Nigerias First Bobsled Team Running for Pride and Legacy

NEW YORK (AP) — Seun Adigun told herself her athletic career was done after she ran her last race at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. But for some reason, she couldn’t bring herself to tell the world.Three years later, she realized: Adigun wasn’t retiring — she was readying for a new sport. And her years competing as a 100-meter hurdler were great preparation what would come next.“It was the speed and the power and the strength that I needed to be able to be a successful bobsled athlete,” she said.Adigun, 31, soon convinced fellow former runners Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga to join the team as brakemen. But they wouldn’t just be newcomers to the sport.Next month, the trio will represent Nigeria as the country fields its first-ever bobsled team at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The team is also a first, men’s or women’s, for the entire continent of Africa.Yes, they get the comparisons to “Cool Runnings” — the 1993 film based on the true story of the Jamaica’s first bobsled team, which was male, who competed in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada — and say it’s a legacy they embrace and a following they hope to emulate.But the peppy pioneers, all American-born and whose parents emigrated from Nigeria, said they also look forward to representing a positive story about their motherland.“Nigerians are so excited to see the country being represented,” said Adigun, a Chicago native who is also a three-time national track champion for Nigeria. “I realized exactly what was a void from the country of Nigeria, from the continent of Africa, and for women in general being represented.”Onwumere, 26, agreed, adding: “To be the first to do anything is, I think, it’s just something that you can’t really explain.”Their story will likely take on added meaning next month, after President Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Africa’s “shithole countries.”Their journey to South Korea has also been a fast one. Three years ago, the team was little more than an idea, a “crazy but amazing journey,” said Adigun, the driver in role and personality who also helped recruit and coach Onwumere, who hails from Dallas, at their alma mater, the University of Houston.Once her teammates were on board, official Olympic rules required them to operate under a national governing body. None existed.The Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria was formed. A GoFund Me campaign was created in 2016, and the team raised more than $75,000 in 14 months to pay for necessities like helmets, uniforms, travel and their first sled — a wooden vessel affectionately named “The Maeflower.” They began practicing in Houston, without snow.The team’s popularity soon attracted Visa and Under Armour as sponsors. To qualify for the Winter Games, the women had to complete five races. They met their goal in November.Along the way, their energy and enthusiasm has attracted attention in the U.S. and Nigeria. In December, they appeared on “The Ellen Show,” and last week, tennis icon Serena Williams retweeted their Under Armour Olympics ad.The team said they’re excited to walk into the stadium in Pyeongchang next month and have been working hard to be competitive as rookies among a pool of talented and experienced bobsledders. Their main goal is to be an example for their country and for women in the sport.A medal is almost too much to think of, said Omeoga, 26, who ran track at the University of Minnesota.“That actually has never even crossed my mind yet,” she said. “I’m just taking things one day at a time: Don’t get too ahead of yourself, don’t get too behind yourself, don’t sell yourself short on anything.” read more

The Pats Comeback Was Incredible — Even If You Think The Falcons

The play he’s talking about came as the Falcons clung to a 28-20 lead with about four minutes left in regulation time. The Patriots had just finished scoring 17 unanswered points to pull to within a single score of Atlanta, and the Falcons had run a grand total of six offensive plays over that span before QB Matt Ryan started the drive at his own 10. Atlanta still had about a 92 percent chance of winning the game according to ESPN’s win probability model, but a window had been opened for the Pats.At first, the Falcons appeared to close it again. Ryan hit Devonta Freeman for a 39-yard gain to reach midfield, and a few plays later, Julio Jones made an amazing catch that seemed destined to join the pantheon of great Patriot-killing Super Bowl grabs. But on second and 11 from the New England 23, the Falcons decided to pass instead of running the ball and setting up an insurance field goal, and Ryan was sacked for a loss of 12. Between that and a 10-yard holding penalty on the subsequent play, the Falcons were pushed out of accurate kicker Matt Bryant’s field-goal range and had to punt the ball back to Brady.The rest, as they say, was history.If the Falcons had run the ball on those second and third downs instead, then kicked the field goal, they’d have forced the Patriots to mount an 11-point comeback with something like 2:30 to play — not an 8-point comeback with 3:30 to go. The odds of a team doing the former are about 3 percent; for the latter, 8 percent.The counter-argument, of course, is that 8 percent is still improbable. Even after the sack and the punt, the Falcons were still overwhelmingly likely to win the game. Only one Super Bowl in history had ever seen a team overcome longer second-half odds. (Granted, it was the Patriots’ victory two years ago.) In order to tie the game, Brady and the Pats still needed to:Convert a third-and-10 from their own 9;Complete a 23-yard pass to Julian Edelman, whose catch rivaled the greatest in Super Bowl history;Complete a 20-yard pass to Danny Amendola;Have James White scamper 20 more yards on two catches;Score a touchdown from the Falcons’ 1;Successfully pull off the 2-point conversion.If just one of those plays goes differently, we might be talking about Atlanta’s first Super Bowl title. And even after all that, the Pats still needed to stop Ryan and the Falcons from quickly driving for the game-winning score with under a minute left (which has happened before), and they needed luck on the opening coin toss of overtime and they needed a handful of big plays in OT in order to win. As you may have heard by now — perhaps from the eardrum-shattering sound of New England Patriots fans booing Roger Goodell — the Patriots are Super Bowl champs, having rallied back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 on Sunday. The comeback alone was historic, ranking as the most improbable in Super Bowl history, but there’s also a whole layer of history attached to the accomplishments of New England quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, plus the revenge narrative of Deflategate. It’s a lot to keep track of.Amidst all the postgame analysis, however, there’s always a place for second-guessing the Super Bowl loser’s coach. And on Sunday night, New Yorker staff writer James Surowiecki provided an instant classic in the genre: Related: Hot Takedown Hot Takedown’s Super Bowl Special It’s true that the decision to pass instead of run and kick was the proverbial turning point, from which most subsequent plays saw the Pats increase their chances of winning until they hit 100 percent on White’s game-winning TD run. It’s also true that running the ball and going up 11 would have made the Pats’ comeback more difficult — and when you’re going up against the best coach/QB tandem ever, it’s generally not a good idea to gift them free win probability.But in the end, the Falcons still had plenty more chances to snuff out the Pats’ comeback from that point onward. Whether because of poor defense or Brady’s clutch-ness (or both), they didn’t — and it’s the totality of many plays that has us talking about Brady and Belichick’s legacies on Monday, and not crowning a new champion in Atlanta. read more

How The SEC Won Another National Championship

The College Football Playoff’s two New Year’s Day semifinal games were a study in unexpected contrasts: a mostly dull blowout in the Sugar Bowl rubber match between Alabama and Clemson after the two teams had been so even in their previous playoff meetings, which followed an all-time double-overtime Rose Bowl classic between Georgia and Oklahoma that threatened to blow up the scoreboard with its big plays. The net result, however, was a pair of SEC teams in next Monday’s championship final, even if they got there in very different ways.For Georgia, Monday’s victory over Oklahoma was all about absorbing the toughest blows the fearsome Sooner offense could dish out — then fighting back in the second half and finally outlasting Baker Mayfield and company in double overtime.We knew going into the Rose Bowl that the Sooners would probably find themselves in a shootout. In fact, on paper this was exactly the kind of game you could picture Oklahoma thriving in, with 1,058 combined yards and 102 total points by both teams. (In that sense, it was reminiscent of the Sooners’ November win over Oklahoma State, which saw the teams put up 1,446 total yards and 114 points.) Thanks to a world-beating offense and a leaky D, Oklahoma specializes in winning when neither side bothers to play much defense.But that game plan only works when you can either pull away with your firepower late or gut out stops when you need to. And the Bulldogs had an answer for all of Oklahoma’s explosions.In the first half, Georgia hung around just enough to stay within striking distance, especially after picking up three quick points before halftime. (A clumsy Sooners squib-kick left Georgia within a completion of field-goal range to end the half, which ended up proving quite important.) In the third quarter, the same defense that had been shredded for 360 first-half yards held the Sooners to 29 yards and zero points. Even when the Sooners roared back to life with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth, the Bulldogs summoned a crucial sequence: With five minutes remaining, they forced Oklahoma into a 3-and-out; strung together a seven-play, 59-yard TD drive to tie the game; then stopped OU’s offense again with under a minute left to force overtime.It was a setting where Oklahoma is used to getting the last word — and Georgia just wouldn’t let the Sooners have it. That carried over into OT, when a big third-down stop stalled Oklahoma’s bid for the winning touchdown, and again when Lorenzo Carter tipped Austin Seibert’s go-ahead field goal short of the uprights. After Sony Michel sprinted 27 yards for the walk-off score, the balanced Bulldogs, not the Sooner scoring machine, had closed the game on a 16-3 run. In the end, Georgia essentially managed to match the mighty Oklahoma offense yard for yard. And in a game absolutely loaded with big plays, the ledger improbably favored the Bulldogs (who had 321 total yards on their nine plays of 20 or more) rather than the Sooners, who’d led the nation in the category during the season.Alabama’s road to victory was smoother than Georgia’s, to put it mildly. Although Clemson’s defense had posted superior regular-season numbers, the Crimson Tide D set the tone early by holding the Tigers’ offense to zero points, zero first downs and 3 total yards in the first quarter, opening up a quick lead that Alabama would never surrender. The Tide ended up dominating the Tigers in terms of yardage (261-188), with the outcome practically sealed by the middle of the third quarter.Maybe the biggest surprise was simply in how the Crimson Tide cruised to their win. Although nobody expected the third installment in this rivalry to match the pyrotechnics of Georgia and Oklahoma, Clemson and Alabama had combined for 75.5 total points per game in their last two championship showdowns, and Bama had become a better offensive team (and a shakier defensive one) since last season. It seemed possible that fans in New Orleans could at least be in store for some version of the shootout in Pasadena.Instead, defense carried the day: Neither team gained 300 yards or averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry or 5 yards per pass. Following in the footsteps of Deshaun Watson, who’d generated 463 yards of total offense on 77 touches against Alabama a year ago, Clemson QB Kelly Bryant mustered merely 143 on 55 touches — and was picked off twice for good measure. The Tigers’ offense, which relied on an improved running game this season, was never able to gather much momentum on the ground or in the air until it was too late. This Tide defense seemed to channel Nick Saban’s teams of old, rather than the unit that looked uncharacteristically mortal against Auburn when it last played.And so, it’s an all-SEC championship for the first time since 2012’s Alabama-LSU rematch. That game ended up being a snoozer, and if the Tide have their way defensively again, history could repeat. But after Georgia’s thrilling semifinal victory, laden as it was with huge plays, and an Alabama win that saw the Tide answer every potential comeback by forcing a backbreaking turnover, this title game might overcome its regional matchup and send off the 2017 season in style. read more

