The Chris Paul Conundrum

The most valuable point guards ever (by advanced statistics) 2Oscar Robertson43,88623.2.207+4.673.1 3Jerry West36,57122.9.213+4.762.1 7Steve Nash38,06920.0.164+2.644.5 1John Stockton47,76421.8.209+4.578.6 5Chris Paul27,72525.7.249+6.156.9 RATE STATISTICS SPM (statistical plus/minus) is based on player efficiency rating and win shares per 48 minutes. VAR (value above replacement) converts SPM into a measure of a player’s total value in the minutes he played.Source: Basketball-Reference.com PLAYERTOTAL MIN. PLAYEDPLAYER EFF. RATINGWIN SHARES PER 48 MINSPMVAR Few point guards in NBA history have the résumé to go toe-to-toe with Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. So how can it be that he’s never played in the conference finals?The battle lines on the topic of Chris Paul are well defined. On the one side, you have supporters of Chris Paul, Point God; on the other, a coalition of traditionalists, stat-skeptics and perplexed quants wondering how a player who dominates every advanced statistic we throw at him, and who has had excellent teammates for the last five seasons, has found so little playoff success. At its most basic level, this can devolve into a debate about the usefulness of stats in identifying a franchise player, versus, say, the ol’ Eye Test. Thankfully, Paul’s stature in the league helps fend off the worst of these arguments, but every great troll opinion has its own grain of truth. In this case: If every tool available to us says Paul is a Michael Jordan-level player, and if we believe basketball is the team sport most influenced by a single, all-powerful player, how do we explain Chris Paul’s dismal playoff record?Paul’s individual profile really is top-notch. Although he only turned 31 near the end of last season, Paul is already the sixth-most-decorated point guard1According to the positional designations at Basketball-Reference.com. ever in terms of MVP voting. His statistical portfolio is mind-boggling: Paul currently ranks as the most efficient point guard in NBA history, according to both career win shares per 48 minutes and player efficiency rating. Among all guards, period, he trails only Michael Jordan in each metric. If you combine both metrics into a composite statistical plus/minus index2No, PER isn’t a great stat, and win shares has its flaws as well; FiveThirtyEight readers know we much prefer the plus/minus family of advanced metrics, including box plus/minus (which powers our CARMELO projection system). But BPM is only available going back to 1973-74, and a proper contextualization of CP3’s career needs to include players from earlier eras — your Jerry Wests, Walt Fraziers, Oscar Robertsons and so forth. Fortunately, PER and WS are better together than they are apart, with PER’s love for high-usage players filling in WS’s blind fixation on efficiency. To be precise, I generated the combined version by figuring out the mix of each (relative to league average) that best correlates with Jeremias Engelmann’s Real Plus-Minus. The composite still isn’t better than, say, BPM, but it isn’t bad, either, particularly for comparing players across eras. and use that to measure each player’s career value above replacement (VAR),3VAR is structured the same as Basketball-Reference.com’s VORP, right down to the replacement level of -2.0 points per 100 possessions, but uses our PER/win shares composite as its foundation instead of box plus/minus. CP3 is the fifth-most-valuable point guard to ever set a sneaker on an NBA court: 8Jason Kidd50,11117.9.133+1.543.9 But there’s always that pesky question of the postseason: Although Paul’s teams have qualified for the playoffs in all but three of his 11 NBA seasons, they haven’t made it very far once there: They’ve lost in the first round four times and in the second round on four other occasions. And that’s it. In the entire history of the NBA, few players with individual numbers as great as Paul’s have seen so little postseason success.In fact, I have a system of playoff success points that can be used to measure a team’s postseason accomplishments in proportion to how many teams it had to beat out to get as far as it did. And only one NBA player — Karl Malone — ever accumulated fewer career dynasty points than Paul has, relative to what we’d expect based on their lifetime VAR tallies: 4Magic Johnson33,24524.1.225+5.361.4 Paul’s postseason numbers are great, though a bit lower than we’d expect given his stellar regular-season stats, even after considering the increased difficulty of postseason opponents. His career playoff averages — a 25.5 PER and .206 WS/48 — are down from his respective marks of 25.7 and .249 in the regular season; those playoff rates mean Paul was worth about 1.3 fewer points (per 100 possessions) to his team than he was in the regular season. The average playoff team since 2006 had a regular-season efficiency differential of +3.6, meaning the level of the competition rises in the playoffs, but we’d expect an individual player’s number to drop by only a fifth of that, since a team’s plus/minus impact is spread