Often-in-trouble Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones must pay $11 million in damages to two Las Vegas strip club employees injured in 2007 when a lone gunman claiming he was doing Jones’ bidding opened fire outside the club.Tommy Urbanski, a club manager who was left paralyzed from the waist down, and Aaron Cudworth, a former bouncer who was wounded, stand to collect after the late Friday verdict. Urbanksi’s bones were shattered in the shooting that occurred after Jones and several other people were ejected from the club. The shooter later demanded $15,000 from Jones for “services rendered.”Jones’ lawyer, Lisa Rasmussen, said there is no evidence Jones was behind the shooting. She said Jones, who has played five years in the NFL, didn’t have the cash to cover the award because he won’t receive his first paycheck of the season until September. Rasmussen plans to appeal the verdict.“It’s obviously a devastating amount for him financially,” Rasmussen said. “He has really worked hard to make a comeback with his NFL career. He doesn’t make enough money to pay that judgment.”She said the jury in the civil case likely was swayed by the sympathetic sight of Urbanski in his wheelchair and Jones’ celebrity.“People perceive him as a person who is able to pay $11 million,” she said. “Adam doesn’t even get paid until he plays his first game.”Cudworth’s lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, declared the verdict fair, saying the bouncer continues to grapple with “constant pain from being shot in the chest and arm.” Cudworth was awarded $1.3 million, including $300,000 in punitive damages.“I am pleased that Mr. Jones has finally been held accountable,” Schonfeld said, adding that his client “is pleased to have closure.”Schonfeld said he wasn’t worried about an appeal or Jones’ alleged inability to pay the award.“If he is making money, I am going to be there trying to collect,” Schonfeld said.Urbanski said by telephone Friday evening that he believes the verdict will send a message to athletes and celebrities that they can be held responsible for public “rampaging,” even if they escape criminal charges.“They’ve got to clean up their acts,” he said. “All of them.”
Former NBA star Latrell Sprewell is the latest professional athlete to run into post-career financial problems. Several websites are reporting the retired basketball star has blown through his fortune.“During the course of his career, Latrell Sprewell made over $100 million. Today, Celebrity NetWorth reports that he has around $50,000 and lives in a modest rental,” said Financial Juneteeth.Sprewell, who was 24th in the 1992 NBA draft, played for several teams, but he was infamous for his altercation with Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo. After Carlesimo criticized his passing, Sprewell fought his coach and choked him. He then returned, after showering, and punched Carlesimo, before being dragged away by assistant coaches. He had also previously fought with other teammates, threatening one with a plank of wood and a gun.However, the choking incident cost Sprewell dearly. He was suspended by the NBA for a year and the Golden State Warriors cancelled the rest of his contract which was worth $23 million over three years.He was later traded to the New York Knicks and then the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he received negative publicity for turning down a three-year, $21 million-contract extension, claiming it wasn’t enough to take care of his family.“I have a family to feed … If (team owner Glen) Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials (where she solicits donations for starving children in developing countries) soon,” Sprewell said at the time.Sprewell’s troubled reputation preceded him and other NBA teams saw him as too much of a risk to take on.“Sprewell played one more year for Minnesota without the contract extension, and played miserably,” Financial Juneteeth reported. “Still thinking higher of himself than the teams or coaches he negotiated with, he was never again able to agree on a salary and has not played professional ball since. So, some might say that his negative attitude caught up with him because no NBA team wants to sign an angry old man whose best days are behind him.”However, Sprewell’s retirement has been filled with as much bad PR and brushes with the law as his playing career. His daughter was attacked by one of his pit bulls, and he was accused of stealing by a junior college. He was investigated by police for choking a woman on his yacht and also sued by the mother of his four children for $200 million.Sprewell had several financial problems after he retired. His $1.5 million yacht was seized after he defaulted on a mortgage, and he had two homes foreclosed.Unfortunately, Sprewell is not the only retired athlete to face financial hardship. Many ex-jocks run into money problems when their income drops from a huge contract to a pension. They still have extensive financial commitments to ex-wives, mothers of their children, family and lavish lifestyles to maintain. Many athletes are also ripped off by unscrupulous advisers, who know their clients don’t understand the complex world of finance.Former baseball player Torii Hunter told Sports Illustrated financial terms sound like another language to pro athletes.“Once you get into the financial stuff, and it sounds like Japanese, guys are just like, ‘I ain’t going back.’ They’re lost,” Hunter said.According to Sports Illustrated, most ex-professional athletes are broke within a few years of retirement.“By the time they have been retired for two years, 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce,” reported Sports Illustrated. “Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke.”
