Jim Boeheim Earns 900th Career Win

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim earned his 900th career win Monday night with a 72-68 victory over Detroit, making him the third Division I men’s coach to reach the historic mark.The 68-year-old Boehiem is in his 37th year at his alma mater and has compiled a record of 900-304. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only other Division I men’s coaches to reach that prestigious mark.But Boeheim believes 900 wins is an insignificant milestone.“To me, it’s just a number,” said Boeheim. “If I get 900, have I got to get more? That’s why maybe it’s just not that important to me because to me it’s just a number, and the only number that matters is how this team does.”The Orange is off to a good early season start and improved their record to 10-0 on the season, behind James Southerland’s 22 points. They also extended their home winning streak to 30 games, which is the longest in the nation.After the victory Boeheim told the Carrier Dome crowd that the success of the program would not have been without the “greatest” player in Syracuse history, Dave Bing, who has allowed him to reach the milestone.Bing, who now is the mayor of Detroit, was Boeheim’s college roommate, teammate and fellow Hall of Famer. Bing expressed his excitement for Boeheim’s victory after the game.“Nobody would have thought when we came here 50 years ago either one of us would have had the kind of success we’ve had,” Bing said. “I’m so pleased and proud of him because he stuck with it. He’s proven that he’s one of the best coaches ever in college basketball, and he’ll be No. 2 shortly.”Boeheim was presented with a jersey encased in glass with 900 printed on it after the close win.“I’m happy. I’ve stay around long enough. I was a little nervous,” said Boeheim, who first victory was against Harvard in 1976. “I’m proud to be here. To win this game is more pressure than I’ve felt in a long time. I wasn’t thinking about losing until the end. That wouldn’t have been a good thing to happen, but it very well could have.”In the last 6 minutes of the game Juwan Howard Jr. led the Titans on a 16-0 run. Howard, who finished with 18 points, 14 of which came during the run, hit two free throws to pull the Titans within 67-63 with 55.1 seconds left. Detroit was down as much as 20 points with 6:09 to play“You know what, I didn’t hear it, but the players probably heard because they sure came alive,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said.Michael Carter-Williams, who finished with 10 assists and 12 points, secured the game for the Orange by making three of four free throws in the final seconds.“Michael made big-time free throws you’ve got to make. If he misses a couple, it’s a new game. That was the difference,” Boeheim said. “We have not been in that situation. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that.”The Orange will have the rest of the week to learn from their mistakes as they prepare to play Temple Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The Orange faithful are expected to pack the Garden out and Boeheim recognizes the contributions the fan base has made to his career.“The support of fans cannot be overestimated,” he said. “You have to have that kind of support in your building to bring recruits in, to help you play better. We’ve had a tremendous loyal fan base.”Boeheim has the opportunity to pass Knight for second most all-time wins on Dec. 31 against Central Connecticut State University. They first need to get past Temple and Alcorn State. read more

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Amare Stoudemire Asked to Help Israels National Basketball Team

The president of Israel has summoned New York Knicks star Amare Stoudemire to play for Israel’s national basketball team, because of the athlete’s roots in Judaism.Shimon Peres met with Stoudemire on Thursday to ask the player to help the national team. The six-time NBA All-Star has stated that he comes from a Hebrew background.Stoudemire has teamed up with Israelis before. Last month, he joined a group in a bid  to buy the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team.In addition, Stoudemire is currently in Israel to coach the Canadian basketball team at the Maccabiah Games, a competition exclusive to Jewish athletes.

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Charge Against NFL Player Michael Bennett Dropped in Texas

HOUSTON (AP) — Prosecutors in Texas said Wednesday they are dismissing a felony charge against NFL defensive end Michael Bennett, who was accused of pushing the arm of a paraplegic security guard while trying to get onto the field after the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston.Bennett, recently traded to the New England Patriots, was indicted by a grand jury in March 2018 on a count of injury to the elderly. The Harris County district attorney’s office said the decision to dismiss came after an extensive review that included looking at video.FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2019, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett (77) celebrates after an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks, File)“After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Vivian King, the DA’s chief of staff. “There was probable cause to warrant a charge initially, but after a careful review of all the pre-charge and post-charge evidence, we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”“We dismissed this case in the interest of justice,” she said.Bennett, now 33, was a spectator at the 2017 game and a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when he tried to get onto the field after the Patriots’ victory to see his brother, Martellus Bennett, a tight end for New England at the time.Prosecutors said a security guard who used a wheelchair said Michael Bennett pushed her arm as he made his way through the crowd. The woman was 66 at the time.Bennett’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, called the incident “a total misunderstanding” and said that whatever happened to the woman was “not done by Michael.”“There were numerous relatives of New England players who were authorized to be down on the field after the game that went through a door this lady was guarding,” Hardin said. “And whatever happened to her, whatever type of event occurred, it was not done by Michael and this dismissal confirms that.”The charge carried a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The Houston police chief has said a detective did not actively start working the case until September 2017 because the police department had prioritized more serious cases.Among evidence reviewed in the case was surveillance footage a prosecutor had preserved from investigating the theft of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s jersey from the locker room after the game. read more

