7Tim Duncan21Spurs1997-985.5 4Mitchell Robinson20Knicks2018-196.3 Among players who qualified for the minutes-per-game leaderboard.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Mitchell Robinson is in elite company by one metricThe best rookie seasons in the NBA by Box Plus/Minus 3David Robinson24Spurs1989-906.5 6Arvydas Sabonis31Trail Blazers1995-965.6 1Michael Jordan21Bulls1984-858.2 5Chris Paul20Hornets2005-066.1 9Rich Kelley22Jazz1975-765.4 8Magic Johnson20Lakers1979-805.5 Mitchell Robinson is a unicorn. His forte is shot-blocking in an era when offenses are designed to attempt field goals 25 feet from the rim. On offense, the almost-21-year-old rookie shoots mostly at the iron — and “shooting” is probably not the right word to describe what he does with the ball on offense, since nearly half of his field-goal attempts are dunks. Robinson stands 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, so it’s hardly a surprise that he is virtually unstoppable around the rim, explaining his 68.2 field-goal percentage that would lead the league if he had enough attempts.Robinson’s skills run counter to today’s game. And the various performance-rating systems disagree radically on how to assess his value. Maybe he’s one of the best rookie players in NBA history, as is indicated by win shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and Box Plus/Minus (BPM). Or perhaps he’s just a bottom-rung NBA center, as ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (RPM) system says. On the one hand, Robinson is a player who can go a long way in helping pull the Knicks up from the pit in which they’re currently mired as the NBA’s worst team. But on the other hand, he is a mere statistical mirage to Knicks fans so thirsty for hope.There’s not even broad agreement on Robinson’s defensive prowess, despite his historic rate of blocking shots. While rejections are not required to be a great defender, it’s the most obvious manifestation of stopping an opponent from scoring. And in this area, Robinson is unquestionably a generational talent. Forget about being tied for 12th since the 1983-84 season1Which is as far back as the data goes. with his (current) streak of two or more blocks in 22 straight games. Sure, only three other rookies have topped that. But even more impressive is that he’s blocking an all-time best 10.9 percent of 2-pointers, a stratosphere that no NBA player has approached since the heyday of 7-foot-7 Manute Bol three decades ago.And Robinson is blocking 3-pointers, too — though that might remind Knicks fans of the team’s best chance for its only championship since the Nixon era, which was snuffed out by an athletic center who ventured out beyond the arc.ESPN’s RPM doesn’t even rate Robinson’s defensive performance highly. He’s just the 46th best defensive center this season — likely because, according to RPM, his shot blocking doesn’t do much to help his teammates stop opponents from scoring.2RPM also adjusts for opponent quality, so if Robinson is playing against the guys at the end of the bench in garbage time, his play won’t grade as highly.In BPM, however, Robinson’s on-court performance is placed in the context of an average player on an average team, according to Basketball-Reference.com. This metric says Robinson is the best defender in basketball, at 5.7 points better than average per 100 possessions.If BPM is accurately assessing Robinson, he’s on pace to become one of the better second-round draft picks of all-time — and certainly the best, value-wise, in recent Knicks history. Robinson is having the fourth-best rookie season ever by this metric,3Among players who qualified for the minutes-per-game leaderboard. at 6.3 points over average on an average team. But the rookies ahead of him — 1984-85 Michael Jordan (8.2), 1975-76 Alvan Adams (6.7) and 1989-90 David Robinson (6.5) — were all Top 4 picks. Mitchell Robinson was picked 36th overall. 10Larry Bird23Celtics1979-805.3 2Alvan Adams21Suns1975-766.7 PlayerAgeTeamSeasonBox +/- Robinson has barely played compared with those all-time rookies, averaging just 19 minutes per game. And even with that limited amount of playing time, the rookie appears to have hit a wall of late, scoring 2 points or less in four of his past six games (but 30 combined points in the two others).WS/48 is equally effusive in its praise of Robinson for the full season. This system explicitly adjusts all players as if they’re hypothetically playing a full, regulation 48 minutes — one-fifth of the court time. So you take his rate and multiply it by five and get an expected winning percentage on a hypothetical team with five players exactly like him. That means a Knicks team of five Robinson’s (.211 WS/48) would never lose a game. Who needs Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving?Perhaps opposing players can settle the issue. After all, talent knows talent. The Knicks are such a perpetual laughingstock that Robinson can escape notice. But Joel Embiid, hardly quick to praise opponents, opined after being repeatedly stuffed by Robinson that Robinson’s “long-ass arms” and athleticism give him a chance to be a top center.In typical Knicks fashion, the lottery picks New York has earned for losing so often have all become nonfactors. Kristaps Porzingis was shipped to Dallas to open up cap space that the Knicks hope to use to attract top free agents like Durant and Irving (rinse, repeat). And what all the player evaluation systems agree on is that Frank Ntilikina (drafted eighth overall in 2017) and Kevin Knox (ninth, 2018) are terrible players. Knox (minus-.028 through Sunday, according to WS/48, is essentially tied in having the eighth-worst rookie season in the 3-point era, a year after Ntilikina waged what is now the 11th-worst (minus-.026) rookie campaign. The only thing that could salvage these apparent early mistakes is recouping major surplus value with the Robinson pick. But that’s largely dependent on which of the major player performance models proves most prophetic.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
