose Pineda blew his whistle to end the game and send the packed stadium into one final frenzied cheer.
Members of the Ohio State men’s hockey team know now is not the time to start letting doubt creep in, even after dropping its last three games. OSU only has one win in its last 10 games, a 3-1 victory at Ferris State on Jan. 11. The team has suffered a lot of injuries this season, something OSU coach Mark Osiecki said “drastically” hurts the team’s chemistry. “Our roster has been different every game because of it,” Osiecki said. “You don’t want to use that as an excuse at all, but it’s definitely affected it.” Despite the team’s recent struggles, Osiecki stressed the importance of the team consistently maintaining a positive attitude, even if its play has not been consistent. “They’ve got a great attitude,” Osiecki said. “They love coming to the rink. If (the Schottenstein Center) was open every day, they would be in here every day shooting pucks on the ice, using open ice. That’s the mentality.” It is that mentality of working hard every day that could help the Buckeyes toward closing out the season on a high note, said senior goalie Brady Hjelle. “All the cards are right there ready to go,” Hjelle said. “We are ready to go, we just got to stay positive and keep working hard every day.” Sophomore forward Max McCormick said he agreed with Hjelle and said staying positive is key. “We can’t get down on ourselves and hang our heads,” McCormick said. “We’ve got to have a good work ethic in practice and prepare for the weekend.” OSU is scheduled to host Lake Superior State (13-12-1, 8-9-1-1 CCHA) this weekend at the Schottenstein Center. The series against the Lakers begins a stretch where OSU will play eight of its next 10 games in Columbus. “It’ll be nice to be back home here,” Osiecki said. “At home you got a full roster and we gotta play with an attitude.” Junior defenseman Curtis Gedig also said he is happy to be at home and playing in front of the home crowd, something the team has not had the chance to experience since before Christmas. “I love the building, love the atmosphere,” Gedig said. “We don’t have to worry about catching up on school because we are traveling, so that is nice.” Osiecki said the team is closer to 100 percent health than it has been since the beginning of the season, adding that he is looking forward to getting some of the players back to “knock the rust off.” Even with the roster being nearly at full strength, he said his team does not have a lot of time to waste before the end of the regular season. “Guys have to get to game speed quickly,” Osiecki said. “There’s not enough time to sit around and ease into it.” Hjelle said winning games is a must for any team at this point in the season but is happy to have the majority of the remaining games at home, which he said helps with morale. “It’s always a good time to start winning a lot of games,” Hjelle said. “It’s definitely nice being at home. It’s going to be huge for us.” Osiecki said he and the rest of the coaching staff have not had to say much in practice to keep the team focused on what they need to do. “I think the sky is still the limit,” he said. “Our guys have the right attitude. Now it is just a matter of getting some sort of comfort and chemistry going.” Gedig agreed with Osiecki that the team just has to find a way to win. “The excuses have got to come to an end,” Gedig said. “We are so close, and I believe with this team we are good enough and it will come for us.”
