Not only did Floyd “Money” Mayweather earn the largest purse in boxing history with a guaranteed $41.5 million, he was also given a million dollar Bugatti just because.According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, The MGM Grand Hotel bought Mayweather a brand new Bugatti.The Bugatti is one of the most expensive luxury automobiles in the world, with the Veyron–the most popular model– with a price tag of $1, 400,000.It is unknown which model Mayweather received, but knowing the flashy boxer, it won’t be kept a secret for long.This makes Mayweather one of the few people who can actually say “I woke up in a new Bugatti” and actually mean it.
After a whirlwind start to NBA free agency — in which almost every big, available name settled on a home — there was plenty to sift through. Almost too much! So we did the dirty work for you. Here are some of our initial takeaways from Day 1 of free agency.The Warriors may not be a contender, but they’ll still be entertainingFor the third time in four offseasons, Golden State added an All-Star to its roster, arranging a sign-and-trade with the Nets to acquire D’Angelo Russell in the wake of Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with Brooklyn.The move is a compelling one: While it gives the Warriors another scorer to make up for the absences of Durant and Klay Thompson this coming season, it also figures to weaken Golden State considerably on defense — especially because the deal forces the Dubs to part ways with Andre Iguodala. No, Iggy isn’t a spring chicken anymore, but he is still an above-average defender who, along with Draymond Green, has long been one of the most important pieces of that unit. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if the Warriors fall outside the top half of the league on defense at this point, a jarring thought given how great they were on that end for several years.1Losing free agent Kevon Looney would be another blow.But what makes the deal most interesting, aside from seeing how Russell does next to Stephen Curry,2The Nets struggled at times when Russell was paired in the backcourt with fellow guard Spencer Dinwiddie. is that it gives the Warriors a young, valuable asset to trade for other parts — and a deeper roster — once they get Thompson back healthy again. Being able to pivot like that is a plus and is a better alternative to basically losing Durant for nothing.Aside from the Nets, the Pacers had maybe the most interesting dayIf you had told Pacer fans that they were going to lose not only Bojan Bogdanovic — their leading scorer, at 21 points per game, after Victor Oladipo got hurt — but also Swiss Army Knife Thaddeus Young, you probably wouldn’t have gotten a great reaction from them. But that was the reality Sunday. And there’s a decent chance that Indiana comes out of it OK anyway.As Bogdanovic joined the Jazz and Young made a deal with the Bulls, the Pacers agreed to pacts of their own with Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon and Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb. Brogdon had several suitors, and Indiana had to part ways with a couple of picks in order to complete a sign-and-trade for him. But he could be a solid fit, both because of his tough defense and his ability to play on and away from the ball once Oladipo is back in the mix.For that reason, this seemed to be a much better signing than Ricky Rubio would have been. The offense-challenged Pacers desperately needed someone who was at least something of a shooting threat to take pressure off Oladipo. (Though it remains to be seen whether Brodgon will shoot just as well without the crazy spacing he benefited from with the Bucks.) And the Lamb signing, for three years and $31 million, was arguably even better from a value standpoint.In fact, based on FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO player projection model, Lamb is projected to provide $22.3 million worth of production per season in his deal. Only four players who reached agreements Sunday — all of whom were max-level stars3Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Durant and Irving are believed to be taking slightly less than the max to allow DeAndre Jordan to sign for $10 million per year. There’s a good chance that Durant won’t outplay his contract the same way the others in the group might, as he will likely miss most of this coming season. But there’s no way to adjust for that in our projection model just yet. — are projected to outproduce their deals by more than the $12 million per season of excess production expected from the 27-year-old Lamb.By contrast, the model wasn’t high at all on Bogdanovic’s agreement for four years and $73 million with Utah, even though he seems like a great fit with the Jazz on paper. Our model suggests that Utah overpaid by around $14 million a season in order to get someone of his production level, based on his aging curve. (The system did find Young to be a great value for Chicago, however, with the Bulls getting an almost $5 million bargain for him over his three-year deal.)Sacramento won’t get high marksThe Kings made a couple of head-scratching decisions. They kept Harrison Barnes for four years and $85 million and then also picked up Trevor Ariza for two years and $25 million. Both were on the short list of players our CARMELO projection model deemed to be overpays by more than $10 million per season. The Kings were the only club to sign two such players on Sunday.Many of the other players on that dreaded list — Klay Thompson,4Our system has always been tough on Klay — it would likely be even tougher if it were able to account for his ACL tear. Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton — were on contending teams and were in position to command max or near-max deals because their clubs risked losing them for nothing otherwise. That wasn’t true of Barnes or Ariza, though. (Nor was it true of someone like Bobby Portis, who, for all his scoring ability, registered in our system as a nearly $14 million overpay per season with the Knicks.)Sacramento’s other deals, for Dewayne Dedmon and Cory Joseph, were more or less in line with their value.The Sixers overhaul themselves yet againIt’s somewhat stunning that the Sixers either couldn’t or wouldn’t bring back Jimmy Butler after the postseason he had with Philly, but now that he’s moving on, Al Horford is a fascinating signing. Some will gasp at the four-year, $109 million price tag. (Our model actually pegs him right at $109 million over that length of time.) But between him and Josh Richardson, who figures to be on the way to Philadelphia in a Butler sign-and-trade, the Sixers are going to have a scary amount of length on D. Losing JJ Redick’s shooting will sting, but Richardson and Horford are both good from outside.The Sixers will miss Butler’s ability to facilitate as a secondary ball-handler. But Butler’s exit may streamline things on offense for Harris, who was all but forgotten at times in the playoffs — something that simply can’t happen given his salary and what the team gave up to get him.Other winners and losersTwo other teams that deserve credit for their deal-making: The Magic got almost $14 million worth of bargains per season between Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu, according to our model. And the Clippers, who saw all their star targets aside from Kawhi Leonard fall off the board, decided to lock in Patrick Beverley at just three years and $40 million. While the contract was easily the biggest of Beverley’s career, our system pegged his value at $51 million over the next three seasons.The Knicks had a frustrating day, even prompting the team’s brass to put out a statement to fans who were disappointed to see a pair of stars team up in the wrong borough. (Other fans were disappointed to see the team spend more than $100 million in contracts on three players that all could play power forward.) And the Hornets have had a lot of us wondering what they’re up to. Why not trade Kemba Walker ahead of the deadline if there was a chance you were simply going to let him walk in free agency?Some questions, we’ll likely never get an answer for. Others, hopefully, will become more apparent over the coming days, as teams continue to fill in their free-agent blanks.
The list of the 10 NBA players whose shots have been blocked most often this season includes many of the aggressive, diminutive guys you might expect: Isaiah Thomas. Kemba Walker. Derrick Rose. Damian Lillard. DeMarcus Cousins.Wait, what?Yep: Cousins, the 6-foot-11 star who was just traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans, isn’t just on that list, he leads it. The Pelicans have acquired one of the best players in the NBA — and the most blocked.Cousins’s shots get blocked 1.6 times per game, which represents a slight decrease from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, when opponents stuffed Cousins 1.8 times per contest. (He was the most-blocked player in those seasons, too.1Among qualified players, who played in 58 games or more.) All of which is surprising, considering the 26-year-old’s clear advantages in height, strength and skill.So what’s going on? Cousins is a volume shooter (more than 20 attempts per game), which means he inherently risks getting blocked more often than your average player does. Yet that doesn’t solve the mystery. Nearly 40 percent of his attempts are from 16 feet out or more, where shots almost never get blocked. (He’s up to a career-high five 3-point tries per night.) And while it’s fair to think that referees might not exactly be best friends with Cousins — who has a league-high 19 technical fouls already — blown calls wouldn’t completely explain his blocked-shot rate, either. According to Synergy Sports, Cousins draws shooting fouls on 8.5 percent of his plays around the basket, tied for the highest rate in the NBA.Still, he has a number of tendencies that make him susceptible to the swat.He’s predictable, for one. Cousins holds the basketball longer per touch than any other NBA center — an average of 2.34 seconds — giving teams an opportunity to size him up once he’s gotten the ball in scoring territory. Clubs also know that he’s generally more comfortable from the left block, where he carries out about 70 percent of his post-ups.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cousinsblocked.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.This isn’t to suggest that teams can simply bumrush Cousins and not get burned. The big man — averaging almost five assists per night, second among NBA centers — is more than capable of kicking the ball out to shooters.But teams appear to have learned that they can often use a second defender to attack him from certain angles when he holds the ball too long. Opponents have sent hard double-teams at Cousins an NBA-high 2.9 times per game this season, according to Synergy. That’s not a new phenomenon: Teams sent a league-high 2.5 hard doubles at Cousins in 2015-16, too, giving clubs at least two players in good position to redirect his shot attempts.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cousinsblocked2.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.For all Cousins’s strength, he isn’t very springy, and the league has gotten smaller and more athletic in recent years. One way to see this trend is to look at how his leap stacks up against that of younger players: Cousins posted a max vertical jump of just 27.5 inches during the 2010 NBA Combine. Since that year’s draft, just two players — Nikola Vucevic in 2011 and Dakari Johnson in 2015 — have been selected despite getting so little liftoff at their combines.Before he was traded, I asked Cousins why he gets blocked so much, and he said that I didn’t have to search for a complicated explanation. “It’s because I can’t jump,” he said. “It’s really as simple as that.” Related: Hot Takedown Who’s Going Where As The NBA Trade Deadline Approaches?