across all five players on the court, so Paul’s numbers have dropped almost twice as much as we’d expect them to in the postseason. How will your favorite NBA team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016-17 season » 9Chauncey Billups33,00818.8.176+2.941.0 Of course, Curry showed two years ago that it can be done — and he might have done it again last season, if not for the injury that slowed him down as the playoffs went on. And although Paul is not exactly the same kind of game-changing revolutionary as Curry, he comes with his own type of basketball genius, which manifests as putting passes exactly where they need to be to maximize his teammates’ chances of making the shot, dominating the midrange-shooting game in a way that actually makes it efficient, and rating as the league’s best defensive point guard (by a wide margin) despite being one of the shorter guards in the league. In other words, as far as we can tell, Paul has all the tools he needs to be a championship player, even though his teams haven’t made a serious run at the championship yet. So either today’s methods of observation haven’t fully captured Paul’s flaws while picking up what he does well (very possible, though less so as more advanced methods — such as plus/minus and player-tracking data — trickle into the stats) or he’s a genuine statistical anomaly.In any case, time is running out. As CBS’s Matt Moore wrote in August, the chance of Paul’s greatness being forgotten — or at least not fully appreciated — grows with each postseason disappointment. He’s played well enough in the playoffs, but whether the cause is bad luck, bad timing or simply that the NBA is not geared for players like him to carry championship squads, Paul has not made the kind of postseason impact that the rest of his résumé deserves. And with Curry’s Warriors gearing up with even more talent than when they broke the all-time wins record last year, it could be another futile springtime for Paul and the Clippers.Check out our NBA predictions. 10Walt Frazier30,96519.1.176+3.139.7 6Gary Payton47,11718.9.148+2.148.9 Of course, some of that shortfall in playoff success points is also just plain bad luck, like when Paul broke his hand during last season’s first round, effectively killing the Clippers’ chances of advancing before they’d really started. And some of it might have to do with the grand plan the Clippers hatched five years ago, when they traded for the game’s best point guard and began taking steps to assemble a championship team around him.In the last 28 NBA seasons, a point guard has been the best player (according to VAR) on only two championship teams: the 2004 Detroit Pistons, where Chauncey Billups led an ensemble cast of characters — including Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace, each of whom could also have made a claim for “best player” honors — and the 2015 Golden State Warriors, where Steph Curry was busy redesigning the sport of basketball. Aside from those two really unusual cases, you’d have to travel back to Magic Johnson’s 1988 Los Angeles Lakers to find the last champ whose top statistical performer was a floor general. (Apologies to Isiah Thomas of the 1989 and ’90 Pistons, whose advanced statistics were never really in line with his Hall of Fame reputation.)In the intervening years, 17 big men4Centers or power forwards. have led championship squads, as have nine wing players.5Shooting guards or small forwards. But NBA teams led by point guards have averaged 14 percent fewer dynasty points per season than all others, despite being stronger during the regular season6As measured by efficiency differential. on average. Since the end of the Showtime 1980s, it’s been pretty tough to build a championship team with a point guard as its centerpiece.And throughout basketball history, that’s basically been the norm. Between the 1951-527The first season in which minutes played were tracked, and therefore the earliest year where we can track per-minute advanced statistics. and 1969-70 seasons, zero NBA champions had a point guard as their best statistical player. So in that sense, the 1970s and ’80s were anomalous, rife as they were with championship point guards such as Johnson, Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the Knicks and even the underappreciated Gus Williams of the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics. If we look at the entirety of NBA history, point guard-led teams have been about half as likely to win a championship as their peers, even after controlling8Via a logistic regression that attempts to predict a team’s probability of winning the championship based on its regular-season efficiency differential, the composite PER/WS plus-minus of its best player and whether or not that player was a point guard. The coefficient on the point-guard dummy variable was significant and very negative, meaning teams whose best players were point guards were much less likely to win a championship across six and a half decades of NBA history. for how good the team — and its best player — were statistically. read more