Whos The Best Formula One Driver Of All Time

20Jackie Stewart1969-731877 6Alain Prost1987-912048 F1′s top racers (according to Elo)Top Formula 1 drivers since 1950, by the highest average Elo rating over a racer’s best five-year span 15Rubens Barrichello2000-041935 3Lewis Hamilton2014-182060 27Jacques Villeneuve1996-001856 7Mika Hakkinen1997-012047 29John Surtees1963-671846 17James Hunt1974-781905 11Nico Rosberg2012-161981 MethodologyUnlike most other sports where FiveThirtyEight uses Elo, Formula One is not a head-to-head sport; multiple drivers take to the circuit at the same time or in the same session, and the result is a combination of both car and driver. In order to make this work, we’ve made some assumptions about how to view the results:Driver and car are considered to be inseparable from Elo’s point of view. So when we say that Nigel Mansell’s peak Elo in 1992 was 2428, we really mean, “Nigel Mansell, driving the Williams-Renault FW14B, had a peak Elo of 2428.”Each session or race is treated as if it were a round-robin 1-on-1 tournament. A driver who finishes second out of 15 cars is viewed as having gone 13-1 in this tournament, losing to the first place finisher and defeating the rest.Elo includes each race that awards Formula One championship points3Except for the Indianapolis 500, which was part of the Formula One circuit in the 1950s. and the primary qualifying session for that race.If a driver fails to finish a race — whether because of mechanical failure or a crash — we treat that driver as if he or she didn’t compete in the race. This may reward drivers who are overly brave (or stupid) by not punishing them, or cars that were quick yet unreliable, but it avoids having to assign blame in controversial incidents or, even worse, clear cases where a crash was not a driver’s fault.Like several other FiveThirtyEight Elo systems, the average driver has an Elo score around 1500, while new drivers start with 1300 points. The “K-factors” in this version of Elo — which are multipliers that determine the sensitivity and fluctuation of a driver’s rating — are more extreme in the beginning of a driver’s career. Drivers start with a K-factor of 24 for approximately the first year, then reduce as they gain experience. Qualifying results are predictive of race results, which makes sense considering that qualifying results both set the starting grid for the following race and allow for drivers to demonstrate their raw speed and talent on a level field. The minimum K-factor for qualifying sessions is 16, while the minimum K-factor for races is 12. Drivers always gain Elo points after “defeating” another driver and lose ground after “losing” to them.The overall system is zero-sum, in that the total number of points remains constant before and after a session or race, but given that each session or race can include drivers with a range of K-factors, there can be asymmetric point gains and losses. We adjust for this by normalizing participants’ scores after each session. Without this normalization, it is possible in the short term both for Elo deflation to occur — a new driver does poorly and gives away more points than the opponents claim — and Elo inflation to occur — a new driver does well and gains more points than opponents lose. Given the rapid driver churn in Formula One — especially during the early years of the sport — these effects would be more noticeable than in other sports and would quickly lead to skewed rating scales across the seven decades of championships.To build the Formula One Elo, we used the historical race results compiled at github.com/emkael/elof1. These were pulled from various sources: Data for the 1950 and 1951 seasons came from Wikipedia, for 1952 and 1953 from second-a-lap.blogspot.com, and for subsequent seasons from ergast.com/mrd. Data for qualifying races was also pulled from chicanef1.com.Additional contributions by Gus Wezerek. 9Damon Hill1993-972000 26Juan Pablo Montoya2001-051860 France’s Alain Prost (No. 6) won a grand total of four championships in his career, tied for the third most ever. But from 1988 to 1991, he would claim only a single title, thanks largely to the otherworldly skills of Ayrton Senna (No. 1), his one-time McLaren teammate. Senna won more than 40 percent of the races he entered during that span, peaking with one of the highest Elo ratings ever in 1989. Even Prost’s lone title in those seasons — in 1989 — was more about Senna’s bad luck than Prost outracing him; although Prost beat his teammate only once all year in races they both finished, Senna suffered six retirements2And one controversial disqualification. to Prost’s three. Senna was so dominant that Prost ended up leaving McLaren for Ferrari in 1990; the rivalry would continue off and on for the next few seasons until Prost retired after his 1993 championship. Senna died the next year in a crash in the San Marino Grand Prix. Prost was a once-in-a-generation driving talent, but he had the misfortune to race against Senna, a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. 1Ayrton Senna1988-922178 12Jim Clark1963-671978 23Mario Andretti1975-791865 8Niki Lauda1974-782025 21Graham Hill1961-651875 18Mark Webber2009-131899 10David Coulthard1998-021983 14Riccardo Patrese1989-931936 DriverBest five yearsAvg. Elo Rating 13Nelson Piquet1983-871946 Friends away from the track, Niki Lauda (No. 8) and James Hunt (No. 17) had a fierce rivalry behind the wheel that peaked during the 1976 season. Lauda went into the year as F1’s top-rated driver by Elo before suffering a fiery crash at the German Grand Prix that nearly took his life. Six weeks after being given last rites, Lauda somehow bounced back to finish fourth at the Italian Grand Prix. But in the end, Hunt ended up eking out the 1976 title by a single point over his Austrian rival. Hunt was quick again the following season, but he was unable to keep his car on the track; he took six poles to Lauda’s two but retired from eight of 17 races, six of which were due to mechanical failure. Lauda took advantage, claiming his second title in three years. 22Fernando Alonso2010-141870 19Alberto Ascari1950-541890 25Stirling Moss1957-611863 Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio (No. 5 in our all-time list) was F1’s first superstar, winning five of the first eight World Championships ever awarded, in 1951 and 1954-57. It would be 45 years before Michael Schumacher equaled (and then surpassed) Fangio’s title count. But Fangio did have a fierce contemporary challenger, in the form of Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari (No. 19). Ascari was the only racer to beat Fangio for the championship between 1951 and 1957 — even granting that Fangio sat out 1952. Ascari would die in a training accident in 1955, though, robbing Fangio of his greatest on-track rival. “I have lost my greatest opponent,” Fangio said. “Ascari was a driver of supreme skill and I felt my title (in 1955) lost some of its value because he was not there to fight me for it.” 16Gerhard Berger1990-941914 28Carlos Reutemann1977-811850 24Jean Alesi1992-961864 30Nigel Mansell1983-871846 * Includes the 2018 season, which is currently in progress.To be eligible, drivers prior to 1970 needed to take part in 25 percent of the season’s races and qualifying sessions. Drivers since then needed to participate in 60 percent of the year’s races and qualifying sessions. This should come as no surprise to racing fans — Senna is regarded by many other champions as F1’s greatest driver. Nor is it a shock to see Michael Schumacher, the seven-time World Champion, coming in at No. 2. But what’s striking is that Nos. 3 and 4 in the ranking above are current rivals: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. How lucky are modern F1 fans, that we get to see two names on the all-time short list of greatest drivers going head-to-head every few weeks?Here are some of the racers and rivalries that defined entire eras of F1 history, according to our Elo rankings: 4Sebastian Vettel2009-132056 5Juan Manuel Fangio1953-572053 2Michael Schumacher2000-042106 Over the four-season stretch from 1962 to 1965, British rivals Jim Clark (No. 12) and Graham Hill (No. 21) represented the emergence of Britain as a force in the Formula One landscape, with Hill at British Racing Motors and Clark at the Lotus team founded by legendary designer Colin Chapman. During that time, the duo combined to claim 32 of F1’s 39 available pole positions — including every single pole of the 1965 season — and won 29 of 39 total races. They’d have been a perfect 4-for-4 on championships in that span, too, if not for bad luck in the last race of the 1964 season: Mechanical problems struck both Clark and Hill during the race, allowing John Surtees to claim the title by a single point over Hill. (Naturally, Clark and Hill bounced back to finish 1-2 in the standings the following year.) While most of the rivalries on this list were fueled by emotion, this one was all about the driving. Michael Schumacher (No. 2) had captured back-to-back F1 crowns with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 but had experienced uneven results after leaving for Ferrari, including a disqualification for dangerous driving in 1997. Driving for McLaren, Mika Hakkinen (No. 7) captured back-to-back championships in 1998 (with Schumacher finishing second) and ’99. Then in 2000, Schumacher finally outdueled his Finnish rival with four straight wins to close the season. It was his third career title and the first in the set of five in a row Schumacher would win until he was unseated by up-and-coming phenom Fernando Alonso in 2005. Schumacher finished his career with the most total championships of any driver ever, and he would call Hakkinen his “best opponent.” From 2008 to 2017, Lewis Hamilton (No. 3) and Sebastian Vettel (No. 4) won the F1 title every season except for two (2009 and 2016) — and one of them was runner-up in each of those years. And yet, we’re somehow only reaching the peak of this rivalry right now, since the dominant periods for Vettel’s former team, Red Bull (2010-13), and Hamilton’s Mercedes squad (2014-16) didn’t quite overlap. Starting last season, though, we’re finally getting some direct competition between these two four-time champions, and it’s given us moments like this deliberate collision at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. According to Elo, Vettel has one of the best peak ratings of any driver ever, and Hamilton isn’t far behind, so if these two continue on their current trend, there’s plenty of room for the legend of this rivalry to grow. The greatest drivers in the world are assembling in Monte Carlo this weekend for Formula One’s flagship race, the Monaco Grand Prix. So we thought it was the right time to dive into the history of road racing’s fastest sport — and this being FiveThirtyEight, what better way to investigate that history than to use our favorite benchmark, the Elo rating system, to rate every driver of all time?Elo is a simple way to grade competitors based on a series of head-to-head results. Longtime FiveThirtyEight readers will know that we’ve put it to work before in ranking NFL, NBA, MLB, college basketball and football, and women’s and men’s club soccer teams. Here, we’re using it to rate F1 drivers going back to 1950, the first season in which the FIA World Championship of Drivers was staged.Rating each contestant in fields of more than 20 drivers is a bit different from rating teams that play one-on-one games, so we had to make a few tweaks to our usual Elo formula. (Skip to the bottom for all the details.) The short version, though, is that all drivers are assigned Elo ratings going into each qualifying session and race, which represent their form — along with that of their engine manufacturer, mechanics, pit crew and so forth — at that particular moment. The average is around 1500, with the best racers soaring into the 2000s. After each event, the driver’s rating will change based on the result: In general, finishing high helps you gain Elo points, while finishing low costs you Elo points. (Duh.) If a driver doesn’t finish a race, Elo acts as though that driver never entered the race. That avoids the question of fault for a crash or a mechanical failure, though it may reward drivers who take more risks to finish higher. It may also reward drivers who qualify well but do poorly on Sundays. But the best racers will consistently outduel the highest-rated of their peers.Most racers, of course, aren’t in that category. But a few drivers In F1’s history have managed to dominate for long stretches of time; sometimes they even came along at the right time to have an epic rivalry with another all-time great. You can see these legendary racers highlighted in the chart above, which you can also search and click to isolate other individual drivers’ ratings over time.So … who’s the best ever?To judge the best-ever racers according to Elo, we wanted to strike a balance between career performance and peak form. So we made a compromise: We averaged a driver’s Elo across the five best consecutive seasons of his or her career, provided the driver participated in a minimum percentage of that season’s races.1This threshold varies by era because of the low rate of finishing races in the early days of Formula One. Prior to 1970, a racer must have appeared in 25 percent of all races and qualifying sessions to be considered a participant that year; after that, the threshold was moved to 60 percent. According to the resulting metric, no driver in history was more dominant than the late Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna: read more

