The Indiana Pacers won two elimination games in the first round against Atlanta to extend their playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. They are one more defeat from extinction, and this time the opponent is the two-time champion Miami Heat.Uh-oh.“He’s got to make a decision at some point in his life, that no matter what, we’re not going to lose this fight anymore,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, likening the Pacers to the little brother in a big-brother-little-brother scenario. “We’re at that point.”The Heat, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh leading the way, put Indiana in its unenviable position, taking Game 3 of the series 102-90 Sunday to seize a commanding 3-1 series advantage. To wit: When holding a 3-1 lead, Miami is 8-0 in Game 5s over the past four postseasons.James had 32 points and 10 rebounds and Bosh had 25 as the Heat’s championship mettle shone through.“We got outplayed by the Heat,” Vogel said. “I wasn’t disappointed in our fight. I was disappointed in the result.”Game 5 is Wednesday in Indianapolis, which offers some solace to the Pacers. But not much.“We have a chance to play an NBA game on our home floor,” Indy forward David West said. “We are going to try to do something that’s very tough.”Miami made 19 more free throws than the Pacers and never seemed seriously threatened, even as Indiana hung relatively close unit the fourth quarter. It was then that Miami’s poise and experience made the difference.“We try to get better every single day, every single game,” James said. “When you do that and go out and play the type of game that you are capable of playing, you can be satisfied with the results. And that’s what we’ve built over the years.”
Monthly Archives: September 2019
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James is leaving home again and leaving behind something he says is more meaningful than any of his NBA championships.James, who this month ended his second stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, has opened a public school for challenged children in his hometown.The NBA great admitted to having “jitters” before the opening, an event he said is “going to be one of the greatest moments — if not the greatest — of my life.”NBA star and Akron native LeBron James and his mother Gloria James, right, pose with children participating in the LeBron James Family Foundation’s Wheels for Education “Time to Promise” School Year event at Canal Park during an Akron Aeros game in Akron, Ohio. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal via AP, File)The I Promise School initially will house 240 third- and fourth-graders. The Akron school will expand each year, adding second and fifth grades next year and will have students from grades 1-8 by 2022.James was to be at the school Monday to welcome students and make his first public comments since deciding to join the Lakers.James spent 11 seasons with the Cavs, winning a title in 2016 to end Cleveland’s 52-year drought without a pro sports championship. His departure ended a four-year run with the Cavs after he returned in 2014 following four seasons with the Miami Heat.Following his eighth straight appearance in the NBA Finals, James said he was still in “championship mode” as he headed into free agency. But he’s going to a Lakers team that missed the playoffs again last season and seems years away from competing for a title in the rugged Western Conference.James was also drawn to Los Angeles by the appeal of playing for one of the league’s most storied programs and the chance to work with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president and a player James idolized since he was a kid.James also chose Los Angeles in part because it represents the next chapter in his life. He already owns homes there and he has a film production company in the city.
