Do MLB Preseason Projections Matter In The Playoffs

Major League Baseball’s playoffs begin Tuesday with the American League wild card game between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics, and chances are you’ve heard or read some version of this aphorism over the past few days:“Baseball’s playoffs are a crapshoot.”It’s kind of true. MLB’s postseason — some call it a “gauntlet of randomness” — tempts with a million narratives that seem to legitimately explain why some teams rise and others fall in October. But most attempts to solve the playoff puzzle have failed. (To wit: It once looked like Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight’s editor in chief, had figured out the “secret sauce” that determines postseason success, but recent results have led Baseball Prospectus to retire his metric.)The only thing practically every study of the postseason has in common is that a team’s overall regular-season performance, and little else, matters when predicting its playoff fortunes.However, despite having 162 games per team, baseball’s regular season is quite short relative to other sports’ in terms of the amount of information conveyed by its standings. (Several years ago, I determined that MLB teams would have to play 610 games apiece for their win-loss records to offer as much certainty as the NBA’s 82-game schedule.) This is why baseball records must still be regressed about 30 percent of the way toward the mean to best approximate team talent.In predicting the postseason of another sport with a chaotic regular season — NCAA men’s basketball — FiveThirtyEight found that a team’s preseason reputation (as measured by its preseason AP and Coaches’ Poll rankings) carries some vestigial predictive power even after accounting for regular-season performance. All else being equal, surprising teams that rise from preseason obscurity to enjoy successful seasons tend to have shorter tournament runs than teams with similar records that were regarded more highly before the season. Is it possible the same effect exists in baseball?To test this, I gathered preseason Vegas over/unders and Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projected records back to 2005, then plugged those projections — and regressed versions of each team’s regular-season record — into a logit model attempting to predict the outcomes of every playoff game from 2005 to 2013. In accordance with every other failed study looking for magic postseason bullets, it appears that preseason projections don’t matter a bit when predicting the playoffs. I tested PECOTA and Vegas separately and together as a composite prediction, and neither was a significant predictor after controlling for a team’s regular-season performance.That’s good news for the Royals and Baltimore Orioles. Before the season began, neither was expected to crack .500 by the bookmakers or computers. And yet the Orioles ran away with the AL East and the Royals clinched a hard-fought wild card berth thanks to their best win total in 25 years. Despite the lack of confidence shown by prognosticators before the season, we should take their surprisingly great seasons at face value. (The same goes for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who made the playoffs after PECOTA looked down on them before the season.)All told, it’s just another case of the postseason defying simple explanations. That’s why the modern statheads’ best approach might be to embrace the chaos and appreciate the playoffs for what they are: an entertaining tournament among baseball’s top teams, not a scientific experiment designed to definitively identify the best team in a given season. read more

