Mike Pesca knows just how dominant Connecticut’s women’s basketball team has been this year. He lamented recently on Slate’s “Hang Up and Listen” podcast (around 49 minutes in) that every time he tuned in to a UConn game while working out at the gym this season, usually with 10 minutes left on the clock, the game was already effectively over.By just how much have the Huskies been draining the drama out of Pesca’s workouts? A lot, and by a whole lot more than their predecessors did.At halftime of the average UConn game this year, the Huskies were winning by 25 points. That’s staggering — so staggering that it blows away four of the best teams in recent history: the last four UConn teams, which all reached the Final Four. The last two won the title. Those two championship teams averaged halftime leads of a mere 20 points; the Huskies’ average halftime lead was even lower in the two years before that.By five and a half minutes into the second half, this year’s UConn team averaged a lead of more than 32 points, compared to less than 26 points last year and 24 points or less in the prior three seasons. (Just four teams other than UConn this year beat opponents by more than 20 points per game. And that was their margin at the end of games, not soon after halftime.)But at that 5:30 mark we begin to see a dip. At that point, the ultracompetitive Huskies showed a tiny fraction of mercy. If they’d carried on at the same rate for the whole game, they’d have won by an average of 51 points. Instead they won by only 42 points per game. By the time Pesca was tuning in, UConn led by an average of 35 points. (This is all based on data provided by ESPN Stats & Information, supplemented with play-by-plays from the UConn website.)We also looked at the data another way: How often this season was UConn, say, trailing? Or winning by 40 points?The Huskies established dominance early: By six and a half minutes into their games this year, they were tied or trailing just once. And they led for the entire second half in most games, though Stanford tied things up in regulation and then dealt UConn its only loss, back in November. More than half the time, UConn led by at least 30 points two minutes into the second half. That all adds up to lots of minutes of Mike Pesca doing bicep curls with dull basketball on in the background.This doesn’t necessarily mean this year’s UConn team is the best UConn team of the last five years. The school shifted to the American Athletic Conference two seasons ago from the Big East, which has made for easier conference games and more blowouts. And the previous seasons’ stats include NCAA tournament games, some of which were close — though many were also blowouts.Even so, it’d take a whole lot of NCAA tournament drama to undo all the meaningless second halves the Huskies have played so far this year. Our forecast currently gives them a 74 percent chance of winning the title, before they’ve played their first game. That doesn’t leave much room for nail-biters.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.
Larry Brown1982-83Nets159947-26Resigned under pressure Frank Layden1988-89Jazz158411-6Resigned Danny Ainge1999-2000Suns156313-7Resigned The most abrupt NBA coaching departures Paul Westhead1981-82Lakers15727-4Fired Source: Basketball-reference.com David Blatt2015-16Cavaliers166930-11Fired The Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt on Friday, even though he guided the team to the NBA Finals last season and a 30-11 record so far this year.The NBA is a tough league. But as far as we can tell, no coach has been fired under similar circumstances before.Below, you’ll find a table of NBA coaches since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77 who were fired or resigned in the middle of the regular season when their teams had an Elo rating of 1550 or higher.1The table excludes interim head coaches who were dismissed after a permanent replacement was found. The league-average Elo rating is about 1500, so a rating of 1550 reflects a pretty good team; about as good as the Atlanta Hawks right now. Gene Shue1977-7876ers15592-4Fired Stan Van Gundy2005-06Heat158011-10Resigned under pressure Del Harris1998-99Lakers16116-6Fired Coaches don’t usually get fired when their teams are playing well. But Blatt’s Cavs haven’t just been good; they’ve been on the verge of great. The team’s current Elo rating is 1669, far higher than that of any other team when it fired a coach mid-season.When a coach does get fired despite a solid record, it’s usually because his team is underperforming lofty expectations. But that can’t really be said of the Cavs. Their preseason team win total at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook was 56.5 wins; they’re actually a little ahead of that pace, currently projecting to finish the season 61-21 instead.Yes, the Cavs were embarrassed on Monday by the Warriors, 132-98. But one bad regular-season loss isn’t usually enough to doom a coach. It’s reasonable to ask whether the overt tension between Blatt and superstar LeBron James played a role because there’s not really a good precedent for something like this happening. (James was reportedly not consulted about Blatt’s firing.)Larry Brown resigned under pressure as head coach of the New Jersey Nets late in the 1982-83 season despite a 47-26 record, but that was because he’d agreed to take a job the next season at the University of Kansas. Del Harris was canned as Lakers’ head coach early in the 1998-99 season when the team had a strong 1611 Elo rating, but its record was just 6-6 at that point, below the perennially high expectations in Lakerland. COACHSEASONTEAMELOCOACH RECORDNOTES Don Nelson2004-05Mavericks159742-22Resigned Jack McKinney1979-80Lakers155210-4Injured Larry Brown1991-92Spurs158621-17Fired
Turned out that the knee trouble that required Blake Griffin to leave Team USA and return to Los Angeles was a meniscus tear that will prevent him from participating in the London Olympics.For the Clippers, Griffin will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks, meaning he should be healthy in time for training camp in the fall.“We’re relieved that this does not affect Blake’s ability to be ready in time for training camp,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said in a statement. “Missing out on the Olympic experience will be tough for him to take. I know how dedicated he was to doing that. We’re glad we can get this fixed now and take advantage of the available time for him to fully recover.”USA Basketball said in a statement that Griffin reported he was experiencing discomfort in the knee during a scrimmage at Team USA training camp. Griffin missed Thursday night’s 113-59 exhibition victory over the Dominican Republic.The Clippers said Griffin would undergo an MRI exam once he returns to Los Angeles and then will be evaluated by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic on Sunday.USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo suggested the soreness in Griffin’s knee was related to the injury he suffered during the 2012 NBA playoffs.“The reality is, that injury took place at the end of the season,” Colangelo said. “And he had an option to get scoped and he opted not to get scoped. And so, I guess he aggravated it. Whether he’s able to play now remains to be seen.”Griffin did not show any obvious signs of an injury on Wednesday, and a source told ESPN.com that Griffin’s knee “swelled up” after the scrimmage.New Orleans rookie Anthony Davis, the NBA’s 2012 No. 1 overall pick out of Kentucky, has been asked to report to Team USA training camp in Las Vegas. Davis dressed for Team USA’s game against the Dominican Republic.
See more NBA predictions NBA See more NFL predictions Things That Caught My EyeKansas City shuffling out of the playoffsThe Chiefs have been really bad for the past several weeks, so bad that their very season is in jeopardy. Looking at their team’s Elo rating between Week 5 and Week 12, the -116 point difference is the largest meltdown observed of teams with an Elo rating of 1700 or better in at that point in the seasons. [FiveThirtyEight]This means WARThe sabermetric concept of wins above replacement has gone mainstream in baseball coverage, but the statistic is at something of a crossroads: How precisely the wins above replacement are calculated varies from database to database, and right now the baseball nerd community is attempting to get to the bottom of what precisely the statistic should entail. [The Ringer]The parade is in the worksA Cleveland Browns fan named Chris McNeil has successfully obtained permission to have a parade circle around the Browns home stadium in the event the team does in fact go defeated and finished the season with an 0-16 record. Cleveland has an 11 percent chance of beating the Chargers, a 25 percent chance of beating Green Bay, a 20 percent chance of beating Baltimore, a 22 percent chance of beating Chicago and 6 percent chance of beating Pittsburgh. That approximates to a roughly 39 percent chance of five consecutive defeats. [FiveThirtyEight, Uproxx]NFL nears player agreementThe NFL’s negotiations with a group of players to address social justice issues that have prompted player protests across the league appear to be approaching a conclusion, with a number in the ballpark of $89 million over seven years going towards causes identified by a league-controlled panel. [ESPN, Deadspin]Jeff Fisher is the worst thing to happen to quarterbacks since the creation of the NFL defensive endJared Goff’s total QBR was 18.3 last season under head coach Jeff Fisher, leading to indications he may be one of the worst quarterbacks ever. Now that he is no longer under Jeff Fisher, his QBR is 55.2, above average and on a winning Rams team. Case Keenum, also once under the stifling Fisher, is now 7-2 behind center for the Vikings. Both quarterbacks could be enjoying the biggest year-to-year QBR bumps. [The Undefeated]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number31The number of teams in the NFL that have used at least three starting quarterbacks since Week 11 of 2004. The team that has not is the New York Giants, who have been the beneficiaries of the second-longest quarterback starting streak in NFL history. This week the team announced that ironman starter Eli Manning would be unceremoniously benched in favor of Geno Smith. Yeah, the Giants really, really botched this. [ESPN]Leaks from Slack: neil:I just noticed Terrell Suggs is having one of the great old-guy sack seasons everHe’s on pace for 14 on the season, which would rank 5th among players age 35+(Apparently 1998 was an insane year for old pass rushers)daniel.levittThat 1992 Clay Matthews season. 111 tackles at age 36…waltwait how old is clay matthewsohwaiti see it nowthat’s on mePredictions NFL Oh, and don’t forgetAre you as smart as an NFL ref? We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe See more college football predictions College Football All newsletters