Before the playoffs began, the citizens of Washington, D.C., probably thought the perpetually tantalizing Capitals had a real chance of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. The Caps had just secured their third Presidents’ Trophy1The award given to the team that earns the most points during the regular season in eight years, and they were the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup. On paper at least, there were plenty of reasons to think it was finally going to be Washington’s year.Unfortunately for Washingtonians, a lot can change in three weeks. After squeaking past the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one, the Capitals now find themselves trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs for the third time in nine years. The 3-1 hole Washington faces against Pittsburgh this time around is daunting, and if the Caps have any hope for a comeback, it starts with recovering a few of their best regular-season weapons: shooting and stopping the puck with greater efficiency.Washington and Pittsburgh met in the second round twice before during the Alex Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby era, and on both occasions it ended badly for the Capitals. In 2009, the Penguins won a hard-fought, high-scoring series in seven games. The teams had been virtual equals during the regular season,2Their Simple Rating System (SRS) numbers were only 0.01 goals per game apart. and the series was either team’s to win, marked mainly by some pretty awful goaltending on both ends of the ice. Pittsburgh happened to score a few more goals in the end, and although Washington was disappointed to lose to their archrivals, it would be unfair to say the Caps choked.Washington’s second-round exit last season — again at the hands of the Penguins — was a different story, but not all that different. The series went just six games, and was defined by exquisite goaltending from both teams. But it was still a close affair: All but one of the games were decided by one goal. And although the standings and the metrics suggested that Washington was the best team in the NHL during the regular season, it wasn’t like Pittsburgh was a major underdog — they finished fourth in points and second in SRS, right behind Washington. The Capitals may have underperformed (and definitely shattered the hearts of everyone in D.C. for the umpteenth time), but they weren’t eliminated by some team that barely snuck into the playoffs, either.Of course, those aren’t the only times the Capitals have felt the sting of postseason disappointment. In 2009-10, they notched 121 points during the regular season — the second-most of any team since the 2004-05 lockout — on the strength of a dominant offense and solid goaltending before losing to a significantly worse (by almost any metric) Montreal Canadiens team in the first round of the playoffs. They’ve also been upset one other time as a 1-seed (2011) and two other times as a 3-seed (2008 and 2013). Add in the loss that might be coming this season, and the Caps will have lost nine of their 15 playoff series in the Ovechkin era.Washington isn’t done yet. But down three games to one against the Penguins, it’s time to hit the panic button in D.C. Even with their emotional overtime win in Game 3, followed by the news of Crosby’s untimely (and terrifying) head injury, the Capitals were unable to regain a grip on the series Wednesday night. If Washington is going to mount the improbable comeback, they’ll have to start playing their game again — and soon.For starters, the Capitals must remember how to shoot. Washington led the league with a shooting percentage of 10.5 percent during the regular season, but that number has dipped to 7.6 for the playoffs and just 6.3 in this series with Pittsburgh. Caps stars Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov are capitalizing on their chances, but secondary scorers such as T.J. Oshie, Marcus Johansson and all-time playoff darling Justin Williams remain goalless for the series.And efficient shooting isn’t Washington’s only problem; they’re not getting great goaltending from the traditionally impenetrable Braden Holtby, either.In 12 games last postseason, Holtby recorded nine quality starts,3Hockey-Reference.com defines a “quality start” as one in which a goalie records a save percentage greater than or equal to the league average for the season. If a goalie faces 20 shots or fewer, he must record a comparatively lower 88.5 percent save percentage for the start to be considered “quality.” an excellent rate for the postseason. In 10 playoff games this year, he’s recorded just four quality starts. His career quality start percentage for the playoffs is 69; this season, that number is only 44.4Of Holtby’s 10 appearances, he only started nine of them. It’s hard to record quality starts if you can’t keep the puck out of the net, and Holtby hasn’t been very good at doing that this postseason. His save percentage for these playoffs is .909 — the lowest of his career by a wide margin — and a miserable .867 for the series against the Penguins.Save percentage is notoriously unstable, particularly in the small sample of the postseason. But this just adds to Washington’s snakebit legacy: Holtby came into the Pittsburgh series with the best playoff save percentage in the history of the NHL (among goalies with at least 20 career playoff appearances since the 1954-55 season),5He’s currently tied for first with former Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas. only to transform into a sieve against the Penguins.To be sure, it’s not all Washington’s — or Holtby’s — fault. Everything seems to be going right for Pittsburgh, too. Through four games, the Penguins are scoring on an insane 15.1 percent of the shots they’re taking — compare that to the 7.7 percent shooting mark they had in last year’s second-round matchup against Washington.6They also scored on 12.3 percent of their shots in the first round against Columbus. They’ve gotten multiple goals from both established stars (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel) and playoff wunderkinds (Jake Guentzel) alike. Between the pipes, the experienced-but-mediocre Marc-Andre Fleury — whose career playoff save percentage of .909 barely cracks the top 60 among goalies who’ve played in at least 20 games, and who lost his job to a rookie last postseason (and therefore didn’t play a minute against the Capitals a year ago) — has saved 93.7 percent of the shots he’s faced so far.7In terms of save percentage, Fleury is having his best postseason of his career. Apparently, the Penguins just really enjoy beating the Capitals in the second round of the playoffs — each of the last two times they’ve done so, they’ve gone on to win the Stanley Cup.Earlier this year, I wrote that the Capitals were lucky because they’re good. Which is to say, they had the best PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) in the league not just because of fluke performances but also because their skaters have a proven knack for shooting the puck with great efficiency and their goalies had a great track record of stopping the puck. But hardly any of that has been on display against the Pens thus far. Maybe they were luckier than we thought all along.Either way, if the Capitals can’t relocate what made them great during the regular season, they’ll be trading their hockey bags for beach bags within the week.
