It’s a cliche: Every game counts in a league that plays just 16 of them. But Benjamin Morris’s findings in his debut Skeptical Football column were nevertheless striking: A Week 1 or Week 2 game can affect an NFL team’s chances of making the playoffs by as much as 20 or 30 percent.We also see that reflected in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo ratings playoff odds, a feature we debuted last week.What are Elo ratings? The short version: Elo ratings are a simple mathematical system originally designed to rate chess players. They’ve since been adapted to a number of sports such as soccer, and we’ve adapted them to the NFL. The Elo ratings only account for fairly basic information like wins and losses, strength of schedule and margin of victory. There are more advanced systems out there, but Elo ratings are transparent, easy to calculate and we can do a lot of fun stuff with them, like simulating the rest of the season and calculating playoff odds. For more on the methodology, see here.In our Week 1 ratings — which were based on a team’s Elo rating at the end of last season — the New England Patriots had a 73 percent chance of making the playoffs and the Miami Dolphins had just a 32 percent chance. But the Dolphins upset the Patriots, and now it’s almost even: New England is at 54 percent to make the playoffs and Miami at 50 percent.Why such a big shift? Well, every game counts (especially a divisional game; our simulation accounts for playoff tiebreakers). But also, the Patriots now look slightly worse than Elo originally pegged them, and the Dolphins look slightly better. Before Week 1, Miami had projected to win 7.7 games; it now projects to win 9.1. In other words, one NFL win for the Dolphins was worth more than one win in the Elo standings because Miami’s Elo rating improved.Here are the latest Elo ratings and playoff odds for all 32 teams:A few other comments:The teams with the largest gains on the week, in addition to the Dolphins, were the Minnesota Vikings, who gained 46 Elo points after demolishing the St. Louis Rams, and the Tennessee Titans, who added 38 Elo points after beating the Kansas City Chiefs. Both Minnesota and Tennessee are now better than even money to make the playoffs; the Titans are helped by playing in the league’s weakest division (although the NFC East might have something to say about that).It’s early, but perhaps we’re seeing the emergence of a Big Three. The Seattle Seahawks are the most likely team to win the Super Bowl, at 16 percent, followed by the San Francisco 49ers at 13 percent and the Denver Broncos at 11 percent. Then there’s a fairly big drop to the Carolina Panthers at 7 percent.Meanwhile, in the it’s-already-time-to-panic department, the Chiefs project to just a 6-10 record and have only a 13 percent chance of making the playoffs.Elo ratings can also be used to derive point spreads. We strongly advise that you don’t bet on these, at least not without considering a lot of other information — Vegas betting lines are too sophisticated to be beaten by a simple system like Elo. Still, it’s fun to track their progress. Last week, they went 8-8 against point spreads as listed at Pro-Football-Reference.com.There are some funky matchups this week. Elo has the Vikings at almost even money at home against New England, while Vegas has the Patriots as 3-point favorites. Another point of disagreement is Seattle at San Diego; Vegas has the Seahawks as 6-point favorites — a lot on the road against a playoff team. Elo thinks they should be favored over the Chargers by a field goal instead.
Last Tuesday, I crunched some numbers on which NCAA men’s tournament coaches exceeded expectations the most since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1985, based on their teams’ seeds at the start of the tournament. Perhaps not surprisingly, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo ruled all, with his Spartans winning 14.6 more games than would be expected based on the way they were seeded. And after Izzo won two more games over the weekend to secure the Spartans’ seventh Final Four bid under his watch, we thought we’d update the numbers1With a slight tweak to the SRS adjustment that forces the sum of each tournament’s field-wide expected wins to equal 63. to reflect the latest results.Izzo is still No. 1 of course, with 16.2 wins above expectation now (after adding in his two wins over the weekend, plus Michigan State’s expected future wins according to the FiveThirtyEight tournament predictions), while the coach he beat in the East Regional final, Rick Pitino, ranks second since ’85.Two of Izzo’s fellow Final Four coaches also rank among the top 10. John Calipari of Kentucky (whom the Spartans could face for the national championship in a week) places third. And Mike Krzyzewski, whose Duke Blue Devils will play Michigan State on Saturday, ranks 10th. Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan may seem like the odd man out, but Ryan’s teams have still exceeded expectations — though only by 2.7 wins over his career, which ranks 31st since 1985.
The Americans will be looking to match the Germans better than they did in 2002, which will be difficult against a German offense that is the second-strongest in the tournament (with a 3.2 SPI offensive score). At a minimum, a draw would send the Americans to the knockout stage, so a 0-0 scoreline will suffice. But the Germans are a full goal ahead of the Americans in projected goals for this match (2.1 to 0.9, to be exact), so shutting them out won’t be easy.There are no players left on the American roster who played in that 2002 game, but the U.S. is equipped with a roster full of German-Americans. Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones and Timmy Chandler are all of German-American descent, which perhaps isn’t very surprising given head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s German roots. Johnson and Jones spent time on Germany’s youth national teams, and four U.S. players (Chandler, Green, Brooks and Johnson) currently play in the Bundesliga. All of this to say that there might be even more at stake on Thursday for some of these players than the numbers suggest.YESTERDAYThe Argentina-Nigeria game started with a flourish, as Lionel Messi’s third-minute opener was matched by Ahmed Musa’s fourth-minute equalizer. It was the first time in World Cup history that both teams scored within the first five minutes of a match. And to follow it up, in the second half, Musa scored in the 47th minute and Marcos Rojo the 50th.Messi’s opening goal was the first conceded by Nigeria; entering the match, the Super Eagles were the only team that had not allowed a goal in this year’s tournament. Messi’s second goal came from a free kick, something and somewhere commonplace for him but rare for Argentina in the World Cup. Messi has scored three of his five career World Cup goals from outside the penalty area, and his nine free kick goals over the past four La Liga seasons are second only to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 13. But it was Argentina’s first free kick goal in the World Cup since 1982.Messi’s second goal gave Argentina the lead just before halftime, essentially guaranteeing La Albiceleste the win. Argentina is now 28-1-0 in World Cup matches when leading at half, with its single loss coming in the 1930 final to Uruguay. Messi also became the third player at this year’s tournament with a multi-goal first half (Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri later became the fourth), something that no player managed in the 2010 tournament.Although Nigeria lost, it became the first African team to advance to the knockout stage for a third time. Musa’s brace was the first for Nigeria in its World Cup history, and Nigeria passed Cameroon for the most goals by an African nation in the World Cup. France and Ecuador played to a scoreless draw, good enough for France to win Group E. The French had the advantage throughout the match, finishing with 242 touches in the attacking third compared to 57 for Ecuador. But France was held scoreless in large part thanks to Ecuadorian goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, whose nine saves are tied for the most in a match this tournament. He leads all players with 18 total saves.The Swiss finished second in Group E , thanks to a hat trick from Shaqiri — the first by a Swiss player in the World Cup since Josef “Seppe” Hugi in 1954. The game also marked the first time Switzerland scored three goals in a World Cup match since 1994. — Jacob Nitzberg, senior stats analyst for ESPNOFF THE PITCHThe United States and Germany have an interesting historical relationship, to say the least. The strong ties between the world powers are well known, despite recent hiccups, such as the revelation that the American National Security Agency had been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germans and Americans also often visit each other’s countries and even migrate between them. According to the OECD International Migration Database, 20,149 American nationals migrated to Germany in 2011, and 6,125 German nationals moved in the other direction. This may seem like a big disparity, but when adjusted for total population, just about .001 percent more Germans per capita migrated to the U.S. than the other way around. Cross-tourism data shows a similar relationship. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that 1.88 million Germans visited the United States in 2012, while the German National Tourist Board shows that 4.85 million Americans spent time in Germany the same year. — Hayley MunguiaFURTHER READINGIt’s Judgment Day in World Cup Groups G and HWas the U.S. Robbed Against Portugal? It Depends on What Time MeansHome or Away: Where Does the Future Lie for the USMNT and American Soccer?CORRECTION (June 26, 10:21 a.m.): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Landon Donovan would have been the only returning player on the U.S. team this year from the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. Demarcus Beasley is on the current roster and was on the 2002 team, but didn’t play in that quarterfinals match.CORRECTION (June 26, 10:58 a.m.): Previously, this story mistakenly said that any two teams from Group G could move on to the next round of the tournament. While any one team can still advance, there is one combination of two teams — Ghana and Portugal — that cannot advance together. As if you needed any data to tell you why you should watch Thursday’s U.S. vs. Germany game (and the Portugal vs. Ghana match, if you’ve got a split-screen setup), but we’re going to give it to you anyway.U.S. vs. Germany 12 p.m. EDTPortugal vs. Ghana 12 p.m. EDTAlgeria vs. Russia 4 p.m. EDTSouth Korea vs. Belgium 4 p.m. EDTIN BRIEFSee our World Cup predictions for the latest probabilities.IN DEPTHGroup G has shaped up to be one of the most exciting yet-to-be-decided groups of the tournament — as it stands, no team is mathematically guaranteed to advance (though Germany is very close at 99.7 percent). The are a huge number of possible outcomes of Thursday’s matches, and any team can technically still advance to the next stage of the tournament.If the uncertainty of Group G isn’t enough to make you tune in, the level of play we’re expecting to see between the U.S. and Germany should; the teams’ combined Soccer Power Index scores is higher than that of any two teams playing Thursday. Although the odds are heavily favored for Germany (63.4 percent to the U.S.’s 14.8 percent), we don’t expect this game to be a blowout (see Belgium vs. South Korea for that).In their last meeting, a June 2013 friendly, the U.S. beat Germany 4-3. But friendlies are friendlies; the teams’ last competitive encounter was at the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, when the Germans edged the Americans 1-0 in what is considered one of the best U.S. performances at any World Cup. (The U.S. did reach the semifinals at the inaugural 1930 World Cup.)
OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) drives to the hoop during a game against Northwestern on Jan. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorAs the sunset fell on the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina in November 2012, the rays radiating into the faces of the Ohio State and Notre Dame women’s basketball players during the Carrier Classic, then-freshman guard Ameryst Alston lined up on the charity stripe for the first time in her collegiate career.After a couple of warmup dribbles to get a feel of the leather ball, Alston hit nothing but nylon to score her first point sporting the scarlet and gray.The first-year player would finish the game only scoring three points in the 21 minutes that she played, but, as the season progressed, Alston created a name for herself in the Buckeye rotation. Eventually, she would become one of the more pivotal players in the program’s history.Fast forward three years, 12 weeks and three days, and there was just under 1:30 to play in the third quarter in the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The No. 7 ranked Buckeyes were leading the Iowa Hawkeyes at their home gym, 76-59. As the clock ticked down, Alston, now a senior, made a stutter-step move from the right wing toward the basket, dribbling to the opposite side of the cylinder, where she pulled up and connected on a short jumper. Usually, a late-game score to put a team up 19 points like Alston’s would be nothing but a trifling tally on a box score. Except that pull-up jumper was not usual — it was historic. With the make, Alston surpassed the 2,000-point scoring mark, making her only the sixth OSU women’s basketball player to achieve the milestone. Instead of cracking an immediate smile and having play stop to send the ball over to the bench to celebrate an archival moment of her career, Alston did what she had done after scoring all the other 1,998 points over the past four years: hustle down to the other end of the court to play defense.That is just who Alston is: a selfless player who is obsessed with earning team accomplishments instead of impressive individual accolades. “I’m really close with her, and I didn’t even know she was close to 2,000 points,” senior guard and four-year teammate Cait Craft said. “She never spoke about it, and even when she scored her 1,000th, I had no idea it was coming.”Alston was solely a role player when she came onto the scene in Columbus. It wasn’t necessarily her fault, though, as it was just because of all the talent that the Buckeyes had at the time, including Tayler Hill (who Alston just passed on the scoring list) and Amber Stokes, both of whom would go on to sign professional contracts.OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) dribbles the ball during a game against Northwestern on Jan. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorAt the time, Jim Foster was at the helm of the OSU program, but he would be relieved from the position for a lack of postseason victories.The program then turned to former Washington coach Kevin McGuff in April 2013 for guidance.Upon arrival in Ohio’s capital city, McGuff said he was comforted by the fact that he was inheriting a talent like Alston, who was only going to be heading into her sophomore year.“When I got here I was obviously excited to have her in the program,” McGuff said. “I knew she could be a big piece of (OSU) kind of rebuilding the program, and she has certainly been that.”In McGuff’s first year as coach, Alston had a remarkable sophomore campaign, receiving a first-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and the media. She scored 19 points per game and also led the team with 112 total assists. Coming into her junior year, the Buckeyes were able to pick up a couple of premier recruits and transfers, including McDonald’s All-American and the nation’s leading high school scorer in 2014-15, Kelsey Mitchell. The influx of improving talent might have created a feeling of anxiety for a player who wanted to be the face of a program. For Alston, this was not so. “She was our main scorer and our go-to person our sophomore year, and then last year we had a bunch of young talent come in, and that never really bothered her,” Craft said. “It wasn’t just all on her anymore. There were other people to help her, but she took it in stride and she understood that was what was best for the team.”As a junior, Alston finished the year with 694 points, averaging 19.8 points per game and earning another All-Big Ten selection. She helped the Buckeyes become runner-ups in the Big Ten tournament before leading them to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where OSU would eventually fall to North Carolina by one basket. Now Alston, who is one of the two seniors on the team, has progressively become a vocal leader, as well as a leader by example, which she said is something she grew into over her four years in Columbus. “Being vocal is not something that I came in here with,” Alston said. “Now, I’m just trying to help give direction.” OSU is currently 21-4 and 13-1 in conference play, and it is in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. Even with all the success the Buckeyes are having and scoring her 2,000th point, there are still goals that Alston and her squad have with four games left in the regular season. And those start with cashing in on the promising postseason future OSU looks to have.“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Alston said. “The goal is to win every game and to hopefully get a Big Ten championship.”As Alston continues to be one of the Buckeyes’ go-to scorers this season, she will continue to rise on the all-time scoring list in OSU basketball history. With 2,032 points and counting to her name, only three players are above her. Of the trio, Jessica Davenport’s third-place position with 2,303 points is the only one in jeopardy. Even so, the humble Alston never truly had a passion to score 2,000 points in her collegiate career. Her prerogative was always staying focused on her mission of the team winning games. “(Scoring 2,000 points is) actually not something I think about … It just kind of comes with it,” Alston said. “This year has been very special in terms of our success as a team. It’s always great, and fun, when you’re winning.”The next chance for Alston and her team to keep winning is set for Thursday, as OSU is scheduled to take on Nebraska at 6 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh looks on after the last touchdown during the game on Nov. 26 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 30-27. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorMichigan football coach Jim Harbaugh had some strong words for the media following his team’s 30-27 double-overtime loss to Ohio State on Saturday. During post-game interviews, the Toledo native had harsh criticisms for the officiating. The comments resulted in a $10,000 fine imposed by the Big Ten Conference on Michigan.A public reprimand was also issued to the Wolverines’ coach, with no further punishment announced at this time. The comments made by Harbaugh were stretched throughout the presser, and he failed to answer many of the reporters’ questions, instead speaking about the officiating rather than his team.“I’m bitterly disappointed in the officiating,” Harbaugh said on Saturday. “I could have been watching the game instead of being concerned (with sideline behavior.)”Although he is known for his tirades, Harbaugh had never been directly reprimanded by the Big Ten. The statement on the subject reads as follows.“The Big Ten office today issued a public reprimand of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh for violating the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy following Michigan’s game against Ohio State on Nov. 26, 2016. In addition, the conference announced that the institution has been fined $10,000 as a result of the violation.”