Houston-0.2025+0.2857+32 RunsDropbacks Tennessee61273947 Washington1046931 Indianapolis-0.0432-0.1530-2 Tennessee1286139 The 3-point revolution in basketball was driven in large part by the finding that the three has a higher expected value than a midrange jump shot.1A three is worth approximately 1 expected point, while a midrange shot is worth about 0.8 expected points. While the math is simple and clear, the revolution didn’t occur overnight — or even in the first few decades after the 3-point line was introduced. Because those longer shots don’t go through the hoop as often as midrangers, missing a shot feels like failure. There is a slightly counterintuitive aspect to it.Now imagine a world where 3-pointers aren’t simply worth more as measured by expected points, but where they also go through the hoop more often. The benefits of the three would be stunningly obvious. We might even question the competence of coaches and teams that didn’t attempt them as much as possible.That’s where the NFL is currently living. The NFL is a passing league that somehow doesn’t pass enough. NFL teams know the medicine works yet stubbornly refuse to take a clinically effective dose.To be clear, teams are certainly passing more often than they used to. Leaguewide passing attempts per game have risen from 32.3 in 2008 to 34.2 last year, and the increase in volume has not been accompanied by a decrease in efficiency. Leaguewide yards per attempt have increased slightly from 6.9 to 7.0, and more touchdowns are being scored by passing relative to running than at any time in league history. Completion percentage is up from 61.0 percent to 62.1 percent, and the interception rate has fallen from 2.8 percent to 2.5 percent. Yet despite all these positive indicators, teams remain unwilling to break old habits and throw in many classic rushing situations.The biggest culprit is first down, the most traditional run situation. It’s here where NFL coaches are consistently missing an opportunity to pass, particularly against defenses that have stacked the box or are playing at least seven defenders close to the line of scrimmage. I’m calling these situations FANS — First (down) Against Neutral or Stacked (boxes). FANS includes plays in which the defense brings extra men close to the line of scrimmage, clogging running lanes and daring the offense to run the ball. I analyzed plays from the 2017 season using men-in-the-box data from analytics firm Sports Info Solutions and play-level data courtesy of Ron Yurko, a Ph.D. student in statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. To more accurately represent regular game play and eliminate noise, I limited the sample to snaps outside the red zone when the opposing teams were within 7 points of each other.With seven to nine men near the line of scrimmage and the subsequent dearth of extra defenders in the secondary, we’d expect passing to be effective in these situations. That’s just what we found. Last season, 30 of 32 teams were more successful passing than running on FANS as measured by success rate.2Success rate is the share of plays with positive expected points added. EPA accounts for negative potential outcomes of a dropback, including sacks, interceptions and incompletions. The EPA model used here is by Ron Yurko, Sam Ventura and Max Horowitz. And passing wasn’t just a little more successful than running. The difference in passing success was large: 27 teams had a success rate that was at least 10 percentage points higher when passing on FANS than running; 14 teams were more than 20 points better. The league average difference of 19.3 leaned wildly toward passing. Washington-0.2224+0.2854+30 N.Y. Giants58334257 San Francisco55324550 Broncos-0.1625+0.1552+27 Dallas1127030 Detroit60224040 The average rushing success rate on second-and-long for the league is just 27 percent verses 46 percent for passing, a massive difference. The average of 18.7 percentage points in pass-run differential is only slightly lower than the 19.3 percentage points on first down. And this is despite teams passing 11 percentage points more often than on first down.If we combine the two down-and-distance situations, a clear picture emerges showing the NFL’s reluctance to actually pass when the situation warrants it. Chicago68313241 N.Y. Giants-0.0834+0.0557+23 Dallas65333545 L.A. Chargers1006238 Carolina-0.2730+0.0649+19 Difference+19+0.300 N.Y. Jets-0.1225+0.1650+25 Kansas City-0.0728+0.0746+18 Philadelphia-0.0543+0.0344+1 Tampa Bay54264659 Baltimore-0.2327+0.2657+30 Detroit536040 N.Y. Jets64243651 Play TypeSuccess RateEPA/playUsage New England795941 Detroit-0.2126-0.1836+10 Buffalo-0.2130+0.1245+15 L.A. Chargers-0.2029+0.6053+24 Minnesota-0.1931+0.1059+28 San Francisco-0.1032+0.2356+24 Baltimore55264552 New Orleans795941 Source: Sports Info Solutions Even accounting for the potential negative outcomes of a dropback like sacks and interceptions, passing on FANS keeps a team “on schedule”3Which typically means gaining at least 4 yards on first down, 4 on second down and 2 on third down. in the down and distance more often than a run. Incredibly though, there were 31 NFL teams last season when facing this situation on first down — looking down a defense that was clearly gearing up to stop the run — that chose to run more often than they passed. Here’s the same table as above, now sorted by the frequency of play type. L.A. Rams49435137 Dropback46+0.1050 Minnesota946337 Philadelphia47405344 Houston58234253 Arizona1046337 Share of plays New Orleans+0.0338+0.2149+11 Houston1096733 Cleveland61313939 Steelers785545 Indianapolis1146436 N.Y. Giants976436 Indianapolis62283835 Seattle765446 Green Bay59324141 Run27%-0.2050% Kansas City795545 Cincinnati56264438 New England+0.0444+0.3247+3 Miami-0.1827+0.1845+18 Cincinnati-0.1727+0.0642+15 Seattle53244739 Denver57284354 Green Bay765941 Even adding second-and-long, most teams are still runningNFL team success rates by play type on first- and second-and-long facing seven to nine men in the box, 2017 Cincinnati745842 Chicago9871%29% N.Y. Jets1066634 Atlanta-0.2230+0.3765+35 TeamNo. playsRunsDropbacks Jacksonville-0.0133+0.3751+18 Philadelphia604555 Arizona59284147 TeamEPA/playSuccess RateEPA/playSuccess RateDiff. in success rate RUNSDROP-BACKS Chicago-0.2729-0.3838+9 Tampa Bay-0.1826%+0.3764%+38 TeamShare of playsSuccess RateShare of playsSuccess Rate Jacksonville1106436 Atlanta945347 Arizona-0.2030+0.1948+18 Source: Sports Info Solutions Tampa Bay906040 Minnesota58314257 San Francisco1196040 Dallas-0.0837+0.2351+14 Pittsburgh59324151 New Orleans56334450 Buffalo65293543 Carolina65283552 Source: Sports Info Solutions First and 10? Time to passNFL teams’ expected points added per play and success rate when running vs. dropping back for a pass on first and 10 facing seven to nine men in the box, 2017 Tennessee-0.1926-0.0348+22 The only team in the NFL that passed more often than it ran in this situation was also the only team to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Doug Pederson and the Eagles broke from the flock and dropped back to pass the ball 55 percent of the time — which was in some ways part of a larger strategy to break from convention. “A lot of NFL coaches have traditionally been averse to taking risks,” Pederson writes in his new book, “Fearless.” This desire to zig when the other teams were zagging showed up in Philadelphia’s fourth-down conversion attempts and two-point tries — two darlings of the statistical community.What about other more traditional passing downs? Second-and-long certainly qualifies. The league still runs as much as they pass on that down and distance, with just four teams boasting a higher success rate rushing than passing. Carolina946931 Miami565446 New England55444549 The NFL can’t quit the first-down runShare of plays in which NFL teams ran vs. dropped back for a pass on first down when facing seven to nine men in the box, 2017 Kansas City52334845 How often teams pass vs. run on second-and-long (7 to 10 yards) when facing a stacked or neutral box, 2017 Cleveland856535 L.A. Rams-0.0943+0.1040-3 Buffalo1246535 L.A. Rams495149 Oakland69%23%31%49% Green Bay+0.0233-0.1043+10 Steelers-0.2128+0.1154+26 Oakland807030 Atlanta55294563 Miami54264648 Broncos635941 Cleveland-0.1129+0.0744+15 Source: Sports Info Solutions Seattle-0.2425-0.2638+13 Washington61273958 L.A. Chargers57294353 Jacksonville62293846 Baltimore915743 Oakland-0.3421+0.0343+22 The choices made on early downs are meaningful. The Oakland Raiders won six games in 2017 while leading the league in share of rushing on first- and second-and-long against a crowded box, at 69 percent of the time. If the Raiders had instead passed on 60 percent of those occasions, they would have seen a swing of 19.5 expected points, good for about half a win.Sometimes gains from passing aren’t absolute gains. Poor offensive teams can benefit from passing even if only to mitigate against the greater loss from running the ball. Last year, the Tennessee Titans employed a run-first, smash-mouth offensive strategy that saw them rush in these FANS situations 61 percent of the time. Both running and passing plays were losing propositions for them, but passing was still the least worst option. Had they flipped the script and passed 61 percent of the time, the Titans would have saved themselves 7 expected points, good for about a fifth of a win.Thursday night, the Atlanta Falcons kick off the NFL season against the Eagles in an NFC divisional round rematch. Last season, Atlanta was successful on a league-leading 63 percent of passing plays on first-and-10 and second-and-long against neutral or stacked boxes. The Falcons also led the league in pass-run success differential at 34 percentage points. Inexplicably, they ran the ball more than half the time. Had the Falcons passed at a level commensurate with their success rate, they would have earned 35.9 more expected points over the course of the year, good for an additional win.Like most of the rest of the NFL, Atlanta can improve its chances greatly by taking a page from the Eagles. On Thursday, we’ll see if they learned from their adversary this offseason. In the league that struggles to embrace change, it’s no sure thing.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