Big Papi Needs More Time To Think

At the beginning of this season, Major League Baseball instituted a new set of rules to make the games go faster. The idea was to limit how often batters can step out of the box during at-bats, thereby shortening the delay between pitches. The Red Sox’s David Ortiz was not happy about these rules and suggested that the changes could harm his performance. As indicated by his temporary benching two months into the 2015 season, Ortiz may have been right.Thus far, the much-discussed batter’s box rule changes have had at most only a minor effect on the overall time of games. For individual batters, however, the impact of the rule has been anywhere from negligible to remarkable. Some hitters already had quick routines and didn’t need to make any alterations. Others liked to step off the plate after every pitch, a habit that the new rules outlaw.The older veterans have been the most affected by the rule change. I’ve shown before that older batters are the players most likely to dawdle, the 39-year-old Ortiz included. From last year to this year, Ortiz has decreased his time between pitches by almost two full seconds, according to Fangraphs.1The Baseball Prospectus numbers are different from Fangraphs’, perhaps because they exclude foul balls and delays longer than 60 seconds. However, both sets agree that Ortiz has sped up. Given Ortiz’s rather vocal opposition to the idea of cutting any time from his routine, it seems reasonable to believe that this was a change the new rules forced upon Big Papi.Whatever his struggles with the clock, Ortiz has endured a disappointing season so far at the plate. Big Papi is currently earning a .289 weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), 20 percent worse than an average hitter in this overall measure of offensive production. This mark is far off his projected performance (.365 wOBA, according to the Steamer projection system) and the worst he’s put up since 1999, when he played in only 10 games.Ortiz isn’t the only veteran slugger suddenly looking helpless with the bat. Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez has gone from tearing the cover off the ball (a .411 wOBA last year) to rarely getting it out of the infield this year (.246 wOBA). Aramis Ramirez has fallen apart in a similar fashion, dropping from .334 to .274. Some of these hitters’ underperformance can be blamed on injuries, small sample size and bad luck, but some of it likely comes down to decreased skill. Hitters over 35 who have racked up at least 100 plate appearances (PAs) have been an underwhelming lot this year, collectively falling .016 shy of their projections by wOBA (on average). To put that in perspective, that’s roughly the difference between the offensive performances of Mike Trout and Brandon Belt this year.Older hitters are always risky and come with the chance of sudden collapse, but last year hitters over 35 with at least 3002This is the same 100-PA cutoff as above, but roughly prorated out to the length of a full season. PAs hit only 3 points worse than their projected outcomes.It’s tougher to figure out whether it’s the rule changes that are causing older hitters to do poorly, though. For all hitters, no correlation is obvious between being forced to speed up and doing worse than expected.3The correlation coefficient is a measly -.025, nowhere close to statistically significant. The lack of a relationship implies that pace may not be the driving factor.When you look at it with regard to specific hitters, however, pace begins to seem much more important.4Here I am using data supplied to me by Pitch Info. Every pitch that’s thrown in the majors has a run value attached to it. If a 1-1 pitch is a strike, it increases the probability of a strikeout happening, and an average 1-2 count is going to lead to .0748 fewer runs than the 1-1 count. If we take those expected run values of each pitch, we can see whether a long delay before the pitch changes the number of runs that come from it.For all hitters in 2014, pitches that were preceded by more than a 30-second delay were worth about .0028 runs per pitch.5This data set does not include the first pitch of each at-bat. Pitches that followed less than a 30-second delay were worse (at -.0052 runs per pitch), but only by a small margin. So there was a very slight advantage to the batter to stepping out of the box or otherwise postponing the pitch.Ortiz, on the other hand, gains an inordinate amount of value from delaying the pitch.For Ortiz in 2014, pitches thrown after 30 seconds gained .0289 runs, whereas pitches under 30 seconds were worth only .0014 runs. The difference a few seconds makes to Ortiz is about three times the value for the average batter. This isn’t a fluke just for 2014: Four of the past five years have seen Ortiz reap great benefits from delaying the time between pitches by 30 seconds or more.Ramirez’s numbers tell a similar story. Since 2011, Ramirez has been building his value from delays that last more than 30 seconds. In 2014, Ramirez added .0556 runs per pitch when time between pitches was long, but he lost .0013 runs per pitch when it was short.We can also contrast Ortiz and Ramirez with younger sluggers. The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, for example, is every bit as powerful and patient as Ortiz (if not more so). But Stanton delivers his hits about equally whether the time between pitches is long or short (.0183 for long and .0224 for short). If anything, Stanton does slightly better when there’s less time.We can’t say for sure that the delay between pitches causes Ortiz or Ramirez to do better. But consider that these players are on the older side and are potentially losing the physical skills that made them threats in their younger years. In the absence of the muscles needed to adjust to pitches in the air, these more seasoned sluggers might make up for it with experience. By taking their time to anticipate what pitch is coming next, Ortiz and others like him may be able to guess where a pitch will go before it leaves the pitcher’s hand. In this way, experience can compensate for deteriorating bat speed.That process of educated guessing takes time, Ortiz says. If Big Papi feels hurried or distracted by the umpire (even if he isn’t actually taking any less time between pitches), it could contribute to a reduced ability to predict the next pitch. In turn, that could change hard-hit fly balls to weakly struck grounders, as Ortiz estimates the wrong location of an oncoming pitch.It’s hard to ever count Ortiz out. Many commentators incorrectly predicted his demise in 2009, but Ortiz came roaring back to post a couple of his best seasons in the last five years. Still, Ortiz is facing a new and difficult task: adjusting to his declining physical skills, potentially without having the time to use his most valuable mental skill (experience). Thanks to the new emphasis on pace of play, it’s a dilemma common to many of the elder statesmen of baseball. read more

