The Most Impressive Run to the Final Four And Its Not Kentuckys

Which team had the most impressive run to the Final Four?The question might seem like the sports equivalent of “Which of your children do you love the most?” Any team that wins four straight games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has a lot to be proud of. Papa Brackets thinks all the Final Four teams — Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky and Wisconsin — are very special.But conventional wisdom appears to hold Kentucky’s path in ever-so-slightly higher regard than the other schools’. The Wildcats defeated an unbeaten No. 1 seed (Wichita State) and both of last year’s finalists (Michigan and Louisville) en route to Arlington.Kentucky has been great. Despite entering the tournament as a No. 8 seed, it has a 19 percent chance of winning the NCAA championship, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model. That’s up from only a 2 percent chance before the tournament began.Still, Connecticut’s run has been slightly more special than Kentucky’s so far. And Wisconsin’s, even more so.The FiveThirtyEight model has a particular way of answering our question. It evaluates teams not in any absolute sense, but relative to its expectations. And it accounts not only for wins and losses (by definition, any team that makes to the Final Four has won at least four straight games), but also for margin of victory.To be more specific, the model calculates not only the win probability for each game, but also an implicit point spread. For example, it gives Florida a 69.9 percent chance of beating Connecticut on Saturday. That translates into Florida being 5.5 point favorites. The model has Wisconsin with a 58.2 percent chance of beating Kentucky, which would equate to the Badgers being favored by two points.How a team fares relative to this point spread affects how the model evaluates it going forward. Why? Tournament results are quite predictive of future tournament results: A team that is terrific in the early rounds often does well in later ones.Occasionally, a team can end up in worse shape despite winning its game. This happens when the model expects a blowout and the team wins by a smaller margin.A case in point is Florida in its opening-round game against Albany. The model had the Gators as 24-point favorites, but Florida won by 12 points (in fact, the game was a little closer than the scoreline implies).What about Florida’s three other wins? It was clear that the Gators were the favorite in each game, but they performed about in line with the model’s expectations — beating its point spread by six points against Pittsburgh and four points against UCLA, and underperforming it by two points in their win Saturday against Dayton. To be clear, the Gators have been great — and the model has them as the plurality favorite to win the tournament. But Florida was a great team going in. It has performed roughly as expected against a relatively easy draw.How about Kentucky? If viewed as a No. 8 seed, the Wildcats have been extremely impressive — not least on account of the quality of competition they’ve faced. But Kentucky was no typical No. 8. The Wildcats ranked first in the country in the preseason AP and USA Today Coaches polls, a factor for which the FiveThirtyEight model accounts. They took 10 losses in the regular season, but they faced a tough schedule; all but two of the losses, both to Florida, came by single digits.Kentucky was badly underseeded to begin with, in other words. The FiveThirtyEight model actually had Kentucky as slight favorites against Michigan, despite the Wildcats’ inferior seed. The Wildcats were underdogs against Louisville and Wichita State, but only modest ones, and both games were close. Kentucky outperformed the FiveThirtyEight point spread by two points against Michigan, four points against Wichita State and 10 points against Louisville.By this standard, both Connecticut and Wisconsin have done more to exceed expectations. The Huskies were the narrowest of favorites against Iowa State on Friday, in part because Madison Square Garden is a de facto home court for them. (Geographic distance from a team’s home campus is another factor that the FiveThirtyEight model accounts for; the author of this article went to the games at MSG for “research purposes” and can confirm that there was a lot of Huskies love there.) But Connecticut also won as underdogs against Michigan State and Villanova. The Villanova win, which came by 12 points, was relatively emphatic.The improvement in the model’s esteem for Wisconsin is partially the result of the Badgers’ upset of No. 1 seed Arizona on Saturday. But it has more to do with the their performance in earlier rounds. Wisconsin thrashed Baylor by 17 points Thursday, and the Badgers beat American University by 40 points in their opening game. On average, Wisconsin has outperformed the FiveThirtyEight point spread by 12 points, as compared with nine points for Connecticut and four for Kentucky.Evaluating teams by their margins of victory is unpopular; it may seem as heartless as rating your kids by their SAT scores. We’re fans of systems such as the Basketball Power Index (BPI) that account for the scoring margins throughout games and not just at the final buzzer. But margin of victory predicts future performance reasonably well — better than ratings based on wins and losses alone do. By that measure, Wisconsin heads to Texas with the most momentum.(Nerd alert: The point spread can be derived through the formula NORMSINV(WINPROB)*10.36 in Microsoft Excel, where WINPROB is a team’s probability of winning.) read more

Intensity passion fueled Spielmans fire

From recent stars James Laurinaitis and A.J. Hawk to past greats like Tom Cousineau and Randy Gradishar, Ohio State’s linebacking corps can perennially be discussed as one of the nation’s best.And when it comes to college linebackers past and present, few rival Chris Spielman.“There is no question he is one of the best,” said Jack Park, author of The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia. “I can’t imagine anybody picking the top 25 players in football history at Ohio State and not including Chris Spielman in that group.”A Canton, Ohio, native, hype began surrounding Spielman in high school when his play made him the first high school athlete to land his face on a Wheaties box.In 1984, Spielman traded in his Massillon Washington High School uniform for scarlet and gray to begin what would prove to be an illustrious college football career at OSU.Both Park and Jim Karsatos, former OSU quarterback and teammate of Spielman, agreed that Spielman’s intensity set him apart.“Chris Spielman had an intensity as great as probably any football player I have ever studied or known,” Park said. “He had an intensity about him as a player that was almost unequaled.”As a freshman, Spielman wasted little time proving his intensity and passion for the game to his teammates and the Buckeye faithful.“In practice he worked as hard as anybody out there,” Karsatos said. “His intensity was contagious, even as a younger player, and the older guys fed off of that.”By his sophomore year in 1985, Spielman began to establish himself as a household name and a force to be reckoned with on the “silver bullet” defense.The play that sticks out the most in Park’s mind came in a game that year in which Spielman had 19 tackles.It was a game that pinned the Buckeyes against the No. 1-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the Horseshoe for what Park called one of the greatest OSU victories of all time.“It was a fourth-down play and Iowa gave it to their tailback,” Park said. “Chris made the tackle and that really started to seal the game.”“Spielman made a lot of big plays when the team needed it the most,” he said.Chris continued to make big plays over the next two seasons, as he finished his college career with 546 tackles, good for third all-time at OSU. He finished in the top 10 in Heisman voting each of his last two years, almost unprecedented at the linebacker position.“On the field, he was all over the place and he had a great nose for the ball,” Karsatos said. “He could make big plays when we needed them and on the sideline he was just as intense and kept everybody up and into the game.”Spielman exhibited his nose for the ball on the grandest of stages, including the 1986 Michigan game. He made 29 tackles that afternoon, the OSU record for most tackles in a game.“They already knew what kind of player Chris was and knew they had to block him,” Karsatos said. “For him to get in on that many tackles in that kind of football game was pretty incredible.”Following his senior season in 1987, Spielman left OSU as one of the most decorated linebackers in program history, receiving the OSU Most Valuable Player and the Lombardi Award, along with being a three-time All-Big Ten honoree and two-time All-American.Retired from a successful NFL career that included four Pro Bowl appearances, Spielman, a recent inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, now co-hosts a Columbus sports talk radio show.Along with his work on the radio, Spielman has continued to write his legacy in the Columbus community through the efforts of him and his late wife Stefanie establishing the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research in 1998.Since its inception, the Stefanie Spielman Fund has raised over $6.5 million for breast cancer research at OSU’s James Cancer Hospital.“He will always be remembered as one of the really great football players,” Park said. “But I think years from now when people look back and say ‘what is the legacy of Chris Spielman,’ it will be what he has done for other people through the James (Cancer Hospital).” read more

