And here’s what’s in store for the key Raptors in 2015-16 (and beyond): If he can keep taking so many threes, and hitting them, Patrick Patterson will be a valuable kickout option. Jonas Valanciunas is just 23 and has improved his scoring rate each year he has been in the league, but the careers of some of his most comparable big men never really took off. The team’s offseason upgrades could cost Terrence Ross playing time if he doesn’t show big improvement in his fourth season. In a league enamored with dunks, layups and 3-pointers, DeMar DeRozan is a throwback — and not in a good way. He took 57 percent of his shots between 10 feet from the basket and the 3-point line last season — a career high — and hit a career-low 36 percent of them. He was Toronto’s only player to average 20 points per game, but also the least efficient scorer of any 20-point guy in the league. The Raptors need him to take better shots and share more of the offensive burden. Kyle Lowry followed up an excellent 2013-14 season with a better showing to begin last season, as the Raptors started 24-7. But his production fell off dramatically in the second half of the season, and he shot dreadfully in the playoffs. Many of the guards CARMELO sees as most similar to Lowry had already peaked by his age. DeMarre Carroll is the priciest new Raptor, at $60 million over four years. His defense and efficient shooting should help. But none of his previous five NBA teams have asked him to take many shots, and those he has taken usually have been created for him. It’s unclear whether he’ll generate the kind of offense commensurate with a $15 million average annual salary. We’re inaugurating our NBA player projection system, CARMELO, with 2015-16 season previews for every team in the league. Check out the teams we’ve already previewed here. Learn more about CARMELO here. Last season’s Toronto Raptors set a franchise record for wins for the second successive season — then exited the playoffs in the first round for the second successive season, leaving the franchise stuck at just one playoff series win in its 20-year history. So while standing pat this year might have sufficed to win the putrid Atlantic Division for the third straight season, Raptors management instead shook things up, adding new talent to complement a core of 20-somethings that includes Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson. The new Raptors, including DeMarre Carroll and Bismack Biyombo, should be particularly valuable in shoring up the team’s shaky defense, which was by far the worst in the postseason at preventing opponents from hitting shots. Toronto’s offense will remain its strength, though it’s not clear who leads the O and who will take the biggest shots: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto’s leading scorer last year, hits too low a percentage of his shots to be the star of a playoff team.FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO thinks the Raptors will clear .500, but not by much, projecting them to go 44-38: Bismack Biyombo should improve Toronto’s shot-blocking, which ranked near the bottom of the NBA last season.Read more: 2015-16 NBA Previews
The NCAA basketball tournament should expand to 96 teams. It’s the obvious choice.Although it’s only in the discussion phase, the possible expansion from the traditional 65-team tournament to either 68 or 96 teams has its advantages.However, if the NCAA is going to complicate things, why bother with 68 teams? Go straight to 96.There are 347 Division I teams, only 18 percent of which receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.The expansion would allow for 28 percent of teams to receive bids, and between both the NCAA and NIT tournaments, 37 percent would receive bids.I understand the prestige that comes with a bid, but why not share that honor with more players? To the majority of players who don’t continue their career into the NBA, this is the highest honor they will receive.The expansion doesn’t undermine the exclusiveness of the tournament because it will still exclude much more than half of the teams.It would still place an emphasis on the regular season as well. The pressure during the regular season has room to intensify when an NCAA bid is on the line.Conference champions will be rewarded with automatic bids as usual.Then there are teams who are consistently offered a bid but, because of a mediocre season, they become a team on the bubble.A perfect example is Ohio State. The Buckeyes didn’t make it to the 2008 NCAA tournament but received a No. 1 seed in the NIT tournament.If you look at the recent winners of the NIT, they are almost always a powerhouse school. In the last 22 years, only twice has a team from a mid-major conference won the NIT.The expansion would ensure that teams that are able to compete at the same level are given that opportunity.Smaller conferences have teams worthy of a seed and the expansion allows them to have more than one team make it. Keeping the strongest schools together in the big tournament reserves the NIT for smaller schools that simply can’t compete with the big dogs.Sure, the expansion will create obvious underdogs, but it’s the underdogs that add to the “madness” that is March Madness. Without them, there wouldn’t be Cinderella stories.To the powerhouses of the NCAA, there’s no reason to shy away from the expansion. The competition will be nearly the same. If anything, those powerhouses will be protected from big upsets by a first or second round bye.In the event that the Big Ten expands as well, Ohio State has one more competitor in the race for the Big Ten title. For the growing sport and the growing conference, the expansion is inevitable.
