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With just about five weeks remaining in the 2014-15 regular season, we present another edition of FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings. How do these numbers work? In a nutshell, each team is ranked according to a projection of its strength over the upcoming week — and the upcoming week only — using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For more details on the methodology, see our introductory rankings post.A few observations on this week’s ratings:Don’t look now, but the Charlotte Hornets suddenly have a 53 percent chance of making the playoffs in the East. Winners of six of their last seven games (including five straight), they also saw their long-term talent rating improve greatly with the prospect of guard Kemba Walker returning for the season’s stretch run. A knee injury has kept Walker out of action since late January.The Atlanta Hawks, owners of the league’s second-best record, still rank just 8th in our power ratings. What’s going on? It’s not their loss Saturday to the lowly Sixers, nor is it a disconnect between the team’s winning percentage and its point differential (they rank third overall in Basketball-Reference’s adjusted efficiency differential, so they’ve been winning by margins plenty strong). Instead, the issue is similar to what plagued the Hawks last week: Injury-related playing time allocations are working against them in the short term. This time, FiveThirtyEight favorite Kyle Korver sat out over the weekend and is listed as day-to-day in the injury report, which means more projected minutes for Kent Bazemore. Since Korver carries one of the best RPM ratings in the NBA (+4.5) and Bazemore sports one of the worst (-3.8), any shift in minutes from the former to the latter takes a toll on Atlanta’s power rating.The week’s two biggest risers are the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks, and both boosts come largely because key players are returning from injury.Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, owner of the seventh-best RPM in the NBA, suited up last week for the first time since aggravating his nagging shoulder injury on February 21, and his presence alone improved New Orleans by 2.5 rating points (to say nothing of the points gained by not having to play his backups as much). For Dallas, the big gains come with Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons re-joining the lineup. Our projections expect that pair to play about 54 combined minutes per team game over the upcoming week — an increase of 25 minutes per team game that yields a 1.9-point rating improvement for the Mavericks. They also project to gain 0.6 rating points via decreased minutes for players lower on the depth chart.Since the news of Jimmy Butler’s injury broke too late to be accounted for in last week’s rankings, the full extent of its damage can be seen in Chicago’s power rating this time around. A reduction of 26 minutes per game to Butler’s projection cost the Bulls 1.7 rating points, while big playing-time upticks for low-rated wings E’Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott set Chicago’s rating back by another 1.5 points. The loss of Butler was much more damaging to the Bulls than that of Derrick Rose, whose injury only cost the team about 0.4 points of power rating after his backups were accounted for.The Miami Heat have been hemorrhaging playoff probability for weeks now and are down to just a 30 percent chance of making the postseason despite sitting at 93 percent back on Feb. 2. The team has gone 7-8 since then, while Indiana, Boston and Charlotte — at that time, three of Miami’s chief competitors for the final pair of unclaimed Eastern Conference playoff slots — have gone a combined 28-14. But Miami’s bigger problem is that their talent pool has been drained, even after winning the trade deadline. Highly-rated players such as Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng and prized deadline acquisition Goran Dragic are all injured (or listed as day-to-day), while the team is projected to give big minutes to poor RPM players such as Henry Walker, Michael Beasley and rookies Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier. read more

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Rex Ryan, after a few days of deliberation, stuck with Mark Sanchez as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback after benching him Sunday for third-string Greg McElroy in a win over Arizona.Ryan, the Jets’ coach,  had maintained Sanchez “gave us the best chance to win,” but finally pulled him after three interceptions against the Cardinals. He could not call on Tim Tebow, who many Jets fans are waiting to see in an extended role; Tebow was out with fractured ribs.Enter McElroy, a seventh-round pick from Alabama, who was not overwhelmingly impressive, although he did toss the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass. But going with someone other than Sanchez would have put Ryan and the Jets in the position of admitting they made a mistake in drafting and investing so much money in Sanchez, which is not what they are prepared to do, although he has 18 turnovers this season.The consequences of Ryan’s decision go far beyond Sunday. The Jets are heavily invested in Sanchez, who is owed $20.5 million guaranteed through 2013 after agreeing to a contract extension in March. Starting McElroy whose only N.F.L. experience comprises his stat line against the Cardinals (5 for 7 with a touchdown pass), would have signaled the Jets’ lack of faith in Sanchez moving forward, casting into doubt his future with the team.The Jets, at 5-7, are technically alive for the playoffs, but they trail both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by two games for the A.F.C.’s final playoff spot.Sanchez helped N.Y. to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons. Since then, his record is 13-15, with 44 turnovers.How Tebow fits into the equation remains to be seen. He’s recovering from fractured ribs, which kept him out last week. He was the No. 2 quarterback for the first 11 games, but it’s possible he could be deactivated for the second straight week. read more

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When the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors meet on Christmas Day, each does so as a heavy favorite to reach the NBA Finals for a third-straight season, something that’s never been done by a pair of teams in the NBA’s 70-year history.But while it’s natural to focus on the current season, and to see if the clubs set a new standard by meeting for a third-consecutive summer, it’s also reasonable to think it could be years before anyone supplants them in the finals, because of their youth.The last two teams to meet in back-to-back finals, the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, were much older at the time of their first meeting than the Cavs and Warriors were for theirs. San Antonio had an average weighted1Weighted by minutes played. age of 28.6 years; Miami’s was 30.3 years old. Before them, the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz of 1996-97 and 1997-98 were the only other set of back-to-back finals foes from the past two decades. The Bulls were 30.7 years old on average at the start of their championship-round showdowns, and the Jazz were 29.6, per ESPN Stats & Information Group.The Cavs and Warriors, by contrast, were on average just 26.9 and 26.6 years old, respectively, when they first met in the finals back in 2015, making them the third-youngest repeat finalists ever, behind the Knicks and Minneapolis Lakers from 1951-52 and 1952-53, and the Washington Bullets and Seattle Sonics from 1977-78 and 1978-79. Put another way: The NBA hasn’t seen back-to-back finals foes as young as Cleveland and Golden State in about 40 years.2We’re using ages in the first season the teams met in the finals, a solid proxy since conference-winning teams tend to not have a lot of roster turnover. 1964-65Boston Celtics28.3Los Angeles Lakers26.427.4 2014-15Cleveland Cavaliers26.9Golden State Warriors26.626.8 1987-88Detroit Pistons27.4Los Angeles Lakers28.928.2 YEARSEAST TEAMWEIGHTED AGEWEST TEAMWEIGHTED AGEAVG. 1961-62Boston Celtics27.9Los Angeles Lakers25.926.9 1956-57Boston Celtics27.0St. Louis Hawks27.627.3 2012-13Miami Heat30.3San Antonio Spurs28.629.5 1981-82Philadelphia 76ers28.1Los Angeles Lakers26.827.5 1967-68Boston Celtics29.5Los Angeles Lakers27.828.7 1971-72New York Knicks28.8Los Angeles Lakers29.529.2 1977-78Washington Bullets27.4Seattle Sonics26.026.7 Ages calculated from the start of each teams’ two-year run to the NBA Finals.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 1959-60Boston Celtics27.5St. Louis Hawks27.527.5 Rematches in the NBA Finals aren’t all that unusual. There have been 14 back-to-back occasions throughout league history. But they were a lot more common in decades past, when the league had far fewer teams and little enough competitive balance to see the Celtics and Lakers meet in the finals six times in eight years.It also helped that powerhouse teams from those eras could stay intact since salary caps and unrestricted free agency didn’t take root until the mid- to late-1980s. Far more player movement happens these days, forcing teams (even borderline dynastic ones) to make tough personnel decisions.The Warriors and Cavs, despite their willingness to spend, aren’t totally immune to those choices. Golden State, for instance, may be forced to part with one of its better players (likely free-agent-to-be Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston) in order to give Steph Curry and Kevin Durant the max salaries they deserve.And while Cleveland has almost all of its top players inked for the foreseeable future (LeBron James can opt out in 2018), Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert paid $54 million to cover the Cavs’ league-high luxury-tax bill. (Granted, the tax helped the Cavs earn the city’s first major pro sports title in 52 years. But a looming, costly repeater tax could eventually cost Gilbert more than $100 million if the Cavs opt to keep their roster together long term.) In the shorter term, the Raptors also are a threat. According to our NBA forecast, they have a 34 percent chance of winning the East, just behind the Cavs’ 37 percent, as of Thursday. (The Warriors have a 59 percent chance of reaching the finals, and there’s about a 22 percent chance of a Warriors-Cavs final.)But stepping back for a minute, there’s still reason to think the Warriors and Cavs are a solid bet to face each other again in the finals for years to come.For starters, there’s the fact that these clubs have already been playing at a high level for years. They currently rank second all-time among back-to-back finals participants in combined win percentage over a three-season span, just behind the Bulls and Jazz from the 1995-96 season to 1997-98, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago and Utah had a .780 win percentage during their window; the Cavs and Warriors are at .770. (Similarly, with a look at the harmonic mean of the Cavs and Warriors’ Elo ratings — a system used to rate the strength of teams over time — we see that over the last two-plus-years, they trail only the Jazz and Bulls’ run in terms of teams that have played in consecutive finals.)And obviously the magnitude of the Durant signing can’t be overstated. Aside from the fact that the Warriors vastly improved their starting five, somehow becoming even less guardable than before, it’s also important to look at how that signing changed the landscape of things out West.By acquiring him, Golden State not only kept Durant from joining a 67-win Spurs team or a star-studded Clippers club (both of whom met with Durant as he mulled his options as a free agent) but also poached him from Oklahoma City, a team that nearly eliminated the Warriors last season and arguably stood as their biggest long-term threat.In Cleveland’s case, James alone gives them a good shot at returning to the finals, given that he’s reached six in a row, and has shown before that he doesn’t necessarily need both his co-stars at full strength to get there. The real question is how long James, who’s never had a serious injury that forced him to miss considerable time, can play at an all-world level.James turns 32 in a week, and has taken on a heavy load of playing time, both this season and over his career; one in which he’s already logged more career minutes than Larry Bird did during his before retiring at age 35. (The other top seven Warriors and Cavs’ players in win shares — Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson — have far less tread, and are 28 or younger.)From the looks of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which still needs to be ratified but which the owners and players’ union tentatively agreed to last week, it doesn’t look as if there will be real impediments to the Warriors’ and Cavs’ being able to stay together for the next few years. In fact, the framework of the agreement contains some elements that might actually help Golden State keep its star players despite the fact that some believed the opposite might take place after commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern with the rise of superteams after Durant chose to join the Warriors.In any case, even with months to go, it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if the Cavs and Warriors make history to reach the finals a third-straight time. At this point, the better question might be how long they can keep the streak going.CORRECTION: (Dec. 23, 12:11 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the years the Bulls and Jazz and the Heat and Spurs played back-to-back Finals. The correct years were 1996-97 and 1997-98 for Chicago and Utah, and 2012-13 and 2013-14 for San Antonio and Miami.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 1951-52New York Knicks25.5Minneapolis Lakers25.925.7 Back-to-back finals foes, by youngest average age 1996-97Chicago Bulls30.7Utah Jazz29.630.2 1983-84Boston Celtics28.0Los Angeles Lakers27.527.5 read more