Ohio StateMiami 5 questions

1. Who will win the quarterback battle? The two are similar in a few ways. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks. Both passed for more than 3,000 yards last year. Both were handed the keys to their respective offenses as underclassmen. “I think [Pryor and Harris] have traveled a similar road,” OSU coach Jim Tressel said. “They both got put in there at an early point in their freshman year. But in [Pryor’s] case, it was the third or fourth game and he had to kind of get thrown in with an older group and learn their way.” 2. Will either team be able to run the ball effectively? Both defenses will be geared to stuff the run. Miami has a solid cache of defensive linemen, led by a genuine freak-of-nature in 6-foot-3, 287-pound senior Allen Bailey, who is not only a probable first-round pick in next April’s draft, but reportedly killed an alligator with nothing but a shovel a few years ago. As for OSU, the Silver Bullets are usually stout against the run. The OSU defense has ranked in the top five in the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed in three of the last five years. Miami coach Randy Shannon said starting running back Graig Cooper will likely miss the game, although ACC Rookie of the Week Lamar Miller appears to be a capable backup. 3. Can the OSU offensive line protect Pryor? The OSU offensive line did an admirable job last Thursday against Marshall. However, comparing the Marshall defensive line to the Miami front four would be foolish. Tressel isn’t taking the Hurricane pass rushers lightly. “They’re very good. They’re veterans, they’re quick and they’re strong,” Tressel said. “It will be a great challenge for our guys.” Although the Hurricanes have a star in Bailey and a few other solid players, the OSU hog mollies should be equipped to handle the task. 4. Who will win the field position battle? The combination of the crowd, OSU’s ability to force turnovers and Harris’ propensity to throw the football to the other team all favor the Scarlet and Gray. But nearly every one of those characteristics could have been said for the USC game last year and OSU lost that contest, 18-15. On the other hand, if the Buckeyes have the lead heading into the fourth quarter, the game is usually over. Under Tressel, OSU is 86-6 when taking the lead into the final quarter. Disclaimer: OSU led USC, 15-10, heading into the fourth quarter last year. 5. Will an unknown player, coaching decision or (gasp!) referee steal the show? Obviously, all three are impossible to predict. But in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the game was defined by curious coaching decisions and questionable calls by officials. From official Terry Porter’s infamous pass interference call in the first overtime, to Tressel’s decision to run a fake field goal early in the game to Miami’s downright dubious goal line offense in the second overtime, the game was full of judgments ripe for barroom discussion. As for an unknown player stealing the show, for Miami, sophomore safety Ray Ray Armstrong and Ohio State sophomore running back Jordan Hall could provide the difference. Armstrong is big (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), fast and saw major playing time as a freshman. If he keeps the OSU passing game in front of him and reads Pryor’s eyes, his performance will be two-fold: tackling receiver Dane Sanzenbacher over the middle of the field and intercepting Pryor. The diminutive Hall could make an impact as a punt returner. Think former LSU star Trindon Holliday, the 5-foot, 6-inch speed sprint champion who also specialized as a returner for the Tigers. Hall is capable of making a similar impact for OSU. This could be his breakout game. read more