gfoster: (Geoff Foster, sports editor): NFL Week 14 was very odd in many respects (and the week isn’t over) with the Raiders, Niners and Giants winning and the Rams, Texans, Steelers and Patriots all losing. It all went a long way to making the playoff picture even murkier. What was your biggest takeaway from the week?Salfino (Michael Salfino, contributor): How much should we be worried about the Rams? Is every offense entitled to one hiccup like this, or is it part of a pattern that began with the Lions, who did not care about play-action at all and just covered the receivers. The Bears also did not bite. Does Los Angeles have a Plan B?neil (Neil Paine, senior sports writer): It was definitely startling to see the Rams’ offense be held in check so thoroughly. Jared Goff was terrible. Todd Gurley did next to nothing. The Rams’ offensive expected points added in the game was -23.5. That was 29.6 points worse than their second-worst offensive game of the season … which was Week 13 vs. Detroit. And it was 33.8 points of EPA worse than their low before the Detroit game.sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): I know people talk a lot about playing in the cold as a problem, and I usually roll my eyes. But was that a factor here?neil: The Rams have only played four games where temp was under 50 degrees in the Sean McVay era.Salfino: I know, that temperature stuff. I just can’t believe these guys from all different parts of the country are suddenly able to only play in warm weather. But that’s going to be the theory of the case now almost certainly.gfoster: The Rams game at Detroit was definitely curious. They came out of the bye completely flat, Goff played poorly, and most people kinda wrote it off to rust. But now I’m starting to wonder if teams, as Mike alluded to, are starting to figure out this McVay offense.Salfino: This kind of thing has happened before. The 1994 49ers team that won the Super Bowl and was electrifying on offense laid an egg against the Eagles that year, losing 40-8. They had 189 yards that game.And on defense, the 1985 Bears famously flubbed a primetime game against the Dolphins late in the year for their only loss that season.gfoster: That Detroit game was in a dome, Sara.Salfino: This can’t be Cooper Kupp, can it? My theory of playing the Rams was to just ignore the running game. I figured a team that gave them fits would basically concede Gurley. What really surprised me about the Chicago performance was that Gurley didn’t even get going. They had nothing. The Bears didn’t even accept the slow death of Gurley running.sara.ziegler: But why didn’t the Rams even try to run Gurley? Only 11 carries?neil: Good question, Sara. They had been almost exactly balanced (49.7 percent pass/50.3 percent run) on first down, but last night they passed on 73 percent of first downs. Despite averaging 4.6 yards per carry on the first downs where they did run.Salfino: My feeling watching the game with Gurley is that the Rams wanted to get wide open passes by faking to Gurley like they usually do, and then when that didn’t work, they were behind the down and distance and had to straight-up pass, with typically disastrous results.neil: Right — Goff had a 23.0 passer rating on 1st down.Salfino: What happens to a play-action offense when no one buys into the deception? When the defense just ignores it?sara.ziegler: I guess I would argue that you should just run the ball.Especially with a guy like Gurley.Salfino: Exactly right. That’s when they should run. This is probably why McVay was so hard on himself in the post-game.sara.ziegler: And for good reason! LOLgfoster: Let’s talk about the ending of the Dolphins-Patriots game, which was probably the highlight of the year. Although, I may be partial to the Chris Carson front flip a couple weeks ago.neil: Incredible. Just look at the diagram: Longest game-winning scoring play in NFL history, I believe.Salfino: Kenyan Drake made the best nonlateral decision ever on a lateral play. Or maybe the worst since anyone other than Gronk easily tackles him.gfoster: The funniest sequence of that was when Drake was looking to lateral more and then you could see him to say to himself, “Oh wait, I can just run this in from here.”sara.ziegler: Gronk definitely failing his defensive audition.Salfino: Why was Gronk even on the field? It was not a Hail Mary situation 69 yards from pay dirt.neil: Right, clearly Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have the arm for that throw in the air. He’s not Patrick Mahomes.gfoster: Tannehill can throw 80 yards. You didn’t know that?sara.ziegler: gfoster: I’m saying Saints over Chargers. Cardinals with the first pick (they have at Seattle and Rams still).And if the Chargers get drilled by the Chiefs on Thursday, I will sneak into WordPress and delete all of this.Check out our latest NFL predictions. Salfino: Did Drake just laugh at the idea of Gronk tackling him?Gronk looked like I imagine Brady would trying to make that tackle. And ironically, he finally looked like Gronk on offense.neil: And Bill Belichick left Devin McCourty off the field for that play in favor of Gronkowski. Shades of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. Too cute for his own good.gfoster: I mean, come on.Salfino: The Ravens did everything right on defense. Tyreek Hill takes standing eight counts with three different injuries. And you look up at the end of the game and Mahomes has nearly four bills and the Hill has 139 receiving yards. Spencer Ware looked very dangerous. How can anyone stop the Chiefs?neil: The diagram on that one is amazing, too: TeamCurrentProjected remainingTotal 29Jets40.94.9 3149ers30.73.7 Salfino: The Ravens blitzed the hell out of Mahomes, and it really seemed to give him fits, but then again you look at the stat sheet and are like, “??????”gfoster: I would normally say here that the Chargers could hang with the Chiefs and look like the AFC’s Super Bowl-bound team. But that was a somewhat lifeless effort by them Sunday. Against Jeff Driskel and probably the worst defense in the NFL.sara.ziegler: I guess we’ll find that out on Thursday, when the Chiefs and Chargers play.Salfino: I thought it was going to be typical Chargers. But maybe typical Chargers is having easily the second-best team in the conference and somehow being the fifth seed. As for the Bengals performance, it fits the “letdown game” theory between Pittsburgh and Kansas City.gfoster: Although, it should be noted that Mike Badgley hit four of four field goals, including a 59 yarder. That actually ties the total of made Chargers field goals for the last two seasons.sara.ziegler: LOLSalfino: How is Hill going to play that game on Thursday? He was like Rocky on the stool at the end of that Ravens game.The thing about the Chargers that’s weird is their pace of play. They were 29th in plays before last week and then put up another relatively low play count.Could Mike Tomlin get fired if the Steelers miss the playoffs? Should he?sara.ziegler: Not in light of the Le’Veon Bell mess, I’m guessing.The Steelers’ running game was nonexistent, with no James Conner even.Salfino: Has Bell’s absence even hurt the team? Sunday was the first game you could say they lost because of it, arguably. But the defense could not stop Derek Carr. Think about that sentence in the context of this year.gfoster: I don’t think this Steelers team is very good. They now have the Patriots and then AT the Saints. They could easily be 7-7-1 going into final week.sara.ziegler: I’ve been amazed all season at how high the Steelers’ Elo was. But they just kept winning — until the past three games.neil: Looking at our Elo, though, the Steelers usually pick up steam late in seasons. They haven’t had a swoon like this since 2012. Wins sara.ziegler: I just need to take a second to thank Drake for giving me 12.2 fantasy points on that play.🙌Salfino: Fantasy scoring on that play is hilarious. It goes as a Tannehill touchdown pass. There were no screams about that because who’s playing Tannehill?sara.ziegler: LOL, good point.Salfino: How dumb are the Dolphins though for not getting a guy as electric as Drake the ball more on offense? But they’re 7-6. Have to be one of the worst winning teams at this juncture of the season in memory, but they do own wins against the Bears and Patriots.gfoster: Salfino is not a Frank Gore fan.Salfino: OMG, Frank Gore. The dude is a survivor, I’ll give him that. He’s going to end up in the Hall of Fame, too. But he’s been just a guy for so long now.gfoster: Neil wrote about this recently. Is this Patriots team just not intimidating?Gronk’s “defense” is getting the headlines, but he had a big game offensively Sunday. There’s no doubt the offense is world’s different when he’s healthy — and it’s hard to remember a playoffs when he was remotely healthy.Salfino: The Patriots’ problem is that they lacked offensive upside. But then Tom Brady really looked like the Brady of old vs. Old Brady. Gronk got rolling. Gordon was hyper-efficient. The running game was trash, but that’s sort of old-school Patriots too. Even the defense struggling seemed normal. But losing that game was not normal at all. If you told me New England was going to lose, I’d figure it was their offense flagging the game.neil: Although it’s worth noting they forced zero turnovers against a Tannehill Phins offense.sara.ziegler: That’s sort of the beauty of those lateral plays actually working: It’s a fluke, not a systemic problem for them.neil: But this is definitely the type of toss-up game they usually find a way to win, not lose.sara.ziegler: For sure. Which is what made it so fun!neil: At least for 31 fanbases searching for Patriots schadenfreude.Salfino: I really thought one of the Patriots and Steelers would emerge in the AFC, and now maybe both of those teams are going to be playing wild-card weekend.gfoster: There are four AFC teams at 7-6: Ravens, Colts, Dolphins, Titans. Which one of those is going to make the playoffs in your eyes? Or will it be the Browns, Neil?neil: They’re “in the hunt”!For the first time in approximately 30 years.Salfino: I think the sixth team in the AFC will be the Colts. Andrew Luck is totally out of his shoulder issue and throwing the ball downfield. T.Y. Hilton has nearly 600 receiving yards in the past four games. Luck-to-Hilton is maybe the most lethal combination in football right now.gfoster: Not Luck-to-Ebron?neil: For what it’s worth, our model thinks the Ravens still have the best chance at 55 percent.sara.ziegler: I like the Ravens. They were super unlucky to lose to the Chiefs. gfoster: He seems like he’s looking to run. You watch a QB like Watson, Rodgers, Mahomes — they are so reluctant to do it. Always have eyes down the field until they physically cross the line of scrimmage.Salfino: My theory with Allen is that his running is so effective and reliable that it’s hurting his development as a passer.gfoster: He also has the worst supporting cast of possibly any QB ever.Salfino: Darnold escapes to throw and not run, too. Especially on his touchdown pass Sunday, which was an incredible play.sara.ziegler: Allen is like Bizarro Mahomes.Salfino: Sara mentioned the Eagles. Is their window closing? They’re going to have to rebuild their defense, which