The Islanders Shouldnt Be This Good

It’s been a long time since the New York Islanders were any good. Despite a few playoff berths here and there, the Islanders’ past decade has been defined more by venue changes, managerial shakeups, another venue change, and losing John Tavares, its franchise player and captain to free agency. From the middle of the 1970s through the middle of the 1980s, the Islanders were among the NHL’s elite franchises, but they’ve mostly been a punchline since. But that narrative could be shifting this season.The Islanders currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan division, two points behind the Washington Capitals with a game in hand and a superior goal differential. In fact, they’ve already gained more points in 65 games this season than they did during all of last season. Any team would be expected to struggle immediately after failing to re-sign a player of Tavares’s caliber — only five players have scored more points than Tavares since his rookie season in 2009-10 — but the Islanders have somehow flourished.Goaltending has been key to that success: Isles netminders Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss have split time almost equally and boast the NHL’s third and fourth best save percentages, respectively, while their combined save percentage paces the league. Goaltending is as bad as it’s been in a decade across the NHL, but apparently no one sent the memo to Lehner or Greiss.The exceptional play between the pipes has been bolstered by an emphasis on improving the defense by new coach Barry Trotz — who was hired fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Capitals — and new president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello, who won three Stanley Cups in New Jersey with a similar, defense-first philosophy. In 2017-18, the Isles gave up a league-high 296 goals. So far in 2018-19, they’ve given up a league-low 157. At their current rate, the Isles will surrender nearly 100 fewer goals in 2018-19 than they did just a season ago.But Tavares is missed on offense: The Islanders rank in the bottom third of the league for goals scored, and none of their players rank among the top 65 point getters. Last season’s rookie of the year Mathew Barzal is having a solid second season, leading the Islanders with 52 points.This doesn’t necessarily rule out the Islanders from winning the biggest prize: Defense can still be enough to prevail in this sport. The 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks ranked 17th in goals scored and second in goals allowed during the regular season, and things ended up working out pretty well for them.Whether the Islanders finish the season as Stanley Cup champions remains to be seen, but what is clear is that for the first time in a very long time, they’re at the very least the kings of the New York metro area (yes, New Jersey Devils, we’re counting you). This isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory — the Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1979-80 to 1982-83 — but it’s territory they haven’t set foot in for a while. According to Hockey-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS), which estimates the strength of every team in the NHL,1Technically speaking, SRS measures a team’s average goal differential after adjusting for strength of schedule. the Islanders haven’t been the outright best team in New York/New Jersey since 1992-93. New York/New Jersey preeminence notwithstanding, the Islanders still have major problems on the business end of their operation. The team has the worst attendance in the NHL. The Devils and the Rangers might both be bad (and they are), but at least their fans are still showing up to watch hockey games (attrition can be fascinating, after all). Islanders fans have been notoriously absent for the last 20 seasons, but that’s because they were constantly given a reason to be absent. The team is good now, yet still the Barclays Center in Brooklyn had thousands of empty seats whenever they played there. (Attendance at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale has been far better, suggesting the Isles should probably play every game at that arena — and they will the rest of the regular season.)It’s hard to predict what the Islanders are capable of in the playoffs. They’re currently ranked 3rd in PDO, which is the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage, which might suggest they’re in the position they’re in because they’ve been more lucky than good. Puck luck is real, and it might be favoring the Islanders so far this season. But that doesn’t mean it’ll hold for the playoffs.Lucky or otherwise, if they continue winning at their current rate they’ll amass 102 points. That would be the franchise’s best total since the 1983-84 season, which is also the last time the Isles reached the Stanley Cup final. That team lost to some 23 year-old kid named Gretzky.Neil Paine contributed research to this article. read more

The Spurs Were an Outlier of Unselfishness

The popular narrative for the NBA Finals that just concluded is pretty straightforward: The San Antonio Spurs “play basketball the way it’s supposed to be played,” and they beat the star-studded Miami Heat in what Zach Lowe called “the triumph of the NBA’s beautiful game.” The Spurs’ offense whipped the ball around, and Miami couldn’t handle such a multifaceted attack. The Heat, on the other hand, were forced to rely on what is increasingly becoming their Big One. LeBron James was epic throughout the playoffs and had an MVP-quality performance in the finals, but the top-heavy Heat collapsed under their own weight.A variety of statistics back up this description of the difference between the two teams, if not the normative judgment. For example, the Spurs had nine different players take four or more field goal attempts per game throughout the playoffs, compared to just six for Miami. More advanced statistics show something similar.One stat we can use to see how much offensive responsibilities are being spread around is “usage rate,” which estimates the percentage of a team’s possessions that were “used” by a particular player. Possessions are “used” by making field goal attempts, getting fouled or turning the ball over. Players such as James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony typically “use” a lot of possessions because they handle the ball a lot, take a lot of shots and play a lot of minutes. And because there are only so many possessions to go around, one player’s high usage rate means fewer scoring opportunities for his teammates. Teams like the Spurs, however, spread the ball around more, and more players get significant minutes, so they have a more flat distribution of possessions used.Here’s a look at how top-heavy NBA teams were in 2014, with the Spurs and Heat singled out:The x-axis on this graph is a player’s rank in a team’s usage rate, and the y-axis is the difference between the number of possessions that player used per game and the number used by the player with the highest rate. The lower the line, the more evenly a team distributes its chances across its players.Depending on how deep down the roster you look, the Heat are between the second- and fourth-most top-heavy team, while the Spurs are one of the most balanced. So that backs up the narrative.On the other hand, spreading the ball around isn’t easy, and it’s not the normal path to victory in the NBA. The most top-heavy team (and the top line on the chart) is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had the second-best record in basketball and did better against this Spurs team than Miami did. The most evenly distributed team overall was the Brooklyn Nets, who did make the playoffs but lost in five games to the Heat.The Spurs won a lot more than we would expect for a team as balanced as they are. The 15 teams with the largest gaps between their top player and their eighth player (by possessions used per game) won 57.5 percent of their games, while the 15 with the smallest gaps won 42.5 percent (the Spurs were second-lowest).Of course, not all sharing is created equal: Sometimes a team has a more equitable distribution of possessions because it has a lot of talent and it needs to incorporate it all. Sometimes it does it because it has very little talent and doesn’t have anyone it can consistently rely on. Likewise, being top-heavy can be a result of having an overly ambitious shooter on a team, or it can just be that a team has a great player doing his job. read more