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Anze KopitarLAK2017257-13-0.72 Of course, Crosby’s résumé as one of the greatest to ever play the game means that he is often held to an unrealistic standard. But his relatively precipitous dip begs the question: Are any NHL superstars slump-proof?Looking at the top 20 scorers whose careers started after the 2005 lockout, seven of them had an 11-game stretch that was worse than Crosby’s current skid at some point in their careers. (Crosby’s current teammate, Phil Kessel, had an 11-game streak with Toronto in 2015 where he notched only 3 points and posted a -16 plus/minus.) And now that Crosby has finally joined the club, every single player on the list can gripe about at least one 15-game run where their SGV was below replacement: Mikko KoivuMIN2006011-4-0.83 Claude GirouxPHI2010134-11-0.99 STATS DURING 15-GAME SLUMP John TavaresNYI2010044-15-1.64 Joe PavelskiSJS2013123-5-0.58 Jeff CarterPHI2007033-11-1.52 Jussi JokinenFLA2017101-9-1.35 Steven StamkosTBL2009167-10-0.30 Paul StastnyCOL2009246-10-0.56 Phil KesselTOR2015246-17-1.30 Ryan GetzlafANA201211011-15-0.44 Zach PariseMIN2016246-14-0.99 Evgeni MalkinPIT2015/16246-7-0.12 Alex OvechkinWSH2014527-18-0.80 Source: Hockey-Reference.com Everybody’s gotta slump sometimeWorst 15-game stretches according to simple goal value (SGV) for NHL’s top 20 scorers whose careers started after the 2005 lockout, 2005-2018 Corey PerryMDA2006033-6-0.64 Patrick KaneCHI2009134-8-0.70 Nicklas BackstromWSH2014167-9-0.37 PLAYERTEAMSEASONGOALSASSISTSPOINTS+/-SGV It’s time we talked about Sidney Crosby. Crosby is the best hockey player of his generation — and among the best to ever lace up a pair of skates — but he’s been a virtual nonentity on the Penguins’ stat sheet this season. You read that correctly — two-time Art Ross Trophy winner, two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner, two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner, and two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner Sidney Crosby seems to have forgotten how to score.In his past 11 games, Crosby has scored zero goals, contributed just 3 assists, and has a -9 plus/minus. It’s the second-longest goalless streak of his career — but even during his longest goalless streak in 2011-12, he still dished out 17 assists in those 12 games. More importantly: That streak occurred when he was dealing with recurring concussion symptoms and actually bookends a three-month absence from the team.In terms of overall production, this is by far the worst 11-game stretch of Crosby’s career. We figured that out using a simple regression that estimates a forward’s goals versus threshold1GVT was developed by Tom Awad of Hockey Prospectus and is similar to baseball’s value over replacement player, in that it seeks to determine a player’s value in terms of goals above what a replacement-level player would contribute. based on his scoring stats, plus/minus and time on ice in a given game. Using this metric — which we’ll call “simple goal value,” or SGV — Crosby has been worth 1.1 fewer goals than a replacement-level scrub during this miserable 11-game streak. If you broaden the window slightly beyond his scoreless streak to look at his last 15 games, this has been the only 15-game period of Sid’s entire career where he performed at a below-replacement clip. Jonathan ToewsCHI2017145-3-0.04 Sidney CrosbyPIT2018437-11-0.17 Thomas VanekBUF2012224-8-0.48 So, a streak like this isn’t all that uncommon, even among the league’s cadre of great players. But it’s still worth dissecting what’s wrong with Sid the Kid during this particular slump.For starters, the Penguins just aren’t lighting the lamp when Crosby is on the ice. In 19 games this season, they’ve scored only 23 goals during his shifts, and 14 of those have been on the power play. At 5-on-5, they’re notching only 1.5 goals per 60 minutes with Crosby in the game, which ranks 12th-worst among forwards who’ve logged at least 200 minutes. And defensively, the numbers have somehow been even worse — the Pens are yielding a staggering 4.4 goals per 60 minutes with Crosby on the ice during 5-on-5 play. Among that same group of qualified forwards, only his fellow Penguin Conor Sheary ranks worse. (It’s beginning to seem like the Pens have some defensive issues.)But the more troubling sign for Crosby is that he’s just not generating the same level of possession metrics we’ve been accustomed to seeing from him over the years. Crosby’s expected +/- — the plus/minus rating we’d expect a player to have based on the volume and quality of shots his team (and opponents) took while he was on the ice — is easily the worst of his career so far in 2017. For the past three seasons,2The stat is new, so it has only been calculated back to 2014. Crosby’s expected +/- has hovered around 15, but in 2017 it has dipped below zero. And it’s not just a quirk of one model: Crosby’s expected goals +/- at Corsica Hockey has also been in the red. Which is to say that, remarkably, in 2017, Crosby’s play appears to be hurting the Pittsburgh Penguins.To Crosby’s credit, he seems unfazed by his scoring dearth. “No matter who you’re playing against, just try to keep doing the right things and trust they’ll go in,” he told NHL.com.But it’s not like Crosby hasn’t had chances to score: In 2017, 61 percent of his possessions have begun in the offensive zone. That’s good for the second-highest percentage of his career, trailing only last year. The number of faceoffs you take in opposing territory can have an immense effect on your possession rates, so Crosby doesn’t have much of an excuse for not not converting some of those scoring opportunities into goals.During a season where goals are up and goaltending is down, you’d expect the most prolific scorer of his generation to be reaping the benefits — but so far, Crosby has been a ghost. As a result, his Penguins are reeling — they’ve lost more games than they’ve won, and if they hope to win a third consecutive Stanley Cup, they’ll need their captain to score some goals. Although some of Crosby’s woes will probably reverse themselves eventually, Pittsburgh will hold its collective breath until that happens. read more