is bereft of impact players. Their skill players are mediocre. Alshon Jeffery is not a No. 1 receiver, remotely. Suddenly their team-building seems suspect.sara.ziegler: They had seemed to be playing better since that walloping by the Saints. But maybe not so much.neil: Will we look back at 2017 as a weird, one-off year in general?Eagles take advantage of a strange hiccup in the general arc of the game?Salfino: Especially winning with Foles.gfoster: One more NFC East thought: The Amari Cooper trade was probably the most derided front office move of the year. I myself openly laughed at it. Now…sara.ziegler: Salfino: The Cooper trade is going to go down in history as the best in-season deal. He was the missing piece. Everyone else is now in the role that they are suited to be in. Dak Prescott was explosive Sunday. I can’t believe I’m saying it.The bug for the Cowboys was supposed to be their decision-making by Jerry Jones and his family, and that’s turned out to be their strength. Seriously, name the team that’s drafted better recently than the Cowboys. Now add Cooper to this. God, I hate myself for saying this.gfoster: The issue with that trade was more relative to the wide receiver market. Golden Tate, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas were all traded for a far smaller return. The difference is that prior to the deal, I would have lumped Cooper in with that tier of receiver, but it’s possible that his problem was even more Derek Carr than I thought.Salfino: My view is that Cooper is an explosive player who can take the top off the defense. Those other guys, including Gordon now, cannot.gfoster: OK, before we go, I want to get in one college football question off the big news of the weekend: Did Heisman voters get this one right?Salfino: Oklahoma somehow pulled a Favre to Rodgers in college football.sara.ziegler: I’m still kinda shocked that Kyler Murray won.It really came down to performances in the conference championships.neil: It’s funny because the Tua-is-unstoppable narrative had been in place for like two months (or more). Yet the signs were there that Kyler was a legitimate threat to him. He had a better NCAA passing efficiency, better QBR. Betting odds even favored Kyler on Saturday AM.Salfino: My take is that Alabama would be great/No. 1 in the country with pretty much a typical college QB, but Oklahoma absolutely must have Murray to rank where they are. So Murray is the MVP of college football for sure.gfoster: Here’s the flip side of that: Tagovailoa barely played in the fourth quarter most of the season, while Murray was needing to score 40 to 50 points every week to beat any team.Salfino: I’ve heard the draft people concede the Murray would be a first-round pick. Now the question I guess is how high? There are no rules anymore after Baker.sara.ziegler: Unless he’s an Oakland A by that point…gfoster: And, likewise, Mahomes coming out of the same Big 12 nonsense football that looks like two 11-year-olds playing Madden.Salfino: If Murray is a top-five pick, the financial calculus changes dramatically. He may never get another MLB contract. Look at ninth-overall picks in history, for example.neil: Yes it does change the formula we looked at here.gfoster: All right, last question:Quickly give me the Week 14 Super Bowl prediction and No. 1 overall pick prediction, since we have a legitimate race this year.neil: I guess I shouldn’t stick with my October pick of the Vikings…sara.ziegler: LOLThey’re not out of it…neil: Although who knows! We’ll see tonight.sara.ziegler: I still think it will be the Chiefs out of the AFC, but who knows from the NFC.Even after last night, I just can’t get behind the Bears.gfoster: Sara, just pick the Vikings, it’s fine. We will forget about it.sara.ziegler: I can’t. The moment I do, it’s over for them.Salfino: I think the Raiders are the favorite for the No. 1 pick because San Francisco is going to face backups against the Rams in Week 17. I picked Saints-Steelers in the preseason. I will stick with the Saints — figuring that Payton figures it out. AFC has to be the Chiefs now. They do have a pass rush. They absolutely cannot lose Hill or Kelce though. (And obviously Mahomes.)Betting on Andy Reid in January though and the Chiefs in January at home, yikes.sara.ziegler: I’ll take a long shot for the No. 1 pick with the Jaguars. That’s a team that looks like it does not care.neil: I will speak for the model and pick the Saints coming out of the NFC. We have them at 26 percent to win it all. AFC favorite is Chiefs, though I share Mike’s concerns there, despite my crush on Mahomes.And I’ll go with the Cardinals at No. 1, our model’s pick for the worst record. 28Bills41.25.2 30Raiders30.83.8 32Cardinals30.63.6 And that year they could pin it on Charlie Batch starting some games.Salfino: Explain to me how Roethlisberger goes 25-for-29, the Steelers defense is still near the top of the league in yards allowed per play, and they lose to the Raiders. Tomlin totally blows the end of the game by not calling a timeout, he gets his own lateral play to work, and then the kicker falls down.sara.ziegler: Field goal kicking has been about average this year, at 84.2 percent made. But this week was a bad one for kickers, who made only 42 field goals out of 56 attempts.Salfino: Steelers vs. Patriots is the game of the week, but not for the reasons we thought going into the season. These are two desperate teams now. The Steelers are teetering on elimination, and New England can’t win the conference without a bye, IMO.Do you know how hard it is to pass like Roethlisberger has this year and have a top defense in yards per play and still struggle to win?gfoster: They haven’t beaten a truly good team this season. Especially now that we can safely call the Panthers a bad team.And the Jags.And the Falcons.The Steelers’ best win was arguably over the Browns!Salfino: They really should have beaten the Chargers, though. But you’re right.sara.ziegler: And they would have beaten Oakland, if not for their kicker falling down.neil: … another really bad team.Salfino: Are we worried about the Saints? They did not really bounce back at all offensively from last week’s loss to the Cowboys. You have had the feeling all year that Sean Payton was worried about the depth of his receiving corps, and they had nothing other than Michael Thomas on Sunday — and Thomas really had to grind it out. Nothing in that game against a terrible Tampa defense was easy, which is shocking.gfoster: But on Thanksgiving, we were singing the praises of Brees’s ability to throw TD passes to four different guys who walked in off the street and put on Saints jerseys.Salfino: I think the Saints defense is underrated now and the Saints offense is overrated.gfoster: Where are Austin Carr, Keith Kirkwood, Tommylee Lewis and Dan Arnold?Salfino: Arnold was inactive on Sunday. Crippling loss.That quartet sounds like a country rock band lineup.neil: Are we rattling off Saints WRs or members of the 1973-74 Cavaliers?Salfino: Nice pull, Neil!gfoster: Brees and the Saints are always bad in Tampa, it seems. Kinda like how Brady always seems to struggle in Miami. What is it about Florida?(Brady was good Sunday, though.)Salfino: The Saints really pulled that game out of the fire and it was huge. Could give them the No. 1 seed, and I think they really need it.gfoster: Here’s a question: If we could switch the results of one of the narrow losses in the first eight weeks, are we talking about the Giants as a sleeper playoff team?neil: People are talking about the Giants as a sleeper playoff team NOW.(At least on WFAN.)gfoster: They have two wins more impressive than Pittsburgh: at Texans, Bears.Salfino: Eli Manning is going to resign the Giants into giving him a lifetime contract. He is sucking all hope out of their prospective QB search.Eli is the Frank Gore of QBs.neil: Sara and I theorized that Eli paid Kyle Lauletta to keep screwing up.“Here’s $50, go commit a traffic violation in New Jersey.”Salfino: Eli’s last four wins were against opposing QBs Mullen, Fitzpatrick, Daniel, Sanchez.sara.ziegler: My favorite thing in football this season is how bad the Giants are at tanking.Salfino: Exactly! It’s not that hard.sara.ziegler: Remember when the Giants basically didn’t play Saquon Barkley in the second half against Philly?And handed the Eagles that game?Salfino: Although the Jets would have the No. 1 pick right now if Sam Darnold didn’t mess it all up by winning.neil: Broadway Sam can’t help himself.gfoster: A lot of teams are struggling to tank. These guys need to watch more NBA. The Niners won’t quit.Salfino: What about Josh Allen’s insane running. This is not a sustainable QB model, or am I wrong?neil: Did I read that Allen broke a Mike Vick rushing record Sunday?😳Salfino: No QB ever had two consecutive games of 99+ yards rushing (in the modern era anyway), and now he has three.neil: (In case you can’t tell, I am addicted to these things.)Salfino: Only one player could make that throw, and only one receiver could race to make that catch. The probability for Mahomes-to-Hill should have been, like, 50 percent 🙂neil: Maybe Aaron Rodgers could. But certainly only one QB on a playoff-bound team.Salfino: Yes, maybe Rodgers.sara.ziegler: (And he probably doesn’t have a receiver this year who could catch it.)neil: That might not have even been Mahomes’ most jaw dropping pass of the day! Simulated ties included as half-wins. Forecasting the race to the bottomFewest projected 2018 wins according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo model
