Ceres Negros. Photo from AFC Cup TwitterPHNOM PENH – Spanish striker Bienvenido Maranon delivered another hat trick as Ceres Negros rolled past Boeung Ket, 4-0, last Wednesday night to edge closer to the knockout stage of the 2018 AFC Cup. Maranon dazzled the crowd at National Olympic Stadium with a couple of first half goals, before adding another in the second half, while Taku Uesato came off the bench to add gloss to the scoreline as the Busmen stayed unbeaten in the competition. ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Home and Ceres battled to a 1-1 draw in their initial meeting at Jalan Besar Stadium.Over at Rizal Memorial Stadium, Global Cebu rallied from two goals down to secure a 3-3 draw with Thanh Hoa of Vietnam. But the result wasn’t enough for Global to keep its hopes of alive of reachingt= the knockout round as Yangon United sealed top spot with a 3-2 win over Bali United of Indonesia earlier.Rufo Sanchez equalized for Global in the sixth minute, before goals from Wesley Dos Santos and Daryl Roberts made sure Global secured another point against the Vietnamese side. Vidakovic was forced to make two changes to the starting lineup with Manuel Herrera sidelined by injury and Mike Ott serving a suspension due to accumulated yellow cards. ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Truck driver killed in Davao del Sur road accident MOST READ Green group flags ‘overkill’ use of plastic banderitas in Manila Sto. Niño feast Jo Koy draws ire for cutting through Cebu City traffic with ‘wang-wang’ Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Nietes vacates IBF flyweight belt to move up to super flyweight The Busmen dominated possession for long stretches, but it wasn’t until the 36th minute when Maranon opened the scoring by rifling home a shot to the bottom corner after good work from Stephan Schrock. Maranon grabbed a second three minutes later after he was set up by OJ Porteria inside the area as the Busmen finally stamped their authority on the match. With the Busmen piling up the pressure and Boeung Ket dropping back, Maranon got his hat trick in the 69th minute with Porteria providing the pass again, before the Spanish striker kept his cool from close range. Uesato got on the scoresheet in the 84th minute, controlling well at the edge of the area before firing low to make it 4-0.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award The victory increased the Busmen’s tally to 13 points from five matches, although Ceres’ place in the knockout round has yet to be confirmed following Home United of Singapore’s 3-2 win over Shan United of Myanmar. “What’s important is we got the win and now we can focus on the other important matches in the future,” said Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic. FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown“We’re in a good position to reach the next round so I think there’s less pressure, but we still want to do our best at home.” Home has 10 points from five matches, but the S-League can still snatch top spot with a win over Ceres on the final day of the group stage on April 25 as tiebreakers are determined by head-to-head records. View comments P16.5-M worth of aid provided for Taal Volcano eruption victims — NDRRMC
Loren Fancy offered Thirkettle the opportunity to race one of his cars. Thirkettle agreed and the L&R Racing team was formed. The L&R stands for Loren and Roseann, Cory’s parents and the owners of his race team. They have been the owners of all his race teams, from when he was 11 years old racing go-karts against A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed to his stint in the NASCAR Grand American Modified division and Super Trucks at Irwindale Speedway. The Fancys will also be the owners of Thirkettle’s car, but Thirkettle is the one who will be maintaining and setting it up from race to race. The hope is that the alliance will benefit both drivers. Cory Fancy, who lives in Canyon Country and is a Palmdale High graduate, will have a championship-caliber driver and teammate to share information and ideas. Thirkettle will get a chance to test his racing abilities in the top division at Irwindale Speedway. When Loren Fancy wanted to move his son Cory into the NASCAR Super Late Model division at Irwindale Speedway, he figured he would need two cars. One was to race week to week and one he would keep as a backup. Then Loren Fancy started adding up the bills to maintain two cars and decided he didn’t need a second. In stepped Travis Thirkettle, the NASCAR Late Model champion at Irwindale Speedway, who was looking for a car to race at the Super Late Model level. “It’s an underfunded deal. Not like a dream ride,” said Thirkettle, who lives in Newhall. “I’m not going to own the car. It’s pretty easier on me. They’re great people. They love racing. I felt bad for them last year. I don’t expect to dominate.” Last year was Cory Fancy’s first year in the Super Late Model class, the highest division that races