Can The Mets Possibly Be This Good

Can it last? Well, the Mets have won a few extra ballgames thanks to timely hitting that probably won’t keep up at the same rate. But more importantly, because of off-days and a weather postponement, they’ve had to turn to a starter outside their top four only once this season, a Zack Wheeler start on April 11. Other than that, it’s been all Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey3Not that Harvey has been amazing, mind you: He’s the only Mets starter with an ERA worse than league average this season. and Matz — a trend that will dry up soon. And for all the turns taken by those big-name starters, New York is still just 14th in innings per start, with the team again leaning heavily on a bullpen that, to its credit, has been baseball’s most valuable in the early going. (That’s a recent theme, too: The Mets had MLB’s seventh-best bullpen in 2016.)So it’s still too early to say whether this staff will stay healthy enough all season to keep up its early pace, or if it has enough depth to survive the kinds of injuries that happen to normal teams — even if this year’s Mets aren’t as snakebit as last year’s were. But if they do keep it up, the Mets will join the 1998 San Diego Padres as the only team in MLB’s expansion era to go from the top five in pitching WAR one season to the bottom five the next, and then back to the top five the following year.4Similar to the 2017 Mets, the 1997 Padres were ravaged by injuries and underperformance. That team ended up going to the World Series; we’ll have to see whether this year’s Mets can follow in those footsteps and cash in on their own red-hot start.Check out our latest MLB predictions. A couple of weeks ago, it was anybody’s guess as to which version of the New York Mets would show up for the 2018 season. Would it be something like the 2016 edition, a solid ballclub that reached the NL wild-card game on dominant pitching and a streaky offense? Or the 2017 squad, an injury-riddled catastrophe from almost start to finish? Or maybe some third kind of team: one possibly able to coalesce into a legitimate contender with better health and a new manager?A great (and also frustrating) thing about baseball is that, 14 games into the schedule, we still don’t really know the answer. But what few clues the 2018 Mets have provided are mostly encouraging. At 12-2, including Sunday’s walk-off victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, New York is baseball’s second-best team record-wise, trailing only the Boston Red Sox. Ability-wise? Maybe not quite so much. But the team has at least shown that, when it’s healthy — a caveat that perpetually hangs over the franchise — it has the potential to break into MLB’s upper echelon.When the current-era Mets were at their best in the 2015 and 2016 campaigns, their success largely depended on having an elite pitching staff, one that finished a close second behind the Washington Nationals in pitching wins above replacement (WAR)1Averaging together the versions of WAR found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. over those seasons. The key was a core of flame-throwing pitchers the likes of which had seldom been seen before: a rotation with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz,2Matz was called up for good late in the 2015 regular season and was in the Mets’ rotation for that postseason. each of whom ranked among the 35 hardest-throwing starters in MLB, plus a bullpen backstopped by fireballing closer Jeurys Familia. According to WAR, Mets pitchers’ production represented more than half of the team’s value (52 percent) in 2015 and 2016, compared with the league average of only 42 percent of WAR coming from pitchers.By comparison, the rest of the team was pretty unremarkable in the span, ranking 16th in total WAR from position players. While the lineup had its moments — Yoenis Cespedes’s ridiculous late-season tear in 2015 comes to mind — it was mostly inconsistent, too reliant on the home run and lacking in high-impact talent (especially when Cespedes was injured). And the defense was nothing special, either. So it was no surprise that when the Mets’ pitching collapsed entirely in 2017, dropping all the way down to 26th in WAR because of a combination of injuries and underperformance, the team fell apart as well. There was nothing left to make up the difference.By the same token, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this year’s improved health and performance on the mound has the Mets back on track. According to WAR, New York ranks second in total pitching value once again, trailing only the Red Sox. The rest of the team has had its bright spots, including the early season play of newly acquired third baseman Todd Frazier, but by and large it’s been the same formula as in the team’s successful 2015 and 2016 seasons: Win with dominant pitching, solid hitting and a mediocre-yet-passable combination of base running and fielding. read more