The No. 10 Ohio State wrestling team is looking to build upon its early season success this weekend against the No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies. The Buckeyes are 3-0 this season after defeating Utah Valley, Old Dominion and North Carolina by a combined score of 102-9 last weekend at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals in Harrisburg, Pa. “We were pleased with their performance,” said coach Tom Ryan. “But there is certainly room for improvement.” The young OSU team lost only two matches in the meet and won 28, led by redshirt freshman Logan Stieber, the No. 4-ranked wrestler in the nation at 133 pounds. Stieber had two pins in his three matches for a perfect 3-0 finish. The Buckeyes finished the meet with four falls, one technical fall and four major decisions. Stieber echoed his coach in saying the team has some work to do to be competitive. “We need to pick up intensity,” he said. “We still have a lot of things to work on, but we wrestled pretty well.” The probable starters for the Buckeyes this weekend include five freshmen, two redshirt freshmen, two redshirt sophomores and one redshirt junior. There is only one senior on the roster. Ryan said the youth of the team is its biggest challenge. “We’re trying to do the toughest thing that I’m aware of in college sports, and that is to have a freshman perform at a national level,” he said. “And that is extremely difficult.” The team will have to grow up in a hurry, as Ryan said Virginia Tech represents the team’s biggest challenge of the season, and this is only the third week of the season. Stieber will be involved in the featured match of the dual as he faces No. 5 sophomore Devin Carter , who finished in the Top 12 at the 2011 NCAA Championships as a true freshman. “Every match is going to be tough in that dual; we’re very similar in rankings in each weight class, so all 10 matches will be tough,” Ryan said. “But (Stieber’s match) is a doozie. Either one of those guys could be in the national finals, or both of them.” Fans are encouraged to wear black to the meet, which will start at 4 p.m. Sunday from St. John Arena.
If Ohio State football plays like it did against Alabama-Birmingham, it won’t have a chance against Michigan State. That’s how Buckeyes players and coaches said they felt after defeating UAB. “We have to play better,” said senior linebacker Etienne Sabino following OSU’s 29-15 win against the Blazers Saturday. The Buckeyes, who were favored by more than 35 points coming into the game, trailed the Blazers until late in the second quarter and were only up by a single score with less than six minutes to play in the fourth. The performance “disappointed” coach Urban Meyer. “I really had confidence this was going to be a Ohio State-looking team,” Meyer said after the game. “And it wasn’t.” Thanks to a 21-point scoring outburst during a six-minute span in the second quarter, OSU won the game to bring its record to 4-0, but the Buckeyes said their performances haven’t been as unblemished as their record. OSU escaped California in week three thanks to a 72-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller to sophomore receiver Devin Smith and three missed field goals from the Bears. The previous week Central Florida gave OSU all it could handle before OSU eventually pulled away for a 15-point win. But now the non-conference schedule is over, and with Big Ten season starting next week, OSU likely will not face another team it’s predicted to beat by five scores. “It’s glaringly obvious we’ve got to get a lot better or we won’t win next week,” Meyer said. “I think we seem like a very passive team.” Fans can look the other way when one game turns out to be closer than is expected, but the UAB game makes for three straight weeks that the Buckeyes have had to battle for the victory against teams they were expected to easily handle. After a three-and-out early in the fourth quarter Saturday, audible boos descended onto the field from the Buckeye faithful. “I don’t think anybody’s pleased right now,” said wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown. “I mean we’re winning games right now, but we’re not winning like we’re supposed to.” What’s the problem? Meyer said a lot of it comes down to inexperience. “It’s not lack of talent, it’s maybe lack of some experience,” Meyer said. “But we have a depth issue here at Ohio State right now. Severe.” That problem was perhaps never more apparent than Saturday when senior Ben Buchanan’s punt was blocked in the first quarter and returned to give UAB a 6-0 lead. Meyer said injuries forced him to shuffle his punt personnel and a true freshman missed his blocking assignment. The situation is nothing new to Meyer, though. OSU’s first-year coach said despite the disappointments, he still thinks the team can reach its potential. “I have a very clear understanding of where we’re at,” Meyer said. “Disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the guys. I think they’re working their tails off. We’ve just gotta keep grinding. No, absolutely I’ve been through some teams that you thought would be better at this point of the season.” The Buckeyes will get a test against the Spartans Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., and said the next week of practice will go a long way in determining the outcome. “We know that we’re not playing up to our potential yet,” Brown said. “We realize that especially after a wake-up call like (the UAB game) we got to come in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and practice harder than we ever have.”