We’re only one-fifth of the way through the NBA season, but for those of you scoring at home, the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks — teams that acknowledged they’d be rebuilding after failing to make it work with their all-star forwards — have better records than reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were expected to be contenders after their blockbuster trades for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.Just as mind-boggling: Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in Indiana and Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott in New York — swapped for George and Anthony — are outplaying the big names they replaced, a notion that’s becoming harder to ignore as the season wears on.All of which raises two key questions: What are the Thunder doing wrong, and what fixes are needed to solidify the team as a top challenger to the Warriors out West?At the start of the season, the conventional wisdom suggested that the Thunder would be among the league’s most dominant offenses while sporting a mediocre defense. But the opposite has been true: The defense is doing the heavy lifting while OKC’s ball-dominant stars figure out how to not only coexist, but also thrive as a trio.Only a few possessions into the Thunder’s season-opener, against the Knicks, the team’s dazzling defensive ability was on display.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/thundersequence.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.When its defense is set, the club can force several extra passes by rotating seamlessly, forcing the opposing team to string out possessions.1Going into Wednesday’s games, opposing teams took a little more than 18 seconds, on average, to complete a possession against the Thunder defense after a made basket, according to advanced-stats site Inpredictable — tied for the NBA’s third-highest mark. With perhaps the NBA’s two best perimeter defenders (George and Andre Roberson) and a physical rim protector (Steven Adams), the Thunder — who rank third overall in defensive efficiency — will likely be among the stingiest, most disruptive defensive clubs all season.But as games drag on, that defensive dominance often fades. Oklahoma City leads the league by a country mile in defense in the first quarter, surrendering just 84.5 points per 100 possessions. But that number falls off with each additional period, going from 99.1 in the second quarter (fourth in the league) to 104.5 in the third (18th) to 109.8 in the fourth (24th). It increases to a whopping 147.7 in clutch situations, when games are within 5 points during the final five minutes of play (dead-last in the league).One key reason this happens: The aggressive defense that the Thunder use doesn’t work as well once Billy Donovan starts putting in backups, who lack the length and athleticism that the starters have. Oklahoma City relies heavily on switches — when players swap defensive assignments on the fly in hopes of neutralizing the opposing team’s pick-and-roll strategy — a scheme that functions fine when the first group is on the floor. But the slightest change, like Raymond Felton spelling Westbrook or Alex Abrines checking in for standout defender Roberson, can throw things out of whack.Notice, in the video below, how Felton opts to switch instead of staying with San Antonio’s Patty Mills. The swap leaves the 6-foot-1 Felton covering Rudy Gay, who is 7 inches taller — a mismatch that the Spurs immediately attack: Pau Gasol throws a lob to Gay over Felton’s outstretched arm.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/loboverfelton.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Another issue: Oklahoma City’s starting unit becomes an offensive liability in late-game scenarios if the team is behind. The group struggles to create good looks for itself in the closing minutes of contests, partly because of how teams are able to ignore Roberson, one of the NBA’s worst shooters. Watch here, in the final eight minutes of a tight game with the Clippers, as Roberson is left alone at the 3-point line — he doesn’t even look at the basket before passing the ball. Defenders don’t even bother to follow him out there; he is a career 26 percent shooter from deep and is 49 percent from the line.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/homealone.