Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills speaks with reporters after football practice. (AP Photo/Greg Beacham)OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — Kenny Stills wants to know why more athletes aren’t standing with Colin Kaepernick.The Miami Dolphins receiver has restated his questions from a series of tweets Tuesday questioning the support across sports for Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback currently out of football after his protests during the national anthem last season.“I just feel like the league, it’s majority African-American, and you would think more people would come to have one of our guys’ back,” Stills said Wednesday.“We talk about the NFL being a brotherhood,” Stills added. “They give us this presentation every year about the NFL being a brotherhood, and [if] something wrong is going on to one of your brothers, I feel like we should be there to have his back and speak up for him.”Stills spoke after practice in Oxnard, where the Dolphins are spending the week ahead of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. They traveled to the West Coast early due to Hurricane Irma’s devastation of South Florida.Kaepernick spoke up against police abuses and racial injustices last season, sparking many players to join him in activism. Those players included Stills, who knelt during the national anthem along with three teammates.Stills had previously said he won’t take a knee this year but said Wednesday that he might re-evaluate his plans.“It’s definitely something that I thought about, but I continue to think that the protest has been really divisive,” said Stills, who grew up in San Diego before attending Oklahoma. “I’m trying to do everything I can to get people on the same page. … I really want to bring people together, and I’m open to having conversations with people and trying and getting all of us on the same page.”Those aren’t just postures to Stills, who has participated in public meetings with police and taken ride-along tours in an effort to find common ground. He is also a key contributor to the Dolphins’ offense with 42 catches for 726 yards and a team-leading nine TDs last season. Stills is expected to start for Miami this year after getting a four-year, $32 million contract extension in March.Stills’ tweets Tuesday began with a series of questions, which he said were directed particularly at fellow athletes: “Why aren’t more players speaking up or protesting? Do you not believe there’s a problem? Do you not believe you can create change? Are you worried about sponsors or your contract? Do you not care?”Stills asked why the NFL hasn’t released a statement condemning unarmed shootings of black people. He also asked why the NFL didn’t create “a positive narrative about Kap and what he started,” but instead stayed silent.“How can we expect the league to care about something we’re not showing we care about?” Stills added.Although he got plenty of online responses, Stills doesn’t think he got many from his fellow NFL players.“I was really hoping to reach more players,” he said. “I don’t think many players wrote me back or responded, so that’s what it really was for: Hollering at the players. I wanted to see where their minds were at.”Stills also said he was in contact with Seahawks star Michael Bennett, who claims he was racially profiled and had excessive force used against him by Las Vegas police officers last month.“We’ve talked through text message, and we’re all just trying to be here for each other,” Stills said. “I feel like the narrative is kind of going the wrong way sometimes, and so, just to have each other’s back and support each other, and I’m really happy to see the things that he’s doing.“I was kind of at a loss for words hearing what happened to him after the Mayweather fight, and so [I’m] just continuing to reach out to guys and letting each other know that we have our back, and the NFL actually being a brotherhood like we talk about.”
Archives: September 2019
OAKLAND, Calif. — If we someday look back and can firmly say that the Golden State Warriors were the greatest team ever assembled, Thursday night’s 113-91 laugher over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals may be the moment that idea began coming into focus for the average fan.In the first half alone, Golden State missed a whopping 15 shots from inside the restricted area, which basically equates to point-blank range. Draymond Green, who logged 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists in a Game 7 loss last year, didn’t score a basket until there was just over a minute left in the third period. And Klay Thompson, arguably the second-best shooter in the world, finished the evening 3-of-16 from the floor. Just two Warriors finished the game as double-digit scorers.Yet while Golden State looked primed to roll a gutter ball, Kevin Durant’s performance acted as the ultimate bumper rail, and the Warriors prevailed by 22 points instead.The superstar finished with 38 points on 26 shots, and logged eight rebounds and eight assists without turning the ball over even once.1Shaquille O’Neal holds the Finals record for most points in a game without turning it over, having logged 41 during a contest in 2000. Michael Jordan had a 37-point game with no turnovers back in 1998. Durant had six dunks by himself, a number that was jarring when juxtaposed against the fact that the Warriors finished with just four turnovers as a team, tied for the fewest in a game in NBA Finals history.2Oddly enough, the other two teams to accomplish this — the 2013 San Antonio Spurs and the 2005 Detroit Pistons — both went on to lose their series. Honestly, think about that: Durant had more dunks than his team had turnovers.Durant was at times a playmaker, setting up his teammates.3He effortlessly logged his eight assists Thursday. Harrison Barnes, the man he replaced, has never had more than five in a game. He was a lethal 1-on-1 scorer when he wanted to be, undressing