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What Wouldve Happened If Nobody Had Gotten Hurt in the NBA This

When Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls’ dervish of a point guard, went down in the 11th game this season, it was the 2012-2013 season all over again. Rose sat out that entire season recovering from a torn ACL and watched his team finish 45-37 and put up a fight against the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs. This season was supposed to be different — and now it wasn’t going to be at all.Something else wasn’t different: The Bulls managed to finish above .500 without Rose yet again. That was for a whole host of reasons: the remarkable play of center Joakim Noah, the stellar coaching of Tom Thibodeau and an Eastern conference filled with chum, among others. But Chicago’s record this year also indicates that an injury — even of a star player — doesn’t always ruin a team’s regular season as much as we think it might. Sometimes the replacements are better than replacement level. And sometimes they just don’t swing that many games.The Bulls’ record without Rose is just one anecdote, but this was a busy year for injuries in the NBA. Together, the league’s athletes missed more than 4,900 games to injury, the highest total since the 2008-09 season. Eighteen teams saw more games missed due to player injury than the prior season.For the last two years, I’ve kept a database of every injury in the NBA — what the injury was, who suffered it, how many games he missed, etc. (Odd hobby, I know, but this is what happens when you’re an injury analyst.) The database includes every game missed since the 2008-09 season and includes more than 850 players. After watching such an entertaining yet injury-riddled season this year, I started wondering if that database could tell us whether and how the results would have changed if every player in the league had stayed healthy. Like, really healthy. So healthy that there wasn’t a single injury. Who makes the playoffs then?To create this alternate universe, I put my database to work, simulating an entire season in which games missed because of injury were excluded.1Games missed for personal reasons or suspensions were retained. That meant approximating who took the place of the injured players, using injury listings and minute distributions2I went through every team and tabulated each player’s starter minutes versus bench minutes, and how those minutes changed after injury, when I could. to calculate a total number of minutes played for each player on a team’s roster. An important note: My method only tabulates when players play or don’t play; it doesn’t try to understand how a player’s value is affected if he’s playing through an injury.Then, with FiveThirtyEight’s help, I assigned each player a talent rating using Daniel Myers’s ASPM, a box-score-based performance metric that does the best job of telling us how hypothetical universes play out.3The FiveThirtyEight crew used an ASPM aging curve and came up with “talent” ratings for each player based on an age-adjusted weighted average of his performance this season and over the previous two seasons. Once we weighted those talent ratings by the estimate of minutes played, we had a sense of how good each team would be with all of its players. From there, we simulated a whole new season using the 2013-14 NBA schedule, and compared the injury-free hypothetical reality to the actual season.All that left us with what could have been, but almost certainly can never be. As you read the divisional breakdowns below, it’s important to remember that this alternate reality is not a glimpse into how a team would have improved or regressed if it never had to play a replacement player. Instead, it’s a holistic portrait of what would have happened to an entire league if no player missed time due to injury. You’ll see that some teams have worse records in the injury-free space (the New York Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, etc.), which might make you think their replacements were in fact better than their starters, even if the starters were healthy. But it’s really because in our alternate reality these teams don’t improve as much as other teams in the league, leading to more losses against full-strength opponents.With all that preamble out of the way, here’s what an injury-free league looks like in each division, and in the overall playoff picture.Eastern ConferenceIt’s easier to make a surprising run to the top of your division when you’re the healthiest team in the league, as the Toronto Raptors were this season. If the Brooklyn Nets’ center Brook Lopez hadn’t fractured his right foot’s fifth metatarsal and forwards Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko hadn’t succumbed to back spasms that cost them a combined 45 games, the simulation predicts a healthy Nets team would have flirted with 50 wins. That increases their win total by four games, placing them first in the division. In real life, injuries overextended the minutes of veterans Garnett and Paul Pierce and increased the responsibilities of role players like Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic.Not even a clean bill of health rescues the other teams in the division. The New York Knicks get worse in our alternate reality, not helped by their power forward Andrea Bargnani making up the 40 games he missed. Same for the Boston Celtics and their point guard Rajon Rondo. And the Philadelphia 76ers are hopeless no matter what: Rookie Nerlens Noel4In our simulation, rookies who never played were assigned league-average quality ratings. and shooting guard Jason Richardson, along with several other players, aren’t enough to keep them from finishing with the league’s second-worst record.Not even a healthy Derrick Rose stops the Indiana Pacers’ march to the top of the Central Division. The Bulls’ worse record in our alternate universe doesn’t mean the Bulls would be worse with Rose, but more likely that the rest of the league gets even more of a full-strength bump than Chicago does, leading to 1.6 more losses for the Bulls.The biggest drop in the division comes for the Detroit Pistons, who were the 11th-healthiest team in the league, with players missing 128 games overall. Despite their