Lightning strikes twice Moeller out for second straight season

Tyler Moeller is no stranger to bad luck. Perhaps that’s how he knew more of it was coming when he suited up to play Illinois on Saturday. While the senior defensive back was pulling up his uniform pants, he could feel a tweak on the left side of his chest that had bothered him since partially tearing his left pectoral muscle in 2008. By his own count, he’s partially torn the muscle 10 to 12 times during the last two-and-a-half years. Those injuries never fully healed, and Moeller could sense that it was only a matter of time before it would cost him. “I kind of thought it was a ticking time bomb,” Moeller said. “Something big was going to happen eventually.” Sure enough, something did happen. During Illinois’ opening drive, Moeller tried to wrap up Illini running back Mikel Leshoure. Moeller’s left arm was pulled back violently as the hard-charging Leshoure burst through his arm tackle. Before hitting the turf, he could feel the muscle rip from the bone. As he got up and rushed toward the sidelines, Moeller knew his fate. “I knew it was totally torn when it happened,” Moeller said. “I ran off the field, and the trainers didn’t even have to tell me what was wrong. I knew what was wrong.” Moeller had completely torn his left pectoral muscle, finishing his season and possibly his career at Ohio State. The NCAA must grant him a medical redshirt and a sixth year of eligibility for him to return. But none of that news could dim the radiant smile Moeller wore on his face as he addressed the media on the eve of his surgery Tuesday night, accepting his latest misfortune. “Bad things happen,” Moeller said. “You have to keep your head up and you have to work hard. Then you can overcome everything.” Moeller, who missed all of last season with head injuries he sustained during an attack in Florida, will have to overcome another setback. “It’s really sad for a guy to be able to put so much work into something and have it taken away twice in a row,” defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said. “It is kind of tough for everybody on the team, especially since he was a great player for us and did some great things.” The injury comes just as his career was finally taking off. Before Moeller came to OSU in 2006, he was a relentless pass rusher at Colerain High School in Cincinnati. He spent his Friday nights wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield, recording 15.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss as a senior. But questions regarding his 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound stature clouded the outlook of his future. Seen as too big to play safety but too small to play linebacker, Moeller developed into a solid defender on special teams during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. “I wanted to be a linebacker,” Moeller said. “I always had the mentality. I wish I had the mentality to play safety because linebacker kind of beat me up.” During the summer of 2008, Moeller partially tore his left pectoral muscle for the first time. Unable to fix the injury with surgery and too focused on the season to bother with rehab, Moeller essentially played 2008 with only one functioning arm. “I was younger then, so I wasn’t as intelligent as I am now,” Moeller said. “If I could do it again, I would definitely rehab it a lot more.” He made his first career start at linebacker, strangely enough, against Illinois in 2008. He recorded seven tackles, including two for a loss and forced a fumble. Before the 2009 season, Moeller was expected to win a starting linebacker job, even though doubts about his chest problems and size still lingered. But those issues would prove to be the least of his troubles. On July 26, 2009, Moeller was with his family in Florida to celebrate his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. He doesn’t remember much else from that night. While eating at Gators Cafe and Saloon in Treasure Island, Moeller was punched in the face by Ralph Gray Decker, 28, of Kenneth City, Fla., in what was described as an “unprovoked” attack by an assistant state attorney. The back of Moeller’s head smacked against the ground as he fell, leaving him to spend the coming days fighting for his life in a Florida intensive care unit. Details of the altercation with Decker remain murky because of legal issues, but on June 3, Decker pleaded guilty to assaulting Moeller and in August was sentenced to two years of probation. He’s paid the Moeller family more than $11,000 in medical expenses. After the attack, Moeller had severe memory loss and trouble speaking. Doctors learned there was bleeding in his brain and had to drill two dime-sized holes into his skull, which now has a metal plate. Moeller said the surgery had him worried for his life, even if only for a little bit. “I was worried in the beginning, going into surgery,” Moeller said. “But after surgery I knew I was fine and was going to be OK.” Even though some doctors suggested he should’ve ended his football career, Moeller’s passion for the game wouldn’t let him stop. “Why would I want to keep playing? Because I love it,” Moeller said. “I love the game of football.” He spent the next few months preparing for his return to the football field. Unable to train for more than seven months, he spent most of his time away from the football team, focusing on his school work. He couldn’t participate in any contact drills until summer practice, but by the time the season started, coach Jim Tressel had a spot for him that would maximize the speed and physicality of the undersized Moeller. Inserted at the “star” position, which is a hybrid between a linebacker and a defensive back, Moeller’s tenacity resurfaced immediately during the season-opener against Marshall as he registered seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. It was good enough to earn him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Moeller would spend the next three games harassing the offensive backfield unlike any time since high school, recording 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss during that span. But his comeback would be cut short after his season-ending injury against Illinois. And even though the injury isn’t comparable to the one he suffered at the hands of Decker, the two injuries are related. Because of the brain surgery, Moeller was unable to exert himself physically enough to treat the lingering pectoral damage he suffered in 2008, leaving him vulnerable to more damage. He hasn’t bench pressed in two years. The Moeller family has forgiven Decker for his crime. Tyler, who no longer suffers from short-term memory loss, said he’s moved on from the attack. “I don’t really think about it anymore,” Moeller said. “If he’s sorry or not, I don’t really care. I wish him all the best. I hope he controls his inner demons.” The Buckeyes’ loss of Moeller can’t be understated. As one of the most effective pass rushers and leaders on the team, Tressel knows he won’t be easy to replace. “You just feel sick for him because you saw the pain he was in last year not being able to help his teammates and now he was, and now he was having fun,” Tressel said. “So, yeah, it’s very disappointing and obviously it hurts us.” Moeller won’t be able to train for the next three months but he expects to be much more involved with the team this year and help freshman Christian Bryant take over his role at the “star” position. Regardless of whether his career as a Buckeye is over, the ever-resilient Moeller expects to play football again at an even greater level. “I know I can play at that caliber level, and if I can get a medical redshirt, I’ll be better than ever,” Moeller said. “I’ll have a chest to work with and my legs will be stronger.” As unlucky as Moeller has been for the last two years, he refuses to let bitterness consume him. Moeller thrives on confidence, even while on the road to recovery. It’s a road he knows very well. read more