One of the most exciting tournaments in golf is finally here. The top players in the world will stroll down Magnolia Lane to tee it up at the legendary Augusta National Golf Course for The Masters, the first of four annual major championships on the Professional Golfers Association Tour. The 93-player field will feature top players, past champions and even the youngest competitor in Masters’ history: 14-year-old Tianlang Guan from China, who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in November to punch his ticket to Augusta, Ga. (I couldn’t imagine doing anything of this magnitude at age 14). This year’s edition features a common theme from past Masters tournaments: Tiger Woods versus the rest of the field. With three wins in five starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, and regaining the No. 1 ranking in the world after a whirlwind three years, I think Woods is a shoe-in to win for the fifth time at Augusta National. Woods is definitely my favorite to win the Masters, but here are my top-10 players who can also win the green jacket: 1. Brandt Snedeker: If there is anyone in the world who is as hot as Woods, it’s the 32-year-old from Nashville. The winner of the season-long race for last year’s FedEx Cup, Snedeker carried that momentum into 2013, posting a win and four top-three finishes in just seven starts so far on the PGA Tour. 2. Matt Kuchar: After finishing T-3 in last year’s Masters, and picking up a win earlier this year at the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championship, Kuchar’s consistency over the last three years with 21 top-10 finishes makes him a key player to look for this year. 3. Justin Rose: The Englishman hasn’t finished worse than T-17 in eight events on the PGA and European tours this season. Expect him to be in the mix late afternoon on Sunday. 4. Rory McIlroy: The 23-year-old Northern Irishman has had an eventful year so far, highlighted by the switch to Nike golf clubs and inconsistent play so far. But last week’s second-place finish at the Valero Texas Open gave him the confidence he needed to try to win his third major championship. 5. Dustin Johnson: The big-hitting American’s power of the tee will be crucial to his success this week. Look for him to score some low numbers on the par-5s, and this could be the year for him to break through for his first major championship. 6. Phil Mickelson: A three-time Masters champion playing in his favorite event? You know Lefty is going to bring his A-game to Augusta this week. 7. Lee Westwood: His success in majors in astonishing, except for one stat: wins. Westwood has yet to win that first major, despite having eight top-10 finishes in the last 16 majors. 8. Bubba Watson: The emotional roller-coaster, and last year’s Masters’ champion, Watson knows what it takes to win at Augusta, especially with his incredible shot-shaping abilities. 9. Ian Poulter: The 37-year-old Englishman knows how to thrive on golf’s biggest stages. A Ryder Cup hero for the Europeans, Poulter will look to improve from his seventh place finish last year. 10. Keegan Bradley: Another big-hitting American, poised to add a second major championship to his impressive resume. When he won the 2011 PGA Championship as a rookie, everyone knew he could handle the pressure of a big-time tournament.
Then-sophomore middle blocker Grayson Overman attempts to block an opposing spike during a match against Lewis March 4, 2011, at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Cody Cousino / For The LanternThe Ohio State men’s volleyball team is set to start the 2014 season in a location where the climate is quite the contrary to what Ohio has been facing lately.The Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Honolulu for the fifth straight year to take part in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Invitational.In what marks the 20th anniversary for the tournament, No. 12 OSU is slated to take on top teams in No. 14 Hawaii, No. 7 UCLA and No. 11 Penn State.“The Outrigger Volleyball Invitational is one of the oldest non-conference tournaments in college men’s volleyball. It traditionally includes Hawaii and a team from the (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) and (Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association) in its four-team field,” said Nancy Daniels, the director of public relations for Outrigger Hotel and Resorts.The Buckeyes have made five appearances, Penn State has made 19 appearances with two titles, UCLA has made 13 appearances with a record eight titles and Hawaii has played in all 20 tournaments, winning six times, Daniels said.OSU is set to kick off play Thursday facing the host of the tournament, Hawaii. Hawaii leads the overall series with OSU, 3-1. The Buckeyes picked up their first win over the Rainbow Warriors last year, beating Hawaii in five sets during the first round of the 2013 Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Invitational. Friday, OSU is set to take on UCLA at 9 p.m. The Buckeyes are set to finish the invitational Saturday against Penn State at 9 p.m.The Buckeyes are coming off a 2013 season in which they finished 19-8 overall and 9-5 in MIVA conference play, good for third.OSU hosted the first round of the MIVA Tournament, falling in five sets to Grand Canyon. To end the 2013 season, OSU lost seven seniors, including experienced middle blockers John Tholen and Grayson Overman.In coach Pete Hanson’s 28th season at the helm, the Buckeyes are led by a pair of experienced redshirt juniors in setter Peter Heinen, opposite Andrew Lutz, junior outside hitter Michael Henchy and redshirt-junior middle blocker Shawn Herron.Upon returning from Hawaii, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Lees-McRae in Columbus, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.