On Sunday afternoon, a slender, 22-year-old Cuban pitcher made his professional baseball debut. He struck out nine and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run, five singles and one walk. Fifty-five of his 85 pitches were for strikes and, by all accounts, his first start was a success. Around 4 p.m. Monday, this same phenom strolled into the visitor’s dugout at Huntington Park to answer a throng of questions from the media. He sat down next to Louisville Bats trainer and translator Tomas Vera, looking neither nervous nor excited. The young man took his time answering a myriad of questions, speaking very softly and smiling occasionally as Vera translated for him. And at the end of the session, he got up and walked back down the tunnel to the locker room. Just two days in the life of Aroldis Chapman, the Cincinnati Reds $30 million man. A man who, if he continues to compile dominating performances like the one he had on Sunday, will force the Reds to promote him to the big league club. Count Bats manager Rick Sweet among those impressed. “He handles [pressure] very well. He doesn’t show [nervousness] at all,” Sweet said. “He’s been on the national scene and the international scene, so it’s almost a relief when he gets in between the lines to where he can focus, to where he’s away from all of [the media hoopla].” Even a casual observer of baseball can notice just how special Chapman is. His delivery matches his personality: calm and quiet. Right before Chapman fires the ball home, he hides the ball behind his back, keeping the hitter guessing for a few extra seconds. Then, his body unwinds, and at a three-quarter angle, his left arm slingshots the ball toward home. Sometimes the ball travels as hard as 101 mph, which Chapman reached on a first-inning strikeout Sunday. Despite the aura around his triple-digit fastball, Chapman said he doesn’t concentrate on how hard he throws. “Honestly, I really don’t pay attention to the speed. I think it’s something the Lord gave to me and I have to thank God and all the coaches I’ve had since I was in Cuba,” Chapman said through Vera. “They’re all a part of this, but the speed isn’t that important for me.” And while Chapman may not acknowledge that his fastball is indeed heavenly, Sweet appeared amazed that his young southpaw threw the ball so hard, so often, and with such apparent ease. “I just saw [Chapman] throw over 100 mph I think a total of seven, eight times in one game. I don’t know … if I’ve seen that total in my career,” Sweet said. “It’s very special, especially when you see how he easily he does it. He’s not a max effort guy that’s all over the place. He’s nice and easy and smooth, and the ball explodes out of his hand.” Explode onto the major league scene is what Chapman could do very soon. If a Reds starter goes down with injury, Chapman would be among those considered for the call-up. The main reason for the call-up would be because the Reds believe Chapman’s pitching prowess matches his major-league readiness, but the fact that he can draw a crowd will also heavily factor into the decision. Considering that their attendance has dwindled in recent years, the Reds would be hard-pressed not to consider elevating the left-handed Cuban. Chapman, whose warm-up bullpen session reportedly attracted 150 spectators Sunday, is also quickly gaining the respect of his comrades. Perhaps the biggest surprise of Monday’s media session was how many times Chapman referenced how helpful his teammates have been. At one point, a reporter asked Chapman about his teammates and, after Vera translated it, Chapman flashed his pearly whites. Across the dugout, a handful of his teammates were pointing at him, making sure their famous friend and teammate put in a good word for them. Often times in sports, when a player signs a big contract, the size of his head swells along with his paycheck. Sweet said Chapman is the total opposite. “He’s very quiet, very shy. Not intimidated, but he’s a shy young man,” Sweet said, “and he’s gotten along very well with his teammates.” “It’s been nice to see. You think with all the money he’s making, sometimes guys [let the money get to their head], he’s not that way. He just wants to be part of the team.” So long as Chapman’s cultural adjustments progress alongside his changeup, it’s hard to imagine the Reds keeping their prized left-hander in the minors too much longer.
Ohio State athletes traded in their cleats and jerseys for heels and suits as they filed in to be honored at the 43rd annual Scholar-Athlete dinner.More than 500 athletes showed up for the event, some looking uncomfortable in their dress clothes and others looking proud of their dapper sport coats and skirts.One thing was obvious about the group as they lined up to enter the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom: They were proud. Team members from various sports complimented other teams for their achievements and Ryan Jefferson from the men’s diving team seemed to be getting extra attention as he approached the venue with a large trophy in his arms.The award was the Varsity “O” trophy, given to the team who boasts the highest grade point average for the school year.“It was a great honor to win last year,” Jefferson said. “We all work hard but you don’t usually get recognition like this.”The team picked up the trophy again for the sixth straight year. The cross country team took the trophy on the women’s side. The men’s individual Varsity “O” trophy, given to a student who demonstrates success in the classroom, on the field and in the community, went to football player Andrew Moses.Football had 44 members at the dinner, the most of any team in attendance.“Our goal is always to be 3.0 students,” quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “Every time we have more teammates who get that GPA, it’s a huge accomplishment.”For Pryor, being named a scholar athlete is the first step in achieving his goal of becoming an Academic All-American this summer. “I’ve really matured,” Pryor said. “I’m growing up and it’s all about being a man. I have to have a schedule to succeed and go by that plan. Once you mature as a person it shows on the field as well as in the classroom.”Senior cross country and track member Taylor Candella was in attendance for the fourth year in a row. Candella has balanced sports and academics with a position as chair of theStudent-Athlete Advisory Board and as a member of the Athletic Council.“It’s a great accomplishment,” Candella said. “We care about our grades, not just our sports, and I think it’s great that we have a record number of people with over a 3.0 who are able to manage playing a varsity sport at a school like Ohio State.”Senior volleyball player Anna Szerszen was the only athlete in attendance who is currently working on a graduate program along with her undergrad. She plans to get her MBA when she concludes her fifth year here at OSU.“It involves a great deal of commitment,” Szerszen said. “You have to make sacrifices and manage your time if you want to be successful.”Several awards were directed specifically at seniors, including the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor Award and several other that recognized the academic achievements of the athletes.The Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, considered the most prestigious award given at the event, went to diver Chelsea Davis and men’s swimmer Stefan Sigrist. The Medal is given to the athletes who have the greatest proficiency in both academics and athletics.The award included a $5,000 post-graduation scholarship.The two teams that finished as the “Most Improved” were women’s soccer and men’s tennis.In all, 503 athletes were honored, the first year that the event included more than 500 athletes, as last year only 493 were honored.
After being ranked as high as No. 6 in the country early in December, the Ohio State women’s basketball team surprisingly now must fight for its right to play in the NCAA Tournament, which takes college basketball’s top 64 teams. Seven upsets will do that to a top-10 team, with the latest being to Northwestern on Sunday at home. Those defeats came to unranked Syracuse, Duquesne, Michigan twice, Penn State and Northwestern twice. “We’re not a team that fights through adversity. That’s how you win games. You got to claw it,” OSU coach Jim Foster said Sunday after his team’s 74-68 loss to Northwestern. Inversely, the Buckeyes (13-9, 4-6 Big Ten) are 3-2 against ranked teams, losing to then-No. 1 Connecticut on Dec. 19 and No. 22 Iowa on Jan. 8. And the team’s last six games of the season won’t be any easier. OSU plays No. 5 Purdue (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten) on Thursday at Nationwide Arena. Then, three of its last five games are away: Minnesota (11-12, 3-7 Big Ten) on Sunday, Purdue on Feb. 20 and No. 11 Michigan State (20-3, 8-2) on Feb. 24. The winner of the Big Ten Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but OSU came into Sunday’s in seventh place in the conference. The pile of losses is even more surprising considering the Buckeyes were ranked in The Associated Press‘ Top 25 for 130 straight weeks — a streak that ended last week. Over the past six seasons, OSU racked up 170 wins, sixth most in the country over that span. “It was frustrating — very,” senior center Jantel Lavender said after Sunday’s loss. Missing the tournament would be disappointing for such an established program and for Foster, who has taken the Buckeyes to the NCAA Tournament each of his eight seasons in Columbus. His teams made the Sweet 16 in 2005 and 2009. But the Buckeyes have played the country’s third-toughest schedule and, according to Realtimerpi.com, rank No. 18 in the nation in RPI. “It’s not different than anything they’re going to face in life. If you’re going to roll over and quit, you’re not going to have a very good life,” Foster said. “This is one of the easiest things in life to fight, quite frankly.” The numbers say OSU is better than its record indicates. After Sunday’s loss to Northwestern, the team averages 72.6 points per game, and has posted an 11-2 record when it has scored more than 70 points. And, only Connecticut has shot at least 50 percent from the field against the Buckeyes. After an injury to starting forward Sarah Schulze, Foster started freshman center Ashley Adams. The 6-foot-4 center provides another defensive presence down low for OSU. But even that hasn’t been enough. “I think that we don’t have … a mentality about defense enough,” Lavender said. “Teams come at us, and we’re not responding in the right way.”