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neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): The NBA is now two games in to every second-round series, and each matchup is currently tied at 1-1 … except Warriors-Rockets, which was the series most people had circled as the most competitive (and compelling) of Round 2.So what better place to start our chat than that matchup, which the Warriors lead 2-0 heading back to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday. The Rockets have done a lot of Rockets-like things in the first two games: They’re making almost 16 threes and 22 free throws per game. Yet they were unable to steal away home court in the series late in either Game 1 or Game 2. Do the Rockets still have a realistic chance at knocking off Golden State, or were we all just foolishly trying to convince ourselves that we might see a different outcome this year?chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior sportswriter): I think it goes without saying that 2-0 against a team of that caliber is a tough place to be. We talked about it before, but the fact that Houston is Houston might have been enough to get the Warriors playing their hardest and most focused early on.Draymond Green has been a beast, in particular.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): I mean, they lost two games by 4 points and 6 points. And they have some excuses: the officiating in Game 1, and they were without James Harden for parts of the first half in Game 2, and then he was not entirely himself.I don’t think Game 2 felt quite as close as the final score, but Game 1 was pretty even.I guess all I’m saying is that we have had nine high-stakes playoff games between these two teams, and it feels like the Warriors are the better team, but hardly a dominant team.tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): I feel like what’s going to happen at the end of all this, if the Warriors do end up winning it all (which is very likely — our predictions still give them a 49 percent chance), fans and basketball critics alike are going to come out and say, “See? Why even watch basketball? We all knew the Warriors were gonna win.” And they will all forget how unlikely it did seem at times. It is far from a sure thing still.neil: And that was definitely the case last year as well. The Warriors were far from assured winners, even though in the end they won, as expected.chris.herring: I think the challenge is that so much of what Houston does is tied to Harden, who hasn’t played poorly at all, despite the eye issue in Game 2.I thought it was really noteworthy that, after he got none of those calls in Game 1, he simply didn’t kick his legs out in Game 2.But the real story is that Golden State is forcing him into more floaters, a bit higher up, than he normally likes to take his shots.tchow: I’m gonna be honest. I only watched the first quarter of Game 2 and maybe five minutes of the second quarter because the game started at 10:30 p.m.!! I have a 1-year-old. I can’t do this sh*t anymore.natesilver: The competition from the East should be a lot stiffer this year. But, again, we’re getting a liiiiiittttle ahead of ourselves. Our algorithm says the Warriors have a 77 percent chance of reaching the NBA Finals, which is high but also sort of in the Hillary Clinton zone of not a done deal. I do think Kevin Durant flipping the switch into looking like an MVP++ player is a big deal, though.chris.herring: I am kind of shocked Steph Curry continues to have the foul issues this far into the playoffs. It’s been bad for a hot minute now.But you’re right, Nate: It’s given Durant a chance to showcase what he’s capable of. (Honestly, my favorite versions of the Warriors are when KD gets to play without Steph and when Steph plays without KD — those guys are unbelievable scorers, but we rarely get to see them at their best because they play so many of their minutes together.)neil: Well, I want to talk officiating in general. As you guys alluded to, it’s been a huge theme in the series so far, whether over Draymond Green’s arguable contact with James Harden at the end of Game 1, the Rockets’ “audit” of missed calls in last year’s Western Conference finals, or Green’s comments that the officiating talk itself was embarrassing for the NBA. Does Houston have a case? Or is that just a natural consequence of how the Rockets play? Is there something inherently limiting about relying on drawing fouls in the playoffs, when it’s tougher to get a whistle?natesilver: A “natural consequence” doesn’t seem like quite the right phrase because I’d imagine that a lot of this is fairly deliberate — exploring the boundaries of the rules, especially in terms of Harden’s shooting form.chris.herring: Like I was saying a minute ago, I thought it was pretty interesting that Houston fell to the ground so much in Game 1 but, from what I remember, essentially didn’t do that at all in Game 2. I’d have to go back and watch the close-outs, but to me that signals that the Rockets might have known they were waging a losing battle.natesilver: I do think, if the game is called by the book, they got screwed out of a couple of three-shot shooting fouls in Game 1.chris.herring: Oh, absolutely.At least two or three, which, in a game that close … I’d be upset, too. You have to call the fouls the same way you would have during the regular season. I didn’t even think some of those were debatable in the first half.The crazy thing: In watching Game 2, it makes me wonder whether the Rockets are better off just trying to stand up straight as opposed to drawing fouls.It might have merely been a Game 2 improvement, with no reason for it, but they were great from the perimeter, and it happened on a night where they weren’t flailing or kicking their legs out, which I imagine changes the shot’s rhythm some.natesilver: Part of it is that awarding three free throws is such a high-stakes decision. It’s not quite like awarding a penalty in soccer, but you know what I mean.If all shooting fouls were two free throws instead, save maybe for the last two minutes when a team might try to maul a guy to prevent him from taking a 3-point shot, that might help.Or if referees were allowed to call nonshooting fouls in the event of incidental contact. Sort of the difference in a roughing the kicker penalty vs. running into the kicker.chris.herring: I’ve never seen something be such an enormous story for one game, then just not be a factor at all in the following oneI’m sure the league loves that it died down during Game 2. But it almost felt like the Rockets realized they weren’t going to get anywhere with that hope that they’d get more calls.neil: And yet, most of the fan reaction I was reading online was that the Rockets basically need to be quiet. That Harden has cried wolf too many times, etc. And remember, these are people siding with the Warriors, a team that has become hated over the years as it’s won so much. That kind of speaks volumes about the distaste for Houston’s foul-drawing strategy.natesilver: Yeah, I thought the “Rockets-are-sore-losers” narrative, while understandable, maybe made people less objective in evaluating the situation.chris.herring: I felt like I was seeing a lot of that the last few days, too.tchow: Yeah, Nate, on the latest Hot Takedown podcast, we had Kirk Goldsberry on as a guest, and he made the point that from an economical standpoint, drawing three free throws percentage-wise is worth more than a wide-open Steph or KD 3-pointer. In that sense, it would make sense to try to draw those so often.chris.herring: But here’s my thing:If the Rockets pour over the missed-calls report and find that the refs missed a bunch of those last year — which suggests it’s either not easy to catch, or that refs don’t like to call it — why make it such a big part of the strategy as you start another series with Golden State now?tchow: To prove themselves right?chris.herring: Idk. Part of me feels like the basketball world is too worked up about this series, when in reality, it’s the only one that’s not tied up at 1-1.It’s been a good second round so far.natesilver: I dunno, one thing about basketball is that there’s not usually a lot of luck.In a seven-game series, the better team wins a large majority of the time.But I wonder if Daryl Morey feels a little tilted (in the poker sense of that term) how his series have gone against the Warriors.They’ve had some bad luck with injuries, some bad luck on 3-point field-goal percentage — and whether you want to call it “luck” or something else, some frustrating games with the officials.And it’s also, like, if the league designs a bad set of rules and incentives, you shouldn’t get blamed for taking advantage of those incentives.There should be better incentives instead. The rules should be changed.chris.herring: That’s been the story of James Harden’s career: Fantastic player who’s always been fantastic at taking advantage of what’s there, whether fans like it or not.I really love watching that dude ball. It’s not his fault the loopholes are there.neil: As Kirk writes in his book, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”Either way, right now we give the Warriors an 84 percent chance of moving on to the conference finals.tchow: The good news is that Game 3 is at 8:30 p.m.!neil: On behalf of all of us East Coasters, thank goodness.In the other series out West, the Trail Blazers evened things up with the Nuggets with a 97-90 win Wednesday night. Portland stole-home court advantage, but our model still gives Denver a 61 percent chance of advancing. Are the numbers still too low on the Blazers?chris.herring: Probably. I have no idea, honestly.The Nuggets might be the most inconsistent team left in the playoffs. Last night was extremely rough for them — one of their worst shooting nights of the season. Their offensive rebounding was unreal, and so it left them with an outside chance to win late.I feel like they may have the better team, but their inconsistency scares me a bit. The 61 percent probability sounds about right to me for now.Quietly feel like the Moe Harkless ankle injury could be a tough one for the Blazers depending on how hurt he actually is going forward.I have it going seven games, and I won’t be surprised at all if and when it actually goes the distance.natesilver: I’m going to reiterate that this part of the bracket feels like the NIT to me. Unless whoever emerges from GSW-HOU does so with an injury, I don’t expect the Western Conference finals to be super competitive.neil: Yeah, conditional on making the conference finals, the Warriors have a 92 percent chance at the NBA Finals in our model; Houston has an 81 percent chance.natesilver: I almost feel like, narrative-wise, Portland has become a little bit underrated just because they’re facing off against two other very flawed teams. That Portland team with Jusuf Nurkic is pretty interesting, but they have a pretty low ceiling IMO without him.neil: I have been surprised at how well Enes Kanter continues to play. He’s averaging 21 points and eight rebounds in this series. (As someone who hated on him as an empty stat-padder early in his career…)natesilver: The knock in him (I almost typed “the Knick on him”) has always been his defense, though.What’s his +/- in the series?neil: It’s minus-4. But the team as a whole is in the red anyway.chris.herring: He’s useful for them, without a doubtI think he actually might be even more useful in a playoff series, depending on the opponent.Against OKC, for instance: Leaving him in the paint, without an easy way for Westbrook to get around him, was great for Portland. Westbrook wasn’t good or comfortable shooting his jumper in that series.So it mitigated the concerns about Kanter’s pick-and-roll defense.And in this series, you’re dealing with Jamal Murray, who’s a hot-and-cold shooter in the pick and roll, too.Kanter’s offensive rebounding is massive a lot of the time.natesilver: I guess mayyyyybe you could say that Kanter has never been in a position before to have teams take advantage of his skill set. OKC has never really been expert at maximizing its role players. And the Knicks, well, are the Knicks.tchow: For what it’s worth, in Game 2, Nikola Jokic went 1 for 8 when guarded by Kanter.chris.herring: I’m interested to see what happens as they shift to Portland.neil: Your point about defense is well-taken, Nate. Portland’s key might be to continue to play so uncharacteristically well at that end.Right now, they’re holding the Nuggets to 41.9 percent shooting from the field, including 31 percent from three.chris.herring: I feel like I’m so in and then so out on Denver. They have had some really rough performances.But the fact that they were still in it last night despite how poorly they shot was encouraging. Jokic has been playing out of his mind.neil: OK, since this is the NIT series of the playoffs, let’s leave Denver and Portland and move over to the East.tchow: In our playoff preview chat, I think we all agreed that the Eastern Conference playoff bracket looked a lot more interesting than the West, and I think that’s still pretty much true. I have no idea who will make it out of the East of the remaining four teams and could easily see both series going seven games.neil: Yeah, things have not really gotten clearer since either series opened. Let’s talk first about the semifinal series between the Raptors and Sixers, which resumes tonight with Game 3. Philly gritted out the win Monday night to even up the series, despite Kawhi Leonard going off again for 35 points. What has stood out about each team so far that might swing the series going forward?chris.herring: In the chat last week, we talked about the question of who Tobias Harris could realistically guard.The answer in Game 1 was nobody, which was problematic, as the Raptors’ two best scorers did serious damage.The difference in Game 2 was Philly’s adjustment to play Harris on Marc Gasol, and to have Joel Embiid and the other centers guard Pascal Siakam. It paid really, really nice dividends for them, and that’s the thing I’m really curious to watch in Game 3.natesilver: I guess those defensive matchups sort of make sense but also the sort of thing that you could counteradjust to, especially with an extra day off to scout and strategize.chris.herring: Exactly.neil: That shows up in the stats, too: Harris was a game-low minus-23 in Game 1 but was plus-6 in Game 2.chris.herring: In both series, I think, it’s going to be a question of whose adjustments are better.Because each set of changes and adjustments have pretty clear counters.tchow: Btw, I don’t know if Neil is doing this on purpose but we have NBATV on at the office right now, and Neil is moving the chat along at the same exact pace as Grant Hill and company are moving along their playoff coverage. They just wrapped up DEN-POR and moved on to PHI-TOR before cutting to commercial break. Uncanny.neil: LOL, Tony. Definitely a coincidence… 😒chris.herring: I did think the put-the-big-on-Siakam adjustment was smart, though.When Siakam is in the middle of the floor, you can give him some space, because he shoots really terribly from the top of the key. By contrast, he’s solid from the corners. (And when he’s in the corner, you have the help of the baseline as a second defender.)tchow: It definitely made a difference. Siakam shot 80 percent from the floor and 75 percent from three in Game 1. In Game 2, he shot 36 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three.chris.herring: The Sixers don’t have but maybe one guy who can credibly guard Siakam (and Ben Simmons is doing his best to guard Kawhi), so that shift was really important for them.It may not work going forward, but you had to try it.natesilver: What if Gasol decides to take more shots? He’s been pretty passive, offensively, since joining the Raptors. But he is capable of scoring, either in the post or from downtown.chris.herring: If Gasol ends up being the guy to torch you, I think you can live with that more easily than Siakam.Also, I’d expect for the Raptors to do more to get Siakam rolling, and to use him in pick and rolls in hopes of having Philly switch them. That would nullify the Harris/Embiid stuff they’re doing.Again, the countermoves are going to be fascinating.To Neil’s initial question, too: The other thing that stands out is just how damn good Kawhi is.The guy is Terminator in a basketball uniform.He couldn’t do it all by himself in Game 2. But he’s just having his way from a scoring standpoint.neil: He’s probably been the best player of the playoffs so far, at least by the advanced metrics.chris.herring: Check out our latest NBA predictions. I’m surprised Toronto is at 24 percent and Milwaukee only 14 percent. (Although a lot of that is due to head to head Toronto-vs-Milwaukee odds.)natesilver: I mean, there’s a case to be made that Toronto is just super good.chris.herring: Yeah. I think almost 70 percent sounds about right in that case.natesilver: They won 58 games in the regular season while missing a bunch of Kawhi and Kyle Lowry. And with Gasol only on the roster for the last third of the season.chris.herring: The matchups still favor them, and I think they’ll figure out a way to get Siakam going. Just not guarding him at the top of the key isn’t going to be enough.Am interested to see whether Kawhi can keep doing this for the whole series, though. He’s completely wrecking Philly.natesilver: Kawhi looks like an MVP in the playoffs, and neither of the two losses they’ve taken in the playoffs (to Orlando in Game 1 or Philly the other day) seemed to expose particularly exploitable problems.Our model also thinks Philly is quite good, by the way. It gives them a lot of credit for being good “on paper.”So I think our prices are relatively fair, but if I had to pick one, maybe it’s the over on Toronto. natesilver: Are people stretching a little too hard to call this an even series? Game 1 really wasn’t all that competitive, the Raptors have the best player, they were the much better team in the regular season, and all the adjustments and counteradjustments are gonna cancel out.I mean, there are only five games left and the Raptors have lost home-court advantage, but I feel like if this is a nine-game series, or an 11-game series, the Raptors are a huge favorite.chris.herring: I dunno. On the one hand, yeah: Toronto should have the upper hand. But we haven’t seen Nick Nurse under all that much pressure before. I assume they’ll counter well, but if they don’t … it’s not as if Philly doesn’t have talent.There are pretty clear things that could happen to tilt this in the Sixers’ favor, though I wouldn’t put my money on those things.And the next two are in Philadelphia. I think this is about all the Sixers could ask for at this stage.I would like to see Embiid do a bit more offensively. He was sick during the last game, but if he can’t find advantages against Gasol (which has been the case for a while now), it becomes harder to see how Philly can beat them four times. Unless the Raptors have no counter whatsoever for what happened to Siakam in Game 2.tchow: Nate, are you proposing we make the postseason even LONGER to ensure the best team wins?natesilver: I think it should vary based on how enjoyable the series is.Like if people find GSW-HOU annoying, just make it a three-game series.neil: We should develop a metric: The SILVER (Series’ Ideal Length Varied by Enjoyability Ratio)chris.herring: Oh, Lord.natesilver: Neil.tchow: According to SILVER, Sixers vs. Raptors should be best-of-11 and Bucks vs. Pistons should have been a one-game playoff.neil: LOLSo while we workshop our latest backronym metric, let’s end the chat by focusing on the Bucks and the Celtics. After disappointing at home in Game 1, Milwaukee can breathe again thanks to a 123-102 win in Game 2.Was that Game 1 loss just a blip on the radar for Milwaukee, or something to legitimately worry about for them as the series shifts to Boston?tchow: Giannis Antetokounmpo had a +/- of minus-24 in Game 1. What happened?(FWIW, he did bounce back fine. Game 2, his +/- was plus-20.)chris.herring: I think it’s actually pretty similar to Toronto-Philly. The Bucks punched back with a different strategy in Game 2, and now the ball is seemingly in Boston’s court to try and adjust to it.natesilver: Gordon Hayward was pretty nonexistent in Game 2 and not great in Game 1, which is bearish for Boston because I really think they need him to be pretty good to compete at an elite level.neil: Also, Kyrie scored 26 on 57 percent shooting in Game 1. Had 9 points on 22 percent in Game 2.natesilver: It did feel a bit like maybe the Celtics were gonna steal one game in the series because of Brad Stevens and their coaching/analytics/scouting staff, and maybe Game 1 was that game.chris.herring: We touched on it last week, when we discussed the Bucks being ranked No. 1 in the league on defense but doing so with a drop strategy in pick and roll coverage. They got torched with that in Game 1, and Boston had a field day from deep. But they moved to a completely different scheme in Game 2 and switched everything (something they almost never did in the regular season).And for what it’s worth, Boston was the least-efficient team in the NBA against switches during the regular season, according to data from Second Spectrum.So I’m interested to see what they counter with, because the Bucks certainly have the length and versatility to make life difficult for them with that strategy.To Tony’s question from before, we did some writing on what went wrong for Giannis in Game 1.The truth is, Giannis kind of lives off of open-court opportunities. He’ll score plenty without them, but if he has them, it showcases how and why he’ll likely be the MVP. It’s nearly impossible to stop him with just one guy (and sometimes even two) in the open floor.But Milwaukee wasn’t forcing enough misses in Game 1 for that to even be a real possibility for him. And even when it was, the Celtics set up a wall against him. Was something they did effectively against Giannis all year.natesilver: So are you saying that Giannis is liable to be less effective in the playoffs, when it becomes more of a half-court game?chris.herring: Yes and no.I think he will still score, and if you overcommit to trying to stop him, he’s unselfish and will find his teammates, who finally hit shots in Game 2The other thing that’s interesting: Giannis’s struggles as a jump-shooter are well-documented. He was the worst wide-open shooter in the NBA from three on 150 or more attempts.But he started knocking them down at a somewhat respectable clip after the turn of the new year. And when Boston dared him to shoot them in Game 1, he shot 3 of 5.He’s 5 of 9 from three for the series!I imagine that if you’re Boston, you’re simply going to make him prove he can hit that shot. But the idea that he’s begun to figure out how to hit threes should be terrifying for everyone outside of the state of Wisconsin.natesilver: I’m happy to let him shoot as many threes as he wants.I don’t think you learn how to shoot threes in one series. Maybe if it’s a big offseason focus of his, sure.neil: Either way, the model currently gives the Bucks a 70 percent chance of winning. In fact, it also gives Toronto exactly the same 70 percent chance against Philly, despite both series being 1-1.Do those probabilities seem right to y’all? If you had to take the over or under on one, which would it be?chris.herring: I feel like Milwaukee’s is a touch high, even though they’re my favorite to come out of the East.tchow: Interesting, I was going to say I would pick the Bucks to be too low.neil: I’m in the same camp, Tony. Really more based on looking at our title odds for each: read more