Richard Jefferson with a nasty stepback that nearly incinerated the old-timer’s shoe. But perhaps most importantly, he pushed the tempo and created defensive conundrums for Cleveland that basically break basketball logic.Twice during the second quarter, Durant dribbled the ball right down Main Street without a single Cavalier stepping up to challenge him.And while it’s easy to blame that on horrendous defense — Cleveland was the worst transition D in the NBA during the regular season, and many of us thought the team might struggle to get stops in this series — it isn’t as simple as the Cavs being lazy or afraid of defending Durant. Instead, they were most concerned about leaving Stephen Curry wide open for a corner three.On both of these plays, you’ll notice that the Cavs are moving to their right to make sure that Curry doesn’t get a clean look from that spot. In doing so, Durant waltzes in for the four easiest points he’ll ever score.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/durantclearlane.mp400:0000:0000:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/durantclearlane2.mp400:0000:0000:12Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Cavs coach Tyronn Lue suggested during his post-game press conference that it was a mistake to give Durant the easy looks in transition, because it allowed him to find a rhythm from outside. And there appeared to be some truth to that. KD shot just 1-of-5 from outside the paint in the first half but stayed afloat by shooting 9-of-13 from inside the painted area. He then went on to shoot 4-of-5 from outside that area after halftime, including a transition dagger where defenders, again, left him alone because of how focused they were on Curry.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/durantfrom3.mp400:0000:0000:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.It’s a night-and-day difference from Harrison Barnes, whom the Cavs were happy to ignore toward the end of last year’s series. Now, Cleveland gets burned for the slightest mistakes, while Golden State’s secondary players can be less perfect than they’ve ever been. The addition of Durant changed that dynamic, and given that this is happening in the Finals, it’s scary for the rest of the NBA.Golden State had LeBron driving to nowhereThe Cavaliers offense revolves around LeBron James getting to the rack and creating problems elsewhere, but in Game 1, those problems seemed to have been solved. According to player tracking data from NBA.com, James drove to the basket 21 times in Game 1 — he did so just 9.5 times per game in the regular season, and 11.1 times per game in the postseason before Thursday. Things didn’t go well on those plays.The Warriors’ ability to contain LeBron with just Durant and not compromise the rest of their defense threw the entire Cavaliers offense out of alignment. With the other Golden State defenders staying home on the Cleveland shooters, James had just one assist and compiled five of his eight turnovers on those plays. He went 2 for 8 on his drives — a significant drop off from the 62 percent he shot on his attempts off drives during the regular season.The entire Cleveland offense is premised on James’s ability to score efficiently at the rim and draw help. But Durant has been one of the best rim protectors in the league this season, allowing opponents to shoot just 48.7 percent at the rim in the regular season and 41.8 percent in the playoffs. Whether or not James can solve that, single coverage at the rim will be a big factor in whether or not the Cleveland offense looks any better going forward in the series.The Cavs were very, very bad — but they’re not deadFor a blowout to happen, it usually takes two teams playing at opposite ends of the spectrum. And as good as Golden State was at protecting the ball and scoring in transition, Cleveland’s offense was equally dreadful in just about every way.Take shooting: The Cavs’ 34.9 percent accuracy from the field was their second-worst single-game mark of the entire season, trailing only this January loss to the Blazers. (Factoring in 3-point shooting using effective field goal percentage only makes things marginally better — this was their fifth-worst game according to that metric.) They made just 14 of the 38 shots (37 percent) classified as “open” or “wide open” by the NBA’s player-tracking data (including 7-for-24 from downtown) and were 3-for-28 (11 percent) on shots that weren’t created by either James’s or Kyrie Irving’s shooting or passing. Neither Tristan Thompson, Deron Williams nor Kyle Korver scored (they shot 0-for-10); J.R. Smith made Cleveland’s first basket of the game and wasn’t heard from after that.Giveaways were also a major problem. Cleveland’s 17.1 percent turnover rate was tied for its seventh-highest of the entire season. The whole offensive package added up to a mere 91.4 points per 100 possessions, the Cavaliers’ fourth-least efficient game of the season — and by far the worst outing of the playoffs for a team that had gone into the Finals leading all teams in offensive rating.The good news for the Cavs is that, as bad as they looked in Game 1, they’re far from doomed. Just one year ago, they were beaten by a wider average margin (24 points) in their first two games than they lost by Thursday (22) … and we all know how that series ended. With its explosive 3-point shooting, the Cavs’ offense could heat up and make us all forget about their bad night. But by the same token, Cleveland can scarcely afford any more duds against an opponent that might be the greatest the game has ever seen. Like their odds of winning the series, the Cavs’ margin for error just became more razor-thin than ever.Check out our latest NBA predictions.CORRECTION (June 2, 1 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Kevin Durant allowed opponents to shoot 41.8 percent at the rim during the regular season. That was the number for the playoffs. His regular-season number was 48.7 percent. The story has been updated.