Michigan Lifts 10Year Ban Against Chris Webber and Two

The University of Michigan and Chris Webber can officially reconnect after a 10-year ban was lifted by the NCAA on Wednesday. The ban was also lifted for Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock.The NCAA forced Michigan to cut all ties from the three former Wolverines and the late Robert Traylor for a decade following a federal investigation. The investigation revealed that that deceased booster Ed Martin gave them more that $600,000 when they were student athletes.But now the option to renew the relationship with school is up to Webber, Taylor and Bullock. However, the Michigan has to be willing to want to reconnect as well.“I’ve never met any of those guys, and I am looking forward to meeting them,” Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday night. “If any of those guys are interested in meeting with me, that would be great.”Fellow Fab Five member Jalen Rose told the Detroit News that he has seen a line drawn that if Webber does not apologize then they will punish the rest of the members of the Fab Five. But Rose said it is not on Weber to issue an apology to Michigan in order to receive recognition for success that the group achieve, the university can do that despite what Webber decides to do.“This morning, I felt really good about the dissociation being over and having the opportunity to reunite with the University of Michigan,” Taylor told The AP on Wednesday. “I’m excited to talk to Mr. Brandon and coach (John) Beilein. While I had some success in the NBA, there was a void in my life because of the circumstances.”Martin, who died in February 2003, plead guilty to conspiracy to laundering money, saying that he used gambling money and combined other funds in loans to Webber, other players and their families.“Ed was made out to be something he wasn’t, he wasn’t a booster who steered you to a school or guy who preyed on kids,” Taylor said. “He was just a great guy in Detroit, who helped out anybody playing ball of any kind in the city.”With the ban lifted, Webber can possibly reunite with his fellow Fab Five members to see their 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners go back up in the rafters, if Michigan chooses to do so.Rose, Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson attended the NCAA final in Atlanta last month. However, Webber chose to sit in a suite to watch the game.“You can’t think of Michigan without thinking of us,” Webber said in a 2007 interview with the AP. read more

US Beats Australia But Germany Inches Ahead In Our Womens World Cup

Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions.In its opening campaign Monday, the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) did not exactly look like a team that — heading into this tournament — had the best chance of winning this year’s World Cup title. It had a 68 percent chance of defeating Australia going into Monday, but when the whistle blew to signal the start of the game, the USWNT looked jittery. The team resorted to long balls and the all-too-familiar direct style of American play, completing only 73 percent of its passes in the first half (compared with a 77 percent pass-completion rate in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup).Despite the shaky start, the Americans were up 1-0 after only 12 minutes, thanks to a nasty deflection of Megan Rapinoe’s shot off an Australian defender. The Matildas equalized in the 28th minute from a left-footed shot by captain Lisa De Vanna, and by the 60th minute, the game was still tied 1-1 — right around the time that we said U.S. fans should start sweating as a draw starts to become the most likely outcome.But just one minute short of our 62nd-minute sweat-marker, Christen Press scored her first World Cup goal, and the U.S. finally began to settle down, completing 80 percent of their passes in the second half. The Americans went on to win 3-1, increasing their chances of advancing from Group D to 99 percent (up from 95 percent before Monday’s game).Germany, the other front-runner, however, opened its World Cup run with a resounding 10-0 win over the Ivory Coast (a team that had a Women’s Soccer Power Index rating of 75.5 — compared to Australia’s 88.8). But as probabilistic forecasts go, a victory that big increased Germany’s chances of winning the tournament. It is now at 31 percent, ahead of the Americans’ 28 percent.As of this morning, Germany is now the most likely team to win the World Cup. But we’d caution against reading into this too much; we’ve yet to see how Germany fares against an opponent like Australia. That won’t happen until Thursday, when Germany faces Norway (whose WSPI rating, 88.9, is almost identical to Australia’s). Although the matchup seems similar to U.S.-Australia, the Germans are heavily favored to win — 72 percent to Norway’s 11 percent.The U.S. and Germany aren’t likely to face each other until the semifinals, but we expect that they’ll continue to battle for the top spot in our Women’s World Cup predictions throughout this tournament. We knew these two teams would be the front-runners, but we’ll see if they continue to further distance themselves from the pack — Japan, which beat Switzerland in a meager 1-0 win on Monday night, now has a 9 percent chance of winning the tournament after starting the World Cup at 10 percent. France and Brazil stand at 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively, but these odds could change after their opening games today. read more