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As I wrote Monday, over the past decade or so, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers — who are playing in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals — transformed themselves from a down-on-their-luck former champions to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders; both did this largely through shrewd drafting. One of Montreal’s most successful draft picks put on a fine show in Game 2 on Monday night, notching a goal and an assist.Unfortunately for Montreal, that player was defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and he was wearing a Rangers uniform in the Rangers’ 3-1 win (New York leads the series 2-0).In response to my article, a few FiveThirtyEight readers astutely pointed out that McDonagh ties together the parallel rebuilding stories of the Rangers and Canadiens. He was drafted 12th overall by the Canadiens in 2007, the top prize in a banner haul for Montreal that also included Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban. Pacioretty and Subban, along with 2005 first-rounder Carey Price, are currently three of the Canadiens’ best players (according to the modified version of point shares I described Monday).In his four-year NHL career, McDonagh has produced 28.1 modified point shares, a number in line with Subban (34.6) and Pacioretty (23.4) at similar points in their careers.The fact that he hasn’t produced any of that value for the Canadiens, though, traces back to a major blunder in the summer of 2009, when Montreal traded McDonagh (as part of a package of several players) to the Rangers for center Scott Gomez.Two years prior, New York had signed Gomez to a rather ill-advised seven-year, $51.5 million contract, and the returns had been disappointing; his 14 modified point shares in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (combined) ranked 60th among NHL forwards over that span. Rangers general manager Glen Sather was anxious to rid himself of Gomez’s albatross deal, so the media’s contemporary view of the Gomez-to-Montreal trade was essentially that of a salary dump, billing the Rangers’ primary return as nondescript forward Chris Higgins. Some NHL insiders knew better, however: Yahoo’s excellent hockey blogger Greg Wyshynski wondered at the time how the Rangers managed to unload the Gomez millstone and pick up a promising prospect like McDonagh.As a Canadien, Gomez played decent hockey for one season (6.2 modified point shares), then rapidly declined. He went on a notable goalless streak of 370 consecutive days. His contract was bought out by Montreal during the 2011-12 season, and he’s bounced around as a journeyman the past few seasons. Meanwhile, McDonagh has blossomed in New York; only six other defensemen have produced more modified point shares over the past three seasons. McDonagh even became the subject of Norris Trophy talk late this season. On top of his offensive numbers, McDonagh often finds himself matching up against the opponent’s toughest forwards and is on the ice for a disproportionate number of face-offs in the Rangers’ zone, both marks of a defensive workhorse on the blue line.Without McDonagh, it’s unlikely the Rangers would be sitting where they are, with a 2-0 series lead on the cusp of a Stanley Cup Final berth. The Canadiens have their own pair of good defensemen in Subban and Andrei Markov, but they have to regret letting McDonagh slip away — especially on nights like Monday, when he made them pay for their mistake in a direct way. read more