Courtesy Ohio State Athletic CommunicationsThe Ohio State men’s tennis team shut out three consecutive conference opponents en route to winning its seventh Big Ten Tournament in eight years.The No. 4 Buckeyes (31-2), who played host to the annual tournament for the first time since 2002, held up the No. 1 overall tournament seed throughout the weekend, securing victories over No. 9-seeded Purdue, No. 4-seeded Illinois and No. 3-seeded Michigan, respectively.OSU did not relent a point over the three-game stretch, winning each match 4-0 and remaining undefeated in Big Ten play in 2013.The Saturday semifinal win over the No. 4-seeded Illini avenged the last season’s 4-3 loss in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament in Evanston, Ill.The championship victory over the Wolverines on Sunday gave the Buckeyes their eighth Big Ten Tournament victory (2001, 2006-11, 2013) and 11th finals appearance under coach Ty Tucker. Before Tucker took over in 1999, OSU also won the tournament in 1991.Against Michigan, the Scarlet and Gray dominated their archrivals from the North by securing the team doubles point for the 31st time in 2013. The No. 46-ranked tandem of junior Blaz Rola and redshirt sophomore Kevin Metka won their match, 8-5, and maintained their perfect record on the season at 20-0. The No. 14-ranked duo of redshirt junior Peter Kobelt and senior Connor Smith followed suit and clinched the doubles point with an 8-4 victory.In singles play, OSU rallied to three consecutive wins to put away the Wolverines. The Buckeyes garnered wins from redshirt freshman Chris Diaz and freshman Constantin Christ, winning 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-2, respectively. Finally,Smith, winning his match 6-3, 6-3, earned the match-winning point to solidify the Buckeyes as 2013 Big Ten Tournament Champions and earn them an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament.The men’s tennis selection show is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, with singles and doubles selections scheduled to occur at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Shelby Lum / Photo editorRedshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall fights for extra yards during a game against Buffalo Aug. 31, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 40-20.Heading into Ohio State’s 2012 season, it was widely expected that then-senior running back Jordan Hall would be the featured back in the first year under new coach Urban Meyer.Hall was even named captain for the 2012 squad, but was forced to sit on the sidelines for all but three games because of two unrelated injuries.“It was tough, it wasn’t as tough because we won every game, so I feel like if we had lost a couple of games it would have been even tougher because I would have felt like I could’ve helped,” Hall said when asked about his time spent on the bench last season. “But we won every game so I was happy for my teammates.”After being granted a medical redshirt and since returning to full health, Hall was thrust into the spotlight for the 2013 season opener against Buffalo.Hall was named the starter for the game after the suspensions of top running backs senior Carlos Hyde and redshirt-junior Rod Smith.Hall quelled any doubts fans might have had by halftime, tallying 126 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the first half. He finished with 159 yards on the day, a career high.Coach Urban Meyer said Hall stood out against Buffalo on offense for the Buckeyes.“Offensive champions were Jordan Hall, great to see him, 159 yards and graded out 81 percent. I guess those are career highs for him and I thought he played very well,” Meyer said.Both of his touchdowns came on big runs, one of which was a career-long at 49 yards. The other, a 37-yard sprint, came one play after Buffalo had cut the lead to 10 points and all but dashed any hope the Bulls had for a comeback.Junior quarterback Braxton Miller said Hall’s second touchdown helped to keep the momentum in Ohio State’s favor as the game was starting to slip away from the Buckeyes.“It slipped a little bit. But Dontre (Wilson) came back with a nice kickoff return, we got up a little bit and then Jordan (Hall) scored a nice little run,” Miller said.Hall credits his touchdown runs to the holes created for him by the offensive line.“I just was like, wow, I don’t know if they messed up or the O-line just did what they do and I just (saw) it and I took it,” Hall said.During the offseason, Meyer said he thought Hall would end up as the H-back and use his skill set to help the team there rather than in the back field.“Last spring, I had the intention of making Jordan Hall more of an H, but an H that can come in and motion in and that’s when he can cause issues for defenses,” Meyer said.Hall said he spent time preparing to be the H-back, but was also ready if he was needed as a traditional running back.“I was going to be the H and coach told me I had to learn both positions, so wherever they put me, I’m going to do what I have to do to help the team win,” Hall said.Hall finished the game with three catches for 14 yards to go along with his rushing total, but also caught a pass for a two-point conversion from senior quarterback Kenny Guiton.Although he wasn’t expecting to be on the field for the conversion, Hall thought it was a nice addition to the offense.“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t even the person that caught the ball. Then in the first week, (running backs) coach (Stan) Drayton put me in there. I like it. The defense can’t take a play off,” Hall said.Hall was glad to see the team come out to a fast start, taking a 23-0 lead after the first quarter, but felt the team got complacent and slowed their pace after that.“Coach (offensive coordinator Tom Herman) challenged us to come out fast, get things going, and I think we did that,” Hall said. “In the second half, we slowed down a little bit, but we’ll be better next week.”Hyde, the expected starter heading into the season, is set to return from suspension Sept. 21 against Florida A&M. With Hall’s performance in the opener the player who will be the Buckeye’s long-term starter at running back remains up in the air.Hall said he isn’t worried about Hyde’s return, and said it’s about the team, not his individual stats.“Carlos (Hyde), he earned his right. He had a good season last year and I know that he was going to be the running back at the beginning of the season before he got in trouble or whatever and I was going to play a different position,” Hall said. “Coach Meyer knows that he has a bunch of people that can play running back or H position so I think it’s just going to be harder for a defense to prepare for that.”Drayton said when redshirt-junior Rod Smith returns from suspension Hall’s role might not change.“The beauty of Jordan (Hall), again, like I said, his strength is his intelligence on the football field and he has been cross-trained and he is continually being cross-trained at both of those positions,” Drayton said. “So with the addition of Rod Smith coming back, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Jordan Hall’s role gets lesser. No, it just may be distributed a little bit differently throughout the scheme.”OSU is set host to San Diego State Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Freshman forward Maddy Humphrey (23) chases the ball during a game against Michigan on Nov. 2 at Buckeye Varsity Field. OSU lost, 2-1. Credit: Grant Miller / Copy ChiefOhio State field hockey has earned the right to face top-seeded and No. 2 Maryland in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament after sneaking into the bracket because of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Indiana.In Maryland’s first season as a Big Ten member, the Terrapins dominated the conference. Maryland (16-2, 7-1) finished the season on an 11-game winning streak, including seven against intraconference foes to finish as the Big Ten regular season champions.Before Maryland took the reins of the Big Ten, the Buckeyes (6-11, 1-7) and Terrapins squared off Oct. 3 in College Park, Md., in a game where OSU kept the score tied for 25 minutes before the flood-gates opened. The Terrapins scored four unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half, and ultimately defeated OSU in shutout fashion, 6-0.OSU is going to try to make changes personnel-wise to match Maryland’s versatility, senior midfielder Kaitlyn Wagner said.“I think we’re gonna have to maybe mix our lines together,” Wagner said. “Say maybe a midfielder switch with an offender if the offender is tired. We need to layer our fitness and rotate around.”OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said the biggest problem in the first matchup was Maryland’s ability to build a rhythm and keep pressure on freshman goalkeeper Liz Tamburro.