One of the reasons Stephen Curry’s 2015-16 season has been so magical is that it has been about more than just dominance — that’s more LeBron James’s turf — it has been about doing things in basketball that we didn’t really know were possible.Last week we published “Stephen Curry Is The Revolution,” in which I discussed how Curry’s unique skill set — particularly his seeming immunity to defensive pressure — suggests that this historically great Warriors team could be even better if it let Curry take even more shots, with the upper limit for just how many he should take still completely unknown.But the idea that “you can never have too much Curry” was pretty much true even before this season. The 2015-16 Curry is on another level. Not only has he gotten better at the things he was already good at, he has also started dominating at things that add new dimensions to the analysis. For example, as my colleague Kirk Goldsberry has written, Curry is now one of the most efficient shooters close to the basket, after struggling from that range early in his career.But the most dramatic change in Curry’s game is his suddenly impossible-seeming range. If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds watching “SportsCenter” in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about Curry’s newfound affinity for ridiculous bombs — like that time he scored three baskets from 29-plus feet in 90 seconds.And it’s true, Curry’s long-range shooting has been off the charts. Here’s how he has done from various ranges in the past two seasons1For this analysis, I used the shot-tracking data from NBA.com, current through Dec. 7 (though it may miss a game or two here and there for technical reasons). I then added in Curry’s shots through the Warriors’ game on Dec. 8, and his shots that had been missing because their Nov. 12 game against the Timberwolves wasn’t in the data.: So Curry is taking a lot of last-ditch threes from long distance and has been hitting them at the second-best rate of any player in the past three seasons, despite taking about five times as many shots as the player with the best rate, Damian Lillard, did in 2013-14 (the dot in the upper left).Shooting 38.5 percent in these circumstances is, of course, ridiculous — the league average is just 12 percent, and Larry Bird’s career 3-point average (from regular distances and under regular conditions) was 37.6 percent — not to mention it supports the idea that, for Curry, no number of shots is too great, regardless of how they come.Perhaps more importantly, Curry is taking a lot of these shots “voluntarily” — that is, even when there’s enough time left on the clock to try to set up a normal shot, he’s still tossing the bomb: Last season Korver beat Curry at virtually every distance — yet his distance drop-off was normal (perhaps even a little steeper than the league as a whole), as was Curry’s.This season, of course, Curry has blown past Korver in efficiency as well as volume. Curry’s 13 makes from 28-42 feet (“bomb range”) this season are more than he and Korver had combined last season (12).So what’s going on? On the face of it, these don’t look like big numbers. Most of the hullabaloo is over 13 made shots in 31 attempts, which is not outside the range of luck. But it would take a lot of luck: Curry made shots from bomb range about 17.3 percent of the time in the previous two seasons. If that were his true rate, he would make 13 of his first 31 shots about once every 500 years. One-in-500 events aren’t impossible in sports, but with all the ways that Curry has defied basketball norms already, it behooves us to look for nonrandom explanations. For example, an interesting segment of ESPN’s Sport Science recently broke down Curry’s unusual shot mechanics on these bombs:Normally I’d take those kinds of stats as just fun trivia, but the observation that most NBA players generate velocity for their long shots by changing how they jump, while Curry does it entirely with his wrist, is exactly the kind of thing that could explain how Curry is doing things that previously seemed impossible.Another thing we’d like to do is compare how big Curry’s phenomenon is relative to other hot long-range-shooting seasons. But to do this we have to break things down a little bit further. Not all bombs are created equal. Most NBA players are smart enough NOT to take these kinds of shots unless they’re necessary. About 68 percent of shots from 28 to 42 feet come with the shot clock turned off or with time about to expire (less than four seconds remaining). We’ll call shots taken under those conditions “involuntary.” Here are all the player-seasons for such shots over the past three seasons: His shooting improved basically across the board. For the most part, he is still shooting worse when he’s farther away. You can beat other humans, but you can’t beat science. (I think.) But relative to the league, as well as to his own recent history, his distance curve this season is incredibly flat: He’s shooting 43 percent on shots taken 26 to 28 feet from the basket and 42 percent on shots from 28 to 42 feet. (The 42 feet corresponds roughly to half-court, though most of his shots are much closer to the bottom of that range.)Not only is this not normal for Curry, it’s nowhere close to the norm for anyone, even other great 3-point shooters. For example, Kyle Korver is one of few players who, on a shot-by-shot basis, could brag about being more efficient than Curry last season — albeit with a significantly smaller shooting burden. Here’s how he stacks up to Curry, then and now: The NBA as a whole has seen about one voluntary shot from 28-plus feet every two games over the last three seasons. This relative scarcity has been wise. Even though these are “voluntary” shots — where players presumably thought they had good looks — they’ve been made at a rate of only 25.4 percent (corresponding to 76 points per 100 attempts, well below the efficiency of the worst offenses in history). The undisputed king of the long shot over the last few years — indeed, the only other player to take a substantial number of such shots over full seasons — is Lillard, who has taken 98 voluntary bomb range shots in the past three seasons and has made 32.7 percent of them (corresponding to a respectable 98 points per 100 shots). Curry, on the other hand, had not shown any inclination for these shots and hit them at an average rate — before this season. Now he is averaging just less than one such attempt per game and has hit 47.1 percent — corresponding to 141 points per 100 attempts — far beyond what any offense has ever managed in overall efficiency. In other words, Curry’s typical voluntary shot from more than 28 feet is worth more than most players’ layups.Moreover, note that Curry’s break from his own precedent is also stunning: He is attempting these shots at three times the rate that he used to, yet he’s making them twice as often!This is a thrilling development, but its lack of precedent makes its consequences unknown. If Curry is now a legitimate threat from 30 feet, it will do more than just give defenses fits, it will disrupt the balance of the game in unanticipated ways. And my half-joking argument that he should be taking “all the shots” would drop to more like a quarter joking.But as much as I admire Curry’s skills, this simply MUST be too good to be true. Consider the fact that the game has never seen it, and that Curry himself hasn’t shown anything like it before, and it seems like a prototypical case of a thrilling phenomenon destined to come back down to earth.Then again, the more absurd things we see from Curry, the more they corroborate each other. All is possible. Either this narrative or the game itself will unravel.Check out our 2015-16 NBA Predictions.
The Atlanta Braves, long criticized locally for the lack of African-American players on its roster, traded Thursday to acquire former Arizona Diamondbacks Justin Upton, which pairs him in the outfield with older brother B.J. Upton, who signed as a free agent in the summer.Throw in right-fielder Jason Heyward, and Atlanta has an all-black outfield, something not seen since the 1996 opening day lineup featuring Marquis Grissom, David Justice and Mike Kelly.The trade brings to Atlanta Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson, while the Diamondback receive pitcher Randell Delgado, infielder Martin Prado and minor league prospects Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill, according to ESPN.The deal is pending physicals of players involved.After signing, B.J. Upton said he wanted to play with this brother in the same outfield. Matched with Heyward, the Braves have built one of baseball’s best outfields. Heyward won his first Gold Glove in 2012, when he hit .269 with 27 homers and 82 RBIs.The Diamondbacks once viewed Justice Upton as a player they would build around for years to come. At age 21, he hit 26 homers, scored 84 runs and drove in 86 runs. In March 2010, Arizona signed Upton to a six-year, $51.5 million deal. The D-backs made the playoffs in 2011, and Upton finished fourth in NL MVP voting.But the Diamondbacks started discussing possible Upton trades that fall, and after he got off to a poor start in 2012, Arizona owner Ken Kendrick criticized Upton and other players in a radio interview.Arizona again looked into trading Upton before the July 31 deadline last summer and continued to have discussions once this offseason began. It became increasingly apparent that the relationship between the Diamondbacks and Upton had been damaged.The Diamondbacks had agreed to a deal to trade Upton to Seattle earlier this month, but the player vetoed it. Seattle was among four teams on Upton’s contract that he could nix. Atlanta was not on that list.B.J. Upton signed a five-year, $75-million contract with the Braves, the richest in the team’s history. In August, he and Justin made history when they reached 100 home runs for their careers an hour apart.