After disappointing finishes at the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30, the Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams are working to improve on running in tighter packs as championship season presses on. The Buckeyes will run at the Great Lakes Regional Championships on Nov. 12 in Toledo, Ohio, and coaches from both the men’s and women’s teams attribute their teams’ poor performances at the Big Ten Championships to a big gap between their first and fifth runners. The coaches said that will need to improve at the regional meet in order for OSU to score better. “I’d like to see us get five to six guys on a 20-second spread,” said Robert Gary, OSU men’s head coach. OSU women’s assistant coach Chris Neal expressed similar thoughts for the women. “We just need to clean up the tail end of our pack more than anything,” he said. At the Big Ten Championships, both teams had spreads bigger than they would have liked. The men had a 28-second spread from their No. 1 to No. 5 runner, and the women had a 1:20 gap. The large spreads led to OSU finishing fifth in the men’s race and ninth in the women’s. Women’s runner, junior Tori Brink, said having a small spread at the Great Lakes Regional Championships will be key to the Buckeyes running well. Brink finished first for OSU at the Big Ten Championships, in 23rd place, covering the 6K-course in 20:55. “That’d be completely important at the regional meet,” she said. “Having our fourth and fifth runners being closer to our one, two and three would bring our team’s points down lower and allow us to get a higher place.” Taylor Williams, a redshirt senior on the men’s team, said he would like to see his team have a smaller spread, but not too much needs to improve for OSU to finish high at regionals. “I don’t think we change much and I think the team is still motivated,” he said. At the Great Lakes Regional Championships, OSU will be running against a number of teams they have competed against this season. Big Ten champion, the No. 1-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, and No. 7 Indiana highlight the men’s field, with No. 12 Michigan State leading the women’s field after winning its second-straight Big Ten championship. The teams competing will be vying for a top-two finish, which results in an automatic bid to the NCAA National Championships. At-large bids to nationals can be given to teams that do not finish in the top-two but have performed well all season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate a goal during a game against the Los Angeles Kings Jan. 21 at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won, 5-3.Courtesy of MCTWhile Ohio State’s men’s basketball team seems to have forgotten how to win games, Columbus’ professional hockey team has decided to stop losing.The Blue Jackets are the NHL’s hottest team, having tallied seven straight victories after a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Columbus Tuesday night. They have risen from being a team that looked to be on its way to another underwhelming season following a 5-10-0 start all the way to becoming one that is currently in contention to make the playoffs after this franchise-best winning streak.It’s not completely luck, a beneficial schedule or even simply playing over their heads. They are doing it the old-fashioned way, using an excellent penalty kill, some of the best 5-on-5 offense in the NHL and fantastic goaltending to close out games.That goaltending comes courtesy of 2013 Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who has started six of the seven games on this winning streak. Bobrovsky got off to a mediocre start to the year by his standards, but since returning Jan. 6 from a groin injury to play against the New York Rangers — a game ending in the first of the seven wins comprising the streak — he has been a force in the crease.But it has been the offense that has truly been the Jackets’ strength in the new year. The continued offensive firepower of centers Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky is converging with the midseason resurgence of defenseman Jack Johnson at just the right time. Johnson, whose disappointing first few months to the season likely led to his being excluded from the United States’ Olympic roster, has been playing with a chip on his shoulder since the Sochi selections were announced. In addition to notching five points in his last five games, Johnson has also been playing improved defense in front of Bobrovsky.The main cog on offense, however, has been right wing Nathan Horton. Horton, who sat out the three months of the season with a shoulder injury, has been everything coach Todd Richards could have hoped for when he was signed to a seven-year $37.1 million contract in July. Since making his Jackets debut Jan. 2, the team is 8-1-0, with much of the credit going to the point production and leadership Horton brings.This dominant Jackets run has been a pleasant surprise. But it was not completely crazy to think a postseason appearance could be possible before this year’s campaign had even begun, given the team’s 24-17-7 performance in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season that captured the attention of many fans. Now that they have thrust themselves into the playoff mix again, it is time for a franchise that has yet to win a playoff game since their 2000 inaugural season to start dreaming big.If the playoffs began today, the Jackets would be the second of two Eastern Conference wild card teams and would have a first-round date with the Pittsburgh Penguins, against whom they are 0-4-0 this season.That is why the Jackets must now set their sights on capturing one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division, which are currently occupied by the Penguins, the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in that order. If they can take over one of those spots in the standings and secure a more favorable first round matchup, it is very possible that they could not only win their first playoff game but also emerge victorious from a series. As of Wednesday evening, the CBJ are just three points back of the Rangers and two behind the Flyers and are slated to play the latter at Nationwide Arena Thursday night.It is time for Columbus to start embracing the Jackets, the best sports team the city has going for it when football season is over. They currently rank 28th in average attendance, according to ESPN. While the fans at Nationwide Arena can be very loyal and passionate, nothing could top the atmosphere of a capacity sold-out crowd cheering on their team in a huge game.The Jackets appear to be going places this season, and I implore you to “Join the Battle” for these last 33 games and enjoy the ride.
Ohio State wrestler sophomore Brendan Fitzgerald has competed unattached many times during his collegiate career. Courtesy of Sam JanickiOn most weekends, a large part of the Ohio State wrestling roster can be found competing on their own, with no coaches, not wearing Buckeye singlets in a small gym in front of minimal crowds. These wrestlers are competing unattached in open tournaments. NCAA wrestling allows 16 dates of competition for Division I teams. Any event that has more than six competitors on a team counts as a full event. As a result, Ohio State pays for six or fewer nonstarters to compete at open events nearly every weekend. The wrestlers do not wear Ohio State-affiliated clothing and coaches rarely attend since it is not an official team event. The true value of unattached events for a wrestling team might come from the athletes that attend but do not have their expenses paid for by the university. Wrestlers in their redshirt year compete in opens as well, but must pay their own way. They find a way to compete while redshirting, unlike a football redshirt who must watch from the sidelines. “There’s a formula that made these guys Ohio State recruitable, and part of that formula is you have to compete,” head coach Tom Ryan said. “We don’t make it mandatory but I think winners and guys that want to eventually be starters and have a really successful redshirt year just have to compete.”OSU redshirt freshman Kevin Snyder controls the hands of Cleveland Statesophomore Collin Kelly in a match on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, OH. Credit: Colin Barringer | For The LanternRyan encourages his unattached wrestlers to attend any competition that takes place within a five-hour drive from Columbus. Ohio State wrestlers have competed in events like the Michigan State Open, the Eastern Michigan Open and the Purple Raider Open in Alliance, Ohio. Competing unattached is a right of passage in the Buckeye wrestling room. “More often than not, you need a year in a college room to be hardened and it’s like driving on the interstate versus driving on the autobahn,” Ryan said. “High school wrestling is the interstate or a residential neighborhood and college wrestling is the autobahn.”While attending open meets, unattached wrestlers often carpool to the events and stay in hotel rooms together. They eat together and coach each other from the corner while wrestling. Redshirt freshman heavyweight Gary Traub has competed at multiple opens in his first two seasons, and has found that his best friendships on the team were forged on those trips. “When I first got here, I didn’t know anybody,” Traub said. “So my first open, I’m like, ‘I want these guys to know that I belong here.’ I’m trying to do all this fancy stuff and these fancy moves and stuff like that just to show them that I belong because at first I really didn’t think I did.” Open events bring much-needed experience to Ohio State wrestlers, but can pose a challenge for those who must pay their own way. Ryan estimates the cost of competing unattached for a season at around $900, accounting for food, travel and entrance expenses. “That was tough,” Traub said. “I wanted to go to as many as I could, but there were a lot of times where [I said], ‘Damn, if I go I have to pay $40 for the entrance fee, I have to buy my own gas up there, I have to buy my own hotel.’ The cost of it was a big deterrent for a lot of the guys to go.”The environments of open meets are less formal, which can allow for a looser attitude for competitors. However, less formality often comes with less regulation. An entrance fee is the only requirement to compete at most meets. As a result, the Ohio State wrestlers have seen some interesting things. Redshirt freshman heavyweight Kevin Snyder saw a wrestler he estimated to be in his late 20s earlier this month. Snyder also added he’s seen a lot of heavyweights pushing the 285-pound limit. Sophomore Brendan Fitzgerald watched a wrestler lose a match, then slam his head on the ground.“I feel like I wouldn’t see that at one of our meets or at a tournament that we’d go to,” he said. “I don’t think a coach would allow that.”Traub recalled a weekend where a couple of his friends from high school found out that he would be competing in an open. “They wanted to wrestle me so they literally just signed up for it and wrestled unattached, which was pretty funny,” Traub said. “That’s probably the weirdest thing I’ve seen, but it was a lot of fun.”The stories that come from the unattached trips seem to be more memorable for the Buckeye wrestlers than the matches themselves. Snyder reflected fondly on packing into redshirt junior Anthony DiCarlo’s dad’s RV and traveling to meets. Traub remembers saving money by staying at redshirt freshman Clay Ragon’s house when entering meets up north. For every high-profile Ohio State wrestling match at a Big Ten tournament or at the NCAA championships, there is an open match or a story from the journey to compete unattached on the other side of the spectrum. This is the side of collegiate wrestling that isn’t seen on the surface. “I can see it makes sense from an outsider’s perspective,” Ryan said. “What do you mean he’s wrestling here and he’s not in an Ohio State singlet? It’s a little different, but in the wrestling world for recruits, prospects coming in, it’s the norm.”