regularly at Irwindale Speedway. The 22-year-old Cory Fancy struggled, but his parents, his backers, were loyal to his pursuits. Now they have teamed with the Thirkettles, who have a deep championship history racing late models throughout Southern California, from Bakersfield to Saugus to Irwindale. Travis Thirkettle won his first track championship last year. His dad, Jim Thirkettle, won seven track championships at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. Jim Thirkettle helps Travis build and maintain his cars now. “Racing’s very expensive,” Loren Fancy said. “Travis has limited funds. They’ll pit together. They’ll have a common asset: his dad. He’s a genius when it comes to race cars.” The NASCAR Super Late Model season will open March 24 at Irwindale Speedway. It could be one of the most competitive seasons in the track’s history. NASCAR Southwest Series champion Rip Michels, the winningest driver at Irwindale Speedway, is returning to the Super Late Model division. The division attracts drivers from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minden, Nev., and Tucson, Ariz. Last year’s Super Late Model champion was Van Knill, who lists Tucson as his hometown. Loren Fancy knows the competition will be tough. “If both of them won a race,” Loren Fancy said, “that would be a good season.” Thirkettle said he can’t wait to test his skills against the top drivers and teams at Irwindale Speedway. “It’s a great challenge,” Thirkettle said, “and I strive for that.” Indy Racing League: Honda has designed a bigger, more powerful engine for the Indy Racing League teams in the IndyCar Series. Marco Andretti, driver for Andretti Green Racing, said it will take some time for him get accustomed to the new cars. He did not have any complaints about the new engines, but his recent tests gave him little indication of how they will race. “It’s hard for me to compare. I was out of the Indy car seat for about five months in the off-season, which is a ton for a driver,” Andretti said. “When I got back, it was at a road course at Daytona. It just felt like a bit more torque, bottom end. Of course, we were quicker, top end.” Honda is the sole engine provider for the IRL IndyCar Series teams. Andretti said Honda would welcome any challenge from a competing engine manufacturer. “I think Honda would put themselves up against anyone, and I would, too,” Andretti said. “I wouldn’t change Honda for the world.” A competing engine would only make Honda better, Andretti said. “I think definitely a bit better if they’re able to compete,” Andretti said. “Then it just pushes them to be better also, where now they’re just racing themselves.” [email protected] (818) 713-3715160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Air New Zealand has launched an online artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Bravo Oscar Tango – Oscar for short.Oscar will initially assist passengers with commonly asked queries, saving them time and offering a more personalized experience than searching a traditional Frequently Asked Questions section online says the airline. Air New Zealand says that as with other AI technology, Oscar will learn based on the conversations people have with him, becoming more user-friendly and more helpful the more he interacts. Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan says “Oscar has been launched as a beta product allowing customers to play an active role in training him.’’“This is a new approach for us, getting Oscar out fast and in the early-development stages so that we can build and co-create with our customers. Given Oscar learns natural language it makes sense he learns directly from our customers the types of information they want to know and the language they use, rather than airline jargon.“The world’s best digital companies foster a culture of customer-led design and collaboration and for the airline to meet its big digital ambitions we must embed this culture of thinking, acting and doing as leading digital companies do.”The airline has initially launched Oscar as a help chatbot to assist with Air New Zealand Lounge, Airpoints™ and baggage queries but the airline says it has big plans for him, including integration with the Air New Zealand Mobile app, via both voice and text, and with other chat platforms and in-home digital assistants.“Over time we want Oscar to become a virtual travel assistant helping customers across every stage of the journey, with the ability to recognize who you are, inform you about your flights, make or change a booking, select seats, check you in, and offer to help sort you a taxi to the airport,” says Mr Golan.“There’s no doubt that AI is the future, allowing customers to better self-serve within their channel of choice, further improving the customer experience.”Customers with queries about Airpoints, baggage or Air New Zealand lounges are asked to put Oscar to the test. He can be found in the Help & Contact section of the airline’s New Zealand website.