OSU junior forward Marc Loving attempts a shot in a game against Rutgers on Jan. 13. OSU won, 94-68. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s basketball team’s’ road woes continued in the worst way possible Saturday, as the Buckeyes were blown out by No.3 Maryland 100-65 in College Park, Maryland. The loss ties the school record as the worst in school history, matching a 35-point loss vs. Indiana in 1928.OSU now falls to 12-7 (4-2), further damaging its case to make an appearance in the NCAA tournament this upcoming March.The game featured one of college basketball’s premier players in Maryland’s sophomore guard Melo Trimble. The shifty point guard’s passing dissected the OSU defense from the start, as he dished out five first-half assists, burying the Buckeyes in an 18-point hole by halftime.But, in the second half, the Maryland star really wasn’t needed to the same extent, as the Terrapin lead, at one point, ballooned to an unsurmountable 44 points in the second half. Trimble finished the game with 8 points and 9 assists in only 27 minutes. Maryland showed why they are considered to be one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, shooting 63 percent from the field for the game. It also shot extremely well from deep, shooting 11-of 21 from 3-point land (52 percent).After throttling OSU, Maryland’s record improves to 16-2 (5-1). Leading the Terrapins in scoring was junior forward Robert Carter. In only 23 minutes, he gashed OSU’s defense for 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Senior guard Rasheed Sulaimon also poured in 23 for Maryland, including 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.Pacing the Buckeyes in scoring was sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop, who had 15 points and 5 rebounds. Sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate also chipped in 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the floor. Freshman point guard JaQuan Lyle, coming off of a triple-double in the 94-68 win over Rutgers, only had 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting, including 0-of-4 from 3-point range. The Buckeyes couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half, shooting a miserable 30.8 percent from the field in the second frame. Overall, the Scarlet and Gray shot a paltry 37 percent from the field, making this a game everyone will soon want to forget.The loss is OSU’s third on the road, each by, at least, 20 points. The first came against Connecticut by 20, followed by a 25-point defeat at the hands of Indiana, and then Saturday’s 35-point drubbing. With a young team, playing on the road can be a tough task to tackle and that is certainly the case for coach Thad Matta’s squad. The game marked the first Big Ten trip to College Park for the Buckeyes, as Maryland’s basketball program joined the Big Ten in the 2014-2015 academic year. OSU still leads the all-time series 5-3. The Buckeyes now can only hope for a better performance in its next matchup against Purdue. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday in West Lafayette, Indiana.
OSU junior forward Nick Schilkey (7) during a game against Minnesota on Feb. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Evan Szymkowicz | Sports DirectorThe Ohio State men’s ice hockey team looked to send off its seniors in style as it welcomed the Wisconsin Badgers for the final series of the season at the Schottenstein Center, and it delivered by earning points in both matches.The Buckeyes drew 4-4 on Friday before losing the ensuing shootout 1-0, but they were able to bounce back the next night to earn maximum points in a 6-5 regulation victory.The Buckeyes would strike quickly in the first encounter. Junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey collected a pass and took the puck down the left wing before slotting it past freshman goaltender Matt Jurusik.Wisconsin replied with a swift counterattack. A little passing play between sophomore forward Cameron Hughes and freshman forward Will Johnson allowed freshman forward Luke Kunin to find a centered pass and fire the puck behind junior goaltender Christian Frey.OSU senior forward Tyler Lundey would rapidly get a goal of his just under a minute and a half later. Freshman Tommy Parran launched a shot from just over the blue line, which Lundey deflected in, restoring the Buckeye lead.It was a solid night for the defenseman Parran, who had two assists and a block on the night.“Our forwards do a heck of a job. I chip in when I can,” Parran said. “It’s good to move the puck and kind of get up in the rush, create better and more opportunities for us in the backend.”The Badgers would equalize with less than a minute remaining in the first period. Freshman forward Seamus Malone rounded the netminder Frey and shot the puck off the left-side pipe and into the net, evening the score at 2-2.“We started off well, obviously, but I think there was a time period from maybe late in the first (period) into the beginning of the third (period) where we just kind of lackadaisical,” Schilkey said.Wisconsin grabbed its first lead of the night when freshman forward Jarod Zirbel fired a long shot which Frey saved, but he fumbled the puck into the path of sophomore forward Matt Ustaski, who promptly put it into the back of the net.