The Golden State Warriors and their fans are (rightly) focused on celebrating a championship right now. But with their 105-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Warriors put the finishing touches on a run that was no ordinary title-winning season. The Warriors’ 2014-15 campaign should go down as one of the greatest single seasons in league history.Golden State’s journey started with the unrealized potential of previous years. The 2013 team overachieved under second-year head coach Mark Jackson, but an ousting in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and a lack of harmony between Jackson and management sent Golden State looking for new leadership going into this season. After Steve Kerr spurned the New York Knicks1In retrospect, an outstanding decision! to take the Warriors coaching job and the smoke cleared on the rest of the offseason’s transactions, our numbers said the Warriors had the most talented team in basketball.But our crystal ball didn’t foresee how dominant the Warriors would be. During the regular season, Golden State crushed their competition in a way that hadn’t been seen since the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Golden State won 67 games, tied for the sixth-most in league history, and its schedule-adjusted points-per-game margin (as measured by Basketball-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System, also known as SRS) ranked seventh all-time. The team became just the fourth in NBA history to outperform the league average by 6 points of efficiency on one side of the ball — in the Warriors’ case, offense — and by 4 points on the other. Moreover, the team’s Elo rating at the end of the regular season was second only to that of the record-setting 1996 Bulls.After those 67 wins, though, there were lingering concerns about Golden State’s ability to win in the postseason.Unlike other dominating squads from the past, the Warriors were relative greenhorns on the postseason stage — in a sport in which playoff experience does seem to have a tangible effect. Their 288 dynasty points2A measure of playoff experience. over the preceding five seasons3Leading up to 2015. were the fewest ever by a team with an SRS of +8 or better and tied the 2014 Clippers for the second-fewest by a +6.5 SRS team. Out of the 95 historical teams with anywhere near as much regular-season success as the Warriors had in 2014-15, Golden State owned (at best) the fourth-worst postseason pedigree over the half-decade beforehand.Relatedly, while the Warriors dominated our power ratings all season long, their talent level was less proven than that of their stronger peers atop the all-time SRS list. For instance, while the aggregated multiyear Statistical Plus/Minus talent projection was an absurd +10.9 for members of the 1996 Bulls, +10.4 for the 1997 Bulls and +9.2 for the 1992 Bulls, Golden State’s +7.5 rating was more akin to the 2009 Cavaliers’ +7.1 mark. Simply put, the Warriors hadn’t been good enough for long enough to generate a higher talent rating, which might also suggest the potential for postseason regression.Not to mention that the Warriors also played a fast-paced, 3-point heavy style that traditionalists were still not convinced could win an NBA championship. While there’s little evidence that such a team is more prone to slumps, no team that led the league in pace had won a title since the 1972 Lakers, and no team had ever won after using more than 29 percent of their field-goal attempts on 3-pointers. The NBA’s conventional wisdom was that those types of teams couldn’t win a title because their supposedly gimmicky strengths would surely abandon them when the pressure was on.The Warriors hopefully put those myths to rest with a championship run that counts among the best of the past three decades. It wasn’t without its moments of concern. Golden State trailed 2 games to 1 against both Memphis and Cleveland. But on the whole, the Warriors’ postseason performance ranks eighth among champions since 1984 after accounting for their scoring margin, the SRS ratings of their opponents and the location and leverage index of each game:If we don’t adjust for leverage and therefore have the ability to measure playoff SRS going back to 1950, Golden State’s 2015 title run ranks 16th among all 66 NBA champions in that span. By that measure, the Warriors might not pass the 1971 Bucks or 1996 Bulls — both of whom followed up the two best regular seasons of all time by SRS with two of the three best playoff runs ever4The other belongs to the inconsistent 2001 Lakers. — on the list of best single-season teams ever, and it might even open up the door for the 1986 Celtics to slip ahead of them on the basis of a superior postseason performance.(Although, it’s worth noting that Golden State wrapped up the playoffs with the second-highest Elo rating on record and that they played in a league with nearly twice as many teams as Milwaukee did in 1971. But I digress.)Half the fun of these GOAT arguments is splitting hairs with different stats, but the most important thing to realize is that these Warriors firmly belong in that conversation. This might be the start of something even bigger for the franchise, or it could be a stand-alone championship. But for at least one season, we just witnessed a team that could legitimately be compared to Jordan’s Bulls, with hardly any hyperbole necessary.For fans of basketball history on this championship morning-after, that’s worth appreciating and celebrating.
