The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce this year’s voting results Tuesday afternoon, but clever denizens of the Web have a head start on the process. For the past few years, the analytically inclined corner of the sports world (spearheaded by Baseball Think Factory and other sites) have counted the votes from media members who announced their ballots ahead of time — a contingent that includes more than a third of all voters as of Tuesday morning. The most recent projections can be found here.Since the Baseball Hall of Fame Vote Tracker project began in 2009, the early returns have corresponded remarkably well with the voting results:There are some inconsistencies, however. For example, the subset of voters who release their ballots ahead of time tends to align more closely with progressive baseball philosophies, such as the use of advanced metrics and the acceptance of players implicated for using performance-enhancing drugs.That’s why a player such as Mike Piazza, whose legacy has been clouded by vague PED rumors, may fall short of the 75 percent vote threshold needed for induction despite the exit polling listing him near 76 percent Tuesday morning. Or why Tim Raines, who stakes a not-insignificant portion of his claim to the hall on the basis of a strong wins above replacement (WAR) tally, probably won’t exceed the 65 percent mark being predicted by the HoF Tracker.Interestingly, after controlling for WAR and steroid allegations, the voters who fail to make their preferences known ahead of time also have been biased against players whose hall case is unusually tied up in the Hall of Fame Standards metric, which measures career longevity and milestone accumulation. This means non-disclosing voters tend to weigh a player’s peak contributions more heavily than his overall body of work.But even among the known ballots, there are some interesting hints as to how the nonpublic voting will shake out. Noting a rather visually arresting bifurcation among voters, sabermetric impresario Tom Tango has suggested this clustering effect is due to voters being highly polarized on a few hot-button issues. For instance, voters who selected Barry Bonds were very likely to also select Roger Clemens; meanwhile, voting for Fred McGriff or Lee Smith was strongly associated with not putting Bonds or Clemens on a ballot.Those numbers reflect generational differences between voters that will take center stage when we compare the HoF Tracker’s predictions to the voting results.UPDATE (Jan. 6, 3:59 p.m.): On Tuesday afternoon, the Hall of Fame announced that four players had been inducted: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio. The players with the biggest deviations between actual voting percentage and the HoF Tracker’s predictions were Curt Schilling (whose actual share was 12.3 percentage points lower than his predicted share), Mike Mussina (11 percent), Raines (9.9 percent) and Lee Smith (whose actual voting percentage was 9.4 points higher than expected). As expected, Piazza also lost too many votes once the private ballots were accounted for; his voting percentage dropped from 76.2 percent in the final pre-announcement data to 69.9 percent in the overall tally.
If his Spurs win Wednesday, Gregg Popovich will reach a coaching milestone: 1,150 career wins. Or, if you look at it another (admittedly kookier) way, he could record his 23,787th win.Popovich reached a different sort of milestone Monday: his 1,000th career regular-season win as head coach. Although several NBA players, including LeBron James, congratulated him on the achievement, Pop’s reaction was subdued. Perhaps that’s because he remembers that he really won his 1,000th game more than two years ago — on Jan. 25, 2013, against Dallas. That night, he won his 882nd regular-season game, to go with 118 playoff wins to that point — although coverage of the game suggests that few did the arithmetic at the time. (An ill Popovich wasn’t even there to celebrate, although the game still counts in his ledger because he remained the team’s head coach.)The standard across most North American professional team sports is to omit playoff accomplishments from career totals even though postseason performance is much more important than regular-season feats for winning titles.1College stats typically include postseason numbers. The typical reason given for doing this with player stats is that players can’t choose their teammates. Charles Barkley isn’t any less great for not winning a title — it says more about his teams. It’s not Ernie Banks‘s fault that he didn’t make the playoffs, so he shouldn’t fall behind Gary Sheffield on the career home-run list. Or so the thinking goes.Even if that argument holds for players, though, it’s a lot shakier for coaches. The whole notion of counting their wins, and celebrating when that count reaches a nice round number, implicitly credits the coaches for the sum of their players’ accomplishments (however flawed that idea is; in Popovich’s case, it does seem like he deserves quite a bit of credit). If coaches get the credit for regular-season wins, then surely they should also get credit for the postseason wins those regular-season wins make possible. By that math, Popovich falls a bit further behind Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, the two other most successful coaches in modern NBA history; each has more playoff wins than Popovich’s 149, earned along the way to five titles.If we’ve convinced you that playoff wins should count toward a coach’s career total, then perhaps you’ll walk with us a little further down this plank. Surely playoff wins shouldn’t only count alongside regular-season wins but should count more than them. Most NBA executives, coaches and players would agree — and perhaps few would agree more than Popovich, whose reputed coaching style is to use the first half of the regular season to test lineups and try out new players, rather than, say, to win as many