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Yet the biggest question facing the Thunder at the moment is the obvious one: Can all three of the team’s star scorers play together, or are they doomed to function as three individuals who wear the same jersey?George and Anthony were brought in to ease Westbrook’s burden — last season, the Thunder were largely a one-man show on offense and Westbrook broke the single-season usage rate record — and to give a club that couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn2Even when Thunder players were left wide open last season — meaning 6 feet of space or more — they only made 32.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. That was the worst mark in the NBA. some reliable shooting.But unlike the teams in the West they’re chasing — the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets — the Thunder aren’t synchronized on offense yet. Data from Second Spectrum highlights that Oklahoma City throws fewer passes than any other NBA team. And the club leads the league in isolation rate, according to Synergy Sports Technology, meaning that Thunder players go 1-on-1 more frequently than members of any other team. Each member of Oklahoma City’s star trio essentially takes the same number of shots each game, a rationing that would be great if it didn’t look as though Westbrook were harnessing his offense to make it that way. (Donovan suggested that Westbrook’s struggles this season stem from his trying too hard to make his new teammates feel at ease.)This isn’t the end of the world for the Thunder. Their 7-9 record is underwhelming, but their net rating and point differential suggest that they should have about three or four more wins than they do — a sign that things may begin to break their way. Beyond that, there’s some precedent to suggest they will be fine.The 2010-11 Miami Heat club that united LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had some things in common with this season’s Oklahoma City team. In addition to boasting a top-10 defense, the Miami trio struggled to play off one another until closer to the middle of that season.James, for instance, shot worse when Wade was on the court, and Wade shot poorly when sharing the floor with James. Both players shot better when playing with Bosh, but Bosh’s shooting declined when playing alongside either of his star teammates. (Anthony shoots far worse when playing with either George or Westbrook; Westbrook shoots considerably worse with George and slightly worse with Anthony; George shoots slightly better when playing with either one of his teammates.) For Miami, the trends began easing toward the end of 2010, and the Heat ended up making a run to the finals.The Thunder are probably banking that some of the offensive woes — Westbrook, Anthony and free-agent signing Patrick Patterson are all shooting career-worsts from the field — will fix themselves. But other methods might help the team’s ball movement and create better looks. Westbrook and Anthony have enjoyed huge success in 1-4 pick-and-roll sets (1.15 points per direct screen, according to Second Spectrum3The league average on such plays is 0.92 points.) and could turn to that more frequently. And it’s worth watching to see whether Donovan, who has implemented a handful of misdirection screen sets that involve all three stars (or just two when one is taking a breather), dials up more handoffs to get the players going downhill more often — a play type that the Thunder have used sparingly so far this season.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/movementthunder.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pghandoffscreen.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.It’s still a bit too early to panic about the Thunder, even if they are playing sub-.500 ball and dropping close games. Based on what we’ve seen from their defense, if and when their offense gets going, it should transform them into the contender so many people thought they’d be this season.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
Germany1,429527 Many of these players have passed their prime, like Team USA stalwart Brian Gionta, who has more than 1,000 career NHL games on his resume. Others are simply out of NHL work: James Wisniewski, who last played significant NHL minutes in 2014-15, was released by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016 after failing to impress on a tryout contract. He’s playing abroad now — in the second tier of the German league.To be fair, much of the age disparity can be accounted for by the fact that those early rosters had to be comprised of amateurs, which largely meant college players.1The IOC changed the rule to allow professionals in 1988, although the NHL didn’t agree to stop its season and release players until 10 years later. And it’s not as though those kids were stiffs — the 1988 team alone boasted players like Brian Leetch, Chris Terreri, Kevin Stevens, Craig Janney, Tony Granato and Mike Richter. The 2018 team features some college players who have the potential to go on and have fruitful NHL careers — Harvard’s Ryan Donato, for example — but the majority of the roster is made up of guys who’ll never get another sniff (or never got a sniff at all).This trend is worldwide: Each team has at least one skater with NHL experience on its roster, and six teams (Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Sweden and the United States) can count at least 1,000 combined NHL games