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Minutes after the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes finished celebrating their march to being the best team in the Big Ten, they learned that their third and final goal wouldn’t come easy.Ohio State watched as it was named the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region. The Buckeyes will play No. 15-seeded University of California-Santa Barbara on Friday.Evan Turner, who had just finished putting up back-to-back 31-point games in the conference tournament, immediately turned his and the Buckeyes’ attention to the NCAA tournament.“It’s a good draw. We’re close to home in Milwaukee,” Turner said. “We’ve just got to go out there and take care of business. Try and handle what we can control. We can’t really worry about the games afterwards. We have to worry about the first game, which is UC Santa Barbara. They’re there for a reason, and then take it step-by-step.” Even though Turner said UC Santa Barbara was the most important thing right now, he did make a reference to one interesting fact about the daunting task ahead of the Buckeyes.Their region is to say the least, difficult.It is filled with several dangerous seeds, some of which could have been placed higher in the process. Just looking at the other 15 teams OSU could potentially face if it made a deep tournament run, it’s clear that if OSU wants to be back in Indianapolis for the Final Four in three weeks, it will have to earn it.“I think when you take 65, it’s going to be tough regardless,” OSU coach Thad Matta said.“You go back a couple years ago, we were a [No.] 2 seed and had Georgetown in the second round as a [No.] 10 seed. You know, it’s one of those situations where you look at the 8-9 games. If you’re a 1 seed, who do you want to play in those games.”“You know, us, you’ve got to shift your mind to, okay, we’ve got Santa Barbara. Where do we go from there?  I don’t think there’s any easy way. I just hope we’re playing our best basketball right now as we move forward.”If the Buckeyes do get past their first matchup with the Gauchos, they could face their first big test early. Georgia Tech or Oklahoma State could await the Buckeyes, and both have been tested against top competition.Oklahoma State is one of the two teams that has knocked off top-ranked Kansas this season. Georgia Tech took Duke to the limit in the ACC Championship on Sunday, almost making its bid outright.Speaking of the No. 1 team in all of college basketball, if all goes as planned and the Buckeyes make it to the Elite Eight, they could potentially face a matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks.It seemed like no one wanted to be paired with arguably the best-playing team in the country, Kansas, but the Buckeyes, unfortunately, could have that task.One benefit for OSU, despite possibly playing in the toughest region, is that it will have another day of rest. The NCAA tournament will begin on Thursday, but OSU won’t take the court in Milwaukee until Friday. That is one thing Ohio State can consider a positive.“Yeah, most definitely,” Turner said when asked if he liked the extra day of rest. “You know, we played a hard 130 minutes this weekend, and we definitely would like a couple days off a little bit. But when it it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We’ll get back into it and get clicking on all cylinders. A day off will be nice.”Matta said the extra day will benefit OSU with more than just rest because the players will be dealing with finals this week before traveling to their first-round destination.Several other interesting teams are in the Midwest, including two that could cause deja vu.In 2007, Ohio State’s last deep run in the NCAA tournament, they battled with both Tennessee and Georgetown. Both teams are lurking in the Midwest as potential matchups before the Elite Eight.OSU could also matchup with two more familiar teams in Michigan State and Ohio. It would be unlikely, but if OU could continue to pull off upsets like they did in their conference tournament, it could see OSU in the Sweet 16.The Buckeyes and Spartans only met once this season with the Buckeyes winning in East Lansing, Mich. Under Tom Izzo, it does seem that they play their best basketball in the field of 65.Who knows what will happen over the next several weeks to the Buckeyes, but they do have two things other than a day of rest in their favor.Three out of the last four No. 1 seeds to win the Big Ten Tournament have gone on to the Final Four.OSU also got experience cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. read more

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OSU redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall (17) carries the ball during a game against Kent State on Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 66-0, thanks in part to Marsahll scoring his first touchdown as a member of the Buckeyes.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWhen Jalin Marshall arrived at Ohio State, he found himself adjusting to not only a new level of football, but a new position as well.The redshirt-freshman H-back played quarterback at Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio, but chose to change positions with his future on the gridiron in mind.“I felt like the next level for me wouldn’t be at quarterback,” the 5-foot-11-inch Marshall said Monday. “Just because of the height and all that stuff. I felt like it was a lot of challenges there for me to play at the next level.”Ranked the No. 1 recruit in the state by 247Sports coming out of high school, Marshall had opportunities to continue on as a signal caller in college, he said. But instead he chose a route that might seem the easy one to some, but he said he sees it differently.“I didn’t want to necessarily take the easier route, but I feel like I took the smarter route, as far as moving to receiver,” he said. “Coach (Urban) Meyer has definitely made me a better receiver and I continue to get better each week.”While his improvement on the field has been showcased in more recent weeks, Marshall’s time in Columbus didn’t start the way he may have hoped. Instead of stepping straight in and becoming a key contributor as a freshman, he sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt.Marshall said the switch to the college level from high school came down to his mental preparation, and added he simply wasn’t up to speed starting off when it came to knowing his assignments and recognizing the play of the defense on the fly.“That was a big part for me, because I wanted to think so much,” he said. “I wanted to evaluate what I was doing before I did it.”After not seeing the field as a true freshman, Marshall finally got his chance to don a scarlet and gray uniform on the field for a meaningful game on Aug. 30 when the Buckeyes took on Navy in Baltimore. In limited playing time, he showed flashes of his potential with three carries for seven yards and a pair of catches for another 19 yards.Marshall didn’t touch the ball in OSU’s week two loss to Virginia Tech before having a minor coming out party against Kent State on Sept. 13. In the Buckeyes’ 66-0 win against the Golden Flashes, he scored the first touchdown of his OSU career and returned two punts for 66 yards. He got into the end zone again two games later against Maryland before having a breakout performance as an all-around threat Saturday against Rutgers.He finished with three receptions for 58 yards, four punt returns for 45 yards and a kick return for 26 yards in the Buckeyes’ 56-17 victory.Meyer summed up Marshall’s performance against the Scarlet Knights in one sentence.“Jalin Marshall is much improved, graded a champion,” he said Monday.On Tuesday during the Big Ten teleconference, Meyer delved deeper into the journey Marshall has made to become a contributor at OSU. He said Marshall was “not a good practice player last year,” and struggled with his schoolwork. But this season, Meyer said he’s seen a change.“Here’s a kid now, one of our better practice players,” he said. “Does well in school, a gentleman, a guy that represents Ohio State the right way.”OSU wide receivers coach Zach Smith said Marshall’s recent success is a product of hard work as he tries to live up to his status as a top prospect coming out of high school.“Coming into the year, we had high expectations,” Smith said of Marshall on Monday. “Coming into his career, there were high expectations. He worked hard, tried to live up to those.”Marshall saved credit for Smith when it comes to his development from being a redshirt to leading the Buckeyes in all-purpose yards as they picked up their fourth win in a row.“He kinda demanded that I had to grow up, become a player,” he said. “Because I had to help the team, and I appreciate that from him.”And after his performance against Rutgers, Marshall said he feels his coaches have taken notice of his play.“I feel like they gave me good feedback, as far as how well I did,” he said. “They said that I was aggressive. I didn’t slide back from the coverage. I got the ball and I put my foot in the ground and went, so I think they liked that a lot.”Marshall said his explosive play against Rutgers was an extension of how he describes his personal style on the field.“I feel like when I get the ball … I want to score,” he said. “So as soon as I grab it, I turn up field as quick as I can and run as fast as I can to the straightest line to the end zone.”As a part-time starter at H-back and a starter on punt return, Marshall could have many more chances to plant his foot and go in the coming weeks.His next chance is set to come against Penn State on Saturday in State College, Pa. Kickoff between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions is scheduled for 8 p.m. read more