games as possible.So just how much more should a playoff win count? A whole lot more, by our calculations. For every playoff game since 1984, we calculated how much that game’s outcome swung the teams’ chances of winning the title, relative to an average regular-season game.2Similar to what we did for our post about Tom Brady’s accomplishments, we used the number of teams in the NBA each season, the number of playoff teams and the length of the schedule to determine how much the average regular-season game changed an average team’s championship probability. For instance, in 2013-14, there were 30 NBA teams, so each started with a 1-in-30 — or 3.3 percent — chance of winning the title. After the regular season, 16 teams’ chances rose to 1-in-16 (6.3 percent) and 14 teams’ odds fell to zero. That means the average NBA game last season moved a team’s championship needle either up or down by just 0.04 percentage points. So, for instance, Game 3 of last June’s NBA Finals counted as much as about 487 regular-season games in terms of championship impact, while Game 4 of Miami’s sweep of Charlotte was worth just 15 regular-season games.Add up the regular-season value of Popovich’s playoff wins, and you’ll find that they were worth 22,786 regular-season wins — or nearly 23 times as much as the sum total of his 1,000 regular-season wins. That’s pretty impressive, but he and his players have some work to do to catch Jackson and Riley, who top all coaches whose first playoff appearance was in or after the 1984 postseason. We don’t really mean that Popovich has won 23,786 regular-season games. It would be just as accurate to say that in the regular season, he has won 6.5 playoff games since his average playoff win counted for about 150 regular-season wins. A playoff win isn’t the same as a regular-season win, but that’s not a good enough reason not to include them when summing and assessing a coach’s accomplishments. These calculations show just how much of a coach’s value comes after his wins stop counting. The regular-season wins reflect a coach’s longevity. (“The time, that’s the most important element,” Popovich said Monday. “You have to be around for a while, I guess.”) The playoff wins reflect his true value — and that of his players. Phil Jackson1,15545,59246,747 Pat Riley1,21031,43032,640 Chuck Daly63813,76114,399 George Karl1,1319,09410,225 COACHREGULARSEASON WINSPLAYOFF WINS(REG SEASONEQUIVALENT)TOTAL Doc Rivers67810,42511,103 Erik Spoelstra33612,69213,028 Rick Adelman1,0429,68110,723 Gregg Popovich1,00022,78623,786 Rudy Tomjanovich52710,34510,872
The Ohio State men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished in the top half of the field at the Notre Dame Invitational on Friday. Running in South Bend, Ind., the men placed 12th out of 26 teams in the 8K race and the women took 13th place in a 28-team field 5K race on Sept. 30. While both team’s coaches said they are happy with their teams’ performances, they believe the results could have been better. The men, led by junior Donny Roys, who finished 24th with a time of 24:44, saw their top runner, senior Jake Edwards, not finish. Edwards had a hamstring spasm and dropped around the four-mile mark of a five-mile race. “We were really high up there through three miles. And then Jake dropped out. That’s a 70, 75-point swing,” men’s coach Robert Gary said. “You know, I’m a little disappointed, but it shows that we’re a pretty solid team.” The men finished with a total score of 326, ahead of Penn State who had 343 points in 14th place. When Edwards dropped out, he was in the top 30 of 175 runners. OSU’s fifth runner, senior Adam Green, ran a 25:28 and finished 96th. Senior Jordan Jennewine finished first for the women in 37th with a 17:42. The women had a total score of 366, behind Big Ten foe Penn State who finished in fourth place. Women’s assistant coach Chris Neal said he thought the team ran well at the beginning of the race but didn’t have a strong second mile. “The big thing for us was getting out fast and I think through the mile, we had six girls in the top forty. After that we kind of fell apart,” Neal said. “We just have to clean up the middle of our effort and we’ll be where we want to be.” Both teams were running against highly ranked competition. The No.25-ranked men’s team ran against seven top-30 opponents, including No. 3 Stanford and No. 10 Florida State. The women competed against six top-30 teams. The Big Ten championship meet on Oct. 30 is now less than a month away. Jennewine, the women’s number one runner, said her team needs to run well as a pack. “I’d say as a team our strength has been that we can all bunch together and finish close with a short spread,” Jennewine said. “I think we need to just move the pack up.” A top-three finish is in sight for both teams at the Big Ten championship meet. “I think Wisconsin and Indiana are probably a step ahead of the rest of the conference,” Gary said. “I think there are probably three or four schools, Minnesota, Penn State, who we beat today, and probably Illinois. I think those three teams plus ourselves are fighting for third place.” Neal said Michigan is the team to beat in the women’s conference, but believes a top-three finish is in reach for the Buckeyes. “I think with Penn State, us, Minnesota and Iowa, it’s just going to be one of those years where on a good day you can be third but on a bad day you’re sitting in eighth,” Neal said. Both teams are confident heading into the thick of the season. “I think we’re right on track to get into the top three at the Big Ten championships,” Roys said of the men. “We’re stronger than last year so we’re getting out. I think we’re right on pace right now.” Jennewine likes how her team is improving as the season goes on. “I think we’re definitely moving forward and getting better each week,” she said. The men and women will take a week off from competition and then travel to Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14.
