To say the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors have taken different paths to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals would be quite the understatement. The Cavs easily swept their first two series, against the Pistons and Hawks; the Raptors were pushed to seven games in each of theirs, with the Pacers and Heat. Toronto played its last game this past Sunday; Cleveland last played the Sunday before that. As a result, LeBron & Co. have an enormous advantage in the rest department heading into Game 1 at home Tuesday night. But will it help the Cavs much? Don’t bank on it.The Cavs already enter the series as heavy favorites: Our Elo-based forecast gives them a 74 percent chance of prevailing. And the seven-day rest differential over the Raptors is tied for second among the 230 playoff series occurring in the second round or later since 1984, when the league launched the 16-team playoff format. (The largest difference in time off was nine days, in the 2004 Pacers-Heat series.)Such a long layoff for one team and a tight turnaround for the other can spin either way — rest or rust — but there isn’t any statistical evidence that inequalities in rest between series help or harm teams in the playoffs.We looked at this a couple of ways. First, if either rust or exhaustion is going to have an effect, it’s most likely to come in Game 1 of a new series. Using both teams’ pre-series Elo ratings (FiveThirtyEight’s pet method of estimating a team’s strength at a given moment), we can calculate expected point differentials for those opening games and then compare them to the games’ actual scoring margins. Teams that got more days off than their opponent did not do better than expected in these Game 1s, in terms of their expected point margins; any benefit of extra rest wasn’t statistically significant. But that’s just looking at Game 1s. What about the whole series? As a second pass at the question, we used a logistic regression — a nifty statistical tool for examining outcomes such as wins and losses — to test whether the difference in rest days between the two teams had any impact on the series outcome, after accounting for the series’ Elo-based forecast. The series projection had major significance in predicting who went on to win — no surprise there. But the differential between teams in rest days was not a statistically significant factor, just as in our analysis of Game 1s.But smoking out relationships between rest and rust and the outcome of a series overlooks the most important factor: the quality of the teams. A breakdown of the average differential in Elo between the two teams, sorted by difference in the number of days off between series, shows that better teams are more likely to close out their series quickly, and worse teams that do win are more likely to do so in a longer series.For the Cavs-Raptors series, what really matters is not Cleveland’s long vacation nor Toronto’s heavy workload, but the simple fact that the Cavs are the better team. Rest was never going to change that.Check out our NBA playoff predictions.
Former Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas has a great deal of respect for Michael Jordan and carefully considered his answer before proclaiming his current basketball superiority in a video by TMZ.Chris Yuscavage of Complex Sports points out that this video made him realize two things:1. Gilbert Arenas does, in fact, use his pickup truck for transporting more than just fireworks.2. We miss Gilbert Arenas! Seriously, this guy was so much fun to watch when he was in the NBA, and it sucks that injuries killed his career.Watch him talk about what he thinks would happen during a game of 1-on-1 between himself and Michael Jordan in the clip above. Entertaining stuff.
When they said the Floyd Mayweather long-awaited bout against Manny Pacquaio would be the richest in boxing history, not everyone knew you’d practically have to be rich to afford to order it on pay-per-view.Having to be rich to have the fight beamed into your home may be an overstatement, but not by much.HBO and Showtime confirmed to ESPN.com that the suggested retail price for the May 2 fight is $89.95—the most expensive in history.On top of that, if you really want clarity there could be another $10 added to it to see it in high definition. That would make it $100 to watch a fight that could be an all-time great. . . but also could be a dance contest.Neither fighter is at his peak as they were five years ago when this fight was first discussed as a super fight. Now, it’s super legacies, with flashes of the greatness they embodied.The suggested retail price is not only a new record for a boxing pay-per-view event, it is nearly 40 percent above the previous high. The previous high of $64.95 (some providers have charged an extra $10 for HD) was established by Mayweather in his fight against Canelo Alvarez in Sept. 2013. Mayweather’s subsequent fights against Marcos Maidana also hit that number.The fight is expected to break the record for pay-per-view revenue of $152 million, which was for Mayweather’s fight against Alvarez, and most buys (2.5 million), which was for Mayweather’s fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.Those who can’t afford to buy the fight in the comfort of their own home might plan to go to a bar, but there’s a question as to whether some bars will want to make the investment to bring the fight in. Why? Because bars are charged based on their legal occupancy.The owner of a high-end New York City sports bar said that the fight will cost him $21 a person that night, which he’ll happily absorb, but he can see how other establishments that generate less revenue might take a pass. For that rate, so will many people at home.
Make no mistake: The Cubs have good hitters overall. They produced baseball’s seventh-best Weighted Runs Created Plus this past season,3Among non-pitchers. and its 16th-most runs scored per game. And against all pitches (fastball or no), the Cubs tended to whiff less than average — 22.8 percent, against an MLB average of 23.3 percent.But velocity is the Cubs’ kryptonite. On top of their tendency to whiff against the hardest fastballs, Chicago also made a lot of weak contact, reflected by pop-ups and a low batting average. Even when the Cubs could bring the bat to the ball, they failed to do much with it.Maybe, too, the Cubs’ tendency toward whiffs was exacerbated by the low temperatures in New York. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick showed that high velocity is especially effective in the postseason, due in part to the effect of October’s low temperatures. When you combine the Mets’ powerful arms with the pressure of the playoffs and 40-degree fall temperatures, perhaps we should have expected the Cubs to struggle with contact.(As for the Cubs’ pitching woes: Those have been much more unexpected, and much harder to explain.)The outlook for the Cubs is now grim, as only one team in MLB history has come back from a 3-0 deficit. Then again, that one team (the 2004 Boston Red Sox) was also battling a curse with the help of a front office run by Theo Epstein. We’ll have to see if Epstein’s team can pull off the same trick twice, but it’s safe to say that the overwhelming velocity of New York’s pitchers has put the odds firmly against it. Chicago’s worst fear has come to pass: The New York Mets lead the Cubs three games to none in the National League Championship Series. Scoring only five runs in three games, Chicago’s usually powerful bats have been held in check, and a series sweep may be imminent. What happened to a Cubs team that looked like the pennant favorite after winning the National League wild-card game?One oft–repeated explanation of New York’s dominance is that Chicago’s hitters struggle against quality fastballs. According to this theory, that weakness is magnified against a Mets rotation headlined by three of the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball: Noah Syndergaard (average fastball velocity: 97.7 mph), Matt Harvey (96.5) and Jacob deGrom (95.8). When New York dials up the heat, Cub bats wilt.Here at FiveThirtyEight, there’s nothing we love more than taking down faulty narratives. But this theory does seem to be borne out by the data. While the average MLB hitter whiffs at 96 mph fastballs 22.8 percent of the time,1Using data from PitchInfo from the 2015 regular season. the average Cubs hitter swings and misses 25.7 percent of the time against the same pitch type and velocity.2To get these numbers and generate the following chart, I modeled whiffs with a binomial logistic regression that incorporated count and fastball velocity.