Commentary Tressel stands tall against NCAA critics attacking his credibility

Inside and outside of Columbus, there is a crusade-like movement to put an end to the Jim Tressel era at Ohio State. Like King Leonidas in the movie “300,” I’ll lead the charge of the outmanned against the mass of millions who want to take out the OSU football coach. This much is clear already: Tressel is not going to step down neither because of withholding information from the NCAA nor because of any punishment levied against him. If anything, he’s now entrenching himself even deeper as an OSU football coach by refusing to step down while simultaneously increasing the pressure on the administration to fire him. Fortunately for him, athletic director Gene Smith and university President E. Gordon Gee gave him their full support during their press conference March 8. Imagine banning OSU from the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game and a bowl game. Can the NCAA bring itself to do it? So far, the only hit the program as a whole has taken is its reputation in the media. And the media onslaught isn’t forgiving toward Tressel. Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel wrote Monday: “Tressel’s tenure at Ohio State is numbered. It may even be over before the end of the calendar year.” This isn’t really a fresh take. It should have been evident since the original story came out that Tressel intentionally misled investigators in an effort to protect his players and their eligibility. If you didn’t believe he should have been fired a month ago, there’s no reason why Monday’s findings should change your mind. Nor should it increase the likelihood that he gets fired. He did violate his contract, and that is a fireable offense by the terms of his agreement with the university. It’s hard to say that’s honorable. Yet, in defiantly standing against the NCAA, he is honorable. Tressel had the option of sending a dagger into the dreams of a potential national championship season last year. Instead, he’s now daring the NCAA to slam the Buckeye football program. Is he putting the program in jeopardy? Not at all, considering the NCAA’s tendencies. If it proves to be as gutless as it usually is in handing out punishments, then the only one who should — and probably will — get hit hard is Tressel himself. Some media members are speculating that a bowl ban is a potential penalty. That would equate this situation to USC, which received a two-year bowl ban after former running back Reggie Bush received improper benefits. If OSU compliance has been as up-front about the situation as it leads on, there is no lack of institutional control here, unlike at USC. OSU athletics is a sacred cow and a huge moneymaker for the NCAA. With the slew of victories and Big Ten titles under Tressel’s watch, that hit isn’t even enough to make a dent to the people who matter most: potential recruits and current players. To them, Tressel’s legacy and the program’s reputation are as sterling as ever. I know Leonidas and his soldiers meet death in the end, but Tressel will survive this NCAA onslaught. read more

Three OSU players still suspended for game against Toledo

Contrary to what Ohio State said earlier this week, junior running back Jordan Hall, sophomore defensive back Corey Brown and junior defensive back Travis Howard will not be available for the game against Toledo on Saturday. OSU issued a statement late Friday afternoon that said Hall, Howard and Brown have not yet been reinstated by the NCAA, and therefore, will not participate in Saturday’s game against Toledo. “The university continues to work with the NCAA on the reinstatement process and is hopeful that the student-athletes will be reinstated soon,” the statement said. The statement also said that the university would have no further comment on the matter. The NCAA released a statement just minutes after OSU released its statement, clarifying some things concerning the players’ eligibility. “The nature and scope of their violations merit a minimum two-game suspension,” the NCAA’s statement read. “The facts submitted by the university have raised further questions that need to be answered before the reinstatement process is complete.” Thursday, it was reported that the players received $200 in cash during a fundraiser. This is consistent with the university’s statement last week, that the three players received impermissible benefits totaling less that $300 each. The Buckeyes will now continue to rely on the running back tandem of sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith, the two backs featured in last Saturday’s game against Akron. There is a chance that sophomore running back Jaamal Berry will be available this week as well, but Berry has been nursing a hamstring injury and his status is uncertain. read more