There are cold streaks and then there’s what happened to the Ohio State men’s basketball team Saturday against Kansas. Trailing by two at halftime, the Buckeyes shot just 25 percent from the field and 11 percent from the 3-point line in the second half, including a stretch of more than 10 minutes in which they didn’t make a field goal. The Buckeyes made four of their first 25 shots in the second half, allowing No. 9 Kansas to pull away for a 74-66 victory against No. 7 OSU. The frigidity of the Buckeyes shooting did not affect Kansas’ Ben McLemore, who many project to be a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Jayhawks’ star redshirt freshman scored 22 points and was one of four Jayhawks to reach double figures. When junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. finally ended another dry spell for the Buckeyes with a jump shot with 2:18 left in the game, the sold-out crowd at the Schottenstein Center let out a sarcastic cheer that was more a release of frustration than a celebration. The Buckeyes, behind junior forward Deshaun Thomas and sophomore guard Shannon Scott put up a battle, but their 16 and 15 points, respectively, weren’t enough for OSU to earn its first quality win of the season. Kansas took control from the opening tip, flustering OSU with full court pressure in the early going. Two 3-pointers from sophomore guard Sam Thompson kept OSU in it, but Kansas overpowered the Buckeyes inside to jump out to an 11-6 lead with 14:37 remaining in the first half. That’s when Scott entered the game and he made his presence immediately felt. After a 3-pointer from Thomas, the sophomore guard drove to his right past two defenders and laid in a tough shot off the glass. He then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled going to the rim, making one of two free throws. Later in the half, Scott scored seven points in a 14-0 run by the Buckeyes that saw the home team take its first lead of the game, 31-23. But McLemore proved to be too much for the Buckeyes, though. Kansas’ leading scorer hit three 3-pointers in the first half and scored five straight points in the period’s final minute to help give his team a, 37-35 lead at intermission. McLemore led all scorers at half with 13 points, while Scott chipped in 10 and also dished out three assists. Kansas had their way with OSU inside doubling up the Buckeyes, 20-10, on points from the paint in the first half. OSU fought their way back in the second half, though. Thomas, as he’s been known to do, went on a scoring binge, putting in eight points in the second half’s first seven minutes to help knot up the score at 45 with 13:31 left in the game. The crowd rose to its feet, but that’s when the Buckeyes, who shot 46 percent from behind the arc in the first half started their half-long shooting hibernation. OSU missed eight of their first nine 3-point shots in the second half and Kansas jumped out to a 53-48 lead. When sophomore forward Amir Williams banked in a layup with 8:14 remaining to cut the lead to three, it was OSU’s first made field goal in more than 10 minutes and the Jayhawk lead continued to grow. Down double digits with more under two minutes remaining, OSU was forced to foul, but Kansas’ free throw shooting was enough to put the game away. The loss drops the Buckeyes record to 9-2 as Kansas leaves Columbus 10-1. OSU next plays Chicago State next Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.