Temple<1<1<1181 CHANCE A TEAM WILL … Oklahoma173831887 Florida State<11<1282 Houston22<1227 Alabama43612125>99 Northwestern<1<1<112<1 Notre Dame303123874 Mississippi<1——21<1 Conferences are weird. And not just because some of their names don’t make any sense. (The Big Ten has 14 members?! The Big 12 has 10?!) Although most college football conferences hold championship games, others are prohibited from holding them (and get screwed because of it). They feature rapacious money grubbing and encourage teams to destroy rivalry games. No wonder independent Notre Dame disdains conference membership altogether.More importantly, for our selfish interests, conferences cloud interpretations of FiveThirtyEight’s playoff predictions — which you can find here. The weird structures and dynamics of conferences sow lots of confusion. Since we launched our College Football Playoff model last week, we’ve received lots of reader questions, and many of them boil down to one of two “conference conundrums.” Elsewhere on FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver has explained some tweaks to our model that should make the numbers more sensible. But in case you’re still scratching your head, let’s run through the two big reasons conferences can befuddle:1. The Two-Team Conundrum: How can [Ohio State/Alabama/LSU/TCU] have higher odds of making the playoff than winning its conference?Because some conferences have enough good teams that they could send two squads into the playoff. Alternatively, other considerations in the selection process might outweigh a good team’s loss in a conference championship.For example: Our model gives No. 21All the rankings I’m using in this article are the committee’s. Alabama a 43 percent chance of being selected into the playoff but a 35 percent chance of winning the SEC. In a simulation that my colleague Jay Boice ran, a two-loss Alabama team that doesn’t get to play in the SEC championship game still makes the playoff 25.3 percent of the time (probably alongside a one-loss SEC champion). Similarly, No. 3 Ohio State has a 56 percent chance of making the postseason but a 44 percent chance of winning the Big Ten. If both Ohio State and Iowa remain undefeated heading into the Big Ten championship, there’s a good chance that both will make it in, regardless of the outcome.Other cases are more complicated. What if an undefeated Ohio State team fell to a one-loss Iowa team in the Big Ten championship?2Iowa can afford to take a loss, maybe even two, since the Hawkeyes are a game ahead of Wisconsin and also have the tiebreaker over the Badgers. It’s feasible to imagine almost any outcome in that case: The committee could go with Iowa, Ohio State, both teams or neither team.In the conference previews below, I explain more about how those scenarios might play out. But know that there isn’t necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between conference championships and slots in the playoff; things could get messy. It’s the job of the model to sort all of that out — though, admittedly, we don’t know much (or anything, really) about how the committee weights conference championships, as it didn’t have to deal with any upsets in those title games during its inaugural season last year.2. The Division Conundrum: For two teams in the same conference, how can one team have a better chance of winning the conference but another team a better shot at making the playoff?We received lots of these questions, and the culprit is arbitrary conference divisions. Take Florida and Alabama, for example. The SEC has two divisions: East and West. The Gators have a 38 percent chance of winning the SEC, according to our model. That’s higher than Alabama’s odds! But Florida is given only a 17 percent chance of making the playoff, to the Tide’s 43 percent. That’s because the Gators play in (and have clinched) the SEC East, and ’Bama faces a tougher task in the other division, the SEC West (where LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State play). Florida, which has one loss, has an 80 percent chance of making the playoff if it wins out. But if Florida takes a second loss (say, at South Carolina on Saturday) but still wins the SEC championship, it might not. (That’s a nightmare scenario for the SEC, in which it might be denied representation in the playoff entirely.)What-ifs of the weekOur College Football Playoff predictions have been updated with the rankings released Tuesday night, and we project Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama to make it, in agreement with the committee’s latest rankings. But we expect Baylor to have a better path than Notre Dame and to be the fourth team included.But that’s what’s current. We’re already thinking about what’s next. Take a look at our “what-if table” below, which shows how our projected playoff odds would likely change if a team wins or loses its upcoming game. Also included is how likely we think it is that a team will win all its remaining games, and its chance to make the playoff if that happens. TCU1011<12149 Oregon<1<1<181 Michigan79<11742 SCHOOLMAKE PLAYOFFMAKE PLAYOFF GIVEN WEEK 11 WINMAKE PLAYOFF GIVEN WEEK 11 LOSSWIN OUTMAKE PLAYOFF GIVEN WINNING OUT Utah111711473 Iowa222551396 Navy<1<1<1112 