played in their ranks. In total, the tournament boasts a combined 17,419 NHL games played. Czech Republic1,330649 You probably know this by now, but when the puck drops next week in Gangneung, South Korea, there will be no current NHL players on the ice. And whether it’s the NHL’s fault for being overly cautious and stingy or the International Olympic Committee’s fault for being stubborn — to be sure, it’s a mix of both — the fact remains the same: Pyeongchang 2018 will be the first Winter Olympics since Lillehammer ’94 not to feature a men’s ice hockey tournament stocked with players from the world’s best hockey league.The dearth of North American household names in the men’s tournament has a lot of people wondering if the games will even be worth watching. Every game will be contested while Americans and Canadians are about to go to sleep, are already asleep or are just waking from sleep. North Americans have been forced to ask themselves some important questions, such as: Is it really worth sacrificing sleep to watch a bunch of players you’ve never heard of battle it out for gold? And who are these guys anyway?This decision by the NHL, of course, makes Olympic hockey closer to what it was for decades when the league didn’t release its professionals. In 1980 in Lake Placid, the U.S. rallied behind a bunch of largely anonymous kids from the ranks of college hockey, and it became the country’s greatest Olympic moment. So maybe this is a good thing?A closer look at the rosters in South Korea this month will put a damper on such optimism. Teams are not exclusively bringing a collection of their brightest youngsters from the amateur ranks. They’re bringing something else: players plucked from the NHL scrap heap.You might think that the exclusion of the NHL would bring the average age of Team USA down from previous years, but the 2018 roster is older on average than those from Sochi in 2014 and Vancouver in 2010 — 29.4 versus 27 and 26.6, respectively. In fact, this is the third-oldest Team USA roster in the past 38 years. Canada5,4442,140 Switzerland67157 Olympic Athlete from Russia2,5651,955 Slovenia364 Total IN NHL No current NHLers, plenty of former NHLersOlympic rosters with the most NHL experience and points accumulated Norway14530 Source: NBC Olympics, Hockey-Reference.com TEAMGAMESPOINTS Total17,4197,379 Slovakia593377 United States3,0831,216 Finland48452 South Korea272 Sweden1,612370 Team Canada leads the way with 2,140 NHL points and 5,444 NHL games among their Olympians. Those numbers may seem impressive until you realize that the equivalent numbers from the Canadian team in Sochi — the one with Sidney Crosby and Co. — were 8,400 NHL points and 12,936 NHL games.2Through the 2013-14 season.The Olympic rosters are clearly lacking star power. The one exception is the roster for Team Russia — er, Team Olympic Athlete from Russia — which boasts two forwards who each played more than 800 NHL games and scored more than 800 career NHL points: Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk.Kovalchuk is a former Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner, and Datsyuk won three consecutive Frank J. Selke Trophies between 2008 and 2010 as the league’s best two-way forward. Each Russian has some very good hockey left in his legs. They’re also the reason the Russians are the odds on favorites to win the tournament.Team Russia is also bringing Kontinental Hockey League star Sergei Mozyakin along to South Korea. Aside from current NHL sniper Alexander Radulov, no other player has won the KHL scoring title in the past decade. The KHL isn’t exactly the NHL, but it’s not exactly a beer league either: It’s the world’s second best hockey league, and 91 of the tournament’s 300 players currently play there. Russia’s games alone should be reason enough to tune in next week.As for the rest? Among the non-KHL cadre, 203 players play across 17 professional leagues spread throughout North America, Europe and Asia; five play NCAA Division 1 hockey; and one — Gionta — is currently not playing any competitive hockey at all. Some teams rewarded players who choose to play their professional hockey on home soil: Every Russian player plays in the KHL, every South Korean player plays in Asia League Ice Hockey, and every Swiss player plays in the National League.3A lot of NHL superstars — including Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Joe Thornton, to name a few — skated in the National League during the lockout of 2012-13. They did so because it is a very good hockey league.But other teams seem to prefer a more well-rounded bunch: The U.S. roster features players from seven professional leagues and a handful of college studs.4And Gionta. And the Slovenian roster features players from 11 leagues across Europe — from the Alps Hockey League to the Czech Extraliga (they know how to score pretty in the Czech Extraliga) to all three divisions of professional German hockey.5This tournament may not feature the world’s top talent, but no one could argue it’s not well-traveled.The NHL’s absence dictates that this won’t be the deepest or most talented group of hockey men ever assembled at an Olympics, but those North Americans willing to stay up late or wake up early will get to see a lot of players they’d never otherwise get to see.