The Warriors Have An 85 Percent Chance Of Getting At Least 73

April 10@ SA32.6 Upcoming Warriors games 68<0.1%>99.9% April 9@ MEM82.7 712.699.7 The Spurs game is where things get muddy. I wrote a few days back about why prediction models tend to have trouble with end-of-season scenarios, but as the Warriors keep on winning, we can find some clarity. The Warriors and Spurs both won Wednesday night, leaving San Antonio five back in the loss column with seven to play for Golden State. That functionally locks up the 1-seed for the Warriors and leaves little reason for Gregg Popovich to play his starters in both games against Golden State.Complicating matters, the Spurs, like the Warriors, are undefeated at home. With a day of rest before and after the April 10 game against the Warriors, with Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back, San Antonio might just decide to play ball — CARM-Elo gives the Warriors just a 32.6 percent chance of winning if that happens. Then again, Popovich might run Kyle Anderson at the point for 40 minutes. It’s hard to tell with the Spurs.In a way, though, all you need to know about the Warriors’ late-season run can be found in those two plays up above. They’re still stylish as all hell, and they still deliver when it matters. It’s been a long season, and fatigue comes for every team this time of year, but if the quick-change shift to championship-level defense in the final four minutes or so of regulation and OT Wednesday night is anything to go by, there’s plenty left in the tank.Jay Boice contributed research. April 1vs. BOS89.2% April 3vs. POR90.1 700.399.9 WINSEXACTLY THIS MANY WINSAT LEAST THIS MANY WINS 7514.414.4 Using our CARM-Elo predictions, we now give the Warriors an 85.4 percent chance of breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins and a 97 percent chance of at least tying it. Our colleagues at ESPN Stats & Info, using a model based on their Basketball Power Index, put the chances of 73 or more wins at 80 percent (one of the key differences is that the Spurs have overtaken the Warriors in BPI and play Golden State twice more this season).The Jazz game might have been the toughest left on the schedule for the Warriors. Golden State was on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, and playing a defense that is in the top 10 in efficiency for the season but is much more formidable when Rudy Gobert is in the lineup (he’s played in just 55 games this season). The relative difficulty of the Utah game — Golden State was “only” a 61 percent favorite according to CARM-Elo — is one reason the Warriors’ odds of winning 73 or more leapt from 66 percent two games ago to more than 85 percent now. Of the team’s remaining seven games, five are at home, and only one comes as the second leg of a back-to-back.Golden State’s next game is Friday, against the Celtics, and the Warriors are an 89.2 percent favorite, according to CARM-Elo. That’s followed by home games against the Blazers (90.1 percent), Timberwolves (95.6 percent) and Spurs (65.7 percent). 690.1>99.9 April 13vs. MEM93.4 7331.585.4 Chance Warriors finish with: April 7vs. SA65.7 April 5vs. MIN95.6 DATEOPPONENTWIN PROB. 7211.797.0 Here are the first points scored in Wednesday night’s game between the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz:And here are the last in regulation, when Golden State needed a last-second three to force overtime:The Warriors won easily in the extra period, mainly behind Draymond Green’s burly defending. Of course they did. Golden State has outscored opponents by +41 per 48 minutes in seven OT periods this season. At 68-7, the team is tied for the fourth-most wins ever in an NBA season — with seven games to play. 7439.453.9 read more

Should The Devils OneMan Machine Be The NHL MVP

272006PITS. Crosby102S. Gonchar58+44 Source: Hockey-Reference.com 221990DETS. Yzerman127G. Gallant80+47 262006NYRJ. Jagr123M. Nylander79+44 171991QUEJ. Sakic109M. Sundin59+50 To find a bigger gap than Hall’s lead over Hischier, you’d have to go back to 2007-08, when Ovechkin topped fellow Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom by 43 points. It’s no coincidence that most of the biggest differences on that list came in the high-flying offensive era of the 1980s and early ’90s, or in the first few seasons after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Today’s game isn’t really set up for a player to shoulder as much of his team’s offensive burden as Hall does for the Devils — but New Jersey has made it work anyway. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Hall-centric Devils have a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs.And there’s no question the Devils would be in major trouble without their star scorer. In addition to Hall’s lack of offensive support, New Jersey ranks 17th in save percentage with Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider between the pipes and is only in the middle of the pack in terms of denying opponent shots. Hall’s evolution from a 53-point scorer last season (his first with New Jersey) to an MVP candidate2Granted, Hall also showed flashes of this potential in Edmonton, tallying 27 goals and 80 points during the 2013-14 season. Perhaps the Oilers shouldn’t have shipped him away in one of the worst NHL trades in recent memory… has been directly responsible for lifting the Devils from last in the Eastern Conference to a likely playoff berth, the team’s first since 2012.Now, Hall isn’t the only player running on that specific narrative. MacKinnon in particular has also built his Hart candidacy around elevating a formerly terrible team into postseason contention. Nor is Hall likely the best player in the league — that honor probably belongs to McDavid, if not an old standby like Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. But in terms of pure value to a team, it’s difficult to find a player whose production is more indispensable than Hall’s has been to the Devils this season. 31981EDMW. Gretzky164J. Kurri75+89 41988PITM. Lemieux168D. Quinn79+89 211981CGYK. Nilsson131G. Chouinard83+48 21983EDMW. Gretzky196M. Messier106+90 51989PITM. Lemieux199R. Brown115+84 91985EDMW. Gretzky208J. Kurri135+73 111996MDAP. Kariya108S. Rucchin44+64 101991LAKW. Gretzky163L. Robitaille91+72 No. 1 scorerNo. 2 scorer 121989DETS. Yzerman155G. Gallant93+62 131986PITM. Lemieux141M. Bullard83+58 Taylor Hall’s place among the NHL’s top one-man offensesBiggest difference between a team’s No. 1 and No. 2 scorers, 1951-2018 151993TORD. Gilmour127N. Borschevsky74+53 191993PITM. Lemieux160K. Stevens111+49 202006WSHA. Ovechkin106D. Zubrus57+49 281980EDMW. Gretzky137B. MacDonald94+43 292008WSHA. Ovechkin112N. Backstrom69+43 161979MTLG. Lafleur129S. Shutt77+52 142001FLAP. Bure92V. Kozlov37+55 81987EDMW. Gretzky183J. Kurri108+75 231993NYIP. Turgeon132S. Thomas87+45 241994LAKW. Gretzky130L. Robitaille86+44 11982EDMW. Gretzky212G. Anderson105+107 61984EDMW. Gretzky205P. Coffey126+79 SeasonTeamPlayerPointsPlayerPointsGap 181982WSHD. Maruk136R. Walter87+49 71986EDMW. Gretzky215P. Coffey138+77 302018NJDT. Hall93N. Hischier51+42 With days left in the NHL regular season, the race for the Hart Trophy — the league’s MVP award — is as wide-open as it’s been in years. The defending winner, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, once again leads the league in scoring … but his team will miss the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov ranks second, but he cooled off after a red-hot start (and he has to share credit/votes with teammate Steven Stamkos anyway). The leading goal-scorer, three-time MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, doesn’t even crack the top 10 in total points. And while Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is the betting favorite for MVP, he’s hardly a lock at only fifth in points and 10th in goals.Right into the middle of this fracas has skated New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall, who has been scorching hot in the second half of the season and is seemingly willing New Jersey back into relevance. Hall, who earlier this year had a franchise-record 26-game point streak, now has seven goals and 15 points in his last seven games, including this short-handed game-winner Sunday against the Canadiens:The Hall-for-MVP case mainly rests in just how vital he’s been to the Devils’ offense this season. Hall has either scored or assisted on 39 percent of New Jersey’s goals, almost single-handedly dragging the team to its current 12th-place ranking in scoring. The Devils’ second-leading scorer, 19-year-old NHL rookie Nico Hischier, has notched 51 points on the season — 42 fewer than Hall’s team-leading tally.1For good measure, Hall has had a hand in nearly half of Hischier’s points this season. Not only is that easily the biggest gap in the NHL this year (No. 2 is the 35-point gulf between McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), it’s the biggest the league has seen in a decade and the 30th-biggest difference between a team’s leading scorer and runner-up in a season since 1950-51: 251999PITJ. Jagr127M. Straka83+44 read more