Ohio State senior guard C.J. Jackson drives to the basket against Cleveland State in St. John Arena on Nov. 23. Ohio State won 89-62. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorOhio State head coach Chris Holtmann knows it can be a painful experience attempting to game plan and execute against Syracuse’s stifling 2-3 zone defense. “It’s like going to the dentist. And not just for cleaning,” Holtmann said. In today’s ever-changing and increasingly unpredictable world, college basketball fans can take solace in one constant: Whether you love it or you detest it, head coach Jim Boeheim and his Syracuse men’s basketball team (3-2) will trot out onto the court in its patented 2-3 zone defense. The main challenge for Holtmann this week: Find areas of vulnerability and put together a game plan that best allows his undefeated (6-0) and No. 16th-ranked Buckeyes to penetrate a suffocating style of play.Projected StartersNo. 16 Ohio State (6-0) G — C.J. Jackson — Senior, 12.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apgG — Luther Muhammad — Freshman, 9.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.2 apgF — Kyle Young — Sophomore, 6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.8 apgF — Andre Wesson — Junior, 7.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apgF — Kaleb Wesson — Sophomore, 14.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.2 apgSyracuse (2-3) G — Tyus Battle – Junior, 17.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.2 apgF — Oshae Brissett – Sophomore, 14.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.8 apgG — Jalen Carey – Freshman, 9.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 apgC — Paschal Chukwu – Senior, 5.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.0 apgF — Elijah Hughes – Junior, 14.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.2 apgOne option to beat the zone is to shoot over the top of it, requiring Ohio State’s main offensive contributors, such as redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods to be sharp in their perimeter shooting on Wednesday night. “As guards and shooters on the wings we have to be ready to shoot no matter what game it is, but especially this game though because there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to make 3s,” Woods said.Woods has plenty of experience playing against Syracuse back in his days in the ACC at Wake Forest, where he went up against the Orange on a number of occasions.He made it clear that this is the game where he wants to finally beat Syracuse. “I mean I’m a competitor and I don’t like losing, and I’ve lost to them three times now and only beat them once, and the game we did beat them I got hurt, so in my eyes, I didn’t beat them,” Woods said. “So that’s why I really want this game.”Option two is to pass the ball into the vacated middle of the zone which generally lies between the foul line and the top of the key. Opposing teams have done well in the past to use this area as their base of operations, forcing Syracuse’s center to make a decision: staying where he is positioned around the basket and allowing the offensive player to get a clean shot off, or stepping out to contest the potential shooter and opening up passing lanes and access to the basket behind him. The offensive player in the middle of the zone can also look to make a pass back out to the perimeter if a teammate finds his way open. “It’s really important, as long as we can get the ball in the middle we will be fine,” Woods said. “If we get it in the middle, we’ll break down the zone because that’s when they really get spread out, and if we move and attack gaps, we’ll have the upper hand.”Offensively, Syracuse boasts three scorers who average double figures per contest.Junior guard Tyus Battle leads the way at 17.6 points per game and is the main offensive weapon for the Orange after deciding last spring to forego entry into the NBA Draft and return to the team for another season. “He’s versatile and very aggressive on offense,” Woods said. “He’s going to get his at the end of the day and he can score at all three levels and we know from the scouting report and I know from playing against him in the ACC that he’s their go to guy, and he’s going to try to get his as much as possible, and we’ve got to maintain him.”Battle is backed up by junior forward Elijah Hughes and sophomore forward Oshae Brissett who both average 14.8 points per game. One area of concern that Holtmann stressed was rebounding. He noted his team’s struggles in that department and how that will be a key component of Wednesday night’s matchup. Brissett and Hughes lead the way for the Orange on the boards, with senior center Paschal Chukwu also being a force around the basket at 7 feet 2 inches tall.Chukwu injured his groin in last week’s game against Colgate and his status for Wednesday night’s matchup is up in the air. If Chukwu can’t go, the Buckeyes will likely get a healthy dose a pair of sophomore forwards in Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj. Sidibe averages five points and five rebounds per game while Dolezaj averages more than three points a game to go with just over two rebounds per game. Ohio State takes on Syracuse at home at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Urban Meyer and Gene Smith listen as President Drake speaks at a press conference on on Aug. 22, 2018. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe College Football Playoff committee announced Friday that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has stepped down from his post on the College Football Playoff selection committee after two years. Smith said that his focus is now on first-year Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. “Serving on this committee has been an honor,” Smith said in the release. “Contributing to this great sport is always a privilege, and I will miss the time with my colleagues. It is imperative for me to have 100% focus in helping our new coach with his transition at The Ohio State University this fall.”According to Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, Smith was an “invaluable member” of the committee given his experience as both a former student-athlete, coach and collegiate administrator. “This is a significant time commitment, and we understand Gene’s need to focus on his primary responsibility on campus,” Hancock said.Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will replace Smith on the committee.
Ms Cafferkey admitted taking paracetamol at some point after she realised she had an elevated temperature and when she went to the screening area for a second time the doctor who examined her found her temperature was normal and cleared her to fly to Scotland. Anu Thompson, for the NMC, said: “The mischief in this case is that Ms Cafferkey, realising she had an elevated temperature, allowed an incorrect temperature to be entered on her screening form and left the screening area without disclosing to anyone in authority what her true temperature was.”She woke up the following morning feeling very unwell and was diagnosed with one of the most severe viral loads of Ebola ever recorded. Ms Cafferkey spent almost a month in isolation at the Royal Free at the beginning of 2015. She was later discharged after apparently making a full recovery, and in March 2015 returned to work as a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire.But she has since had two further admissions to hospital, one with a relapse of the Ebola virus and the other with chronic meningitis. Doctors discovered last October that Ebola was still in her system. In the months that followed, her health suffered as she had issues with her thyroid, her hair fell out and she had headaches and pains in her joints.The court heard she was receiving psychological support following the trauma of requiring a prolonged admission inside an isolation tent, having a life-threatening illness and the effect of “media intrusion” during a very difficult process.A report from a Glasgow-based doctor said that her prognosis was uncertain as the only patient to have developed a reactivation of the Ebola virus infection 10 months after the initial illness.She said last month that she hoped once the full fact were known the misconduct hearing would dismiss the claims. Pauline Cafferky after recovering at the Royal Free Hospital, London, in 2015 The Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey said she was delighted and relieved to have been cleared of allegations of misconduct when she returned to the UK with the virus.She was accused by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of allowing the wrong temperature to be recorded while she was in a “chaotic” Ebola screening unit at Heathrow in December 2014.She was already showing signs of fever when the incorrect temperature was recorded on a screening form and she was allowed to fly home to Scotland. The following day she became seriously ill with the virus. The NMC misconduct hearing in Edinburgh heard that she could have put the public at risk.But after a two-day hearing the regulatory body ruled that because she was already suffering from the early stages of Ebola her judgement was impaired at the time.It decided she could not be found guilty of misconduct when an inaccurate temperature was recorded at the Public Health England screening unit at Terminal 4.The 40-year-old nurse was accused of allowing the wrong temperature to be recorded, and leaving the unit without reporting her true temperature. Pauline Cafferkey enters an isolation tent before being flown back to hospital in London in February this yearCredit:Getty However, the hearing was also told that the PHE unit was not properly prepared to receive so many travellers from at-risk countries on December 28, 2014, and was “busy, disorganised and even chaotic”.Despite that fact, it was a complaint from PHE that triggered the disciplinary process against a nurse regarded by many as a hero for putting her own life at risk to help tackle the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.Her lawyer said she was delighted with the outcome and although she still has health problems she was now free to continue working as a nurse in Lanarkshire.Joyce Cullen added that Ms Cafferkey, from Cambuslang, willingly put her life at risk to travel to West Africa as a volunteer.She added: “She and hundreds of other volunteers played a vital role in saving lives and helping to curb the epidemic in extremely challenging circumstances. “As the panel heard, when Pauline and her fellow volunteers arrived at Heathrow, they were faced with chaotic scenes.“Public Health England were unprepared for the volume of people returning from countries affected by Ebola. They were also serious failures of communication amongst the Public Health England staff.”Ms Cullen added that it was “perhaps ironic” that given the criticisms made of PHE’s processes, it was their complaint that led to the NMC investigation and the proceedings being initiated.She said: “No doubt lessons have been learned. Throughout her career, Pauline has been motivated by a genuine desire to help other people even if this meant putting her own life at risk.“She would never have knowingly put anyone in danger. Pauline was lucky to survive and since her return from Sierra Leone has continued to suffer from ill health.” The lawyer said the disciplinary process had been “upsetting and stressful” for Ms Cafferkey.Timothy Cole, chairman of the misconduct panel, said there was “compelling and clear medical evidence” about Ms Cafferkey’s state of mind and ability to reason when she returned to the UK.He added that she was in a “medically-impaired state” when her temperature was put down as 37.2C and she was allowed to continue to arrivals.In fact, it had been recorded twice by a doctor at 38.2C and 38.3C – above the 37.5C level which should have triggered alarm bells and led to a consultant being contacted.But, clearing the nurse of misconduct, Mr Cole said it was not disputed that at the time she was “experiencing the early effects of a significant viral load of Ebola” and her health was “going rapidly downhill”.He also said the events had “occurred in circumstances characterised as disorganised and chaotic”.Ms Cafferkey spent over a month in an isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London in early 2015.She came close to death on two separate occasions as the virus lingered in her system and developed meningitis in September 2015.She has 18 years of experience as a nurse and has previously volunteered to work in Sudan and Bangladesh. She was honoured with a Pride of Britain award after her initial recovery and invited to Downing Street. The accusations against her have prompted widespread criticism on social media, with many members of the public saying she should be treated as a hero. 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.