The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team snagged another win with an overall score of 195.8 after their home quad-meet against No. 11 Michigan, Washington and Kent State on Saturday evening.The team started strong in their first rotation event on vault, scoring a total of 49.12. Junior Alexis Mattern received the highest score and career best of 9.9, tying for first on vault with Michigan’s Olivia Karas.“Person after person, and being the sixth person up on vault, it’s, it’s kind of tough,” Mattern said. “So you have to wait and watch your teammates, and you just wait in the wings until it’s your turn. And for me to do the vault that I’ve been training all week, right in the moment, when it really counted, was just really great to start that off.”The Buckeyes gained the lead after the first rotation and continued with momentum to the second event on uneven bars. Sophomore Kaitlyn Hofland placed second overall with a score of 9.85.After the third rotation on beam, OSU still held the lead before entering their fourth and final event on floor.“As much as we try not to focus too much on the scores, we could see that we were still in the lead going into the last event,” Hofland said. “Floor is a strong event for us. It’s a fun event. It’s an awesome event and we knew we all could do it.With the team placing first in their Saturday meet and Mattern finishing third in the all-around with a 39.125, Ohio State received their first conference win against Michigan.“To beat them at home when all the odds were really stacked against us just means so much more, especially because we worked so hard,” said Mattern.After riding a wave from their second victory, the team said it won’t take the win for granted. A few minor performance issues were seen during the meet, such as two girls receiving a one-tenth point deduction for stepping out of bounds on their floor routines.Although coach Carey Fagan took these performances as something to improve upon in preparation for their next meet on Jan. 28 against Iowa, she holds a strong positive outlook for the coming meet and the season as a whole.“Starting off in the conference 1-0 is going to be huge for my team, and beating — Michigan is a great team,” said Fagan. “They’re historically strongest in the conference, so I think the confidence that my team will get knowing that they compete with the best will really set us up for the rest of the season.”
Is it possible that both the Ohio State and University of Central Florida women’s basketball teams could feel underrated as they make final preparations for Saturday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game? Could be. OSU (22-9) is the No. 4 seed in the Dayton Region, and will play No. 13 seed UCF (22-10) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. John Arena. After posting a 4-6 record in their first 10 conference games during the regular season, the Buckeyes appeared to be fading out of the postseason picture. OSU came on strong in the last month, however, winning nine consecutive games and claiming its third straight Big Ten Tournament title on March 6. Friday’s press conference featured questions that stood in stark contrast to the Buckeyes’ recent success and could serve as motivation. Buckeye guards Samantha Prahalis and Brittany Johnson found themselves responding to queries regarding regular-season rough patches and prior NCAA Tournament disappointments. Both Prahalis and Johnson reflected on the Buckeyes’ early-season struggles. “It was a long time ago,” Johnson said. “We’ve moved on and we’re focused now. We keep that negative stuff behind us.” Prahalis agreed. “We use it as motivation,” she said. “It was just something we had to overcome as a team.” Coach Joi Williams’ Knights (22-10) are riding a hot streak into Saturday’s contest as well. UCF claimed a conference tournament championship and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth by defeating Tulane, 85-73, in the Conference USA title game. UCF also brings an 11-game winning streak to St. John Arena. The Knights also were busy fending off media scrutiny on Friday. Williams said she is aware that few people have picked her team to upset OSU. “We have absolutely nothing to lose,” Williams said. “There’s not one of you guys in here that thinks UCF can win this game. We realize that.” One fair criticism of Williams’ UCF squad is its lack of size — none of the probable Knight starters slated to defend the towering OSU tandem of 6-foot-4 senior center Jantel Lavender and 6-5 freshman center Ashley Adams is taller than 5-10. “Certainly players like Jantel Lavender … they’re tough to stop,” Williams said. ” When you get to this time of year, I’m sure coach Foster’s not changing much. We’re not changing much (defensively).” Regardless of what questions are asked in interviews and whether either team makes changes ahead of Saturday’s game, Prahalis said OSU’s only focus is to beat UCF. “The only assurance is winning,” she said. “We have to win. Is it a little bit of pressure? Of course. We’ve just go to, you know, win.”