Stanford2834101996 Florida172331880 USC12<1314 Memphis<1<1<1121 Mississippi St.36<11125 Michigan St.101111087 Clemson67%70%37%49%>99% Baylor3145111699 Oklahoma St.232671698 Wisconsin<1——50<1 Ohio State56623227>99 UCLA33<1645 LSU1216<12155 North Carolina46<1946 Let’s use Iowa as our guinea pig. We currently give the Hawkeyes a 22 percent chance of making the playoff. But if they beat Minnesota on Saturday, those odds tick up to 25 percent; if they lose, they shrink to 5 percent. Although the rest of the Hawkeyes’ regular-season schedule isn’t that challenging, if they win out, they’ll face a tough matchup in the Big Ten title game. We give them a 13 percent chance to run the table. But if they do, they’re almost certainly in the playoff (96 percent).What to watch for this weekBig 12Game of the week: Baylor vs. OklahomaCollege football statheads: This is your game! While Oklahoma is No. 12 and Baylor is No. 6 according to the latest committee rankings, they are the No.1 and No. 2 squads according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), a computer-generated measure of team strength. Oklahoma is the best team in the country according to FPI, despite losing to lowly Texas. Baylor, on the other hand, is unsurprisingly high-rated by FPI because of its high-powered offense, which easily leads the nation at 57 points per game. Despite being No. 2 in FPI, the Bears are a 58 percent favorite to beat the Sooners because the game is at home in Waco, Texas. The game has big implications: If Oklahoma wins, its odds of making the playoff will rise to 38 percent from 17 percent; if Baylor does, the Bears will rocket from 31 percent to 45 percent likely to make the playoff.ACCGame of the week: Clemson vs. SyracuseThe ACC story hasn’t changed: Undefeated No. 1 Clemson is in the playoff if they win out, but it looks bleak for all other ACC teams (and for Clemson, should they lose). After last week’s victory over Florida State — in what was likely their last truly tough game — Clemson saw its playoff odds rise to the highest of any team (67 percent). But should the Tigers stumble, the ACC’s hopes fall off a cliff. Although one-loss North Carolina has almost wrapped up the ACC Coastal division, and has a 30 percent chance of winning the conference, its chance of making the playoff is a measly 4 percent — but if UNC wins out (and beats Clemson in the ACC title game), its chances rise to nearly 50/50.Big TenGame of the week: Ohio State vs. IllinoisEven if the Buckeyes stumble, they won’t necessarily be out. Their odds are strongly affected by the conference conundrums I outlined earlier. A one-loss Ohio State team might not even get to play for the Big Ten title. This is why the undefeated Buckeyes have a 56 percent chance of making the playoff despite only a 44 percent chance of winning the Big Ten. A one-loss reigning national champion excluded for its conference championship game may still rate highly according to the committee.SECGame of the week: Alabama vs. Mississippi StateAlabama crushed my beloved LSU Tigers, ending their hopes for an undefeated season. And, as a result, the Tide are now the No. 2 team in the latest College Football Rankings. ’Bama is not totally out should they lose again — either to Mississippi State on Saturday, or in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. In that scenario, a one-loss SEC champion could get into the playoff alongside the Tide, or the Tide could win the conference with two losses and still get in. But it’s not likely: In Jay Boice’s simulations, a two-loss Alabama team excluded from the SEC title game would be expected to make the playoff 25.3 percent of the time, and a two-loss Alabama that wins the championship game would make the playoff 34.3 percent of the time.Pac-12Game of the week: Stanford vs. OregonOne-loss Stanford is the best Pac-12 bet to make the playoff, at 28 percent. The Cardinal are almost a sure thing if they win out (96 percent likely, according to the what-if table). But the threat to Stanford is that they’re the odd man out in a scenario with a one-loss SEC champion, an undefeated Clemson and an undefeated Big Ten or Big 12 champion.Beyond The Power FiveGame of the week: Memphis vs. HoustonNotre Dame is looking good. On the heels of LSU’s loss to Alabama, the Irish have moved up to the No. 4 spot in the committee’s playoff rankings. But our model gives Baylor an ever-so-slight advantage over Notre Dame to make the playoff (31 percent vs. 30 percent).But the real game to watch is Memphis vs. Houston. With Memphis’s crushing loss to Navy last week, its dream to be the mid-major that crashes the playoff party has ended. Houston, however, is still undefeated, and the two squads meet in the premier conference game of the season among non-Power Fives. To have any shot at the playoff, Houston will have to win out. But even if they do, their odds of making it are only 7 percent, by our estimation. So the Cougars need to keep praying for carnage among the elites.CORRECTION (Nov. 11, 4:40 p.m.): An earlier version of the table in this article listed incorrect numbers for Wisconsin’s and Mississippi’s chances of winning out. Those odds are 50 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The table has been updated.
