As they approach the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat should be worried about their recent slumps, but probably no more than if these rough patches had arrived earlier in the season.In their last February game, the Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks — their third consecutive win — to improve to 44-13. They were a game and a half in front of Miami in the East, after the Heat’s sixth straight win that same night over the New York Knicks. Since then, Miami is 12-11, which is mediocre but better than Indiana’s weak 10-12 run, which the Pacers reached after beating the Bucks, again, Wednesday night. Indiana coach Frank Vogel had benched his starters, and his reserves pulled out a two-point win over the team with the worst record in the NBA.Up next for Indiana and Miami: each other. They play Friday in a game that two months ago looked like a preview of the Eastern Conference finals. Now it must feel more like a reprieve, a chance to face a struggling opponent.How far the East’s titans have fallen. But the historical record suggests that bad play in March and April, the last two months of the season, hurts teams’ playoff chances no more than earlier slumps do.Using Basketball-Reference.com’s Play Index, I searched for playoff teams that played an 82-game schedule since 1983-84, when the postseason expanded to 16 teams. That left me with 446 teams. (That’s 16 teams for each of the 28 seasons with a full schedule, except for two teams last year — the Boston Celtics and the Pacers — that missed one game.)I broke down these playoff teams’ regular seasons into two parts: the games through February and those in March and April. Then I ran a linear regression, seeking the relationship between each team’s playoff results and two variables: its overall regular-season performance, and whether it improved or declined in the last two months of the season. The result: Teams’ regular-season winning percentage was a highly significant indicator of postseason success. Every increase of one percentage point in regular-season winning percentage boosted postseason winning percentage by 1.4 percentage points (p<10^-15).But the timing of teams’ regular-season wins didn’t matter. There was no statistically significant relationship between a team’s winning percentage before March subtracted from its winning percentage in March and April, and how the team did in the playoffs (p>0.8).In other words, while the slumps aren’t yet distant memories for Indiana and Miami fans, they’re no more damaging to the teams’ playoff hopes than if the slumps had occurred in the season’s first 22 or 23 games.The basketball stats site Hickory-High.com similarly found no particular importance for the playoffs for a team’s March performance relative to its results the rest of the season.This doesn’t mean the East leaders’ slumps are irrelevant. If either team had won more games, it would have a big lead for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and a better chance at home-court advantage in the finals.Their late slumps also are unusual for teams as good as they are. Miami and Indiana have 53 and 54 wins, respectively, with a handful of games remaining. Just one playoff team in our sample with more than 50 wins had a losing record in March and April: the 54-win Detroit Pistons in 1996-97, who lost in the first round of the postseason. And just two teams with more than 50 wins were outscored in March and April. (Each one, the 2003-04 Sacramento Kings and the 2004-05 Seattle SuperSonics, won one playoff series.)It’s also notable that Miami and Indiana have slumped differently. Miami has been unlucky, losing close games while otherwise winning by big margins: The Heat have outscored opponents by about four points per game in March and April, not far off their season mark of 5.45.But Indiana has been lucky to win 10 of its last 22 games: The Pacers have been outscored by nearly five points per game, thanks to offensive woes outlined by my Grantland colleague Zach Lowe last week. That’s by far the biggest scoring deficit this late in the season for a 50-win playoff team in our sample. Perhaps the encouraging results of prior playoff teams don’t apply as far down the charts as Indiana has fallen.The table below shows the 50-win teams in 82-game seasons with the worst winning percentages in March and April, and how they did in the regular season and the playoffs.
Victim No. 2 – the abused boy witnessed by Mike McQueary that eventually led to the demise of arrest of Jerry Sandusky, the demise of the legacy of Joe Paterno and harsh sanctions to the Penn State football program – has come forward after months out of the pubic spotlight.And he has come seeking some form of retribution from the school for the heinous acts committed on him by Sandusky, the former assistant coach convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse.The man’s lawyers said Thursday they have done an extensive investigation and gathered “overwhelming evidence” on details of the abuse by Sandusky, who used his now-disbanded Second Mile program to recruit victims and the Penn State campus to abuse them.Jurors convicted Sandusky last month of offenses related to so-called Victim 2 largely on the testimony of McQueary, who was a team graduate assistant at the time and witnessed Sandusky’s assault on the youth in the shower of the football training building.“Our client has to live the rest of his life not only dealing with the effects of Sandusky’s childhood sexual abuse, but also with the knowledge that many powerful adults, including those at the highest levels of Penn State, put their own interests and the interests of a child predator above their legal obligations to protect him,” the lawyers said in a news release.They did not name their client. The university said it was taking the case seriously but would not comment on pending litigation.Penn State president Rodney Erickson and the board of trustees, a school spokesman said, “have publicly emphasized that their goal is to find solutions that rest on the principle of justice for the victims.”Trust that Victim No. 2 will not be the only one Sandusky damaged that will come forward seeking financial restitution.The statement from the man’s attorneys said Victim 2 suffered “extensive sexual abuse over many years both before and after the 2001 incident Michael McQueary witnessed.”McQueary testified in December at a hearing that he had seen Sandusky and a boy, both naked, in a team shower after hearing skin-on-skin slapping sounds.“I would have described that it was extremely sexual and I thought that some kind of intercourse was going on,” McQueary said.McQueary reported the abuse to school officials, including Paterno, but none of them told police. In a recent report conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh and commissioned by Penn State, the investigators excoriated Paterno and the other administrators for not attempting to identify Victim 2, saying it showed “a striking lack of empathy.”Trustees fired Paterno, who since has died, because he failed to do more about claims against Sandusky, and the scathing independent review said several top school officials looked the other way because they were afraid of bad publicity.
Wow.I mean, wow.Mississippi State’s victory over UConn was a great game, and a great upset. Mississippi State will go down in history as the team that ended the longest win streak in basketball (and possibly college team sports) history, and they did it in style.First off, let’s be clear that this is not the most improbable upset of all time. The FiveThirtyEight March Madness predictions gave Mississippi State a 13 percent chance of winning, which — if accurate — wouldn’t even make the dais in the celebration of greatest upsets in history. It wasn’t even the Bulldogs’ biggest upset this week, as our model gave them only an 11 percent chance of beating Baylor, who they beat 94-85 in the Elite Eight. Yes, some people (like this idiot) thought 13 percent was crazy high given UConn’s history, not to mention the 98-38 beatdown the Huskies gave the same Bulldogs team in last year’s Sweet 16.But if I went into this game thinking the model was too optimistic for Mississippi State, by halftime it started looking like that 13 percent might have been low. Not only was UConn not dominating, they were getting outplayed.For me, this is what made this upset even more amazing. Sometimes the better team’s shot goes cold or the underdog’s heats up at the right time, and there isn’t much to do about it except try to do better next game. That was not this game.Shooting and shooting opportunitiesTo my eye, the UConn offense looked frustrated all night, yet they were easily still the better shooting team. UConn shot 42 percent on 2-point shots and 47 percent on 3-point shots, while Mississippi State shot 42 percent and 27 percent, respectively. All together, the Huskies scored 1.12 points per shot (counting 2-point shooting fouls) compared to 0.90 points per shot for the Bulldogs.That should be a recipe for a nice comfortable win. But the Huskies had only 57 shooting possessions (46 shots from the floor, plus 11 shooting fouls), while the Bulldogs had 73 (67 plus 6).How did Mississippi State get 16 more shooting opportunities? Like so:According to the play-by-play of the game on ESPN, the Bulldogs had 16 rebounds on offense to the Huskies’ six, creating ten more scoring opportunities.1You may notice the ESPN box score gives Mississippi State only 14 offensive rebounds. The reason for the discrepancy between the box score and the play-by-play data is unclear to me without knowing more about the nuances of NCAA scoring methodology, but those two extra scoring opportunities happened.The Bulldogs had 13 turnovers to the Huskies’ 17, which created four more opportunities for Mississippi State.2Note the box score records 14 Bulldogs turnovers, but one of those is referring to the flagrant-1 foul that gave Connecticut two shots and the ball, which did not lead to a change of possession.The Bulldogs had the last offensive possession in all five periods, and started with the ball in the second and third quarters, netting them two extra “fencepost” possessions.To recap: Mississippi State netted ten extra shot opportunities from rebounding, four from steals/ball protection, and two from clock management.UConn’s offensive failureThose possession stats are the “what” of “what happened” – the Bulldogs made up a sizeable shooting gap by edging the Huskies in the other aspects of the game. But why did it happen?The story of this game was the UConn offense continuously trying — and failing — to penetrate Mississippi State’s interior defense. This was reflected in a few ways:The Huskies made just 42 percent of their 2-point shots, compared to 58 percent in the regular season.Despite all those misses, they got only six of 29 possible offensive boards, for 21 percent. Compare that to 36 percent in the regular season.The Huskies turned the ball over 17 times (eight stolen). With just four steals themselves, they forced 13 fewer turnovers than they committed. In the regular season, they forced 1.7 fewer turnovers from steals than the total number of turnovers they committed per game, on average. Much of the deficit Friday night resulted from interior passes that the Bulldogs got their hands on.The irony is that UConn was shooting better than average from beyond the arc, making 47 percent of its threes, compared to their regular-season average of 40 percent. Despite being frustrated all night trying to get to the basket, they just kept trying and trying. As I saw it, it looked like the Huskies responded to their struggles by trying to get back to “fundamental” rim-attacking basketball, when they probably should have gone less fundamental and bombed away from the perimeter.Oh, and Connecticut also missed a couple of free throws that probably could have sealed the deal. This could have been nerves, but who knows. If the teams were who we thought they were, the game shouldn’t have been close enough for that to matter.After Mississippi State beat Baylor, a team we though had a real chance of beating UConn, my main thought was that Baylor probably wasn’t as good as I thought they were. But I should have been giving Mississippi State more credit. Against UConn, they earned it all, with full backpay.Correction (April 3, 4:06 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the sources of some of Mississippi State’s extra scoring opportunities. The article incorrectly said that six of those opportunities came from their three fewer turnovers, when three fewer turnovers would only account for three extra opportunities. Using the play-by-play data to account for the remaining discrepancy, we determined that Mississippi State netted four opportunities from turnovers instead of six, and 10 opportunities from rebounding instead of eight.
Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 14Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 14 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. YEARTEAMQUARTERBACKWINSBACKUP QBTEAM PLAYOFF RECORD HOU76%HOU64%SF 26, HOU 16+13.9– 2016OaklandDerek Carr12Connor Cook0-1 CIN71CIN71CHI 33, CIN 7-1.2– DAL61DAL67DAL 30, NYG 10+1.9– DEN50NYJ55NYJ 0, DEN 23-7.9– TB50DET57DET 24, TB 21+4.2– Source: ELIAS Sports Bureau, Pro-Football-Reference.com BUF72BUF69IND 7, BUF 13-3.9– 2005ChicagoKyle Orton10Rex Grossman0-1 There’s some hope here for Foles and the Eagles in the form of Jeff Hostetler, who stepped in and led the 1990 Giants to a Super Bowl victory after New York lost starting quarterback Phil Simms to a fractured foot in Week 15. Granted, that New York team rested heavily on their defense to claw them to glory — and last time we checked, the Eagles don’t have Lawrence Taylor. The Giants gave up the fewest points in the league that year and succeeded by not asking Hostetler to do too much.With this in mind, Philly should probably channel any remaining optimism toward its defense, which ranks fifth in the league in points allowed this season. Since he took over the defensive playcalling in 2016, Jim Schwartz has quickly turned his unit into one of the top defenses in the NFL: The Eagles ranked 18th in defensive EPA the season before Schwartz took over and rank fourth in the league through 13 games this year. The D could be the team’s best hope of making a deep run in January.The 2017 season might be remembered as “the year of the injured quarterback,” and in Week 14, it was Philadelphia’s turn feel the bite. The Eagles will be fine with Wentz as their franchise quarterback of the future, but in the present, Philly fans can only hope their team mimics the 1990 Giants and their defense comes through for them.FiveThirtyEight vs. The ReadersWeek 14 in our NFL predictions game — in which we invite you to outsmart our Elo algorithm — saw the readers suffer three heavy defeats. The Chiefs rebounded from four straight losses to beat the Raiders, which gave the readers a net loss of 10.4 points. Miami shocked New England on Monday night and won at home 27-20 to give the readers a loss of 11.5 points. And on Thursday night, the readers incorrectly predicted that the Saints would beat the Falcons, handing them a net loss of 11.7 points. There was only one victory over our Elo algorithm in which the readers scored double-digit points: San Francisco beat Houston 26-16, and because the readers had less confidence in the Texans than Elo did, the readers netted 13.9 points.Make sure you get your Week 15 predictions in early, and thanks for playing! 2015CincinnatiAndy Dalton10A.J. McCarron0-1 LAR52PHI52PHI 43, LAR 35+2.1– TEN53TEN57TEN 7, ARI 12-6.0– 1990ChicagoJim Harbaugh10Mike Tomczak1-1 SEA53SEA55SEA 24, JAX 30-4.2– PIT71PIT70BAL 38, PIT 39-3.1– Will Nick Foles keep Philly flying?Quarterbacks that won at least 10 games in a season for their playoff-bound teams but didn’t make a playoff start, since 1970 MIN53MIN58MIN 24, CAR 31-8.1– LAC69LAC68WAS 13, LAC 30-2.5– 2012MinnesotaChristian Ponder10Joe Webb0-1 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION 1999BuffaloDoug Flutie10Rob Johnson0-1 KC67KC57OAK 15, KC 26-10.4– When Carson Wentz entered the blue sideline tent of doom on Sunday, he took close to 60 years of unfulfilled football dreams in Philadelphia with him. At that moment, the 10-2 Eagles had just taken a lead on the road against one of the NFC’s best teams. Shortly thereafter, the second-year quarterback limped down the tunnel at L.A. Memorial Coliseum, forcing backup quarterback Nick Foles to take over for the remainder of the game. In just a few minutes, the Eagles’ unexpected dream season was seemingly cut down by hard luck — something that comes with the territory in Philadelphia.We now know that Wentz tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season. It’s a huge blow to the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes, and they’ll have to lean on someone other than Wentz and his MVP-caliber offense. The sophomore quarterback has been so good this season that the Eagles ranked third in the league in offensive expected points added — behind only the Patriots and Saints — and his 33 touchdown passes through 13 games are third-most in NFL history for quarterbacks in their first or second year, behind only future Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.Fortunately for Doug Pederson’s men, the win over the Rams secured a playoff berth with three weeks to spare, and their remaining games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys should give Foles enough time to feel comfortable as the leader of a playoff team again. Foles is uniquely familiar with this position: In Week 5 of 2013, he was forced into action when starter Michael Vick suffered an injury. Foles became the unlikely savior that year, as he steered the Eagles to an 8-3 record for the remainder of the season and a wild-card berth. Along the way, he compiled an eye-popping passer rating of 119.2, the third best in NFL history, and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13.5, the second-best of all time.While there’s little doubt over whether Philly will bypass the wild-card round — one more regular-season win will secure a first-round bye for the Eagles — let’s not kid ourselves about their overall playoff chances: History is not on Philadelphia’s side. No one is expecting Foles to repeat his 2013 performance and keep the team’s run going. We’ve seen this scenario unfold before. In fact, a backup being thrown into the fire of playoff football is quickly becoming an annual NFL tradition. Last year, Connor Cook, a third-stringer, started his first game ever for the Raiders, who lost star Derek Carr (then backup Matt McGloin) as their dream season turned into a nightmare. And two seasons ago, Alabama-star-turned-professional-clipboard-holder A.J. McCarron started a wild-card game for Cincinnati in the wake of the Bengals losing Andy Dalton in Week 14.As expected, this usually doesn’t go well. Cook and McCarron both lost in the playoffs, posting passer ratings of 30 and 68.3, respectively. Neither has started a game since. In total, Wentz will be one of only eight quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to win 10 or more games for a future playoff team and not appear in the postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Among the backups for these teams, only two won at least one playoff game. GB77GB76GB 27, CLE 21-3.2– 2017PhiladelphiaCarson Wentz11Nick Foles? Check out our latest NFL predictions. 1990N.Y. GiantsPhil Simms11Jeff Hostetler3-0 ATL56NO54NO 17, ATL 20-11.7– NE81NE87NE 20, MIA 27-11.5– PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.RESULTREADERS’ NET PTS
In filling out the men’s NCAA Tournament bracket this year, you might have noticed that fewer obvious upsets are popping up than in previous seasons. According to the FiveThirtyEight March Madness model, only one game in the first round — No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Ole Miss in the South region — features the worse-seeded team as an outright favorite (at 53 percent), compared with three such upset picks last season, two in 2017 and a whopping six in 2016. At the same time, truly promising Cinderellas are more difficult to identify in this year’s bracket as well, with the most probable double-digit seeds to make the Final Four being major-conference members Florida (No. 10 in the West region) and Ohio State (No. 11 in the Midwest). Did the committee get things weirdly right this year? And for bracket-pickers, is that even a good thing?Certainly the seeds this year more closely follow what the statistics would recommend. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient between a team’s overall seed (according to the selection committee’s list) and its place in our Elo rankings is 0.941 this season, higher than in the 2018 (0.926), 2017 (0.912) and 2016 (0.893) tournaments. One reason for the lack of instant upset picks is that the committee appears to have done a better job seeding this year — even if Tom Izzo and Michigan State fans might feel differently.Moreover, this year’s top seeds are generally stronger than in recent seasons — at least outside the No. 1s. According to Elo, each seed number from No. 2 through No. 7 contains a significantly stronger team this year than it did in the previous tournaments this decade: Relative to the field, this year’s No. 1 seeds are basically the same level of strength as usual. But a much stronger crop of teams on the next six seed lines naturally makes it harder to find good upset picks, particularly in the early rounds.One very interesting component of that, however, is that it hasn’t been caused by seeding more power-conference schools in the top half of each region’s seeds. If anything, the opposite is true: Headlined by tiny Wofford as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest and Buffalo as the No. 6 in the West, small-conference schools were acknowledged by the committee as much as ever. Since 2010, there hasn’t been a season where more teams outside of major conferences1Defined as we’ve done before — teams from conferences with fewer than 100 all-time NCAA tournament appearances. got top-seven seeds in the tournament than in 2019. (Plus, the Ohio Valley managed to get two teams into the tournament — Belmont and Murray State.) At the same time, major-conference schools are getting an abnormal number of bad seeds: Using the same definition as above, 11 different major-conference teams have double-digit seeds this season, tying 2012 for the most in any tournament since 2010.All of this paints a picture of college basketball’s changing landscape, with better mid-major schools getting more credit for their accomplishments, leading to a better bracket overall. The only hitch in this development might just be for fans of interesting tournament-pool picks. Nonchalky brackets are inherently more fun than ones in which the better-seeded teams are constantly picked to win, and choosing against chalk requires finding inefficiencies in the committee’s original seeds. Better seed choices cut down on those possibilities, making “fun” brackets more risky and chalky ones more likely to win pools. So in some ways, we as bracket-pickers should want a return to the era of worse seedings, to make upsets easier to spot (or at least more tempting to pick).Maybe the selection committee’s better seeds were a one-off this year. Its new “NET” rankings have come under heavy fire, even as the NCAA has tried to modernize and replace the old ratings percentage index (RPI) as its chief statistical guideline for ranking teams. But maybe the improved seedings are a sign of an improved selection process, whatever the reason behind it. (For instance, the committee also appeared to reward regular-season performance over conference tournaments in several cases, which would tend to favor teams that have proved themselves better over a larger sample of games.) Either way, this year’s bracket has made it tougher to pick upsets — and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your perspective as a fan.Check out our latest March Madness predictions.
“Time heals all wounds” is kind of a nonsense saying when it comes to sports. If it were true, rivalries wouldn’t exist and 35-year-olds on the brink of retirement wouldn’t hang on for one last World Cup. More than half the likely starters on the U.S. and Japanese national teams in the Women’s World Cup final this Sunday were there for the agony and ecstacy — depending which team you were on — of the 2011 final game, when Japan defeated the U.S. on penalty kicks. Japan now has a chance to repeat history, and join Germany and the U.S. as the only countries to win two World Cup titles. The U.S. is looking to break its 16-year World Cup drought and secure its place in history as the greatest World Cup dynasty of all time (in either the women’s or men’s game).This championship game might not be the greatest of all time, but it’s one with a lot of still-fresh wounds, so here’s a look at how it’s shaping up.Things are more even than they seemBack in 2011, some betting lines put Japan’s chances of beating the U.S. around 28 percent, not so far from where they are this time around. Coming off a huge semifinal win over Germany, FiveThirtyEight’s model says the Americans should win 67 percent of the time, but the two teams’ performances in this World Cup have been pretty similar. Both teams have created the same number of chances (59) and scored the same number of goals (nine), despite having traveled very different paths to the final.It’s likely that goals won’t come easily for either side. The U.S. hasn’t been scored on since its opening game, and Japan has conceded only three goals in six games (one of which was an egregious keeper error). It may very well come down to who can capitalize on the few good opportunities the defense allows, and which team doesn’t miss early chances like the U.S. did in the 2011 final.A battle of two very different stylesJapan is arguably the most technical team in the world; it has had the highest pass completion percentage of any team at the World Cup (80 percent compared to the Americans’ 74 percent) and its players have touched the ball and attempted almost 1.5 times as many passes as the U.S. players. Japan plays a quick, one-and-two-touch style of soccer that is different from the styles of most teams the U.S. has faced so far. The closest comparison is probably Colombia — and the U.S. struggled a bit to win the ball back in the midfield in that game.Where the U.S. will excel against Japan is with its physicality and speed; by pressuring the defense and surprising Japan by playing the ball in behind. This is how the first U.S. goal came at the 2011 World Cup: The midfield collapsed to win the ball back, Megan Rapinoe played a long ball in behind, and Alex Morgan outran her defender and scored with just two touches. In the semifinal game against England this year, Japan struggled when the Lionesses pressured and stepped to win the ball back, and the U.S. must do the same thing if it hopes to break down Japan’s tremendous organization. The Americans are undoubtedly faster and stronger than Japan, but they’ll also need to be able to win the ball from a team that hardly loses it.Slow and steady wins the race (at least for one team)Both teams’ chances of winning didn’t change significantly throughout the tournament aside from a bump after the semifinal games; the U.S. hovered around 30 percent and Japan around 10 percent for the majority of the World Cup. Neither team looked stellar during the group stage — eyes were on Germany, France and even Brazil’s early dominance — but these are the two teams that have made it to the World Cup final.“These are two talented teams with a lot of history and rivalry, and I think it will be a classic matchup,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said about Sunday’s final. The score in head-to-head matchups is one to one right now — one World cup victory for Japan to one Olympic gold medal for the U.S. — but everyone knows a World Cup trophy tastes sweeter than gold.
Then-redshirt-sophomore running back Bri’onte Dunn (25) carries the ball during the 2014 OSU Spring Game on at Ohio Stadium.Credit: Lantern file photoThe dismissal of Bri’onte Dunn from the Ohio State football team has become much more clear, as today new details arose about an alleged altercation between Dunn and a woman who is thought to be his girlfriend.Dunn, 23, was dismissed from Urban Meyer’s team on Monday for a “violation of team rules” according to the coach of the Buckeyes. First reported by 10TV, a 911 call placed by the woman early Sunday morning outlined a series of events that ended with a protection order against Dunn and his dismissal from the team. The dialer claimed Dunn had struck her, then began to choke her when she returned some time later.“He hit me the first time at 4:40. I left,” the caller told police. “Then I was just calling my friend and see if I could sleep somewhere and nobody answered. So I made a circle back around and came back here and he was still here. So I came upstairs and I said, ‘You need to leave before I call the cops.’ He saw that I had my phone out cause I was going to try to record it because this isn’t the first time that this has happened and that’s when he started going crazy.”There have been no criminal charges filed against Dunn other than the protection order.Dunn was entering his final year of eligibility with the Scarlet and Gray after graduating at the end of the 2016 Spring Semester.