There’s a good argument to be made that MLB launched the new sports–data revolution in 2006, when it introduced PITCHf/x. The technology used cameras to measure the velocity, position, and break of every pitch in real time, transforming how sabermetricians analyzed the sport. But this season, PITCHf/x was phased out in favor of Statcast, a newer and more advanced system that tracks the ball (and players) using a combination of radar and cameras.On paper, Statcast is an incredible leap forward — and when it works, it’s amazing. But so far, it has struggled to measure the basic elements of pitching that PITCHf/x had down cold, causing confusion among sabermetricians and fans alike.It all started the first weekend of the season, when observers noted some unusual pitch velocity readings from San Francisco Giants hurler Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner’s fastball was up almost two full miles per hour compared with last year; in a league where every tick matters, that reading could have meant a much better season for the Giants’ ace than expected. It wasn’t just Bumgarner: FanGraphs writer Dave Cameron quickly noticed that velocity numbers had jumped across the league. Days after the changes were noted, MLB data guru Tom Tango clarified in a blog post that the changeover from PITCHf/x to Statcast had altered the way pitch speed was recorded, making it appear that velocity had increased. An MLB Advanced Media spokesperson who requested not to be identified said “the transition saw unexpected issues that have been resolved,” but declined to comment further.And tracking velocity was only the beginning of Statcast’s troubles. Real-time data from MLB’s Gameday app has been inconsistent or obviously erroneous in the season’s first month. Some days, it has gone missing altogether, only to reappear later without explanation. Statcast has always had gaps in its data, but in previous years, that missing information was limited to batted-ball velocity and launch angle. The pitch-tracking issues that cropped up this year are in dramatic contrast with those we saw from PITCHf/x, which tended to miss only a handful of throws a season.Even if you focus solely on the pitches that Statcast successfully tracks, its measurement error is much higher than PITCHf/x’s was. We can tell whether a park is systematically measuring pitches incorrectly by looking at the average vertical and horizontal coordinates of pitches there. If the data from a particular park tends to always be a bit high or a bit outside compared to when the same pitchers throw at other parks, it’s likely that the measurements are off. And according to models I built to measure the systematic error in each ballpark,1I used generalized linear models, with a random effect for the park. the new system is struggling to determine where the ball crosses the plate. Here’s what those errors look like when averaged across the league. Errors in both horizontal and vertical movement have never been higher in the four years that Statcast has made some of its data publicly available.2This year’s horizontal errors are tied with last year’s as the highest ever; this year’s vertical errors are the highest ever. So it’s not just your imagination as you watch the game on TV: In-broadcast representations of the strike zone (like FoxTrax) take their data from Statcast, and Statcast’s errors, in turn, have bred anger with umpires and confusion over how pitches are being called.Statcast runs into the most trouble when it’s quantifying pitch break, or the degree to which pitches move up and down or side to side as they travel between the mound and the plate. Third-party observers have catalogued numerous inaccuracies with Statcast’s break numbers. “It appears that the current Statcast/TrackMan h[orizontal]/v[ertical] break can be up to 3 inches divergent from the truth, simply comparing it to 2016 PITCHf/x data,” said Kyle Boddy, a data-driven trainer with multiple MLB clients. Even the average Statcast-reported break number is about an inch off. Some readings are especially egregious: One pitch was originally reported to have arced upward more than 20 inches on its trip from the mound to the plate. The combination of errors in velocity and break have rendered some pitches impossible to classify, further confusing sabermetricians.Making matters worse, some ballparks show much larger errors than others. So far this season, Atlanta’s brand-new SunTrust Park appears to have the most accurate vertical break numbers, only off by two-tenths of an inch on average. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park shows the worst errors, missing by an average of 2.4 inches per pitch. So not only are the errors bigger than in the days of PITCHf/x, they’re also more inconsistent: Last year, every park’s errors ranged from 0.04 to 1.4 inches.Park-specific calibration errors such as these may explain other aberrant MLB trends. Despite the aforementioned league-wide hike in measured velocity, Chicago Cubs starters have registered lower fastball velocities than last year, sparking concern among Cubs fans. Writers have pointed to poor starts by Chicago pitchers as evidence that the velocity drop-offs are real, and even suggested that it could be part of a conscious effort by Cubs pitchers to decrease fatigue. But the far simpler explanation is bad data: If the club’s pitch tracker is poorly calibrated, it could make it look like pitchers are losing velocity when in fact the readings are just wrong. Supporting this idea is the fact that opposing teams’ pitchers in Wrigley have also registered a lower raw velocity than average. Unless the Cubs’ velocity woes are contagious, it seems likely that Statcast errors are driving some of their low numbers.The root cause of Statcast’s troubles is unknown. The problems could originate in the hardware, the computer code processing the resulting data, or any other part of a complex system. The hardware part of Statcast — the part that actually tracks pitches — is a radar system sold by a company called TrackMan. Boddy’s company, Driveline Baseball, maintains their own TrackMan machine and has previously characterized its performance. “It is well-known in the industry that TrackMan has a lot of calibration issues, especially in nonstandard deployments.” Boddy said. For a radar system that works best in empty environments, it hardly gets less standard than trying to take measurements in a crowded MLB stadium on game day.The good news is that MLB could learn from the last major technological innovation it deployed. When PITCHf/x first came out in the postseason of 2006, there were major issues with its initial calibration. “The data was open sourced and required tons of work from the public sphere to massage and get right,” Boddy said. “It was years before the data stabilized, and MLBAM has public analysts to thank for doing tons of free work.” But in contrast to a decade ago, MLB is now providing very little detail about Statcast’s internal workings. Without greater disclosure from MLB, it’s impossible to know what issues Statcast is having, or when they may be resolved. (At times, their own analysts appear to find out about changes to the public data after the fact.) Until Statcast improves, television viewers and sabermetricians alike will have to take pitch-tracking measurements with a grain of salt.