17 August 2010An innovative technology demonstrator designed and developed by two researchers at South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is set to become a must-have weapon in every cricket coach’s arsenal.The analysis application, which records all delivery specific data and video footage of a game, will enable teams, coaches and match analysts to track and analyse matches objectively and help them with their planning strategy to plot the demise of opposing teams.The product has its roots in a similar product called Crickstat – developed by the CSIR with former Proteas coach, the late Bob Woolmer, and currently used by many domestic and international teams – but is technologically far more advanced than its predecessor.“This is a very objective analysis tool,” Matt Vassard, co-developer along with Gert Wessels, said in a statement last week. “With this application, coaches will be able to scrutinise every little detail of the game.“However, one must remember that the software simply provides an enabling tool, and the responsibility to conceive game strategies remains that of a coach.”Vassard is a software developer at the CSIR Consulting and Analytical Services, while Wessels is with the CSIR Modelling and Digital Science. The project is collaboration between the two units.Microsoft technology demonstratorThe technology uses Microsoft.Net as a foundation, a middleware created by Microsoft to be platform-independent. Simply put, it can be run on any modern Microsoft operating system.Because of its unique use of Microsoft technologies, the system has been earmarked for demonstration at Microsoft South Africa developer conferences around the country.“Microsoft wants to use this as a demonstrator for its technologies,” said Vassard, adding: “This application is cutting-edge in that it is built and based on Microsoft’s latest and most advanced technologies.”This cricket application exploits a technology framework developed by the CSIR, which aims to assist research units in their commercial endeavours. “What we want to do is package common functionality into simpler, more generic components for re-use in new CSIR software applications,” said Wessels.Future benefitsThe researchers hope that this approach will benefit future CSIR projects, Wessels said, adding that they were trying to funnel knowledge generated by the research units into user-friendly software applications.“If this succeeds, it will take the burden of software development away from engineers and scientists, allowing them to focus on their research objectives,” he said. “Having an internal development capability, we believe that it will get software developers more in tune with what engineers and scientists want.”Wessels said that in South Africa, development houses were oriented towards business and financial systems. “Few focus on developing specialised scientific software applications, and that is why we want to create this reusable software platform.”The CSIR Sports Technology Centre will be marketing the new application to its existing customers, and hopes to expand the customer base globally.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
SADC has been one of the fastest growing regional economic communities in Africa.“Improving competitiveness is key to lay the foundation for a solid future,” said Caroline Galvan, Lead Economist for Competitiveness and Risks in Africa at the World Economic Forum. (Image: WEF)According to the World Economic Forum’s Lead Economist for Competitiveness and Risks in Africa, Ms Caroline Galvan, South Africa performs very well in the “more complex areas of competitiveness, such as innovation, technological readiness, and financial market development”.Delivering a presentation on “Competitiveness in the Southern African Development Community” at a special workshop hosted by Brand South Africa and the World Economic Forum on Thursday 7 April, Ms Galvan said fundamentals such as infrastructure, health and education and a higher uptake of new technologies will be necessary for sustained growth to occur within the SADC region. The seminar precedes the annual session of the World Economic Forum’s meeting on Africa which will be hosted by Rwanda in Kigali from 11 to 13 May 2016.SADC has been one of the fastest growing regional economic communities in Africa. However, in recent years, especially following the 2007-2008 global economic crisis, the region has stopped performing as well. Low commodity prices and turbulent global financial conditions have been affecting the region’s growth prospects. In light of these conditions, the workshop interrogated how the SADC region could regain its growth momentum in a sustainable way by 2020.Premised on the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, the workshop – which brought together leaders from the business sector, policymakers and development experts – provided an overview of the performance of SADC countries, which shows that productivity has slowed down in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade.“Low productivity impacts negatively on sustained, long-run growth in the region and levels of quality employment. Improving competitiveness is key to lay the foundation for a solid future,” added Ms Galvan.However, the region has an opportunity to increase its competitiveness, which can contribute to improved economic growth, job condition and social conditions, by amongst others investing in infrastructure, the development of its human capital and technological readiness. Creating an enabling environment for investors to do business efficiently within the region will also contribute to improved levels of competitiveness.Follow the conversation on #SAinKigaliWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material