Ohio State mens basketballs Deshaun Thomas determined to shoot his way out

You didn’t think he would stop shooting, did you? Deshaun Thomas is in a slump. During Ohio State’s final two games of the Big Ten Tournament – wins against Michigan State and Wisconsin – the junior forward shot a combined 12-38 from the field. How does the Big Ten’s regular season scoring champion plan on getting himself out of his recent funk? By doing what nearly everyone who knows Thomas expects him to do: keep on shooting. “I do shoot my way out (of slumps). Just keep shooting. I want one to go down so bad,” a noticeably frustrated Thomas said Wednesday. At this time of the season, though, in a lose-and-go-home situation, can No. 2 seed OSU afford to have a potentially cold Thomas take the majority of the team’s shots? Well, yes and no. Yes if Thomas improves his shot selection. No if he jacks up jumpers similar to the ones he was taking at the United Center this past weekend. “The shots I’ve taken, they’re questionable. Well, some of them,” Thomas said. “(OSU’s coaches said) the bad shots you’ve taken, they’re killing your percentage.” Thomas averaged 17.3 points per game in Chicago and was named to the tournament’s first team alongside junior guard Aaron Craft, the Most Outstanding Player. But he shot 17-47 (36 percent) and 3-20 (15 percent) from 3-point range, well below his season averages of 44 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Tuesday, coach Thad Matta and his assistants began to break down film from their recent conference tournament run. One aspect of their review was trying to figure out what Thomas could improve on to better his shooting percentage. Their solution was fairly simple: for Thomas to stop forcing the issue. “The coaches have told me when a defender flies out, put it on the floor, pump fake, then shoot it,” Thomas said. “I’ve been really working on the percentage because the bad shots are killing my percentage.” Thomas’ teammates haven’t lost any confidence in their go-to scoring weapon. Following OSU’s 50-43 victory against Wisconsin in the tournament championship, in which Thomas shot 6-for-19, redshirt senior forward Evan Ravenel quickly brushed off any doubts surrounding his teammate. Ravenel said Thomas could just as easily “been 18 of 19.” Matta points to the critical shot of the game against MSU in the conference tournament’s semifinal as evidence for reason to be confident in his junior star. With OSU up two points, Thomas hit a jumper from the left elbow with 25 seconds remaining in the contest to all but secure a Buckeye victory. “When we needed one, he got it,” Matta said. It was NCAA Tournament time last season, after all, when Thomas skyrocketed from a capable scoring option to one of the country’s premier offensive players. During OSU’s Final Four run last year, Thomas averaged 19.2 points per game in five NCAA Tournament contests. He was named to the tournament’s All-East Region team following big games against Cincinnati and Syracuse. Thomas’ play vaulted him into NBA Draft talk before the Indiana native decided to return to Columbus for his junior year. Matta said he expects the experience Thomas and his team gained last March and April to pay dividends in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. “We talked about that as well,” Matta said. “Last year doesn’t give you a point, doesn’t give you a rebound, but it heightens your awareness a little bit of what it takes.” Thomas wasn’t the focus of opposing team’s defenses last season, however. Former OSU forward and two-time all-American Jared Sullinger received the majority of the attention from the defenses the Buckeyes faced. Thomas benefited greatly from it, often being on the receiving end of a kick-out pass from a double-teamed Sullinger. “Me and Jared, we played well together, two (big men), we read the defense, we knew when to pass it to each other,” Thomas said. “It was pretty much, pretty easy to score last year because everybody was focusing on him. I was just sitting back, being patient.” It’s different for Thomas now, who has become the player opposing teams like to double down on. “I try to be as patient as I can … Then again, I’m just trying to win,” Thomas said. He’s handled the pressure all season, leading the Buckeyes, and the Big Ten, in scoring at 19.5 points a game. Despite recent less-than-usual performances, Thomas said he is ready as ever to help propel OSU to a second Final Four in as many years. “I feel locked in. I’m just going to be ready. Whatever play is drawn up for me, I’m going to be ready to shoot,” he said. Thomas had, not surprisingly, just finished doing one of his favorite things. “I just got done putting shots up, they were going in. I’m just going to continue with my routine,” he said. OSU is set to take on No. 15 seed Iona at 7:15 p.m. in Dayton Friday. If the Buckeyes can get past the Gaels, they will take on the winner of the game between No. 7 seed Notre Dame and No. 10 seed Iowa State Sunday. With two wins, OSU will advance to the West Region semifinal, and possible final, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. read more

The Sweet shot Aaron Craft lifts Buckeyes to Sweet 16

DAYTON – In the middle of an arena packed to the rafters with crazed fans standing anxiously, on a court with defenders eying him and teammates yelling for the ball, Aaron Craft remained calm. The score of the third-round NCAA Tournament game between No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 10 seed Iowa State was tied, 75-75, with the shot clock off and the contest’s final seconds ticking down. Craft dribbled the ball just outside the right wing, with Georges Niang, a freshman forward, isolated on him. “Give me the ball!” shouted junior forward Deshaun Thomas, who clapped twice after screaming at his junior point guard from the top of the key. “I’m open! I’m open!” roared junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., who stood unguarded in the right corner. Craft waved them off. He had run the play coach Thad Matta drew up in the huddle – a pick-and-roll intended to free Thomas for an open look – but Iowa State doubled the junior forward, meaning a big man was left to defend OSU’s rosy-cheeked floor leader. “He made the right read. (Thomas) was going to have to catch it with his back to the basket. I was fine with it. I’ve said from day one, I’ll live with any decision that kid makes,” Matta said. Craft waited until the game clock reached three, dribbled hard to the 3-point line, rose up, and fired a shot. Swish. Following a late desperation heave from the Cyclones, that wouldn’t have counted if it had gone in, OSU had reached its fourth straight Sweet 16, upending Iowa State, 78-75, at the University of Dayton Arena Sunday afternoon. Craft, who scored 18 total points, received a hug from each of his teammates. The fans in attendance – most of whom were Buckeyes fans – cheered and jumped in jubilation. In a West Region where the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds had already been eliminated, OSU remained alive in its hunt for a second consecutive Final Four berth. “I think it’s a great way to win like this. Every game can’t be a blowout. The fact that we won this game gives us a lot of momentum headed to LA,” said sophomore guard Shannon Scott. Waiting for the Buckeyes at the Staples Center in Los Angeles is No. 6 seed Arizona, a squad Matta called “loaded,” and “the best team on the West Coast.” For long stretches of the game Sunday, though, OSU’s spot in the West Region’s semi-finals was in serious doubt. The Cyclones jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, making the Buckeyes look flustered and nervous. OSU settled for contested jumpers on the offensive end and gave up open shots on defense. “Settle down,” Craft barked to his teammates. OSU fought back, going on a 12-2 run sparked by Scott’s play off the bench. The sophomore guard, however, was called for a technical foul after an and-one layup in transition when he tossed the basketball at an Iowa State defender. The Buckeyes’ momentum halted, and OSU scraped into halftime with a 38-36 lead. Out of the break, the Buckeyes looked like they had taken control of the contest. Sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross had a 10-point stretch midway through the final half, pushing OSU to a 69-56 lead with 6:04 remaining. “I think coming off the bench I have an advantage because I get to watch the pace of the game,” Ross said, who totaled 17 points. “I was able to come in the game and set a few screens for Aaron and get open.” Iowa State then rattled off 13 straight points and took the lead on a 3-pointer from the right corner by senior guard Tyrus McGee with 3:24 left. “Their coach had a great game plan with us, pinning us down with their bigs against the basket and getting their guards out,” Scott said. The Cyclones, who had four players in double figures, made 12 3-pointers on the day, including five from redshirt senior guard Korie Lucious, a transfer from Michigan State. “I think they’re probably the best 3-point shooting team we’ve ever played against,” Scott said. While the Buckeyes looked like they were wavering during Iowa State’s second-half run, the players insist they were not. One aspect of the game they did falter in, admittedly, was toughness. Iowa State out-rebounded OSU, 36-22, repeatedly getting second chance opportunities at the offensive end. “For a little segment there, they were the tougher team,” Smith said. OSU and Iowa State traded free throws and baskets in the game’s final minutes. Craft, the game’s hero, was at times the scapegoat for a potential loss, as he missed two critical free throws down the stretch. “I was just trying to stay focused and poised. I did some things down the stretch I normally don’t do,” Craft said. With 58 seconds left and the ball in the hands of Iowa State and the game tied, 75-75, Thomas did something he normally doesn’t do, too. This rare occurrence, however, benefited the Buckeyes, as the junior forward forced a Cyclones turnover, giving OSU the ball back. “People always talk about my defense, questioning it, but it was a great defensive stop,” Thomas said, who led OSU with 22 points. I was on (Niang), and they were running that play all game and they scored four points off of it. So I was like, I know they’re going to run this play, and they ran it. I saw a guy run up and I just went over there and got the ball and got the steal.” Craft got the ball and missed a jumper from the right wing, but Iowa State tipped the ball out of bounds. Following a timeout from Matta, Craft, with the confidence of his teammates, knocked down the game-winning shot. “As long as it wasn’t him on the free throw line at that point, I was like, ‘Man, he’s going to make that shot,’” Smith said with a smile. “Big-time players step up and make plays at the end of the game.” Craft’s reaction to the made bucket surprised one of his teammates. “When we made the shot, he didn’t even get excited. He was just like, ‘Play D! Play D!’” Thomas said. “That’s the thing about Craft, we love him, he works on and off the court, and you need a guy like that on your side.” OSU and Arizona will play Thursday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. read more