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OSU co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson works with redshirt freshman tight end Luke Farrell during the opening spring practice for the 2017 season on March 7. Credit: Nicholas McWilliams | Sports EditorFootball has officially kicked off again in Columbus. The Ohio State football team began spring practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex on Tuesday, giving a glimpse of what’s to come in the 2017.Brendon White starting out as a wide receiverFreshman Brendon White is a dynamic athlete, which is exactly why OSU coach Urban Meyer recruited him. Standing at 6-foot-2, White came in as a safety who could also play at linebacker, but Meyer has bigger plans for the Ohio native. “Right now, we have a little bit of a need at wide receiver,” Meyer said. “We’re pretty deep at linebacker. So Brendon White, he was a good athlete, a quarterback in high school. Let’s take a look at him there, see how he develops. He’s also learning how to tackle and play on defense because … probably his first impact will be on kicking game.”White said during National Signing Day he was working to learn receiver techniques, and flashed a combination of good hands and crisp route running during the team’s morning workouts.The Buckeyes were disappointing in the passing game last season, and the receiving corps was responsible for some of that blame. The leading receivers from last season, Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown, both high-tailed it to the NFL Draft, leaving holes at wideout.Meyer has a habit of turning athletes into stars at other positions, and named a former Florida college football star as a success story when talking about White.“Joe Haden is a perfect example for him,” he said. “We took him because he was a great athlete, and then we found out where he fit once he got there.”White will get his chance to make his mark with OSU sooner rather than later with a plethora of talent needing replaced.Transfers not the only thing affecting roster numbersOSU has been scrutinized for an overabundance of players, and is facing the real possibility of having too many players and not enough roster spots. However, the Buckeyes might have a little more breathing room following the latest developments regarding transfers and departures.Meyer said wide receiver Alex Stump will be transferring from the program, and was not seen at drills on Tuesday. His absence could open the door for younger talents, such as freshmen Trevon Grimes and Brendon White to earn playing time.James Clark, another former wide receiver with the team, remains on campus as a member of the track team, but will be leaving as a graduate transfer following this season. Kyle Trout announced he, too, will not be with the team, and plans to transfer after graduation.He currently remains with the team and will continue to work until after he earns his degree. The next departure from OSU — Tyler Gerald — is a bizarre one.“Yeah, he just quit,” Meyer said. “I don’t know. I really wasn’t part of that one.”This just adds another open spot for someone on scholarship, but it’s a strange anomaly for a Meyer-coached team.Linebacker is sorted out … kind ofMeyer confirmed redshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley as middle linebacker, with redshirt sophomore Jerome Baker as the weakside linebacker and redshirt senior Dante Booker at the strongside.However, true to Meyer’s form, he quickly said he has yet to solidify this lineup.“That’s just day one though, that could change,” Meyer said. “We’re trying things out and Worley’s got the mentality and now we just got to see if his body can hang in there at the MIKE linebacker spot.”Worley has been in the program long enough to know the defense through and through, but his size is clearly an issue. Listed at 230 pounds, he’s a little on the light side for playing in the middle, but is a sound enough tackler he might just be able to succeed.Kevin Wilson’s influence will be seen in the fallIndiana’s offense was revived from the dead under Kevin Wilson, and the OSU coaching staff will be hoping for the same kind of reinvigoration this year. Meyer said his presence will be felt in the passing game early in the season, especially in the routes of wide receivers.“If it fits into (conceptually) what we’re trying to get done, then we add it,” Meyer said. “The term we use around here is, ‘We’re not changing, we’re enhancing what we do.’ If it’s broken, we have to change it.”Wilson will be working with young talents like sophomore Binjimen Victor and redshirt sophomore K.J. Hill, along with veterans in junior’s Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon. Junior Eric Glover-Williams is making the switch to receiver from safety this season, and could be a factor in the slot.Barrett, too, could benefit from Wilson’s concepts. Only time will tell how much of the ingenuity of the longtime coach shines through.The secondary will be a revolving doorThere will be no replacing talents like Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker. But OSU is going to try to replicate the production of three potential first-round picks by implementing a rotation in the secondary.“I think the way we play defense, we’d like to do that,” Meyer said. “We have Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward (who) are the only guys who have ever played for us right now. You’ve got Rodjay Burns. We moved Wayne Davis to safety. You’ve got these four corners that just stepped out there today that looked pretty good. We’d like to play three or four — we’d like to play more than three or four. We learned a lesson. That was as good of production as we’ve had out of corners anywhere we’ve been. Obviously, you’ve got great players, but what we ask those guys to do … it’s a track meet for four hours. If you can (get) a little rotation in there, it’s going to be much better. So the answer is yes.”Arnette and Ward had limited playing time last season with OSU, and will be replacing arguably the best duo of corners the Buckeyes have had in a long time. It will be no easy task, but the help from incoming freshmen Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, as well as transfer and sophomore Kendall Sheffield, should make things a little easier on OSU.Expect to see plenty of fresh faces during the spring game on April 15. OSU will be in Ohio Stadium for the team’s annual scrimmage, and fans will get a glimpse of the skills of the new Buckeyes. read more

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first_imgMike Rolfe, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, said that cells and offices were damaged in the “serious disturbance” and blamed “poor management and severe shortage of staff”.He told the BBC: “There were only four staff on that wing and all four retreated to safety after threats of violence and the prisoners went on the rampage.”He said the prisoners who took part in the rioting would have been taken to a segregation unit after the disorder came to an end. Specialist prison officers had to be brought in after rioting inmates “went on the rampage” at Lewes Prison.The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that a national response unit had to be brought in to control the prisoners at the East Sussex jail during the incident which lasted from 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday.Staff were forced to “retreat to safety” during the incident, it was claimed.  HMP Lewes riot. Hoping no one – staff or prisoner – gets injured tonight. Any accountability @MoJGovUK or @trussliz for the prison crisis?— Alex Cavendish (@PrisonUK) October 29, 2016 Offices and cells in the prison suffered damage during the disturbance.A spokeswoman for the government department said: “Specially trained prison staff have resolved an incident involving a small number of prisoners on one wing at HMP Lewes.”We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars.” 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.last_img read more

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first_imghow much do tube drivers earn each week? 2015 figures By contrast, many soldiers are working more than ten hours a day, according to a survey by the Army Families Foundation. Most of those surveyed (71 per cent) said their their hours had increased considerably since 2012.Tube drivers are also much better paid than some of their other colleagues who’ll be joining them on strike. Station staff get around £30,000, according to TfL, with others closer to £20,000, while supervisors earn around £40,000 – still markedly less than what tube drivers get. A graph to show how much more tube drivers earn than their colleagues A newly-qualified soldier starts on around £17,945, while a tube driver rakes in nearly three times as much. The capital’s tube drivers make about twice as much as nurses, policeman, firefighters and teachers. In order to become a tube driver – if you’re wondering – GCSEs in Maths and English are needed, with some medical or electrical knowledge being useful too.What about time off? Tube drivers get 43 days in annual leave, significantly more than soldiers (30), firefighters (28), nurses (27), teachers (28) and police officers (22). Thanks to the unions’ multi-year deal with London Underground, keeping pay above inflation, a newly-qualified tube driver starts on a salary of £49,673 a year. This can rise after five years to anything between £50,000 to £60,000. The drivers get £24,133 at the start of their training period rising to £30,166 after completing initial assessments – with their starting salary, on completion of their 12-16 week training, rising to £49,673.Their starting salary easily dwarfs the starting salaries for workers in other sectors – like health and education. They can earn more than some hospital doctors. Meanwhile, the average salary for the British worker is £26,500. Generous pay packages could well be deserved if tube drivers worked for them. They have agreed with London Underground that tube drivers will work an average of 36 hours per week, which pales in comparison to how many hours a nurse will work on average (37.5), a police officer (40), a secondary school teacher (55.7) and a firefighter (56). So as Londoners are forced to endure commuting chaos due to militant rail unions, it’s clear tube drivers continue to do rather well out of it all. • Queues, fights and chaos in the capital – in pictures • In pictures: London’s lost Tube stations London’s transport system has been crippled as tube workers go on strike again. It isn’t about working hours or the Night Tube this time, but jobs and ticket office closures. The unions are protesting about the number of jobs that will be lost as part of the ticket office closure programme, which they estimate at around 800. Transport for London said the number of redundancies would be minimal and has recruit 200 extra staff , but the unions have rejected this offer. As we learned last year, TfL jobs are a closed shop. And everyone wants to be a tube driver. So how well-off can you get thanks to all the concessions the unions have secured? Here’s what you need to know about London’s rather well-paid tube drivers.  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.last_img read more

