Here’s another stunning aspect of Germany’s 7-1 domination of Brazil on Tuesday: We have a new best soccer team in the world. The blowout changed the landscape of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI) ratings. Going into the match, here’s what the SPI top five looked like:Despite somewhat unimpressive play in the World Cup, Brazil still ranked first over Argentina by a healthy margin, and the Germans ranked fourth. But when ESPN’s Stats & Info team recalculated the SPI on Wednesday morning, a very different picture emerged:Essentially, Germany’s incredibly lopsided victory caused it to flip spots with Brazil. Now the Germans have a sizable lead over the rest of the field (nearly as big a separation as Brazil had going into the tournament), and Brazil has dropped to fourth behind the Argentines and Colombians. (Note, too, that Colombia’s SPI dropped marginally, because Brazil’s loss affected the strength-of-schedule component of its rating.)SPI was wrong Tuesday in its estimation of the relative qualities of Germany and Brazil, even after adjusting for the loss of Brazil’s superstar forward, Neymar. But the good thing about a rating system like SPI is that it can use new information to revise its estimates; the stronger the new evidence, the greater the adjustment. And a 7-1 win is strong evidence that SPI had Germany rated too low and Brazil too highly.
While the Los Angeles Lakers have endured a (predictably) poor start to the 2014-15 season, their future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant continues to rack up individual milestones. In one game last month, he picked up his 20th career triple double and became the first player in league history to record 30,000 career points and 6,000 career assists. And after a 32-point outburst Tuesday night, Bryant moved to within 30 points of Michael Jordan and third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list — meaning Bryant could pass Jordan in the Lakers’ Friday night game against the San Antonio Spurs.Jordan has always been an easy comparison for Bryant. The two men play the same position (shooting guard), are built similarly (both stand 6 feet 6 and weigh about 200 pounds), seem to possess the same maniacal work ethic, and even have similar-looking games. Bryant’s championship count, five, even rivals Jordan’s six. In the minds of many fans, Bryant is the closest to Jordan the game has seen since Jordan retired for good in 2003.Statistically, though, there’s never really been much of a comparison. According to most advanced metrics, Jordan was better than Bryant at both ends of the floor. (This is true even if we restrict both players to the same block of seasons by age so we’re comparing apples to apples. Kobe entered the NBA at age 18, and he’s 36 now; Jordan played from age 21 to 34, retired and played again from age 38 to 39. So their overlapping years are 21 to 34.)Offensively, Bryant can’t hold a candle to Jordan, mainly because of a disparity in efficiency. After translating both Jordan’s and Bryant’s stats to a league-wide offensive efficiency level of 106 points per 100 possessions to account for the changes in the game (the NBA’s overall average since it merged with the ABA in 1976), Jordan posted an offensive rating of 118.4 between the ages of 21 and 34, while Bryant put up a rating of 112.4. For a top scorer like Bryant or Jordan, an offensive rating boost of six points per 100 possessions can mean an extra four wins for his team in an 82-game season.Because of an effect known as “skill curves,” it can be misleading to directly compare efficiency numbers between players with different offensive responsibilities. (This is why Steve Kerr and Fred Holberg aren’t better offensive players than Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, for instance.) But Jordan’s and Bryant’s roles were of roughly the same, so it’s a fair comparison; between the ages of 21 and 34, Jordan used 31.9 percent of the Chicago Bulls’ possessions while on the floor, while Bryant used 31.6 percent of the Lakers’ possessions when he was in the game. In other words, with essentially the same volume of the offense being directed through each player, Jordan was just a lot