Ohio State junior linebacker Jerome Baker (17) sacks Army senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw during the second quarter of the 2017 OSU- Army game on Sep. 16. OSU won 38-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorWith just over one minute to go in a tie game, Maryland junior running back Ty Johnson took a handoff at the Minnesota 34-yard line, spotted a hole and raced through it past defenders for the game-winning touchdown.This is the exact type of rush Ohio State will attempt to prevent Saturday when the Buckeyes face off with the Terrapins at Ohio Stadium. This season, Johnson has 46 carries for 411 yards, an average of 8.93 yards per carry, which ranks him No. 4 in the FBS. A big-play threat, Johnson has gained at least 34 yards on a carry five times in his team’s four games this year, including a 74-yard touchdown in Week 2 against Towson. “He’s got great acceleration, he really can go,” Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis said. “When he gets going, he’s got great acceleration and he’s got good vision and patience. He’s a good back.” Johnson rushed onto the scene as a freshman when he averaged 7.1 yards on 35 carries. The 5-foot-10, 208-pound running back followed up his debut last season with 110 carries for 1,004 yards, an average of 9.1 yards per carry, the most by a Terrapins player in a season with at least 100 rushes. Prior to this year, Johnson was placed on the Doak Walker Award watch list.“He’s a real good back,” senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “He’s got a big heart, man. He plays a lot bigger than what he actually is, so we’ve got to be ready for him.”Johnson is tied with sophomore running back Lorenzo Harrison III with a team-high 46 carries, but Johnson averages twice as many yards per carry as Harrison. The Buckeyes defense has not given up many long runs this year. The only 34-plus yard rushes came against the second-team defense in the third quarter of blowouts of UNLV and Army, both of whom are top 10 rushing offenses in the FBS. In the season opener, Indiana averaged 0.6 yards per carry without a rush over nine yards and the next week, Oklahoma averaged 2.8 yards per carry and did not run for a gain of more than 13 yards.In order for the success against the run to continue, Ohio State understands it must play disciplined as Johnson and Harrison are apt to bounce plays to the outside if they do not see holes in the middle. “They bounce it out, they run around, they don’t even hit their hole, they sometimes bounce it out and those are fast guys and we’re just going to have to contain them,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle said.Davis and defensive line coach Larry Johnson emphasized defenders at all levels of the defense must maintain their gap responsibility and not over-pursue, noting it would be the key to victory.“I think the two running backs are dynamic,” Larry said. “I think they’ve both got great vision. They can cut on a dime.”Johnson’s speed is even more important now than in the first couple weeks of the season due to Maryland’s struggle to keep quarterbacks healthy. The Terrapins are down to third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager as Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill suffered season-ending torn ACLs. Therefore, they will likely rely heavily on their run game to produce scoring drives and churn the clock against Ohio State.A unit featuring five players who are at least 6-foot-3 and weigh more than 300 pounds will pave the way for Johnson. Though the Terrapins do not have a single senior on their offensive line, all linemen are in their second seasons as starters. Redshirt junior right tackle Damian Prince, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 315 pounds, leads the line as this is his third season as a starter.“It’s going to be a good test for us,” Holmes said. “They have a great offensive line. They’ve got a great running back.”