health, the Pistons still couldn’t win 30 games, and they fare even worse once the rest of the league is healthy, losing 3.5 more games in the simulation. The Milwaukee Bucks were the Eastern Conference team most handicapped by injury this season, with their players missing 318 games, but they gain only an extra 2.7 wins in the simulation. That suggests their roster was never that competitive to begin with. And Cleveland, despite adding 31 games from shooting guard C.J. Miles in the simulation, only records a slight uptick, winning a bit more than an extra game.The Southeast remains the most competitive division in the Eastern Conference when injuries are excluded, but with an even denser grouping among its middle three teams. The team at the top of the division, the Miami Heat, distances itself thanks in part to a healthy Dwyane Wade. Wade’s 28 recovered games help net Miami 4.2 more wins, propelling the Heat to the top of the division and the conference.The middle three teams — Washington, Atlanta, and Charlotte — all clump together, with Atlanta winning an extra game thanks in part to a boost from the return of center Al Horford (53 games missed). Washington and Charlotte, meanwhile, dip. A never-absent Nene doesn’t help Washington much, since in reality the Wizards went 12-9 during the 21 games he wasn’t on the court. Charlotte was the team that most took advantage of an injury-filled NBA, finishing 5.8 wins above its record in the injury-free reality, so some regression to the mean is expected. And the Magic, well, the Magic aren’t notable in either reality.Western ConferenceThe San Antonio Spurs remain the best team in the league, but with a franchise-record breaking 65.7 wins, 3.7 more than they actually had during the regular season. That’s what happens when you get an extra 44 combined games from Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.Houston’s five-man starting unit finished ninth in most minutes played together this season, so it’s not surprising that the Rockets are unaffected by an injury-neutral schedule. The majority of Houston’s injuries occurred to bench players, and a few more games from backup center Omer Asik don’t move the needle.Despite an additional 23 games from a healthy Marc Gasol, Memphis’s record drops a bit, with the Grizzlies losing 3.4 more games than they did in reality. Perhaps it’s because the teams they faced during Gasol’s absence were in poor health, including a James Harden-less Rockets squad, a Brooklyn team without Deron Williams, a New Orleans Pelicans team missing Anthony Davis and a Bulls team lacking Rose. Memphis’s play may improve with Gasol in the lineup (the Grizzlies went 10-13 while he was out) but so, too, do the rosters of the teams they face. That drops them below the Dallas Mavericks, who lose ground (2.2 games) but less of it than Memphis. At the bottom of the division, the New Orleans Pelicans gain the second-most games in the league (5.1), with the help of a full season from Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday, a trio that, in reality, played just 15 games together.At the top of the Northwest Division, the Oklahoma City Thunder only get better, winning 3.6 more games with the help of a healthy Russell Westbrook, who missed 36 games this season. Those extra games help put more distance between the Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers, who decline as the league gets healthier. Only Indiana’s starters played more minutes together this season than the Blazers’ starting five.The majority of Minnesota’s injuries didn’t occur until the final weeks of the season and didn’t have a major impact on the Timberwolves’ overall finish. But the team directly behind them in the standings can use injuries as a legitimate excuse for failing to meet expectations. Denver lost more than 130 games to three separate ACL tears, including 82 games from starting small forward Danilo Gallinari. Combine those games with Javale McGee’s tibia fracture and it’s easy to see why the Nuggets finished as the NBA team most affected by injuries. They win 5.4 more games in our injury-free utopia.The Utah Jazz are bad in all realities. The team ranked as one of the healthiest in the league, and it seems the Jazz likely picked up a few wins due to other teams’ injuries — wins that fall away in our simulation.The Los Angeles Clippers remain the elite team in the Pacific and improve their record by two wins with an extra 20 games from Chris Paul. Two wins may seem like a small shift for the return of a player as good as Paul, but the Clippers played well without him (earning a .650 winning percentage), blunting the effects of his loss.Like Portland, Golden State’s starting unit remained largely unscathed for most of the year, which knocks 2.4 wins off their total once the rest of the league becomes as healthy as they were. South 350 miles, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered through a nightmare season, losing player after player to injury with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol (who combined to miss 165 games) and others sitting for significant stretches throughout the year. Yet removing these injuries doesn’t do much for the Lakers’ playoff push. It helps them pass Sacramento in the standings, but they only win 3.7 more games with all their players.The real surprise is in Phoenix, not because the Suns’ record changes much (they gain only 0.1 wins), but because the rest of the league changes just enough that the Suns make the playoffs in an injury-free simulation. The Grizzlies are suddenly left out of the playoff picture, finishing .003 percentage points behind the Mavs for the eighth playoff spot.The Suns are the only team to make the playoffs in the injury-free reality that didn’t in the actual season we just watched. Without injuries, playoff seedings change — it’s Miami, not Indiana that has home court advantage in the East — and as bad as the Eastern Conference was, it’s even worse once the whole league is at full strength. But all in all, very little is different.For the endless talk about how injuries changed the game this season, if the entire league were healthy, the NBA would still look more or less like the NBA as we saw it. It’d just be a bit more entertaining. read more