A “say hey” to Ohio State’s outfielder Dee Dee Hillman might mean more than just a greeting.Hillman compares her softball prowess to Major League legend Willie Mays.“We have the same mentality that wherever the ball is hit, I’m going to get it,” Hillman said. “That is my outfield mentality. I love to make the plays that seem to be impossible. I love the challenge.”Not only can Hillman play defense like Mays, making only one error this year, but she hits like him as well.In a two-week span from April 21 to May 2, Hillman had a .524 batting average from the leadoff position.The team went 7-1 during this stretch, including a split series over the No. 2 team in the country, Michigan.Batting first in Ohio State’s lineup is an important role, which she considers an honor.“It’s my responsibility to get everybody off to a good start and set a good tone,” Hillman said. “I think it’s my job to break the ice.”Coach Linda Kalafatis has simple expectations for her leadoff hitter when she approaches the plate.“Get on base and challenge the defense,” Kalafatis said. Hillman’s role as the leadoff hitter is enhanced because of her ability to put the ball in play.She has only struck out 12 times all season.“It comes down to being relentless and knowing that (the pitcher) is not going to get me out,” Hillman said.Though Kalafatis has simple expectations, Hillman has had to work hard to fulfill her coach’s wishes.“I know I have been putting a lot of extra work in and all the extra swings in the (batting) cages is really starting to pay off,” Hillman said.Hillman’s work ethic spotlights her versatility. She is the only player listed on the roster as a switch hitter. “I switched over from a righty hitter to a lefty when I was about 14 and it has its advantages,” Hillman said. “The fact that you are two steps closer to first base is really huge. Another advantage is that you can mis-hit and still beat it out.”As the junior’s confidence has been increasing with every game, she has made big strides compared to last year.In 2009, Hillman hit .297, whereas this season she is second on the team with a .361 batting average. Her big strides are evident in the batter’s box, but much shorter on the base paths. Hillman led the team last year with 17 stolen bases. This season, she only has five.One reason Hillman has not been able to “run like Mays” is because of a lingering hamstring injury, but her coach believes there is a bit more strategy to worry about.“We don’t want to open up first base and invite teams to walk Sam Marder,” Kalafatis said. “We don’t want to open the base up.”As the regional tournament approaches, Hillman is already looking to change up her game for next year.“As I am getting older, other teams start to know you a little bit better and start to scout you more.” Hillman said. “So, if it comes to bunting or just working more on power-slapping to hit it more in the gaps, I’ll do whatever.”In the end, Kalafatis is aware of Hillman’s big goal.“She wants to be an All-American,” Kalafatis said.
Quinn Pitcock Dallas Lauderdale Last week: 3-1 Overall: 12-5 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida James Laurinaitis Last week: 3-1 Overall: 12-5 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida Last week: 3-1 Overall: 9-8 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida Zack Meisel Last week: 3-1 Overall: 12-5 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan, Florida Little changed standings-wise last week, as all five participants in the Weekly Picks Challenge correctly predicted three out of the four games. This week, the only game featuring different predictions is Michigan State-Michigan. Justin Zwick remains atop the leaderboard with a 14-3 overall record. A three-way tie for second place has James Laurinaitis, Dallas Lauderdale and defending champion Quinn Pitcock at 12-5. THIS WEEK’S GAMES Indiana @ No. 2 Ohio State No. 17 Michigan State @ No. 18 Michigan No. 14 LSU @ No. 12 Florida Last week: 3-1 Overall: 12-5 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan, Florida Justin Zwick
Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta knew what he was getting in Deshaun Thomas. The junior forward is a scorer, but ever since Matta could remember he’s also had a bit of a loose trigger. When Thomas played in the 2009 Class 2A state championship game in his home state of Indiana, OSU’s coach was there to watch. The game’s opening tip went to Thomas who immediately threw up a deep 3-pointer. Air ball. “You haven’t seen anything yet,” Matta said to the person sitting next to him at the game. Thirty-four points and 15 boards later, Thomas’ Bishop Luers High School was hoisting the state championship trophy. Now, the same guy who hurriedly threw up an ill-advised air ball in his high school’s state championship game and admitted that he used to “chuck threes, just play to get that shot up” during his freshman year at OSU is the man who will lead the Buckeyes’ offense this season. Is Matta comfortable with that notion? “Yeah,” Matta said. “I think so.” He might not have any choice. With former forward Jared Sullinger now with the Boston Celtics and guard William Buford playing professionally in Spain, much of the night-to-night scoring load will be thrust onto Thomas’ broad shoulders. After the Buckeyes’ 2011 tournament run to the Final Four, it appeared Thomas might join his two teammates in the professional ranks. “It was close,” Thomas said of his decision. “I was thinking about it … because I had a great season so I was very close. But then I sat off in my room by myself and I made that decision myself, and I think I made a perfect decision by coming back.” His return is a big reason the Buckeyes – which are playing in what is expected to be the most difficult basketball conference in the country – are ranked No. 4 in both major preseason polls. For the Buckeyes to live up to those expectations, Thomas – who was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press – will have to play a major role. The OSU forward showed he had the capabilities to be a major player last season, averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds for the season, and 19.2 points in the NCAA Tournament. Most of his production though, came with the defense focused on Sullinger, giving Thomas a little more freedom. As the only returning Buckeye to average more than nine points per game, the ire of opposing defenses will be fixed upon Thomas. “I’m pretty sure in the Big Ten it will be different,” Thomas said. “I seen how they played Jared last year and I think this year I’ll probably get some of that.” To prepare him, Thomas’ teammates tried to simulate the added defensive pressure he’ll face during summer workouts. His teammates employed double teams, triple teams and traps in scrimmages, and tried to make things as difficult as possible for him on the offensive end. “That’s going to help us big during the season when he realizes that guys are keying in on him,” said junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. “It’s not going to phase him because he’s going to be so used to it from our open gyms that he’s not going to think twice.” How did Thomas deal with the added pressure? “Believe it or not, there’s two people guarding him, pulling on his jersey and he still scores the ball,” Smith said. “I mean, I don’t doubt him.” His coach doesn’t either. Matta said Thomas has reined in his free-shooting ways and has turned into a more complete basketball player. “When he came in here as a freshman, if you weren’t sitting on the rim he couldn’t see you when he caught the ball,” Matta said. “He’s added a lot of different things to his game and his basketball IQ just continues to expand. “He’s making himself a complete player.” Thomas and OSU are set to tip off their season Friday against Marquette as part of the Carrier Classic on board the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Junior forward Ryan Dzingel lines up for a shot against Michigan State. The teams tied, 1-1, Jan. 11 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Kelly Roderick / For The LanternPostseason hockey is almost here, but before the Ohio State men’s hockey team (15-12-5, 5-8-5) can start packing its bags for the Big Ten tournament, it must travel to Penn State (6-24-2, 2-15-1) for the first time in program history.With two games remaining in the regular season, OSU’s first round matchup in the conference tournament is all but set. The Buckeyes are currently in fourth place, and can’t leapfrog Michigan into third, nor can they fall lower than fifth. Michigan State sits two points behind OSU, and is also locked into fourth or fifth place.In the Big Ten tournament, one of the two quarterfinal contests is between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, which means the Buckeyes and Spartans are slated to face each other Thursday in St. Paul, Minn., with their respective seeds yet to be determined.The Buckeyes will again be without senior Alex Szczechura this weekend. The forward missed both games against Minnesota last weekend after sustaining an injury against Michigan on March 2.Despite its tournament opener already being set, OSU coach Steve Rohlik said the weekend’s games against the Nittany Lions are still important to his team.“We obviously know who we’re playing in the Big Ten tournament, (now) the thing that we’ve got to do is get better this weekend,” Rohlik said. “We’ve got to play the best hockey we can Friday and Saturday and try to get as many points as possible.”Things haven’t been easy for PSU in its second season as a Division I program. It enters this weekend having lost five straight, and has only won two conference games all year. But Rohlik called the poor record “deceiving,” especially considering the team still has had some notable results at home — including a 4-0 win against Michigan.The Buckeyes swept the Nittany Lions in Columbus earlier in the season, but senior defenseman Curtis Gedig said getting results on PSU’s home ice won’t be easy.“They’ve always hung in there with teams, so it’s not like we can take them lightly,” Gedig said. “They’re a hard-working team that won’t give up no matter what the score is, so it’ll be a good test for us going into the playoffs because it’ll feel like playoff hockey.”Freshman forward Nick Schilkey, who scored the clinching shootout goal against Minnesota Saturday, reiterated that this PSU team was going to give OSU all it could handle.