Ohio State womens volleyball runs out of gas in first loss of

In its third game of the season, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team suffered its first loss of the year Saturday against the No. 20 Oregon Ducks, 3-2. The No. 24-ranked Buckeyes opened up the Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic at St. John Arena with back-to-back wins against Houston and Toledo, 3-0. OSU, though, could not extend its winning streak to three as the Ducks outlasted the Buckeyes down the stretch Saturday. Playing its third game in two days, it appeared that fatigue and endurance were factors in the loss. “We came out with a lot of energy and played our game in the first couple of games,” said senior setter Amanda Peterson. “After we came out of the locker room for the third game, we kind of lost a little bit of energy at the beginning.” During the first two sets, the Buckeyes dominated early on the floor by winning both sets. As the game continued, however, the Buckeyes had several chances to close out on match points, but could not finish the game on a strong note. Senior outside hitter Emily Danks, who is an American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable mention All-American selection, tried to stay positive in the team’s first loss of the season. “The beauty of playing such tough competition at the beginning of the season is that it prepares us for the best volleyball conference in the country,” Danks said. “We can take a lot from this match. We’ve shown how strong we can come out and we just need to prove that we can maintain that energy, and finish at the end of games because we could have had it.” The Buckeyes were lead by a strong performance behind their four seniors in Danks, Peterson, outside hitter Mari Hole and middle blocker Mariah Booth, but the Ducks made their adjustments as their redshirt senior outside hitter, Alaina Bergsma, shifted into a new gear in the last three sets. “I thought we played really clean, solid, aggressive volleyball in the first two sets and did the game plan,” said Buckeyes coach Geoff Carlston. “Basically their best player Bergsma really stepped up and I got to give her credit for that. Our game plan broke down a little bit, and we just weren’t able to make the adjustments to slow her down.” In the end, the Buckeyes lost by five points in the last set, and let a chance at victory slip away in the final seconds. But with the season being so young, Danks and Peterson said they know the team will continue to get better. “(Oregon is) a really good team, and we’re just going to keep getting better, learn from our mistakes and keep on moving up,” Peterson said. Danks agreed with her teammate, and took it a step further by challenging herself and her teammates. “Everyday is a learning experience for me, whether it is physically or terms of leadership. So I am just going to continue to get better and not be complacent. I am going to take it up another notch by being more demanding of my teammates and myself,” she said. “(I need to) keep perfecting my shots, my serve and my defense so that at the end of the year, I know I got every ounce of talent I have out.” Carlston said he expects more from his seniors and believes that this unit is one of the best in the country. “It’s a tough loss because (Oregon is) one of the top teams in the country, as I feel we are too,” Carlston said. “We have a veteran team, and with four seniors starting, I am challenging them to step up every weekend because we have a very tough schedule.” Carlston said he was not happy with how his team responded during certain moments of the game, but knows that his team will continue to push each other to be better. “I am disappointed in how we responded at times towards the end of the match. I know were going to come back and work hard on Monday,” Carlston said. “You lose by four points and after three hours, it’s a tough loss, but this is a group that is going to grow from it, and as a staff grow from it and continue to get better.” OSU is next scheduled to play Binghamton at the Maryland Invitational on Friday, Aug. 31. read more

Urban Meyer Braxton Miller different from 2011 Ohio StateMichigan State game

The No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes travel to East Lansing, Mich., this weekend for its Big Ten Conference opener against No. 20 Michigan State. We check in with both coaches at the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference. A shot at redemption Last year’s 10-7 loss to the Spartans was historic in many ways for OSU. It marked the first time since 1999 that the Spartans beat the Buckeyes, and the first time an OSU team dropped its conference opener since 2004. It was also the first Big Ten start for quarterback Braxton Miller. The then-freshman Miller struggled mightily in his conference debut, completing just five of 10 passes for 56 yards and an interception. First-year OSU coach Urban Meyer said that his sophomore signal-caller has come a long way since then. “It’s pretty dramatic,” said Meyer. “He’s a lot different now.” Miller will have a shot at redemption against a staunch Spartan defense that has allowed 11.8 points per game this season, 11th best in the country. Ready to ring the Bell? Ohio State ranks last in the Big Ten conference in total defense, which Meyer said is “very alarming.”  They now face their toughest test yet this weekend, in MSU running back Le’Veon Bell. The sophomore Bell ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game, highlighted by a 210-yard outburst in the team’s opener against then-No. 24 Boise State. Meyer said that sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier is a big part of the defense’s game plan, with the task of plugging holes in the middle to contain Bell. When asked if the sophomore linebacker is up for the challenge, Meyer quipped, “he better be.” “This will be a great test for him,” Meyer said. “I have a lot of confidence in him obviously.” Dantonio Compares Quarterbacks MSU coach Mark Dantonio called Miller a “dynamic player,” while praising the quarterback’s running abilities. But containing mobile quarterbacks is not a foreign challenge for the Spartans. Miller has 441 rushing yards on 67 carries this season, leading all quarterbacks aside from Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who has rushed for the same amount of yards on one less carry. Robinson has been one of college football’s most dangerous duel-threat quarterbacks the past two seasons, but consistently struggled against the Spartans. In the team’s two meetings with Robinson starting under center, MSU prevailed against their instate rival, while holding Robinson below his season average on the ground. While comparing Miller and Robinson, Dantonio said, “there are certainly some similarities, but differences as well. Braxton has more tailback type features back there, he’s a spin runner on contact, but he runs the power at times. He can elude you as well.” Dantonio was the defensive coordinator at OSU from 2001-2003. While at MSU, he has posted a 1-2 record against the Buckeyes, beating his former club for the first time last season. read more

Ohio State field hockey come back against Kent State to end losing

Then-sophomore midfielder Mona Frommhold (8) plays the ball during a game against Penn State Oct. 19, 2012, at Buckeye Varsity Field. OSU lost, 3-0.Credit: Courtesy of FacebookThe Ohio State field hockey team suffered four consecutive losses, but ended its slump with a 4-3 win over Kent State.OSU claimed its first win since Sept. 6 when it took on the Golden Flashes at Murphy-Mellis Field Tuesday afternoon in Kent, Ohio a game in which both teams were able to score twice in the first half. Freshman forward Brooke Hiltz stood out for the Buckeyes, netting two goals, once in each half and adding an assist.The Golden Flashes got on the board early in the game, when junior midfielder Hannah Faulkner scored seven minutes in. The Buckeyes answered quickly, though, as Hiltz scored the first goal of her career less than two minutes later. Sophomore forward Peanut Johnson put the OSU in the lead with another first half goal, before Kent State was able to tie the game up heading into the break.The Golden Flashes came out of halftime quickly, taking a 3-2 lead just 27 seconds after the intermission.The Buckeyes completed the comeback with another goal from Hiltz coupled with one from senior midfielder Mona Frommhold in the 52nd and 54th minutes respectively.Coach Anne Wilkinson said the offense stepped up and was able to control themselves through the ups and downs of the game.“Our focus was mainly on our offense this game,” Wilkinson said. “I am pleased with the win … it was nice to see us finishing.”Wilkinson said it is never easy winning on another team’s turf, let alone an in-state team that targets OSU. She added it is nice to be going into a Big Ten game coming off a win.“It was a great game for both teams,” Wilkinson said. “It was a high pace game and it was nice to see a lot of people step up in different areas.”Frommhold said it was a tough match, going down two times, but the team pushed one another to finish the game.“We played really (well) together,” Frommhold said. “We supported each other and motivated each other through the whole game.”OSU is scheduled to take on Michigan State Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., at 1 p.m. This is the first Big Ten opponent the Buckeyes will face this season. They are scheduled to return to Buckeye Varsity Field Tuesday to take on No. 25 Louisville. read more