The Buckeyes take to the field prior to the start of the game against Michigan State on Nov 10. Ohio State won 26-6. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFollowing a 26-6 victory against then-No. 18 Michigan State, Ohio State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) remain at No. 10 for the third straight week in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.With the Spartans fell out of the overall rankings, the Buckeyes join No. 4 Michigan, No. 14 Penn State, No. 22 Northwestern in the playoff rankings, giving the Big Ten four teams in the Top 25.On Sunday, Ohio State moved down a spot in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and the Amway Coaches’ Poll to No. 9 and No. 8, respectively.No. 10 Ohio State faces Maryland on the road at noon on Saturday.Here are the full current rankings:1.) Alabama2.) Clemson3.) Notre Dame 4.) Michigan5.) Georgia6.) Oklahoma7.) LSU8.) Washington State9.) West Virginia10.) Ohio State11.) UCF12.) Syracuse13.) Florida14.) Penn State15.) Texas16.) Iowa State17.) Kentucky18.) Washington19.) Utah20.) Boston College21.) Mississippi State22.) Northwestern23.) Utah State24.) Cincinnati25.) Boise State
Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann yells onto the court after a Buckeye turnover in the second half of the game against Indiana on Feb. 10. Ohio State won 55-52. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorEntering his first season as Ohio State men’s basketball head coach in fall 2017, Chris Holtmann went to Barnes and Noble to pick up a preseason college basketball preview from a local publication. To his surprise, no Ohio State players were featured on the cover.“To me, that was a statement about how relevant the program was at the time,” Holtmann said.Now, going into his third season with the Buckeyes, Holtmann and the nation’s No. 9 recruiting class have been top 10 selections in both ESPN and Sports Illustrated’s “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 rankings for next year.“I think we’re ahead of schedule,” Holtmann said. “I wasn’t sure, this quickly, we would be in a position to where we would have guys that have had early tournament success. Both getting there and competing.”Finishing 20-15 overall and just 8-12 in the Big Ten, Ohio State squeaked into the NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed, but still managed a victory over No. 6 Iowa State in the Round of 64.That upset was an impressive feat for a team without any All-Big Ten performers. To get there, it survived a five-game losing streak and a three-game suspension for sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson.Still, Ohio State will be without a couple key pieces come next season.Senior guard C.J. Jackson was the team’s second-leading scorer at 12 points per game and senior guard Keyshawn Woods nearly doubled his average of 8 points per game in four postseason games for the Buckeyes this year.Taking their place, however, are three top-50, four-star recruits in DJ Carton, Alonzo Gaffney and E.J. Liddell.The highest rated of the bunch is Carton, an athletic point guard hailing from Bettendorf, Iowa, who Holtmann said is “hard-nosed.”Gaffney, a forward standing at 6-foot-9, adds height to a team that sorely missed it in stretches this past season with no player on the team being taller than 6-foot-9 in 2018-19.Holtmann said Liddell brings versatility and a winning pedigree to the Buckeyes, having won two state championships in Illinois.The expectation is that these three will play heavy minutes right away, which is a prospect that Holtmann said is exciting.“What you really hope is the youth we played this year and the youth that we’ll play this coming season will provide benefits for us here moving forward,” Holtmann said.One young player that Holtmann said made significant strides this year was Wesson, who led the team in points at 14.6 and rebounds with 6.9.Wesson entered his name in the NBA Draft last Wednesday, but the current rules allow players to retain college eligibility if they go undrafted.Without Wesson this past season, Ohio State was a shell of itself, losing all three games and nearly its chance at an NCAA Tournament berth during his suspension, including a 35-point demolition by Purdue.Wesson is expected to return for his junior season, and Holtmann said the team needs a backup for down low. That need became even greater with freshman forward Jaedon LeDee’s intention to transfer out of the program.Holtmann got his wish Sunday, as 7-foot center Ibrahima Diallo out of Senegal committed to Ohio State.The four new commits give Ohio State its best recruiting class since 2015, but Holtmann and the Buckeye coaching staff will spend the next several months trying to duplicate that success with the class of 2020.“It’s always a challenge when you have a good recruiting class, in some cases a really good recruiting class, and then back that up with another really good recruiting class,” Holtmann said. “That’s what we need to do. That is absolutely what we need to do.”Ohio State will be doing so without assistant coach Mike Schrage, who took the head coaching job at Elon on April 5. Schrage coached for Holtmann in his last year at Butler before following him at Ohio State for the past two seasons.Holtmann said special assistant Mike Netti and director of recruiting and player development Scoonie Penn are among his top candidates to fill the open position for next season.For the past two seasons, Holtmann and the Buckeyes have overachieved.With the early hype already rolling in for next season’s team, however, Holtmann knows the bar will not be set as low.“I didn’t get into coaching at the highest level of college basketball to be fearful of expectations,” Holtmann said.