Mens Hockey Lacking offense Ohio State suffers 41 loss to Notre Dame

Ohio State’s junior-forward Mason Jobst (26) steals the puck away from Notre Dame’s sophomore forward Mike O’Leary (19) during a Big Ten conference matchup at the Schottenstein Center on November 3, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. OSU lost 1-4. Credit: Alex Hulvalchick | For the LanternA comeback effort fell short for No. 16 Ohio State (5-2-2, 1-2-0-0 in Big Ten), as the Buckeyes fell 4-1 to No. 10 Notre Dame (5-3-1, 1-0-0-0 in Big Ten) in the Fighting Irish’s first conference game as a Big Ten school.The Fighting Irish dominated the scoreboard, netting three in the final frame to bury any chances of a comeback for Ohio State.Sophomore goalie Cale Morris stood tall for Notre Dame, making 23 saves. Redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo stopped 14 shots for the Buckeyes.“At the end of the day you have to score more than one goal to win most times,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We had some chances, but again we have to clean some things up.”Six minutes into the first period, Notre Dame senior defenseman Justin Wade hit senior forward Matthew Weis with a cheap shot in the back. Wade’s hit earned him a game misconduct, which caused an ejection, and gave the Buckeyes a five-minute power play. But Ohio State was unable to convert on the man advantage opportunity.“That was pretty disappointing,” junior forward Mason Jobst said. “We just have to get it set up in the zone, they did a pretty good job at not even letting us get set up … we’ll bounce back tomorrow and get them.”The Fighting Irish did not take long to break the scoreless tie in period two, as sophomore forward Cal Burke found a sliver of space between the post and Romeo, and that was all it took to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Senior defenseman Jordan Gross and freshman defenseman Matt Hellickson earned the assists on the play.The third period started with a frenzy of Ohio State chances. Sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski hit senior forward Kevin Miller on a two-on-one in the first minute, but Morris made the tough save. A few minutes later, both senior forward Luke Stork and Jobst missed on a near-open net as Morris was down, and still Notre Dame remained ahead a goal.Notre Dame doubled its lead shortly after these chances on a goal by junior forward Dylan Malmquist in front of Romeo. Ohio State didn’t take long to answer this time, as senior defenseman Janik Moser ripped a one-timer from the point off a faceoff win by Jobst to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 12 minutes left in the game.The Buckeyes never capitalized on the momentum, as Notre Dame scored two insurance goals late in the game to hand Ohio State its first loss in seven games. The first came from sophomore forward Cam Morrison, who hit in a rebound over Romeo off a shot by sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke.“We had a few breakdowns and that can’t happen,” junior defenseman Sasha Larocque said. “Overall we did play a pretty solid game, we were ready for them, we just can’t be breaking down like we did.”Notre Dame finished the game off with an empty netter by freshman forward Colin Theisen to take a commanding 4-1 lead with 34.7 seconds left in the game.“For the most part defensively we played a pretty good hockey game against a good quality team like that, but when we did break down, you can’t break down like we did for a couple of those goals,” Rohlik said.Ohio State and Notre Dame face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center. read more

Womens Basketball No 8 Ohio State falls 6960 to No 14 Duke

Ohio State redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun launches a shot during the first half of the Buckeyes’ game against Quinnipiac on Nov. 15. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorThe No. 8 Ohio State women’s basketball team came back from a 17-point deficit to No. 14 Duke midway through the third quarter to tie the game with 9:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Blue Devils (6-1) responded with a nine-point run to pull away down the stretch en route to a 69-60 victory against the Buckeyes (7-2) Thursday night in Durham, North Carolina, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.Guards Lexi Brown and Rebecca Greenwell each scored 19 points for Duke. The Blue Devils won the rebounding battle, holding a 49-30 advantage. This led to a 36-18 edge in points in the paint.The Blue Devils led by 17 points in the third quarter, but did not score for the final six minutes of the third quarter. The Buckeyes slowly pulled even with Duke. But Ohio State struggled to get its offense going in the fourth quarter, missing 11 of its final 12 shots, and turning the ball over five times in the last nine minutes.Duke held Ohio State to its lowest scoring total of the season. The Buckeyes shot just 32 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc, while the Blue Devils made 46 percent of their shots and 47 percent of their 3-point attempts.Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State with 24 points, but played inefficiently. She made just 9-of-27 shots and hit 4-of-17 3s. Redshirt senior guard Linnae Harper added 12 points and eight rebounds. The Buckeyes forced the Blue Devils into 21 turnovers, including 12 steals, despite their lack of offensive rhythm. Ohio State never led in the entire game. read more