The logic was sound for Scott: Kessler/McCown as the most obvious case, the Browns starter last year up against the least bad Jets passer; Kessler/Hackenberg if the Jets were aggressively tanking; Kizer/McCown if the Jets had back-tracked on tanking and the Browns were attempting to invest in their future; and Kizer/Hackenberg if both teams were racing to the bottom for Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, the presumed No. 1 pick at the time.To the untrained eye, Brock Osweiler going into the season could be the guy: He started the first two preseason games, had been a starting quarterback in two cities and even signed a baffling $72 million contract. To the trained — by which I mean open — eye, Osweiler is an awful quarterback, now riding the bench behind Trevor Siemian in Denver after failing to make the 53-man roster in Cleveland. Hogan, meanwhile, emerged as the sleeper candidate by earning the backup role ahead of incumbent Kessler, giving me some brief hope. But the Browns have fully committed to their rookie Kizer in the past four weeks — undeterred by the lowest QBR in the NFL.For the Jets, it’s been a far weirder ride. They are a team that cannot choose between tanking for Darnold (or Josh Rosen … or Mason Rudolph) and winning enough games to ensure that they do not obtain him. Bryce Petty remains inexplicably in the mix. Hackenberg obtained the No. 2 spot and then promptly lost it. For those questioning the logic of the “other” column, the Jets kicked Jay Cutler’s tires when he was a free agent. And yet, the mediocrity of McCown has helped the Jets win two whole games, all but ensuring that the Jets will not be able to draft a reliable replacement for him next year.All good teams are good for the same reasons, but all bad teams fail for different ones. It’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll owe Red [checks book] several beers. But good God, was the roller coaster worth it: Nothing quite like skin in the game to make the Jet’s inability to tank correctly entertaining. On July 31, I made what will surely be the single most entertaining bet of my NFL season, a down-to-the-wire nail-biter that this Sunday is manifested in either total glory or unspeakable defeat:Who on Earth would be the starting quarterbacks for Jets at Browns in Week 5?The teams, which have been the poster children for “problems behind center” in recent seasons (OK, recent decades), will each presumably field a passer during the Sunday game. The identity of those individuals was a mystery in late July. For the Browns — historically, the kind of quarterback trash fire that other trash fires look at and say, “Oh, God, the smell” — there were five possibilities in July: Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler, rookie DeShone Kizer and “other.” For the Jets, who had parted ways with Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier that year, the options were considerably slimmer: Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, second-year clipboard holder Christian Hackenberg and, of course, “other.”So here was the bet between me and internet friend Red Scott of Bunker Politics.1Full disclosure, this is our second bet. The first was which number would be higher, the combined wins of the Jets and Browns or the White House tenure of Anthony Scaramucci in months. I won that one. He gave himself even-money odds that he could guess the starting quarterback combo for New York at Cleveland in four tries. I would take the rest of the field. Here’s what he ended up picking:
Green BayRashan GaryDE1211.2+0.8 PittsburghDevin BushLB1015.5-5.5 WashingtonDwayne HaskinsQB158.8+6.2 TennesseeJeffery SimmonsDT1929.5-10.5 With the first round of the NFL draft complete, it appears that the wisdom of the crowds wasn’t particularly wise. The first three picks went relatively as expected, but the draft went off script with the Oakland Raiders’ pick at No. 4 overall: defensive end Clelin Ferrell of Clemson — a player who mock drafters believed would go somewhere in the middle of the first round. The Raiders’ pick was the first of many that defied expectations and left amateur GMs scratching their heads.In the case of the New York Giants, some fans were banging their heads against the wall and collapsing in tears. New York, which passed on many quarterbacks a year ago to take running back Saquon Barkley, took Duke QB Daniel Jones at No. 6. Jones averaged a 20.4 pick in mock drafts taken in the last 30 days before the draft but came off the board an eyebrow-raising 14.4 picks earlier. The Giants seemed to be trying to get ahead of a quarterback run that didn’t exist: Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins lasted until Washington took him at No. 15 (6.2 picks later than expected), and no subsequent QBs were taken on Thursday night.But the New York football Giants, armed with three picks in the first round alone, weren’t finished reaching. Using the 17th overall pick they acquired when they dealt Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, the Giants selected DT Dexter Lawrence of Clemson, 10.5 picks earlier than expected. The Giants were able to capture some surplus value with their third and final pick of the first round, however: Georgia CB Deandre Baker lasted 3.2 picks longer than expected and should help fill the void in the Giants secondary that was left when Eli Apple was traded to New Orleans last October for picks in the fourth and seventh rounds. Tampa BayDevin WhiteLB57.0-2.0 The NFL draft has been full of surprisesThe first round of the 2019 NFL draft by each player’s pick and his average draft position (ADP) in mock drafts since March 26, 2019 New EnglandN’Keal HarryWR3229.3+2.7 WashingtonMontez SweatDE2610.6+15.4 MiamiChristian WilkinsDT1319.0-6.0 BaltimoreMarquise BrownWR2525.4-0.4 Green BayDarnell SavageS2154.7-33.7 N.Y. GiantsDexter LawrenceDT1727.5-10.5 CincinnatiJonah WilliamsOT1113.3-2.3 The selections of Lawrence and Ferrell were part of a larger trend: NFL GMs appear to have been particularly enamored with Clemson players. Three Tiger defensive standouts from the national championship team were selected in the first round, and they went 10.5 slots earlier on average than mock drafts predicted.A dominant theme of the night, as expected, was NFL teams trying to find the next star pass rusher. But it was a pass rusher who had the biggest slide down the board among the first-round selections. Washington appears to have gotten a substantial value when it selected Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat 26th overall. In a draft class stacked with edge rushing talent, Sweat came off the board 15.4 picks later than expected.1Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition earlier this year, which may have caused his stock to drop, but it was reported Thursday that the diagnosis could have been wrong.When we look at all 32 first-round picks, the correlation between what mock drafters expected and what actually occurred was about the same in 2019 as it was in 2018. In 2019, the average draft position in mock drafts explained 48 percent of variance, down slightly from 49 percent of variance explained in 2018. This year’s first round skewed toward reaches, with six teams trading up on draft day to get their guys. Overall, players came off the board six picks earlier than expected; last year, that difference was five spots.As a result, Day 2 of the draft should be one in which savvy teams can find more value than they may have initially anticipated. That could even drive more pick swapping, as teams look to swoop in and grab coveted players like mock draft darling D.K. Metcalf on the cheap. PhiladelphiaAndre DillardOT2217.6+4.4 CarolinaBrian BurnsLB1616.0+0.0 Sources: NFL, Ben Robinson HoustonTytus HowardOT2360.7-37.7 San FranciscoNick BosaDE22.1-0.1 OaklandJosh JacobsRB2427.2-3.2 N.Y. JetsQuinnen WilliamsDT33.7-0.7 DenverNoah FantTE2022.9-2.9 DetroitTJ HockensonTE813.0-5.0 AtlantaKaleb McGaryOT3143.3-12.3 teamplayerPositionpickADPdiff JacksonvilleJosh AllenLB73.7+3.3 BuffaloEd OliverDT99.3-0.3 L.A. ChargersJerry TilleryDT2831.6-3.6 MinnesotaGarrett BradburyC1825.7-7.7 N.Y. GiantsDaniel JonesQB620.4-14.4 SeattleL.J. CollierDE2962.9-33.9 OaklandJohnathan AbramS2733.6-6.6 OaklandClelin FerrellDE419.0-15.0 N.Y. GiantsDeandre BakerCB3026.8+3.2 AtlantaChris LindstromG1429.3-15.3 ArizonaKyler MurrayQB11.8-0.8 From ABC News:
On Wednesday evening, around 30 members of the Ohio State football team traveled to the Alta E. Butler Elementary School to assist with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. The nonprofit organization uses artistic methods to ease the tensions and hardships of abused children from around the nation.In Arizona, the branch of Free Arts teamed up with Buckeyes players to paint the school building, as well as paint new four square courts and build benches. Of those attending were senior kicker Tyler Durbin, redshirt junior linebacker Chris Worley, junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan and junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes.“It just gives you perspective, that’s what I take from community service every time,” Holmes said. “Just being able to show people we’re regular humans. It’s more than just football. It’s about giving back.”The Buckeyes take on Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. OSU junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes paints a new four square court during the team’s community event with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. Credit: Nick McWilliams | Sports Editor
Matt Storey is many things. He is a 22-year-old sports fanatic who can talk for hours about his favorite teams, players and even mascots. He is a ball boy at Huntington Park for the Columbus Clippers. He works at Riverside Methodist Hospital in patient transportation and environmental services. He is also developmentally disabled, which normally would keep someone from doing half the activities he does. Matt, who has trouble speaking, communicated through his parents. “He started in sixth grade being the manager for the eighth-grade basketball team,” said Ken Storey, his father. Matt participated in the Special Olympics growing up, but decided he enjoyed managing more. While at Dublin Coffman High School, he managed the football, wrestling and baseball teams. He loved going to the games and feeling like he was part of each team, even though he didn’t get to be on the field. Matt’s parents even bought him a Dublin Coffman helmet, which he wore on the sidelines with his No. 99 jersey. His hard work and personality did not go unnoticed, and his classmates voted him homecoming king in 2008. “Matt has the ability to adapt to those around him,” said Kim Storey, his mother. Matt was also able to hold jobs off the field in the school store and at Longhorn Steakhouse. “The amazing thing was that, at Longhorn, he learned the table numbers by associating them with professional athletes,” Kim said. It was during a trip to Huntington Park in 2009 that Kim felt she had found the perfect fit for Matt. “It is very hard to find employment for special needs. Everywhere I go, I wonder if it is a good place for Matt to work,” she said. “But when I was down at Huntington, I just got this feeling.” Matt’s parents put together a portfolio and sent it to George Robinson, the clubhouse manager. After looking at it and making a few phone calls, Robinson decided to give Matt a job. “He has a passion and a love for the game like I do,” Robinson said. “After we talked, we had a little special bond.” Robinson always keeps an eye on Matt by staying on the steps of the dugout or notifying the umpires about him. Matt learned quickly and did his job well. The players immediately took notice, and developed a fondness for his hard work. “All the players joke around with him,” Robinson said. “Matt is part of our family here.” When the Clippers were en route to their Governors Cup victory last year, they asked Matt to come to the ballpark and work during the playoffs. When the 2011 season was about to begin, Robinson sent the Storeys an email talking about how much the team wanted Matt back. The Storeys could not wait for Matt to don his uniform again this year. “We sit in the stands and just enjoy it,” Ken said. The journey from sixth-grade manager to working at Huntington Park has been as exciting for Matt as it has been for his parents. “The Clippers have been wonderful through all this,” Ken said. “To take a chance on a boy like Matt just speaks volumes about them.”