YEARPLAYERR1R2R3R4WEEKENDTOTAL Spieth isn’t the first golfer to experience an unceremonious meltdown on Sunday at a major championship; YouTube is littered with the bones of players snatching ignominy from the jaws of victory. That doesn’t make it any less jarring to see a player as good as Spieth, leading by 5 midway through the Masters’ final round, fresh off of one of the greatest seasons at the majors in modern history last year, fall apart in such spectacular fashion. And that he was beaten by Danny Willett, who had just one career top-10 finish at a major before this week, made Spieth’s defeat all the more stunning.In measuring Spieth’s performance in majors last year, I used “major shares,” a statistic that estimates how many majors a player would have been expected to win given his scoring relative to the field average in past majors. Fractional “shares” of wins accumulate over time for good players; the number is nailed right around zero for the also-rans. Going into the Masters, Spieth had 1.48 career major shares,1A few notes, since I tweaked the methodology a bit since last season: Instead of using z-scores, I’m now basing major shares on a player’s strokes above the field average in a tournament. (Research by Daniel Myers shows that converting those to z-scores needlessly adds statistical noise to a player’s rating.) I also listed two versions of major shares last season — one that adjusts for other performances in the field, one that does not — and I’ve averaged those together here. the 10th-most of any active player; Willett, on the other hand, had 0.01 major shares. That difference, 1.47 major shares, was the 17th-biggest disparity in résumés between a major’s third-round leader and the player who eventually overtook him since 1958.2Out of the 139 instances in that span where the leader after three rounds didn’t go on to win the major. In other words, there have been less likely candidates to come from behind, but not many. 1987MastersBen Crenshaw1.84Larry Mize0.021.81 1965Jack Nicklaus+4.1+2.9+9.1+4.6+13.7+20.7 1967Gay Brewer+0.6+5.1+1.7+7.2+8.9+14.6 2016MastersJordan Spieth1.48Danny Willett0.011.47 1971MastersJack Nicklaus7.29Charles Coody0.097.20 1990Nick Faldo+1.1+0.9+6.6+4.2+10.8+12.8 1973Tommy Aaron+6.0-0.5+0.2+6.1+6.3+11.8 1993PGAGreg Norman2.92Paul Azinger0.482.43 The quality (or lack thereof) with which Spieth hit the ball at the 12th hole was shocking, but Willett’s weekend charge was also pretty historic. It took a combination of the two to generate a Green Jacket ceremony this awkward: 2006U.S.Phil Mickelson3.45Geoff Ogilvy0.033.43 1984BritishTom Watson5.33Seve Ballesteros2.053.28 Biggest major upsets since 1958 1996Nick Faldo+2.1+4.8+0.8+6.7+7.5+14.3 LEADER THROUGH 3 RDSEVENTUAL WINNER 1986Jack Nicklaus-0.6+1.3+2.0+7.0+9.0+9.7 Best weekend performances at Augusta, 1958-2016 1990MastersRaymond Floyd2.66Nick Faldo1.051.61 1987U.S.Tom Watson5.48Scott Simpson0.045.44 1994Jose Maria Olazabal-0.8+5.0+5.4+4.9+10.3+14.5 2013U.S.Phil