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first_imgDetective Inspector Amanda Sadler  Local Labour MP John Woodcock who said that there was a “horrifying sense of covering ones back” called on the Government to ensure officers are sacked when they are guilty of gross misconduct. He added: “”This long suppressed report shows the scale of Cumbria police’s failings are even worse than we thought.”A second inquest has been ordered to take place in May after the first was held behind closed doors and took just seven minutes to declare her death “unexplained”. Speaking on behalf of Poppi’s mother, Fiona McGhie, expert civil liberties lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said she was “deeply and profoundly disappointed and distressed” that the actions of officers could have contributed to delays in her reaching the truth. Mr Forrester refused to comment when approached by the Daily Telegraph. Both officers were found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct but Mr Forrester retired aged 48 on a full pensions before he disciplinary actions could be taken. Mrs Sadler, a former Miss Great Britain beauty queen, was found guilty by her force and demoted to Sergeant. She has also since retired. Jerry Graham, the Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary last night admitted that the watchdog’s report”makes for uncomfortable reading”. But he insisted that changes had been made and officers and staff have been “properly trained and equipped” to conduct similar complex investigations. The circumstances surrounding the toddler’s sudden death in  Barrow-in-Furness in December 2012 have long been shrouded in secrecy.  Poppi Worthington’s grave Detective Inspector Amanda Sadler  The watchdog lays blame for the lack of evidence on Cumbria police, who on the first day allowed potentially crucial evidence to be thrown in the bin. Despite officers having alleged “intelligence” on Mr Worthington and the doctor who treated Poppi raising concerns that she had been sexually abused, it took senior officers seven months to launch a criminal investigation, risking the loss of evidence, and eight to arrest him. Mrs Sadler admitted she had suspected Mr Worthington from “day one”, but said that she “didn’t feel that I had enough experience myself to make any of those decisions on my own”, whilst Mr Forrester denied that he had failed to record it as a crime so that he did not have an unsolved crime on his record.  Detective Superintendent Mike Forrester  Show more The IPCC concluded the report in March 2015 but it can only now be released as the Crown Prosecution Service have re-examined the evidence and concluded they have no “realistic prospect” of securing a conviction.  Detective Superintendent Mike Forrester center_img Poppi Worthington has been denied justice because of a litany of police failings including a senior officer not wanting to spend £20,000 on forensics and others taking the weekend off, a damning report has found. Despite the 13-month-old’s father, Paul Worthington, being a suspect “from day one” the “unstructured and disorganised” investigation means that there was no resolution to the case, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded.The report lays bare a blame culture in which the two senior officers, Detective Superintendent Mike Forrester and Detective Inspector Amanda Sadler, tried to pass responsibility for a serious of failings.A 2014 fact-finding judgement concluding her father had probably sexually assaulted her yet charges have never been brought as prosecutors say that there is not enough evidence.  Mr Worthington denies any wrong doing.  In the first explanation of the delays to be made public, Mrs Sadler gave evidence explaining it was a “real shame” that nothing was done between Poppi’s death and the initial post mortem five days later as “because it was a weekend and we were off”.Her position was criticised by the IPCC as it suggested that “had Poppi died on a different day then more actions may have been completed”.  It was the first in a long line of delays, and Mr Forrester claimed that he could not do anything until the full post mortem concluded in June 2013 that Poppi had been sexually assaulted after doctors initially said she could have just been constipated.  He blamed staff cuts which meant that they could not spend time taking statements which might not have been required, telling investigators that “an ideal world they would have obtained all the statements, but this is not an ideal world”.  Poppi Worthington's grave Poppi Worthington with her father Paul  When questions were raised about the investigation Mr Forrester allegedly said he would use an email ordering him to take control two weeks after the death as a “a get out of jail card”  to prove he was not initially involved. The IPCC concluded that there was “substantial evidence available to support the contention that the reason this case has still not reached a resolution more than two years on from the death of Poppi is because of the unstructured and disorganised approach taken by D/Supt Forrester and DI Sadler.” IPCC Commissioner Carl Gumsley described the inquiry as “not fit for purpose”.  The report states: “D/Supt Forrester agreed that there were actions that could have been done quicker, he said he could have spent £20,000 sending everything off for forensic analysis, and they probably could have interviewed everybody in that period; however he also said to do that meant tying up resources when it was not known if there was any value in doing it.”Statements should be taken as soon as possible so that untainted accounts can be taken and witnesses do not forget information, the IPCC said as they noted that “not only were there suspicious circumstances, there was also a suspect on day one”. The IPCC also criticised his claim that e was investigating only the death and his role “wasn’t to investigate whether Poppi had been sexually abused, either at the point of death or prior to death”. The comments were cited as proof that the officers were focused on establishing that Poppi died of natural causes.  Poppi Worthington with her father Paul Credit:PA 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.last_img read more

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first_imgA senior Police Scotland officer was given £67,000 of public money to move house and £53,000 to settle a personal tax bill, according to a damning audit that lambasted the “unacceptable” spending.Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick was given the sums after they were authorised by John Foley, the former chief executive of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), who stood down from the force watchdog last month.Auditor General Caroline Gardner published a report stating that large relocation payments “do not represent a good use of public money” and called the SPA’s spending “unacceptable”. She added they were not properly disclosed in the organisation’s annual report and accounts.She also singled out the decision to appoint three temporary senior staff at a cost of more than £344,000 as one that “did not demonstrate value for money in the use of public funds”.Although the officer given the payments was not identified in the report, the SPA confirmed she was Rose Fitzpatrick, one of three deputy chief constables who each earn £175,000 per year. She is responsible for local policing.The SPA said Mrs Fitzpatrick had acted in “good faith” and payments were made in line with her appointment and regulations. However, it is the latest in a series of scandals to envelop the national force and its watchdog, which overspent its budget by £16.9 million last year. 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. Phil Gormley, the Chief Constable , is on special leave pending an investigation into bullying allegations. Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins and three other senior officers were recently suspended as part of a probe into alleged criminal and misconduct allegations. Ms Gardner said: “Our audit identified a number of instances of poor governance and poor use of public money. This is unacceptable.”An immediate priority for the new chair and interim chief officer must be ensuring that the organisation operates more effectively and transparently so that such occurrences are not repeated in the future.”Liam Kerr, the Scottish Tories’ Shadow Justice Minister, said: “This report could lead some to think the SPA has been behaving like some kind of dodgy offshore tax haven.“People will be astonished that senior police officers are having their tax liabilities settled by the tax payer. And they’ll be incredulous that none of this was properly declared.”The Audit Scotland report said the deputy chief constable was given £18,000 to relocate during the 2014/15 financial year, and another £49,000 for a similar move in 2016/17.Mr Foley signed off on the payments but did not report them to other members of the SPA board because he believed it was within his power.center_img A series of governance failings and the poor use of public money at the Scottish Police Authority are unacceptable, says @AuditorGenScot. Read her report here: https://t.co/bzg9QM7xRM pic.twitter.com/GZo86rWabl— Audit Scotland (@AuditScotland) December 8, 2017 He authorised them using guidelines drawn up by the now-defunct Strathclyde Police force because there was no SPA relocation policy when DCC Fitzpatrick was appointed in 2012.However, Ms Gardner said this was “not a legitimate argument for payments being made as recently as early 2017”.Her report disclosed that the money was not processed through the normal payroll system and was incorrectly coded as childcare vouchers, meaning no tax or national insurance contributions were made.In addition, the deputy chief constable’s personal tax liability for 2016/17 of £53,000 was paid. But the report said the SPA started 2017/18 with a forecast deficit of £47.2 million and currently expects deficits of £35.6 million in 2018/19 and £15.9 million in 2019/20.Susan Deacon, who this week started work as the SPA’s chairman, said: “I share the auditor’s concerns and I will work with the SPA board and the new chief officer to ensure we learn the lessons from that and that further improvements in decision-making, transparency and process are made in the future.”last_img read more

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first_imgThe traditional Christmas gathering around an open fire is under threat by a government investigation into whether the increasing popularity of wood-burning stoves and traditional open fires is damaging people’s health. A source told The Telegraph that the consultation will be “very open” and rather than recommending specific policies will invite submissions about the problem. Its findings will feed into the Government’s clean air strategy, which is being published in the Autumn. But it is feared that if his department backs tighter restrictions… Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, is to launch a consultation in the New Year which will examine pollutants caused by wet wood and smoky coal.last_img read more

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Although described as a “careful and competent” pilot, Mr Kark said there were times when he had “taken risks” or flown in a way he would not be expected to.Just a year before the crash at Southport airshow, in Merseyside, Mr Kark said Hill “performed a dangerous manoeuvre” causing organisers to halt the display by issuing what is known as a “stop, stop, stop” call.”Such a call is a rare event and was issued on that occasion because the maneovure he performed took him far too close to the crowd and was dangerous.”Unfortunately, on this occasion in 2015 at Shoreham no-one had time to call out a ‘stop’ and his display ended in tragedy.”The victims are Maurice Abrahams, 76; Dylan Archer, 42; Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone, 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Daniele Polito, 23; Mark Reeves, 53; Jacob Schilt, 23; Richard Smith, 26; and Mark Trussler, 54, who all lived in Sussex. The 54-year-old, of Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, is standing trial after denying 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.Members of the victims’ families gathered at the Old Bailey as prosecutor Tom Kark QC opened the case.Describing it as a “beautiful sunny Saturday”, Mr Kark told jurors Hill was part way through his display when the crash took place. Hill, who sat in the dock wearing a black suit, blue and white striped shirt, blue tie and glasses, will be described as a “highly competent and experienced pilot”, jurors were told.He served in the Royal Air Force between 1985 and 1994 where he trained to fly, becoming an instructor and fast jet pilot.During his military career he completed more than 1,600 hours in aircrafts also including a Jet Provost and a Harrier. He was also a British Airways airbus captain.He had flown the Hawker Hunter – a large fighter jet built for warfare which first took to the skies in 1955 – a total of 47 hours including at the same airshow the year before.But when the crash took place Hill “fell far below his usual standards”, Mr Kark said.His Display Authorisation – a licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – authorised him to fly the plane at a minimum height of 100ft during flypasts and 500ft during standard manoeuvres like the loop – during a performance.Mr Kark said there was a “heavy responsibility” on a pilot’s shoulders to plan their display carefully so no-one is put at risk and it was Hill’s “duty” to ensure the plane remained at the height permitted and did not breach no-fly zones around Shoreham airport. Pilot Andrew Hill, charged with manslaughter, arrives at courtCredit:Jonathan Brady/PA He said: “The aircraft disintegrated and that crash caused a massive fireball.”The effects of that crash were devastating and eleven people lost their lives as a result.”Mr Hill miraculously escaped, because his cockpit separated from the rest of the aircraft ending in a ditch, his seat was thrown out of the cockpit and he was left lying on the ground.”He was saved by the bravery of firefighters, paramedics and a doctor who managed to get to him despite the fires still burning all around.”Mr Kark said the plane was in “excellent working condition”, adding: “Until the moment that it crashed, there was nothing wrong with the flying capabilities of that aircraft.”The crash happened purely because of pilot error.”The pilot was attempting a manoeuvre called a bent loop which requires the aircraft to reach a specific height before it begins its downward trajectory.”Mr Hill did not reach the height required, but nevertheless continued the manoeuvre.”In short, he did not have the height to pull the aircraft out of its dive, back to the level flight at a safe height and, as a result he crashed into the ground.”The prosecution case is that it was Mr Hill’s serious negligence that led directly to the loss of those eleven lives.” A vintage fighter jet crashed killing 11 men when it hit a road and burst into a fireball during a failed airshow stunt “purely” because of “pilot error”, a court heard.Andrew Hill was flying the Hawker Hunter too low when he lost control over the A27 during the Shoreham Airshow in 2015, jurors were told on Tuesday.The 1950s fighter jet plummeted onto the West Sussex dual carriageway while it was performing a loop stunt at 1.22pm on August 22.The trained Royal Air Force instructor, who was a British Airways captain at the time, was thrown clear of the aircraft but taken to hospital with serious injuries and placed into an induced coma before being discharged.Although an experienced pilot, he had been known to take “risks” and one of his airshow displays the year before was brought to a halt because of his “dangerous” flying, the court heard. The trial is being heard before senior judge Mr Justice Andrew Edis QC and could last eight weeks.Jurors were told the Air Accident Investigations Branch’s findings on the crash, which were previously published, will not form part of the prosecution’s evidence and should be disregarded. 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. Maurice Abrahams, 76; Dylan Archer, 42; Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone, 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Daniele Polito, 23; Mark Reeves, 53; Jacob Schilt, 23; Richard Smith, 26; and Mark Trussler, 54,  Pilot Andrew Hill, charged with manslaughter, arrives at court Clockwise from top left: Mark Trussler, Maurice Abrahams, Dylan Archer, Richard Smith, Mark Reeves, Matt Jones, Tony Brightwell and Matthew Grimstone, read more