“We need to be able to break (their momentum) and you need to be able to possess the ball to do that,” Wilkinson said. “We’ll work on being able to keep possession in small spaces. And again, being able to get some production out of our attacks.”Maryland took home four Big Ten postseason awards. Senior midfielder Maxine Fluharty was named Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the conference’s best team with 15 goals on the season.Sarah Sprink, a junior defender from Neuss, Germany, received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, while freshman forward Moira Putsch took home Big Ten Freshman of the Year after tallying 11 goals and six assists in her rookie campaign.Maryland coach Missy Meharg was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for her team’s nation-leading 3.23 scoring margin.Despite her 12 goals and 32 points overall, OSU midfielder Maddy Humphrey fell short in freshman of the year voting and did not make first or second team honors in the conference.Humphrey said she was proud of her work ethic and added her awards snub will motivate her to work even harder in the future.“I worked really hard this season and my stats are among the top stats in the Big Ten, so yes, I do believe I deserved a spot,” Humphrey said in an email. “Unfortunately, I am young and a new face so I just have to work even harder to be recognized.”Junior forward Peanut Johnson was named second-team All-Big Ten for the second consecutive season despite Humphrey leading the team in points with 32 compared to 27 for Johnson.OSU and Maryland are set to face off at Phyllis Ocker Field in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thursday at 10 a.m. The winner is scheduled take on the winner of fourth-seeded Penn State and fifth-seeded Michigan State in the semifinal round Friday at 1 p.m
Ohio State redshirt junior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (1) scores in the first half on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback J.T. Barrett. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor
Ohio State junior golfer Jaclyn Lee tees off during a round of golf in 2017. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsNearly every student at Ohio State complains about the ever-changing weather. In Columbus, learning to deal with the wind, rain, cold and overall fickle forecast is seemingly a rite of passage.Perhaps no member of the Ohio State community has more cause to complain about the weather than women’s golf head coach Therese Hession.Ohio State has less reputation and notoriety in golf than it does in many other sports, giving Hession a more difficult time recruiting than top programs. This is in large part due to Mother Nature. Top recruits want to go somewhere they can golf consistently year-round. Thanks to weather that gets cold early and stays chilled late, that’s just not possible in central Ohio.Since the mid-2000s, Ohio State has looked to untapped markets outside the United States to attract talent and remain competitive nationally as a way to circumvent the obstacle that Ohio’s climate presents.“A lot of times, the top players in some countries are really good players,” Hession said. “They might be equivalent to the top 10 or 15 percent of the players in America. A lot of the [top players] in the United States don’t give me a look up here in Ohio.”Plenty of international players want to come to the U.S. and compete in the NCAA. Hession said this is mostly due to the professional opportunities in North America — particularly the LPGA Tour — that are more lucrative than other international women’s tours.In countries with colder climates, players who want to compete as much as possible are drawn to the U.S., where they can play in tournaments around the country throughout the year.“I wanted the opportunity to get better at my golf game,” said Jaclyn Lee, a junior from Calgary, Alberta. “It’s hard to do that when the seasons turn in Canada, which is why I chose to come down [to the United States].”Though the Ohio State women’s golf team spent only $19,207 on recruiting in the fiscal year 2017, according to Ohio State Athletics’ NCAA financial statements, international travel is expensive. Hession said the coaching staff typically travels overseas to watch specific tournaments and monitor the players they want to pursue and have not seen before, rather than approach players they have already pinpointed as targets.Yet the team still needs to build a relationship with its recruits in order to establish a supportive environment vital to performance.“[Players] want to feel like they can trust me and that I will be there to take care of them,” Hession said.Having limited face-to-face interaction with international players, Ohio State has leaned heavily on technology to build relationships with recruits. This includes emailing, Skype conversations and FaceTime tours of the team’s indoor golf facility. The team also strives to build relationships with players’ coaches in their home countries. Due to NCAA regulations, coaches are not allowed to directly contact recruits until their junior year of high school. Communication with coaches provides a middle ground for Ohio State to closely monitor a player early in the process without committing any violations.Many high-school coaches continue to work with their players after they leave for college. Technology allows Hession to collaborate with these coaches and help players improve their game.“You can sit there with your phone and take a video and send it off to the teacher and they can respond in five minutes with their synopsis of what they think is going on,” Hession said. “I like to talk to those coaches, too, and tell them what I’m seeing. Video shows one thing of a swing or a putt or a chip, but I get to see a lot of how they manage themselves on the golf course, how they’re handling pressure.”Ohio State hopes its targeting of international players can help the team garner a reputation and attract talent from different countries. Katja Pogacar, a native of Slovenia who golfed for the Buckeyes from 2013 to 2017, now plays on the Ladies European Tour. Hession said she believes Pogacar’s success at Ohio State leading to a professional career has made young players in Slovenia more aware of the team.“When [recruits] know that [former players] have had a good experience and they’ve improved and they’ve gotten better and been on some great championship teams, that’s the best sales pitch that anyone could ask for,” Hession said.In the past decade, Ohio State has seen golfers from five different continents on its roster. The weather has provided Hession with a challenge to find the talent. But she has shown that she and the rest of the team will go anywhere to improve the team.
No. 2 Joey McKenna attempts to finish a single leg takedown on North Carolina State University’s Jamal Morris in the 141-pound bout of the Ohio State vs. NCSU dual meet at St. John Arena. McKenna won the bout by major decision, 10-2. Credit: Sal Marandino | For The LanternThe No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) won 43-3 in dominant fashion against Indiana (3-7, 0-3 Big Ten) in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday.No. 17 redshirt freshman heavyweight Chase Singletary started the Buckeyes off with a pin to defeat freshman Rudy Streck. No. 2 senior(141) remained undefeated on the season pinning redshirt freshman Paul Konrath and No. 3 redshirt senior Micah Jordan (149) also won via pin against redshirt freshman Kyle Luigs.Freshman Malik Heinselman (125) won a close match 3-2 over three-time NCAA qualifier senior Elijah Oliver following Singletary’s pin to give Ohio State an early 9-0 lead, with which the Buckeyes continued to dominate, eventually winning nine out of 10 bouts.Ohio State No. 1 senior Myles Martin (184) won via pin against redshirt junior Norman Conley. No. 2 redshirt junior Kollin Moore (197) won by pin defeating redshirt junior Jake Hinz. Martin and Moore both remain undefeated on the season.Redshirt freshman Kaleb Romero (165) was defeated by Indiana’s redshirt senior Bryce Martin.Ohio State senior Te’Shan Campbell (174) has won two in a row since returning from knee injury, winning by major decision 12-2 over redshirt sophomore Jacob Covaciu.This was the first of two duels for the Buckeyes this weekend. They square up against Michigan State at 2 p.m. on Sunday at St John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Following the Michigan State duel Sunday, Ohio State has an highly anticipated battle against rival No. 6 Michigan on Jan. 25.