An admittedly shy Garrett Goebel blushed when first-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced him as one of five captains to lead the Buckeyes this fall. “I walked out there and my face got red,” the fifth-year senior said bashfully. For Goebel, the attention – the mere notion of interest - is arguably a novelty. So is dealing with reporters, photographers and the hot lights from camera crews trying to get their scoop. And to the casual fan, the veteran 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman is, in all likelihood, a new face. While Goebel has made 44 tackles in 39 games for the Buckeyes, he’s managed to effectively fly under the radar in Columbus since arriving to campus in 2008. Now, such potential for innocuity seems to have evaporated as his honor as a captain has vaulted the Villa Park, Ill., native into the frenzy surrounding Meyer’s inaugural season at OSU. The lack of stardom isn’t something that often crosses Goebel’s mind, though. “I never really thought about it. I know I was never really too concerned. I just wanted to go out there and play good football,” he said. “I really don’t care too much about myself or being recognized or anything like that.” In fact, the active pursuit of being a captain, he said, wasn’t necessarily his aim. “I mean, I never really thought about it too much. Like, if it happens, it happens – it’s an honor. If it doesn’t, I’m not gonna get my head down or anything, you know, I’m still gonna go out there, work as hard as I can and lead,” Goebel said. “But it was just cool knowing that my teammates, you know, thought that highly of me.” In such a leadership role, Goebel automatically becomes an identifiable name for the Buckeyes – regardless of how much he likes the commotion around it all. And while some might wonder how a player with such a reserved disposition is best fit to lead, Goebel said his leadership is best demonstrated with his play, not his words. “I certainly say that I lead more by example but, you know, I still say stuff to people and, you know, make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and get everyone lined up,” he said. His content with being in the background, though, almost made him invisible to Meyer when he took over the OSU job in November. “I think I made the comment, I didn’t know Garrett. In the first four months I was here, he was just kind of a quiet guy that, you know, doesn’t look real good when we’re running around cones,” Meyer said at a Monday evening press conference. Meyer told reporters that the big man grew on him over time, though. Goebel said giving it his all day-in and day-out, especially during winter strength and conditioning drills, drew the attention of the former Florida coach. “I just worked as hard as I could every day – every day come in no matter what and just give it everything I had and do my best and I think he definitely appreciates guys that go hard all the time,” he said. Interesting enough, it seems that Goebel’s introverted, modest demeanor is nearly a perfect fit for the position he plays for the Buckeyes. Listed as the Buckeyes’ starter at nose tackle – arguably one of the most thankless positions in all of sports – Goebel is, and will be, responsible for doing what junior defensive tackle Johnathan “Big Hank” Hankins calls the “dirty work” for OSU’s “Silver Bullet” defense. “He’s probably one of the biggest pieces on our defense. He does all the dirty work, he takes up all the double teams – even though I take up double teams – but he does more of the dirty work,” Hankins said. “He’s a great leader for us, without him I feel like we would probably be kind of, like, out of shape because he basically knows the defense and he’s smart and he knows the play.” Similarly, redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Goebel’s position is often unfairly unappreciated. “He’s our nose guard … He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he’s actually a very, very good player; for anybody who really knows football and watches him play, he’s actually a very, very good player,” he said. “Taking on 600 pounds every play is not an easy task, by no means, and he does a great job at that.” Despite Goebel’s low-key nature, Hankins said he knew his teammate would be a captain from the get-go, though. “Oh, I already knew he was going to become a captain. Since this year started, he took a leadership role and he just, you know I’m saying, worked hard, and I always looked up to him, watching film and learning from him,” he said. Sabino, who was also named a captain for 2012, said neither he nor the team was particularly surprised when Goebel’s name was called. “I think it’s probably more of a surprise to the media and everybody outside of the team, but Garrett comes to work everyday,” Sabino said. “He’s one of those players you know he’s going to do his assignment, it doesn’t matter whether it’s period one or period 40, he’s going to give it all he has. And you know, you’re going to get that regardless of the circumstances.” That admiration, however, wasn’t just limited to Goebel’s teammates. Former OSU head coach and current defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said Goebel is “that unsung hero.” “I’m just so happy that Coach (Meyer) really points it out. I think (Goebel’s) really grown on him,” Fickell said. “He sees what we try to do as a defense and what we ask that guy sometimes to do and, you know, it doesn’t come up in the stat sheet and you guys might not interview him a whole lot … but he is definitely one of the center points of the defense.” Fickell, who was a nose tackle for the Buckeyes from 1993-1996, seemed to understand the magnitude of Goebel’s honor. “To be named captain, I think – what an unbelievable feat,” Fickell said. For Goebel, it’s still a feat, though, that he didn’t entirely see coming. “My goal was to do everything I can and really didn’t think about it if everything worked out,” he said. “I mean, yeah, it would definitely be cool, but I really wasn’t thinking about it – I was thinking about just giving everything I had and just trying to lead the best I can.”