more efficient than Bryant at turning possessions into points.Why? Jordan shot the ball more accurately than Bryant, with a true shooting percentage of .580 to Bryant’s .556 — and that number even includes Bryant’s superior three-point shooting (particularly by volume) and a slight edge to Bryant at the free throw line as well. This means Jordan’s shooting advantage was almost totally driven by a better success rate on 2-pointers, where he crushed Bryant 52.0 percent to 48.5 percent despite the high likelihood that Bryant has taken more shots closer to the rim than Jordan did. (Even though a much larger proportion of Bryant’s shots came from three-point territory, Bryant’s rate of drawing fouls per shot attempt — a good proxy for how close to the basket a player is taking his shots — was higher than Jordan’s.)Jordan also protected the ball much better than Bryant. Between the ages of 21 and 34, Jordan turned the ball over on just 9.3 percent of his possessions, the best rate ever among players with such a high volume of shooting. Bryant isn’t exactly careless with the ball, but Jordan’s combination of a high usage rate, great shooting efficiency, a good assist rate and a microscopic rate of turnovers is what makes him arguably the best offensive player of the NBA’s post-merger era.Even when coupled with usage rate, it’s possible for individual efficiency numbers to belie a player’s true offensive contribution. A more sophisticated approach to measuring a player’s effect on his team’s offense can be found in statistical plus/minus metrics like Daniel Myers’s Box Plus/Minus (BPM). By that measure, Jordan helped his teams’ offenses by about 2.3 more points per 100 possessions than Bryant did between ages 21 and 34. We can’t be sure what a player’s actual on-court impact was before 2001 because we don’t have play-by-play data, but this reconstruction of regularized adjusted plus/minus for the 1990s (using box score and quarter-by-quarter score data) estimates that Jordan was, by far, the best offensive player of that decade. (By contrast, Bryant’s offensive impact ranks fourth relative to his peers.)Meanwhile, on defense Bryant looks like the Derek Jeter of the NBA — soaking up defensive accolades on reputation rather than performance. Over his career (which includes 12 All-Defensive team nods) the Lakers have only been 0.6 points per 100 possessions better than average defensively, and Bryant’s long-term regularized defensive plus/minus of -0.9 is below average. Synergy Sports, the video-tracking service that classifies every play a player is involved in, has the most favorable view of Bryant defensively but still considers him to be just a 55th percentile defender on aggregate since it began tracking full-season data in 2006-07 (a span over which Bryant was named to six All-Defensive squads).We don’t have Synergy numbers for Jordan defensively, but what evidence we do have suggests that he was better than Bryant at that end of the court. Jordan posted higher rates of steals, blocks and defensive rebounds than Bryant, and team-based defensive metrics like Dean Oliver’s defensive rating consider Jordan far superior (101.1 to 105.4; lower is better on defense) over the age 21 through 34 span after translating for era. Furthermore, the defensive component of Myers’s BPM lists Jordan as saving about 1.4 points per 100 possessions relative to Bryant (whom the metric considers a below-average defender). And while Jordan was in the top 12 percent of 1990s defenders by the aforementioned reconstructed plus/minus rating, Bryant was in the bottom 42 percent of his peers in defensive regularized plus/minus.Bryant will catch — and pass — M.J. on the all-time scoring list soon, but that shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Bryant has been a better basketball player than Jordan. To the contrary, the best statistical evidence at our disposal shows there really isn’t any legitimate way to make the argument for Bryant’s superiority. It’s only natural to hold the two players up side by side because of their superficial similarities, but a serious breakdown of the numbers renders all of those comparisons silly — the better player is Jordan, in a landslide.