Was Aaron Rodgers Trying To Game The Coin Flip

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (Jan. 19, 2016), ESPN writer Bill Barnwell joins us as we look at whether Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were cheated out of their NFL playoff game by the flip of a coin. We ask FiveThirtyEight writer Ben Lindbergh whether sabermetrics is making baseball coaches smarter. And we explore the brilliance of Australian college basketball player Ben Simmons. Plus, a Significant Digit on 17-year-old soccer star Mallory Pugh.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Links to what we discussed are here:Bill Barnwell on Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s hyper-conservative decision not to go for 2 points.An academic study on gaming the coin flip.Ben Lindbergh on how sabermetrics is making baseball coaches better.Significant Digit: 17. That’s the age of Mallory Pugh, the youngest woman ever to gain a professional soccer contract in the U.S.So, how good is Ben Simmons? Hot Takedown If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. read more

Ohio State victory Iowa loss have Buckeyes feeling rosy

As the clock ticked down to the start of the Ohio State game, the clock struck zero for the Iowa Hawkeyes, who fell to Northwestern, 17-10. The outright Big Ten title was back up for grabs for the Buckeyes. With a 24-7 victory over Penn State, OSU took one step toward that goal.Defense ignites the Bucks early and oftenThe Buckeye defense handed the Nittany Lions a quick three-and-out at the beginning of the first quarter. Junior Cameron Heyward set the mood for the game when he sacked PSU quarterback Daryll Clark for a loss of six yards on the first play of the drive.Then, early in the third quarter, Heyward sacked Clark for a loss of seven yards, as the Buckeyes led 10-7.“I just wanted to play,” said Heyward, who finished the night with two sacks and an additional tackle for loss, combining to push the Lions back a total of 17 yards. “We have a great defense, and I just wanted to help.”The defensive goal coming into Saturday’s game was to hold down Penn State’s run game. And they did just that, holding the Nittany Lions to 76 yards.“We talked about outplaying their defense. That’s how we go into every game, we have to outplay their defense,” senior linebacker Ross Homan said. “Our defensive line made the difference for us tonight.”Going into the game Saturday, the Buckeyes led the nation in forcing three-and-outs, and they came out of the game with seven more to their name, forcing PSU’s first three drives to end short of a first down. “Defensively, there was no question that they were going to have a tough time moving it on us,” coach Jim Tressel said. Pryor to Posey partnership is grounds for successWith just more than a minute left in the third quarter, quarterback Terrelle Pryor connected with receiver DeVier Posey for a 62-yard touchdown, increasing the Buckeye lead to 17-7. The 62-yard pass is the longest pass play by a Penn State opponent this year. “It was big for me, it was big for the offense, and we definitely needed something like that,” Posey said. “It was a big momentum changer.”It has become quite apparent that Posey has become one of Pryor’s favored receivers when the game is in a tight spot.“That’s one of my great friends. We’re really close. We live right next door to each other, and he’s just one of my boys,” Posey said. “It only helps that he’s the quarterback and I’m the receiver.”Huge production out of ‘Small’ returnerSenior Ray Small returned seven punts for 130 yards, with his longest setting up a touchdown drive in the fourth that cemented the Buckeye lead, 24-7.The 45-yard return put Pryor and the offense at the 47-yard line with a straight shot to the goal line. The return wasn’t Small’s only 40-plus-yard return. He opened the game with a 41-yard return on OSU’s second drive, bringing the ball all the way to the 9-yard line. “It’s huge. It’s a big thing to be on the team in this tradition, and to come back and just redeem myself,” Small said. “That’s what I think of this as: a redemption.”Offense seizes opportunity in two quick touchdown drivesThe Buckeyes had two different touchdown drives that were each less than a minute long. The first, a 6-yard touchdown run from Pryor after Small’s return, was the result of two plays and 44 seconds. It was a pivotal starting point for the momentum of the game.“That was huge. If we had been limited to a field goal there, I think, emotionally, in their stadium, that would have been almost a victory for them,” Tressel said.The drive with Posey’s touchdown lasted nine seconds, and the final touchdown drive was a little more than five minutes long.Bucks hold onto the ball, no turnovers for the Scarlet and GrayWhen last year’s fight against PSU at home boiled down to a fumble from Pryor, the name of the game this year became avoiding turnovers. And that is exactly what OSU’s offense did.For the first time this season, the Buckeyes went without a turnover the entire game.Both teams held onto the ball surprisingly well. PSU’s only turnover was a fourth-quarter interception by OSU linebacker Ross Homan.“From a turnover standpoint, it was the best we’ve done, having none. If we can do that, we will have a chance,” Tressel said.Barclay fills in at kickerLast week, after Aaron Pettrey left the New Mexico State game with an injury that resulted in season-ending surgery, junior Devin Barclay stepped in with a shaky performance, missing two field goals.But the 26-year-old former collegiate soccer player left no call unanswered Saturday, making good on three extra points and a 37-yard field goal. “I’m pretty speechless. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m just happy to have gotten the opportunity to do it,” Barclay said. “I just wanted to hit my kickoffs well and swing nice and easy on extra points and field goals and just make them all.” read more