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The team has already discovered molecules which binds to glucose from which they plan to build a shell which can contain insulin but melts away in the presence of sugar, releasing its payload.“We want to make the lives of patients better,” said Dr John Fossey, a senior lecturer in the school of chemistry at Birmingham, who is leading the project.“Imagine if patients could go through a week without having to worry about their blood sugar levels, or injecting themselves.”I’ve talked to the parents of kids with type one diabetes and they say, if only my children could do things, like go to sleepovers, their lives would be so much better. Most parents aren’t confident enough to entrust injections to other adults.“We’re trying to create a system which will deliver insulin in response to glucose levels, releasing more if blood sugar is high.“We can now recognise glucose in the body and my proposal is to take the same chemistry, take these molecules and build a container for insulin which will break open when it comes across glucose and deliver its cargo.“The a patient could be injected with these containers, say once a week, and they would slowly degrade in the presence of glucose to keep blood sugar at a constant level.” A world in which type one diabetics no longer need to inject themselves every day may be just a few years away, after British scientists launched an ambitious project to create a system which delivers insulin automatically.Currently people with type one diabetes must undergo prick tests several times a day to monitor their blood sugar, and inject themselves with insulin when it gets too high.The daily chore is time-consuming and invasive, and for children if often means they cannot attend parties, sleep-overs and camps where parents cannot monitor their condition.But now scientists at the University of Birmingham are developing smart capsules which would travel through the body and release insulin when they came across high levels of blood sugar. Finger prick tests would no longer be needed under the new system Credit:Alamy Around 400,000 people in Britain have type one diabetes of which nearly 30,000 are children.The Birmingham scientists say they are confident that the capsule will be ready for animal trials within five years, and humans soon after.“This could be a step change in the management of type one diabetes,” said Dr Fossey.“It will give people the freedom to live their lives without constantly worrying about monitoring their condition.”The new project is partly funded by the Juvenile Diabetes and Research Foundation (JDRF), the British charity which is working with scientists to find a cure for type one diabetes.Sarah Johnson, Director of Mission at JDRF: “We are pleased to be funding Dr Fossey’s work. This early stage of research could lay the foundations for a glucose responsive insulin that would be injected once a day, or even a week, and respond to glucose levels just like a healthy pancreas.“This would be a life changing treatment for all those living with type 1 diabetes.”Scientists across the globe are hunting for a solution to type one diabetes. In January US researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced they had successfully switched off the disease for several months in mice, which could equate to years if replicated in humans.Their treatment involves creating millions of insulin-producing cells in the lab and injecting them into the body. It could mean patients would simply need a transfusion of engineered cells every few years.The University of North Carolina has also developed a ‘smart patch’ which monitors glucose levels and delivers insulin automatically via hundreds of micro-needles.The high-tech device, which sticks to the skin like a plaster, can detect even slight increases in blood sugar levels meaning that tiny doses of insulin can be given when needed.Although it has only been tested on mice so far, developers say it could be a ‘game changer’ for humans. 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.