“We know that we have to play hard and play our game,” Schilkey said. “We can’t look past them at all because if we do there’s a great chance that they’ll get the best of us, so we’ve got to stick to our game plan.”The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are scheduled to face off at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Freshman forward Quinn Preston (16) races for a loose puck during the first period of Ohio State’s hockey game vs. Michigan on Jan. 11. Ohio State lost 2-1. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternIn the rivalry matchup between Michigan (8-8-6, 4-4-4-2 Big Ten) and Ohio State (12-5-4, 5-2-3-2 Big Ten), a season after the Buckeyes won all five matchups, it was the Wolverines who came out on top, winning the game 2-1.Michigan junior goalie Hayden Lavigne came up big, making 22 saves, including 20 straight to end the game.“They’re a really good hockey team, they’ve got a ton of talent,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “They played with a lot of speed. There’s nothing that surprised me tonight.”Following the puck drop, Ohio State roared to life with senior forward Freddy Gerard scoring a goal less than seven minutes into the game with assists from junior forward Carson Meyer and senior forward Dakota Joshua.The rest of the period saw a vicious Michigan offense facing off against a resilient OSU defense. Michigan attempted over double the amount of shots in the period, shooting 13 times as opposed to Ohio State’s six, but the Buckeyes held the 1-0 lead.Within the first two minutes of the second period, both Michigan senior defenseman Nicholas Boka and junior forward Jake Slaker were sent to the penalty box, allowing Ohio State a 5-on-3 opportunity to advance their lead. Despite their best efforts, the puck ricocheted off the goal post twice, keeping the score at 1-0.“We had obviously a couple great looks, hit a couple posts, I mean sometimes you get those, sometimes you don’t,” Rohlik said. “We go up two-zip maybe it’s a different game, but it didn’t happen, so then you gotta respond from there.”Shortly after being released from the penalty box, Slaker tied the game up 1-1. The teams remained in a gridlock up until the last few minutes of the second period, when Michigan junior forward Will Lockwood shot and scored, putting Michigan in the lead 2-1.The Buckeyes pulled redshirt senior goalie Sean Romeo and put in an additional player within the last moments of the game in an attempt to at least tie up the game, but couldn’t find the back of the net.“We kind of played into what they like to do,” Gerard said. “They had a lot of heat coming up the ice on us and for whatever reason, we just didn’t really have the jump tonight, and we weren’t playing really connected.”Ohio State faces off with Michigan again at the Schottenstein Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
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. We do not consider the reference to be offensiveBBC Scotland While some claimed the term amounted to “casual racism”, others said it was light hearted and pointed out that it was routinely used to describe soldiers in Scottish regiments.According to the Urban Dictionary, Jock is a term “used by English people to generally describe Scottish people in a derogatory fashion” and is now “considered to verge on racism when used by a non-Scot”.It adds that it is the equivalent of using the word “Paddy” to describe an Irishman.The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as slang for a Scottish or northern English sailor or soldier, as well as “for any Scotsman”. BBC Scotland said the headline was merely a play on the words “Shock Jock”, but the term has led to police complaints and court cases in the past.Last year, Police Scotland chose not to take any action after receiving complaints about the newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins describing Scottish people as “sweaty little jocks”.In 2010, a Scottish pilot, Douglas Maughan, who claimed he was victimised by fellow pilots, lost an employment tribunal alleging his colleagues had used a number of racist slurs, including the word Jock.However, there have also been successful prosecutions involving the word.Alexander Blood, a 21-year-old English football fan who travelled to Glasgow for a Rangers-Celtic match in February 2015 was given a community payback order after admitting acting in a racially aggravated manner by calling a Scottish police officer a “Jock ****”.In 2011, a postman was convicted of racism after calling Andy Murray a “useless Jock”.Darren Swain, 45, from Coventry, daubed dozens of posters with abusive comments, including the reference to the Scottish tennis player. He was given 200 hours of unpaid work.The term Jock has been used since the First World War to describe Scottish soldiers, and it appears in old Scottish music hall songs, including Harry Lauder’s “Stop Your Tickling Jock”.On the Army’s website, the section on The Royal Regiment of Scotland states: “Our soldiers call themselves ‘The Jocks’. They are proud, fierce, professionals, trained to accomplish the full range of operational infantry roles.”A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: “The news headline that was used with an article on the Scottish economy was a play on words on the term Shock Jock. It was produced by our Scottish news team and we do not consider the reference to be offensive.” The BBC has been accused of racism by an SNP politician for using the word “Jock” in a headline about the Scottish economy.A report suggesting the economy north of the border is in need of a shock, and that Brexit might provide it, appeared on the corporation’s website under the headline “Jock Shock”.Carol Monaghan, an SNP MP, took to Twitter to complain that the word was “as unacceptable as any other racist slur”, prompting a furious debate on social media. The use of “Jock” is as unacceptable as any other racist slur. @BBCScotland is this considered an appropriate headline? https://t.co/fl6hrRG2yI— Carol Monaghan MP (@CMonaghanMP) September 19, 2016
The dressage champion is understood to have declared that she had ridden Ramazotti III before he was sold and that he had not displayed any problems.But Mrs Briscoe said that Dujardin’s comments were “irrelevant” as she was an Olympic gold medallist and the horse had been purchased for an amateur rider.She told The Sunday Telegraph: “Charlotte Dujardin is the most amazing rider and we’re all in complete awe of the lady, but you can’t compare her to me – you’re talking about a Ferrari and a clapped-out old car.”She can ride anything, she is the best rider in the world. The fact that he was good for Charlotte is irrelevant.” One of Britain’s greatest equestrians has become embroiled in a bitter two-year legal battle over a horse described as “very naughty” and “tricky” by a rider who bought him for £95,000.Charlotte Dujardin, who won her third Olympic gold at last summer’s Rio Games, was called to give evidence on the character and behaviour of Ramazotti III, as part of the dispute between amateur rider Louise Briscoe and the dressage rider and horse dealer Calum Whitworth, who sold her the horse.Ms Dujardin, who has been described as the most successful British dressage rider in history and has won all the sport’s major titles and world records, gave a witness statement in support of Mr Whitworth when he was sued by Mrs Briscoe. Calum Whitworth riding Ramazotti IIICredit:Kevin Sparrow 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. Charlotte Dujardin, riding Valegro, reacts after winning Gold in the individual dressage at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de JaneiroCredit:John Locher/AP Mrs Briscoe, who describes herself as a novice but keen rider, bought Ramazotti III, known as Rambo, from Mr Whitworth in June 2014. He travelled to her home in Kenilworth twice a week during the following three months to give her lessons.Before completing the purchase Mrs Briscoe paid £5,000 to Stef Eardley, a dressage rider and judge, to test-ride the horse and assess its suitability.But in January last year Mrs Briscoe claimed Rambo’s behaviour had deteriorated due to underlying problems she claimed had been concealed by Mr Whitworth.Mrs Briscoe, 52, said:”I wanted to buy a horse that was a well behaved, well mannered, not sharp horse. I explained to the vendor that I had actually not ridden or competed for five years and that I was not a brave rider.“That doesn’t mean that I cannot ride. I’m just not a brave rider and the horse was a very sharp horse. I never got hurt but that was mainly because I got off when he became tricky.”Mrs Briscoe added: “During the process of acquiring information for court proceedings, sadly we found out that the horse had quite major issues that were not disclosed to us.”We found out that this horse has a history of being a very naughty horse which was not disclosed. I believe I was taken for a ride.”In her witness statement she said: “At every stage he reassured me the horse was what I bargained for, and any adverse comments [about Ramazotti III] were the product of bitchiness and were rubbish.”But Mr Whitworth, 29, strongly denied either that Ramazotti III – who had twice been British national dressage champion under him – had any problems or that he had deliberately concealed them.He said in his witness statement: “Rambo had no tendency to rear, buck or bolt at the time of purchase or prior to purchase.“Horses that have notable tendencies are not consistently successful the way Rambo was.”The pair reached a settlement shortly before the case went to trial at Birmingham County Court.The terms of the deal are confidential but it is understood they involve Ramazotti III being returned to Mr Whitworth, who will pay also Mrs Briscoe a small sum in compensation.Mrs Briscoe, who has donated £50,000 to the Margaret Giffen Centre, an organisation that aims to stop riding being seen as the pursuit of the elite, said: “I still love riding but it has made me extremely anxious to buy another horse. I hope to get involved with some vets and lawyers in the industry to see if we can produce a pamphlet so buyers can ask all the questions and the vendor has to sign it off.”Mr Whitworth, who runs a horse breeding and sales business in Herefordshire, has now apologised to Mrs Briscoe, telling the Eurodressage news website: “I was enthusiastic and hopeful that the partnership would work. I did not anticipate that Rambo may be unsuitable for Louise and I am sorry about this.”