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Will Data Help US Sailing Get Back On The Olympic Podium

A page from the U.S. Sailing Team’s “Rio Weather Playbook.” U.S. Sailing Team Jonathan McKee, a two-time Olympic medalist and the coach of Team USA’s Nacra 17 catamaran crew, has been in the sailing world for decades and said that data has always played a critical role in sailing. “It’s always been a data heavy sport, but the quality of the data has gotten better and better,” he told me as we sat on Flamengo Beach. “It used to be the really good data was only available to America’s cup and bigger boats, but now it’s come down to be more fine tuned for Olympic sailing.”Even with the extensive weather playbook, the U.S. team’s preparation for Rio went beyond just daily forecasts of winds and currents. They also worked closely with Deltares, a water and subsurface research company, whose current prediction software aimed to help Team USA’s athletes understand not just the conditions before the race but what to expect during the race.“The data can help you make sense of things that you see on the water, and it can help you predict what’s going to happen next,” said Helena Scutt, who’s racing the two-person 49erFX in Rio. “Our races can be up to an hour long, so the conditions can change a lot during that time, and this helps us be one step ahead.”Even with all of this information available to them, a sailor’s ability to interpret changing conditions on the fly is part of what distinguishes great sailors from good sailors. They’re constantly weighing the historical data they have about a place and its conditions at that time against what they’re seeing and feeling during the race — no different from an NBA player digesting whatever stats the analytics team put into the scouting report and weighing that against what he sees on the court.“The best sailors are able to take information, digest it, and then sort of grade it by confidence level,” said McKee. “During a race they’re able to say, ‘Yeah this is happening as the forecast predicted’ or ‘No this is totally different’ and then decide to go by what they see and what they feel instead.”Interpreting the data correctly is as important as having good data to begin with. For instance, in slower boats like the Finn or the laser radial, information about the current is more important than it is for the quicker boats. Two knots of current on a boat that’s going four knots has a huge impact on those boats, but on a boat like the Nacra 17 going 15 knots, two knots isn’t as crucial. “The playbook is not precise for every class,” said McKee.There are dozens of other variables beyond just weather conditions that sailors are trying to prepare the boat for — the position of its mast, the way the mast bends, how tight the shrouds are — but that often need to be adjusted during the race, too. You have to be able to understand the data, but you have to have good tactics, too, says McKee. “If you go the right way but you’re slow, you’re still going to be in trouble,” he said.This information, intuition and technique is part of what makes sailing so conducive to good data work. “It’s one of those things you have to balance,” said Caleb Paine, a U.S. sailor racing Finn. “I try to think about the information I have on the trend for that day, while knowing that trends can change. I’ll always have that trend in the back of mind, but I’m looking out for things to start changing.”Sailing isn’t just balancing data and intuition, it’s a game of risk, too. The entire regatta spans 10 days, across seven courses, and the winner is determined by the lowest total number of points after the last race (with double points awarded on the final medal race.) Sailors are constantly measuring risk and reward, deciding when it’s better to remain part of the fleet or gamble and break free.As of Monday morning, Paine sat in fourth place overall ahead of Tuesday’s medal race, just 5 points behind the contender currently in bronze medal position. Scutt and her partner, Paris Henken, are in sixth place overall and 10 points from third place. Others, like Paige Railey on the laser radial, enter the final race mathematically eliminated from medal contention.