“They popped a few and we were clawing back once again,” Schilkey said. “Luckily we came out with one at the end there, but at the end of the day we shouldn’t put ourselves in that situation. We’ve got to work on that.”The Badgers’ penalty-kill prowess was illustrated when the Buckeyes failed to take advantage of a four-minute penalty on Luke Kunin for hooking and elbowing.“They were sitting back, three back pretty deep on their forecheck and we just couldn’t really get control on the rush,” Schilkey said. “That is something we’ve definitely got to go back and look at.”Freshman forward Matthew Freytag doubled the Badgers’ advantage with a wraparound shot that found its way underneath Frey and into the Buckeye goal.Yet the Scarlet and Gray would not go away. Freshman forward John Wiitala received a centered pass from senior defenseman and co-captain Craig Dalrymple and fired the puck behind Jurusik, putting the score at 4-3 with seven minutes remaining in the period.“One of those games that seemed to start to slip away there in the third (period). Got the bad bounce, goes in the net, and you’re down two,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “I thought our guys started to play our best hockey, again, once we’re down there and started to play desperate.”With Frey pulled from the net to accommodate an extra man on offense, the Buckeyes were able to find the equalizing goal with 48 seconds left in regulation. Schilkey would strike once again for the home team, this time collecting the puck off a faceoff.“I think the characters in our room, we’ve just got to continue to learn to play 60 minutes instead of part-time,” Rohlik said. “It was a battle there and it was nice to see us score one there at the end to tie it up.”Overtime would end scoreless, meaning the crucial Big Ten point would be decided by a shootout.After five scoreless rounds, sophomore forward Ryan Wagner was able to net the first and only goal of the shootout to give the Badgers the extra point.“At that point I think we had four opportunities there to win the shootout. In a row, three or four. You’ve got to think one of those guys is going to put one in,” Rohlik said. “When it goes eight or whatever shooters it went, and only one goal goes in, both goaltenders did their job.”On Saturday, OSU’s three seniors were recognized in a pregame ceremony. Forward Anthony Greco, Dalrymple, and Lundey were joined by their parents on the ice as they bade farewell to the crowd at the Schott“I don’t know what to say. You know after four years you start to get used to coming to the Schott. Being here, it’s tough to believe that was my last game,” Lundey said. “It’s good to win, go out and win. We might have made it a little harder on ourselves, like coach was saying, but again we won, so best possible outcome.”OSU had plenty of opportunities against Jurusik in the first period of the match, but it would be the Badgers who got on the board first.The puck appeared to have crossed the goal line before a scuffle in front of Frey’s goal knocked the net off its place. Originally ruled no goal, further review confirmed alternate and junior forward Grant Besse pushed the puck past Frey before the goal was displaced.The Buckeyes were able to reply on the power play just a minute and a half later. Junior defenseman Drew Brevig found a centered pass from junior forward David Gust and fired the puck past Jurusik to level the score at one apiece.Wisconsin would regain and double their lead with just over a minute left in the first period. Grant Besse laid the puck off for Luke Kunin, who launched the puck from long range and into Frey’s net. Just 55 seconds later, sophomore defenseman Jake Linhart was the recipient of an almost identical play from Johnson and fired the puck behind Frey.“We thought we played a decent first period. We found ourselves behind three to one. You saw a couple of mistakes at the end of the period. What I like the most was our attitude in the locker room after the first sight of these guys,” Rohlik said. “We’re going to be okay, let’s just keep going. That’s kind of the character we have in our room.”The high scoring would continue into the second period.Freddy Gerard cut the Badgers lead to one goal two and a half minutes into the second period. The freshman received a pass from behind the goal line from sophomore forward Matthew Weis and shot the puck beyond Jurusik.Johnson restored the Badgers’ two-goal lead after firing home from close range, courtesy of a Seamus Malone assist. Then, just 37 seconds later, freshman forward Miguel Fidler notched his third goal of the season, bringing the score to 4-3.The Buckeyes managed to find the equalizing goal with a little over two minutes left in the period after a shot by junior defenseman Josh Healey from the blue line was tipped in by Schilkey.Sophomore forward Luke Stork would then give the Buckeyes the lead to open the scoring in the third period, but Cameron Hughes tied it up with just under six minutes left in the contest. Then with just under three minutes left in regulation, the puck fell in front of John Wiitala in a skirmish in front of Jurusik’s net, and the freshman pushed the puck behind the goal line, restoring the Buckeyes’ lead for good.“I think every night we want to win. We got the bounce there and it was good to finish it,” Wiitala said on his game winner.OSU is set to be back on the ice on Friday in Ann Arbor to face Michigan at Yost Ice Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:35 p.m., with a return to Columbus to Nationwide Arena two days later at 3 p.m.