15Patriots2002-16170249ers1984-981697Cowboys1970-841655 While this can complicate things when trying to use Elo to make predictions (as with the 2016 Raiders), the stat is much stronger when it looks backward because it struggles to immediately pick up a team’s rises and declines.Public perception tends to lag when a traditionally bad team gets good, or a traditionally good team goes all to hell. And football is less dependent on individual players than basketball, where LeBron James can leave town and send the Cavaliers to the lottery for nearly half a decade. So when we see the Patriots maintaining these high ratings across different eras and team compositions, what we’re seeing isn’t just sustained performance, but sustained relevance.VIDEO: The Patriots better worry about Julio Jones 22Patriots1995-2016165049ers1981-20021645Packers1995-20161615 24Patriots1993-2016163549ers1980-20031628Packers1993-20161611 2Cowboys1992-931786Patriots2003-041782Dolphins1972-731779 1749ers1981-971685Patriots2000-161684Cowboys1970-861637 849ers1987-941718Patriots2003-101713Steelers1972-791700 14Patriots2003-16171349ers1984-971700Cowboys1970-831663 9Patriots2003-11171549ers1987-951715Steelers1972-801689 How we qualify success is a big part of how we define a dynasty, so a quick note on the method we’re using here: Elo ratings are a favorite around FiveThirtyEight because they are relatively simple to calculate and don’t require many points of input, making it possible to apply them to time periods when data collection wasn’t very good. Want to know if the Cleveland Spiders of the 1890s were the sorriest team in baseball history? Elo can do that.The price of that simplicity is, well, a fairly simplistic stat, without the benefit of modern advancements like player tracking data in the NBA or PITCHf/x in MLB. Elo doesn’t know about star players coming or going or fortuitous bounces or egregious penalty calls — it just knows who won, who lost, and by how much, and trusts that the specifics will even themselves out over time. The top dynasties in NFL history, by number of years 3Cowboys1992-941759Seahawks2013-151743 # OF YEARSTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELO BEST DYNASTYSECOND-BESTTHIRD-BEST 1Patriots20071824Patriots20071824 749ers1988-941722Patriots2003-091713Patriots2010-161713 5Patriots2003-071747Patriots2003-071747 ALL-TIME BEST DYNASTIESBEST DYNASTIES SINCE 1997 15Patriots2002-161702Patriots2002-161702 25Patriots1992-2016162149ers1980-20041615Cowboys1971-951611 1849ers1981-981683Patriots1999-20161673Cowboys1970-871628 2Cowboys1992-931786Patriots2003-041782 All-time dynasties and dynasties since 1997, by number of years 10Patriots2003-121714Patriots2003-121714 Should Terrell Owens Be In The Hall of Fame? 23Patriots1994-2016164649ers1981-20031639Packers1994-20161614 1949ers1980-981666Patriots1998-20161665Packers1994-20121617 The numbers are self-evident: Win or lose Sunday night, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have put together one of the best runs in NFL history. Since 2001, the team has made seven Super Bowl appearances, with four wins (and another possible this week), and it has achieved a level of sustained success unheard of in the modern NFL. Exactly where does this stretch rank among football dynasties, though? Well, it depends on how you define dynasty.Do two titles in three years qualify as a dynasty? What about three in five? The end points for runs of dominance have always been up for debate. So rather than pick one definition and stick to it, we went looking for the best team over any number of years.1This is an update to a feature we ran a few years ago, which used a different version of Elo, so the ratings will be a little different, but reflect the same principles. The table below shows the top teams over a given period — from the best one-year teams, to the best team over a quarter-century, based on FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings: 6Patriots2003-081732Patriots2003-081732 # OF YEARSTEAMAVG. ELOTEAMAVG. ELO 20Patriots1997-20161662Patriots1997-20161662 4Cowboys1992-951751Patriots2004-07174749ers1989-921734 6Patriots2003-08173249ers1989-941727Steelers1974-791726 749ers1988-941722Patriots2003-091713 10Patriots2003-12171449ers1987-961709Steelers1972-811677 1Patriots20071824Patriots20041816Bears19851796 20Patriots1997-2016166249ers1981-20001654Packers1995-20141614 849ers1987-941718Patriots2003-101713 1149ers1984-941712Patriots2003-131711 1749ers1981-971685Patriots2000-161684 Related: Hot Takedown 4Cowboys1992-951751Patriots2004-071747 16Patriots2001-161700Patriots2001-161700 12Patriots2003-141714Patriots2003-141714 1149ers1984-941712Patriots2003-131711Cowboys1971-811671 14Patriots2003-161713Patriots2003-161713 16Patriots2001-16170049ers1983-981692Cowboys1970-851647 12Patriots2003-14171449ers1984-951710Cowboys1970-811670 That