Wolverines freeze out Buckeyes 41 in Frozen Diamond Faceoff

CLEVELAND — It was unlike any game they had ever played, and an experience that they may never forget, but as the final horn sounded Sunday, the Ohio State men’s hockey team left the ice disappointed after arguably one of its worst performances of the 2011-12 season. The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes fell to No. 15-ranked Michigan, 4-1, in the state of Ohio’s first outdoor college hockey game, the “Frozen Diamond Faceoff,” in front of 25,864 fans at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Michigan got goals from four different players and senior goalie Shawn Hunwick made 31 saves as the Wolverines swept a two-game set from OSU after defeating the Buckeyes, 4-0, on Friday. The Wolverines had their way with OSU from the start, outshooting the Buckeyes, 16-11, and scoring twice in the opening period. Junior forward Chris Brown put Michigan on the board first with a five-hole goal past OSU senior goalie Cal Heeter at 7:31 in the first period. Brown found the puck on a rebound after a Wolverine’s shot bounced off Heeter. The Buckeyes looked like they would tie the game minutes later when senior forward Cory Schneider’s shot flew past Michigan senior goalie Shawn Hunwick, but the puck clapped against the post of Hunwick’s goal. The shot was the closest OSU came to scoring in the first period. The Wolverines scored again with a goal from freshman forward Alex Guptill, who tallied after Brown dropped the puck to him in the left circle at 13:33 in the first. OSU trailed, 2-0, after 20 minutes, but came out strong in the second period. Sophomore forward Chris Crane scored his team-high 13th goal of the season 50 seconds into the middle stanza. OSU freshman forward Max McCormick slid the puck to Crane in front of the crease, and Crane found the back of the net. The strong play by the Buckeyes didn’t last. Michigan added to its 2-1 lead with two goals in a 28-second span in the middle of the second period. OSU had a costly turnover in its defensive zone, and Wolverine sophomore forward Derek Deblois made the Buckeyes pay with a goal at 9:47 in the second following the change in possession. Just 28 seconds later, Michigan senior center David Wohlberg drove the Buckeyes’ net, slipped the puck past Heeter, and the Wolverines led, 4-1. After the Wolverines’ fourth goal, Osiecki replaced Heeter, whose .932 save percentage coming into Sunday’s contest ranked fifth in the nation, with junior goalie Brady Hjelle. Michigan failed to score with Hjelle in net, but the Wolverines’ defense continued to stifle the Buckeyes and OSU went on to lose, 4-1. OSU dropped to 14-6-3, 10-5-3-1 in the CCHA. The Buckeyes, who had a seven-point lead in the conference before the weekend, now have just a one-point advantage over second-place Western Michigan. Michigan improved to 14-8-4, 8-6-4-1 in the CCHA. The Wolverines are currently on a nine-game unbeaten streak and sit alone in third place in the conference. The Buckeyes will take the ice again for a two-game series against No.13-ranked Ferris State, starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. in Columbus. read more