Ohio State senior forward C.J. Jackson (3) looks toward the shot clock against Indiana junior forward Devonte Green (11) in the Buckeyes’ matchup against the Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament on March 14. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorCHICAGO — Ohio State’s recipe for success against Indiana was simple: to force turnovers with an aggressive defense and take advantage of Indiana’s mistakes with baskets on the other end. But late in the second half, Indiana found a game plan of its own, a game plan that hadn’t worked for the majority of the contest. With 7:10 to go in the game, Indiana junior guard Devonte Green hit a 3, igniting a 13-0 run for the Hoosiers. Indiana, adding a 7-0 run late in the half, cut Ohio State’s lead down to four with a 26-9 run and shooting 58.3 percent from deep in the second half after making 4-of-15 from 3 in the first half.Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said he knew his team’s lead would be cut down, that it would end up being much closer. And his message to the Buckeyes during time outs was simple.“We just kept telling our guys, ‘just get one stop. Make one play and we will see what happens,’” Holtmann said.With 34 seconds left, that play happened. Ohio State redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods hit a layup while trying to draw a foul, giving Ohio State the five-point lead and the eventual 79-75 victory against Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday.“This league is so tough night in and night out. You [can] get beat by anybody if you don’t bring your A-game,” senior guard C.J. Jackson said. “This win is definitely a good win for us.”After playing 34 minutes in each of his past two games, Woods became one of the main factors to Ohio State’s success, finishing the game with a team-high 18 points, making 9-of-13 from the field, including all five attempts in the first half.While the first half seemingly belonged to Woods, Jackson and Kaleb Wesson took over the Ohio State offense in the second.Jackson scored 15 of his 17 points, making 50 percent from the field in 19 minutes played in the second half.“Our seniors played like seniors,” Holtmann said. “That’s why we won.”But Ohio State also saw it’s leading scorer return to the lineup. Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson returned to the starting lineup after serving a suspension for a violation of team rules.In his first game back, Holtmann said he did not think he saw a lot of rust from Wesson. The sophomore forward recorded his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 17 points and 13 rebounds, a career high.“My teammates were making it a big deal in the beginning of the game like ‘we are glad to have you back and we will get you the ball to get you back in your rhythm,” Wesson said.With 12:32 to play in the game, the sophomore forward recorded a steal in the paint and saw Jackson open. Wesson threw a leading pass to the senior guard across the length of the court, finishing with the layup under the basket.This kind of play proved to be a major component of Thursday’s win.In the first half, Ohio State thrived defensively, recording eight steals, including two by Jackson, junior forward Andre Wesson and Woods. The Buckeyes took advantage, recording 17 points off of turnovers compared to Indiana’s two in the half. Ohio State finished with 24 points off turnovers, adding four steals in the second half.“We didn’t play perfect by no means, but I think everybody took it upon themselves to be as solid as they could throughout the whole entire game,” sophomore guard Musa Jallow said. “Whenever everybody is doing their role at a high level, I mean you saw it. We can be pretty good.”Forcing Indiana to make 2-of-15 from the field to start the game, offense continued to not come easy for the Hoosiers in the first half, finishing the half making 30 percent from the field. Coming into the game shooting 31 percent from 3, No. 324 in the country, Indiana was forced to try and score from deep by the Ohio State defense, attempting 15 3s in the first half and connecting on four. The Hoosiers began to connect on the deep ball in the second half, shooting 7-of-12 from 3 to help spark the run toward the end of the game, including 8-of-10 made attempts by Green on the game.Ohio State, specifically freshman guard Luther Muhammad, found his groove midway through the second half. With 10:46 to go in the game, Muhammad hit his first 3, giving Ohio State the 13-point lead, a lead that would soon expand, igniting a 10-0 run capped off by his second 3 of the day. Muhammad scored all six of his points in that run.After what many thought would be a game that determined the NCAA Tournament hopes for both teams, Holtmann said he thinks Ohio State is in a good position moving forward.“I certainly feel like our body of work speaks for itself,” Holtmann said. “Obviously, Kaleb makes a difference for sure. We saw that, I think as much defensively as offensively, but we have some high level wins. That’s a really good team that we played that was playing exceptionally well.”Ohio State will move on to take on Michigan State, the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament, at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
Owen Smith believes there has been a “sea change” in the Labour leadership contest with more people flocking to his campaign.Asked if he thought he could beat Jeremy Corbyn when the Labour leader appeared to be so popular with the membership base, Mr Smith told Sky News: “All we’ve seen so far is the evidence of a few rallies. There is a sea change. People are moving towards me because they want us to be a powerful opposition.”He also said that the booing of Sadiq Khan, who has backed Mr Smith, at a rally for Jeremy Corbyn should be “condemned”.He said: “I deplore the booing of Sadiq Khan. The booing is completely wrong and should be condemned by all of us. But is is a measure of how low we have sunk.” Owen Smith said he was “incredibly proud” to have the support of Ms Dugdale for his leadership bid.”Kezia and I want to see a strong Labour Party that can defeat the Tories in Westminster and take the fight to the SNP in Holyrood,” he said. Kezia Dugdale with Jeremy Corbyn in October 2015Credit:Reuters/Russell Cheyne And she had this warning for Mr Corbyn.”I don’t think Jeremy can unite our party and lead us into government. He cannot appeal to a broad enough section of voters to win an election. I believe Owen can.There will be some who think I should stay out of this contest, but now, more than ever, our party needs leaders who will stand up and be counted.”640,000 members receive ballot papers from todayThe first ballot papers went out today to the estimated 640,000 members and supporters who will decide whether Mr Corbyn carries on as leader or is replaced by his challenger Owen Smith.With many expected to cast their votes in the coming days, it could be a vital week in the contest – even though polling does not close until September 21.Mr Smith received a major boost over the weekend with London mayor Sadiq Khan urging Labour members to ditch Mr Corbyn and support the former work and pensions secretary.Owen Smith: ‘I’ll support Jeremy if he wins’Owen Smith believes there has been a “sea change” in the Labour leadership contest with more people flocking to his campaign.But he pledged to support Jeremy Corbyn if he is re-elected as leader.Speaking to Sky News the rival candidate said: “If Jeremy wins, I will absolutely support him from the backbenches. I will always be Labour. There’s not going to be any split that I’m a part of.” Comedian Billy Bragg, who is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, has this to say about Kezia Dugdale’s support for Owen Smith. Owen Smith is addressing supporters in Porth, South Wales, this morning and has a stark warning about “the crisis facing the Labour movement”.He has shared his “frustrations” with the era of New Labour, perhaps in an appeal to Mr Corbyn’s supporters. Auto updateOnOff 11:18AMOwen Smith tackles Labour’s future 8:26AMA crucial week as Labour members and supporters vote Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite 1:01PMOwen Smith: ‘Sea change’ in favour of my campaign 9:27AMTeam Corbyn dismisses Dugdale’s support for Owen Smith But he warns that Labour must be in a position to puts its values “into practice”.Mr Smith also says he will “guarantee unity of purpose”, admitting that the party needs to listen to the issues that “the member’s hold dearest” and that “MPs do not have a monopoly on ideas”.He promises a “revolution in policy making”, allowing members to have a direct influence on policies. Labour leadership contender Owen Smith says there’s no point in hanging on to Labour’s values at the expense of everything else, if the party fails to put them into practise in government. Kezia Dugdale, who as the Scottish Labour leader is the party’s most highly elected female politician, has backed Owen Smith in the leadership contest.Writing for the Daily Record, she said:”Owen Smith gets my vote. I believe he can unite our party and move us on from the divisions that exist under the current leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.Owen understands that to have a chance of implementing Labour values, we need to win over some of those who didn’t vote for us at the last election.” Responding to Kezia Dugdale’s support for Owen Smith, a spokesman for the Scottish Labour for Jeremy campaign says:”Kezia has one vote, just like every other member of the Scottish Labour Party, but all the indications, both from canvassing and CLP nominations, are that a majority of Labour party members in Scotland will be backing Jeremy Corbyn.”The spokesman said Mr Corbyn had won the backing of 24 Scottish Labour Party CLPs compared with 15 for Mr Smith. 