Chris Fields hadn’t caught a ball all year long. Not a single one. In an Ohio State offense averaging 39 points a game, the redshirt junior wide receiver found himself reception-less and yard-less two-thirds into the Buckeyes’ 2012 campaign. Cast in the shadow of younger receivers like sophomore Devin Smith and junior Corey “Philly” Brown, Fields, for all intents and purposes, had been a non-factor for an undefeated OSU team. Until Saturday’s 29-22 overtime win against Purdue, at least. And after making the biggest catch of his OSU football career, Fields said he’s used to throwing himself after the ball. “I don’t know if anybody knows but 13 years of baseball paid off for that one. I used to be a center fielder,” Fields said with a wide smile. “I used to dive all over the place, so I’m used to it.” Down 22-14 with 47 seconds to play, though, that opportunity appeared to be doubtful while the first loss of the Urban Meyer era in Columbus seemed like a sure thing. After all, a typically explosive Buckeyes offense had managed to scrap together just two touchdowns points over the course of 59 minutes and 13 seconds. Without sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who was carted off the field and taken to the Wexner Medical Center at the end of the third quarter, it appeared it would take a small miracle for OSU to eke out a victory against Purdue on the cloudy afternoon at Ohio Stadium. In the Heisman candidate’s place was the man Fields calls his best friend, redshirt junior quarterback Kenny Guiton, who had already thrown an errant interception earlier in the fourth quarter. Sportswriters were writing obituaries for the Buckeyes’ would-have-been perfect season. Hordes of frustrated, exasperated fans headed toward the exits after watching more than 59 minutes of incompetency from the home team. For as shaky as OSU’s offense appeared, though, Fields’ play seemed to be just the opposite. Coming into the contest against the Boilermakers, he had just 11 career-receptions to hang his hat on. Including Saturday’s tilt, the Painesville, Ohio, native had only seen action in five games for the Buckeyes this season. With eight seconds to play, Fields’ moment, as he called it, came. Guiton had improbably driven a once-lifeless OSU offense down to the 2-yard line. “Kenny! Kenny!” chants reverberated off the cement stands of the 90-year-old Horseshoe. The backup signal-caller rolled to his left and saw an open Fields matching his every step along the edge of the goal line – just the way it was drawn up. “I had the like an arrow route, it’s kinda like a flat route and Kenny noticed man coverage,” he said. Eight seconds had become four as Guiton zipped the ball to Fields. Its trajectory, while likely not intended, hurled it toward the red turf of the end zone. In a diving effort, though, Fields pulled the pass into his gut and hugged the ball to the ground. While the catch was immediately reviewed, Fields said there was never a doubt in his mind that he hadn’t made the grab. “Yeah, I knew I caught it. I had it. No question,” he said. Guiton, who Fields called his “brother from another mother,” said he felt the same. “After that catch, I probably told him ‘thank you’ a million times. On the pass, I was just hoping he could get it, and when I saw his hands under it, I knew he caught it,” Guiton said. Having not pulled in a reception all season, what could be a historic grab was Fields’ third and final catch as the junior managed to pull in two earlier receptions to help push the Buckeyes into the red zone early in the third quarter. Arguably, it was Fields’ best day since arriving on campus in 2009. “Chris Fields is a product of, I’d like to say, our program,” Meyer said during the Buckeyes’ postgame press conference. “That means three weeks ago, he wouldn’t have been on the field.” Not anymore, though. “He just changed his whole dynamics, the way he works, his practice habits and his performance,” Meyer said. “You can go out there and work all you want and not make plays. But he’s earned that right to be on the field. He was even playing before that, before Philly (Brown) went down, he was on the field, where three, four weeks ago he wasn’t on the field. “It’s just that whole systematic approach that we have … very proud of him.” The spring rumors that flooded message boards that Fields was leaving the team, now, seemed to be a foreign, distant memory. Even it just was for one day. “The first couple games (leaving) did go through my mind,” Fields said. “Not so much of leaving, just so much of like my future, like after football. You know, I would never leave this university. I mean, this university, it’s so great. And I’d be dumb to leave this wonderful university. So, I mean, I just was thinking about some plans after football and stuff.” For now, though, Fields might need to think more about the immediate future with a 5:30 p.m. contest at Penn State looming Saturday. The catch, perhaps, could be the first of more to come from the receiver. “It just means that you should start putting a package in for me and Kenny,” Fields said teasingly. “I just know that I just can’t, you know, fall down. I gotta keep on going up.”
Sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry (37) and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier (2) watch Iowa senior linebacker C.J. Fiedorowicz (86) catch a touchdown during a game Oct. 19 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 34-24.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorThe No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0) might sit atop the Big Ten eight weeks into the season, but the team enters its primetime matchup with Penn State (4-2, 1-1) with a wide array of questions — particularly on the defensive side of the ball.As OSU prepares to go for its 20th consecutive win, coach Urban Meyer was less than pleased with how the Buckeye defense handled adversity in Saturday’s win over Iowa, even though it did so without one of its best players on the field.“The adjustments need to be made quicker when they give us something we have not seen (on defense),” Meyer said in a Monday press conference. “The first three drives (of the game) were very alarming. I don’t think our defensive line played very well.”Iowa scored each of its first three drives and dominated time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes. The Hawkeyes drove 80, 67, and 69 yards, respectively, coupling a power rushing attack with play-action passes to a multitude of tight ends on their way to a 17-10 halftime lead.“Call it what it was. (Iowa) beat the shit out of us,” defensive line coach Mike Vrabel said. “We didn’t do a good job of playing physical with our hands, getting off blocks, shedding off blocks, walking away from blocks. When you do this against a good offensive line, they’re going to continue to push you and move the pile.”Meyer said he was very disappointed in the lack of production from the unit during those drives, mainly because he felt like no one stepped up as a leader when OSU struggled to stop the Hawkeyes.“What happened was you have some good emotion in that stadium and you (give up a) 13-play drive and you let the air out of the stadium and the emotion, and that’s where (injured senior safety) Christian Bryant, our great leadership, overcomes a little adversity and we didn’t have that,” Meyer said. “That’s got to come from our coaches and players … Can it be fixed? Absolutely.”Bryant broke his ankle in OSU’s 31-24 win over Wisconsin Sept. 28.OSU gave up 375 yards of total offense in the Iowa game, but only seven points in the second half, on its way to the 34-24 victory. Junior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said the difference in the latter half of the game wasn’t about adjustments, but effort.“We came out in the second half with a chip on our shoulder like we need (to), but we can’t start a game like that again,” Bennett said. “I don’t know what the deal was, but especially on the D-line … we were doing something different than we usually do.”The defensive performance during the first three drives of Saturday’s game was something Bennett said he’s never seen out of them before.“I don’t think we’ve ever been manhandled like that … allowed ourselves to be manhandled like that,” Bennett said. “That’s disappointing to me personally because I feel like I let that happen in the first half with the whole D-line.”Beyond the defensive line, the Buckeye secondary was also depleted after redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby was ejected from the game for targeting late in the first quarter. It was the first time an OSU player has been disqualified for targeting, a rule that was added to the rulebook prior the 2013 season.“I think the NCAA and everybody is going to want to re-look at that rule,” Meyer said. “Ohio State is very concerned about player safety. We have gone to the Nth degree with adjusting practice … However, (Roby’s ejection) was a game changer. To take one of our better players out of the game, that impacted that game.”Junior cornerback Doran Grant said the rule change is something that all players have to get used to.“We just gotta be aware of the new rule. It was frustrating, Roby getting ejected from the game,” Grant said. “It’s just different for the defense now, you gotta be smarter in the way you hit.”Vrabel offered a simpler answer when he asked about the call.“Obviously, you better stay away from the head,” Vrabel said. “Anything that looks close, that’s what they’re told to call.”Roby and the rest of the defense figure to have their hands full with freshman Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg Saturday, who is ranked 17th in the country with 278.7 passing yards per game. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Senior running back Carlos Hyde (34) rushes for a touchdown during a game against Penn State Oct. 26 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 63-14.