Womens Hockey No 5 Ohio State records first loss of season against

Ohio State then-freshman forward Emma Maltais (17) heads back out on the ice to start the second period of the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignNo. 5 Ohio State (3-1) lost its first game of the season in the second game of the weekend series against No. 8 Colgate (2-2) by a score of 5-2.Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall said she saw a different team than the one that defeated the Raiders last night.“You don’t know why a team can play so dominant yesterday and the first 20 minutes of the first period and then disappear,” Muzerall said. “Against a good team like Colgate, they are going keep coming back at you, so you can’t wait until the third to try and win the hockey game.”Ohio State struck first less than eight minutes into the first period off a strike by sophomore forward Liz Scheppers to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead. Senior forward Madison Field and redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne recorded assists on the goal. This assist was Dunne’s third on the season in only four games. Still early in the game, the Buckeyes extended their lead off a goal less than three minutes later when sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs scored her fourth goal of the season in as many games to make the score 2-0. Sophomore forward Emma Maltais received an assist on the play. However, momentum quickly shifted to Colgate as the game moved into the second period.Colgate struck back just 36 seconds into the second period to close the gap to 2-1 when freshman Nemo Neubauerova knocked a shot by freshman goaltender Andrea Braendli with an assist by senior defenseman Olivia Zafuto. Taking advantage of a power play, Colgate tied the game up at two all 5:10 into the second period off a power play goal by freshman forward Delani MacKay with assists by sophomore forward Malia Schneider and senior forward Jesse Eldridge.The domination of the second period by Colgate continued as a goal by senior forward Shae Labbe 14:59 into the second period gave Colgate the lead for the first time, 3-2. Senior forward Bailey Larson got an assist for the play. “It was unfortunate that we gave up in the second, which dominantly, we don’t,” Muzerall said. “We usually dominate the second period, so when we had such a great first period, I was very excited for the second knowing that we usually are in control of it, but Colgate came to win, and Saturday games are always tougher.”Throughout the entirety of the second period, Ohio State was held to just four shots on goal to Colgate’s 14. The Buckeyes outshot Colgate 19-8 in the first period. “I think our first period was great, but then Colgate came out flying in the second period,” Dunne said. “You got to give them credit, they are a national championship contender. They don’t quit, and they don’t give up. I think we were a little on our heels and they took advantage of that.”The Buckeyes continued to lose momentum, as with just 2:10 left in the third period, sophomore forward Coralie Larose added an insurance goal for Colgate to extend their lead to 4-2, marking the fourth goal that Braendli gave up. Larose was assisted by senior forward Bailey Larson and sophomore defenseman Shelby Wood.In Braendli’s first start of her collegiate career, she recorded 32 saves and gave up four goals. “If you look on the scoreboard, that doesn’t tell you everything if you watch the hockey game,” Muzerall said. “She couldn’t see two of the goals. We had way too much traffic and if we’re going to do that, we have to block it. The other two, you have to give Colgate credit. They scored four goals on us this weekend with that top shelf goal shot. Her angling was pretty good on both of them, they were just good shots.” Just over a minute later, senior forward Shae Labbe scored her second goal of the game with an empty net goal to make the score 5-2 and end all chances of an Ohio State comeback. “I don’t think you ever put yourself in a good position when you have to play desperate,” Dunne said. “We were given chances and we just got to capitalize. I think it’s opportunity for us to learn how to play when we’re down, and when we do need an extra goal, what do we need to do to get that.” read more

Softball Ohio State travels to take on struggling Pittsburgh

Ohio State senior shortstop Lilli Piper (22) fires the ball to first during a double play against Indiana on March 24 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternAfter two wins and a loss against Maryland, the Ohio State softball team will head to Vartabedian Field to take on Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. this Wednesday. The Buckeyes recorded their 20th win of the season against the Terrapins, and sit at a 20-10 record, going 5-1 in the Big Ten. Pitt, on the other hand, has a 5-28 season record and is 2-10 during conference play. Ohio State has defeated the Panthers the past two seasons, including a 5-1 victory in 2018. The Buckeyes hold a 14-4 advantage in the all-time series against the Panthers.Pitt comes in as the winner of its most recent game, defeating North Carolina 14-5 in five innings. The Panthers had lost their past seven games prior to the matchup, scoring a combined 22 runs over the stretch, nine of which came against Ohio on March 19.Panthers sophomore outfielder/infielder Hunter Levesque is having a strong season despite the tough record, recording a team-leading .276 batting average and 16 RBI this season. A strength for Pitt comes with its power. The Panthers have hit 26 home runs this season, four more than Ohio State. Freshman outfielder/infielder Katelyn Pavlick leads the team with six home runs.The major difference between the two teams comes from the pitching. While Ohio State has maintained a 1.81 team ERA this season, Pitt has not had the same success, combining for a 6.92 ERA so far this year.Redshirt sophomore pitcher/infielder Brittany Knight has the most starts for the Panthers with 13, but holds a 2-14 record with a 6.39 ERA, allowing 91 earned runs in 99.2 innings of work.Pitt’s pitching rotation has allowed 39 home runs on the season, while Ohio State’s has allowed seven.Senior shortstop Lilli Piper has begun to heat up for the Buckeyes as of late, coming into the matchup against the Panthers with a nine-game on-base streak. Piper holds a .355 batting average, highest among players on the team with more than five at-bats, and a team-leading 11 stolen bases.Piper currently ranks tied for No. 3 in program history with 41 home runs, No. 8 with 129 RBI and No. 2 with a .403 batting average over her four years with Ohio State.Ohio State goes on the road to take on Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Wednesday. read more

We think Miss looks lovely Schoolchildren come to defence of teacher suspended

first_imgTeenage pupils at a secondary school have rushed to defend one of their teachers after she was suspended for posting a  provocative  pose selfie on social media 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. The pupils started a petition The pupils started a petitionCredit:Facebook “She is there to help students who have problems like bullying and stuff.“She does so much to help us and we’re so upset she’s been suspended.“Not a single person thinks there is anything inappropriate about it.”And another pupil wrote: “All it was showing was a bit of leg.”Headteacher Sue Calbert told the Milton Keynes Citizen: “If we have any concerns about a staff member, this would not be discussed with students.“We are aware of rumours but conclusions are being drawn which have no factual basis.”When contacted by the Telegraph for further information, the school gave no comment. The pupils started petition called “Get Miss Ferguson Back” and had more than 250 signatures on Wednesday night with some of them coming from parents.The petition has now been taken down.One youngster said: “There is nothing wrong with the photo at all.“We think Miss looks lovely.”Another posted “She is a brilliant teacher. Schoolchildren have come to the defence of their teacher after reports she was suspended for a ‘sultry’ selfie she posted to Facebook.Pupils allegedly filmed Lydia Ferguson as she was reprimanded by senior teachers and escorted off the school premises to start her suspension.The children at Ousedale secondary, Newport Pagnell, Bucks, said the mother-of-three was under fire for posting the selfie, below, to Facebook.last_img read more