Sidney Rice has a lot on his shoulders this year with the Seattle Seahawks. The problem is, he had surgery on both shoulders and so they are hardly ready for him to take on NFL hits.“This is going to be up to them. I know they’re going to protect me as much as possible,” Rice said of the team. “Preseason is important but it’s not as important as the regular season. They’re going to take their time and progress me along, bring me along as much as possible, and we’ll see what happens during the preseason games.”Rice’s first season with Seattle was marred by injury. He injured one shoulder during the preseason and said he was unaware that the other was also damaged. Rice played as best he could through the two shoulder injuries until a pair of concussions — the second one suffered in Week 12 against Washington — finally landed Rice on injured reserve.His first shoulder surgery on the right one came Jan. 3. His left shoulder was repaired Feb. 16. Still, it could be a while before the Seahawks put him at risk. Initially, they were going to place Rice on the physically unable to perform list for the start of training camp, but he was cleared to participate in drills over the weekend before the first practice.“We’re just going to go through this conservatively, I guess you can say, and lengthen the time of his recovery through this camp. That’s great that he’s working and getting the timing worked, but we won’t get him banged for a while,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We’ll see how that goes as we start to make progress. This is the best time for us to have our hands on him and really work him right and finish off his off-season, and I just think he’s had enough that he’s been through that it warrants taking our time here and not rushing him back.”Rice’s health is of the utmost importance for Seattle this year because of the questions that linger with the rest of its receivers. The competition to find who will start opposite Rice, along with determining the depth of the position, is one of the few true battles the Seahawks have to solve during the next month.“I’m the leader of this group now with Mike (Williams) gone and I just want to lead by example,” Rice said. “These guys know how to play football but we have to bring it every day, bring the right attitude.”
Then again, fans weren’t exactly being treated to great hockey — and the trade of star Ron Francis and the talk of relocation didn’t help to build goodwill either. In the 1989-90 season, the Whalers had a slightly above-average 38-33-9 record and also earned slightly above-average revenues. But things went underwater from there: the Whalers never had a winning season again.The question is whether the Islanders would be better off with one-eighth of a loaf in New York or a market to themselves in Connecticut. Considering the popularity of the New York Rangers (and the presence of the New Jersey Devils), the inadequacy of the Barclays Center for hockey, and all the other competition for the fans’ entertainment dollar in New York, it’s probably a pretty close call. It was one of the best logos in all of sports. A green “W,” and a blue whale’s tail, neatly using the negative space to form an “H,” as in “Hartford Whalers.” Unfortunately, they don’t give out Stanley Cups for graphic design. The Whalers didn’t have a lot of success on the ice, winning just one playoff series in 18 NHL seasons before moving to North Carolina and becoming the Carolina Hurricanes before the 1997-98 season.But now there’s a chance the Whalers could resurface. The state of Connecticut is pursuing the New York Islanders, who are in danger of being kicked out of their woefully inadequate arena at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The team would play at the XL Center in Hartford, the Whalers’ former home.How successful might Whalers 2.0 be? In a 2013 study, I estimated that about 175,000 avid NHL fans live in the Hartford-New Haven metro area. That sounds bad, though it’s comparable to or slightly better than some of the lower-tier American NHL markets, including Columbus, Raleigh-Durham, Miami and Nashville (and better than Las Vegas, where the NHL is expanding). Furthermore, there’s potentially room for growth. According to our estimates, 7 percent of adults in the Hartford metro area were avid NHL fans in 2013. But the percentage is 13 percent in the New York metro area and 17 percent in the Boston metro area. If the Islanders or another team were to relocate to Hartford, the numbers would probably improve. The Hartford-New Haven media market is the largest in the U.S. without a “big four” sports franchise. But it’s only about one-eighth the size of New York’s media market (which includes Long Island and Northern New Jersey).Of course, the NHL’s last stint in Hartford didn’t exactly end successfully. Between the 1989-90 and 1996-97 seasons, the average NHL team’s revenues more than doubled, increasing from $22 million to $52 million, according to estimates from Forbes and Financial World magazines. But the Whalers’ revenues didn’t increase at all during this period, flatlining at about $25 million. That doesn’t adjust for inflation, so their income actually decreased on a real basis.