the 2007 Pats (undefeated until a loss against the New York Giants in the Super Bowl) are the top one-year team of all time, despite not winning the title, isn’t all that surprising. But the Patriots’ dynasties being at the top of the longer-term ranges is. Consider that the Pats claimed the top spot for the 25-year stretch despite a dreadful 2-14 1992 season, when they were coached by Dick MacPherson, as well as a couple painful years during Bill Parcells’ brief tenure, which also included a Super Bowl appearance following the 1996 season.In the in-between lengths, New England owns many but not all of the top spots. It never had as dominant a three- or four-year run as the Cowboys in the 1990s, but at the five-year mark, New England begins a run of taking a top-two spot in most ranges, trading off occasionally with the 49ers. But by the time we get into the 20-year windows, with Walsh and Montana having given way to Mooch and Garcia, even San Francisco begins to fade.And we haven’t even accounted for the NFL’s modern era of parity yet, although things begin to look a little unfair once we do. If we look at the post-Cowboys-era NFL, beginning in 1997,2The salary cap was instituted for the 1994 NFL season, but by then, powerful teams in the league had already been assembled. It’s an approximation, but we used 1997 and post-Cowboys as a rough estimate of when the “parity era” began. the Patriots take the top spot in every dynasty range, from one year to 20 years, except for the three-year range, which Seattle locked down from 2013 to 2015. 5Patriots2003-071747Steelers1975-79172749ers1988-921725 1949ers1980-981666Patriots1998-20161665 1849ers1981-981683Patriots1999-20161673 13Patriots2004-161710Patriots2004-161710 13Patriots2004-16171049ers1984-961706Cowboys1970-821667 3Cowboys1992-941759Dolphins1972-741751Steelers1974-761743 9Patriots2003-111715Patriots2003-111715 21Patriots1996-2016166049ers1981-20011651Packers1995-20151614
OSU then-freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell (3) dribbles the ball during a game against Indiana on Feb. 8 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern File PhotoIn a much-anticipated matchup of highly ranked opponents, the No. 6 Ohio State women’s basketball team is primed to open its season on Friday against No. 2 South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, at 7 p.m.The Buckeyes, looking to build on a 24-11 record from last season which ended with a loss to North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament, return all five starters, including last season’s co-Big Ten Player of the Year, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell.South Carolina boasts three returning starters, including senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, a two-time SEC Player of the Year. The Gamecocks also add a preseason All-American honorable mention in sophomore forward A’ja Wilson to the lineup. Last year, South Carolina’s season ended after a run to the Final Four, losing to Notre Dame 66-65.However, rather than hyping up the game, Kelsey Mitchell stressed how she has been preparing for the 2015-16 season without certain opponents in mind.“You’ve got to be prepared for everything,” she said. “I had no clue, honestly, that we were going to play (South Carolina and No. 1 Connecticut), but you’ve got to prepare before that.”Since South Carolina returns three starters, including its top three scorers and rebounders, the Buckeyes understand they will need to step up on defense and in the post. Last season, OSU’s shallow depth, decimated by injuries, forced it to rely on its offense. Coach Kevin McGuff and his players said they understand their defense must improve.“We weren’t as good as we needed to be last year,” McGuff said. “Part of it was our depth and our youth, but those can’t be excuses this year because we have enough depth and our kids are a year older.”Beyond Kelsey Mitchell and the returning starters, OSU returns four players who missed most, or all of, last season, including redshirt freshman guard Kianna Holland, who was voted team captain. Holland, a transfer from Duke, will debut in a scarlet and gray uniform in her home state of South Carolina.“It’s really exciting. I’ve got a lot of friends and family coming to watch me, so it’s going to be a really neat, supportive environment,” Holland said. Holland might feel at home in the Colonial Life Arena, but the rest of OSU might not find the venue as supportive of the Buckeyes. South Carolina packs its home arena, leading the NCAA in women’s basketball attendance for the first time in program history with an average of 12,293 fans.Preseason All-Americans collideOSU and South Carolina each are led by prolific All-American guards named Mitchell with similar styles. Both were also named their respective conference’s preseason player of the year and led their teams in scoring and assists a season ago.OSU’s Kelsey Mitchell averaged 24.9 points and 4.1 assists per game last season. The 2014-15 co-Big Ten Player of the Year set a Big Ten and OSU record, scoring 873 points while also breaking the NCAA record for most threes made with 127.South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell, a 5-foot-9 senior, averaged 14.4 points with impressive efficiency, as she hit 50 percent of her shots and drained 41.6 percent of three-pointers. The Mitchells have not met despite the similar position, role and name, but OSU’s Kelsey Mitchell said she respects the other’s game.