Murray was honoured for both his contribution to tennis and for his charity work as an ambassador for Unicef, the World Wide Fund for Nature, Malaria No More and the Duke of Cambridge’s United for Wildlife initiative.Each year he takes part in a charity exhibition match in Scotland to raise money for Unicef and local good causes.The youngest person to receive a knighthood or damehood in modern times was the sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur, who was 28 when she was honoured.The youngest knight in history was Prince George, the future George IV, who was aged three when he was made a knight of the garter in 1765.Murray lost an exhibition match yesterday to David Goffin in the first round of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, and left without commenting. Other knighthoods go to the military historian Antony Beevor, the explorer David Hempleman-Adams and the war photographer Don McCullin.Angela Rippon, the television presenter, receives a CBE for services to dementia care.The actors Tim Pigott-Smith, Naomie Harris and Helen McCrory all receive OBEs, while there are MBEs for the actor Clive Rowe and the singer Marty Wilde.Chris Ofili, the Turner Prize-winning painter best known for his paintings incorporating elephant dung, receives a CBE. Ray Davies, lead singer of The Kinks, becomes Sir Ray Davies. The 72-year-old said: “Initially I felt a mixture of surprise, humility, joy and a bit embarrassed but after thinking about it, I accept this for my family and fans as well as everyone who has inspired me to write.” Sir Ken said: “I’m very proud, I’m very, very happy and full of plumptiousness. I feel highly tickled.”Sir Ken, who was made an OBE in 1982 and acquitted of tax evasion at a high-profile trial seven years later, started his career in 1954 and is still delighting audiences with his one-man show and is involved with more than 40 charities.Patricia Routledge, best known for her portrayal of the social climber Hyacinth Bucket in the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, is made a dame for services to theatre and charity. The OlympiansMo Farah said it was “a dream come true” to be knighted in a New Year honours list that includes more than 100 of his fellow Olympic and Paralympic medalists.Sir Mo described his knighthood as an “incredible honour” and thanked the British people for the support they have given him ever since he arrived from Somalia as an eight-year-old.He is joined on the top podium by Lee Pearson, the most decorated para-equestrian of all time, who is also knighted, and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, both of whom have been made dames. Marcia Shakespeare, who has been awarded an MBE for her service in educating young people against gun and knife crimeCredit:Richard Vernalls/PA Wire He said: “I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight. Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today – it’s a dream come true.“I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career. My successes have only been possible because of their support.”Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh were on a two-month holiday to Japan, New Zealand and Canada when their letters arrived. Ms Shakespeare said she “couldn’t stop crying” after she opened the letter two days before Christmas and her thoughts turned to her daughter.She said: “I know that if Letisha wasn’t murdered I wouldn’t have taken the path I have taken. “My little innocent Letisha, kind-hearted – the kindest heart – I thought of her, and it was just tears.”She has given talks to more than 100,000 youngsters in her effort to end gun and gang violence, and said: “I don’t do it for medals, my rewards is when I can see a child has turned their life around.”Other unsung heroes honoured by the Queen include Jeremiah Emmanuel, a 17-year-old Cadet Colour Sergeant in the Army Cadets from London who founded the social justice charity One Big Community to help youth organisations engage with decision-makers. Jeremiah Emmanuel, a 17-year-old Cadet Colour Sergeant in the Army Cadets from London who founded the social justice charity One Big Community to help youth organisations engage with decision-makersCredit:David Mirzoeff/PA Wire He began helping his mother with charity work when he was aged four, and is one of 322 recipients of the British Empire Medal, awarded in his case for services to young people and the community in London.He said: “My mother taught me to consider other people, no matter whether they are better off or worse off than yourself.”Of the 1,197 people recognised in the New Year honours list, 74 per cent are people who have helped their local communities.Janet Gillespie, 94, is also receiving a BEM, having retired only last year from selling poppies with Poppy Scotland in Dumfries after 60 years of service which began in 1952. She is one of the oldest people ever to be included in an honours list.The Samaritans’ longest-serving volunteer, 83-year-old Alan Woodhouse, receives an MBE after 57 years of service to vulnerable people.He said: “On every shift I’ve done there’s been a moment that has left me with a sense of purpose, knowing that you are doing something meaningful.” He has spent the whole year re-writing sporting history, and Andy Murray can now add another entry in his personal record book after becoming Britain’s youngest knight of modern times.Only weeks ago the world No.1 tennis player had said he considered himself too young to be knighted, but at the age of just 29 he is now Sir Andy Murray. Already an OBE, he was an obvious choice for a knighthood after a year in which he cemented his status as an all-time sporting great.But sources close to the Scot said he was unlikely to use his title on the tennis circuit, and yesterday he made no mention of it after unexpectedly losing an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi. Katherine Grainger, who has been made a Dame for services to rowing and charityCredit:PA/John Walton Swimmer Ellie RobinsonCredit:PA Kate and Helen Richardson-WalshCredit:John Lawrence/Telegraph Kate said: “We hadn’t responded to anything and the people were wondering why and eventually we got an email to say that we were going to receive honours, so it was nice to find out together, it was a special email.”It’s been an incredible year for hockey and the whole team, and to top it off with an honour is massive for myself and massive for my team-mates as well.”Helen’s honour is thoroughly deserved. She’s been playing as long as I have and she’s been through everything I have and more.”Dame Katherine Grainger said it would take some time to come to terms with being made a dame but is determined to pass on what she has learned to the next generation of Olympic rowing hopefuls.The 41-year-old became Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian when she took home silver from Rio with Vicky Thornley in the double sculls, which was a fifth medal at a fifth successive Games. Double gymnastics gold medalist Max Whitlock is awarded an MBECredit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph Sir Mo FarahCredit:Getty Images There was no mention of his Academy Award for best supporting actor, nor his multiple BAFTA, Tony and Olivier awards.Instead, his citation said only: “Mark Rylance has worked in the theatre since 1980.”Sir Mark, 56, will be pleased that it is for his theatre work that he has been recognised, having been the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre for a decade and spending the majority of his career performing on stage before finding wider recognition for his role as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s Wolf Hall.He is joined on the list by other famous names including Ken Dodd, who is knighted at the age of 89. Robinson said: “Her having an MBE, it just mesmerised me when I sat down and I thought about it and I thought about me receiving mine.”It was such a nice feeling because I thought if for some reason I could inspire one child anywhere in the world – just one child to do something, it doesn’t have to be sport, it doesn’t have to be swimming – just one child to do something that they have not been sure about or have no idea about – it would just be such an achievement.”Double gymnastics gold medalist Max Whitlock said he had yet to decide on whether he will wear his MBE when he marries his fiancee Leah Hickton next July. Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill is made a dameCredit:GETTY IMAGES Sir Ken DoddCredit:Liverpool Echo In the field of fashion, Anna Wintour, editor of US Vogue magazine, is made a dame for services to fashion and journalism, while Anya Hindmarch, the accessories designer, receives a CBE.Victoria Beckham, the fashion designer and wife of David Beckham, receives an OBE, the only name to have leaked before the list was published.There is also a CBE for Justine Roberts, co-founder and chief executive of the websites Mumsnet and Gransnet.The unsung heroesAn anti-gun campaigner whose daughter was killed in a drive-by gangland shooting has said she wept when she opened a letter telling her she was to receive an MBE.Marcia Shakespeare has dedicated herself to tackling gun violence since her 17-year-old daughter Letisha was killed with her 18-year-old cousin Charlene Ellis in Birmingham in 2003.They were innocent bystanders caught in the cross-fire of a feud between two rival gangs. He said: “It is a great feeling now to see the three letters after my name, and it gives me a lot of motivation.”Brian Robinson, the first Briton ever to win a stage in the Tour de France, receives a British Empire Medal 60 years after his achievement. The 86-year-old said: “I’m pleased that the results have been recognised.”Awards for sport make up 14 per cent of the total. Sir Roger Bannister, already knighted for his achievement in running the first sub-four minute mile, is made a Companion of Honour.Chris Coleman, manager of the Wales football team that made it to the semi-final of Euro 2016, receives an OBE, and sports broadcaster Jonathan Agnew is made an MBE.The celebritiesHe has been hailed as the finest actor of his generation, holding audiences spellbound with his magnetic performances on stage and screen.When it comes to accepting awards, however, Mark Rylance finds the spotlight an uncomfortable place to be, as he proved when he was knighted for services to theatre.The Oscar winner released only the briefest of statements, which said: “I am very pleased my work has been considered a good service to the theatre and its community which I love.”He also approved a biography of himself that ran to only nine words in the official Cabinet Office guide to the recipients – compared with several sentences for other people. 