“There’s a lot in a sailor’s head when it’s time to race,” said McKee. “And a lot of it comes down to getting them in a mental state where they can apply what’s been learned, but also be free enough to actually sail in real time.” In other words, weighing three year’s worth of highly specific data against the data that you’re getting during the race — and being able to reconcile the two. Team USA has bet that good instincts combining with better data will carry it to medal contention before it’s off to Tokyo to begin the whole process again. We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.RIO DE JANEIRO — The U.S. sailing team left the 2012 London Olympics without any medals — it was the first time Americans had failed to place in an event since the 1936 Berlin games. They weren’t even that close, either. Sixteen sailors, across 10 events, and the best anyone managed at the 2012 London Olympics was fifth place. They were disappointed with the result, one that brought the failure of U.S. sailing — one of those sports we only really hear about every four years — to the forefront.“It was really hard to watch, you could see it unfolding,” said Dean Brenner, the former chairman of U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee, about their performance in London. “And it was hard to deal with. It was was a very public stage, and we took our heat for it.” But Brenner was already on his way out after London, and the person taking over — Josh Adams — had four years to turn things around before sailing was back in the spotlight.The first thing he did was get down to Rio.Sailing is among the Olympic sports most influenced by environmental factors. “There’s quite a bit of randomness in our sport,” said Adams, the managing director of U.S. sailing. Despite the randomness, he said he knew that data acquisition would be paramount to the team’s success at the 2016 Olympics. “Rio de Janeiro was not a routine stop on the Olympic sailing circuit. There wasn’t an existing body of knowledge or data we could draw from, so as a team we had to start from scratch to learn about this venue,” he told me.The geography of Guanabara Bay, the site of all of the 2016 sailing events, makes it one of the most unique and difficult sailing venues in the world. The large bay funnels out through a very small opening to the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in strong currents and erratic winds that whip around the 1,299-foot-tall Sugarloaf Mountain. And a lot can change from inside the bay — which is characterized by flat waters and a more complicated current — to outside the bay on the open ocean, where waves can reach 15 feet high.So for the past three years, U.S. Sailing has been collecting data about Rio: about its currents, its winds, its tides, when the sun sets and where trash accumulates — any information that could potentially help the U.S. sailors better understand the complexities of Guanabara Bay and its seven race courses. While the exact location of courses on Guanabara weren’t finalized until the fall of 2015, test events in the two years prior gave Team USA a pretty good sense of where the races would be.They dropped custom current buoys both inside and outside the bay, gathering data on how the water moves at various points throughout during the day. They tracked windspeed and direction, two factors that are critical to a sailor’s ability to find the fastest lane, and which can shift quickly around the mountains that flank both sides of the bay.The three years of gathering and analyzing data culminated in what U.S. Sailing calls their “Rio Weather Playbook,” a body of critical information about each of the seven courses only available to the U.S. team. They’re not calling it a silver bullet, but Adams says the playbook project was one of the most comprehensive data efforts that U.S. sailing has ever done. “This is a unique undertaking for U.S. sailing,” he said. “In terms of the amount of time that we collected data, it’s one of the most extensive projects.” read more

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Commentary Not so fast NBA Draft Sullinger has some unfinished business