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe road ahead is the only one on Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer’s mind these days.Meyer and the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) are scheduled to travel to West Lafayette, Ind., Saturday to take on Purdue (1-6, 0-3). But even though the Boilermakers have defeated OSU in three out of its last four trips to Ross-Ade Stadium, Meyer said that’s not something he’s thinking about.“We’re just trying to get the win on the road at Purdue,” Meyer said Monday during a press conference.Purdue, who is led by a former Buckeye assistant, has not played since losing on the road to Michigan State Oct. 19, 14-0, and currently sits at the bottom of the Big Ten Leaders Division.The Boilermakers’ early struggles pushed the coaching staff to make major changes schematically on defense, Meyer said.“They changed — they were all 4-3 defense about three weeks ago before the Nebraska game, (and they) changed completely” Meyer said. “They’re now (a 3-4 defense). So that means they’re just going through some personnel issues and some scheme issues … We’re just trying to figure out what we’re going to see Saturday because it’s completely different from the first half of the season.”Although Purdue is currently on a five-game losing streak, junior tight end Jeff Heuerman said OSU shouldn’t struggle with finding the motivation to take on the Boilermakers.“Our coaching staff does a great job (motivating) regardless of who we’re playing,” Heuerman said. “Going into Purdue, I was there my freshman year and it didn’t turn out the way that we wanted it. I think there’s a lot of guys on the team that remember that, my class and stuff. This week is a big week for us, and we got something to prove going back to Purdue.”The game Heuerman referred to was a 26-23 overtime Purdue victory in 2011, when OSU tied the game with 55 seconds left in regulation after then-junior running back Jordan Hall made a touchdown reception, but the go-ahead extra point was blocked, sending the game into overtime.OSU kicked a field goal on its opening possession but couldn’t stop Purdue from securing the victory with a one-yard touchdown run from then-junior quarterback Robert Marve.Senior kicker Drew Basil, who attempted the extra point against the Boilermakers, said Monday he remembers the play very well.“Being on a grass field, there was a bare spot where the extra point was so I moved the ball over to the right, maybe six inches, just so I could get a good spot for the hold,” Basil said. “And they blocked it from that right side. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have moved the ball over six inches.”Basil said the loss was tough, but that it’s important for the team to focus on beating Purdue this week.Junior linebacker Curtis Grant was also on the team that day in West Lafayette, and said no matter the records, Purdue always plays well against OSU.“It’s always that one team that’s always out to just get you,” Grant said Monday. “Purdue seems like that, since the last two years that I’ve been here, they’re always out to get us. I’m not expecting anything less.”Grant gave credit to the OSU coaching staff, particularly Meyer, for preventing the team from losing focus during their 20-game winning streak.“Each and every week (the coaches) don’t let us get complacent,” Grant said. “They come out each and every week with a new task, a new challenge for us to complete.”Senior running back Carlos Hyde, who has rushed for 549 yards and seven touchdowns since Big Ten play started, said “it’s not difficult at all” to find motivation to play a team with a losing record.“This is a one-game season,” Hyde said Monday. “We can’t take any opponent lightly because we’re Ohio State, so people are going to give us their best shot.”The man leading Purdue this season is Darrell Hazell, who was promoted to assistant head coach at OSU under Jim Tressel in 2005 after being wide receivers and kick returns coach with the Buckeyes for a season. Hazell was named the Boilermakers coach at the end of last season after spending two years as the coach of the Kent State squad.Current OSU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell coached alongside Hazell under Tressel. He said although Purdue has only won one game so far in 2013, Hazell’s consistency as a coach will allow him to lead the Boilermakers in the right direction.“You don’t change who you are, and that’s what I know about him,” Fickell said Monday. “It’s not like he’s going to be down or he’s going to do something crazy or something different because they’re in the situation that they are. You gotta battle through tough times and when you’re consistent, your young men learn and they learn that from you.”Purdue might be struggling this season, but Hyde said he knows it is going to give OSU its best, just like any team the Buckeyes face.“We’re Ohio State. So people are going to play us their best,” Hyde said. “That’s what I expect. I don’t expect teams to come out and just lay down. I feel like they’re going to come out and give us their best shot. And that’s what I want. I want teams to come out and give us their best shot. So when we win, we say we beat them with their best shot.”Kickoff is slated for noon at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Ohio State redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun (4) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes’ semifinal game against Rutgers on March 2 at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Ohio State beat Rutgers 82-57. Credit: Alyssia Graves | Assistant Sports DirectorNot only will the Ohio State women’s basketball team be without senior guard Kelsey Mitchell next season, but it will also lose four other key contributors to graduation in forwards Stephanie Mavunga and Alexa Hart, and guards Linnae Harper and Asia Doss.Luckily for the Buckeyes, redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun and redshirt junior forward Makayla Waterman both said they will be returning to Ohio State for the 2018-19 season. “I’m going to stay here for my fifth year,” Waterman said after her team’s loss to Central Michigan in the NCAA tournament. “I’ve got a lot of things like studying abroad, going on service trips this summer with the university.”Never a primary scorer, Waterman served as a facilitating forward this season. She averaged just 3.5 points and 3.9 rebounds across 18.2 minutes per game in 32 games. Next season, she will be counted on to take a larger offensive role with the loss of Mavunga, the team’s top frontcourt scoring threat.Calhoun also affirmed her intention to return next season after the loss to the Chippewas, answering with a simple “yes” before the question was even completed.Starting in all 34 of the Buckeyes’ games this season, Calhoun scored 11.8 points per game, the fourth-most on the team. She was a primary ball-handler at times, taking the pressure off Mitchell, and often took the role as a sharpshooter. She shot 37.4 percent from the field, while making 35.8 percent of her 3-point attempts this season.Calhoun said she anticipates and is looking forward to becoming more of a scoring threat with Ohio State’s three leading scorers — Mitchell, Mavunga and Harper — leaving the program.Ohio State redshirt junior forward Makayla Waterman defends Central Michigan forward Reyna Frost during the first quarter of the Buckeyes’ 95-78 loss to the Chippewas on March 19 at St. John Arena. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorGiven the youth of next season’s team, Waterman and Calhoun must take larger leadership roles, which Calhoun believes will not be too much different to their roles this season despite the loss of the five seniors.“We will see,” Calhoun said with a laugh. “I feel like we were still leaders this year. I feel like we were one of the older kids this year, so we definitely had to lead by example and talk, things like that. Hopefully that will translate to next year.”Waterman and Calhoun will be joined next season by sophomore guard Jensen Caretti, who averaged 8.7 minutes and 2.4 points in 29 games. A former highly regarded recruit, Caretti will almost assuredly move into a starting role next season despite her lack of experience. Next year, the Buckeyes will add Najah Queenland, a transfer from Pacific who sat out this season and will be in her fourth collegiate season. In 2016-17, her final season at Pacific, she averaged 4.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 22.1 minutes per game. With Harper, Mitchell and Doss graduating, the 5-foot-10 Queenland could fill the role as a primary ball-handler. Ohio State will also add a crop of freshmen. It has three 2018 prospects — four-star guard Janai Crooms, three-star post Aaliyah Patty and four-star Hungarian forward Dorka Juhasz — committed to the program. Despite lacking collegiate experience, the trio could have an impact on the team given the graduations.Redshirt junior guard Chelsea Mitchell, the sister of Kelsey, took the semester off to focus on academics and her status on next season’s team is unclear. Former walk-ons Savitha Jayaraman and Karlie Cronin will return, but neither are expected to have major upticks in their responsibilities.Waterman said she and Calhoun have often looked ahead to next year and thought about being the team’s only seniors with a vastly different roster composition.“We talk about that all the time too,” Waterman said. “It’s going to be weird. We’re going to be the oldest ones on the team.”Not only will it be weird for Waterman, but the Buckeyes will once again be dealing with a smaller-than-usual roster. If Ohio State does not add any transfers or recruits for next season and Chelsea Mitchell returns, it will have just 10 players. And without Kelsey Mitchell, Mavunga, Doss, Harper and Hart, the Buckeyes might be in for a tough rebuilding year.