For the first time since 1993, the women’s soccer Big Ten championship will not be decided with a post-season tournament. The change, which puts emphasis exclusively on a team’s regular season performance, makes Ohio State’s games at Wisconsin and at Minnesota this weekend all the more important.In the past, the league has had two titles, crowning both a regular season and a tournament champion. Now, the conference championship, as well as an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, will be decided solely on the regular season standings.The elimination of the league’s post-season tournament has brought a noticeable change to the pressure brought on by each game, coach Lori Walker said. “You’re in an ‘every game matters’ scenario right from the beginning,” Walker said. “In the past, there were a few games where you just stay on task … you could always make that one last push using the tournament, and we don’t have that anymore.”Walker, who has always been a supporter of a conference tournament, said its single-elimination style was valuable practice for her team. The tournament represented a chance, the coach said, for her team to prepare for the pressures of playing in the NCAA championship at the end of the season.Junior midfielder Courtney Jenkins said the pressure is still there, it is just a little different.“Each game is a big game,” Jenkins said. “It’s always a battle, and without having the tournament at the end of the year, you can’t wait until the end to prove yourself.”Coming off of last weekend’s victories, OSU is looking to move up the Big Ten ladder this weekend. They currently sit third in the conference, behind their next two opponents, and begin the road trip Friday night to Madison to face the Badgers. The game is one of three consecutive road games for the Buckeyes. It is their longest stint away from Columbus this season. The biggest struggle of playing on the road comes in the team’s energy level, Walker said.“When you’re playing in the [Jessie Owens Memorial Stadium] and all of your friends and family is there, it can be really easy to elevate your excitement and your passion from the get-go,” Walker said. “When you’re on the road it’s got to come from the inside.”Jenkins said the team is aware of how difficult the weekend will be.“Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are going to be tough,” Jenkins said. “But I think we’ll get some good preparation this week and we’ll be ready for it.”
Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has interviewed for the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching job and will learn next week if he is hired, according to multiple reports. Colts owner Jim Irsay has reportedly met to discuss the position twice with Tressel, who served as a game-day consultant for the team this past season. From his Twitter account, @JimIrsay, Irsay tweeted Saturday at about 11 a.m.: “The #1 pick debate will rage on,what a great year to have it..the HC search is wide ranging n thorough,decision by mid 2 late next week.” The Colts did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s request for comment regarding the team’s head coaching position. Tressel opted to postpone his term of employment with the Colts until Week 7 of the NFL season due to concerns about current and former OSU players who were suspended in both the NFL and NCAA. In Tressel’s final game coaching the Buckeyes, he led the team to a 31-26 victory against Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome. That game, along with the entire 2010 season, was later vacated by OSU as part of its self-imposed penalties for violating NCAA policies. Tressel resigned from his post with the Buckeyes on May 30. This past season, the Colts posted an NFL-worst 2-14 record.
The No. 4-ranked Ohio State rowing team was selected as one of 16 teams that will head to West Windsor, N.J., this week to compete for the national title at the NCAA Championships. The rowing, which had one of the athletic department’s 46 self-reported NCAA violations that were released last week, have qualified for the NCAA championships every year as a team since 2000, making this their 13th-consecutive appearance. The program is one of only five in the nation to achieve that number of consecutive trips. OSU finished second at the Big Ten Championships on May 13, with a total of 145 points, falling behind Michigan, which took home the win with 147 points. The NCAA Championships are made up of 16 teams, with each team fielding two boats of eight rowers, First and Second Varsity Eights, and one boat of four rowers, First Varsity Four. Senior Ellen Heister, who rows on the First Varsity Eight, said the loss to Michigan at the Big Ten Championships will give the team an advantage going into nationals. “Big Tens was kind of a learning experience for us. We saw the speed that Michigan has all season, but we hadn’t gotten to race them until Big Tens. We got to analyze a few things about our own race, in relation to how they did when they beat us, so I think that will be beneficial when we get to race them again,” Heister said. “I think we’re all really excited about where our team is seeded in accomplishing the goal that we set at the beginning of the year.” Coach Andy Teitelbaum said that with the goal and focus on winning a national championship, the team looks forward to racing former competitors and new opponents. “I think Michigan showed us a couple of things in the First and Second Eight, and now it’s up to us to see whether or not we’re equal to the challenge,” Teitelbaum said. “They’re not the only crew that’s out there that I think is particularly formidable. We haven’t seen anybody from the West Coast, so it will be fun to see how we stack up against their speed.” Junior Allison Elber of the First Varsity Eight said the team is eager to meet the high competition and compete at the next level. “There are a lot of really good teams there and we’re expecting that, and we feel that we’re ready to compete at that level now, so we’re just really excited to get out there and show what we can do,” Elber said. Sophomore Claire-Louise Bode of the First Varsity Eight, said the two-point loss to Michigan at the Big Ten Championships was a part of their journey toward the goal of a national title. “I feel like that was one step towards what we plan to do,” Bode said. “Now that we’ve gone through it, we have a better picture in our heads of where we’re going to, and the goal is in reach. We’re ready for it now.” The Buckeyes will compete on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J., for the NCAA Championships Friday through Sunday.