Alicia Herron’s heroic day catapulted regional host Ohio State to a Sunday showdown against No. 11 California. The Buckeyes were down 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning when Herron hit a line drive home run over the left field wall to put the team up 4-2. The home run was her second of the game and her third of the day. “I was just trying to step up, lead my team and help my team succeed,” Herron said. OSU won 5-3 as Herron provided four RBIs in the rematch against Kentucky. Senior Megan Miller received two wins on the day, one for five scoreless innings against Bucknell and than another in a seven-inning performance against Kentucky.“Megan had great command and was in control,” coach Linda Kalafatis said.The sun was shining over Buckeye Field Saturday as the Buckeyes played two-and-a-half games. They lost their first game in a thrilling 6-5 loss to Kentucky. The Buckeyes were down 6-1 with two outs in the seventh when Vanessa Spears hit a three-run home run. After loading the bases, Courtney Pruner was hit by a pitch to put the team within one. Whitney Cooper then fouled out to third, stranding the bases loaded.“I wish we would have started (the game) the way we ended it, but we missed our opportunities early,” Kalafatis said. After a 6-0 victory over the Bucknell Bison, OSU was able to notch the win against Kentucky to send them into the regional championship game.Freshman Melanie Nichols did not pitch at all Saturday, as she is day-to-day with soreness in her arm. She pitched three innings Friday night and received the loss against Kentucky.“Hopefully we will be able to throw her in one of the games tomorrow,” Kalafatis said. The only other pitching options for OSU are junior Karisa Medrano, who pitched a combined six innings in both games giving up three runs, and Miller. “I’ll pitch 14 innings (Sunday) if I have to,” Miller said. The Buckeyes must beat California twice Sunday to advance to the Super Regional tournament.OSU will play California Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Buckeye Field. If a second game is necessary, it will be played at 5:30 p.m.
Zach Boren has been training for this upcoming football season since he was a kid. Since he was 4 years old to be exact. The Ohio State senior fullback comes from a family of athletes. His parents, Mike and Hope Boren, played football and ran track, respectively, at Michigan in the early 1980s. His older brother, Justin, is an offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens – as well as a former Buckeye – and his younger brother, Jacoby Boren, is a freshman offensive lineman at OSU. Everything the Pickerington, Ohio, native, and his brothers did growing up was a competition. So, when OSU coach Urban Meyer came to Zach Boren last winter and explained to the fullback what he wanted from him in terms of intensity and leadership, he was ready. “The way my parents raised me, it was kind of easy,” Zach Boren said of his transition from being a three-year veteran to becoming a senior leader. That competitive drive – the one Meyer said helps make Zach Boren “the best fullback in the country” – has been instilled in the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder from the first time he began playing football. Zach Boren started tackle football at 4 years old, the same year Justin Boren, who was 7, started. Every practice after stretching, the two would take a lap around a nearby baseball field to get warmed up. And any time Zach Boren tried to beat his older brother back to the field, he hit the ground. “Every time I would try to pass him, he would just throw me down in the dirt,” Zach Boren said. “When I was four and he was seven, we were competing on who would become first in a lap around the field before practice.” Zach Boren said his parents emphasized to him the importance of leadership throughout his childhood. The example he set for his teammates this offseason resulted in him being voted a captain of the 2012 Buckeyes. He’s had some help leading along the way, most of which came from his fellow captains: senior defensive lineman John Simon, redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, senior nose tackle Garrett Goebel and senior running back Jordan Hall. “We want to be those leaders,” Zach Boren said of himself and his fellow captains. “We want to set an example for the rest of the guys out there. It’s something that, ever since coach Meyer was here, he kind of told us what he expects.” Not only has Zach Boren fulfilled Meyer’s request, he has gone a step further. “We just took it and ran, and said, ‘All right, if you expect this, we’re going to do this and more, and bring other guys with us.’” Boren did bring other guys with him. Literally. Starting shortly after the Buckeyes season ended in January in a Gator Bowl loss to Florida, Zach Boren and Simon began taking younger players with them to their lifting sessions. Zach Boren usually brought sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, redshirt sophomore running back Rod Smith and junior running back Carlos Hyde. They did it because Meyer told them they were not allowed to be in the weight room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center unless they were with a younger player, but more so, Boren said, to motivate the players that will be taking their spots as leaders on the team in future years. Spending time with younger players meant Zach Boren and Simon were around each other