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Welcome to Full Count, our weekly baseball column. Have anything you want me to write about? Email or tweet me at [email protected] or @Neil_Paine.The last time the Arizona Diamondbacks won this many games this early in a season, the team was in the midst of defending a world championship, powered by a group of talented veterans taking one of the their last shots at glory before parting ways. That Arizona team was a bit different from its modern-day descendants, but if you strip away the star power and hideous jerseys, the old-school Dbacks also had a lot in common with today’s version (to the surprise of many analysts, including yours truly). Is it possible the franchise is finally set up for its first truly sustained run of success since that championship era?The 2001 Diamondbacks team remains the oldest one ever to win a World Series, and the follow-up edition was (unsurprisingly) even older. Mainly propelled by a stable of power arms — Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in the rotation, plus Byung-Hyun Kim in the bullpen with a host of other deceptive relievers — Arizona ranked second in pitching wins above replacement1As always, averaging together the versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. (WAR) that year, second in strikeouts per nine innings and second in fewest walks per nine. Feeding opponents a healthy dose of nasty sliders all season long, the Dbacks allowed the league’s second-fewest park-adjusted earned runs, cruising to 98 wins and the NL West crown in the process.This year’s version cuts a similar profile on the mound, albeit with more youth and much less star power. No. 1 starter Zack Greinke is by far Arizona’s most experienced and decorated pitcher; going into the season, he had over 40 more career WAR than anyone else on the roster. And Greinke has certainly been doing his best Big Unit impression in the early going — Johnson was the last qualified D-Back pitcher with a better K/BB ratio than Greinke’s current 6.0 mark. But the rest of the staff is pulling its weight as well. After adjusting for park effects, seven of Arizona’s top nine pitchers carries an ERA better than league average. As a result, Arizona ranks second in pitching WAR this season — just like it did back in 2002. 28Braves501467.122Best since 2015 24Twins481480.434Best since 2015 26Rockies484245 9Cubs584552 16Angels551501.355Best since 2015 21Pirates531490.531Worst since 2012 5Yankees7.32.7 3Nationals511554.5100Best ever! 3Dodgers8.13.0 18Tigers521496.330Best since 2015 TEAMGAMESELOFRANCHISE PERCENTILEMILESTONE 22White Sox511488.122Worst since 2015 27Royals511467.210Worst since 2007 15Rangers504949 10Blue Jays515252 Each team’s 2017 season, in context 4Indians501548.091Best since 1996 23Pirates474747 8Blue Jays521520.963Worst since 2015 Which teams have the platoon advantage most?Show more rows* A team has platoon advantage when its hitters face an opposite-handed pitcher or its pitchers face a same-handed batter.Through May 29.Source: Baseball-Reference.com 20Brewers521492.752Best since 2014 6Dodgers624252 1Astros531573.9100thBest ever! 27Royals504045 14Mets501509.565Worst since 2015 26Reds511472.612Best since 2015 15Cardinals491505.739Worst since 2008 18Nationals504749 19Giants541494.216Worst since 2009 16White Sox554349 PITCHING 4Red Sox7.72.7 28D-Backs484145 23Marlins501483.842Worst since 2015 In just two months, the Dbacks have gone from merely hoping Greinke could bounce back from his disastrous 2016 season to counting up the pitching riches beyond their ace. “Pitching depth” is a nebulous thing to measure, but if we give more weight to the contributions of pitchers deeper into a team’s staff,2Specifically, giving 100 percent credit to its 10th-best pitcher’s WAR, 90 percent to its ninth-best pitcher’s WAR, 80 percent to its 8th-best and so forth. the Dbacks have enjoyed the second-deepest well of pitching value in baseball this season, trailing only the division-rival Colorado Rockies.So Arizona’s pitching is doing its best job to recall the glory days. And the team currently ranks eighth in position-player WAR, roughly where its championship precursor placed 16 years ago.3And better than the team’s 14th-place finish in 2002.But not everything is a carbon copy of the past. The 2017 Snakes have achieved their offensive success in a very different way than the Diamondbacks of yesteryear did. Those teams walked a lot, but they didn’t burn