Women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston directs his team during a match against Dabrowa Sept. 4, at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-2.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFrom being a 19-year-old college sophomore coaching 17-year-old girls, to working with the Belize National Team while in the Peace Corps, volleyball kept finding its way into Geoff Carlston’s life.While the sport has been a constant for the Plymouth, Minn., native, Carlston said he never expected early on to make a career out of coaching.“I can’t sit here and say I planned this out,” he said. “That would be a flat out lie.”Although he is now leading the women’s volleyball program at Ohio State, Carlston also spent time coaching at Concordia University, St. Paul (Minn.) and Ohio University before landing in Columbus. Prior to those stops, he led the 17 and under Minnesota One Junior Olympic club to the U.S. nationals for three straight years and was the head coach of the women’s Belize National Team while serving in the Peace Corps. He helped them earn the country’s first international victories and finished fourth in the Central America championship in 1997.He took over a Concordia program in 2000 that was 0-18 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference the year before. In just his third season at Concordia the team finished with a 24-9 record, making a run at the conference championship.The University of Minnesota graduate headed to Athens to take over the Ohio program in 2003, finishing each of his five seasons with single digit losses. His best mark came in 2005 when the team finished 33-3.From there, Carlston has turned the Buckeyes into a perennial contender in the Big Ten, picking up career victory No. 300 on the way against Green Bay in OSU’s second match the 2013 season at the NIU Invitational.After the win, Carlston returned to the locker room to find his players greeting his arrival with noisemakers and cheers.“I actually didn’t even know,” he said.Senior defensive specialist Julianne Mandolfo said assistant coach Laura Benzing had the noisemakers in the locker room and told the team to go crazy.“We started doing that and he was just awkwardly laughing,” Mandolfo said. “He didn’t know what was going on.”Carlston said while success is always welcome, it has never been the most important thing to him.“I love the whole experience of competitiveness, but also trying to figure out the puzzle of putting the team chemistry together,” he said.Even though he has reached many achievements in his career, Carlston’s personal accomplishments take a back seat to the success of his players, Mandolfo said.“He doesn’t even care about what he’s accomplished,” she said. “It’s nice knowing that all he cares about is the team.”She added she is grateful to be part of such an accomplished program.“It’s an awesome opportunity to be under such a great coaching staff,” Mandolfo said. “Knowing that he’s our head coach, I just feel grateful for it.”Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said Carlston is concerned about his players’ lives on and off the court.“He’s really concerned about our grades, (and) mentally and physically how we’re doing,” she said.Mandolfo echoed her teammate.“We’re very close off the court,” Mandolfo said. “I can call him for the littlest things and he always helps me out.”In one word, sophomore middle blocker Andrea Kacsits described Carlston as “eccentric.”“He’s very hippy-dippy,” Kacsits said. “It’s not uncommon to go into his office and see him without shoes on and just walking around.”While he is laid-back off the court, Carlston’s attitude changes once the whistle blows.“He’s very go with the flow off the court, but on the court he’s very inspired, very detail-oriented,” Kacsits said.Carlston and the Buckeyes have fought their way to a 9-0 record to start the 2013 season and look to extend the streak this weekend at the Blue and White Classic in Buffalo, N.Y.OSU is scheduled to take on Maryland Eastern Shore Friday at 4:30 p.m. before playing two matches Saturday against Valparaiso at 11 a.m. and Buffalo at 7 p.m.The Buckeyes are set to return to Columbus Sept. 27 for a match against Michigan to open Big Ten season play.
Freshman forward Marc Loving (2) has his shot blocked during a game against Iowa Jan. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 84-74.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorIf you combined one half of each of Ohio State’s two major athletic programs, you would have a team for the ages. The Buckeye football team’s offense and men’s basketball team’s defense are two of the most successful units in their respective sports.The OSU football team finished the season with two consecutive losses — its first two in the Urban Meyer era — with a large amount of the blame falling on the Buckeyes’ defensive struggles.Now the basketball team finds itself in a similar situation. Except the exact opposite.While the football team’s defense was the weak point — allowing 34 points or more in each of their final three games — it is the basketball team’s offense that has been letting it down this year.“I think as a team, we’ve probably shot more shots than I have since I’ve been here. Whether it’s over Christmas break and then before and after practices. As a collective team, we’ve shot more shots,” senior guard Aaron Craft said. “For some reason, we’re not playing with very much confidence and that shows when we get into games and we miss a shot or two and you don’t want to shoot the next one. You kind of look at one guy and say, ‘All right, you know he’s going to shoot the next three times down the floor.’ And that’s definitely not when we’re at our best.”As the football team was making its return from the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl, the then-No. 3 OSU basketball team was preparing for its biggest game of the season against then-No. 5 Michigan State.A failed comeback attempt against the Spartans and three more losses later, and OSU sits on the precipice of its season spiraling out of control.Craft said holding each other accountable for poor play is something his team needs to work to improve.