Urban Meyer Ohio State football kick off season with 5610 win against

The offense sputtered in the first quarter while Miami jumped to an early, 3-0, lead, but the Buckeyes, led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and his receiving corps, scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions to go up, 21-3, before the half. OSU didn’t look back. Miller set an OSU single-game rushing record for quarterbacks in the win with 161 yards and one touchdown, breaking Cornelius Greene’s 1974 record. Miller also tied Greene for the most 100-yard rushing games in OSU history with four. “The objective with Braxton is to make him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback that manages,” Meyer said. “He has to be a leader and he showed that today.  By game’s end, OSU junior Carlos Hyde collected 84 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and receivers Corey Brown, a senior, and Devin Smith, a sophomore, each collected a touchdown reception before a chorus of Buckeyes added scores of their own. There were frequent off-field reminders that Saturday was Meyer’s first game at OSU, from the game day program, which featured Meyer’s likeness, to a banner unfurled by the Block-O student cheering section. Meyer, squinting from the sideline, focused his attention not on the celebration that was his first game as OSU coach, but the Silver Bullets defense, which was on-field for the first official snap of his Buckeyes coaching tenure. OSU eventually forced a Miami punt on its first series. Then, at the 13:34 mark of the first quarter, Meyer’s spread offense made its Ohio Stadium debut. Miller took the first snap and rushed for three yards. The possession, which began deep in OSU territory, eventually stalled, ending in a punt. Twice in the first quarter, Meyer’s defense had its collective back pressed against its own end zone. In the first instance, Miami freshman kicker Kaleb Patterson missed a 24-yard field goal attempt about seven minutes into the game. OSU was unable to dodge a second bullet, however, and Patterson redeemed himself on Miami’s next possession with a 23-yard field goal that put his side up, 3-0, with 5:06 to play in the first quarter. The Buckeyes, perhaps fortunate not to be trailing by two touchdowns, staggered into the second quarter trailing 3-0. Meyer said the first 15 minutes were embarrassing.  “Obviously, the first quarter was very poor football,” Meyer said.  Not only was OSU’s offense sputtering early, but Miami’s offense was stealing the show. The RedHawks outgained OSU in the first quarter, 178-42, and the partnership of Miami senior quarterback Zac Dysert and junior receiver Nick Harwell gashed the Buckeyes’ defense several times. Dysert finished the game, 31-of-53 passing for 303 yards and two interceptions while Harwell ended the game with 8 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. The second quarter yielded different results from the very beginning. The first big blow for OSU came when Miller lobbed a 38-yard pass to Brown, allowing OSU to cross into RedHawks territory and down to the 23-yard line for the first time in the game. On the next play, Smith hauled in a one-handed circus catch in the back right corner of the south end zone to bring OSU fans to their feet – it was the first score and lead of the Meyer era. “It was definitely my best all time catch,” Smith said. “I’ve had some catches at practice but nothing like this one.” The touchdown catch by Smith, who dropped down on his side after corralling Miller’s pass with only his right hand, capped an 83-yard drive that put OSU up, 7-3. The Buckeyes came right back down the field on their next drive and tacked on another touchdown when Miller found Brown on a five-yard touchdown catch to cap a 57-yard drive. OSU’s offensive stagger was gone – now it was swaggering, marching to two touchdowns on consecutive drives that lasted a combined 3:25. Suddenly, the Buckeyes were outgaining Miami, 188-172. Then came another score. A 33-yard rush by Miller pushed the Buckeyes down to Miami’s 2-yard line and Hyde finished the drive two plays later with a 2-yard dive into the end zone. The cheers softened, fans began to walk about the aisles and stadium corridors – it was a comfortable lead that OSU would only add to. Then came Hyde’s desperate, goal line lunge as time expired in the first half. OSU lost out on a chance at more points in that instance, but Miller made up for it early in the second half. OSU was back on the offensive a mere 17 seconds into the third quarter. Miller dashed down the visiting sideline and stuttered at the tail end of a 66-yard run to shake the lone remaining Miami defender before crossing into the end zone. Make it 28-3, OSU, and counting. Meyer’s special teams unit, which contains a subunit referred to by coaches and players as “the freak show,” got in on the scoring action too. OSU forced a RedHawks punt on the visitors’ next possession, but a play that was officially scored as a “team rush” resulted in a snap that never reached Miami’s punter. The ball was loose and sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby came up with it in Miami’s end zone for another touchdown to make it 35- 3. At 10:24 in the third quarter, Miami struck back when Dysert connected with Harwell on a 44-yard touchdown pass to narrow its deficit to 35-10. The pace of the scoring slowed for both teams after that touchdown, and the 35-10 score line held into early in the fourth quarter. OSU senior cornerback Travis Howard intercepted Dysert for the second time at the 14:09 mark of the fourth quarter, setting the offense up at Miami’s 5-yard line. OSU redshirt junior quarterback Kenny Guiton entered the game for Miller, who twice fell to the turf with cramps, and handed the ball to Hyde who ran five yards for his second touchdown of the day. With 9:33 remaining in the game, the OSU points kept coming. Guiton drove the Buckeyes down and put the ball in senior fullback and captain Zach Boren’s hands. Boren ploughed into the end zone for the first rushing touchdown of his OSU career and extended his team’s stranglehold to 49-10. Lastly, freshman Bri’onte Dunn scored with 44 seconds to play in his OSU debut, and the Buckeyes led, 56-10. “Our offense is built to keep scoring,” Hyde said. “That’s Coach Meyer’s standard, and to have fun.” All the while, the Buckeyes’ defense stifled Miami’s rushing attack, allowing, if you can call it that, -1 yards in the game. And the Guiton-led offense did its job running out the clock, allowing OSU to finish the game with a comfortable distance between it and the RedHawks. OSU will host Central Florida next Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon. With Ohio State leading Miami (Ohio), 21-3, a mere three seconds before halftime, first-year coach Urban Meyer tried for a touchdown from the 1-yard line rather than take the easy field goal. “Ohio State should be able to knock it in from the 1-yard line,” Meyer said after the game. “I wanted to see how they would do.”  The attempt, a desperate lunge by junior running back Carlos Hyde, fell short and OSU came up empty handed at the stroke of half time. Nevertheless, an impression was made – Meyer and his aggressive play-calling style had officially arrived in Columbus. It was that same aggressive style that allowed Meyer’s No. 18 Buckeyes (1-0) to cruise to a 56-10 win against the unranked Miami RedHawks (0-1) Saturday at Ohio Stadium. read more