It’s that time of year again. College basketball is over and a flurry of underclassmen are forced to decide between a chance at millions of dollars in the NBA or returning for another year of school. Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Kansas’ Morris twins, Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs and UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt are among the growing list of players who will test the waters in the NBA. One name noticeably absent from the list is Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. By all accounts, Sullinger was a guaranteed lottery pick; most mock drafts had him being selected somewhere in the top 10. But Sullinger made it clear after OSU’s 62-60 loss to Kentucky in the fourth round of the NCAA Tournament that he was coming back for another year at OSU. Following the loss, Sullinger sat in a somber locker room and said, “I’m going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year. This isn’t why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship.” Some said Sullinger would waver on his decision. After all, how could anyone sit in front of his teammates after such a traumatic loss and say, “Well, it’s been fun, guys, but I’m off to bigger and better things. See you around?” But that’s not the case. Sullinger never budged. He was in that same locker-room situation just three years ago. During Sullinger’s sophomore year at Northland High School in Columbus, his team made it to the district semifinal game against Westerville South High School. He had a chance to make a run at a state championship. Before the game, Sullinger’s coach and father, Satch Sullinger, suspended his son for the game for slacking on academics. Northland lost. After the loss, Sullinger was left in a locker room full of depressed and disappointed seniors. Sound familiar? Sure, Sullinger wasn’t suspended for the Kentucky loss and, to be honest, was one of the major reasons OSU stayed in the game. But losing can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Sullinger said he can’t get rid of the taste. I think the taste was with him in the locker room following the game and that it’s with him right now. He can’t just rinse his mouth out, vanquish the taste and leave for the NBA feeling like a new man. That’s not the way he thinks. Sullinger is wired to do two things: win and do the little things to ensure success. He lost four total games in his high school career. He won an AAU national championship and an Ohio high school state championship his junior year, the year after he was suspended for the district semifinal game. He’s not winning by being the flashiest player on the court or because he’s freakishly athletic. Sullinger is big, and no one has the superb footwork he does. He is the guy who puts the ball off the glass instead of dunking and gets in the triple-threat position instead of dribbling between his legs. Sullinger wins by doing the little things everyone else thinks are secondary. Most NBA prospects don’t share that mindset, most have uncanny athletic ability and have been told from a very young age how exceptional they are. But Sullinger is not your typical NBA prospect. Instead of being praised as “the chosen one” or “the next (insert name of NBA star here),” Sullinger was being shoved to the asphalt by his two older brothers on the neighborhood court across the street from his home. He was being taught proper footwork at age 2. He was being called J.J. Sullinger’s “big, fat little brother,” by his future coach, Thad Matta, in 2006. The fact is, Sullinger never was allowed to get a big head because whenever it looked like he was getting cocky, his brothers or his dad, as evidence of the sophomore suspension, would put him in check. He’s as grounded as his 6-foot-9, 280-pound frame. I’m not sure Sullinger ever seriously considered the NBA. In his mind, I think two things were clear. First, he didn’t win a championship, which is his ultimate goal. Second, I think he would consider leaving an abandonment of doing the little things in order to achieve success. Leaving early would go against the fabric of Sullinger’s nature. Until he thinks he’s done everything he can to win, including all the little things, Sullinger won’t be satisfied. He’ll still have that bad taste in his mouth, which is a scary prospect for the rest of the college basketball world. read more

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No 5 Ohio State basketball travels to Illinois

Fresh off a jump in the Associated Press Top 25 poll from No. 6 to No. 5, the Ohio State men’s basketball team will travel to Champaign, Ill. for a game against the Fighting Illini Tuesday.Coming off a week in which the Buckeyes (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) posted wins against Nebraska and Iowa, OSU will attempt to continue to improve their standings in the Big Ten at Illinois (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten).OSU coach Thad Matta said Illinois has a great coach — Bruce Weber — and great players up and down its roster.“Like us, (Illinois’) got youth,” Matta said. “They’ve got guys that can have big nights. They’re finding ways to win basketball games, which at this particular juncture, is what it’s all about. They’ve had some close games, but they find ways to come out on top.”Junior guard D.J. Richardson is the Illini’s leading scorer, currently pouring in 13.2 points per game. Close behind Richardson in scoring is 7-foot-1 sophomore center Meyers Leonard, who is averaging 12.9 points and eight rebounds per game.OSU sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said he thinks Illinois is as good as any team in the conference.“(Illinois) has guards just like we have pretty good guards. They’ve got big men (and) we’ve got big men,” Smith Jr. said. “So, I think it will be a pretty good game.”Sophomore forward J.D. Weatherspoon agreed, saying he expects every team to give OSU their best shot.“We’re the No. 5 team in the country and everybody is going to come at us,” Weatherspoon said.When it comes to traveling to Illinois’ Assembly Hall, there’s more for the Buckeyes to be concerned with than the opposing team, and Matta said Illinois has tremendous support at its home arena.Weatherspoon said he’s looking forward to a “fun time” in his first visit to Assembly Hall.“We are the Ohio State University,” he said. “That’s going to be a tough environment to play in. This is my first time (to Assembly Hall) … I’m going to be ready to play.”The Buckeyes and Fighting Illini tip off at 9 p.m. read more