But take heart, Indians fans — World Series upsets appear to happen more frequently than basic Elo would predict. Based on the pre-Series probabilities I crunched, the favorite would have been expected to win the World Series 54 times in 90 tries since 1925, for a predicted winning percentage of 60 percent. In reality, however, favorites won only 49 times over that span, for a success rate of 54 percent. Whether that’s because basic Elo can’t pick up on the differences between regular-season and playoff baseball,5Such as shorter rotations and shallower bullpens, both of which favor underdogs with more star pitchers than depth. I’m not certain. But it is a sign that the Series might be more competitive than Chicago’s 60.3 percent win probability indicates.That’s bad news for anxious Cubs fans hoping to end a 108-year championship drought. But it’s good for Cleveland, as well as agnostic observers (such as myself) who want the baseball season to last as long as it can. In a departure from the past few World Series, this year’s contest between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians contains two teams that were both: a) highly regarded before the season began and b) played well for most of the year.1The 2015 Mets and the 2014 Royals each flirted with .500 on their way to the World Series, and expectations for the 2013 Red Sox were low after a terrible 2012 season. (No flukes here!) The average of the teams’ pre-Series Elo ratings — a measure of a team’s strength at any given time2Specifically, the simple version of Elo found in our Complete History Of MLB interactive, which doesn’t account for starting pitchers, travel distance or rest days when assessing each matchup. — ranks ninth among the 22 World Series matchups since the wild card era began in 1995 and 37th out of the 91 since the current 2-3-2 best-of-seven World Series format was adopted in 1925.3Before 1925, the World Series format was either best of seven with home-field advantage for seventh games determined by coin flip or best of nine, so there wasn’t a common format to be readily compared with modern series. In other words, it’s a solid matchup.And how about competitiveness? For each World Series since 1925, I plugged the teams’ pre-Series Elo ratings into a best-of-seven probability formula and calculated each club’s odds of winning the Series. Chicago’s win probability of 60.3 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s basic Elo model4Which, again, differs slightly from the 63 percent figure in our interactive graphic, which uses the more complete model. is larger than the average for favorites since 1925 (59.5 percent) and for favorites since 1995 (57.8 percent). So this series is more lopsided than the typical championship matchup — as you might expect when one of the top couple dozen teams of all time is involved.All told, though, 2016 is a pretty middle-of-the-pack World Series. Literally so, if we plot out the two metrics mentioned above for every matchup since 1925: VIDEO: Cleveland fooled us twice
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa entered this football season in the top three in games started on the team. The rest of the top three, offensive guard Bryant Browning and defensive end Cameron Heyward, were named captains. Chekwa was not. Considering the Buckeyes named six captains for only the second time in team history, some teammates were surprised Chekwa was left off the list. Captain selection “could have went a lot of ways. I kind of was a little surprised,” senior safety Aaron Gant said. “But you don’t have to be a captain to show or possess that quality.” Chekwa wasn’t bothered by being left off the list and has continued to do his best to lead, he said. “I was talking on the sideline like I was a proud father,” Chekwa told Scout.com’s Jeff Svoboda while sitting out of a practice. “I’ve tried to teach (the corners) everything I know.” The leadership of the cornerback was not lost on his head coach. “Chimdi Chekwa … continues to lead back there and play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and play like a senior,” Jim Tressel said. “We’ve said a million times that you can have a good team if your seniors have their career best year and Chimdi certainly is on task to perhaps make that happen.” Leading by setting an example on the field has been Chekwa’s most successful method. “I’m not a very vocal guy but it depends on the situation. I’m not going to scream or anything. I let (safety) Jermale (Hines) handle the loud talking,” the 6-foot, 190-pound corner said. “But if something needs to be said, I’ll say it.” Though he may not be loud about it, teammates appreciate what Chekwa does. “He is always communicating and talking, making sure we’re on the same page,” Gant said. “He keeps us going, never letting us slack.” The tenacity comes in part from his experience on two teams that played for the national championship. Playing in the national championship game “helped a lot. Whenever you go out on the field and compete with other great players,” Chekwa said. “I learned from all of that.” He expects to use what he learned to get his team back to that game this year, captain or not, he said.
Courtesy of MCTNew England Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney takes a corner kick against the Columbus Crew in unfriendly territory in Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, July 20, 2013. The Revolution scored two goals in stoppage time to win the match, 2-0.Effectively immediately, new ownership will lead the Columbus Crew, the city’s MajorLeague Soccer franchise, as announced during a press conference at Crew StadiumJuly 30.Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC, has acquired the team from the Hunt Sports Groupfor an undisclosed purchase price and is now a 100 percent stakeholder. AnthonyPrecourt is the managing partner of PSV and attended the press conference as thefirm’s representative.Columbus mayor Michael Coleman and Clark Hunt, chairman of HSG and CEO of theKansas City Chiefs of the NFL, joined Precourt on stage.In the context of that watershed event, Hunt spoke of his family’s role in the galvanizingof Major League Soccer as an American mainstay.“There was one thing that propelled the League on to success, to where it is today.Against the odds, and against the momentum of the League, my family made thedecision to build Crew Stadium. And as a result, today there are 14 soccer-specificstadiums in Major League Soccer,” said Hunt.Hunt said his company had only been looking for minority investors in the team whenPrecourt made the offer to buy the entire franchise earlier this summer.