One in three people claiming benefits because they are too sick to work have conditions which are fuelled by obesity, a government review has found.The report for the Department of Work and Pensions says obese people on benefits should be forced to attend sessions with a health advisor, in order to get more claimants back into work.Job centres should refer those with a weight problem to slimming classes, according to the review by Prof Dame Carol Black, former national director for work and health.The independent review calls for an investigation into the extent to which long-term sickness and absence from work is being driven by Britain’s obesity crisis.“We believe there is a long-term risk that obesity becomes an ill-defined, but widely accepted, reason for absence from work or receipt of benefits,” the report states. Every Job Centre Plus should be able to refer the obese to slimming classes, the new report says We believe there is a long-term risk that obesity becomes an ill-defined, but widely accepted, reason for absence from work or receipt of benefitsAn Independent Review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addition, and obesity Our goal has been to find ways of overcoming the employment problems that people face when they are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or are obeseDame Carol Black More than one in three of the 2.3 million people in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – the key benefit for illness and disability – have conditions which can be driven by weight problems, the report found.“As obesity is clearly a risk factor for a host of health conditions that can lead to worklessness, and as the problem is growing, we believe that the Government should prioritise a thorough investigation of this issue,” it states.“We therefore recommend that the Government commission research to investigate the extent to which obesity plays a role in health-related benefit claims, in particular long-term ones.”The review calls for trials of schemes which force obese people claiming benefits to attend discussions with a healthcare professional before their claims are accepted. “We … recommend the Government trials a requirement for each claimant, early in their claim to benefit, to attend a discussion with a healthcare professional on the impact of their health condition on their ability to work to test the value of this approach and identify delivery issues,” it says.The report says similar approaches have worked for other health conditions and should now be extended to include obesity, as well as alcohol and drug dependency.The report also says that every Job Centre Plus should train advisors in addressing weight problems, referring cases to weight management services if obesity is identified as a barrier to work.The study says around 1,600 claimants with a health condition do so because their main disabling condition of obesity. Around one third spent three to five years on the DWP’s main benefits, the report says.But it says a far larger number had conditions which could be fuelled or exacerbated by obesity. About 11 per cent of those with a body mass index over 40 – severely obese – have taken long-term sickness and disability, along with around 6 per cent of those with a BMI over 30.Below the threshold for obesity the figure is less than 3 per cent. One quarter of all adults are obese, a figure which rises in areas of deprivation .Severely obese adults were 10 percentage points less likely to be in work than those who are not obese, the study found.While 15 per cent of claimants with diabetes had a BMI of 40 and over, and 8.8 per cent of those with the condition had a BMI between 30 and 40, just 0.3 per cent of those with the condition were of healthy weight, the research shows.One quarter of all adults are obese, a figure which rises in areas of deprivation .Severely obese adults were 14 per cent less likely to be in work than those who are not obese, the study shows.Professor Dame Carol Black said: “Our goal has been to find ways of overcoming the employment problems that people face when they are addicted to alcohol or drugs, or are obese.“After a searching inquiry we are clear that a fresh approach is needed, one that brings together health, social, and employment agencies in new collaborative ways, personalised to the circumstances of each individual.”The DWP said it would now consider the report.Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said job centre advisors should not be able to decide who was referred to weightloss classes.“This is a job for a GP,” he said. “I don’t want someone from a job centre without medical qualifications sending people on weightloss courses, they will have no idea whether the obesity is self-inflicted or the result of a metabolic disorder, or other medical complaint,” he said.Last year the Conservative manifesto said benefits might be reduced for those who refused help to treat health problems, including obesity and drug and alcohol addiction. The manifesto said: “We will make sure the hardest to help receive the support they need for a fulfilling life. We will review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions, such as drug or alcohol addiction, or obesity, back into work. People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.But on Monday the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “We want to support those suffering from long term treatable conditions back into work.”We are not looking to withdraw benefits from people because they are obese. Withdrawing benefits from obese people is not under consideration. “”During this review process it became clear that there was a consensus that mandating treatment could potentially lead to more people hiding their addictions rather than disclosing it. There were other legal and ethical concerns,” the spokesman said. The report for the DWP estimates that 35 per cent of people receiving Employment and Support Allowance have conditions that may arise due to obesity Credit:PA “We think it likely that obese people are claiming benefits for a different health condition.“We looked at the health conditions given for ESA and selected a wider set of conditions where obesity could be a risk factor. From this analysis, we estimate that up to 807,000 cases (35 per cent of the ESA caseload) have conditions that may arise due to obesity.”The study says the strength of variations between the different conditions and obesity varies.While the 28,000 cases claiming for diabetes had close links with obesity, the association between obesity and other conditions for which benefits were claimed was less clear-cut, it suggests.The research shows that those who are obese were far more likely to suffer from a host of related health conditions – including diabetes, high blood pressure, musculo-skeletal disorders, respiratory conditions, heart conditions, and mental health disorders. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
The world’s biggest drugs firms could abandon Britain and delay launching medicines unless an extra £20 billion is pumped into the NHS, according to a leading pharmaceutical association. The ABPI represents more than 100 medicine manufacturers in the UK including Pfizer and GSK.Ms Anson claimed that patients and firms will suffer from an NHS which “rations” treatments, and that firms were “happy to discuss” tax rises to fill the funding gap.Without an increase in healthcare spending, firms will not be able to carry out clinical trials or develop new drugs against existing treatments, if patients in Britain are not receiving the medicines in the first place, she suggested. She said: “If we are ambitious to have the life sciences sector, which is one of the key sectors of the UK economy, (as) world class then our aspiration should be to have a world-class NHS with world-class outcomes for patients.”This comes weeks after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens revealed patients needing non-urgent operations faced a longer wait, in plans to save money as the health service handles a higher demand. 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. She told The Times: “Recent rationing signals are warning signs that we are eroding the… research environment and access to new medicines by eroding the competitiveness of a key sector for a short-term affordability issue.”She also warned that the UK would become a “desert for healthcare innovation”. NHS funding squeeze could see drugs firms leave Britain, pharmaceutical industry warnsCredit:Alamy NHS funding squeeze could see drugs firms leave Britain, pharmaceutical industry warnsCredit:Alamy The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is demanding an increase in health spending from 9.9 per cent to 11 per cent of GDP in “detailed” election campaign requests, which has prompted criticism of “special pleading” from Tory MPs.Lisa Anson, the new president of the ABPI, suggested that a funding squeeze on the health service could lead to an exodus of drugs firms from Britain, The Times reports.Ms Anson, who is also the head of drugs firm AstraZeneca, also said the future of the £30 billion life sciences sector could be in jeopardy.
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 has been charged with murder after an ex-Royal Navy officer was run down and killed by car thieves.Mike Samwell, 35, from Chorlton, Manchester, died in the early hours of Sunday April 23.Ryan Gibbons, 29, of Steven Court, Egerton Road South, Chorlton, has been charged with murder and has been remanded in custody to appear before Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.Gibbons has also been charged with burglary and aggravated vehicle-taking.At around 3am on Sunday, police were called to an address on Cranbourne Road to reports that Mr Samwell had been hit by his own car as he tried to stop thieves from stealing it.Mr Samwell, who served 12 years in the Royal Navy, was taken to hospital for treatment but died a short time later.A 15-year-old boy from south Manchester previously arrested on suspicion of murder and burglary has been bailed pending further inquiries.Two men aged 20 and 21 who were arrested on suspicion of murder and burglary have also been bailed pending further inquiries.
Dame Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As the Chief Nurse of Guy’s and St Thomas’ I cannot put into words how sad I am that we have lost one of our own. An Australian nurse who had been working in London, Kirsty Boden, 28, has been found dead.Her family said in a statement: “Kirsty was loved and adored by her family, friends and boyfriend. She was the most outgoing, kind and generous person who loved to help people. Helping people was what she loved to do in her job as a nurse and in her daily life.“As she ran towards danger, in an effort to help people on the bridge, Kirsty sadly lost her life. We are so proud of Kirsty’s brave actions which demonstrate how selfless, caring and heroic she was, not only on that night, but throughout all of her life. Kirsty – we love you and we will miss you dearly.“We will not be making any further comments on this tragedy and ask everyone, especially the media, to give us the privacy we need to grieve away from the public eye.”Ms Boden, from the town of Loxton in the state of South Australia, was believed to have assisted a victim during the attack but was not heard from since Saturday night.She worked at Guy’s Hospital as a staff nurse in Theatres Recovery. Kirsty BodenCredit:Facebook 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. 9 patients from the attack were treated at the hospital where she formerly worked. Of these, 5 have been discharged and 4 are still in their care. “Kirsty was an outstanding nurse and a hugely valued member of the staff team in Theatres Recovery, described by her colleagues as ‘one in a million’ who always went the extra mile for the patients in her care.“Our thoughts at this time are with her family, her loved ones and our staff who have lost a dear friend and colleague.“Following the Westminster Bridge terror attack on 22 March, this is the second time in less than three months when our hospitals, patients, visitors and staff have been in the middle of hugely traumatic events.“Our priority at this difficult time is not only to provide care of the highest quality to our patients but also to look after our staff. We would ask the media to respect the right of staff to focus on putting patients first at this time.”Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As with the Westminster Bridge incident, our staff responded with courage and tremendous professionalism following the horrific events of Saturday night. We are extremely proud of them.” A keen traveller, she ran a blog in which she called The Time Poor Traveller. In one poignant post, she had written: “I am not a nomad, vagabond or wanderer.”I have no plans to quit my job and travel the world taking selfies and instagramming my dinner. ‘I’m just your average dreamer, with a full time job and a constant longing to go where I haven’t been. “I have big travel dreams but I am realistic. I recognise that I might not go everywhere but I should definitely go everywhere I can, and so should you!”At risk of sounding cliche, life is short and we should all use the time we have wisely.”It is not clear whether she was last seen at London Bridge or Borough Market.She is known to have been living in the UK for some time after moving from Loxton, South Australia.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said four Australians were believed to be caught up in the attack.Two of these have been found recovering from serious injuries, while a 21-year-old woman still remains unaccounted for.South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said it was a matter for Commonwealth authorities to confirm the identity of the second Australian of concern but said the state government was “putting in place all the appropriate measures to provide support for the families that are associated with this particular notification”.