“It’s really easy with that type of team to just kind of expect everyone to get themselves going, expect everyone to kind of hold themselves accountable and maybe we’re not at that point yet. It takes a special team, special group of guys to be able to do that,” Craft said. “Probably the best teams that I’ve played on have always had guys that have held people accountable and looked at them and did what they needed to do to get other people going … Not calling guys out but letting them know that we need you to do this job, we need you to do this role and that’s going to help us win games, that’s going to help make us a better team. It’s different for everyone, it’s different for every team and we’re going to continue to figure it out.”A big issue for OSU this season has been giving the ball away. The Buckeyes are turning the ball over an average of 11.5 times per game this season, something coach Thad Matta said needs to be fixed.“Obviously, we’ve got to take better care of the basketball. We had 13 turnovers (against Minnesota), I think they had 12 steals,” Matta said. “I don’t (know) if I’ve ever had a game like that. But just taking care of it, being more sure, being more confident in what we’re doing I think is the answer for us.”Junior center Amir Williams echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying confidence is something the team needs to improve if the Buckeyes want to get back to where they were at the beginning of the season.“Maybe your first two shots, your first three shots don’t go in so you try to force the fourth one in or you just don’t shoot a wide open shot,” Williams said. “You just, like you said, have the confidence to be able to knock that shot down. You can’t lose faith in yourself because we need guys on our team to make shots … It’s a collective thing we have to do as a team. Stay confident and knock down shots that we’ve been shooting all season long.”OSU started off the season well, outscoring opponents by an average of 20.8 points per game in non-conference play en route to a perfect start.But in the team’s first six Big Ten games, OSU’s margin of victory slipped to about 1.7, and the Buckeyes have gone 2-4.Craft said the Buckeyes need to get back to how they were playing early in the season if they want to turn things around.“Early in the year when we were playing the best basketball we could, we had multiple guys kind of doing their job and putting the ball in the bucket. It really relieved a lot of stress and a lot of pressure off the other guys,” Craft said. “You got a guy like (junior forward) LaQuinton (Ross) who, I think, feels like he’s gotta make plays because no one else is really doing much. And that puts him bad situations, gets him to turn the ball over and the same thing happens with (senior guard) Lenzelle (Smith Jr.) or myself or anyone else. We have to have guys confident in themselves, believing in themselves and if they miss a shot we’re not going to yell at them, we’re not going to get on them. It’s on to the next play, on to the next shot, on to the next defensive possession.”The Buckeyes —– coming off their fourth straight loss — will hope to turn things around offensively Thursday when Illinois (13-6, 2-4) is scheduled to come to town. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
OSU freshman wide reciever Johnnie Dixon (1) practices kick-return duties while freshman running back Curtis Samuel (4) and junior linebacker Cam Williams (55) block during fall camp at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Aug. 6 in Columbus.Credit: Tim Moody / Lantern sports editorIn the world of college football, returning contributors often find themselves with a leg up on younger players, but that isn’t necessarily the case at Ohio State.The Buckeyes will be forced to replace their top running back and top pass catcher from 2013, and a plethora of young talent has gained praise from the coaching staff throughout the offseason. OSU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said the added youth combined with returning players has given the team depth at skill positions it may not have had in years past.Herman said that depth will lead to a more competitive feel around those position groups, and will force every player to earn their right to touch the ball.“You want to go on that field and touch the football, you’re going to have to prove everyday in practice that you deserve it and that you deserve it more than these 10 guys,” he said Sunday at the annual OSU football media day.In 2013, the Buckeye offense relied heavily on then-senior running back Carlos Hyde, who carried the ball 208 times for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown has graduated as well, leaving the Buckeyes without his production of 63 receptions for 771 yards and another 10 scores.The 2014 OSU roster features experienced players at both running back and wide receiver, but that doesn’t mean the coaching staff will rule out freshman and sophomores who have seen less time on the field to replace those players.Two true freshmen in running back Curtis Samuel and wide receiver Johnnie Dixon have repeatedly been praised by OSU coach Urban Meyer and other members of his staff. While those two may be leaned on more than other newcomers, it may be a sophomore expected to step into Hyde’s shoes –– at least to an extent.Ezekiel Elliott has been pegged as a potential starter at running back for his second season in Columbus, and Meyer even said he is the current No. 1 despite a continuing competition. Elliott himself said his top priority is to simply make sure he is the first man up come Aug. 30 when OSU is scheduled to open the season against Navy.