“We were initially very taken aback by his interest, but after we got to know Anthony,we concluded that he was the right guy to lead the Columbus Crew, that he would be agreat fit for the city of Columbus, that he would be somebody that would push the teamto be successful on the field,” said Hunt.Precourt said his company “will respectfully and diligently try to uphold Lamar’s (ClarkHunt’s father) vision for Major League Soccer and the Crew. And further, we will honorhis fan-first mentality.”Precourt used the platform to formally greet the Greater Columbus community and toexpress his anticipation of working toward success in “a dynamic, growing city withincredible soccer heritage and a passionate soccer supporters’ fan base.”Mayor Coleman agreed by saying “the Columbus Crew is a vital part of the fabric andthe future of the city.”He laid out specifics of the role the Crew has played in financially bolstering the city’sbottom line: “$400 million in direct spending, the hundreds of area jobs, the 3.5 millionpeople who have attended soccer matches and other events here, the millions of taxrevenue.”The mayor said Precourt assured him during talks in the days preceding the pressconference that the team would remain in Columbus.When the panel concluded their remarks and opened the floor for questions, onereporter asked if Precourt had any plans of relocation.Precourt surprised the reporters by saying, “I do live in Northern California now, and Iintend to be here on a regular basis. I’m not sure we’ll be moving here full time, but I’llbe here very, very regularly and have a second home here.”Continuing to speak on his vision for the team to succeed athletically, Precourt said,“We have a competitive fire, and our intent is to run this club with a single mission: tocreate the resources to win over the short run and the long run…We want to be a playoffteam every year.”Precourt fielded questions about his ownership style, given that it will be his family’sfirst journey into sports management after extensive operational experience in finance,natural gas pipelines and facilities.“First and foremost, I want a great culture…I want more horizontal structure wherepeople are empowered. I guess you’d say I’ll be hands-on and attentive and involved,and over time, I will empower our employees to do their jobs well,” said Precourt.Beyond the scope of the business aspects of the acquisition, Precourt was careful toemphasize his goals for fostering a winning franchise that draws fans and gets themexcited about soccer in Columbus.“A full stadium is a lot more exciting than a two-thirds-full stadium. There are 17 homegames, and we should fill the stadium for all 17 games,” said Precourt.As a father, Precourt has coached youth soccer in U6 and U8 competition, but he saidhe said he will stay out of the day-to-day soccer operations of the Columbus Crew.Hunt said his company will “continue to be the investor-operator of [MLS franchise] FCDallas and plan on doing so for many years to come. Like Anthony, we’re a big believerin where Major League Soccer is headed and excited to still be part of the League andto now be a partner of Anthony’s through the League.”
Ohio State then-freshman wide receiver Austin Mack (11) attempts to catch the ball during the spring game on April 16 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe time has come for Ohio State’s veteran wide receivers, redshirt juniors Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon, to become playmakers.But the same can be said for sophomores Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack.In fact, Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith refuses to envision a scenario where the unit can be dominant without Victor and Mack contributing in a significant way.“Has to happen,” Smith said. “There’s no scenario where it’s not going to happen. They have to be a major part of this offense.”There’s good reason for Smith’s comments.The Buckeyes had their two starting receivers — Noah Brown and McLaurin — catch 43 of redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett’s 233 completed passes last season (18.5 percent), compared to 2015’s 45 percent and 2014’s 33.5 percent of total receptions from its starters.The starting duo combined to have fewer receptions than H-back Curtis Samuel, who finished the year with 74 catches. Campbell, McLaurin and then-redshirt freshman K.J. Hill, along with former Buckeyes Dontre Wilson and Brown, continually struggled to create separation from defenses, which in turn created an often-dysfunctional offense.It’s simple. Ohio State’s starting receivers can’t have another year in 2017 like they had last season. But in case they do, that’s where Victor’s and Mack’s growths come into play.“(Austin and I) looked at the film last year and we was like, ‘Man, we look so much better this year compared to last year,’” Victor said. “It’s a big difference and, you know, coming out this year, it’s definitely going to be a change for us.”Mack, at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, enrolled in Spring 2016 and was the first member of the 2016 class to have his black stripe removed, signifying he officially became part of the team. But Mack said he knew he wasn’t ready and could see it on film that he wasn’t living up to expectation. Once camp is over, his expectation for himself is to be a starter and a receiver who can be a vertical threat.Time will tell if Mack can be a starter, but his position coach said he’s starting to see the potential he saw in Mack when recruiting him.“Last year, (Mack) was inconsistent, and so you had good days and bad days,” Smith said. “And we had to get consistency out of him and right now he is very consistent.And he’s just got to keep it up and keep going.”Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor arrive for fall camp as freshman. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterAt 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Victor’s main objective his freshman season was to gain weight. To play in the Big Ten, a receiver has to have a type of physicality that Victor’s physique didn’t allow. Yet, the physical frame was there.He played in just five games, but saw more and more playing time toward the end of the season. He caught his first career touchdown against Maryland in Ohio State’s 10th game and was a primary target at times against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.But long before Victor found the end zone, he was simply trying to differentiate North from South.“Around this time (last year), fall camp, it was very discouraging,” Victor said. “I was very down on myself, I didn’t know what to do. I just came out hoping to get through practice. Now it’s just a different mentality for me.”Smith said Victor has the playmaking element the position needs and the second-year from Pompano Beach, Florida, is learning to play physically and fighting through contact — something that was missing last season.Campbell, the likely successor to Samuel at H-back, probably won’t replicate Samuel’s production, but he should see equal targets with the starting wideouts in the new offensive direction of co-offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day. The coaching staff believes a strong receiving corps can put the offense back in the national conversation as one of the country’s best. The argument can also be made that Ohio State has more experience and leadership from the quarterback position in Barrett than any other school in the NCAA.But the plays still have to be made by receivers, and the opportunities should be there for the taking for Victor and Mack.“We have a couple old guys like Parris, Johnnie and Terry, you know, me and Austin, we’re sophomores,” Victor said. “That means we definitely got to step up and try to make plays for them, especially for our team to help win games.”