Urban Meyer Hard to say Etienne Sabinos not my favorite player

As a product of Miami, Fla., linebacker Etienne Sabino said he was not familiar with Ohio State. Now in his redshirt senior season, Sabino is starting for the Buckeyes. He’s one of first-year coach Urban Meyer’s favorite players. In OSU’s 17-16 victory against Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., Meyer said Sabino had “a hell of a game.” Sabino, who recorded eight total tackles, one pass breakup, two quarterback hurries, one tackle for loss, and one sack against the Spartans, was named defensive player of the game by Meyer during the coach’s weekly Monday press conference. Meyer wasn’t the only one who took note of the captain’s play. “(Sabino) played exceptionally well to me. He made a lot of good plays,” said redshirt junior defensive back Corey Brown. Notably, the linebacker’s sack came at the end of the third quarter and during a crucial time in the game. After the Buckeyes’ offense scored a touchdown to take a 17-13 lead against MSU, it seemed that OSU had not only seized the game’s lead, but also its momentum. Looking to respond, the Spartans returned the ensuing kickoff to their 31-yard line and drove the ball to the 50-yard line. The Spartans offense stalled, though after an incomplete pass from redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and short run by junior running back Le`Veon Bell. Facing a 3rd-and-7, Maxwell dropped back to pass before Sabino burst into the backfield and brought down the Spartan quarterback for a 7-yard loss. The play forced MSU to punt and kept the momentum on the side of the Buckeyes. “I just want to give all the credit to the people around me,” Sabino said. “I think our defensive line did a great job making my job easy and the back end did a great job covering allowing us to get pressure. I think it was a good defensive effort.” Meyer said he’s not only impressed with Sabino’s play, but also said he has a different relationship with him compared to other players. “It’s hard for me to say he’s not my favorite player on this team,” Meyer said. “I have conversations with him like I would a coach. I listen to him. I usually don’t listen a lot, and then I listen to him.” Sabino said his relationship with and respect for Meyer helps him be honest with the former Florida Gators coach. “The thing with coach Meyer is honesty … I keep it real with him, he keeps it real with me,” Sabino said. “So I think he respects that and we have that respect for each other.” The Florida native, however, has experienced ups and downs during his career since coming to Columbus in 2008. Sabino arrived with high expectations as the No. 1-overall high school inside linebacker in the country, according to ESPN.com’s recruiting rankings. But during his freshman and sophomore years, he never started a game and only made six tackles and one sack. In 2010, he sat out for the season and redshirted after losing a position battle to former OSU linebacker Andrew Sweat. Last season, though, Sabino saw time in all 13 of the Buckeyes’ games, collecting 62 total tackles, two sacks and seven tackles for loss. Sabino only started five times for the Buckeyes last year. But this year might be a different story as Sabino has started in all five of OSU’s games under Meyer. “He hasn’t played a lot. I didn’t realize that until I went back and did a study on it,” Meyer said. “He’s been a classic underachiever. Now he’s a leader. He’s a grown man,” As of the Buckeyes’ game against the Spartans, Sabino is second on the team in tackles with 36 total stops and has amassed two sacks, two tackles for loss, one interception and one forced fumble. “Sometimes things don’t pan out as fast as you want them to happen, but it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. So that’s my motto,” Sabino said.