“The first thing first is just securing the starting spot,” Elliott said. “We’ve got a lot of great backs in our backfield and everyone works hard, everyone brings a little bit something different to the table.”OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton said he recognizes the need to replace Hyde, but added to expect that same exact production is “unfair.”Even though Elliott seemingly sits ahead of Samuel and others on the depth chart, Drayton said his work ethic is rubbing off on the other running backs and helping to fuel the competition for carries.“That alone, and the way he goes out and works, he’s constantly creating a competitive environment in that group,” Drayton said. “As long as you can keep that type of fire going, everybody in that room improves.”Regardless of Elliott or any other running backs, Meyer made it clear that Samuel is 100 percent in the picture going into his freshman season.“I’ve got to be careful because I do this, but I love that kid, and man, oh man, does he go hard,” Meyer said during his Sunday press conference. “He is talented and he will play this year.”Outside of Elliott and Samuel, Meyer said redshirt-senior Rod Smith and redshirt-sophomore Bri’onte Dunn are in the running for more carries this season.As far as the receivers are concerned, there’s a long list of players who expect to have an impact in 2014.Senior Devin Smith had 44 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and senior Evan Spencer and sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson each had 22 receptions. While they contributed, none of that trio had the same impact as Brown in 2013.Wilson, for one, said he is confident in his role replacing Brown going forward.“As of now I start at the slot position, I’ve been starting since spring, so I’m pretty comfortable with that,” Wilson said. “I’m glad I start, I worked hard for the position, I feel like I’m really a big part of the team.”With that slot position locked up, the outside spots would seemingly be left to Spencer and Smith. Spencer said he simply wants to “play and compete at the highest level that I am able to do,” but said he always wants to stay motivated with the competition behind him.“I always try to keep the fire under myself…just to keep me…going and keep performing,” he said. “But I mean, yeah, competition is always there, it’s what drives out great players.”Yet another player hoping to make his mark on the receiving corps is redshirt-junior Corey Smith, who sat out last season after transferring from Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan. Smith said he wants to have a role, but is willing to do whatever is asked of him.“I plan on having a big role, just do my best in whatever role it is to contribute,” Smith said. “But I plan on having a big role.”The Buckeyes will have the remainder of fall camp to sort out these competitions before taking the field for the regular season. OSU is scheduled to return to the practice field Monday for its second two-a-day session of the fall. After that, there are 11 more practice days on the schedule for camp.OSU’s opening game against Navy is scheduled to kickoff at noon Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Ohio State senior forward Marc Loving defends Nebraska guard Glynn Watson Jr during a game on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorIn the era of Ohio State men’s basketball under coach Thad Matta, the last game of the regular season has almost always had significance. From Matt Sylvester’s game-winning 3 against No. 1 Illinois in Matta’s first season, to clinching Big Ten championships, Matta has done his job in sending seniors out in the correct fashion.On Sunday, when the Buckeyes (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) battle the Indiana Hoosiers (16-14, 6-11 Big Ten), senior forward Marc Loving will be honored as the lone senior in the 2017 class.“(Senior Days are) a little bit emotional, but you’re happy for the individual and I think in Marc’s case, I’m very excited,” Matta said. “Just from the growth that he’s made — he’s had some ups and down throughout his career, but I see it every day.”Loving came to OSU as one of the most revered players to ever come from the competitive Toledo, Ohio, area. He was ranked as the 61st best player in the class of 2013, but many feel he never reached his full potential. Loving was asked to become a leader as a junior because of the lack of seniority on the team. His shooting percentage has gone down significantly since his sophomore season, yet remains one of OSU’s best scoring options at 12.5 points per game.Loving said he’s not one to be emotional, but can look back on his career and know how far he has grown in the program.“Coming into Ohio State, I really didn’t have any expectations,” he said. “I mean, I didn’t know how much playing time I was going to get. I wasn’t promised anything. You have to earn your spot.”Normally when OSU hosts the Hoosiers at the end of the season, the hype is palpable. Not too long ago, Indiana and the Buckeyes swung at each other for the conference crown, but injuries and other factors have led OSU and Indiana to the bottom of the Big Ten in 2016-17.However, that’s not to say the game isn’t significant. If OSU defeats the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes guarantee themselves a bye on Wednesday — the first day of the Big Ten tournament — and will be the 10 seed in the tournament.IndianaCoach Tom Crean’s squad is ranked No. 49 in Ken Pomeroy’s advanced statistical ratings, where OSU checks in at No. 66. The Hoosiers average 115.6 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 31st in the country.For any team in college basketball, especially those in major conferences like the Big Ten, it’s difficult to play without leading scorers. OSU has played without junior forward Keita Bates-Diop since the first conference game on Jan. 1. But when a team loses two of those players, it’s near impossible to overcome.Crean has desperately tried to keep his team afloat with senior forward Collin Hartman and sophomore guard OG Anunoby — a former candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year — sidelined for the season with injuries, but Indiana has been sliding as of late.Losers of six of their last seven games, the Hoosiers are also fighting to avoid the first day of the