Urban Meyer focuses on individual play in Ohio State Spring Game

Redshirt-sophomore running back Bri’onte Dunn (25) looks to evade defenders during the 2014 Spring Game April 12 at Ohio Stadium. Gray defeated Scarlet, 17-7.Credit: Mark Batke / For The LanternTo Urban Meyer, the 2014 Ohio State Spring Game wasn’t about statistics, which intrasquad team won or lost, or which side played better as a unit.“It’s more of an individual — I’m not trying to evaluate an offense because who cares?” Meyer said after the Gray team defeated Scarlet, 17-7, Saturday at Ohio Stadium. “There are guys out there that will either never play or they’re not ready to play now.”With players like starting senior quarterback Braxton Miller, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, a skill guy like sophomore H-Back Dontre Wilson and even starting offensive lineman junior Taylor Decker not seeing a single snap during the game, it was clear Meyer was more interested in how much he was going to get out of some inexperienced players.“I’m not evaluating — like (OSU spokesman) Jerry (Emig) hands me stats and I’m not sure what to do with these. I don’t care,” Meyer said.Individually, the final stats for those players who actually saw time Saturday weren’t exactly impressive. The two quarterbacks who started and played the majority of the game — redshirt-sophomore Cardale Jones, who Meyer named backup to Miller after the game, and redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett — combined to throw for just 277 yards and no passing touchdowns. No ball carrier had more than 55 yards on the ground, but redshirt-sophomore running backs Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn both managed to find the end zone for the Gray team.“I was just talking with Cardale out there and you are so used to 14 practices playing with the same guys and that chemistry started through spring and there were a lot of new faces,” Decker said after the game about playing with players who might not see time this fall. “You start to develop a lot of chemistry and there were guys flipping sides, playing both ways so that makes it a little difficult when you are not used to playing with somebody, but that’s not excuse. You still have to go out there and execute and do your job at the highest level.”After having a solid Spring Game a year ago, redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas performed well again and led Gray with six receptions and 64 yards, while redshirt-junior receiver Corey Smith snagged five passes from Jones for 72 yards. Senior wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer hardly saw the field at all — Spencer is still rehabbing from an injury suffered in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl, and Smith played sparingly — but Meyer still wasn’t pleased with what he saw from the unit specifically.“Not enough,” Meyer said of the wide receivers’ efforts Saturday. “Without a doubt with what we expect, we’re not where we need to be. We’re better than we were two years ago … (a) notch (better) than we were last year. We got a ways to go.”Another question mark for the Buckeyes was what the pecking order will be at running back next season after losing Carlos Hyde, who in the 2013 season became the first running back under Meyer to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau.The expected favorite before spring practice was sophomore Ezekiel Elliott, who often came in to let Hyde rest last year. Other candidates include Dunn and Ball as well redshirt-senior Rod Smith. Smith sat out the last half of spring practice — including the Spring Game — as Meyer said “he’s focusing on academics.”“We have some depth there right now,” Meyer said. “But still it’s pretty much … I’m not ready to name a starter yet.”Dunn said after the game no matter who is at the top of the list, his mindset doesn’t change.“Every day I’m just going to work hard. I’m going to work hard,” Dunn said. “Everybody in my unit, in the running back unit, is like my brother. Whoever gets the (top) spot is going to deserve that spot.”So with no clear-cut starter at running back or wide receiver, and backup quarterbacks who struggled in a defensive-minded affair as playmakers were split up between both teams, what exactly was the 2014 Spring Game about?“What I do care is who is physically going to make the plays. This is more of, it’s almost like an individual game today and that’s what I wanted to watch,” Meyer said. “Who’s going to compete, who’s going to make plays, not who’s going to fit into the team concept because we all know what we saw out there. That’s not team, that’s not the Ohio State Buckeyes. That’s a bunch of people all over the place.”After reconvening later this summer for training camp, the Buckeyes are set to take on Navy in the first game of their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.Kickoff is scheduled for noon. read more

Football Ohio State fires wide receivers coach Zach Smith amid domestic violence

OSU coaches Tony Alford (left) and Zach Smith stand together before the Buckeyes game against Rutgers on Oct. 1. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith has been fired from the university after his ex-wife filed a domestic violence civil protection order, according to a press release sent out by a university spokesman Monday.“Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has announced the termination of wide receiver’s coach Zach Smith. Coaching staff adjustments will be announced at a later date,” the team said in the release.According to a report made by former ESPN writer Brett McMurphy, a domestic violence civil protection order was filed against the assistant coach by his ex-wife Courtney Smith on July 20. In 2009, Smith, who was an assistant coach at the University of Florida at the time, was arrested in Gainesville, Florida for the aggravated battery of a pregnant female. The police report states that Smith, “grabbed the victim by her t-shirt, picked her up and threw her into a bedroom wall.” Smith appeared in Delaware County Municipal on July 18 for criminal trespassing and is scheduled to appear again in court on for the final pre-trial on Aug. 22. Smith was in his seventh season as the wide receivers coach and was also Ohio State’s recruiting coordinator. He also spent five years under head coach Urban Meyer at Florida as a graduate assistant and a quality control assistant. Smith is the grandson of former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce. read more

Baseball Ohio State swept by Northwestern with 104 loss

Ohio State freshman infielder Marcus Ernst (28) swings at a ball during the game against Hawaii on March 23. Ohio State won 7-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorNorthwestern did something on Sunday that no other team in the program’s history had been able to accomplish: sweep the Buckeyes in a three or four-game series. Ohio State (16-16, 2-4 Big Ten) dropped its fifth straight in a game against Northwestern (14-14, 4-2 Big Ten) 10-4 that was heavily dictated by the performances of both bullpens. “Our talent is better. Their execution was better this weekend,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. Northwestern’s bullpen had been suffocating. In the first two games of the series, the relief pitchers went nine innings, allowing only one run. On Sunday, the Wildcats pitched 5.2 innings of relief and allowed one run on four hits. On the other side, Ohio State’s bullpen had struggled against the Wildcats. In the first two games of the series, the relievers allowed 14 runs, 12 of which were earned, in five innings of work. The nightmare for the bullpen continued on Sunday, with the relief pitchers allowing nine runs in three innings of work. “None of the straws I pulled worked this weekend,” Beals said. The bullpen would finish the series with a 23.63 ERA.“Everyone is here for a reason. We have a very talented pitching staff,” sophomore pitcher Griffan Smith said. “Guys need to go out there and pitch with more conviction. Just compete, have fun, and play the game.” After winning his first three starts on the year, Smith has not been able to tally a fourth win. In his four previous games before Sunday, Smith had an 0-1 record and an ERA of 5.03. Smith would not be able to break this winless streak, but he did pitch a career-long six innings, allowing only one run. “At the end of the day it’s about the team and getting wins,” Smith said. “As frustrating as it is, the most important thing is that we stick together, especially with a big week coming up.” The efficient outing was partly due to Smith’s ability to reduce his walks allowed. In his previous three starts, he allowed 11 total walks, but only one runner reached base on balls in Sunday’s start. Northwestern decided to start freshman pitcher Tommy D’Alise in the game Sunday. The usual reliever had tallied only one start in his career, and his longest outing was three innings back on March 12. Despite having only pitched 10.1 innings in his career, the right-handed pitcher had an ERA of 2.61. In his first weekend start, the freshman went 3.1 innings and allowed three runs. D’Alise had allowed a total of three runs coming into the game. From the opening at bat for the Buckeyes, the team appeared to have a sense of urgency.Junior right fielder Dominic Canzone was fired up on second base after opening the bottom of the first with a stand-up double. Junior first baseman Connor Pohl would score Canzone on a sacrifice fly to center field later in the inning. A two-out triple from sophomore catcher Dillon Dingler would result in another run. Dingler would come across home for the final run of the inning to make the score 3-0. Ohio State would not be able to score another run until the ninth inning. Northwestern would draw blood in the fourth inning with a solo home run from redshirt freshman center fielder David Dunn, his second of the season.With the Ohio State lead reduced to one in the seventh inning, senior left fielder Brady Cherry was called upon to pitch with runners at second and third with one out. After a hit batsman loaded the bases, a three-run double from senior first baseman Willie Bourbon gave Northwestern its first lead of the gameBourbon would finish the game with two hits and four RBIs. A five-run eighth inning for the Wildcats buried the Buckeyes behind a seven-run deficit. “The biggest thing is that there is no time to point fingers and blame,” Smith said. “Only [time] to get better.”Ohio State will travel to Athens, Ohio to take on Ohio University at 6 p.m. Tuesday. read more

TBDPITL Ep 28 The Ohio State Spring Game preview

Colin Gay and Wyatt Crosher discuss Kaleb Wesson’s entry into the 2019 NBA Draft and why he is not ready to make that jump, as well as what to look for in Ohio State football’s upcoming Spring Game. From Garrett Wilson to Justin Fields to a possible new position on the defense, maybe this year it will be more than a glorified practice? (Probably not though.)