3S. Ohtani’18AngelsSplit-finger586.41 11C. Carpenter’04CardinalsCutter865.06 6T. Ohka’05Nats/BrewersSplit-finger936.17 5M. Mulder’03AthleticsSplit-finger2336.38 20M. Mulder’02AthleticsSplit-finger1144.22 9J. Fernandez’13MarlinsSlider3315.39 12M. Mulder’04AthleticsSplit-finger3165.01 7A. Wood’18DodgersChange-up526.06 Ohtani has probably already done enough on both sides of the ball to confirm that he’s the real deal. (So much for those shaky spring training stats, huh?) According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first MLB player since the dead-ball era1So since about 1920. to get two wins as a pitcher and hit three home runs in his team’s first 10 games of a season — meaning few baseball fans were alive the last time a two-way player did what Ohtani has done. If we had to pick one part of his game to bank on most, though, there is reason to believe that Ohtani’s pitching will outpace his hitting as his rookie year goes on.If you read the scouting reports written before Ohtani’s debut, pitching was always supposed to be his strongest suit. And all he’s done on the mound since is compile some truly eye-catching stats: So far this year, Ohtani has the fourth-highest strikeout percentage and the 17th-lowest walk percentage among qualified pitchers, and he ranks fourth in strikeout-to-walk percentage differential — one of the strongest predictors of how well a pitcher will perform going forward. Perhaps most tellingly of all, he’s also currently first in swinging strike rate, a very important measure of sheer pitching dominance, and he ranks third in average fastball velocity. Granted, those numbers have come in the microscopic sample of 13 innings (over two starts against the Oakland A’s, one of the worst teams in baseball). But they validate the story of a pitcher billed as having ace-level stuff when he first pondered coming over from Japan.Ohtani’s split-finger fastball in particular might be the nastiest pitch in baseball so far this season. (The splitter, which is thrown with the index and middle fingers spread wide over the seams, isn’t a true fastball in the same sense as the four-seamer; it’s more like a change-up that looks like a fastball to hitters before abruptly dropping at the last second.) Based on data from ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, he has thrown the splitter 58 times, and it’s already generated 13 strikeouts; only Houston’s Lance McCullers (curveball) and Arizona’s Patrick Corbin (slider) have gotten more K’s on a single pitch than Ohtani has gotten with his splitter so far. According to MLB.com, opposing batters have come up empty on 26 of 37 swings (70.3 percent) against Ohtani’s splitter, good for the best swing-and-miss rate of any starting pitcher on any single pitch type in 2018.2With a minimum of 20 swings against that pitch. And at a minimum of 50 total pitches in a season, the 6.4 runs added per 100 pitches by Ohtani’s splitter makes it the third-most effective pitch in FanGraphs’ entire database (which goes back to 2002): 4M. Prior’03CubsChange-up1056.38 19M. Batista’03D-BacksSplit-finger2704.30 Excluding pitch/pitcher combinations with fewer than 50 pitches in a seasonSource: FanGraphs 17J. Santana’04TwinsChange-up7224.38 10L. Severino’18YankeesSlider815.15 13C. Kluber’17IndiansCurveball8074.68 18T. Hudson’03AthleticsSplit-finger5144.31 16S. Gray’18YankeesCurveball624.38 14T. Lincecum’09GiantsChange-up7434.62 8S. Manaea’18AthleticsFastball1165.75 Just a little more than a week into his major league career, Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani has been so impressive as both a pitcher and hitter that it’s difficult to decide which aspect of his play stands out most. At the plate, he belted home runs in three consecutive games, crushing one pitch Friday for the seventh-longest homer of the young 2018 season. As a pitcher, he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his