Ohio State running back Brionte Dunn allegedly cited for drug paraphernalia possession

Ohio State freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn was allegedly cited for drug paraphernalia possession and a seat belt violation over the weekend in Alliance, Ohio, according The Repository in Canton.  The report said Dunn and a second passenger were pulled over by the Alliance Police Department for not wearing a seat belt. During the stop, according to The Repository, a marijuana pipe was found in the car. OSU athletics spokesman Jerry Emig said he was unable to confirm or comment on Dunn’s alleged incident.  Alliance Police department officials did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for confirmation or comment regarding the freshman running back. ESPN radio affiliate WKNR Cleveland originally reported that Dunn was arrested. According to The Repository, however, Dunn was neither arrested nor taken to jail. WKNR Cleveland did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment. Dunn ran for 5,479 rushing yards in his high school career. Dunn spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Alliance High School in Alliance, Ohio, before playing his final two years at GlenOak High School outside of Canton. At GlenOak, Dunn was honored as a first-team Division I Ohio All-State selection as a junior and senior. Dunn, who enrolled early at OSU, ran for 21 yards in the Buckeyes’ annual Spring Game on April 21. read more

Ohio State womens volleyball ready for homestand against Indiana and Purdue

Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) serves the ball during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographerA change in mindset might alter the fortunes of the Ohio State women’s volleyball team this weekend.After dropping eight straight Big Ten matches, junior defensive specialist Alyssa Winner said the Buckeyes have a new focus point going into their next match.“This new thing we want to do is (win) five points at a time, so five sets of five in each game,” she said.Freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said the new outlook can help keep the team from looking too far ahead.“Kind of keeping the game in sight, not thinking about 25 (the number of points needed to win a set) automatically,” she said. “Thinking about first to five, first to 10 (instead).”OSU is scheduled to embrace this new philosophy as the team returns to St. John Arena this weekend to host Indiana at 7 p.m. Friday before welcoming No. 14 Purdue at the same time Saturday.The Hoosiers are one of only two Big Ten teams OSU has bested this season, along with Michigan, and also represent the Buckeyes’ most recent Big Ten victory.Since beating Indiana in five sets Oct. 5 in Bloomington, Ind., OSU has not won a match. Most recently, the Buckeyes lost to then-No. 14 Michigan State Nov. 1, before dropping a 3-2 decision at No. 17 Michigan Nov. 2.Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary, who tallied a career-high 31 kills against the Wolverines, said there are still positives to take from the loss.“There’s a lot we can take from that game, I think we played really well,” she said. “We battled the whole game.”Leary said the team is getting close to a breakthrough.“Our team played well, so we’re getting closer to that win that we need,” she said. “(We’ll) just work really hard this week to get that ‘W’ this weekend.”Junior setter Taylor Sherwin agreed there can be positives taken from the losses in Michigan, but added there is room for growth going forward.“We just keep growing as a team and keep staying together and fighting on the court with each other,” she said.Winner said she is excited to be back on the Buckeyes’ home court, especially coming off another road trip.“It’ll feel really good, since we were away last weekend and we need to get a win,” she said. “Having our fans behind us will be great. It’ll be nice to be back here and not have to travel.”While the team will have the home support for its matches against Indiana and Purdue, the homestand will be short-lived. The Buckeyes are scheduled to hit the road again next weekend for matches against No. 9 Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn., Nov. 15 and No. 16 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., Nov. 17. read more