up the basepaths or mash opponents into submission with homers, no matter how many memories you harbor of Luis Gonzalez crushing fastballs deep into the Arizona night. This offense might be the opposite: It has more glaring weaknesses (with the league’s seventh-worst strikeout rate and its 10th-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio), but also a unique combination of strengths, the likes of which has seldom been seen in baseball history. Not only does Arizona rank second in the majors in Bill James’s power-speed number,4Which measures how well a team combines hitting home runs and stealing bases. but pro-rated over a full schedule, the Dbacks’ number would rank 31st-best since MLB’s expansion era began in 1961. They’re an all-or-nothing lineup in the mold of, say, Buck Showalter’s Orioles, but with the added twist of stolen bases and opportunistic baserunning.The surprising catalyst for all this is 6-foot-3 first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.5Who’s already just 1.6 WAR shy of passing Gonzalez as Arizona’s greatest-ever position player by WAR. As the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg recently pointed out, Goldschmidt steals an incredible number of bases (65 in 77 attempts over the past three seasons) for a player so, well, slow. Instead of using pure speed, he’s been able to strike on the basepaths with a combination of smarts and sneaky lead-taking. And he’s not alone — a handful of Arizona’s regulars are positive baserunners (according to FanGraphs’ measurement, which includes steals, extra bases and double-play avoidance) despite dubious foot speed.6The team’s second-best baserunner (behind Goldschmidt) is the 250-pound Yasmany Tomas, he of the seven career steals. Then, throw in some hitters who do have wheels to go with their pop — such as Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock and even Jake Lamb — and Arizona has an offense that can hurt you with its power and its speed, sort of like a lineup full of Junior Spiveys would have done a generation ago.Of course, for a team coming off a 69-win season, the usual caveats apply to Arizona’s early record. Our Elo ratings, for instance, remain unconvinced that the Diamondbacks are much more than a .500 team that has won a few extra games to start the season, an assessment echoed by other forecasts. Despite the similar statistical profile so far, this year’s Dbacks are probably nowhere near as good as the early-2000s version was. But they’re much younger, playing a style that might be more entertaining (if not as effective).It’s also worth noting that Arizona made its big splash the offseason before last, gearing up for a run just like the one they’re currently on, only to be wrecked by more injuries than almost any team in recent memory. Although the flurry of deals made by former GM Dave Stewart were roundly derided (and not without cause) it’s hard to deny that the Diamondbacks are now living out the future he envisioned — even if it came a year too late to save Stewart’s job.In other words, there is real talent blooming in the desert. What remains to be seen is whether this is merely another one-year blip, like so many before in the franchise’s post-championship era, or the start of something more long-lasting.Trout outAmid the fallout from Mike Trout’s injury Sunday (which will shelve the L.A. Angels star for 6 to 8 weeks), one of the least-pressing concerns was what it will potentially do to his place in the all-time WAR pantheon. But since that’s a topic I’ve covered ad nauseum here, let’s dive right into it.According to Baseball-Reference’s version of the stat, Trout has never ended a full season without being the all-time WAR leader for a given age. (Let that sink in for a moment.)7This isn’t quite true if you use FanGraphs’ WAR, which considers Mel Ott better through age 20. And regular readers will know that I prefer to average B-R and FG’s WAR numbers together anyway, to smooth out discrepancies between the two methods. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s stick with B-R, just to see whether Trout can keep up the feat in the eyes of at least one WAR system. Before he got hurt, Trout already had 3.5 WAR this year, so he just needed to produce 3.7 over the remainder of the season to keep pace with Ty Cobb as the all-time leader through age 25.Even a conservative estimate would have called for Trout to generate something like 5.5 WAR in the last four months of the season, which would have enabled him to clear Cobb with ease. However, losing half of that remaining time would put Trout’s G.O.A.T. trajectory in real jeopardy. He’d have to return from injury without a hitch (no guarantee) and play slightly better down the stretch than he’d done over the season’s first two months — when he posted new career highs in virtually every hitting category. That’s a tall order!However, Trout could also come back in only five weeks if he follows the accelerated recovery path of teammate Andrelton Simmons, who suffered the same injury last season. If so, Trout would “only” need to play at an 8.3-full-season-WAR pace (which, comical as it sounds, is something he’s done in four of his five full MLB seasons) to catch up to Cobb.That’s the best-case scenario; in reality, Trout will probably face a real struggle to keep his title as G.O.A.T. at every age. But there’s still a chance.Franchise milestonesIn the day-to-day grind of a baseball season, it can be tough sometimes to zoom out and see the bigger picture of where a team stands in the context of its own history. That’s where something like the FiveThirtyEight Elo ratings come in handy, since they try to estimate how well a team was playing going into (and coming out of) every game in franchise history. I tracked where each team’s current Elo8Using the version from our interactive, which accounts for the starting pitcher in each game, rather than the version from our Complete History of MLB interactive. ranks relative to past seasons9Starting in 1901, the first season of the American League. for the team (measuring that using its percentile ranking) through the same number of games, as well as an Elo “milestone” — how deep in history we have to dig to find a season where it had a higher or lower Elo rating, depending on which number takes us further back in time: Some teams — like the Astros and Nationals/Expos — are playing the best they ever have at the third-of-a-season mark. Others are in down cycles: amazingly, the Phillies haven’t had an Elo lower than their current rating through 54 games of a season since 1962!Platoon power!I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of platooning, using the natural benefit of facing an opposite-handed pitcher (or a same-handed batter) to help a team become greater than the sum of its parts. Granted, different teams are constructed to use it better than others, so it’s not always up to the manager to play for the platoon advantage. Nevertheless, here are the teams who’ve had the lefty-righty edge in the highest percentage of their plate appearances (both batting and pitching), according to Baseball-Reference.com: 5Cubs511544.789Worst since 2015 6Red Sox511537.978Worst since 2015 13Yankees534650 9Rays551515.268Best since 2015 4Phillies635056 17Orioles501498.259Worst since 2011 11Diamondbacks541512.168Best since 2013 20Angels445248 12Mariners531511.988Worst since 2015 TEAMHITTINGPITCHINGOVERALL SHARE OF PLATE APPEARANCES WITH PLATOON ADVANTAGE* 2Diamondbacks8.33.3 3Twins664857 Percentiles are calculated from franchise seasons since 1901, including the same number of games the team has played so far in the 2017 season. Milestones are determined by finding the last time the team had a higher or lower Elo rating through the same number of games as in 2017. Stats are through May 31.Sources: ESPN, Retrosheet * We derived a team’s WAR depth by giving more weight to the WAR contribution of pitchers ranked deeper into a team’s top 10.Through May 29.Source: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference.com 8Rays535152 2017′s deepest pitching staffs 30Padres541438.96Worst since 2003 5Athletics545353 22Orioles454947 11Brewers495251 29Red Sox454344 12Padres534850 14Astros504950 25Athletics511474.033Worst since 1998 29Phillies501442.712Worst since 1962 17Cardinals465249 10Rangers531513.271Worst since 2015 2Mets675661 TEAMWARDEPTH* 21Giants514447 30Tigers474144 7Yankees491531.740Best since 2013 25Mariners464747 13Rockies541511.783Best since 2010 19Braves484848 7Reds554952 24Marlins484647 1Indians73%53%63 2Dodgers531571.198Best since 1974 1Rockies9.34.0
1. Does the battle at the line of scrimmage matter? Wisconsin is 11th in the nation and second in the Big Ten for rushing yards, with a rushing average of 241 yards per game. Its offense revolves around reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay and freshman running back James White. In its last 11 games, Ohio State has rushed for an average of 158 yards, more than its opponents. However, both team’s defenses are good enough to shut down each other’s run game to the extent that OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien will be forced to make an impact, giving OSU a considerable advantage in the play-making department. 2. Is the OSU defense ready for Clay? What does matter is Clay’s size. At 6-foot-1-inch, 248 pounds, Clay is a typical plus-sized Wisconsin running back whose strength is bruising between the tackles. The Ohio State defense has not encountered a back with Clay’s size this season. In two career games against OSU, he’s rushed for 128 yards on 30 carries, 4.3 yards per carry, which is less than his average of 5.7 yards per carry. OSU defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is looking forward to the challenge of facing Clay. “He doesn’t even look like a running back, he looks like a linebacker,” Heyward said. But “he’s so explosive. Sometimes the team can be feeling down and he makes one big play and he can turn around the game.” 3. Will Scott Tolzien deliver a repeat “pick-six” performance? Tolzien had a nightmare of a game in last season’s 31-13 OSU victory. Late in the first quarter, Tolzien threw over the middle of the field and was picked off by Kurt Coleman, who returned it 89 yards for a touchdown. It was déjà vu early in the third quarter when Jermale Hines tipped a Tolzien pass to himself along the sideline and took it 32 yards to the house. Although Tolzien has only two interceptions this season, the OSU defense has already forced 17 turnovers through six games. If OSU jumps out to an early lead and renders the Badger running game ineffective, expect defensive coordinator Jim Heacock to dial up the pressure on Tolzien. 