start Sunday, finishing the game with 12 strikeouts — tied for the most of any starter in a game so far this year. RkPlayerYearTeamPitch TypePitchesRuns/100 1D. Price’18Red SoxCutter59+6.88 Shohei’s splitter is in rare territoryMost runs added per 100 pitches in a season for a single pitch, 2002-18 2T. Lincecum’08GiantsSlider636.50 15M. Redman’06RoyalsCutter744.54 All of this obviously comes with the usual small-sample caveats and then some. (It’s barely been one week!) As “the book” comes in on Ohtani and his uber-out pitch, it’s unlikely that he’ll continue to befuddle hitters quite so much with the splitter. One of the things that makes baseball’s core pitcher-batter duel so great is that it’s a constantly evolving chess match of adjustments and counteradjustments. Right now, though, Ohtani is winning that battle on the mound.Of course, his success as a hitter can’t be overlooked. But there are at least a few signs that Ohtani might cool down from his early 1.310 on-base plus slugging start at the plate. According to Baseball-Reference.com, his batting average on balls in play — a sign of how lucky a hitter has been — is .364, well above what’s considered sustainable. Of further concern: He’s striking out four times for every walk, swinging at the first pitch far too frequently (1.5 times as often as the average batter) and getting himself into a good hitter’s count3Defined as either a 3-0, 2-0 or 3-1 count. about half as often as the average batter. A full 50 percent of his fly balls have left the yard, which is also an extremely unsustainable rate. As MLB pitchers see him more often, Ohtani will probably go through more growing pains as a hitter than he will as a pitcher.But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the sheer excitement of what he’s already accomplished. According to research from MLB.com’s Mike Petriello, the maximum outputs from Ohtani’s Statcast data — gathered by radar and cameras that track every move made on the field — show that Ohtani possesses an arm that can throw harder than 87 percent of pitchers, a bat that can launch balls faster than 89 percent of hitters and legs that run faster than 84 percent of base runners. As unreal as the hype was around Ohtani before he ever played an MLB game, somehow the beginning of his career has exceeded it. We can only wait with anticipation for what comes next.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) throws under the watchful eye of quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, left, at the Nova Care Center in Philadelphia during the team’s training camp on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Credit: Courtesy of TNSOhio State has hired Ryan Day, former 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach, as the new quarterbacks coach to fill in for Tim Beck. Day had previously worked with Meyer at Florida.Tim Beck, Ohio State’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, will go from Urban Meyer’s coaching staff to newly hired Texas coach Tom Herman’s staff. Beck, after two seasons with OSU, has been hired as Texas’ offensive coordinator.Beck’s reported move to the Longhorns comes just three days after OSU was embarrassed in the Fiesta Bowl 31-0 by Clemson. OSU’s offense, specifically in the passing game, has received scrutiny all year for occasional ineffectiveness.The report states that Beck will be in charge of the offense, along with the quarterbacks at Texas. The report has yet to be confirmed, however.Beck, an Ohio native, came to OSU from Nebraska before the 2015 season. Beck previously coached high school football as well.Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker and co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell are also set to leave the OSU program for other opportunities — the NFL draft and Cincinnati head coach position, respectively.