Ohio State mens soccer earns 1st victory of season

Ohio State senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov (center) makes a save as temmates Yianni Sarris (left) and Ryan Ivancic (right) look on during a match against Cleveland State on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The win gave Ivanov his seventh shutout of the 2013 season.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorIt might have taken seven overtime periods, but the Ohio State men’s soccer team finally grabbed its first victory of the 2014 season.OSU opened its season with a double-overtime scoreless draw against the University of California Davis before going to two more overtimes in its next game against Butler.The Buckeyes (1-0-3) experienced a familiar feeling with a 1-1 draw in double overtime against tournament host University of North Carolina-Wilmington on Friday night before achieving that elusive first victory against Elon University, 1-0, in single overtime Sunday.Sunday’s win came when junior forward Joao Ehlers fired the golden goal past senior Elon goalkeeper Nathan Dean about 2.5 minutes into the overtime period. Ehlers a Brazilian native made his OSU debut Friday night after transferring to the school from the University of the Cumberlands this season.Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov made four saves for his 10th career shutout and the second shutout of the season. Ivanov has started all four games this year, allowing 0.75 goals per game.OSU was outshot 14-10 by Elon (2-2-0), including 9-4 in the second half, but Ehlers’ shot was the only one of overtime — and the only one it needed.The game was delayed for just under 90 minutes during the 55th minute because of lightning in the area.In Friday night’s contest, OSU spent the majority of the game playing protection. UNC-Wilmington outshot the Buckeyes, 19-8, including 4-0 in the two overtime periods, but OSU did not break.The scoring was opened with OSU’s first shot of the game during the sixth minute when senior midfielder Yianni Sarris took a pass from his left from sophomore forward Danny Jensen and shot inside the right post for his second goal of the season.The rest of the first half saw a flurry of attacks from UNC-Wilmington, but Ivanov stopped three shots to keep it scoreless.The OSU goalie didn’t experience quite the same amount of success in the second half, as Seahawks sophomore forward Freddy Nzekele took a header off of a free kick in the 65th minute and put it past Ivanov to knot the score at one.Chances were sparse throughout the rest of the second half, and the Buckeyes once again headed to overtime.Offense was hard to come by throughout the two overtime periods, but Ivanov stepped up with about five minutes remaining in the game when he made a diving stop on a penalty kick to save the game.The Buckeyes have yet to play a game ending in regulation time, but were still able to pick up the win they were searching for through the season’s first three games. Jensen said earlier in the week that getting a win is “basically all that’s on our minds right now.”The team is set to return home to open Big Ten play against Northwestern on Sunday. That game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Baseball Buckeyes looking to get back on track against Western Kentucky