“I’ve never seen her play. But if they say she’s amazing, she’s amazing,” Kelsey Mitchell said.Nonconference gauntlet beginsLast season, OSU played just two ranked teams in nonconference play, beating No. 21 West Virginia and losing to No. 24 Georgia. An easier early slate of opponents benefited the young, inexperienced team dealing with several injuries to key players.But this year, high expectations will be tested early. Friday’s game against No. 2 South Carolina begins a three-week period in which the Buckeyes are scheduled to face the top three teams in the nation.In OSU’s home opener on Monday, the Scarlet and Gray hosted the defending national champions, No. 1 Connecticut. On Nov. 28, the Buckeyes head to Las Vegas to take on No. 13 Texas A&M in the South Point Shootout before traveling to South Bend, Indiana, to battle No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 2.South Carolina, Connecticut and Notre Dame reached the Final Four last season, as did No. 9 Maryland, which OSU is scheduled to face twice in conference play.“As a coach, the players we were trying to recruit want to play against the best teams in the country,” McGuff said. “And secondly, I just like to figure out where we need to get better. If you’re winning every game by 20, 25, 30 points, you’re not going to know where you can get better.”
With week one of the NFL season officially in the books, let the quarterback controversy in Cleveland begin. I realize that you cannot fully judge a team, or a player, based on their performance in one game, but it’s hard not to when the statistics are so shockingly terrible. Cleveland’s starting rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was 12-35 for 118 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, threw four interceptions (tied for most in the NFL), averaged 3.4 yards per attempt (worst in the NFL), accounted for zero touchdowns, and had a completion percentage of 34.1 (worst in the NFL). Weeden also boasted a quarterback rating of 5.1. Let me say that again, 5.1. The next worst passer rating in week one belonged to fellow rookie Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins. His rating was 39.0, or almost eight times higher than Weeden’s. Tannehill had one more attempted pass than Weeden but accounted for 101 more yards, one less interception, and eight more completions. Weeden’s numbers aren’t just bad, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of- or rather behind- his competition. Backup Browns quarterback Colt McCoy must be licking his chops. In his first start in 2010, McCoy attempted two fewer passed than Weeden, but threw for 163 more yards and actually managed to complete a touchdown pass. Including the preseason, Weeden has started four games this year but has yet to find the end zone once. I’m starting to wonder if he remembers where it is. In McCoy’s rookie season, he threw nine interceptions in eight games. Weeden has almost half that total in one game. Granted, Weeden’s first game came against last season’s top rated defense, but McCoy’s first game was against the Pittsburgh Steelers who went to the Super Bowl that year. Looking at the Browns’ quarterback situation in the long term, McCoy has two more years of NFL experience and is two years younger. While McCoy hasn’t blown anyone away with his numbers in the last two seasons, he hasn’t exactly been blessed with a plethora of offensive weapons around him. In his rookie season the team’s two leading receivers were a tight end and a running back. In half a season in 2010, McCoy had more yards on fewer attempts than the other two previous Browns quarterbacks combined. In 2011, McCoy had more passing yards than Cleveland’s 2009 team and the 2008 team which included Pro Bowl receiver Braylon Edwards and Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow. McCoy’s leading receiver last year was rookie Greg Little. Ask anyone outside of Cleveland who Greg Little is, and you’re likely to get nothing but blank stares. McCoy may not have the greatest record or statistics, but he did pretty well considering he had zero offensive weapons around him. Weeden had better show progress, quickly, or he may find himself on the bench where he belongs.