4. After weeks of improvement, will the OSU special teams unit collapse in Camp Randall? Last week against Indiana, the longest kick return OSU gave up was 26 yards. Against Illinois, the long was 29 yards. The punt return coverage teams have suffocated opposing returners. This is a marked improvement over the beginning of the season, when the Buckeyes were near the bottom of the nation on special teams. Although the play of the special teams has changed for the better, coach Jim Tressel said there are flaws that still need to be fixed. “Our kickoff coverage team we thought fundamentally got better and the result was good until we were penalized and we had a couple penalties that killed us on the kickoff cover team,” Tressel said. “We’ve got to eliminate penalties from a special teams’ standpoint.” 5. Will OSU need another winning drive from Pryor? The crowning moment of Pryor’s first season took place in his third start. In a back-and-forth game, Pryor took the offense on a 12-play, 80-yard that ended with Pryor scoring on an 11-yard option keeper off the left edge with 1:08 on the clock to give OSU a 20-17 win at Wisconsin. Pryor is not only a dual-threat quarterback, but considered by teammates as one of the unquestioned leaders.
Strikers stole the show Saturday as the Columbus Crew defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-1.Columbus Crew forward Emilio Renteria battled with Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Omar Salgado. Both players dominated portions of the game, but the Crew — and Renteria — had the last word in the their 2-1 victory against the Whitecaps.Renteria began to single-handedly dominate play at the outset of the second half after Columbus (3-1-3) and Vancouver (1-4-3) went into halftime in a scoreless tie.In the 49th minute, Renteria streaked from the top of the Vancouver penalty area to collect a loose ball, and collided with Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly. Referee Terry Vaughn decided Nolly had played Renteria’s body, as opposed to playing the ball, and awarded a penalty kick to Columbus.Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers said there was no question about who would take the penalty kick.“I just went to go congratulate (Renteria),” Rogers said. “I thought he did a good job to get his body in front of the keeper. I didn’t even ask him. I think if a guy draws a penalty like that, he should take it himself.”After receiving congratulations from Rogers, Renteria buried his penalty in the left corner of Nolly’s net to give Columbus a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.Renteria wasn’t done yet.Crew midfielder Dejan Rusmir provided an opportunity for a second goal in the 59th minute when he played Renteria into Vancouver’s penalty area. Nolly dove to stop the shot but couldn’t get a hand on Renteria’s left-footed strike, and the Crew took a 2-0 lead.“Normally, I never score with the left,” Renteria said through an interpreter. “This is the first time.”Salgado, the first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, had a response for Renteria.In the 69th minute, Salgado scored a headed goal off midfielder Terry Dunfield’s lobbed cross into the Crew’s penalty area. Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer dove to his left, but Salgado sent the ball back across the goal to Hesmer’s right.The goal, Salgado’s career first, cut Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1. After the game, Hesmer was complimentary of the Whitecaps’ heralded 17-year-old striker.“It was a great header,” Hesmer said. “He did well in getting in between two defenders and finding space. And he puts (the ball) back against the grain, which was a tough one for me.”In the 77th minute, Salgado broke through Columbus’ defensive line again and took an uncontested shot that would have tied the game. Hesmer sprawled to make one of his two saves in the matchup and kept the Crew’s lead intact.By the time Renteria was substituted out of the game in the 78th minute, he had already given the Crew the offense they needed. Salgado was unable to match Renteria’s production, and Columbus hung on for a 2-1 victory.Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven said Renteria created “too many problems” for Vancouver.“He scored two great goals, obviously,” Gaven said. “That’s what we need, someone to just put the ball in the back of the net, and that’s kinda what we haven’t had throughout the year.”Renteria, who has scored three goals in the Crew’s past two games, will attempt to continue his offensive surge against Seattle Sounders FC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Crew Stadium.