Ohio State football’s 2011 season promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory. Key players are suspended, there’s been considerable turnover at numerous positions and there’s a new coach at the helm.The Buckeyes should still contend for the 35th Big Ten championship in program history, though. In fact, the only thing that might keep OSU from winning the title is a possible NCAA ruling that deems the program ineligible for postseason play.The Buckeyes begin the season with a modest, No. 18 ranking in the Associated Press’ preseason college football poll. Four of OSU’s Big Ten rivals — No. 17-ranked Michigan State, No. 11-ranked Wisconsin and No. 10-ranked Nebraska — also figure to contend for the Big Ten title this fall.During OSU football media day on Aug. 21, players and coaches said they aren’t concerned with the media’s preseason predictions.“From year to year, (our) expectations don’t change, and that’s what makes Ohio State great,” said first-year coach Luke Fickell. “I would rather have people say negative things and doubt you just because that’s a motivating thing in itself.”Talk to literally any OSU player and they’ll likely echo Fickell’s sentiments.Most players and coaches won’t elaborate on exactly what the team’s expectations are in 2011, but senior center Michael Brewster did.“We’re the six-time defending Big Ten champs and as long as I’m here, that’s not going to change,” Brewster said. “We’re used to winning and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”If the Buckeyes are to advance to the inaugural Big Ten championship game on Dec. 3 in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, they’ll have to navigate the Big Ten’s newly formed Leaders Division, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.By season’s end, an October stretch of games against Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin — the games against the Cornhuskers and Illini are on the road — likely will have made or broke OSU’s Big Ten championship hopes.If there is a singular, decisive moment this season, it may come during Wisconsin’s Oct. 29 visit to Ohio Stadium. That game, currently scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff, could determine which team represents the Leaders Division in the conference championship game.After earning a berth in the 2011 Rose Bowl Game, the Badgers will come to Columbus with highly touted quarterback Russell Wilson, a transfer from N.C. State that threw for 3,563 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2010.It appears that Wilson will do battle with OSU’s two-headed quarterbacking monster, which is comprised of redshirt senior Joe Bauserman and true freshman Braxton Miller.At a Tuesday press conference, Fickell announced that Bauserman and Miller will share time at quarterback, but that Bauserman would probably take the first snap of the season.By the time the Badgers come to town in Week 9, it’s possible that Bauserman or Miller will have earned full-time duties at the position, but it is clear that OSU has two serviceable quarterbacks at its disposal.The Buckeyes will be looking to avenge last year’s 31-18 upset loss to Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. With the backing of 105,000 rowdy fans, OSU should find a way to reverse the result of last year’s game and go top of the Leaders Division.From there, OSU should handle Purdue and Indiana before closing out the regular season with intriguing games against Penn State at home and, of course, the season finale against Michigan in Ann Arbor.After university representatives met with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12, athletic director Gene Smith said he expects a final ruling regarding the school’s NCAA infractions in eight to 12 weeks. Should the NCAA announce its final ruling during the eight to 12 week window Smith mentioned, the announcement would arrive sometime during a four-game stretch in which the Buckeyes travel to Nebraska and Illinois in consecutive weeks before hosting Wisconsin and Indiana.If the Buckeyes are deemed ineligible for postseason bowl games, then they will also be disqualified from competing the conference championship game, according to a Thursday press release by the Big Ten which detailed tie-breaking procedures for the conference.Four OSU football players — DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas — are also suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban.Terrelle Pryor left the university on June 7, just days after former coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign from his post. Pryor was eventually selected by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the NFL’s supplemental draft.Finally, three more Buckeyes — Junior running back Jordan Hall, sophomore defensive back Corey Brown and junior defensive back Travis Howard —were suspended for the season opening game against Akron on Thursday after they disclosed that they had received impermissible benefits of $300 or less each in total at a charity event they attended earlier in the year.If OSU avoids a postseason ban, however, an unexpected season of glory could await a weary Buckeye Nation.Key to the seasonThe play of the offensive line, coupled with efficiency from OSU’s quarterbacking tandem of Bauserman and Miller, will determine the Buckeyes’ fate in 2011. Senior Mike Adams’ return to the line after serving his five-game suspension will bolster protection for the OSU signal callers. Bauserman and Miller sharing time at quarterback isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either — that combination could prove to be difficult for opponents to plan for.Regular season prediction: (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten); Leaders Division winner. Championship game prediction: OSU def. Nebraska
In Ohio State’s 42-0 win over in-state opponent Akron, junior Jake Stoneburner became the first Buckeye tight end to have three receiving touchdowns in a game. He had two touchdowns last year. “Jake had a great day,” said Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell. “All in all, we were put in situations that he had the ability and the opportunities, and I think he did a great job of taking them.” Stoneburner had four catches on the day, three of them ending in the end zone. He had 50 yards of receiving, with his longest reception coming on a 28-yard strike from senior quarterback Joe Bauserman for the second score of the day. “I was excited we won, also I’m excited I scored three times,” Stoneburner said. “I was just happy to be out there making plays. Joe played a great game, he was out there looking for me. We connected three times and I’m happy about it.” Stoneburner received praise from his coaches and peers about his performance throughout camp. Under Fickell, it appears the offense will integrate the tight end more. “He’s had a great camp,” Fickell said. “He’s been an integral part of this offense all through camp. You know, so I kind of expected it, to be honest with you.” His three receiving touchdowns set a tight end record at OSU, but he is also now one of only eight receivers to catch three touchdowns in a game. “I expected him to have a great day,” Fickell said. “Did I expect three touchdowns? I don’t know. But it’s great to see.” Talking to the media on Tuesday, Stoneburner said he felt like he was a senior, and not a junior on this Buckeye squad. He also said he has been here a long time and that he felt like a leader. Under Fickell, OSU has decided to elect individual game captains for each contest, instead of voting on captains throughout the year. “Obviously, I’ve thought about it (being a game captain),” Stoneburner said. “It would be epic to be a game captain sometime this year.” Fickell said that to be successful for the entire season, the Buckeyes need to continue to play to their strengths. “I know the most important thing is we’ve got to continue to do those kinds of things,” Fickell said. “But it’s going to get harder and harder, because there will be a little bit more of a target on him, but that’s a challenge to him as well.” After Saturday’s game, Stoneburner needs only 172 more yards to match last season’s total. With this kind of productivity, that is something likely to happen in the near future. “I probably won’t score three touchdowns every game,” Stoneburner said, “but I just like to be out there making plays.”