Walking into the first practice of the week at the Steelwood Athletic Training Facility, it seems clear the Ohio State wrestling team does not lack confidence. With upcoming matches against rival Michigan and No. 1 Penn State, the Buckeyes are treating this week like any other. “We’re trying to keep everything the same,” said redshirt sophomore Drew Stone. “We did good against Illinois, so we’ll have to replicate everything like that.” Coming off a 25-9 win against the Fighting Illini Friday, the No. 6 Buckeyes (10-2, 4-2 Big Ten) will take on Michigan (8-5, 2-4 Big Ten) and the 2012 national champions, Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten), over the weekend. In their most recent matches, the Wolverines lost a close match to Purdue, 19-18, while the Nittany Lions crushed Illinois, 37-0. Although Michigan might not pose as big of a threat as Penn State does, OSU redshirt sophomore Logan Stieber said the team is not taking the Wolverines lightly. “We have to be ready for both teams and not be too up or down for the matches,” the defending 133-pound NCAA Champion said. “Penn State is No. 1 so that’s a big matchup, but Michigan is very good too, so we have to make sure we don’t look past them.” OSU coach Tom Ryan could not agree more, saying that the team needs to treat each opponent equally. “We have to prepare for everybody,” Ryan said. “We need to make sure we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and work hard.” Michigan has four wrestlers ranked in the top 20 in their respective weight classes. The Nittany Lions have eight, six of which are in the top five. “Right now they (Penn State) have a couple of individuals that are really good,” Ryan said. “I mean real good. They have a great coach. They’re committed to their program. They’re in a wrestling state. They have a lot of good things going on there but so do we. We look forward to wrestling them.” The Nittany Lions are not the only team with an impressive lineup, as the Buckeyes feature nine wrestlers ranked in the top 20, including two in the top five. Ryan said the Buckeyes will have to take advantage in the 133- and 141-pound weight classes, as those are the only two classes where Penn State does not have a top 20-ranked wrestler. “The lighter weights really have to step up,” Ryan said. “We have to pick up bonus points at 133 and 141.” Those weight classes at OSU are manned by the team’s highest-ranked wrestlers, Stieber, No. 1 at 133-poundsand his brother Hunter Stieber, No. 2 at 141-pounds. However, the Buckeyes will need to hold their ground against Penn State’s upper weight classes of 184- and 197-pounds. OSU redshirt freshman and 16th-ranked Kenny Courts will face off against junior and No. 1-ranked Ed Ruth in the 184-pound weight class. The 197-pound weight class features OSU sophomore and 13th-ranked Andrew Campolattano against No. 3-ranked Quentin Wright, a senior. Overall, Ryan said he wants his team to hold nothing back, as he expects the match to be a close one. “It could come down to a point here, a point there,” Ryan said. “We’re going to need a total team effort to beat these guys.” OSU is scheduled to travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan at 6 p.m. Friday and then heads home to battle Penn State at St. John Arena at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Michael Chaput (39) of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mats Zuccarello (36) of the New York Rangers battle for a puck during a game at Nationwide Arena Nov. 7. The Rangers won, 4-2. Credit: Courtesy of MCTGiven the directions the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers have been sliding lately, it hardly comes as a surprise that the decisive goal Thursday came off a Columbus stick and into their own net.Mark Letestu failed to control the puck to the right of Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, watching in horror as it slid into past the posts. The goal, credited to Carl Hagelin – his second of the night – turned out to be the difference in a 4-2 decision, as the Rangers won their fifth game of their last six contests to improve to 8-8-0.“That was embarrassing hockey tonight, and to me that’s losing hockey, the way we played. We got exactly what we deserved,” Jackets coach Todd Richards said after the loss.The loss was the Jackets’ fifth in a row, dropping them to 5-10-0 overall in front of a modest but lively crowd of just under 12,000 at Nationwide Arena.“We shouldn’t have to talk about [the effort], but unfortunately right now we’re talking about it…we should hold each other to a high standard and be able to know that the guy sitting next to us in the dressing room is going to go out and perform and do his job and do everything he can to help the team win,” Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said.There was no shortage of familiar faces on either bench, as the two teams met for the first time since a pair of blockbuster trades between them during last season. Former Jackets Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard, and John Moore – each acquired in the trade deadline deal for Marion Gaborik – made their return to Nationwide Arena, while Gaborik, along with Rick Nash trade acquisitions Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov faced their former teammates for the first time.Nash, the Blue Jackets franchise leader in nearly every offensive category, was unable to make his return to the ice in Columbus as he continues to deal with concussion-related issues. Nash has only been able to play in three games this season.Hagelin got the scoring started early in the first, when he deflected a shot past Bobrovsky and into the net. The Jackets answered back late in the period, with defenseman Fedor Tyutin sneaking one past Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot. Talbot started in place of star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who did not play after the Rangers’ victory Wednesday against the Penguins.In the second period, it was again a deflected shot early in the period that put the Rangers back in front, when captain Ryan Callahan registered his second goal in as many nights. After Letestu’s own goal put the Rangers up 3-1, Jackets rookie defenseman Ryan Murray answered back with a goal off an assist from James Wisniewski – the 200th point of Wisniewski’s career.However, the Jackets were unable to break through and tie the game in the third period, eventually surrendering a goal on an empty net by Ryan McDonagh that put the game away.“We had the same start last year. I know it’s not ideal, but we’ve got to take a step back tomorrow and regroup, and figure out how we can win here Saturday…times like this test the character of the individual, but you can’t let yourself get down,” Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said.Richards did not agree with Johnson’s assessment of using last season’s turnaround as motivation, however.“It’s a different year. It’s different. We’ve got different players. An 82 game schedule. It’s different,” Richards said.The Jackets will attempt to get back on track at Nationwide Arena when they take on the New York Islanders Saturday. That puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.