Mickelson4.58Justin Rose0.244.34 Few sports offer as much potential for dramatic, heartbreaking collapse as golf. Jordan Spieth learned as much on Sunday: 1989MastersBen Crenshaw2.09Nick Faldo0.851.24 2010Phil Mickelson+3.9+1.5+5.6+4.9+10.5+16.0 SourceS: ESPN, Yahoo 2008BritishGreg Norman3.45P. Harrington0.343.12 1977BritishJack Nicklaus12.50Tom Watson0.8511.65 YEARPLAYERR1R2R3R4WEEKENDTOTAL 2016Danny Willett+2.3-0.3+3.7+5.7+9.4+11.5 2005Tiger Woods-1.2+6.2+7.2+2.2+9.4+14.4 Considering Spieth’s immense potential, the difference between the two golfers would likely have been even higher if Willett had pulled this upset later in Spieth’s career. Spieth is no Tiger Woods, but before Sunday, he’d developed a reputation for steadiness, particularly in majors. After he birdied the ninth hole on Sunday to go up 5 strokes, a third major — and second Green Jacket — in the span of 12 months seemed imminent. (Ken Pomeroy — who maintains a golf win probability feed on Twitter in addition to his indispensable college basketball stats site — gave Spieth a 92 percent chance of winning at that point.) Then, a pair of bogeys to give a few strokes back. Then, quadruple-bogey.But epic collapses such as Spieth’s are often accompanied by incredible comebacks. And for all the water-cooler chatter about Spieth’s disastrous final trip through Augusta’s back nine, Willett also had to play tremendous golf over the weekend, particularly on Sunday. In the final 36 holes of the tournament, Willett outplayed the field average by 9.4 strokes, the ninth-best weekend enjoyed by any Masters winner since 1958. And 5.7 of those strokes were gained against the field in Round 4 alone, representing the eighth-best final round performance by a winner since ’58. STROKES GAINED AGAINST FIELD 1985Bernhard Langer+1.2-1.3+6.0+4.8+10.8+10.6 Best Sundays at Augusta, 1958-2016 YEARMAJORPLAYERMAJOR SHARESPLAYERMAJOR SHARESDIFF 1983U.S.Tom Watson4.44Larry Nelson0.703.73 2016Danny Willett+2.3-0.3+3.7+5.7+9.4+11.5 1997Tiger Woods+3.7+5.8+7.2+4.2+11.5+21.0 1986PGAGreg Norman1.60Bob Tway0.021.58 STROKES GAINED AGAINST FIELD 1978Gary Player+1.2-0.4+3.1+8.2+11.3+12.1 1985MastersRaymond Floyd2.22Bernhard Langer0.251.97 2012U.S.Jim Furyk1.25Webb Simpson0.001.25 1978PGATom Watson1.78John Mahaffey0.531.25 1995U.S.Greg Norman3.23Corey Pavin0.242.99 1978Gary Player+1.2-0.4+3.1+8.2+11.3+12.1 2009BritishTom Watson5.98Stewart Cink0.375.61 2011Charl Schwartzel+2.0-0.5+4.1+5.7+9.8+11.3 1959Art Wall+0.8-1.6+1.8+7.4+9.2+8.4 2011Charl Schwartzel+2.0-0.5+4.1+5.7+9.8+11.3 1995Ben Crenshaw+0.7+3.5+2.3+5.3+7.7+11.9 2009PGATiger Woods10.85Y.E. Yang0.0010.85 1989Nick Faldo+5.3+1.3-2.9+6.7+3.8+10.3
Tonight’s NFC North showdown between Minnesota (2-2) and Chicago (1-3) will mark a potentially historic moment for the Bears as quarterback-of-the-future Mitch Trubisky will officially take the reins of the reeling franchise. But how much can we expect from the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft? Watch the video above to find out.