LOS ANGELES – For at least the first 20 minutes of play, the defects that often doomed Ohio State during a rocky midseason stretch in February seemed to show in glimpses Thursday night at the Staples Center. In their Sweet 16 bout against Arizona, the Buckeyes veered away from the type of play that had gotten them to Los Angeles and leaned on the skill of junior forward Deshaun Thomas, the team’s and Big Ten’s leading scorer. Enter LaQuinton Ross, whose swift flick of the wrist likely made him the most-talked about person in Columbus. Thanks to the sophomore forward’s 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play, OSU won the game, 73-70, and will play in the Elite 8 for the second consecutive year. “This is what every player grows up looking at on TV and wants to hit that big shot, wants to win the game and hit the big shot in the NCAA Tournament or the NBA,” Ross said. “It just feels great to be here right now.” It was the second game in a row a late 3-pointer has lifted the Buckeyes. Just last week, junior guard Aaron Craft, OSU’s defensive heart and soul (and a 30 percent 3-point shooter) buried a game-winning shot en route to 18 points, vaulting the Buckeyes past Iowa State in Dayton Sunday. In some ways, Thursday felt like deja vu. But for parts of the first half, even being in the position to win seemed unlikely. While OSU opened the game’s scoring with a basket from Thomas, they seemed anxious and disorganized on both ends of the court. “We started off slow. Guys were being selfish, guys were hugged up on their man, not helping each other out, getting into gaps and tagging,” said Thomas, who finished the night with a game-high 20 points. “I don’t know what it was. It was probably just the heat of the moment. Everybody was just too excited.” Quickly, Arizona coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats took advantage. After falling the victim to an early, furious 10-2 run, the Buckeyes fell behind, 10-4, with 15:46 to play in the period. Behind Arizona senior guard Mark Lyons and his 10 first-half points, the Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field and, in particular, used a lethal 3-point assault to stave off a Buckeye squad that struggled to find momentum. Thomas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, became a lone pillar for stability as his teammates’ jump shots clanked off the iron and their layups clunked off the backboard. But despite Arizona sinking 63 percent of shots from behind the arc, OSU coach Thad Matta and his crew trotted into halftime down just 38-34, thanks to Thomas and his 16-point outburst in the first period. Having been outscored, outshot and perhaps generally outplayed in the first half against the Wildcats, Thomas said Matta had a singular and simple message. “Coach said do what we do at halftime,” he said, “and that’s what we did.” Craft relayed a similar message. “Our biggest focus was we needed to play better defense,” Craft said. “We gave up 38 points in a half and we haven’t done that too often this year. We got stops and we got easy buckets in transition and that’s where we’re at our best. It really kind of fuels our offense. Layups, dunks, mismatches, scramble situations.” It didn’t take long for OSU to pick up its level of play. The Buckeyes roared out of the gates on a 10-0 run thanks to sophomore forward Sam Thompson, junior guards Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Craft and even sophomore center Amir Williams – who swatted away a shot on one end of the floor before snatching a rebound over two defenders and going up for the jam on the other. Conversely, in that span, Arizona found scoring to be a more troubling endeavor than it was in the first half. In fact, the Wildcats wouldn’t make a basket until freshman forward Brandon Ashley connected on a short jumper a the 14:40 mark of the second. The struggles didn’t end there, either, as Arizona could only muster five points the first nine minutes of the second period and trailed the Buckeyes by as many as 10 after leading all but 33 seconds in the first half. The Wildcats responded, cutting the OSU lead to 60-57 after Lyons buried a trey with 6:33 to play. With 21.8 seconds to play, Lyons tied the game at 70 after making a driving layup despite being fouled, then making the ensuing free throw. It was not enough to overcome Ross – the Buckeyes’ hero – who surged late to score 14 of his 17 total points in the game’s final eight minutes. The Buckeyes have had a revolving door of second scoring options that have played sidekicks to Thomas’ usually steady production. And while his aid came late, Smith said the flavor-of-the-day approach to who will compliment Thomas is a blessing rather than a curse. “That’s such a good thing about this team, you never know who’s gonna step up and be that guy in next game,” he said. “It’s been a knock on us all year. We don’t have offense, you know, we don’t have that second scorer. Well, I mean, I can’t tell at this point, we’re finding guys to make shots.” The Buckeyes (29-7) are set to play No. 9 seed Wichita State Saturday in the Elite 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 7:05 p.m.
Freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) is looked at by the OSU training staff and coach Urban Meyer during a game against Illinois Nov. 16 at Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 60-35.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorIn football, much like any other sport, injuries are part of the game.For the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, 8-0), Saturday was no exception, as at times had to play without their star quarterback and a stalwart offensive lineman during their 60-35 victory against Illinois (3-7, 0-6).OSU redshirt-senior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort made his 35th consecutive start in the win, but was taken out after senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Braxton Miller, which gave the Buckeyes a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.Coach Urban Meyer said after after the game that the plan was to get Mewhort out of the game if OSU “could get up on (Illinois)” early to rest his right knee, which he hurt in practice earlier in the week.“It’s devastating,” Meyer said, referring to when Mewhort, who he called OSU’s “best offensive player,” is not in the game. “It’s not that he’s a very good player, he’s the man. He’s the rally point, he’s the leader.”The OSU coach compared playing without Mewhort to losing senior safety Christian Bryant, who broke his ankle late in OSU’s 31-24 win against Wisconsin Sept. 28.“Not having him, it’s a little bit like C.B.,” Meyer said. “We’re still feeling the effects of having Christian Bryant out.”OSU beat the Illini without two other starters in sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry and junior linebacker Curtis Grant. Grant is recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the Buckeyes’ 56-0 win over Purdue Nov. 2 and Perry slipped on ice in the middle of last week and hit his head. The Buckeyes also lost starting freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa to a sprained neck in the third quarter Saturday and had to turn to backup redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton at one point when Miller came out following a hard hit.“You’re playing with your third string middle linebacker … Your starting defensive end gets knocked out,” Meyer said. “We’re down 11 players for the year.”The lone usual starter at linebacker, junior Ryan Shazier, said playing without Grant and Perry changed the game a little bit.“It’s a little different because you’re so used to looking and just seeing one guy on the side of you or looking down and seeing that one guy there,” Shazier said. “But we practice with each other, we rotate all the time, so with those guys in I feel confident.”The players Shazier was referring to were sophomores Camren Williams and Joe Burger, who filled in for Perry and Grant.“We trust in Cam and Joe Burger just like Curtis and Josh,” Shazier said. “They just don’t have as much experience.”The 35 points the Buckeyes gave up were the most so far in 2013, and although one touchdown was scored on a punt return in the second quarter, Shazier said that does not matter.“I am not satisfied because I don’t want anybody to score any points on you, but 35 is way too much,” Shazier said. “Because if our offense wasn’t the offense that we are right now, this could have been a different situation, so we gave up too many points today.”Mewhort re-entered the lineup in the third quarter, and on a day where high winds wreaked havoc on the passing game, helped pave the way for both senior running back Carlos Hyde and Miller on the ground. OSU finished with 441 yards rushing on the day, compared to 132 for the Fighting Illini.“We went back to basics a little bit because the passing game wasn’t working as we thought,” Miller said. “We kind of get the ball out to Carlos or me, (and) we’ve got the best O-line in the Big Ten or country. Why not?”Miller only managed to complete 13 of his 29 pass attempts for 150 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois. His 44.8 completion percentage was his lowest of the season.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Indiana next Saturday in what will be their final home game of the season. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Then-San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh before an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 15, 2013.Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Michigan Wolverine football program is set to welcome back one of its own.Former Wolverines quarterback and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has been selected as the next head football coach at Michigan, according to multiple reports.Harbaugh, a Toledo native, played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1983 to 1986, starting in his final three seasons under then-coach Bo Schembechler and amassing 5,449 yards and 31 touchdowns over his college career.Following a 14-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers, Harbaugh worked as an assistant for his father, Jack, who was the head football coach at Western Kentucky University, before working as an assistant for the Oakland Raiders and ultimately landing his first head coaching job at the University of San Diego.From San Diego, Harbaugh was named head coach at Stanford in 2007, leading the Cardinal to its first 11-win season in 2010.After four years in Palo Alto, Calif., Harbaugh became the head coach of the 49ers in 2011 and led them to Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 — a game which the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother, John.After an 8-8 finish to the 2014 season, it was reported that Harbaugh and the 49ers were ready for a mutual departure, which led to Harbaugh’s return to Ann Arbor, Mich.Harbaugh is set to be welcomed back to Michigan as its next football coach on Tuesday during the Wolverines’ basketball game against Illinois, according to reports.