With viewers grumbling that the results are a fix and the celebrity dancers stung by some unkind comments, this series of Strictly Come Dancing has been in danger of losing the feelgood factor.But the final is guaranteed to be a happier place after the BBC announced they are scrapping the early elimination.Traditionally, one of the four couples is voted out in the opening hour of the final, leaving three to battle it out for the Glitterball trophy.This year, all four will dance through to the very end, where the winner will be decided by a public vote.The BBC said the decision was taken at the beginning of this series, and is not a response to anything that has happened since the show began.But the more inclusive final follows accusations that the BBC One show has taken a nasty turn this year. 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. Alexandra Burke has suffered negative commentsCredit:Andrew Crowley McFadden, McGee and Burke will be joined in the final by Gemma Atkinson, the Hollyoaks actress. All will perform three dances: a judges’ pick, a show dance and a favourite dance.The final is expected to attract one of the highest audiences of the year. Saturday’s show was watched by an average of 10.2 million viewers and a peak audience of 11.3 million. Burke faced the dance-off for two consecutive weeks despite high judges’ scores, but on Sunday was voted through to the final. Mollie King, the girl band singer, was the last contestant to be eliminated. Alexandra Burke, one of the four celebrities left in the competition, said she has struggled to cope with some of the negative comments aimed at her. Some viewers have accused her of faking tears, and have claimed the judges are ‘fixing’ the result by awarding her higher marks than her dances deserve.It has also been suggested that she and Debbie McGee have an unfair advantage because they have previous dance experience, with Burke appearing in musical theatre and McGee trained in ballet. However, neither has ballroom experience; the bookmakers’ favourite, Joe McFadden has also appeared in West End musicals. Other criticism this series has been directed at Shirley Ballas, the new judge, who has received hate mail from viewers who believe her judging is too harsh.”I don’t want to say what they say. I won’t go there. But some people are just inappropriate,” she has said. “I think it’s unfair to say that I’m mean. I think I’m constructive. I’m there to do my job and do it to the best of my ability.”Last year, in an anomaly, there was no elimination in the final because only three contestants were featured, following Will Young’s decision to quit. Producers thought it was more seamless than in previous years, when proceedings paused to send one couple home.A BBC spokesperson said: “The producers always wanted a final in which all the couples danced three times. It proved hugely successful in 2016 and we’re very excited about the routines that will be performed this weekend.”
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. Fatima Khan, from Ilford, north London, later told police she was addicted to Snapchat. She denies murder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. The trial continues. She threw the gift at him out of an upstairs window because her family did not know about the relationship, Ms Bex said.The lawyer told jurors that Raza Khan was “a rival for her affections” and Fatima Khan was “essential to the success of the plan” to get rid of Mr Safi.She said: “She told Raza Khan where to find Khalid Safi and she ensured Mr Safi was still there by the time Mr Khan travelled to the scene.” Jurors were shown the disturbing footage as well as CCTV images allegedly showing the fatal fight between Mr Safi and 19-year-old Raza Khan.Prosecutor Kate Bex QC said the two men had fought over Fatima Khan a few years earlier, during which Mr Safi was hurt.And in the run-up to the killing, Fatima Khan had been in daily contact with Raza Khan via Snapchat, jurors heard.She became upset when Mr Safi bought her a watch and presented it to her at her home five days before his death, jurors heard. This is what happens when you f— with meFatima Khan’s alleged caption on Snapchat On the day of the killing, Mr Safi and Fatima Khan had gone to a Costa Coffee near to her work at Vigilant Security in North Acton.The couple were hanging around benches outside the coffee shop, before Raza Khan arrived in a minicab.A witness noted that it was obvious the couple were together but there was a “weird atmosphere” between them, jurors heard.When Raza Khan arrived, he went straight up to them holding a large knife in his hand, jurors heard.Ms Bex said: “Raza Khan spoke briefly to either the defendant or Khalid Safi and then turned to face him at which point the prosecution suggest the knife would have been in plain view.”Mr Safi produced a screwdriver and they began to fight. The fight lasted 15 seconds at most and it is caught on CCTV. Mr Safi died at the scene having received a number of wounds to his chest, one penetrating his heart.” Raza Khan was injured in the fight, but calmly left the scene and his whereabouts remains unknown, the court heard. A self-confessed “Snapchat addict” orchestrated the murder of her on-off boyfriend and then posted a video of him dying in a pool of blood, a court heard.Fatima Khan, 20, is accused of plotting with a rival for her affections to kill Afghan asylum seeker Khalid Safi, 18, who she had been seeing for two years.Mr Safi was repeatedly stabbed in the chest by Raza Khan in North Acton, north London, on the evening of December 1 2016, jurors were told.Rather than calling for an ambulance, Fatima Khan allegedly filmed him as he laying dying in the street.She posted it on Snapchat with the caption: “This is what happens when you f— with me”, the Old Bailey heard. Raza Khan was a rival for Fatima Khan’s affections, a court heard Credit:PA/Metropolitan Police
Postcard-sized original artwork after “Sunflowers” being auctioned by the NG27 Italian Renaissance specialist Richard Stemp, a spokesman for the group, told the Daily Telegraph: “Between us we have more than 500 years of teaching experience at the National Gallery.“There are 27 of us, the least experienced of whom has worked at the gallery for 10 years and the longest serving has been there for 45.“We have probably spent more time with these paintings than anybody in the world – even the curators who have other things to do.“Now we can’t use that experience to teach so we’re using it help the legal fund.” After Constable’s “The Haywain” November’s tribunal has the potential to set precedent for workers’ right in the so-called “gig economy”.Last year Uber lost an appeal than its drivers should be treated as workers – rather than self-employed freelancers – and given rights including sick pay and paid leave, and this June a tribunal found drivers for delivery company Hermes were workers entitled to employment rights.But this is believed to be the first such case involving a public entity. The gallery is funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Artists and art lecturers locked in an employment dispute with the National Gallery are raising money for their legal fight by selling original artwork inspired by paintings hanging on the walls of the gallery.Their paintings ‘after’ some of history’s greatest artists – including Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Leonardo, Holbein, Cezanne and Constable – are being auctioned on Ebay to pay for a ten-day industrial tribunal scheduled for November.Among the postcard-sized artworks in the auction are a close-up of two sunflower blooms, after Van Gogh, a pencil sketch of the Virgin and Child, after Titian, and a moody black and white charcoal after Constable’s The Haywain.Around £3,000 has been raised across the current auction, and another held last month. The funds have been added to £37,000 raised so far through a funding campaign on the website Crowdjustice. Members of the group protesting outside the National Gallery She said: “It is our understanding that the claims have arisen out of the Gallery’s wish to change from offering ad hoc work to offering more secure employment, with additional pension and worker benefits.“This change reflects the Gallery’s strategy to develop our programmes to increasingly reach new audiences and make the most of digital technology to widen our engagement.”She said the group had been consulted over a three month period and had been offered jobs, adding: “The Gallery is not yet in receipt of the details of each complaint, but believes that we have acted both lawfully and fairly in changing our service provision to one of secure employment.” After Titian’s “Virgin and Child” The “NG27” allege that despite working regularly at the gallery for years, teaching school groups and lecturing on artworks, they were unfairly dismissed last October by the gallery which claimed it was simply ceasing a freelance arrangement.They say they were on the gallery’s payroll with tax deducted at source, wore staff passes, were required to attend team meetings and received formal workplace performance reviews; but were dismissed in a meeting at which around a dozen staff jobs were offered to around 45 lecturers.Some of the 27 alleging unfair dismissal continue to work at the gallery on casual contracts.Mr Stemp said: “There would be weeks I worked seven days and other times less. But I relied on that work and they relied on me.”A spokeswoman for the National Gallery said it had received “a number of different claims from a number of freelance workers” and said the majority of claimants continued to work at the gallery. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
The 17 year old accused of the murder of talented schoolboy Yousef Makki in a knife attack was granted bail at a secret hearing yesterday.The application to free the teenager from custody pending his trial in June was taken at a 90 minute hearing in chambers at Manchester Crown Court in an unusual legal move. Bail applications are usually held in public and can be reported.The defendant’s parents sat in court as the teenager’s barrister Kate Blackwell QC made the application to the Recorder of Manchester David Stockdale QC.Press and public were made to wait outside the court until the hearing was resumed in open court when prosecutor Charlotte Crangle said a trial date had been fixed for June 18. A pre trial preparation hearing will be held on April 24.The defendant, dressed in a grey sweat shirt over a grey T shirt, stood in the dock during the hearing. He did not speak during the public part of the case. Yousef Makki was stabbed to death in Hale BarnsCredit:PA He said:” The fact that he has been granted bail is a matter of public knowledge but the terms and conditions under which bail were imposed at a hearing in chambers are not and I do not propose to say any more about this.”There was a bail application and I have granted bail in this case. The conditions attached to bail are not a matter of public knowledge nor are the reasons why I took the decision I took. “The teenager is charged with the murder of Yousef on a tree lined street in the affluent Manchester suburb of Hale Barns last Saturday. He is also charged with possession of a bladed article, a lock knife.A second 17 year old has been charged with possession of the same knife and with assisting an offender. He was granted bail at Manchester Youth Court on Wednesday to appear again on March 28. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Recorder then made an order under Section 45 of the Youth , Justice and Criminal Evidence Act protecting his identity.But he declined a request for the reasons for the granting of bail or the conditions attached to the bail. Friends of Yousef Makki from Manchester Grammar School have been devastated by his murder Miss Crangle was asked by the judge whether she wished to lodge an appeal against the decision he had made behind closed doors and the prosecutor said that she did not.The hearing then concluded but was resumed when the Press made representations to know whether bail had been granted and whether there were conditions attached and whether there was any order preventing the teenager’s identity from being published.