Ohio State redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) takes a 3 pointer in the first half of the game against Maryland on Jan. 11 in the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won 91-69. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorNo. 13 Ohio State (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) is exactly halfway through its conference schedule with nine games won and nine games remaining. It narrowly edged out Nebraska Monday, 64-59, in its closest conference game of the season. Here are some notes from the postgame press conference. Keita Bates-Diop finding production despite tighter defensive coverageThe cat is out of the bag: redshirt junior Keita Bates-Diop is one of the best players in college basketball. The 6-foot-7 forward averages 19.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from the 3.Earlier in the year, teams played man-to-man against Bates-Diop. It allowed him to easily drive and to shoot high-percentage shots inside or catch wide-open passes from beyond the arc and knock home 3s. But teams have started to press more often in their coverage of him, double-teaming him to prevent him from having those open looks. His current four-game stretch has seen him average his lowest point rate (16.8) since he averaged 15 points per game from Nov. 19-26. The added defensive pressure has made it more challenging for Bates-Diop to find open lanes to drive to the basket. But against Nebraska, he said he was able to stay moving and would eventually find open space without the ball before catching a pass and making a play.“So I started slipping screens and just moving around a little bit more, cutting a little bit more off the ball and all my teammates found me,” Bates-Diop said Monday. “It was mostly just layups to the basket.”He had been off to a slow start, making only 2-of-5 shots from the field and struggling to find open shooting chances given the coverage. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said he typically does not have to say much to Bates-Diop when he goes into a bit of a lull and that it is always just a matter of time until his star forward starts putting up points.“I just told him I’d like for you to score a lot more and go get 14 really quickly here,” Holtmann joked. “He’s getting a lot of attention. He missed some open shots, but he made some huge plays for us. And I thought our guys did a nice job finding him in the post late too.”Four games in eight daysWhen the Buckeyes went to the locker room after the game Monday night, they finally had a chance to really catch their breath. They had just wrapped up their fourth game in eight days with the first three coming on the road. “I definitely am a little fatigued,” senior forward Jae’Sean Tate said. “I mean you know that’s just the cards we were dealt. Especially this season with the tournament being moved up, it’s a little tougher. But I think as a team, we’re doing a great job. The coaches are focusing more on film and recovery.”Holtmann said the team did not discuss any change in approach to the four-game stretch, but that the players have worked additionally with strength and conditioning coach Quadrian Banks to avoid getting too worn down.He also said he wanted three of his starters — junior guard C.J. Jackson, Bates-Diop and Tate, who played 37, 37 and 33 minutes, respectively — to get more rest given how much they had played during that stretch. However, given how close Monday’s matchup wound up being, he was unable to rest his starters as much as he would have liked.“We’re going to continue to trust and use our bench,” Holtmann said. “We played seven guys over 20 minutes, which is kind of normal. But we need to continue obviously for Thursday. We need to probably utilize our bench even more if we can.”Andre Wesson and Andrew Dakich providing much-needed reliefPart of those bench players who have helped to provide key relief for starters have been sophomore forward Andre Wesson and redshirt senior guard Andrew Dakich. Wesson, who lost time over the summer due to an undisclosed injury, has worked his way back and has taken the role of the top bench forward. Over the past five games, he has averaged 21.8 minutes per game.Though he has only averaged 2.8 points per game over that stretch, the players and coaches have raved about his passing and defense being valuable coming off the bench. “Sometimes you guys may not see things that don’t show up on stat sheets, but he’s being a great defender,” Tate said. “He’s getting his hands on deflections, he’s boxing out his man, making sure they don’t get the ball, but also keeping balls alive.”Like Wesson, Dakich has not been the most productive scoring guard, averaging just 3.8 points per game over his past five games — with an average of 22.4 minutes per game. Unlike Wesson, he lacks the size to guard taller forwards attempting jump shots. He also lacks game-changing speed, but Holtmann said the 6-foot guard makes up for it with his awareness.