8:53AMOwen Smith ‘proud’ to have Kezia Dugdale’s backing Ms Dugdale told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that her decision to speak out “demonstrates how serious a situation the Labour Party is in”.She said: “I think that the Labour Party is in a very difficult position just now.”I think it is ugly, I think it is a real turn off to people across the country to see a party ripping itself apart and it’s my job to do what I can to get the party back on the front foot, to get its act together.” In a boost for Jeremy Corbyn, seven leaders from some of Britain’s biggest unions, including Len McCluskey, have written to the Guardian endorsing him as leader and urging their members to support him. His visit to Scotland follows comments made by Shadow Scottish Secretary and Blaydon MP Dave Anderson that Labour should consider a coalition with the SNP to prevent another Conservative victory at the next general election.But Mr Findlay told the Herald newspaper: “There will be no progressive alliance with the SNP and I’m expecting Jeremy Corbyn to rule that out this week.”I don’t think the SNP will be able to take any comfort from a Jeremy Corbyn victory. It will be made clear there will be no progressive alliance with the SNP.”The SNP does not act progressively in government, but seeks to talk progressively at Westminster where it has no power.”Providing a credible and socialist radical alternative to nationalism is what Jeremy is all about and we will be making an appeal to the people of Scotland on that basis.” She said: “Alex and I have different positions on the UK leadership contest just now. I think he was wrong to say what he said about the independence referendum.”But she said she and her deputy were “absolutely united and on the front foot” on promoting the party’s manifesto for tax increases to boost education. .@owensmith2016 arrives saying party has reached ‘important juncture’ as ballot papers are sent out pic.twitter.com/YXjtFS6rPS— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) August 22, 2016 Owen SmithCredit:REX/Shutterstock Have seen what No Change candidates have done to Scottish Labour, you’d think Kezia Dugdale would baulk at endorsing another technocrat.— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) August 22, 2016 1:13PMCorbyn wins backing of seven union leaders 11:47AMSmith: Our values only matter if we can put them into practise in government Owen Smith has pledged to support Jeremy Corbyn if he is re-elected as Labour leader.Speaking to Sky News the rival candidate said: “If Jeremy wins, I will absolutely support him from the backbenches. I will always be Labour. There’s not going to be any split that I’m a part of.”Asked if MPs would be united around Mr Corbyn despite their vote of no confidence in him, Mr Smith added: “Yes and we would be. If Jeremy becomes the leader I will support him through the lobbies.” Sadiq Khan has backed Owen SmithCredit:BBC The Scottish Labour leader said the contest was “not about loyalty” and that she “disagreed entirely” that her position would become untenable if Mr Corbyn won the leadership.She said: “I don’t think there is anything inevitable about that. Those ballot papers are dropping on the doorsteps of Labour Party supporters and members across the country today. This campaign is very much alive.”Ms Dugdale, who told the programme her party’s membership was just under 23,000, insisted that she was “absolutely fine” with her deputy Alex Rowley, despite his backing for Mr Corbyn and recent comments that he would not oppose a second referendum on Scottish independence. Jeremy CorbynCredit:REX/Shutterstock “But that will only be achieved if we can unite our party and demonstrate we have a radical, credible plan to rebuild communities right across the United Kingdom.”I’m pleased therefore that Kezia has backed my vision for a £200 billion British new deal, the strengthening of workers’ rights and a Labour Party that puts tackling inequality at the heart of everything it does.” 12:20PMOwen Smith: ‘I will support Jeremy if he wins again’ 11:45AMCorbyn to rule out SNP ‘progressive alliance’ The first ballot papers go out today to the estimated 640,000 members and supporters who will decide whether Mr Corbyn carries on as leader or is replaced by his challenger Owen Smith.With many expected to cast their votes in the coming days, it could be a vital week in the contest – even though polling does not close until September 21.Mr Smith received a major boost over the weekend with London mayor Sadiq Khan urging Labour members to ditch Mr Corbyn and support the former work and pensions secretary. 8:05AM640,000 people to begin voting today Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leaderCredit:ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images Asked why anyone should listen to her after Labour came third in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:”I actually think because we came third in Scotland that is the reason people should listen to me. I know what it takes to run a campaign. That leads me to the conclusion that Owen is better placed. I know what happens when a party repeatedly refuses to listen to the message from the electorate.”Ms Dugdale was asked whether she would stand next to Mr Corbyn if he is re-elected.”I speak to Jeremy all the time, I spoke to him yesterday and we have a good working relationship.”There’s no doubt that he is inspiring already committed Labour voters but there aren’t enough of those people to get us back in power.” In a scathing attack, Mr Khan said the Labour leader had lost the confidence of his MPs, failed to gain the trust and respect of the voters and was “extremely unlikely” to win a general election.The Corbyn camp described his comments as “disappointing” saying Mr Khan had won the mayoralty standing on a Labour platform under Mr Corbyn’s leadership – even though he largely kept his distance from Mr Corbyn during the campaign.There were jeers and boos when the London’ mayor’s name was mentioned at a mass rally of Mr Corbyn’s supporters in Kilburn, north London, on Sunday evening. 8:52AMKezia Dugdale defends her backing of Owen Smith 9:30AMKezia Dugdale says Labour’s situation is ‘ugly’ Jeremy Corbyn will rule out any prospect of a “progressive alliance” with the SNP when he visits Scotland later this week, according to a key ally.Neil Findlay MSP, chair of the Scottish Labour for Jeremy campaign, said he expected Mr Corbyn to dismiss the suggestion during a series of events north of the border.Islington North MP Mr Corbyn is due to meet leadership challenger Owen Smith for a hustings debate in Glasgow on Thursday before travelling to Edinburgh and Dundee to give speeches. 9:32AMBilly Bragg on Kezia Dugdale Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale backs Owen SmithKezia Dugdale, who as the Scottish Labour leader is the party’s most highly elected female politician, has backed Owen Smith in the leadership contest.Writing for the Daily Record, she said:”Owen Smith gets my vote. I believe he can unite our party and move us on from the divisions that exist under the current leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.Owen understands that to have a chance of implementing Labour values, we need to win over some of those who didn’t vote for us at the last election.”She said that if she had such little support from her MSPs in the way that Jeremy Corbyn has lost the backing of 80 per cent of his MPs, she would have to resign.”We can’t pin our hopes on a leadership who speak only to the converted, rather than speaking to the country as a whole.My only public comment on Jeremy’s leadership before this contest was to say he had lost the confidence of his parliamentary colleagues. That’s a fact.More than 80 per cent of Labour MPs expressed a lack of confidence in Jeremy’s leadership. If 80 per cent of my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament didn’t support me, I wouldn’t be able to do the job – even though I received 72 per cent of the votes when party members and trade unionists in Scotland elected me to be their leader.” 8:00AMKezia Dugdale backs Owen Smith in Labour leadership contest Kezia Dugdale and Jeremy Corbyn in October 2015Credit:Reuters Some 640,000 people are to begin voting in the Labour leadership contest with the first ballot papers being sent out today.Labour is now the biggest party in Europe – and the huge rise in membership is thanks to Jeremy Corbyn.It is no wonder then that Sam Tarry, the director of Mr Corbyn’s campaign to be re-elected, was feeling so confident when on the airwaves this morning. Asked if MPs would be united around Mr Corbyn despite their vote of no confidence in him, Mr Smith added: “Yes and we would be. If Jeremy becomes the leader I will support him through the lobbies.”Asked if he thought he could beat Jeremy Corbyn when the Labour leader appeared to be so popular with the membership base, Mr Smith said: “All we’ve seen so far is the evidence of a few rallies. There is a sea change. People are moving towards me because they want us to be a powerful opposition.” She says that if she had such little support from her MSPs in the way that Jeremy Corbyn has lost the backing of 80 per cent of his MPs, she would have to resign.”We can’t pin our hopes on a leadership who speak only to the converted, rather than speaking to the country as a whole.My only public comment on Jeremy’s leadership before this contest was to say he had lost the confidence of his parliamentary colleagues. That’s a fact.More than 80 per cent of Labour MPs expressed a lack of confidence in Jeremy’s leadership. If 80 per cent of my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament didn’t support me, I wouldn’t be able to do the job – even though I received 72 per cent of the votes when party members and trade unionists in Scotland elected me to be their leader.”And she has this warning for Mr Corbyn.”I don’t think Jeremy can unite our party and lead us into government. He cannot appeal to a broad enough section of voters to win an election. I believe Owen can.There will be some who think I should stay out of this contest, but now, more than ever, our party needs leaders who will stand up and be counted.” 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.