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. Mark Rylance in his role as Thomas Cromwell from the BBC production Wolf HallCredit:Ed Miller Married cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny receive matching CBEs for their multiple track cycling gold medals, while Olympic hockey captain Kate Richardson-Walsh receives an OBE and her wife and team-mate Helen receives an MBE, making them the first same-sex married couple to be honoured in the same list.All gold medalists who have not previously been honoured are awarded MBEs or higher.Sir Mo, 33, became Britain’s most successful track and field athlete when he won his third and fourth gold medals in Rio for the 5,000m and 10,000m. Ray Davies, lead singer of The Kinks, becomes Sir Ray DaviesCredit:Joseph Okpako Patricia Routledge, best known for her portrayal of the social climber Hyacinth Bucket in the sitcom Keeping Up AppearancesCredit:Heathcliff O’Malley Anna Wintour, editor of US Vogue magazine, is made a dame for services to fashion and journalismCredit:REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz Last month he was asked about the possibility of a knighthood after he became the first Briton to achieve the world No.1 ranking. He said at the time: “I don’t know, I feel too young for something like that. I am still young and there are still a lot of things that can go wrong, I could still mess up and make mistakes.”Sources close to Murray said he did not know at the time that he was about to be knighted, and was giving his “honest opinion”.But when he received notification of the knighthood he did not hesitate to accept, as it is “a great honour that he was never going to turn down”. He is the first tennis player to be knighted.It caps a year in which he became a father, won a second Wimbledon title and a second Olympic gold medal, picked up a third BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and was named by Telegraph readers as Britain’s greatest ever sportsperson. Andy Murray at the 2016 Wimbledon Tennis ChampionshipsCredit:Heathcliff O’Malley She said: “I think it is something which none of us ever expects or sets out to try to achieve.”What is lovely when you hear the titles and the names on the New Year honours list, if anything it makes you feel you have to step up again. It is something to live up to – it is almost like a new standard.”Equestrian gold medalist Nick Skelton learned on his 59th birthday that he had been awarded a CBE. He became the oldest British Olympic champion in more than a century when he rode Big Star to a dramatic victory in the individual showjumping competition in Rio.He said: “It’s a bit of an upgrade. It’s really nice, I’m honoured to get that and it’s a great way to finish the year off.”Boxer Nicola Adams, cyclists Ed Clancy and Jody Cundy and rowers Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge receive OBEs.Among those receiving MBEs were swimmer Adam Peaty, golfer Justin Rose, wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid, canoeist Joe Clarke, diver Jack Laugher and Kadeena Cox, who won Paralympic gold medals in both cycling and athletics.Swimmer Ellie Robinson, who was also made an MBE, won gold in the S6 50 metres butterfly at the Paralympics aged only 15 and was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. She was inspired by Ellie Simmonds’ success in the same category in London.
His mother Catherine, 55, told the Sun of the moment police told her the news. “They were only coming to tell us about the accident but by the time they got to our door Stuart had died.”Explaining that she knew it would be bad news, she said could not have imagined it would be “that bad”, adding “he was just a happy, happy boy.”Mrs McLevy revaled she had to break the news to his girlfriend Lauren Halford, also 21, who was in India on holiday at the time.She said: “It was hard to tell Lauren, we were both very upset. They were together for two years and got matching tattoos. She’s rushing back home now.”Posting a photographs of the pair on Facebook, Miss Halford wrote: “No words can describe this heartache. Love you for eternity my boy, always and forever my Stuarty.”Stuart’s dad Thomas, 54, told the Sun: “He was so full of beans. He was too boisterous for his own good. We are shattered.”The 21-year-old is thought to have been enjoying a day on the loch with his Brother Teejay, 23, and friends when the accident happened.The bodybuilder came third in National Amateur Bodybuilders’ Association Mr Scotland event last year and worked as an apprentice cooper at drinks company Diageo.A Justgiving page set up by his older brother, Jayson, 28, to give him “an amazing send-off” has already raised almost £5,000. Stuart McLevy died after a tragic accidentCredit:PA Police Scotland said enquiries are ongoing to determine exactly what happened and officers are appealing for information.Inspector John McMillan said: “One man has died and another man is receiving treatment following this incident. We understand Stuart McLevy fell from the jet ski and entered the water. The 37-year-old man who was driving also entered the water and attempted to assist.”Other individuals who were also on the water on private vessels quickly came to the aid of both men and brought them back to shore at the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway at Balloch where paramedics could take over.”At this time I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the incident from the shoreline to contact officers at Dumbarton Police Station via 101.”Our enquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding this incident. Any information you have, no matter how small, could greatly assist our enquiry.” A young man has died in a jet ski accident on Loch Lomond.Stuart McLevy, 21, was a passenger on the jet ski and fell into the water at around 9.15pm on Saturday near the island of Inchmurrin.The 37-year-old driver of the jet ski tried to help Mr McLevy from the water before other boats in the area managed to take both men back to shore in Balloch.They were rushed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley where the 21-year-old, from Hawick Street in Yoker, Glasgow, died.The jet ski driver was treated for minor injuries suffered when trying to help Mr McLevy from the water and has since been released from hospital. A post-mortem examination will take place to establish the cause of Mr McLevy’s death and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscalCredit:Universal News (Europe) Friends of Mr McLevy, who had competed in bodybuilding competitions, have paid tribute to him in posts online. 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.
A mayor has complained that her prosperous Devon town has become a magnet for “begging tourists” who police claim could be earning up to £35,000 a year.Rosie Adams, the mayor of Totnes, said that “people are coming from other places” to beg.”I hate to say it but we have begging tourists,” she said. “They are coming in from other places and actually spoiling it for our local people.”There is no need in Totnes for anyone to go hungry. They should not feel in any way scared. It’s obviously an ideal place for beggars to come to.” Typically, beggars in Totnes are raising between £50 and £100 a day. I heard one individual bragging that he raised £139 a few days agolocal police statement “Our approach in maintaining the status quo coupled with how attractive it has become to beg in Totnes, has drawn others from further afield who have brought with them their own begging style.”We have received reports of shoppers being aggressively harassed for money, followed up the road, abused, threatened with violence and intimidated at cash machines. We will not tolerate this and our stance has now changed.” The police say money given away to beggars might not be spent in the way it was intended to be.The police continued: “A lot of the beggars in Totnes battle with some form of addiction. Also, many may appear homeless. They are not.”Most choose to live as they do and often return to their accommodation at night. Readily having money to buy heroin does nothing to encourage an addict to change their lifestyle.”Police denied this was a “begging crackdown” but said they will enforce the law to stop aggressive begging. Police have confirmed that aggressive beggars have been harassing passersby in the town.They said that beggars in the town raise up to £100 a day – the equivalent of up to £35,000 a year.The local police said in a statement: “Historically we have taken a fairly relaxed approach to persons begging on Fore Street and High Street.”As you know begging is an offence under the Vagrancy Act, however we have shown a degree of discretion due to the very low level, friendly, passive begging style.”Typically, beggars in Totnes are raising between £50 and £100 a day. I heard one individual bragging that he raised £139 a few days ago. The mayor of Totnes has complained about ‘begging tourists’Credit:SWNS 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.