The OSU baseball team practiced at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on March 3. before its road trip to Bowling Green, Ky. to take on Western Kentucky.Credit: Lexus Robinson / Lantern reporterFive games might not seem like a lot during a baseball season, but when a team suffers four losses with just one win, it can feel like a heavy load.After going 1-4 in its past five games, the Ohio State’s baseball team is back in Columbus, practicing indoors at Woody Hayes Athletic Center because of cold temperatures.The Buckeyes (5-4) had previously lost two games to Florida Atlantic during their visit to Florida from Feb. 20-22, and then lost two more game on Saturday, before finally pulling out a win against the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Sunday. OSU is now set to take on Western Kentucky on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Bowling Green, Ky.Coach Greg Beals said the team realizes how important the weekend is before the Buckeyes are set to host their first home series.“This will be our third road series. We played two tough ones against very good opponents,” Beals said. “I think it’s important before we go into conference play that we can go on the road and prove that we can win a series on the road.”Beals said he is confident in the team and isn’t changing the practice routine much this week, even after the Buckeyes’ 1-4 stretch. “We just try to really emphasize fundamentals,” he said. “The pitching and the hitting are the big things. The guys are going to work on that on their own. From a coach standpoint, I try to put together a practice schedule that’s going to make sure that we are touching on the little things as well.”The Buckeyes are confident that it’s not their game they need to change in order to earn more wins, senior infielder Nick Sergakis said. “It’s not really what we have to do differently, it’s what we have to improve on and it’s just our mindset,” Sergakis said. “We’ve got to keep believing that we are the same team that we went into the season as.“We have the talent, it’s just a matter of when it shows.”First pitch in Bowling Green is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. read more

Urban Meyer I dont know who our quarterback is going to be

Redshirt-senior quarterback Braxton Miller doesn’t have a date set for his return from a second shoulder surgery.Credit: Tim Moody / Lantern sports editorWith two out of three quarterbacks in an open competition limited by injury, Ohio State’s spring practice plan has stayed the same day to day.Coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes want to keep redshirt-senior Braxton Miller moving toward full health, get redshirt-sophomore J.T. Barrett as much practice time possible and keep redshirt-junior Cardale Jones’ foot on the pedal.“Hoping to get J.T. Barrett a million reps, probably more than I thought we’d get him,” Meyer said during a Monday press conference. “Cardale didn’t have a particularly great day today, but he’s had a good spring and we’re getting him as much reps as we can. And Braxton’s getting healthy, and he’s getting a lot of mental reps.”Each of the three has a chance to start when the Buckeyes open the 2015 season against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7, depending on their health.Miller is in the process of recovering from his second labrum surgery after injuring his throwing shoulder, which held him out for the whole 2014 season. Barrett is coming off a fractured ankle suffered in late November against Michigan, and Jones is healthy, but only has three collegiate starts under his belt.Jones has gotten the most reps in the spring, and Meyer said he and redshirt-freshman Stephen Collier will be the two Buckeye signal callers playing in Saturday’s annual Spring Game at Ohio Stadium.Barrett has been less limited than expected, Meyer said, and has even had a chance to compete in two-minute situations in practice. The fourth-year OSU coach said the Wichita Falls, Texas, native has been more of an active participant because the team as a group knows how to avoid causing injuries in practice.“There’s winner-loser days where you are gonna do whatever you got to do, but then there’s a day to pull up right before something stupid happens,” Meyer said. “We monitor that real close.“If you re-injure it, he’s done for the year.”Left: Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett addresses the media Dec. 3 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Barrett had surgery for a fractured ankle on Nov. 30, and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.Credit: Tim Moody / Sports editorRight: Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones (12) carries the ball during a game against Michigan on Nov. 29 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 42-28.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorBarrett has more starting experience than Jones, but only got his shot when Miller — who has been OSU’s starter for the better part of three seasons — was injured during fall camp.Meyer said he doesn’t yet have a date for when Miller will be fully available again, but said the former Wayne High School signal caller has been evaluated by Dr. James Andrews, a surgeon who regularly operates on high-level athletes, multiple times. Meyer added that — even ahead of medical personnel — he trusts Miller’s take on his own status first and foremost.“I’ve known Braxton for a long time and almost every day, ‘How’s it going, talk to me,’” Meyer said. “And he says it’s going very well.”With three quarterbacks in three different stages of availability, Meyer said there’s no set plan for when the Buckeyes take on the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va., in less than five months.“I don’t know who our quarterback is going to be,” he said. read more