OSU coach Thad Matta has never started 0-4 in the Big Ten. Credit: Tino Bovenzi | For The LanternThad Matta has not been in this situation before in his 13-year tenure at Ohio State. The Buckeyes currently sit at 0-3 in the Big Ten, 10-6 overall, and in danger of falling to 0-6 in conference play with its next three games against three of teams at the top of the conference standings.However, that didn’t stop redshirt junior guard Kam Williams from entering Wednesday’s press conference laughing and joking with freshman forward Andre Wesson.“There’s a lot of season left,” Williams said. “Just because we lost three games don’t mean I’m not going to have a smile on my face. We just got to keep playing.”OSU lost one of its leaders on the court last week in junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, who underwent surgery on Tuesday for a stress fracture to his shin. At 6-foot-7 and having a wingspan of more than 7 feet, Bates-Diop was a primary influence on the glass and in post defense. On offense, he was one of the primary scoring options for the Buckeyes. He averaged 9.7 points per game this season.OSU lost a narrow game to Purdue last week at home, 76-75. Then the Buckeyes went on the road to streaking Minnesota, losing by 10. Both Purdue and Minnesota are currently ranked in the top 25.In its three conference games, OSU has allowed an average of 76.3 points per game, compared to 63 during nonconference play. OSU has relied on its defense for most of the season to get stops when the offense struggles to execute in the half court. In those three Big Ten matchups thus far, OSU has been able to do that, but that’s after the team finds itself in a double-digit hole. OSU was down 15 at Illinois, 10 to Purdue and 18 at Minnesota.OSU coach Thad Matta said the biggest thing he’s after is seeing improvement from his players in the thinking component of the game. In a way to expedite that process, Matta estimated that he has had the team work on situational execution this year more than any of his years of coaching combined.“We got to stop putting ourselves in these positions,” Matta said. “We got to find a way not to dig ourselves in that hole, if at all possible.”WisconsinThe Wisconsin Badgers, led by seniors Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, and sophomore Ethan Happ host the Buckeyes in the Kohl Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The Badgers were looked at as a possible Final Four team in the preseason. Since then, coach Greg Gard’s team has fluttered in a few games and looked dominant in others, including wins over Indiana and Syracuse. Wisconsin currently doesn’t own a win against a top-25 team. The Badgers return all five of their starters from the 2015-16 season. Seniors Vitto Brown and Hayes are both from northwest Ohio. Wisconsin is ranked 11th in the KenPom rankings and 17th in adjusted defense with an estimated 92.8 points allowed per 100 possessions.OSU ranks 85th in adjusted offense (points per 100 possessions).Hayes was named the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year, but he isn’t alone in dominating on both ends of the court. Koenig, at point guard, averages 14 points per game, while Happ, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, puts up 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest.“They got inside, outside — just a solid basketball team, just in terms of, if you make a mistake, they will make you pay with a 3,” Matta said. “Then defensively, you gotta make shots up there.”Williams is OSU’s best 3-point threat on a team that ranks 244th in the country at shooting the ball from deep. He struggled against Minnesota, shooting 1 for 10 from the field. Matta said that he is not as worried as the fan base because of the tough stretch to start the conference slate. But make no mistake about it, it’s time to go for OSU.“We know once we get locked in, and once we get engaged and start doing things with force and aggression and have that attack mentality, we’re pretty tough to stop,” Williams said. “We just got to find a way to keep that going for a full game.”