Attacker may have been infatuated with British backpacker stabbed to death in

first_imgPolice forensics at the scene of a knife attack  Police forensics at the scene of a knife attack Credit:Rex 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. Smail Ayad, 29, injured several police officers and was reportedly screaming “Allahu akbar”, or “God is Great”, before he was subdued and arrested, but police played down a link to extremism or terrorism. He was officially charged on Thursday with Miss Ayliffe-Chung’s murder, as well as two counts of attempted murder, one count of serious animal cruelty and 12 counts of serious assault.Detectives have found no terror links to him and are now investigating whether he had developed an obsession with Miss Ayliffe-Chung.Asked if Mr Ayad had a romantic interest in Miss Ayliffe-Chung, Det Supt Ray Rohweder, regional crime co-ordinator from the Northern Region, said: “That’s one of the lines of inquiry that we are conducting. There is certainly, at this stage, no indication certainly from Mia’s point of view that there was any sort of romantic connection.”He also said that, although nothing was being ruled out, there was “absolutely no indication of any form of radicalisation or any political motive in relation to this matter”.Another Briton, Chris Porter, said he and Miss Ayliffe-Chung had been staying in the same room as the alleged knifeman.Mr Porter, 22, from Rochester in Kent, woke to find her being attacked in the bunk below him. Smail Ayad A Frenchman who allegedly stabbed to death a young British female backpacker in their Australian hostel while shouting “Allahu akbar” may have developed a romantic infatuation with the victim, police believe.Mia Ayliffe-Chung was killed in a frenzied knife attack as other travellers desperately tried to save the 21-year-old.Another British backpacker, Tom Watson, remains in a critical condition after being stabbed up to 20 times in the face and body trying to protect her. The Frenchman had been staying at the hostel for several days and “seemed an absolutely normal guy. He spoke to the guy before he went to bed – and he seemed fine.“He has woken up to him dragging Mia out of bed,” Mr Porter’s brother said. “The guy was a nutter.”Mr Ayad, from Marseille, entered Australia in March on a temporary visa, and had been involved in an argument with his alleged victim before the attack, The Australian reported.Bill Byrne, Queensland’s police minister, described the stabbing attack as “tragic and disturbing”, but said it was not “about race or religion”.The victim’s mother, Rosie Ayliffe, said her daughter “would not want to be the reason for any hostilities caused by any misinterpretation of events”.Ms Ayliffe paid tribute to her daughter, calling her “an amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit. Not only was she kind and funny, she was clever, sassy, with a sense of fun.”Mr Ayad, who has had a psychiatric assessment and undergone forensic analysis, stopped co-operating with police on Wednesday night after being initially co-operative and was Tasered and pepper sprayed by officers.Mr Rohweder said: “When we transported the suspect from the Townsville hospital to the Townsville police station, the suspect behaved in an extremely violent manner which necessitated police stopping the motor vehicle and attempting to restrain him.”As a result of that police received some injuries, including just cuts and aberrations but also a bite to the leg.”Miss Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, studied childcare at Buxton & Leek College before embarking on a round-the-world trip which had seen her visit Morocco, India and Indonesia before arriving in Australia earlier this year.She had been working as a waitress and with animals on a farm so she could extend her working holiday visa.A former boyfriend said she had fallen in love with the country and had hoped to stay.Jamison Stead, a 23-year-old sales rep, said: “We met towards the end of April through friends in Surfers [Paradise].”She was living in Surfers on the Gold Coast and planning on exploring Australia, with the intention to find a sponsorship as she wanted to stay here as she had fallen in love with the country and its people.” Smail AyadCredit:Facebook After stabbing Mr Watson, 30, the attacker then turned his attention to Mr Porter who jumped from a second storey window of Shelley’s Backpacker’s in Home Hill, south of Townsville, to escape.The knifeman then continued to chase Mr Porter, who is believed to have fractured both heels in his leap.Mr Porter’s brother, Aaron, told the Gold Coast Bulletin the alleged killer continued to pursue his younger brother, chasing him down the road with the knife.He said: “He’s had to wave down a car and this guy was trying to smash through the car window.”A dog was also killed in the attack.last_img read more

Investigation into alleged abuses by British troops in Iraq could end after

first_imgSir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said Shiner had “made the lives of soldiers a misery by pursuing false allegations of torture and murder”.He went on: “It was on behalf of those soldiers that we complained about Mr Shiner’s actions and finally he has admitted he was reckless and acted without integrity. He should now apologise to the soldiers whose reputations he attempted to traduce.”Andrew Tabachnik, putting the case against Shiner for the SRA, said: “Even on the basis of his own admissions, Professor Shiner accepts this tribunal must strike him off at the end of this case.”He said Shiner hass yet to outline his defence to those charges he denies or admitted in part, saying: “In particular, those relating to dealing with one particular individual who it’s now accepted sweeteners were offered in order for evidence to be changed.”The case is already thought to be one of the most expensive brought by the SRA, with costs already reaching more than £475,000 before the trial.The Telegraph has previously disclosed that a file was passed by the Legal Aid Agency to the National Crime Agency over almost £4 million paid in legal aid to Public Interest Lawyers to bring cases against UK troops in British courts. It is understood the SRA would have also referred the case to police if the Legal Aid Agency had not already done so. The Telegraph has repeatedly highlighted the plight of British troops facing criminal and civil allegations of abuse  The Telegraph has repeatedly highlighted the plight of British troops facing criminal and civil allegations of abuse  A former head of the Army said the £60m Ihat inquiry must now think “long and hard” about Shiner’s remaining cases against troops A friend of the major told The Telegraph: “The taxpayer has paid millions to Shiner. But is there now any possibility of any prosecutor in the UK being able to achieve ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, with anything that has been touched by the tainted hand of Shiner?”He added that the Ministry of Defence should sue Mr Shiner on the soldier’s behalf.Shiner, a former lawyer of the year, admitted nine allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made “unsolicited direct approaches” to potential clients through a fixer, understood to be Abu Jamal, and three others. He also partly admits nine other charges and denies six more.The charges relate to false claims that British troops murdered, mutilated and tortured innocent farmers and students in a 2004 clash known as the Battle of Danny Boy.The gruesome allegations prompted the Al Sweady public inquiry, but the five year investigation concluded in 2014 that the dead men were heavily-armed insurgents; the claims against the British soldiers were “wholly and entirely without merit or justification”; and the product of “deliberate and calculated lies”. This admission must bring into doubt a very large number of these allegations and one would hope that the investigation team think long and hard about the ramifications of Shiner’s admissionsGen Sir Mike Jackson Claims brought by Shiner are reckoned to have cost the British taxpayer more than £100m Credit: AFP/Getty Images Politicians as well as a decorated soldier under investigation called for the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat) which has looked at more than 2,400 claims brought by Shiner, to be shut down.The Telegraph has repeatedly highlighted the plight of British troops facing criminal and civil allegations of abuse in the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan.Claims brought by Shiner are reckoned to have cost the British taxpayer more than £100m and have included some of the most horrific smears made against British troops from the Iraq campaign.Allegations that British troops murdered, mutilated and tortured innocent farmers and students led to outcry and prompted the £31m Al Sweady public inquiry. The inquiry eventually dismissed the claims as baseless.The 59-year-old fully admitted nine charges and partly admitted nine others after he dropped a legal fight to have his tribunal heard in secret.A former head of the Army said the £60m Ihat inquiry must now think “long and hard” about Shiner’s remaining cases against troops, amid fears evidence brought to investigators could now be tainted.Ihat said it was seeking urgent talks with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Legal Aid Agency to determine if any of its cases still under criminal investigation might be undermined by Mr Shiner’s admission of misconduct.Mr Shiner himself now faces criminal investigation over allegations that almost £4m was paid out in legal aid for cases that may now be bogus. A controversial investigation into alleged abuses by British troops in Iraq faces being wound up after the lawyer who brought the vast majority of the cases admitted 18 professional misconduct charges.Phil Shiner was tonight called on to apologise to British troops whose lives have been ruined by years of criminal and legal inquiries stemming from his abuse claims.The disgraced human rights lawyer conceded to a disciplinary tribunal that he “must be” struck off after he repeatedly admitted acting “recklessly and without integrity”, including by paying an Iraqi fixer tens of thousands of pounds to tout for business. A former head of the Army said the £60m Ihat inquiry must now think “long and hard” about Shiner’s remaining cases against troops The SRA can go after Shiner for repayment of almost half a million pounds in costs in investigating misconduct. The solicitor could be forced to sell his home in Birmingham which he owns outright to repay the costs. His law firm was forced to shut down in the summer after the Legal Aid Agency stripped it of the right to public funding.Shiner only decided to admit a large number of the allegations on the eve of Thursday’s hearing. A full hearing will be held in January since Shiner denied all charges he had “acted dishonestly”.Lord Dannatt, another former Chief of the General Staff, said Shiner’s claims had “significantly tarnished” the reputation of the Army.He said: “I am delighted that it is now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that a large number of the allegations made against the Army were vexatious and I’m delighted that Phil Shiner will struck off as a practising lawyer.”Through his misdeeds, he has significantly tarnished the reputation of the British Army and put a lot of soldiers who were only doing their duty under incredible pressure.”Frankly it’s an outrage that this should have gone on so long and one’s only consolation is that justice has been done at this late stage.” 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. Jonny Mercer, the Conservative MP holding a parliamentary inquiry into the treatment of British troops accused of historic abuse, called for Ihat to be scrapped immediately.Mr Mercer, a former Army captain, said: “Phil Shiner is responsible for the vast, vast majority of cases investigated by Ihat. I don’t understand how those cases can be reliable given he has now admitted he has acted recklessly and without integrity. It means evidence supplied by him must be tainted.”He added: “This man’s lack of integrity has been allowed to almost completely redefine how this country conducts military operations. “I welcome the end of his career but I regret it has taken so long. The lives of innocent soldiers have been ruined by the claims he has brought.”That he should have been allowed to get away with this speaks volumes for the lack of grip and awareness by successive ministers.”Gen Sir Mike Jackson, a former Chief of the General Staff, said the extent of Shiner’s admissions “must give rise to doubt as to these allegations”.He went on: “This admission must bring into doubt a very large number of these allegations and one would hope that the investigation team think long and hard about the ramifications of Shiner’s admissions.”A major, awarded medals for bravery who is now facing charges of manslaughter over the drowning of an Iraqi in 2003, called for his case to be dropped. It is understood that witnesses who have given evidence against him were discovered by Shiner’s firm Public Interest Lawyers. The soldier, who was previously cleared by the military of any wrongdoing a decade ago, faces a possible prison sentence if found guilty. Show more Claims brought by Shiner are reckoned to have cost the British taxpayer more than £100m last_img read more