Big Ten tournament next week in Washington D.C. To do that, their top three scorers will need to do damage to the Buckeye defense in the halfcourt. Junior guards James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson average 16.8 and 12.8 points per game, with sophomore center Thomas Bryant adding another 12.8.Johnson and Bryant were two players who were in foul trouble in the Hoosiers’ last game against Purdue, which ultimately crowned the Boilermakers as regular-season champs. OSU isn’t a great rebounding team, so staying out of foul trouble and owning the boards could be a vital piece to the puzzle for an Indiana victory.Another key for Indiana is if Johnson can end his shooting slump. Since Indiana started its skid on Feb. 5 at Wisconsin, Johnson is shooting 20 for 67 (29.9 percent) from the field. But like the Hoosiers have as a team — sporting victories over No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 North Carolina — Johnson has shown ability to catch fire quickly.“They’re a tough matchup in terms of what they do and what they’re capable of doing,” Matta said. “Our defense has got to be at an all-time high tomorrow or we’re in trouble.”Indiana’s defense is one of the worst in the Big Ten, allowing over 77 points per game in conference play. OSU sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle is leading the conference in 3-point shooting at 51 percent in league games. Lyle is also coming off two of his best games of the season, scoring 17 points each in wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.Matta said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Lyle and fellow sophomore point guard C.J. Jackson play 30 minutes apiece.Prediction: Ohio State – 74, Indiana – 69
Ohio State senior Herkko Pollanen defeated Wisconsin’s Daniel Soyfer on April 16 at the Varsity Tennis Center. Credit: Walt Middleton | Courtesy of OSU AthleticsThe Ohio State men’s tennis team kept the momentum going with a 6-1 victory against Wisconsin at the Varsity Tennis Center on Easter Sunday, marking the team’s ninth consecutive win.With a 9-0 record in the conference, the Buckeyes are guaranteed at least a share of the Big Ten Championship title, a record they have held for 12 straight years. OSU holds a 24-3 overall record for the season, while Wisconsin falls to 14-5 for the season and 5-3 in the conference.“It’s a pretty unbelievable feeling,” senior Herkko Pollanen said. “It’s Senior Day and we got a good win out there. It’s pretty emotional. It’s been a long four years and to end it like this and get the championship, obviously it feels great.”The Buckeyes had no trouble gaining the first point during the doubles matches. Sophomore Martin Joyce and junior Hugo Di Feo swept Lamar Remy and Daniel Soyfer from Wisconsin with the first win by a 6-0 total. Joyce and Di Feo hold a successful 13-1 record for the season on Court Two.Sophomore Hunter Tubert and freshman JJ Wolf snagged the second win and doubles point for OSU to defeat John Zordani and Osgar O’Hoisin in a 6-2 tally. Junior Mikael Torpegaard and Pollanen held a 5-3 score over Chema Carranza and Josef Dodridge when the point was called.The Buckeyes moved on to the singles matches where Torpegaard took the first win on the first court over Remy with a 6-3, 6-0 score. In the first set, Torpegaard got two breaks but then lost two breaks of his own to even the score at 3. Torpegaard then came back with three consecutive points to take the first set. He dominated the second set for a 6-0 shutdown over Remy. Still undefeated for the season, Torpegaard holds a dual match record of 23-0.Pollanen then came out strong on Court Five gaining a break initially off the bat. He controlled the game to defeat Soyfer and pull a 6-1, 6-4 total to gain his 13th win of the season in dual play. Pollanen’s point put the Buckeyes at 3-0 over the Badgers. The remaining matches were much closer competitions.Di Feo clinched the fourth point for OSU in a tight match tallying 6-4, 6-4 wins over Carranza. The first set was an even back-and-forth in points between the two. Going into the second set though, Di Feo was down from an early break, but managed to come back after Carranza had four games on the board. Despite being down 15-40 in the final game, Di Feo came back and win the match and give the Buckeyes their fourth point.“The assistant coach, Justin (Kronauge), just told me to stick with the game plan, try to move my feet a little bit because I was a little bit slow out there,” Di Feo said. “So that’s what I did. I focused on every point, and at the end, I got it done, and I’m extremely happy.”The three remaining matches were played out in three sets. Wisconsin’s O’Hoisin gained the Badgers their first and only point of the match over redshirt freshman Kyle Seelig with a final post of 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. Seelig made a clean sweep in the first set over O’Hoisin, but then lost the momentum after being broken multiple times in the remaining two sets.Courts Two and Four held the crowd with super tiebreakers in their third sets. Both Wolf and Joyce lost their first two sets, Wolf at 4-6 against Dodridge and Joyce against John Zordani with a 6-7 (6-8) score.Wolf was the first of the two to clasp the win with a final score of 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-7). In a nail-biter match with the whole team watching courtside, Joyce took the sixth and final point for the Buckeyes to finish a 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 1-0 (13-11) post.“It’s nice to get a win at home again and finish out strong,” Di Feo said. “And it was a little bit special at the end knowing that this is possibly my last match here.”In their final two matches of the season, the Buckeyes will travel next weekend for conference matchups against Northwestern and Illinois, two teams that hold 6-2 records in the Big Ten.“I have a lot of confidence in my guys,” Pollanen said. “I think that we’re working hard every day. We just need to get better because the coming teams are good and there’s no easy way out.”