He watched a mixture of performances including one from that day’s competition and two of the winners from the children’s competition on the previous day.Charles also presented the award of Gaelic Learner of the Year 2016 to Carmine Calajezzi, an Italian student who has been studying Gaelic at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye, a college of which the prince is patron.Mr Calajezzi, 30, was born and raised in Abruzzo, Italy, before moving to Scotland five years ago. He began to study Gaelic after a cycling tour of the Western Isles, before moving to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig last year to further his language skills.Charles has been a big supporter of Gaelic, now spoken by less than 58,000 people.He once said: “If Gaelic dies in Scotland it dies in the world.”In 2010 he commented on the row over the use of Gaelic in Caithness while attending the Royal National Mod taking place in Thurso.The first Mod in Caithness was not opposed, but there had been arguments against public spending on bilingual English/Gaelic road signs in the area.Place names in the far north are said to have more links with Norse heritage.Addressing the Mod, Charles said he would question suggestions Gaelic has no direct relevance to Caithness.He said then: “I would suggest Gaelic, like any other language or culture, belong to all the people and communities of a nation whether they or not they actively involved with it.”Last year Charles wrote a moving foreword to a poignant anthology of Gaelic poetry – much of it written by service personnel in action abroad or by their families back home.The prince has also made a recorded translation of his book The Old Man of Lochnagar in Gaelic. The prince tried a spirit of the malt which he said was ‘very strong’ After taking several blows with a hammer to seal the cask, Charles joked “shall we take it out and do it again?””He also said he hoped to be around in 10 years time when the cask could be bottled,” said Mr Maclean.”He thought the whisky wonderfully complex and it’s amazing how they all taste different.”Since opening last year the £10m distillery has had over 68,000 visitors and sold 40,000 bottles of gin – with the aim of producing 70,000 next year. It hopes to do an initial 60,000 bottles of whisky when it is ready.Wearing a green kilt in Lord of the Isles tartan, the prince earlier visit the Royal National Mod – the annual celebration of Gaelic culture – in Stornoway on neighbouring Lewis. Prince Charles has backed buying British as he asked whisky makers in a new distillery in the Outer Hebrides why his £10 gin glasses were made in Poland and not UK.The Isle of Harris Distillery’s gin is contained in distinctive bottles made in Yorkshire by specialist manufacturer Stolzle Glass Group.”They couldn’t do both?” asked the prince, also known as Lord of the Isles.It was explained to the heir to the throne that they could not.Polish-born Peter Kwasniewski, the Tarbert-based distillery’s shop manager, said afterwards: “We tried really hard but they just couldn’t manufacture both. The glasses from Poland are handmade and of a very high quality.”We tried in the UK to find a handmade glass that could match the pattern of our bottles. But we couldn’t find anybody. We also tried in France but with the same result. I knew of a manufacture in southern Poland who were able to do it.”Charles also sealed a cask of single malt whisky. Once it has matured it will be bottled and the 300 bottles sold, with all the profits going to a charity of the prince’s choice.The prince tried a dram of blends to illustrate the direction of the distillery’s first whisky – due in around three years.He also tried a spirit of the malt which he told production manager Kenny Maclean was very strong. 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. Prince Charles seals a cast during a visit to the Isle of Harris Distiller
It’s been 80 years of the 999 emergency number, devised so the public could get in touch with the emergency services as quickly as possible when they were in desperate need.Because of this anniversary, BT has released the silliest and most brainless calls to the emergency number.Despite it having been around for 80 years, it appears some members of the public still do not know how to use the emergency line.BT said more than 97% of calls are now answered within five seconds, with 62% of calls made by members of the public currently coming from mobile phones. 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. However, around 35% of calls do not involve actual requests for help, with the majority of these made by children playing with home phones or people accidentally dialling 999 or the European emergency number 112, often from a mobile handset in a pocket or handbag.Hoax or unnecessary calls were a feature of the 999 service from the very beginning, including a complaint about bagpipes being played outside a house and a dispute between a neighbour and the local coalman.Here are some of the silliest calls to the emergency number.Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “I’m sorry to call 999 but I was looking for 101 but I don’t know the number.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Young caller: “Mountain Rescue please.” Adviser: “Where are you?” Young caller: “I’m on the top bunk and I can’t get down.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?”Caller: “I need the police please it is my daughter’s wedding day and her dress doesn’t fit anymore. I need the police to come and help me get her in it.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “I need the police, I ordered a takeaway that cost me £30 and they took it to number six, when I live at number seven.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “My laptop password won’t work, I need you to reset it for me.” Adviser: “That’s not something we can help with.” Caller: “Can you call my service provider and get them to ring me back?”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “I need an ambulance, my husband has lost his pyjamas and he cannot breathe without them.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “Well it’s quite urgent my rabbit has escaped, I need help.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “Can I get the Police, someone has stolen my snowman from my garden, can you come quickly?”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “I need to cancel my hairdressers’ appointment, it’s an emergency and I can’t get through to the salon.”Adviser: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?” Caller: “There’s a seagull with a broken arm.”
The two million people attending the Notting Hill Carnival this Bank Holiday weekend have been warned by police not to take ‘selfies’ near the remains of Grenfell Tower.Amid concerns that anger over the tragedy could spill over into violence, senior officers appealed to people’s “humanity and discretion” to prevent a “circus” near the site where at least 80 people lost their lives.As Metropolitan Police faced unprecedented security challenges at this year’s West London festival, officers yesterday revealed how a ring of steel was in place along the procession route to try to prevent a terrorist attack.Steel barriers and a daytime ban on cars have been set up following the Barcelona, London Bridge and Westminster Bridge terror attacks.Officers guarding the perimeter will also have specialist kits to check water bottles are not being used to conceal acid, the weapon of choice in a spate of recent attacks. Many float organisers have provided performers with protective gloves and specially adapted bottles to shower a victim with water to wash off corrosive substances. Police will also use facial recognition software and “super recognisers”, officers with an ability to spot criminals in a crowd, to monitor the event.However, lingering anger about the inferno at the North Kensington tower block remains a key concern. 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. Chief Superintendent Robyn Williams, force spokeswoman on the carnival, said she had visited relatives of those who died and survivors to discuss how best to deal with how the procession passes the charred remains of the flats that dominate the skyline.“The carnival footprint includes the ward area that Grenfell Tower stands in,” she said. “The community don’t want people who are not resident to be casually passing through and taking photos or posing for selfies.”We will appeal to people’s humanity and discretion. We want people to move through the area surrounding Grenfell Tower so it doesn’t become a circus.”The residents are people who walk around the community who have had a catastrophic experience, and people can say things and conduct themselves in a way that can be insensitive. People don’t know who they are sat next to on public transport or stood next to in the corner shop.”Campaigners at recent public meetings have expressed concerns that some groups with vested interest in fomenting violence could target the carnival and try to use the anger surrounding the tragedy to start trouble. Festival organisers want to establish a “quiet zone” where sound systems on the floats are switched off as mark of respect as they pass the 24-storey block. Party-goers will be invited to wear green to show their support for those who perished and the survivors of the blaze in June.Meanwhile, Commander David Musker, who is in charge of the policing of the carnival, was forced to defend the Met’s robust policing tactics in the run up to the carnival following criticism from the grime rapper, Stormzy, that such heavy handed tactics were reserved for black events rather than predominantly white music festivals like Glastonbury. The musician had complained that the force tweeted a picture of a seizure of one kilogram of heroin as part of its preventative operation in the run up to the carnival. The move was condemned by some as unfair because such a drug would be unlikely to be taken or sold at a carnival.In the last few weeks, officers have executed hundreds of search warrants and arrested more than 650 people, many now banned from attending the event.“What do the public expect of us?” Commander Musker asked. “Last year we had 70 to 80 stabbings, four of them people who nearly lost their lives. My officers saved the lives of those people. But, I cannot remember a single murder at Glastonbury.“We are going to be uncompromising in ensuring the safety and security of the public, and if that means putting a significant effort into dealing with criminality before carnival I am unapologetic about that and I will continue to do it.”I don’t really care what we arrest them for. I’ll be lawfully audacious, as I can, to get them off the streets.”So whether they’ve got heroin, or they’ve got other class A drugs, drug dealing, serious violence takes place at carnival, we will try to target them and get them off the streets.”So it’s a fallacy to suspect that because they’re caught in possession of heroin that they are not coming to carnival.”