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber (left) speaks with running backs coach Tony Alford (right) prior to the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 win over Indiana on Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorOhio State will have both its top two running backs, freshman J.K. Dobbins and redshirt sophomore Mike Weber, for its Week Two matchup against Oklahoma Saturday evening. Coach Urban Meyer said Weber is healthy and will suit up and play against the Sooners.“Mike had a good practice today, and he went full speed today,” Meyer said.Weber, last year’s starter, missed the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 victory against Indiana due to a hamstring injury. Meyer said he has not determined how he will rotate the backfield duo.Dobbins started in his debut against Indiana, rushing for 29 times for 182 yards. He was the sixth true freshman to ever start for Ohio State and rushed for more attempts and yards than Weber had in any game last year.In 2016, Weber gained 1,119 rushing yards on 182 attempts, scoring nine touchdowns. He added 23 catches for 91 yards.
Borussia Dortmund skipper Marco Reus is wary of the challenge that will be Atletico Madrid, he knows they won’t have many chances to score.Champions League Wednesday will be the day with the most interesting matches, one of those will be Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico Madrid and Marco Reus spoke about the upcoming match against the Colchoneros.Signal Iduna Park will open its doors for what can arguably be described as one of the most interesting matches, one of two that will be played in the next couple of weeks and will bring us top quality football from both sides.👍 @woodyinho completely on track https://t.co/Svu9LklqQY pic.twitter.com/t3aOOOoF3P— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) September 29, 2017“The most important thing here is to remain patient, Atletico is a very good defensive squad because they don’t give you any space to maneuver,” said Reus via Diario AS.“We are not going to have many opportunities to score goals and we must get the best out of them. We’ve had many great chances to score in the last few matches. Atletico’s defense is very strong and we must be patient.”It’s not the biggest moment for us in the Champions League because we also had a very special game against Monaco. Atletico have already proved their worth on the international stage and that is very good for them.”“They have great players but we will play at home and it will be a special match, but getting the three points would be very motivating because we could take the group’s top spot.”“We must watch more videos of Atletico Madrid, we have to watch them playing counter-attack. We will get more into the details within the next hours.”Merson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.🛫🇩🇪 Germany, here we go! 🔜 ⚽⭐What a game awaits!💪💪💪#AúpaAtleti #UCL #BVBAtleti pic.twitter.com/1JBMtSt4mK— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) October 23, 2018Finally, Marco Reus spoke about the way he communicates with Paco Alcacer: “My Spanish is not very good, his German isn’t good either but he knows what he has to do as a striker.”“It has been important for him to know the team’s most repeated practices. You can tell that he studies when we play matches, he hasn’t had a single adaptation problem.”Paco Alcácer has scored with every single shot on target he has had in the Bundesliga:⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️The Midas Touch. pic.twitter.com/wtkUWJrigG— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 20, 2018
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas is set to leave Chelsea in the January transfer window after falling out of favour with new manager Maurizio Sarri.The Spanish midfielder has started just one of the West London club’s 19 Premier League matches to date this campaign, appearing as a substitute just four times, according to Football EspanaFabregas has been linked with a number of European clubs including Milan, Valencia and Atletico Madrid, but the report gives no indication of his next destination.Sacchi explains Sarri, Conte, and Ancelotti Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Arrigo Sacchi talked about how Sarri has a tougher time at Juventus than Conte at Inter; while Ancelotti’s “blood is boiling” at Napoli.Arrigo Sacchi…Fabregas moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2014 from Barcelona and was key to the Chelsea squad that won the Premier league in the 2015/2016 season.He is due to celebrate his 32nd birthday in May and will be looking forward to join a club before then.Sarri, since his arrival has made his intention not to use some players known to the public.