Ohio State’s Cole Gorski celebrates in mid-air at the Simmons-Harvey Quad in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Jan. 21, 2018. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State men’s track and field team finished third while the women’s team finished last at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Arizona, after competing Friday and Saturday.The Jim Click Shootout hosted six teams: Ohio State, Illinois, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Auburn and Arizona. The Arizona men’s team and Kansas State women’s team captured titles at the event.Ohio State competed without its distance runners. This is the second consecutive meet Ohio State competed without its full roster.Men’s recapOhio State senior Cole Gorski reached new heights by claiming first place with a jump of 5.50 meters, breaking his own Ohio State outdoor record. The jump is currently tied for eighth in the country. Junior Coty Cobb finished second in pole vault behind his teammate with a jump of 5.05 meters. Ohio State racked up 18 points in pole vault alone.Ohio State placed first in the 4×100-meter relay. The team, consisting of freshman Eric Harrison, freshman Tavonte Mott, senior Drelan Bramwell and senior Duan Asemota, ran a time of 39.65 seconds. In triple-jump, junior DaJuan Seward finished second with a total of 15.14 meters jumped.In the 800-meter run, sophomore Alexander Lomong came in second with a time of 1:49.72.Women’s Recap The Ohio State women’s team picked up the most points during the 400-meter run. Senior Maggie Barrie finished in first place with a time of 52.91 seconds, junior Karrington Winters finished third at 53.32 and freshman Syaira Richardson finished fourth at 53.76.Senior Chantel Ray took first place in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.41 seconds, her fastest time this season.Freshman Anavia Battle won the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.28 seconds.Senior Madison Roberts finished second in pole vault, setting a season high of 3.85 meters.Ohio State’s 4×100-meter-relay team, made up of Barrie, freshman Anavia Battle, Richardson and Ray, ran a time of 44.73 seconds, which was good for Ohio State’s fastest time this season.The 4×400-meter-relay team, made up of Richardson, Barrie, Winters and senior Courtney Cloudy, placed second with a time 3:36.72.Ohio State will split up again next week. Part of the team will travel to Oxford, Ohio, for the All-Ohio Meet and the other group will head to Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Invitational Friday and Saturday.
“He is one of the few people who think of war in three-dimensional terms,” Randolph wrote to the Prime Minister.Churchill eventually summoned Stirling to meet him in Cairo and was “bowled over” by the young soldier.During the meeting, Stirling took a souvenir signature from Churchill and the Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East and typed on the blank page: “Please give the bearer of this note every possible assistance.”Ben Macintyre writes in his newly-published SAS: Rogue Heroes book: “Stirling had no qualms about this blatant forgery: Churchill had become a staunch supporter of the unit and so, he insisted, ‘in a sense it was authentic’.” The book, on sale from Thursday, also details how Paddy Mayne, one of the SAS’s most famous veterans, destroyed more German aircraft than any other man in the military by running through airfields strapping explosives to planes.Between 1941 and 1945, the Special Air Service pioneered a form of combat that has since become a central component of modern warfare. It began life as a raiding force in the north African desert, but grew into the most formidable commando unit of the war, and the prototype for special forces across the world, notably the US Delta Force and Navy Seals.In 1980, an SAS squad successfully stormed the Iranian embassy in London and liberated 25 hostages, killing five of the six hostage-takers in 11 minutes. Creating mayhem behind enemy lines, the SAS’s elite brand of derring-do played an integral part in defeating Nazi Germany.Yet some wartime military chiefs dismissed their clandestine tactics as “just not cricket” and tried to get the fighting unit disbanded – before Winston Churchill intervened.Archive material opened up for the first time in 75 years reveals how Churchill’s hard-drinking and overweight son, Randolph, became the SAS’s unlikely saviour.David Stirling, then the young, eccentric pioneer of the unit, pulled off a masterstroke by allowing Randolph to observe some of the early covert activities in the Middle East. New roll of honour uncovers stories of lost SAS heroes of the Second World War 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.
In a new study, scientists have identified the role of a molecule called PIM1 in driving and controlling triple-negative breast cancers.The research found that in the majority of such cancers, the molecule has been hijacked and over-produced, helping cancer cells to survive, in the face of chemotherapy.Researchers said targeting PIM1 and inhibiting production – could be key to successfully treating women who might otherwise have no hope. Thousands of women with the most deadly form of breast cancer could be given hope by a breakthrough treatment which could make chemotherapy effective.Charities hailed the advances as “hugely exciting” and said they could help cancer patients with few other options.The drug – already in trials as a leukaemia treatment – attacks cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy.This allows standard drugs to start working again, destroying the tumour.Scientists believe it could transform care for the 7,500 women a year diagnosed with “triple negative” breast tumours.Such cancers are more common in younger women, and are often aggressive, failing to respond to many of the main forms of treatment. Mammograms are used to detect signs of breast cancer Credit:PA Scientists said the study, by King’s College London and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, could see trials starting on women with breast cancer within two years.Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This is a hugely exciting advance for an important group of patients in desperate need of more treatment options.“Triple negative breast cancer is often aggressive and more common in younger women, and chemotherapy drugs remain the only option for these women. While these work very well for some, if patients’ cancers become resistant there are few other options.” “Triple-negative” cancers lack the three receptors which are normally used to classify breast cancers: those for oestrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). This means they cannot be treated with targeted drugs commonly used to interfere with these receptors, such as tamoxifen and aromatase and Herceptin.As a result, patients have few treatment options – typically chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiotherapy.Professor Andrew Tutt, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Many triple negative breast cancers are very resistant to chemotherapy and are ‘driven’ by genes that are very difficult to target with drugs.”The findings, published in Nature Medicine, suggest that the drugs “could strip triple-negative breast cancers of their defences so that they can be pushed over the cliff by other breast cancer treatments,” he said. A new targeted treatment for such patients would be a “major breakthrough” she said.Current trials of the drugs on patients with leukaemia suggest they are well-tolerated, giving grounds for optimism, she said. 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.