The Morrisons M1 How sponsors could get naming rights for Britains motorway

first_imgThe proposal would see fuel duty drop from 58 pence per litre to 47 pence within five years, and more than £3 billion in extra investment for roads could be generated. Manchester United could sponsor the M6 motorway to generate funds for investment in roads, the president of the AA has claimed.Sports teams, supermarkets and tech firms are among the companies who could purchase the naming rights of major roads, Edmund King said.This could lead to the Morrisons M1, the Microsoft M4 and the Adidas A1, according to the motoring expert.A US-style Adopt-a-Highway scheme should be considered for local roads, whereby businesses help pay for litter collections in return for roadside advertising, Mr King said.The ideas are part of his proposal to change the way people are charged for driving in the UK, with the current system meaning motorists pay some of the highest taxes in Europe to use a road network that in some places is congested and deteriorating.The Road Miles concept, created by Mr King and his wife, business analyst Deirdre, would offer all drivers at least 3,000 free miles each year, with a small charge for further distances, in a bid to reduce non-essential journeys.It is one of five shortlisted entries for the £250,000 Wolfson economics prize to reduce traffic jams.Car drivers in the first year would pay less than one pence per mile and there would be concessions for those living in the most rural areas and the disabled.A nationwide lottery and an auction of extra miles would be used to keep the scheme’s costs down and fund maintenance such as pothole repairs. Mr King claimed Road Miles would be “miles better, fairer, greener, safer”.He went on: “Drivers fed up with current cones, congestion, and chaos, will be compensated for delays and have a say in how our roads are run.”His wife said: “Road Miles will bridge the gap between falling fuel duty revenue and the electric vehicle revolution.”More money will be available for roads yet the motorist will pay less as extra income from the Road Miles lottery, naming rights and auction will supplement revenues.”The prize, founded by Lord Wolfson, chief executive of clothing giant Next, will be awarded in July.Lord Wolfson said: “Road congestion is a source of daily misery for millions of people: undermining our quality of life, environment and economy.”As the political parties put together their programmes for government, they would do well to turn their attention to the plight facing users of Britain’s road network.”The creativity and enthusiasm demonstrated by the entrants to the 2017 prize has been inspiring.”center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

US specialist to examine Charlie Gard next week judge told

first_imgMr Justice Francis ruled Dr Hirano, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, could be named in media reports.Charlie’s parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates want the judge to rule the 11-month-old, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial overseen by Dr Hirano in New York.Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Charlie is being cared for, say the therapy is experimental and will not help. Terminally-ill 10-month-old Charlie Gard Charlie’s parents, who are in their 30s and come from Bedfont, west London, have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London.They have also failed to persuade European Court of Human Rights judges to intervene.The couple say there is new evidence and want Mr Justice Francis, who in April ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street and said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity, to carry out a fresh analysis of their case.Mr Justice Francis is considering their claims at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.Dr Hirano gave evidence, via a link from New York, on Thursday.The judge said he wanted to hear what Dr Hirano believes has changed since he gave his ruling in April.Dr Hirano said he has clinical data which was not available in April and he still believes the therapy is “worth trying”.The doctor estimated a 10% chance of improvement in muscle strength and a “small but significant” improvement in brain function. US specialist Michio HiranoCredit:PA US specialist Michio Hirano An American specialist who has offered to treat Charlie Gard is due to examine the terminally-ill baby next week, a judge has heard.Michio Hirano is scheduled to visit Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on Monday and Tuesday and discuss the case with specialists treating Charlie, Mr Justice Francis was told.It came after the High Court judge lifted an order which barred journalists from revealing the name of the American specialist. Show more But journalists have argued naming Dr Hirano will be in the public interest – and he has now said he has no objection to being identified as the doctor involved in the case. 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. They say life support treatment should stop.Mr Justice Francis had made an order barring journalists from naming Dr Hirano or saying where he was based early this year, shortly after litigation began.Charlie’s parents had said they were worried publicity might put pressure on Dr Hirano. Terminally-ill 10-month-old Charlie GardCredit:last_img read more

Global hummus shortage as prices soar by a third

first_img 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 global chickpea shortage has caused the price of a tub of hummus to soar by almost 30 per cent, according to experts.The Grocer found that the price of the average tub of hummus rose over a year from £1.14 in January 2017 to £1.47.This is a price increase of 33p, which is 29 per cent.Some hummus manufacturers have blamed supermarkets for the price rise.The price of a 250g tub of Me Too! hummus has gone up by 12p, and 19p for a 500g pot.Brand founder Ramon Hazan explained: “We have a quality product which we believe is worth paying more for. However, we do need to strike a balance which ensures we are competitively priced and makes us accessible to as many consumers as possible.”We would not want to lose customers as a result of retail price inflation.” Tasneem Backhouse, joint managing director at EHL Ingredients, told The Grocer: “‘Chickpea prices increased during 2017 and remain high.”Demand is strong from every market and currently there isn’t enough supply to go around. This is driven by poor crops in some of the main producing origin nations over the past 12 months.”This comes after last year’s UK hummus crisis, in which a factory default resulted in “fizzy, metallic-tasting” spread which had to be pulled from shelves.center_img this is why i love living where i do.. it’s all kicking off at a hummus shortage!! @Morrisons they are coming for you!! 64 comments .. 🤔😂 pic.twitter.com/UFkBo9huOP— Nicola (@nicciped) January 8, 2018last_img read more