In Ohio State’s loss to Southern Cal last night, the theme seemed to be missed opportunity.“Our kids prepared extremely hard and played extremely hard and we just didn’t come up with enough of the things you need to do to win a ball game like that,” coach Jim Tressel said. “You need to score more than five points in the second half and they came up with plays on that last drive when they needed to and so they go home with the spoils.”OSU led the game 15-10 late in the fourth quarter, but gave up a hard-earned touchdown and two-point conversion in the last minute of play.Despite bouncing back from an early interception thrown by Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State was unable to take advantage of their opportunities on offense to win the big game.Pyror vs. Barkley, who stood up in the pressure?Leading up to the game, there was a lot of talk about how USC’s freshman quarterback Matt Barkley was going to handle the pressure of the atmosphere in a stadium like the ‘Shoe. Turns out, it was a record-breaking crowd of 106,033 fans in Ohio Stadium and Barkley seemed to handle just fine.Pryor, on the other hand, really wasn’t playing his game last night. The sophomore, who played a significant amount of last year’s game in southern California, gave up a quick interception on the first drive, which USC returned for a touchdown to lead early.At halftime, Pryor had thrown for 123 yards, leading Barkley, who had thrown for 105 yards. But in the second half, Pryor was virtually shut down and added only 54 yards to Barkley’s 90.Pryor was 11 for 25 with one interception and one sack; Barkley was 15 for 31 with one interception and two sacks. Pryor really didn’t stand out against Barkley the way that a veteran should on his own turf.“I think those two young quarterbacks played against two good defenses and those few good defenses brought a lot of pressure and I’m sure that both of them will learn a lot from the experience and that was a tough ball game, especially if you were a quarterback,” Tressel said.Red zone deficientWhile Ohio State isn’t exactly red zone deficient, they certainly make it there, but they just can’t capitalize on position.The Buckeyes had more than half their points come from outside of the end zone, with two field goals from Aaron Pettrey and a safety half way through the third quarter.The Bucks also struggled getting first downs. They had five first downs in the first quarter and then only five more the rest of the game. The offense had terrible trouble converting on important plays. The Buckeyes were four of 13 for third-down conversions.“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities that the defense gave us,” said Jake Ballard, senior tight end and fourth Buckeye captain. “We just kept getting three and out. And you can’t do that when you get the ball.”Running game was missingIt has been no secret that USC has one of the deepest and most talented running back depth charts in college football, but with their performance last week, Dan Herron and Brandon Saine were expected to produce much more than they did last night.Herron carried the ball 18 times for 46 yards and a touchdown, while Saine carried the ball just once throughout the entire game, gaining two yrads. Pryor was OSU’s second highest rusher with a net gain of 36 yards on 10 carries. Kick returner Lamaar Thomas made a rare appearance in the backfield and ran for six yards in the fourth quarter.USC out-ran Ohio State 118 yards to 88.Defense stands strong despite lossOne positive that did come out of the game, was that the Ohio State defense really stepped up. The defensive line played an excellent game against the Trojans.“Our defense played extremely had and they came up with plays, they got us a turnover near mid-field and we didn’t cash in on it at all,” Tressel said. “They just kept playing, and I thought the punt unit did a great job of setting up good field position down in there and our defense made it ahrd for them to drive over the course of the game and they played hard, there’s no doubt.”The defensive tackles, captain Doug Worthington and Todd Denlinger combined for six tackles and a tackle-for-loss of four yards. Linebackers Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Austin Spitler combined for 22 tackles, while Devon Torrence and Cameron Heyward both added sacks to the defensive statistics.“I’m really just physically drained and I know this whole team is just physically drained,” said senior captain Kurt Coleman, who added five tackles of his own. “We worked so hard and it’s just toughâ€¦we knew the ball was going to be in our court and we had to stop them on that last drive and we knew that and it’s just tough, man, I don’t know, it’s tough.”How do we bounce back and win the Big Ten?With a loss under their belts, it is now critical for Ohio State to win their conference. With a big game on the road against Penn State, and several tough games at home, how are the Buckeyes going to get themselves ready to take on the Big Ten?Spitler said that this was obviously a tough loss for the Buckeyes but that they can’t let that get them down.“Have to bound back, tough, and understand that we played a heck of a team and we’ve got a bright future,” Spitler said.Coleman said that he personally, and the team, still have a lot to strive for in the rest of the season and that this loss doesn’t mean the end of their season.“The best thing about this is it’s a nonconference game and we still have things to strive for and things we want to accomplish in the season. We want to win the Big Ten, so we have to regroup and we have to rebound from this,” Coleman said. “We cannot let this affect us at all. So me, myself, and I know the senior are going to really get everybody’s focus back because Toledo’s going to be a tough opponent, so we have to just regroup and get back to the drawing board and get after it.”