Ohio State womens volleyball sweeps Lipscomb in first round of NCAA tournament

Members of the OSU women’s volleyball team huddle during a game against Lipscomb on Dec. 5 in Lexington, Ky., during the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Chris Slack / Lantern photographerLEXINGTON, Ky. — Heading into a match against Lipscomb, Ohio State women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston had faced the Bisons once in his tenure at OSU, and won. Now he can say he’s 2-0.The Buckeyes (22-11) swept Lipscomb (25-20, 25-14, 25-18) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night, and now have less than a day to prepare for their next opponent.“I thought we played great defense, which we knew we needed to do because they’re such a great defensive team,” Carlston said. “So it was a really good match. Obviously I’m really happy and excited we’re moving on.”In the first two sets alone, the Buckeyes had 16 blocks total, while the Bisons (21-9) had zero.  Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe totaled for six in those two sets before finishing the night with 10, which is a career-high. Senior setter Taylor Sherwin tallied six total blocks, which was the second highest between the two teams.Freshman outside hitter Luisa Schirmer led all players in kills with 12 and added eight digs.  With this being her first NCAA tournament action, she said she was glad her teammates were behind her all the way.“I (felt) full confidence with my team behind me,” Schirmer said. “And I think that’s a great attitude going into our next match.”Senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger tallied 10 kills, which was tied for the second-most kills in the match.Since the Buckeyes played at 5 p.m. on Friday in Lexington, Ky., they have a chance to scout their next potential opponent live.“As a team we’re going to go and watch both teams, see what they do and how they play,” Sekinger said.In addition to her six blocks, Sherwin had a game-high 32 assists on the night and added nine digs, while sophomore libero Valeria León had a game-high 17 digs and had the Buckeyes two lone service aces.With a game-high 25 blocks, the Buckeyes are looking to carry over their defense into Saturday’s game.“I think if we take our style of play that we played tonight into our next match, tomorrow night, I think that will help us and we can build from that,” Sekinger said.Bison senior outside hitter Lauren Ford was the lone Bison to score double-digit kills with 10.  Freshman setter Kayla Ostrom assisted on 28 of her teams 31 kills.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play the winner of No. 13 Kentucky and the Horizon League champions Oakland. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum. read more

GCSE results 2016 state school results

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Schools from across the UK have published their 2016 GCSE results with the Telegraph – use the interactive searchable results tables below to see if your school is featured, and to compare schools across the country.The first table lists 132 selective state schools, while the second table shows the results of the 182 comprehensive schools who have submitted their results to us. Results are not final and may change after re-marks.A-level results 2016: results from 300 state schools Data for these tables has been supplied directly by the schools. Some results were excluded from the list because of incomplete data. A table of independent school results will be published separately. In tables published by the Telegraph, the The Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead, London, came top of the selective state schools, with 100 per cent of pupils gaining 5 or more A*-C grades and over 95 per cent of pupils gaining A* or A.Thomas Telford School, a City Technology College in Shropshire, came top of the comprehensive table, with 98 per cent of pupils gaining 5 A*-C grades including English and maths.NotesThe type of school is indicated by G – Grammar, PS – Partially selective and C -ComprehensiveGender is indicated by B – Boys, G – Girls and M – MixedThe %A*-C reveals the percentage of candidates with 5 or more A*-C grades including English and mathematicsThe %A* to A reveals the percentage of entries graded at this levelcenter_img Figures published yesterday revealed that the percentage of pupils achieving a C grade or above this year saw the sharpest decline since the exams were launched in 1988.The percentage of all students gaining A*-C grades dropped 2.1 percentage points to 66.9 per cent, as more 17-year-olds resat their English and maths qualifications following Government changes to the system.According to the reforms, all students must now achieve a C in GCSE English and maths, or they will be forced to retake the qualification.However, the number of 16-year-olds achieving grades A* to C also fell, by 1.3 percentage points, with experts blaming the focus on the key academic subjects of the EBacc as a possible cause.last_img read more