Addict who murdered Pc Gordon Semple upset Crystal Meth Anonymous members with

first_imgAn addict jailed for life for murdering a police officer he met via gay dating app Grindr failed to kick his habit because he upset a Crystal Meth Anonymous group by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt.Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted that he was inspired by his favourite television series as he tried to dispose of the body of Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh in an acid bath.Last month, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after a jury at the Old Bailey had deliberated for more than 30 hours.Brizzi denied trying to cannibalise parts of Pc Semple, 59, by cooking and then biting into a rib found in his kitchen bin.But at his sentencing, the prosecution said an expert odontologist had since confirmed that even though Brizzi claimed not to remember it, he had in fact tried to eat human flesh. Pc Gordon Semple CCTV still of Pc Gordon Semple on April 1Credit:Central News 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. The trial had heard that Brizzi met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a “hot, dirty, sleazy session” at his flat near London’s Tate Modern gallery on April 1.According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing slipped as they played a “strangulation game”.But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed.In the days after the killing, Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store.He then set about dismembering the body, stripping the flesh, burning some in the oven and mixing some with acid in the bath.Pc Semple’s long-term partner, Gary Meeks, reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, Kent.Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi’s flat and eventually called police, who came across the grisly sight of “globules” of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple’s head, and pools of human fat in the oven.Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised what they had found.The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat. Stefano Brizzi (second left) in the dock at the Old BaileyCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire In mitigation, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC blamed Brizzi’s crystal meth addiction as she accepted the expert evidence.She said: “The behaviour can only be ascribed to taking of the drug crystal meth, which, as the court will know, has appalling effects on those who become addicted to it.”Brizzi had “absolutely no recollection” of it and was “utterly horrified by it”, the barrister added.In a victim impact statement read to the court, Pc Semple’s older brother, Ronald Semple, said his sibling had been regarded as a “Dixon of Dock Green character”.He said his brother first took a job at Royal Bank of Scotland but then joined the police in October 1993 and completed more than 30 years’ service.He ran several marathons and organised trips to France and elsewhere for charity.Pc Semple was a “caring and gentle person” and “much loved” by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard.Mr Semple said he had met many of his brother’s colleagues at the funeral and was proud to hear the high regard in which he was held by junior and senior officers alike. Stefano Brizzi (2nd left) in the dock at the Old Baileycenter_img Stefano Brizzi, who said he murdered Mr Semple after being instructed by Satan Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted to killing and trying to dissolve the body of the policeman because “Satan told me to”.During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr.Brizzi said: “I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him, ‘Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it’s a mess’.”He also told police that he had “chucked” some of Pc Semple’s body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings.A human foot was later found by a member of a London mudlark club near Bermondsey Wall. Stefano Brizzi, who said he murdered Mr Semple after being instructed by Satan CCTV still of PC Gordon Semple on April 1 The court heard that Brizzi had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show “glorified” the drug.The group’s organiser asked him not to wear the T-shirt again. Brizzi said he did not get on with the group because of the religious overtones of the 12 steps, the court heard.Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC handed Brizzi a life sentence with a minimum of 24 years.Brizzi was also sentenced to seven years for obstructing a coroner, which will run concurrently.The judge said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life.He told the Italian: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.”The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple’s DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible.Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors that Pc Semple died in a “state of erotic bliss”.Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC confirmed an odontologist found that Brizzi had eaten part of the body of his victim after matching a bite mark on a rib discarded in the kitchen bin with the defendant’s lower teeth.He told the court: “It would be open to my lord to sentence on the basis Mr Brizzi did indeed attempt to eat part of Pc Semple’s body.” Pc Gordon SempleCredit:Met Policelast_img read more

Village that inspired The Archers in danger of becoming sprawling town after

first_imgLocals are alarmed at the prospect of Inkberrow's growing population meaning they will lose their village status The series’ pub The Bull is based on Inkberrow’s own 17th century inn The Old BullCredit:John Robertson Locals are alarmed at the prospect of Inkberrow’s growing population meaning they will lose their village status.Developer Bovis Homes has been granted planning permission to build 100 homes on a greenfield site at 28 Stonepit Lane next year, while Wychavon District Council have also given permission for up to 40 more houses on a separate site in the village.If the population rises much past 6,000 – which it is likely to do after the new development is finished – planners may be forced to reclassify it as a town. When The Archers first aired on January 1, 1951, Inkberrow had just 80 homes and a population of no more than 200.The village inspired the fictional Ambridge, while the series’ pub The Bull is based on Inkberrow’s own 17th century inn The Old Bull.According to its own community website, Inkberrow has more than 5,300 residents, making it “one of the largest villages in Worcestershire”, and the Office for National Statistics already defines Inkberrow as a “small town”. The series' pub The Bull is based on Inkberrow's own 17th century inn The Old Bull Its sleepy streets and 17th century pub inspired The Archers but for the residents of Inkberrow rural life may soon be over.For the village in Worcestershire, which is visited by thousands of fans of the BBC Radio 4 series every year, is in danger of becoming a “sprawling town” after developers were given the green light to build more than 100 homes. Planners have also given the go ahead for bollard lighting to be built, potentially spelling the end of the village’s tradition of being one of the only in the UK without street lamps. “A lot of people are asking where the development’s stop? Are we looking down the barrel of a sprawling town taking over our once beautiful village?”Putting up street lights, be it lampposts or these bollards, will also mean the end of another tradition in Inkberrow.”Addressing the issue of lighting, Cllr Steel added: “I have now have assurances that the proposed lights are of the bollard type and not street lighting as we know it and that the households will be responsible for the running of them and be able to turn them off if desired.”center_img The village inspired the fictional Ambridge Locals are alarmed at the prospect of Inkberrow’s growing population meaning they will lose their village statusCredit:John Robertson The village inspired the fictional Ambridge But residents and local councillors are determined to retain Inkberrow’s village status.Audrey Steel, the Conservative councillor for Inkberrow, said: “Growth has kept it alive but it retains its village heart and I am vehemently against calling it a town.”John Rhodes, 45, said: “I think it is a shame that the housing development got the OK, but everyone was expecting it.”It will, inevitably, mean the village becomes a town which will be shame. 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.last_img read more

Bin collections cancelled Just keep your rubbish fresh in the freezer says

first_imgDerby City Council announced last month that there would be no collections between December 23 and January 3.In practice, however, because the city operates a rotating fortnightly collection with different types of waste taken away on alternate weeks, some could face a month-long gap between some types of rubbish being removed if they miss a pick-up window.The council advice warns of the risk of leftover food attracting vermin such as rats and foxes if not “disposed of properly” in a sealed bag inside a bin with a secure lid.It then adds: “Tip: You can also put bagged food waste in the freezer to stop it going off and smelling, until your next bin collection is due.” Tip: You can also put bagged food waste in the freezer to stop it going off and smelling, until your next bin collection is duefestive advice from Derby City Council The council, which has seen its budget effectively halved in real terms since the onset of George Osborne’s austerity cuts in 2010, has been warning residents of “difficult decisions” ahead to cope with “shrinking budgets”.Councils across the country have been struggling to balance a legal requirement to provide essential services such as refuse and care for elderly and disabled people with others such as parks and sports facilities which are not protected in the same way.But residents of Derby ridiculed the council advice as farcical and patronising and questioned why other local authorities were able to carry out some collections during the festive period. A council is facing ridicule after advising residents to put their rubbish in the freezer to stop it smelling after it cancelled collections over Christmas and New Year.Derby City Council issued a list of Christmas waste and recycling tips to get them through a 10-day period without any refuse rounds which included a call for people to bag up food waste and store it in the freezer until the next collection.The advice, displayed on a web page interspersed with animated snow, also recommends encouraging children to use old baked beans tins as a craft project, despite the sharp edges.It also directs Derby residents to a further list of craft tips to cut waste including how to make a Thanksgiving Turkey napkin holder and a Pilgrim Fathers hat made from a bucket and a brown paper bag. derby The advice goes on: “Could that gigantic cardboard box be re-used to store Christmas decorations? “Maybe all those empty bean tins could be a craft project for the kids?”Writing on the council’s Facebook page one resident, Richard Smith, replied: “Could these tips be any more patronising?“How about just collecting our bins?“Every other council in the area seems to have managed it over Christmas.”Writing on the Derby Telegraph website, another resident, Robert Foreman, added: “Putting food waste in your freezer?“Seriously, sometimes I cannot believe what I am reading.“If the council did a food safety check on a shop or restaurant and found food waste in their freezer they would shut the place down.”But Brenda Fox, whose husband is a binman, said: “We are a family of five and we have no issue with our bins overflowing … if you recycle correctly.“Enjoyed having him at home for Christmas and why shouldn’t binmen be off?“Most Derby people wouldn’t last a morning doing what they do in all weathers – stop moaning.” Derby City Council’s officesCredit:Alamy 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. Follow these tips to help you reduce, re-use and #recycle this #Christmas https://t.co/oQMMMxi7HU #Recycle4Derby #LovefoodHatewaste— Derby City Council (@DerbyCC) December 31, 2016last_img read more