Get the name engraver ready — 11 former Buckeyes have been selected to join the Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Four football players head the 2011 Hall of Fame class, two who starred on teams in the last 20 years and two more whose playing days were decades earlier. Offensive lineman Orlando Pace and defensive back Mike Doss played in the modern era, and will join Leo Raskowski and Bobby Watkins, who donned scarlet and gray from 1926–28 and 1952–54, respectively. Raskowski, a tackle for OSU, was a two-time All-American and a two-time All Big Ten selection. Watkins, a running back and four-year letterman for the Buckeyes, was one of the first African-American running backs in program history. Watkins led the Buckeyes in scoring during both the 1953 and 1954 campaigns, and helped lead the Buckeyes to the 1954 national championship. Pace, who played at OSU from 1994–96, started every game during the seasons between 1994–96 and was a two-time first-team American. Pace helped OSU to a 20–17 win over Arizona State in the 1997 Rose Bowl. Doss attended OSU from 1999–2002 and earned three first team All-American selections. Doss was also named Defensive MVP of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl where the Buckeyes claimed the consensus national championship. The class of 2011 also includes female rower Diana “Didi” Albrecht, men’s gymnast Raj Bhavsar, wrestler Mitch Clark, track and field athlete Katy Craig, pistol competitor Jessica Marshall, women’s golfer Kristen White and softball’s Stacy Roth. “The 11 members of this year’s class are another great addition to the athletics hall of fame,” senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator Miechelle Willis said. “We are proud of all they have accomplished in their respective sports as they join an impressive group of outstanding individuals who have set the bar high for Ohio State student-athletes.” The induction ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 9. Inductees will also be introduced on Sept. 10 at halftime of the OSU football game against Toledo at Ohio Stadium.
Senior defenseman Sara Schmitt (22) attempts a shot on goal during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 at the OSU Ice Rink. OSU lost, 5-3. Credit: Ed Momot / For The LanternThe Ohio State women’s hockey team will try to put an end to its three-game losing streak as the Buckeyes prepare for a weekend series against the University of North Dakota.The Buckeyes (7-6-0, 5-5-0) hit the road this weekend to play UND (5-7-1, 3-6-1) in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association battle.Last weekend, the Buckeyes dropped two games to No. 2 Minnesota to extend their losing streak to three. OSU coach Nate Handrahan said despite the team’s inability to pull out a win in those three games, its energy and morale hasn’t changed.“We did a lot of good things inside those games against very good teams,” he said. “We need to make some adjustments but the players have done a good job of getting back to work.”One thing that Handrahan has consistently worked on this season with his team is specialty situations and special teams play. This weekend, all of that practice will be put to the test.So far this season, UND is undefeated when scoring on the power play.“Coach really stressed in practice this week, being active and knowing their personnel,” OSU senior forward Taylor Kuehl said. “They have a couple great shooters that can really hit one-timers. Coach stressed knowing who is on the ice.”Senior captain Sara Schmitt said, as a defensive player, killing the power play is something she has focused on personally.“Just working on blocking shots and reading the play,” Schmitt said. “We have to clear the puck whenever we have the chance.”UND coach Brian Idalski said that Schmitt is a key player for the Buckeyes both defensively and offensively.“Defensively (OSU is) very strong, the Schmitt girls are terrific. In fact one of them (Sara Schmitt) is leading the team in scoring,” Idalski said during a Wednesday press conference. “Very aggressive fore-check. They are going to work hard all over the ice, a lot of physical battles. It’s going to be a grind.”Schmitt’s sister — Kari — is also a senior defenseman for OSU.Even though the Buckeyes excel in their defensive play, Kuehl said there is still work to be done offensively.“We’ve struggled scoring goals. For offense we are still looking for production and chemistry between lines,” Kuehl said. “We’ve changed lines quite a bit this season and we are trying to find who works well together to create something specific, like aggressive lines or more skilled lines.”One thing UND is set to have to their advantage for the series is their home ice support. Attendance at UND women’s hockey games is ranked third this season, while OSU is ranked 20th, according to U.S. College Hockey Online. UND averages an attendance of more than 1,314 where OSU averages an attendance of around 300.Both Schmitt and Kuehl said that being seniors, they are use to stepping on the ice and having fans root against them. Kuehl said there is something about it that she actually likes.“I think its fun playing in an atmosphere with a bunch of fans against us,” Kuehl said. “It’s a goal of ours to take the energy from them, play our game and take the crowd from them.”The series between the teams is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at in Grand Forks, N.D. Friday’s game is set for an 8:07 p.m. start, with Saturday’s set to begin at 5:07 p.m.