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Ohio States Bradley Roby ready for primetime position battle against California

Admittedly, Bradley Roby said he grows bored with lesser opponents. The Ohio State redshirt sophomore cornerback confessed that his interest dwindles against someone he feels is athletically inferior to him. While it might have been a problem in the past, it seems Roby shouldn’t have any problem getting up for his competition Saturday, when the Buckeyes host California. It’s why he might have a fire in his belly previewing his personal battle with the Golden Bears’ preseason All-American junior wide receiver Keenan Allen. “When you think you’re one of the best in the country just going against somebody else who’s the best in the country, it’s just a show time,” he said. And it certainly might live up to that. Allen, who has been named to watch lists like the Biletnikoff Award, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year, is arguably one of the nation’s best receivers, and one of its most gifted athletes. Through two games, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver, has collected 136 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions. The season before, Allen hauled in 98 catches for 1343 yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Devin Smith, the Buckeyes’ most productive receiver in 2011, had 14 receptions for 294 yards – 84 grabs fewer than Allen. Suffice it to say, Roby should have his hands full. And while the Suwanee, Ga., native is a relatively new face to college football, that doesn’t mean he necessarily plays that way. In 2011, Roby’s first year starting at cornerback for the Buckeyes, the then-redshirt freshman had 47 tackles and three interceptions – a figure that tied for the most of any OSU player. For Roby, the chance of dueling with one of the game’s best is something he relishes. “It’s just prime time,” he said. “I wish it was a night game so everybody would be watching, but it’s at noon so, I mean, I’m just going to make the most of it as much as I can.” But at just 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Roby will have to find a way to neutralize Allen’s size and the receiver’s physical prowess. Depending on who you ask, Roby is arguably one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player on the Buckeyes team after reportedly running a 40-yard-dash in 4.3 seconds twice over the summer. The most essential part of his game, though, is Roby’s seemingly unwavering, unapologetic confidence. And why not? By all measures, it would seem that the Buckeyes’ coaching staff approve of his play on and off the field. During the Big Ten coaches’ weekly teleconference Tuesday, first year coach Urban Meyer said he “loves” Roby. “He’s a high-character guy,” Meyer said. “He’s really blessed, really talented, really fast.” But Meyer is well aware of Roby’s tendency to play to the level of his competition. “He gets bored,” Meyer said. “I’ve coached some great corners, and those guys never got bored. The ultimate competitors, they compete at all times.” But that’s not to say that Roby isn’t a great corner. OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said Roby treats his job on the Buckeyes’ defense as a professional player would. “He’s a real football player, and spends a lot of time at his craft, and spends a lot of time watching film and studying himself, which I think is important, and you were talking about individual improvement, that’s one of the ways to do it,” Coombs said. On Saturdays, though, Coombs said Roby’s ability to make plays on the ball is something that’s struck him since coming to Columbus in early March. “I think he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at knocking the ball out of the receiver’s hands after the guy has caught it or nearly caught it, he’s got great sense for that,” he said. “Obviously he’s a skill player, and he’s playing really well. I don’t know where all that comes from. But he plays the ball really well.” It might, Coombs said, come from Roby’s days of playing wide receiver in high school at Peachtree Ridge. Though talk of the cornerback playing both ways has hushed considerably since OSU’s fall camp, Roby won’t rule out the idea. “I still can, it’s still a possibility,” he said, “but right now we’re not worried about that.” Arguably, Roby’s assuredness in his capability as a wide receiver speaks volumes to how he often walks a line between being confident and cocky. In other instances, though, letting his play speak for itself isn’t enough. Roby likes to let people know about it and said that facet of his game won’t change against a player of Allen’s caliber. It’s just part of a big time matchup, he said. “Anytime you can get one of the two best players at their positions on the field at the same time, it’s always gonna be a good show and he talks a lot of trash, I talk a lot of trash,” he said. “So, I mean, it’s going to be a battle out there so just keep an eye out for that.” Roby said it’s all about the field vocals. “That’s what you need,” Roby said. Maybe it’s what the Buckeyes need on Saturday at noon. Dan Hope contributed to this story read more

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