less than they had been their previous three years at OSU. For the two seniors, who are likely as close as any two Buckeyes, it was a bit of an adjustment. “It’s weird. We always used to lift together and stuff from years past. But now, we kind of don’t lift with each other any more,” Zach Boren said. Their relationship, which, outside of football, consists mainly of poker nights, video games and joking around, hasn’t seemed to suffer, though. At Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Simon and Zach Boren were each sitting at a roundtable, surrounded by a sea of reporters and photographers. Simon, glancing at Zach Boren, told a member of the media to go ask the fullback who is stronger. Zach Boren responded to the question, “I am,” with a smile. Simon had anticipated his friend’s answer, and told the reporter, jokingly, “go ask him again.” Boren laughed and said, “Tell him I have bigger arms than him.” The two often tease each other, but Meyer praises no one on the Ohio State roster more than Zach Boren and Simon. Meyer said of the two, “That’s why I got back into coaching.” As Boren’s role off the field has been praised and expanded, his responsibility on it is likely to increase, too. During his first three seasons at OSU, Boren had just one carry for two yards. He was a blocker, paving way for others to gain yards. That is likely to change this season. Since January, Zach Boren has lost 25 pounds, going from a 265-pound bruiser to a 240-pound playmaker. He’s lighter, faster and, Meyer said, will see action in a variety of ways. “He’s an athlete, but I didn’t know that. I wanted to evaluate him during the spring, and I did. He’s a guy that will touch the ball,” Meyer said. Zach Boren said he is excited to see what his role really is once the season starts this Saturday against Miami (Ohio). “I think I’m going to be used in a lot of different ways this year – like a hybrid, doing a lot of things,” Zach Boren said. “I don’t think my role will truly come out until Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio) when we see what I’m doing on a regular basis.” Zach Boren said he might even see time in a wildcat formation, receiving snaps in the shotgun close to the goal line. “Maybe I’ll meet up with Tim Tebow one day and get some pointers from him. I’ve never met the guy, so I’m looking forward to meeting him whenever I do and get some pointers,” Zach Boren said of the former Florida and current New York Jets quarterback and jump-pass extraordinaire. In the same competitive mindset Zach Boren has had since he was 4 years old, when he tried to beat his older brother in a lap around a baseball field before pee-wee practices, the fullback said he is not going to settle for mediocrity in his final season as a Buckeye. Not even when it comes to the naming of his special formation. “Maybe you guys (reporters) can think of something, like wild tiger or something. Something that’s manly,” Boren said. OSU is set to open its season Saturday against Miami (Ohio) at noon at Ohio Stadium.
Five hundred and eleven Buckeyes were honored as Ohio State Scholar-Athletes Monday at the 46th Annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner at Archie Griffin Ballroom in the Ohio Union. The Big Ten Medal of Honor, given annually to the graduating male and female athletes who have shown the most proficiency in both academics and athletics, was given to senior fencer Max Stearns and senior softball player Alicia Herron. There were 10 finalists: senior women’s soccer star Tiffany Cameron, senior Katarzyna Dabrowa of the fencing team, senior volleyball player Mari Hole, senior synchronized swimmer Caitlin Stewart, Herron, senior football player Ben Buchanan, senior wrestler C.J. Magrum, redshirt senior tennis player Devin McCarthy, senior volleyball player John Tholen and Stearns. Fourteen student-athletes received honors at the dinner for having 4.0 cumulative GPAs, including Stearns. “This is my fourth (time receiving the 4.0 GPA honor) and it’s honestly a huge honor … some of the people here are just the best in their field both athletically and … academically,” Stearns said. “I’m just excited to be recognized for all of these awards.” Senior swimmer Kelsey Moran received the Leann Grimes-Davidge Award, which is given to a female reflecting the level of athletic performance, scholarship, leadership and character as Grimes-Davidge, a four-time state and Big Ten title winning women’s tennis player who graduated from OSU summa cum laude. Senior swimmer Lauren Massey received the M/I Homes Foundation Award, one of the first awards to specifically recognize and promote women’s achievements in intercollegiate athletics at OSU. The Woody and Anne Hayes Award went to graduated gymnast Nicole Krauter, McCarthy and senior soccer player Aly Walker. The award provides athletes with a minimum 3.0 GPA and leadership qualities with financial assistance for postgraduate studies. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to celebrate the greatness that we have across all the sports and in the classroom,” Walker said before the ceremony started. “We all get recognition for what we do on the field or on the court and I think this is great to see how smart we are at Ohio State.” Senior rower Julie Dick was presented with the Pierce Phoenix Award, for excellence in academics, athletics and personal growth through perseverance and hard work and is to be used for postgraduate studies at OSU. “This is great to be recognized for these awards and being appreciated is a good feeling,” Dabrowa said. “I want to succeed at everything I do and I have all these great people around me, like my teammates, family and coaches, who support me and motivate me every day.” The John Dana Cole Award was presented to Dabrowa. The award provides a one-time stipend for postgraduate studies at OSU and has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. The Corwin A. Fergus Memorial Award, given to student-athletes who have excelled in athletics, received at least a 3.0 GPA, demonstrated positive qualities of character and citizenship and shown potential for success in postgraduate studies, was awarded to four athletes: baseball’s redshirt senior David Fathalikhani, women’s track and field’s graduated Kelcey McKinney, Dick and Stearns. The award is given in the memory of Fergus, a former OSU football player, graduate of the OSU School of Law and a successful businessman. Each scholarship is worth $5,000 to be applied for postgraduate studies at OSU. Women’s gymnastics was recognized for having the highest GPA among the women’s teams, and women’s track and field was recognized with the most improved GPA, presented by Men’s Varsity O. For men’s sports, men’s golf took home recognition for having the highest GPA, and men’s rifle had the most improved GPA. The Varsity O graduate scholarship award was given to senior swimmer Andrew Spurling. The ceremony opened with remarks from OSU President E. Gordon Gee, athletic director Gene Smith, associate professor of law and chair for the OSU Athletic Council Charlie Wilson and president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board Billy Gehring, a redshirt senior on the men’s track and field team and five-time scholar-athlete. The MC for the evening was Columbus Blue Jackets announcer Bill Davidge. Men’s basketball junior guard Aaron Craft, who was attending his third Scholar-Athlete Dinner, said he was honored to be invited again. “It’s fun to be around all of these people and it means a lot,” Craft said. “I came here to play basketball and everything, but to get an education that’s above a lot of other places and be successful, and be recognized for it means a lot.”
Senior guard Shannon Scott looks to score during a game against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. OSU lost, 76-67. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorCHICAGO — It was a familiar tale for the Ohio State men’s basketball team Friday night at the United Center.The Buckeyes fell behind quickly, trailing by as many as 16 in the first half, as they were bounced from the Big Ten Tournament, 76-67, in the quarterfinals, marking the first time OSU failed to make the semifinals since 2009.The deficit swelled to as many as 17 in the second half for the Buckeyes, many of whom said the loss was due to not “staying within the system.”OSU coach Thad Matta said deviating from the system is the reason the Buckeyes dug themselves such a big hole.“The biggest thing I told our guys, you’ve got to trust the system more in terms of what we’re doing,” Matta said. “We deviated some, especially early, and it got us.”OSU’s leading scorer was once again freshman guard D’Angelo Russell, who echoed his coach’s words, adding that despite inching their way back, the Buckeyes can’t afford to keep putting themselves in the same type of situations.“When everything’s getting tough we always run away from our system instead of trusting it, and we always end up with a loss,” Russell said. “We always kick, scratch and claw back and cut it within six, five, whatever it is, but we always run away from our system and it shows at the end with a loss.”But what is the system?Another freshman, forward Jae’Sean Tate, said the system is as simple as each player executing their individual assignments.“Intensity on offense. Just doing your job. Setting screens, running the floor, just being prepared and playing hard. That’s the system,” Tate said. “We got to come out with intensity and we have to trust the system. When we do that, we are a whole completely different team. When we don’t, we come up short.”Tate, who will likely make his first NCAA Tournament appearance next week, said the Buckeyes remain confident they can make a run.“Every time we have trusted our system starting off the game the way we’re supposed to, with Ohio State basketball, we’re a pretty tough team,” Tate said. “I think that this week in practice, we are going to have to stay focussed and be ready.”Senior guard Shannon Scott, who scored 13 points to go along with nine assists in the loss to Michigan State, said he will need to be a more of a leader for the young Buckeyes as the season winds down.“I don’t call them freshmen anymore, but I definitely have to be more vocal,” he said. “They haven’t been in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve been fortunate to get to the Final Four, but also lose in the first round so I’ve been on both ends of the stick.”Ultimately, Scott said the Buckeyes need to relish the moment, while also keeping their intensity.“You got to enjoy it. It’s the best time of your life, but no one is going to step down,” Scott said. “It’s the NCAA Tournament. everybody feels like they can be a Cinderella team, no matter who it is.”The Buckeyes are set to find out their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday night after the final conference tournament comes to a close.