“What he lacks in athleticism — and let’s be honest, he lacks athleticism — he makes up for it so much in his IQ and his ability to connect his teammates,” Holtmann said. “I did not realize he’d be this solid for us defensively. They tried to ice him tonight and people shot over at times, but he’s hard to get around.”Up NextOhio State will try to extend its unbeaten streak in the Big Ten to 10 games when it hosts Penn State at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Schottenstein Center.
Simon Sladen, senior curator of modern and contemporary performance at the V&A, positions late comedian Tommy Cooper’s famous red fez Simon Sladen, senior curator of modern and contemporary performance at the V&A, said: “It is wonderful news that we now have an authentic fez in addition to the Tommy Cooper Collection at the V&A.”Cooper’s fez is an icon of 20th century British comedy. It’s thrilling that we can display it alongside his hand-written gags and unique examples of his comedy props to give visitors a fascinating insight into one the best-loved entertainers of the 20th century.”After an early career with the Army, Cooper went on to star in his own TV shows and become one of Britain’s highest-paid and best-loved entertainers. Cooper in action in 1970 The fez has lost a few of its tassles, thanks to an admiring cat
It may not look like it – but somewhere beneath this undergrowth is a three-bedroom end-of-terrace about to be auctioned for almost half a million pounds.The dilapidated house which has been completely swallowed up by foliage is up for auction on Tuesday with a guide price of £450,000.The home has been left abandoned for several years – enough time for it to develop its own private woodland. Other properties on the street sells for £800,000, so an adventurous buyer could snare a bargain.The £450,000 price tag is still double the price of an average UK home, but just below the London average of £475,000.The house will be auctioned by Savills at The Marriott Hotel on Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, London. General view of an abandoned house up for auction that has been completely engulfed by foliage in south east London. Credit:SWNS.com The back garden is also very overgrownCredit:SWNS.com “It has been neglected for so long and is in need of a complete renovation. We’re calling it The Tree House.”It is on a really good street but it is so overgrown that it is surprising no one has made a complaint to the council about it.”We have had a good level of interest. With the potential and the location it could make a great family home.” According to auctioneers Savills, the property on Ruthin Road, in Blackheath, south east London, is “in need of complete modernisation”.It has a kitchen, reception room, three bedrooms and a bathroom. There is also a 50ft long back garden, which is heavily overgrown, as well as a garage.Robin Howeson, director at Savills Auctions, said: “We don’t get homes like this very often. The door is barely visible from the streetCredit:SWNS.com The 82-year-old said that the property has “been empty a few months now” and said the house has been swallowed by the plants “for a long time”.”There were loads of people here yesterday looking at it, and they have been a few times,” she said.”It was a lovely little house… it is a wonder the neighbours didn’t kick off about it though,” she added.”I would love to see the windows, I bet the curtains are black.” One neighbour, Julia, a Dublin native who has lived opposite the house for 52 years, said she remembers the former occupant planting the garden flora “quite a few years ago”. The three-bedroom home, dubbed The Tree House, has been left untouched for years and now boasts its own private woodlandCredit:SWNS.com 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.