Plumes of vapour shooting up from Enceladus’ ocean Credit:Nasa Prof David Rothery, Professor of Planetary Geosciences, The Open University, said: “At present, we know of only one genesis of life, the one that led to us.“If we knew that life had started independently in two places in our Solar System, then we could be pretty confident that life also got started on some of the tens of billions of planets and moons around other stars in our galaxy.” It might look like a frozen wasteland, but beneath the inhospitable surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, life could be thriving in warm underground seas, scientists believe.Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has picked up the first evidence that chemical reactions are happening deep below the ice which could be creating an environment capable of supporting microbes.Experts said the discovery was ‘the last piece’ in the puzzle which proved that life was possible on Enceladus, a finding all the more remarkable because the small moon is 887 million miles away from the Sun. 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. Prof Rothery, added: “We do now have the last piece of evidence needed to demonstrate that life is possible there.“This is life that needs neither oxygen nor sunlight, and may be the form in which life on Earth began, before some of it adapted to other conditions.”Enceladus is so far the furthest rock from the Sun that could support life in the Solar System. Some scientists think Uranus’ moon Ariel may have a liquid ocean, but it has not yet been proven.Although scientists previously thought Enceladus’ icy crust was around 13 miles thick, recent data from Cassini has shown that at the south pole, it could be as little as three miles deep. “Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an ice-covered ocean, and a plume of material erupts from cracks in the ice,” said Professor Hunter Waite, of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Principal Investigator for Cassini’s Mass Spectrometer instrument which detected the hydrogen.“The plume contains chemical signatures of water-rock interaction between the ocean and a rocky core. We find that the most plausible source of this hydrogen is ongoing hydrothermal reactions of rock containing reduced minerals and organic materials.“On the modern Earth, geochemically derived fuels such as hydrogen support thriving ecosystems even in the absence of sunlight.”Enceladus is the sixth largest moon of Saturn, and was discovered in 1789 by the British astronomer William Herschel. It is around 310 miles in diameter and approximately 790 million miles from Earth. Scientists had long suspected that liquid water could exist on the moon because of the extreme tidal forces acting on the satellite from Saturn’s gravity.In 2005 Nasa launched Cassini to explore Saturn and its moons, and in 2015 discovered that Enceladus wobbled slightly as it orbited the planet, which could only be accounted for its outer shell was not frozen solid to its interior. A global ocean must be present under the icy surface, the experts concluded.Since then, researchers have been studying data sent back from the spacecraft to see if the instruments on board had picked up any other clues that life might be present. Prof Andrew Coates, Professor of Physics at UCL, said: “This is an exciting and remarkable result which shows that Enceladus may actually be habitable.“We know that the four requirements for life as we know it are liquid water, the right chemistry, a source of energy and enough time for life to develop. But now, we know that 3 of the 4 conditions are there on Enceladus – and this distant moon now joins Mars and Europa as the best potential locations for life beyond Earth in our solar system.” Extremophiles like those found in hydrothermal vents on Earth may live on Saturn’s moonCredit:NOAA National Ocean Service The new results are the strongest indication yet that Enceladus has all the conditions needed for life to form. If life is present, it could resemble single-celled tube-like extremophiles which have lived in hydrothermal vents on Earth for billions of years. Crucially, if hydrogen is present it can mix with carbon dioxide to form methane, which is consumed by microbes in the deep, dark seas of our own planet. Show more Cassini pictured making a fly-by of Enceladus Credit:Nasa Commenting on the new research Dr David Clements, Astrophysicist at Imperial College London, said: “We have long suspected that hydrothermal processes are behind the Enceladus plumes and the liquid ocean that fuels them, so this result is fully consistent with that picture.“This discovery does not mean that life exists on Enceladus, but it is a step on the way to that result.“It doesn’t really tell us anything about how life started on Earth. But it is great to see confirmation that similar hydrothermal processes are at work elsewhere in the Solar System.” Show more Liquid oceans exist miles below the surface on Enceladus, so to find out what is happening in the underground seas scientists must rely on the plumes of spray which shoot up into the atmosphere through cracks in the ice.In October 2015 Nasa sent Cassini into a deep dive through one of those plumes and discovered hydrogen and carbon dioxide.In a report of their findings published today in the journal Science, scientists said that the ‘only plausible’ source for the hydrogen was chemical reactions between warm water and rocks on the ocean floor.
Coming in advance of the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), the review due to report in the summer, the letter warns the additional capabilities required to respond to new threats and undertake necessary organisational reforms, will not be possible from the current budget. Defence spending must be increased to combat the rise in chemical and biological threats, MPs have told Theresa May.New threats, including cyber attacks, risk “undermining UK national security” unless the Defence budget is increased, the Prime Minister has been warned.In a letter to Theresa May the heads of the Public Accounts and Defence Committees have said they are “concerned that new commitments and emerging threats means the budget will not deliver all that is promised”.Committee Chairs Meg Hillier MP and Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP have written jointly to highlight their increasing concerns about the severe budgetary pressures faced by the Ministry of Defence.“Such concerns are not simply about balancing the books,” the letter warns. “The very real effects of inadequate funding can be seen in the extremely worrying decline in morale amongst our Armed Forces.” 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. A report last month from the Public Accounts Committee highlighted a gap in the Defence Equipment Plan of at least £4.9 billion over the next 10 years. This could increase to £20.8 billion “if all identified risks materialise”.“The existing affordability gap affecting traditional defence equipment and support programmes, combined with the intensification of new threats such as cyber, chemical and biological attacks, risk undermining UK national security as well as our ability to play an effective role in the world,” the letter says.The committee has previously highlighted a £2.9 billion gap in the Defence Nuclear Enterprise and the £8.5 billion required to maintain the defence estate over the next 30 years, where there has been “little or no investment for a decade”. Prince Charles talks with employees whilst passing the fourth Astute-class nuclear submarine, HMS Audacious.Credit:HO/AFP The warning form the Select Committee heads is informed by inquiry findings of both committees and follows the Prime Minister’s appearance at the Liaison Committee in March where she reiterated the need for the MoD to make efficiency savings. The letter follows a recent warning from the Chief of Defence Intelligence that Britain’s enemies are increasingly flouting the rules of war. Air Marshal Phil Osborn said that the UK’s adversaries view today’s battlespace as “layered – across physical and virtual, legal and illegal” and admitted the country has “miscalculated” the pace at which threats are changing, leaving Britain vulnerable to attack. Johnny Mercer MP, a member of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee echoed the concerns in the joint letter. Speaking to The Telegraph he worried the “relationship between the military and the country has broken down” and feared the MDP would not solve the funding crisis. The letter cited numerous occasions whereby the Defence Select Committee has highlighted the “unrealistic and over-optimistic nature” of the MoD’s savings targets, and specifically raised concerns over the uncertainty around the full costs of the F-35 jet programme, the first four of which arrived in the UK this week. Britain is at increased risk of cyber attack without more money for Defence, say MPsCredit:Seksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Getty Images Contributor
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. “I’ve been called out to a number of stray snakes in recent weeks and many of these appear to be escaped pets.”It is unclear how the animal got inside the Kensington property, but the RSPCA said it is likely to have escaped from its owner nearby.Snakes are more likely to escape in summer as they have more energy during warm weather.Royal Pythons, which originate in West Africa, are popular pets and can grow up to 4ft 9inch, living up to 20 years in captivity. They are typically docile in nature, and pose no threat to humans.A spokesman for the RSPCA added: “Reptiles seem to have increased in popularity as pets in recent years and the number of related incidents dealt with by the RSPCA has risen.”We are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, which we believe may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.” A woman got the “fright of her life” when she woke up to discover a 3ft long snake curled up sharing the bed alongside her.The Royal Python, believed to be an escaped pet, had snuggled up next to her in the night as she slept.After jumping out of bed the woman, who has not been named, rushed out of her bedroom, trapping the reptile behind her before she called the RSPCA for help.The RSPCA attended the property in west London on Monday, but were unable to locate the African python. It was only discovered the next day as it made its way down the hallway.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––RSPCA animal collection officer Jill Sanders, who captured the python, said: “”Reptiles, particularly snakes, can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid.“The poor resident must have had the fright of their life waking up to a snake in their bed”They jumped out of bed and closed their bedroom door to contain the snake but, when I arrived, I couldn’t find where the python had slithered to.”Ms Saunders, added: “I left my details and told them to contact me as soon as they saw it again.