DAYTON, Ohio – Lamont “Momo” Jones walked off the University of Dayton Arena floor Friday night with a towel draped over his head, sheltering himself from an array of insults raining down from the sea of Ohio State fans in attendance. Thursday, the outspoken senior guard said he and No. 15-seeded Iona expected to beat the No. 2-seeded Buckeyes. Friday evening, Jones and the Gaels were shellacked, 95-70, by OSU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton. With the win, OSU is set to take on No. 10 seed Iowa State, who beat No. 7 seed Notre Dame, Sunday at 12:15 p.m. Jones, who said he didn’t expect to have a problem with the Buckeyes’ pressure defense, finished with nine points on 3 of 14 shooting. “I mean, give credit where credit is due. I think (junior guard Aaron Craft) played good defense. I think I took some bad shots. Things just didn’t fall tonight,” Jones said. OSU held the nation’s second-leading scoring team to 35 percent shooting and a 6 of 28 mark from the 3-point line. Iona, which likes to get out and run, was outscored in transition, 34-11. A significant portion of the Gaels points came with the game already in hand and OSU’s starters sitting on the bench. “We played our defense. These guys are known to get out and run and put up a lot of points, but they’re not playing nobody. They played against us, a real defense, and obviously nothing happened for them,” said junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. Craft had six steals for OSU, including one that forced the rosy-cheeked floor leader to jump out of bounds, slam into a media table, and tap the ball back in-bounds to sophomore forward Sam Thompson. Redshirt senior forward Evan Ravenel and Thompson also recorded steals in the win. Iona’s two leading scorers, Jones and junior guard Sean Armand, were a combined 8-for-31 from the field. “Their two top players, I don’t know what they finished with, they shot a lot of times and they didn’t make much. Our defensive pressure frustrated them the whole game,” Smith said. OSU’s physicality on the defensive end seemed to frustrate a smaller Gaels squad. “Those guys, they looked like they workout every day. They’re a lot more physical than us. They just played hard throughout the whole game,” said sophomore guard Tavon Sledge. Iona’s coach, Tim Cluess, thought Craft might have gotten away with things his players didn’t. “I think he gets away with body blocking you, grabbing you, holding you, but he’s in very good position to do that, and he plays great angles,” Cluess said. “He has a passion to stop people, which most players today don’t have.” Iona got out to a solid start, taking a 6-5 lead early, before OSU raced to a 27-8 lead. The Gaels didn’t go away quietly, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 37-33 near the end of the first half. OSU ended the game’s opening act on a 6-0 run, highlighted by a one-handed alley-oop jam from Thompson, and pulled away in the second half. Junior forward Deshaun Thomas, who led OSU with 24 points on 8 of 12 shooting, said the defense his team displayed Friday could carry them deep into the tournament. To continue on their trek back to the Final Four, the Buckeyes will have get past the Cyclones Sunday. Iowa State dispatched the Fighting Irish easily, 76-58, in their opening NCAA Tournament game. Freshman forward Georges Niang had 19 points in the win. The Cyclones made nine 3-pointers and shot nearly 50 percent from the field. OSU’s defense will be tested by a potent Iowa State attack that is fourth in the country in scoring at 79.6 points per game. Saturday, OSU coach Thad Matta said the Cyclones style of play reminds him of Michigan, Duke and Kansas, all of which are high seeds in the NCAA Tournament and still alive. As long as the Buckeyes have a similar defensive effort Sunday to the one put forth against Iona Friday, however, Thomas is confident OSU will advance to the Sweet 16. “If we keep playing our defense like we’re supposed to, we’re going to make it to the promised land,” Thomas said.