Bo Coolen (center) walks with his mom Nanci (right), sister Demi (left) and father (back) to be honored before the start of Ohio State’s game against Purdue on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Nanci brought lei for all the moms of graduating seniors, all the players, coaches and coaches’ wives. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor-in-ChiefThere seemed to be only one way to truly send out the seniors on Ohio State’s baseball team.Give everyone a lei.At least, that’s what Nanci Coolen thought. The mother of senior first baseman Bo Coolen thought the best way to honor her son would be to bring some of his home state culture up to him. She said lei are given out for everything just like “giving a birthday card for a birthday gift” for everything from weddings, retirements, birthdays or graduations.She had to order them all only a couple days in advance because as real lei, made from purple orchid, they would wilt after too long.So she bought 30 lei and had them all shipped to Columbus. A lei for each player, mother, coach and coach’s wife. It wasn’t enough just to have one for the players and coaches. After all, it wasn’t just Senior Day for Ohio State. It was Mother’s Day.“Oh it’s perfect,” Demi Coolen, Nanci’s daughter said. “Two birds, one stone, our whole family gets to be together and celebrate both of their days.”Ohio State made sure to celebrate both days in style, sending Bo and his family out happy with a dominant 16-6 win against Purdue to give the Buckeyes the series victory and clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament.It’s a particularly special day for the whole family. Nanci, a P.E. and health teacher at Punahou School, has been in Columbus since March — she’s lived in a pair of AirBnBs during her three-month stay — finishing up work on a sabbatical while Bo plays for Ohio State. Bob, her husband, has been back in Honolulu, Hawaii, coaching the Hawaii softball team and Demi has been working as an engineer for Boeing.It’s the first time the whole family has been together since Christmas.“It’s just great because we don’t always get to be together,” Nanci said. “But for that to happen on Mother’s Day in Columbus, to culminate, the whole thing is amazing. And then we’re actually going after the game to Eddie George’s [Grille] because that’s where they took him on his recruiting trips, so full circle and we haven’t been yet.”Nanci Coolen and her daughter Demi cheer on Nanci’s son, senior first baseman Bo Coolen, as he bats during the third inning of Ohio State’s game against Purdue on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor-in-Chief——“Let’s get a hit here, Bo-Bo!” Nanci screams from her picnic table down the third base-line as her son steps into the batter’s box in the third inning of Sunday’s game, her last chance to watch her son play at Bill Davis Stadium.This isn’t something unusual for Bo, a role player with a .209 batting average in 29 games, and he said he’s gotten used to it. In fact, he welcomes it. She was only able to attend two of his games during his first year at Ohio State in 2017 after he transferred from Cypress College. He said after a year watching the other players greet their mothers down the sideline after the games ended, it was a comforting feeling to have her there because “I got to go hug someone.”She did not always welcome him with hugs though. Other times, he was met with critiques. After starting Wednesday against Campbell, Coolen came away hitless with an 0-for-3 night. As he was leaving with senior designated hitter and fellow Cypress College transfer Noah McGowan, Bo said his mother had some things to say. She questioned why he took so many pitches during his at-bats.“Mom, it was a good pitch, I don’t know what you want me to do,” Bo recalled saying. “Well, I want you swinging at everything whether it’s a strike or not,” she responded. Since then, Bo said he has taken a much more aggressive approach to the plate.Senior first baseman Bo Coolen takes a swing at a pitch during the third inning of Ohio State’s game against Purdue on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor-in-ChiefAs a coach’s wife and former softball player, Nanci is no stranger to providing this type of feedback. Bob said she is often hanging around the Hawaii softball team, not just providing them with someone to talk with for life advice, but someone to talk with about the game. Bob said she has helped inspire in his players a mental toughness that he often has trouble relaying.“She becomes not a mother-figure, but a real figure for the young ladies that I have that they can talk to her and she’s so chipper and cheery and positive and it just was tough not having her around for my whole season,” Bob said. “She was there in Vegas when we played and we did well, we ended up going 5-2 and then after that it went all downhill.”——Moving to Columbus from Hawaii in March, Nanci had a bit of an adjustment period.March in Hawaii is warm weather. Surely, Columbus couldn’t be too much worse, right?So Nanci came without any big jackets, assuming that whatever cold she might be initially greeted with would change before too long.It did not. Bo had warned her. “Mom, the heavier the better,” he remembered telling her. Without any winter clothing, Nanci was forced to borrow some of Bo’s until eventually she went with him to buy “some puffy coats” and “some real winter boots,” Bo said.But the one thing Nanci enjoyed about the weather that she hadn’t seen much in Hawaii was a real change of season. The transition from the winter to the spring was fun to watch, she said.