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The Church of England will roll out online counselling sessions for abuse victims, as officials admit previous responses have “retraumatised” victims.Since 2015, an independent watchdog has been carrying out safeguarding audits of all 42 diocese to assess how the Church can better react and prevent abuse.Today, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) published its response in which it advocated an independent and co-ordinated national team to carry out “checks and balances”. This is in contrast to bishops being responsible for individual dioceses, which is the current case.The report also contained testimonials from 60 victims of church-linked abuse, which marks the largest ever number of respondents to cases of abuse linked to the Church of England to come forward in official documentationIn response, the Church of England announced in the first initiative of its kind that it would offer online counselling sessions for survivors of church-related abuse. He added that the audits took place in a changing context and the Church has since done much to address early systemic issues raised by SCIE.Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop and chair of the NSSG, said: “It is essential that victims and survivor organisations have confidence that anybody coming forward to disclose abuse to the Church are treated with compassion, offered support and their concerns and allegations are taken seriously.”He added: “The Church recognises that significant changes will be required before survivors will have this level of confidence in the Church and that this undertaking is no simple task. However it is one that I and my fellow Bishops and the whole Church are absolutely committed to.” 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. Responses from survivors detailed their disillusionment with transparency and progress within the Church. Victims offered their recommendations for improvements to SCIE researchers.These included: “Avoid victim blaming by gossiping, shaming, blaming, treating us like we have nothing to offer, treating us like we are untrustworthy”, “every parish should routinely put on its pew sheet the names of the designated safeguarding person”, and [safeguarding] telephone numbers on the backs of toilet doors”.“Many construction businesses have a goal of zero accidents on site,” one victim said. “The Church of England should have a goal of zero abuse.”Another added: “I was told to go to the diocese where the abuse took place; that doesn’t work for me.”The National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), part of the Church of England, said that it acknowledges that its responses to survivors in the past has been inadequate.A spokesman said: “The Church acknowledges that victims and survivors of church-related abuse have not received a consistently good response from the Church and this can lead to being retraumatised”.The safeguarding audit is currently being rolled out in cathedrals across the country.A Church of England spokesman said that the report and survivor survey “makes for very difficult reading” and the Church’s failure to “respond compassionately has undermined confidence in its own safeguarding practice”. The Telegraphunderstands that Church officials are currently looking to commission experienced providers to run the counselling service across a range of different media, which could include Skype calls.Survivors would book an appointment for an initial screening by a professional, who would then make an assessment regarding what kind of support they require. read more

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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. It is part of the celebrations, picking out colourful gift wrap and decorating presents in curled ribbons. But one children’s science writer said we should stop wrapping party presents and give unwrapped gifts instead, in an attempt to be more eco friendly.Isabel Thomas, 39, even suggested parents could use socks as party bags to save waste. “We can start to change our birthdays and the data we celebrate things to try and cut down on plastic,” she said.“You probably wouldn’t mind too much if you got presents that were not wrapped. “Lots of wrapping paper isn’t actually recyclable.”We think of paper as really easy to recycle but if we take it and scrunch it up into a ball and it won’t stay scrunched up, then its not recyclable.“Stopping using balloons is also a great way to cut down on plastic, you can even make your own decorations from things you’ve found outside in nature.“It’s a cycle that goes on and on just because we are so polite to each other but we are forgetting the planet.”Speaking at the FT Oxford Literary Festival on Saturday afternoon, Thomas, who lives in Cambridge with get family, said she collects the plastic contents of her three sons’ party bags rather than throwing it all away to get an idea of how much plastic they are using. “We can absolutely use socks as party bags,” she added. “Definitely take that idea away, it’s fantastic.”The scientist and author of over 150 books for children and young people was promoting her latest publication This Book is Not Rubbish, which picks apart the effect of daily habits on the environment.She offers children tips on how they can be more eco friendly, such as suggesting they cut down on their meat consumption and only flush the loo when absolutely necessary.Drawing on her experiences running craft clubs in schools, Thomas added that some much-loved plastic materials should be stopped altogether.“Since researching plastic, I have made changes to the way I run workshops,” she said. “I used to do loads of crafts and use of things like plastic straws and googly eyes and didn’t think much about it.“Googly eyes aren’t even recyclable so the chain stops right there and projects often go straight in the bin. Now I don’t use them at all.” read more

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The human body holds around five litres of blood and if half is lost severe shock can set in, possibly leading to death.When the body bleeds it naturally forms a clot, but then tries to break down that clot. The autoinjector uses Tranexamic Acid (TXA), a naturally occurring molecule, which prevents the body from breaking down any clots formed after a major trauma. The Defence Secretary meets doctors and air ambulance crews at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. April 16, 2019. The auto injector has many civilian applications including knife crime situations. April 16, 2019. The Defence Secretary meets doctors and air ambulance crews at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. April 16, 2019.Credit:David Rose 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. Lt Col Wright, a veteran of 12 tours in Afghanistan, says the autoinjectors will be game changing for the battlefield.“The more severely injured the patient, the more chance this has of saving their life. Take an Afghan example, with two legs blown off, it can save up to 25 per cent of those that would otherwise die. That’s a lot.“We can get there pretty quickly on a helicopter, but sometimes not quickly enough [and] we can’t teach every soldier to give intravenous access.“If you put in an autoinjector that automatically fires into the leg, hopefully we can give treatment much earlier and save lives.“The British army is very familiar with morphine autoinjectors, we’ve used those for years, so while it’s still in soldiers’ institutional memory it should be relatively easy to train them on something like this”. The auto injector has many civilian applications including knife crime situations. April 16, 2019.Credit:David Rose Soldiers are to be issued blood-clotting injectors to save lives on the battlefield.The new autoinjector will allow soldiers to self-administer life saving drugs at the push of a button.The government plans for the technology, once proven by soldiers, to be used by all first responders in Britain, in a bid to reduce deaths from rapid blood loss such as after knife attacks.It is hoped the autoinjectors could also be used worldwide, as they can be administered by untrained users such as midwives in less developed nations where experts say a third of postpartum deaths are down to blood loss.The Defence Secretary said the £5 million investment in the technology would have “an immediate impact in terms of reducing the number of deaths on the battlefield”.“This funding shows our commitment to ensuring those serving on the frontline get the best treatment as rapidly as possible”. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wright, 43, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, said: “You can’t train all soldiers to do intravenous administration so it was an obvious idea to put it in an autoinjector so everyone can carry it and administer it when they need to.”“This is something you could give to every police officer, lifeguard or other first aider.“Postpartum hemorrhage kills lots of women worldwide after childbirth. This could stop a third of those deaths if given to midwives around the world.” read more

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But the Government has placed a major obstacle in her way by failing to back a move that would have meant first born daughters inheriting their parents’ titles. That means that if in the coming weeks Meghan Markle gives birth to a daughter the title of Earl of Dumbarton, bestowed on Prince Harry when they married, will not be passed on to their first child. As a self-proclaimed feminist the Duchess of Sussex would no doubt wish her children to enjoy the same benefits and opportunities as each other, regardless of gender. Under Britain’s unique hereditary laws the first born daughters of the nobility do not enjoy the same right as their first born sons to inherit their titles, which in some cases… read more

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Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s singles final – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 28, 2018. Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action during the final against Croatia’s Marin Cilic. REUTERS/Issei KatoMELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Roger Federer fought off a fierce challenge from Croatia’s Marin Cilic to claim a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title with 6-2 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory today.With the Rod Laver Arena roof closed to spare the players on a witheringly hot day in Melbourne, the 36-year-old Swiss was gliding towards a 20th grand slam title when he took the opening set against a nervy opponent in 24 minutes.For a while it looked horribly reminiscent of Cilic’s heavy defeat by Federer in last year’s Wimbledon final when the 29-year-old was hampered by blisters and broke down in tears.But the sixth seed, playing in his first Australian Open final after knocking out injured world number Rafael Nadal in the quarters, showed great resolve.He saved break points at 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4 in the second set before crunching some huge forehands in the tiebreaker to level the match against all the odds.Federer won the third set with a single break of serve but from a position of strength in the fourth he began to fade and lost five games on the spin as an increasingly dangerous Cilic dragged a slow-burning final into a decider.Defending champion Federer regrouped though and after fighting off a break point at the start of the fifth, Cilic’s resistance crumbled as the crowd roared Federer on to victory.“I’m so happy, it’s unbelievable, it’s been a long day,” Federer said. “I’m happy it’s over now. The fairytale continues for us, for me, it’s incredible,” said an emotional Federer as he cradled the Norman Brookes trophy. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedFederer suffers shock loss to TsitsipasJanuary 20, 2019In “latest news”Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to win record 7th titleJanuary 27, 2019In “latest news”Djokovic wins epic tussle over Federer to claim Wimbledon titleJuly 7, 2014In “Sports” read more

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