For the second-straight night Saturday, the Ohio State men’s hockey team did what they have been doing consistently over the past month: win. The No. 7 Buckeyes defeated No. 11 Lake Superior State, 2-1, Saturday in the second game of a two-game set after beating the Lakers, 5-2, on Friday night. With the win, OSU extended its winning streak to nine games and unbeaten streak to 11 games. The team has not lost since a 3-0 shutout at Michigan State on Oct. 20. Sophomore forward Chris Crane scored less than seven minutes into the third period to break a 1-1 tie and the Buckeyes held on for the win. Freshman forward Nick Oddo also tallied a goal in the victory, and senior goalie Cal Heeter had 29 saves in the contest. “We did some very good things against a good team,” OSU coach Mark Osiecki said. “We did the little things well — we are always concerned with finding a way to get better.” After scoring two goals and outshooting Lake Superior, 17-4, in the first period on Friday night, the Buckeyes got off to a slower start Saturday. The game was scoreless after 20 minutes of play, and remained that way until the Lakers put one past Heeter at the 9:55 mark in the second period. Freshman forward Chris Ciotti got the puck and moved from left to right in the Buckeyes’ zone and fired a shot to give Lake Superior the lead. OSU responded immediately. Just 37 seconds later, Oddo scored from the post after senior defenseman Sean Duddy’s shot bounced off the goalie and freshman forward Tanner Fritz pushed the puck into the crease. “The team went out looking to find some energy after (Lake Superior) scored that first goal. We were lucky, getting some good bounces down in their zone and tying the game up,” Oddo said. “All of us were gunning to get the goal and it didn’t matter who got it. We were all happy. It was a good feeling.” The game would remain tied until Crane put the Buckeyes on top for good in the final period. Freshman forward Ryan Dzingel brought the puck into Lake Superior’s zone and found sophomore forward Alex Lippincott, who fired a shot. Lakers sophomore goalie Kevin Murdock was not able to control it, and Crane got the rebound goal, his ninth score of the season. Coming from behind to take a lead is something OSU has embraced this season. “It goes back to our mentality,” Crane said. “We were down, 1-0, (Saturday) and the coaches told us to keep playing Ohio State hockey no matter what. In the end I think we just wore down Lake Superior and came out on top.” The Lakers had the puck in the Buckeye’s zone late after they pulled their goalie, and had a couple good chances, but Heeter and the OSU defense made multiple stops, preserving the 2-1 win. With the victory, the Buckeyes improved to 12-3-1 on the year, 9-2-1 in the CCHA. OSU now has a five-point lead in the conference over second-place Notre Dame. Lake Superior dropped to 10-6-2 overall with a 6-5-1 conference mark. OSU remains hungry, even though they sit atop the conference, are first in the PairWise rankings, which determine the NCAA tournament field, and have the No. 1 ranking in the RPI. “Coaches talk about never being satisfied with where we’re at,” said sophomore defenseman Curtis Gedig. “We just keep working and trying to get better.” The Buckeyes will host Miami (Ohio) at 7:05 p.m. Sunday at the Schottenstein Center and then travel to Oxford for the second of a two-game series the following night.
Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo pitied Ohio State Jared Sullinger after Saturday’s game. After helping guide MSU to a 58-48 win against the Buckeyes, Izzo made an obvious statement, saying that Sullinger faces an increased scoring burden when his Buckeye teammates, like senior guard William Buford and sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas, who shot a combined 4-of-24 from the field, struggle to score. “(Sullinger) is so hard to guard and I just thought today … (Buford) had not a very good game and Thomas didn’t have that kind of game,” Izzo said. “Then everything falls on poor Sullinger.” Everything didn’t fall on “poor Sullinger,” though — he fell apart on himself, and grasped at the limbs of the opposition while he fell. Sullinger bundled 17 points and 16 rebounds with 10 turnovers in OSU’s loss to MSU at the Schottenstein Center. He was 5-of-15 shooting from the field, and was, at times, visibly disturbed by Saturday’s proceedings. When he wasn’t complaining to the referees, OSU’s sophomore forward appeared to jaw with Spartans’ senior forward Draymond Green throughout the game, emerging after some of the not-so-friendly conversations grinning and looking to the crowd for encouragement. In the second half, Sullinger hauled Green to the floor, grabbing the MSU player’s leg after falling. It should be noted that no foul was called on either player after the incident, and the two forwards shook hands at midcourt during the next stoppage in play. Make no mistake — the act of tripping Green was deliberate. It was a result of Sullinger losing his cool and one of them could have sustained an injury as a result. After the game, OSU coach Thad Matta said he wasn’t sure if Sullinger’s frustration on Saturday equaled previous bouts of in-game discontent, adding that the big man was a positive force in team huddles throughout the contest. “I’m not sure I saw frustration like I’ve seen him have before,” Matta said. “I thought he did a pretty good job of playing through all the things.” That’s a scary thought because it certainly appeared that Sullinger had blown a fuse. Sullinger is a fantastic player, but the focus didn’t appear to be there at times on Saturday. OSU can’t afford to have him fly off the handle like that because one more loss could put the Buckeyes out of the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Izzo is right. Sullinger clearly makes the Buckeyes go. That’s why the team needs him to keep his cool in the final six games of the regular season, as well as the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Sully, just keep your hands to yourself and let’s get on with it.
NEW ORLEANS – Have you ever watched a movie and not really understood what happened when it was over?William Buford is like that movie.He was at Ohio State four years and now that his career is over, I’m still not completely sure what I just saw.His career had more ups and downs than Kirstie Alley’s weight and was a role model for being consistently inconsistent.There were times when he was the best player on the floor and times when coach Thad Matta couldn’t get him off the floor fast enough.So how should we remember Buford? What’s his legacy?To me, Buford’s legacy comes down to one word.But.Everything good you can say about him has a draw back. I’m not sure what it was, but something was always restraining him from being truly great.Buford scored 1,900 points in his career and is tied for third OSU’s all-time scoring list with Jerry Lucas.But he was never the leading scorer on his team.He won 116 games in his career and his teams had a winning percentage of .800.But in the biggest of games with the most on the line, it wasn’t uncommon for Buford to lay an egg.He helped lead his team to two No. 2 seeds and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.But he never won a championship.The fact is, anyone can make a factual argument that Buford was one of the greatest players to ever step on the hardwood at OSU.People 100 years from now who never watched him might look back at the record books and hold that opinion. They might think his jersey should be hanging from the rafters.But to truly understand Buford, you had to watch him.One thing about the legends is they always stick out. They’re always memorable. Whether they played great or poorly, you always had a feeling of their performance walking out of the gym.Some games, Buford’s play was just flat out forgettable. You could leave the arena, turn to the guy next to you and ask, “Where was Buford tonight?”It was as if he didn’t play.Then he would come out the next game and drop 25 points.From beginning to end, Buford was an enigma.That’s not to say he didn’t do a lot of great things during his time at OSU. He had opportunities to go to the NBA, but returned and is getting his degree at the end of this quarter.None of his teammates or coaches ever had anything remotely negative to say about him and former walk-on Mark Titus called him his favorite teammate of all-time in his new book.When the final buzzer sounded Saturday and Buford’s career was over, he sat down on the floor. It was all over for him.Maybe Buford’s legacy can best be summed up in the state of the program he’s leaving behind.The common adage is to leave things better than you find them.When Buford came to OSU in 2008, the Buckeyes were coming off a loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. OSU lost in the National Championship in 2007, but were far from a national power.In 2012, OSU might not be an elite basketball program, but they have emerged as a consistent force just about every year and show no signs of that stopping.In short, the program is in better shape than when he arrived.So, what exactly was William Buford?Well, he was very, very good.But.He wasn’t great.