Ohio State forward Mason Jobst holds off a Wisconsin forward as he crashes into senior goaltender Matt Tomkins during a Big Ten tournament semifinal game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. OSU lost 2-1. Credit: Courtesy of Ric KruszynskiIt would seem that this year could potentially be a step back for the No. 19 Ohio State men’s hockey team, but junior forward Mason Jobst is looking to do his part to avoid any possible regression.The Buckeyes come into this season off their first NCAA tournament bid since 2009. But after a first-round overtime loss to then-No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth, the team lost three goalies and much of its top talent, which included captain and forward Nick Schilkey, who led the team in goals with 27. Jobst is returning from a dominant sophomore campaign in which he tallied 19 goals and 36 assists, led the Big Ten in points with 55 and earned second team All-American honors. Now coming into his junior year, Jobst said while he looks to improve, his goals are more team-oriented.“I think it’s just improving on the last year, being more productive than I was last year,“ Jobst said. “It was a tough loss in the first round of the NCAAs and the second round of the [Big Ten tournament], so just trying push to get further in that, and hopefully win the Big Ten Championship and win a national championship.”Western Michigan assistant coach Todd Krygier still remembers the years he spent coaching Jobst with the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in junior hockey. He remembers not only the leadership of Jobst, but also the speed, playmaking ability and hockey IQ as standing out on the ice.“His character was off the charts,” Krygier said. “His work ethic, his ability to get along with others and pull a team together and lead a team on and off the ice was absolutely fantastic.”Krygier added that in his time as Jobst’s coach, the now standout forward received little recognition from other teams and that Ohio State was one of the only teams that reached out to him.“I talked to several NCAA teams over the couple years that I coached him, and Ohio State was the only team that listened,” Krygier said. “So congrats to Ohio State, they obviously made a great decision.”Jobst was named captain for the Buckeyes Wednesday. But Krygier said Jobsts’ leadership had been obvious to him for years prior as he was a captain on Muskegon for his final two seasons. “I’ve learned a lot the last couple of years from Nick Schilkey and I think he was a great leader off the ice and on the ice, so it’s just trying to take parts of what he’d done in the past and what I’ve done to get here and try to lead this team to a championship,” Jobst said.Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik also understood what types of positive qualities Jobst brings to the team in many aspects.“He’s a kid that carries himself on the ice and off the ice, he’s the one that leads our culture and does the right things,” Rohlik said. “When your team looks at a player like that, everybody feeds off it.”Size has always been the concern for Jobst, who stands 5-foot-8, but Krygier said he knew Jobst would overcome any obstacles in his way.“For Mason to produce in the USHL the way he did, and the style he played and the work ethic he had, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be an All-American hockey player,” Krygier said.Jobst said players like future NHL Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis, current Calgary Flames wing Johnny Gaudreau, and Columbus Blue Jackets wing Cam Atkinson — all 5-foot-9 or shorter — are succeeding in ways he hopes to one day. Jobst wears the No. 26 because of St. Louis.“[St. Louis] was kind of a guy that started paving the way for smaller guys in the NHL with how hard he worked and how skilled he was,” Jobst said.Jobst and the No. 19 Buckeyes open the regular season with a pair of games on the road against a Big Ten opponent in No. 12 Wisconsin.“We’re getting right after it, playing a team that knocked us out of the Big Ten playoffs last year so I think we’re itching to get in there, and it should be a good atmosphere and a lot of fun,” Jobst said.Rohlik said Jobst is a special kind of player, and one who should only get better in this upcoming season.“As soon as you become satisfied you’re going to get passed up, and Mason’s not the kid that ever gets satisfied,” Rohlik said.