A man who murdered his brother and attempted to murder his brother’s girlfriend by setting fire to them on New Year’s Day has been jailed for at least 20 years.Blair Logan, a solicitor’s son, poured fuel over his younger brother Cameron, a 23-year-old psychology graduate, and 25-year-old Rebecca Williams, a radio journalist, as they lay in bed.He also endangered the lives of his parents, David and Catherine, who had to be treated for smoke inhalation after the premeditated attack. The family’s dog, Gomez, also died in the fire at the family home in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire. She accepted court reports that Logan had “abnormal personality traits” but said there was no suggestion he had a mental disorder and added that he was fully criminally responsible for his actions. Rebecca Williams and Cameron LoganCredit:Universal News The scene of the fire in MilngavieCredit:PA She referred to a letter that his parents had written to the court which said they “find it extremely difficult to reconcile the Blair they know with the Blair who caused Cameron’s death”.Logan previously told detectives he took the petrol from a church garage a month and a half before the fire and stored it in his bedroom.On the night of the fire, his brother and his partner, who lived in Glasgow, had arranged to stay at the family home and Mrs Logan set up an inflatable mattress for them in the living room. They returned from a Hogmanay party at around 4am.At around 7.15am, Mrs Logan was woken by the family dog whining and when she went downstairs she saw a figure in dark clothing standing inside the living room.Miss Williams also saw a man in the room, holding something that was on fire, and she and Cameron both screamed.Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the court last month: “Catherine Logan then heard Cameron roar in surprise, shock and fear, before the accused made a jerking motion with his arm as if throwing something.”The accused then ran from the living room and went out the front door. Catherine Logan slammed the door behind him, shouting something like ‘get the hell out of my house’, still not knowing who it was.” Logan pleaded guilty last month when the court heard the two brothers had a “hostile” relationship. He told police they had not spoken since the death of their grandmother in 2013.He admitted pouring petrol over his brother and his partner on January 1 this year “with the intention of maiming or crippling” Cameron, but claimed he did not mean to kill him.The attack was said to be in retaliation for a recent incident at the house when his brother had punched him.Sentencing Logan at the High Court in Edinburgh, the judge Lady Scott said he had “acted with wicked recklessness” and his brother died a “horrible death”. She added: “Cameron was my best friend and partner. He was a caring, respectful and loving man, who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He had great ambitions to join the police force and was working hard towards building our future together, a future that has now been stolen from us.” A computer seized from Logan’s bedroom showed that from October 2016 he had carried out internet searches on burns victims.The 27-year-old, a Tesco store assistant, admitted killing his brother during a police interview on January 13. He told officers: “It was not my intent to kill him but I did do it.”When charged with the attempted murder of Miss Williams, he said he thought she was out of the room, adding: “I did not wish to murder my parents.” Miss Williams managed to crawl out of the room into the kitchen, and put her head in the fridge in a bid to protect herself from the fire.Logan’s father tried to get into the living room but was beaten back by the flames. After he escaped from the house he and a neighbour rescued Miss Williams. She suffered burns to her hands, arms and face, which has left scarring and has undergone surgery four times. Shelagh McCall QC, defending, said her client had shown genuine remorse and viewed the murder of his brother as “horrific” and unjustifiable. Rebecca Williams looks on as her father Philip reads a statement on her behalfCredit:PA 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. Blair Logan was jailed for at least 20 yearsCredit:PA Both parents were in court, along with Miss Williams and her family, as the sentence was passed. Miss Williams previously described her boyfriend as sensitive, kind and funny and said he wanted to become a detective.In a statement read on her behalf outside court she said she found it almost impossible to “put into words the devastating impact this cowardly act has had upon me and my family”.
Further groups of posts were seen further down the channel, suggesting other prehistoric wooden structures are present nearby.Analysis by a human bone expert showed that the female skull suffered considerably from gum disease and tooth loss. The ritual may have have been part of a Celtic ‘head cult’ which archaeologists suspect existed during the Iron Age, when people believed that the soul resided in the skull.Heads were often removed as trophies following battles and body-less heads appear frequently as motifs on art from the period.Excavations of Celtic earthworks have shown that skulls were routinely placed on display at the entrance to hillforts and religious places, such as the Iron Age shrine of Roquepertuse in France.The Greek historian Didorus Siculus also wrote of how Iron Age warriors embalmed the heads of their victims in cedar oil, and kept them in chests to show strangers. And it was said northern tribes hung the heads of fallen enemies on their horses before nailing them to their front doors on return from battle. Near to the skull, which was discovered near Newtown, archaeologists also found the remains of posts suggesting that a causeway or raised walkway once existed in the water. Iron Age warriors were said to collect the heads of their enemies. Credit: Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Phot When dog walker Roger Evans spotted a skull on the banks of the River Sowy in Somerset last March, police immediately suspected foul play.But the history of the mysterious severed head could be even more curious and sinister than originally thought.Analysis by experts showed that far from being the remains of a modern murder victim, the skull belonged to an Iron Age woman, aged around 45, who lived between 380 and 190BC.And gruesome cut marks show that she had been decapitated.Richard Bunning, an archaeologist from South West Heritage Trust, who has been excavating the site said: “We can’t tell if her head was severed before or after her death but it seems to be part of a particular kind of ritual because the head has been taken away from the body and deliberately deposited in a watery environment.“We have found similar severed heads like this in other watery places, so it seems that they were sacred places, rather than just where people were living.“We don’t know what happened to the rest of her body. We know that heads were revered in the Iron Age, and were of much greater interest than the rest of the bones.” Classical historians claimed warriors nailed the heads of vanquished enemies on to the doors of their roundhouses Credit:Jay Williams The woman’s skull was deliberately severed from her bodyCredit:Environment Agency Her diet included coarse material, which had unevenly worn her remaining teeth, and resulted in severe osteoarthritis in the joint of her right jaw.She had also suffered at least one episode of chronic illness or nutritional stress during childhood.“I think the skull is some kind of religious deposit,” added Mr Bunning. “We don’t know if she was a victim or a revered member of a tribe, but it was clearly an important ritual site.”Stephen Dean, Environment Agency archaeologist, said: “The chance discovery on the banks of the River Sowy has shone fresh light on Somerset’s hidden history.”The Environment Agency returned water levels to normal to provide a measure of protection to the timber posts and any other archaeological remains still in the channel. Archaeologists were able to study the site after the Environment Agency reduced water levels.Although no other human remains were found, the team discovered that the skull lay close to a series of round, timber posts driven deep into the river bed.Radiocarbon dating of the posts is being carried out to see if they and the skull are of the same date. 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.
You don’t feel like you can get as much done when you have a task coming up soon. The time seems shorterProfessor Selin Malkoc In a separate study, participants were told either that they had five minutes to kill before an upcoming task, or were told simply they had five spare minutes spare.Those who were not reminded about the forthcoming task carried out 30 per cent more activities – such as sending texts or replying to emails – than those whose thoughts were on the next job.The study’s co-author, Professor Selin Malkoc said: “You don’t feel like you can get as much done when you have a task coming up soon. The time seems shorter. Regular meetings ruin productivity because workers are constantly worried about running late, a study has found.Staff anticipating a meeting – or people expecting a friend for dinner – mentally subtract up to 30 per cent of the time they have available.Scientists found that having created an unnecessary buffer “in case something comes up”, people perform fewer tasks, or smaller tasks, than if their next appointment was not looming over them.Researchers at Ohio state University’s Fisher College of Business asked participants how long they could spend reading an hour before an appointment for which they were fully prepared. Respondents said they had 50 minutes available, and even said that subjectively it felt like they had only 40 minutes. 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. “We feel that if we have a meeting in two hours, we shouldn’t work on any big projects. So we may spend time just answering emails or doing things that aren’t as productive.The study of all eight lab-based and real-life tests conducted by her team was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.Last month technology entrepreneur Elon Musk advised employees at his Tesla electric car company to “walk out” of bad meetings, and to hang up on unproductive phone calls.”It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time,” he wrote.