“I saw the leaves come up and the green and all of that,” Nanci said. “It’s just been fabulous.”Still, Nanci has tried to go out and enjoy all the city has to offer. And that “big-city element” was one of the biggest reasons Bo wanted to come to Ohio State. She said he never wanted to go to a small school. He wanted to go to a big school that had a football team and where he could really enjoy the college experience.He didn’t get that in his first year at Pepperdine, so his mom advised him to go to junior college and try for a bigger school. That sophomore year when he was being recruited by other schools, Bo received offers from plenty of smaller schools. She said he continued to put off his decision until eventually Ohio State sent an offer his way.She remembers him saying that it was his “perfect dream school.”But for the family, it meant Bo would be much farther away from home. This was sort of the expectation, Nanci said. Most kids from Hawaii leave for the mainland at some point. She had already gone through it once with Demi leaving for the University of Southern California and Bo had already spent two years on the mainland.This would be the furthest from home he had been, however. Bo said it’s a three-stop process to get to Columbus from Hawaii: fly six hours to California, another three to Chicago or Texas and then a couple more hours to Columbus. In total, Nanci said it’s about $1,000 to fly one person to and from Hawaii. One time, Nanci tried to shorten the number of stops Bo had to make on his return trip home. She had him go from Columbus to Newark, New Jersey, and then straight to Honolulu. That flight from Newark was 12 1/2 hours.“Don’t ever do that again,” Bo told his mom.——-When Senior Day finally arrived, Bo had started to catch on about his mother’s planned surprise. He had seen the package arrive earlier and remarked on its odd shape, at the time, not 100 percent sure what exactly it held. On Sunday morning, he finally saw what the mysterious package held in store: those colorful circles to celebrate his final home game at Ohio State.Nanci Coolen, senior Bo Coolen’s mother, watches her son play at first base during Ohio State’s game against Purdue on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor-in-Chief“As soon as I saw her holding all of them, I was like, ‘Wow’ because it felt like senior day back in Hawaii with all the leis,” Bo said.The ceremony itself was surreal, Nanci said. She had been to so many for the Hawaii softball players, so she knew what it would be like. But she couldn’t believe the one for her son had finally arrived . She couldn’t believe her son, whom she would make wear a helmet even during tee-ball, was preparing to graduate from college.Two years ago, Bo went to Eddie George’s Grille for dinner with the Ohio State coaching staff while head coach Greg Beals recruited him to transfer from junior college. He committed on the spot.Now, after Bo finished Senior Day with the win, the family will again head out to that same restaurant to celebrate Mother’s Day. Just like that day, he plans to order a buffalo chicken sandwich. He will recommend his mom do the same. It will all come full circle for Nanci.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. An asylum seeker labelled a “serial offender” by a judge has been released from immigration detention after Home Office deportation attempts foundered.Detail of the 31-year-old man’s case has emerged in a ruling by Judge Martin McKenna following a High Court trial in London.The man, who has a history of mental health problems and was not named in the ruling, claimed that he had been unlawfully detained and wanted compensation from the Home Office.Judge McKenna dismissed the compensation claim but told how the man had arrived in the UK in 2003 and had been convicted of 17 offences over a seven-year period.The judge described the man as a “serial offender” – listing convictions for attempted robbery, criminal damage, drug crime and shoplifting – and said he had been assessed as “posing a high risk of harm to the public”.But the judge said the man had been released late in 2015 – after being held in immigration detention for more than 10 months – following fruitless deportation bids.Judge McKenna said the man, who had been born in a refugee camp in southern Algeria, claimed that he was “stateless”.He said Home Office staff had approached authorities in different parts of Africa – in a bid to deport – but officials had refused to provide travel documents to the man.”The claimant entered the United Kingdom in 2003. He claimed asylum in June 2003,” said the judge in his ruling.”In 2005 the claimant began to develop a mental health disorder. He has been treated as an inpatient in hospital since that time both on a voluntary and involuntary basis under mental health legislation.”He has had periods when he has been drinking heavily and periods when he has been street homeless. He has had periods when he has been suicidal and periods when he has self-harmed. He has been prescribed medication for his mental health condition.”Judge McKenna added: “The claimant is a serial offender. Between April 7 2005 and September 10 2012 he acquired 14 convictions for 17 separate offences including attempted robbery, criminal damage, drugs and numerous convictions for shoplifting.”He was assessed as posing a high risk of harm to the public.”Judge McKenna said the man had subsequently been detained under immigration legislation pending deportation.The man had claimed that he had been unlawfully detained between January and November 2015.Home Office officials disputed his claim.They said he had been a “serial absconder” and had committed “numerous criminal offences”.Staff said he had been held at a time where there had been a prospect of deportation – and they said reasonable deportation steps had been taken.Judge McKenna ruled in favour of the Home Office and dismissed the man’s claim for “unlawful detention”.