Ohio State sophomore pitcher Connor Curlis delivers a pitch in the top of the second inning against North Carolina Greensboro on April 22 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Lantern reporterEven before they were Ohio State’s top two pitchers, Ryan Feltner and Connor Culis were friends.The pair atop the Buckeyes’ starting rotation has known each other since playing on Ohio Elite’s under-17 summer travel baseball team following their junior years of high school. Feltner committed to play at Ohio State just before Curlis did, before they both joined the travel team.“Knowing that I was gonna play [on Ohio Elite] with a guy I was going to be with in college was a good feeling,” Curlis said. “We got close that summer and then took it here.”The Ohio State coaching staff said Feltner and Curtis are practically inseparable during workouts. “They’re always working together, whether they’re playing catch, they’re long-tossing, whether they’re throwing bullpens the same day or the day after for the last two or three years,” pitching coach Mike Stafford said.Curlis steadily became one of Ohio State’s more reliable starters after flipping back and forth between the rotation and bullpen last season, leading the team in wins with five and maintaining an ERA of 4.02. Feltner saw a great deal of action throughout the 2017 season, but struggled at times with a 1-5 record and a 6.32 ERA. But he then dominated in the Cape Cod summer league, allowing zero runs in 15.1 innings with 15 strikeouts and seven walks en route to being named the Cape Cod’s outstanding relief pitcher.There has been plenty of offseason development to pin down the top two spots in the rotation this year. Senior reliever Seth Kinker said he hasn’t seen anyone work as hard as Feltner. Stafford agreed with that statement.“I do feel like he doesn’t leave anything behind, from a preparation standpoint,” Stafford said. “Ready to go, arm healthy, pitches ready, body, getting the [right] amount of sleep, food, no question.”Stafford also said Feltner’s slider has developed over time, a pitch that has been a point of emphasis for the duo in the off-season, in particular for Curlis.Feltner feels Curlis’ slider has really come along, essentially becoming his strikeout pitch now, which is impressive considering he just added it to his repertoire late last year. Curlis and Feltner often turn to each other for assistance in developing that specific breaking ball.“I feel like we’re both helping each other with that in our flat-ground work, throwing program every day, just to get that to our ‘A’ pitch,” Curlis said.Working together is nothing new for the pair. Curlis and Feltner have been workout partners since they first arrived on campus. That work has started to pay off with both Feltner and Curlis firmly entrenched in the top of Ohio State’s rotation.The two have taught each other a lot in that time. More than anything else, Curlis said, it’s helped them learn how to compete.“We have our strengths and our weaknesses, but just to attack and not pitch away from the bat,” Curlis said. “We’re not gonna strike out everyone.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer prepares to lead the Buckeyes onto the field before the OSU- Army game on Sep. 16. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignThere is an independent board group that will be working on the investigation surrounding Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer around the information he knew about the domestic abuse by wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith, according to a statement made by the university.“The special working group will direct the work of the investigative team and be available to provide consultation and advice and assist with communication to the full board on the matter,” the statement said.The group consists of six members: current trustees Alex Fischer, Janet Porter and Alex Shumate, former Ohio House speaker Jo Ann Davidson, former acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford and former U.S Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart.The group is looking into allegations that Meyer knew about incidents of domestic violence in 2009 and 2015 by Smith on his ex-wife, Courtney Smith. In a report by former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy, he said that Courtney Smith exchanged text messages with wives of all the Ohio State coaches, including Shelley Meyer, Urban’s wife.The football team announced on Thursday they were closing all practices to the media until further notice.