Redshirt-junior opposite Andrew Lutz attempts to serve the ball during a match against Ball State Feb. 26 at St. John Arena. OSU lost, 3-1.Credit: Kathleen Martini / Oller reporterAfter five consecutive losses, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team finally got out of its slump, pulling out a pair home wins against Quincy and Lindenwood this weekend.Junior outside hitter Michael Henchy said the five losses motivated the team to work much harder in practice, which helped them bring home two wins.“Our most recent practices have been our most successful, and I think that our losses have made us work much harder,” Henchy said.The Buckeyes (10-13, 6-6) ended their weekend with a second victory this season against Lindenwood in St. Charles, Mo., 3-2.Henchy led the Buckeyes with a season-high 19 kills and added 12 digs, while redshirt-freshman middle blocker Driss Guessous finished second on the team with 14 kills of his own.Junior middle blocker Dustan Neary said concentration was a main contributor to the team’s wins this weekend.“We have had a lot of trouble focusing all of our attention on the match — this weekend I definitely saw a change in that, which I think made a huge impact on the outcome,” Neary said.The Buckeyes started off their alumni weekend with a 3-1 win against Quincy in Quincy, Ill., Friday.Nearly notched a career-best seven blocks, while Henchy finished with 11 kills and five block assists. Redshirt-junior opposite Andrew Lutz led the team with 12 kills and added nine digs, and Guessous had five blocks.With the season winding down and the Men’s Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Championships quickly approaching — it is set to begin April 18 — the Buckeyes need all the wins they can get to help with the seeding of the tournament.Coach Pete Hanson said if the Buckeyes win their remaining two league matches of the season against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and Loyola, they have a chance to be placed fourth going into the conference tournament.He added that the team is not focused on the tournament right now and still has a couple of matches remaining in the season before it can start preparing.“We are not looking that far ahead, we have to get through these matches one at a time. Thinking ahead to the tournament is a distraction when preparing for the next match,” Hanson said.OSU is next slated to take on IPFW Friday at 7 p.m.
Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Parris Campbell (21) caught the eye of coach Urban Meyer during OSU’s annual Spring Game at Ohio Stadium on April 18.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern PhotographerIn a scrimmage that featured 75 passing attempts and just 12 rushing attempts by running backs, a 17-14 final score might seem underwhelming.But Ohio State’s Spring Game on Saturday at Ohio Stadium wasn’t about showing how much the team has improved. In fact, after the quasi-game, coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes were worse than they were in January when they won the College Football Playoff National Championship.Regardless of that regression, Meyer said he was looking for certain young players to stand out. Some didn’t make the grade, but others — like redshirt-freshman wide receiver Parris Campbell — put on displays that could earn them playing time going forward.Meyer said he called on Campbell to score from four yards out with Campbell’s Scarlet team trailing Gray, 10-7.“He looked at me, like, ‘Heck with this, man.’ He took the ball, put his left foot in the ground and drove in, made a great cut and scored,” Meyer said of the play. “And I saw his celebration in the end zone. That’s one I remember from the Spring Game. That’s going to help him get into the rotation.”Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Parris Campbell (21) caught 5 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown during OSU’s Spring Game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Lantern PhotographerBut the fourth-year OSU coach added that not every player he called on to step up succeeded in the same fashion as Campbell.“I asked a couple guys to make a play and they didn’t do it,” Meyer said. “Now I have to find out why when I meet with them next week and just get into the psychological impact of playing in the stadium has on a player.”While players like Campbell used the Spring Game to make their final strides toward the rotation, others simply cemented their spot after a strong spring overall.Redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Sam Hubbard had the coaching staff raving throughout the 15-practice slate, and built on that with two sacks and a fumble recovery in the scrimmage. Meyer said Hubbard has locked up a spot in the rotation, but the former safety and tight end said he still has more room to improve.“I have a long way to go before I’m one of the guys that’s routinely in the rotation,” Hubbard said after the Spring Game. “It’s only been a few months at defensive end and to be in the position I am, I’m very thankful.”Regardless of how far he feels he has to go, Meyer confirmed that Hubbard will rotate along with redshirt-sophomore defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis, as the duo helped replace Steve Miller opposite junior defensive lineman Joey Bosa.As for Campbell, receiver might be the position where OSU took the biggest hit, with Devin Smith and Evan Spencer turning their focus to an NFL future. Like Hubbard, Campbell has a chance to find his way on to the field next season after catching his coach’s eye on Saturday.But for now, the Buckeyes have some time off before returning to fall camp, and ultimately opening the 2015 regular season against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va.
Ohio State then-freshman goaltender Tommy Nappier covers up a puck during Ohio State’s 4-0 win against Wisconsin on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternGoaltending can make or break a season. Teams with elite athletes between the pipes often find themselves competing for a championship at the end of the year.Ohio State is no exception.Redshirt senior goaltender Sean Romeo was one of the crutches that the Buckeyes relied on during their Frozen Four run last season. He allowed just over two goals per game and had a save percentage of .927, No. 3 in the Big Ten and No 9 in the country, starting 37 of the 41 games Ohio State played.This season, however, has been a different story for Romeo. He’s only started in half of the Buckeyes’ matchups and in his first three games, he allowed 11 goals, saving 81.2 percent of shots sent his way.Though Romeo has improved as of late, pitching three straight shutouts against Colgate, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, a program record, his struggles early in the season paved the way for sophomore Tommy Nappier to step into the spotlight for Ohio State.In the seven games Nappier has appeared in, including six starts, he has only allowed eight goals and holds the best save percentage in the nation at .958, along with two shutouts. While most teams generally put one guy in net for most of their season, associate head coach Steve Miller is familiar with having two dependable players in goal.“I go back to some of our great Denver teams. We were fortunate at times to have two really good guys who push each other, who challenge each other every day in practice,” Miller said. “You know you got to come and got to be sharp every day. You know there’s another guy there doing the same thing who’s playing at a high level, so I think it’s a real big positive for the guys.”Beyond the obvious benefits of having two dependable goaltenders, such as having a backup in case the starter goes down, it means less wear and tear on each goalie as the season progresses.“I feel more rested,” Romeo said. “You know, it’s a lot easier to play one game than two games.”A duo of rested goalies can pay dividends down the stretch for Ohio State come tournament time when other teams don’t have the same depth in net. Splitting starts has already led to a record-setting stretch for Ohio State between the pipes.The lone goal given up by Nappier against Wisconsin broke a three-game shutout streak. Ohio State has only given up three goals and has four shutouts in its past six games. The Buckeyes are also the only team in the nation that has multiple goaltenders with at least two shutouts, leading the NCAA with five shutouts..After Romeo started in almost every game for Ohio State last season, it would be understandable for him to be disappointed after getting his playing time cut in half. But he has taken his reduced playing time in stride and is nothing but supportive of his goaltending counterpart. “I enjoy going to the rink every day, seeing [Nappier],” Romeo said. “Obviously, we’re competing against each other, but there’s nothing bad. When he’s in I’m cheering for him, I think when I’m in he’s cheering for me, I hope so.” Nappier shared Romeo’s sentiments, saying that Romeo helps to make him better every day.Moving forward, there has been no indication from the coaching staff that these plans will change. Barring one goaltender’s play declining as the season goes on, it is expected that they will continue to split starts. Decisions may change, however, as Ohio State nears the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments in the spring. In high-stakes situations, they will have to decide whether to stick with both their hot hands or go with the veteran leadership that Romeo would bring to a squad trying to return to the Frozen Four.