Taxi drivers ordered to smarten up by council after fellow cabbies complain

first_imgThe council received complaints from drivers that other drivers were letting them down The dress code ban is less restrictive than one originally proposed which could have included drivers having to wear uniform colours laid out by the council Hackney taxi drivers have been banned from wearing jeans and t-shirts after a local council received complaints from cabbies “that other drivers were letting them down.” Cab drivers in Plymouth are now banned from wearing denim jeans, football tops, hoodies and flip flops following a public consultation and council meeting on the issue. Councillors agreed on Monday that the new guidelines should be enforced to “professionalise the trade” following complaints from fellow drivers.A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: “There was already a dress code but it was voluntary and not followed by all drivers. Our licensing officers would regularly find this during their patrols and often received complaints from drivers that other drivers were letting them down. “Officers and councillors agreed to include a new dress code within the proposals to set clearer standards on this.” “But I do think there needs to be a balance, I have been a taxi driver for 18 years and wear black jeans because they are practical, I don’t want to change a tire in smart trousers.” Councillor Ian Bowyer added: “We [councillors] had noticed a change in the appearance of drivers and I think it is important to professionalise the trade and strike a balance.  Yesterday councillors welcomed the decision which was branded as an important step for the upcoming Mayflower 400 celebration in 2020.The event, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth UK to Plymouth Massachusetts, is expected to draw in crowds from around the world to Plymouth. Councillor Sally Bowie said: “This change in regulations was brought in by the council as a way to smarten the appearance of taxi drivers before the Mayflower 400. “We felt it was the right time to bring in these changes and I think most people do feel safer and prefer to have a taxi driver who is wearing trousers and a polo shirt rather than shorts and flip-flops. “The Mayflower is a big event in Plymouth and we want to ensure Plymouth is looking its best.” The dress code ban is less restrictive than one originally proposed which could have included drivers having to wear uniform colours laid out by the councilCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The dress code ban is less restrictive than one originally proposed which could have forced drivers to wear uniform colours laid out by the council.The decision to ban jeans has however received mixed reviews from local cab drivers, with some raising concerns over the cost of new clothing, but others agreed that some drivers looked “awful” at work. Shane Jacobs, director of Plymouth hackney cab company Tri-star taxis, said: “I think some drivers are bringing down the reputation of the industry and they look like they’ve just crawled out of bed and it looks awful. “We want to put forward a good image of Plymouth and this is a step towards achieving this. Especially with the Mayflower 400 in 2020 these drivers will be at the forefront of welcoming visitors and we want to ensure the right image is put forward.”In addition to the new dress code each driver must attend an ambassador course as well as complete a spoken English test and are also banned from using e-cigarettes while they have passengers on board.A Council spokesperson added: “The new policy aims to enhance the professionalism of the service and ensure drivers are ambassadors for Plymouth, presenting a positive image to the public and our visitors.” The council received complaints from drivers that other drivers were letting them downCredit:Gettylast_img read more

Christian bakers in gay cake row did not discriminate against samesex marriage

The Christian owners of a bakery have won an appeal at the UK’s highest court over a finding that they discriminated against a customer by refusing to make a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage”.Five Supreme Court justices allowed a challenge by the McArthur family in a unanimous ruling in London on Wednesday in what has become widely known as the “gay cake case”.The legal action was originally brought against family-run Ashers bakery in Belfast by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who won his case initially in the county court and then at the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.Announcing the court’s decision, its president, Lady Hale, said: “This conclusion is not in any way to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage from discrimination.”It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.”But that is not what happened in this case.”She went on: “As to Mr Lee’s claim based on sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation.”They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation.” 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 the end the cake supporting gay marriage was made by a different bakery The legal action against Ashers was taken by Mr Lee with support from Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission.Controversy first flared when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in 2014 featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.His order was accepted and he paid in full but, two days later, the company called to say it could not proceed due to the message requested. He said that the ruling made him feel like a “second class citizen” in Northern Ireland, adding: “I think this has consequences for everyone. Anyone can walk into a shop – you shouldn’t have to work out if you’re going to be served based on their religious beliefs. I am confused.”Ashers general manager Mr McArthur thanked God outside court, saying he knew all along he had done nothing wrong. Lady Hale added: “The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.” Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is outlawed, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s DUP allies staunch opponents of changing the law.Reaction: Who is saying what about the ruling? Gareth Lee “We’re particularly pleased the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we’ve said all along – we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.”The judges have given a clear signal today. In fact it couldn’t be any clearer. Family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can – without being forced to promote other people’s campaigns.”I know a lot of people will be glad to hear this ruling today, because this ruling protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone.”On behalf of my family can I say thank you to everyone who has supported us or prayed for us through all this.”We want to move on from this now, and I’m sure Mr Lee does as well. And let me finish by saying that he will always be welcome at any of our shops.”Arlene FosterDUP leader Arlene Foster said the judgment was “historic and seminal”.She tweeted: “This has been a long journey for everyone involved in the case. I commend Amy & Daniel McArthur for their grace and perseverance. This now provides clarity for people of all faiths and none.” Amy and Daniel McArthur, owners of the Belfast bakeryCredit:Eddie Mulholland The court also said Mr Lee had no claim against Ashers on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion, but speaking outside of court, the customer said: “This was never a campaign. I had no idea when I ordered the cake that this would happen.” Gareth Lee In the original court case, the firm was judged to have discriminated against Mr Lee and was ordered to pay damages of £500.Mounting an unsuccessful challenge at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2016, Ashers contended that it never had an issue with Mr Lee’s sexuality, rather the message he was seeking to put on the cake.Mr Scoffield told the justices that the case, a simple transaction, raised an issue of principle since those with deeply-held religious or philosophical convictions could be compelled to act against their beliefs.Robin Allen QC, for Mr Lee, said: “This was a relatively small incident in his life which has become enormously significant and continues to be so.”That is a heavy burden to bear for one individual.” Gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who had his request for a cake with a support for same-sex marriage refused by the bakery, said: “To me, this was never about a campaign or a statement. All I wanted was to order a cake in a shop that sold cakes to order.”I paid my money, my money was taken and then a few days later it was refused.”That made me feel like a second-class citizen.”I’m concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us.”Daniel McArthurOutside court, Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said: “I want to start by thanking God. He has been with us during the challenges of the last four years. Through the Bible and the support of Christians, He has comforted us and sustained us. He is our rock and all His ways are just.”We’re delighted and relieved at today’s ruling. We always knew we hadn’t done anything wrong in turning down this order. After more than four years, the Supreme Court has now recognised that and we’re very grateful. Grateful to the judges and especially grateful to God. Amy and Daniel McArthur, owners of the Belfast bakery Daniel and Amy McArthur, who have said the law risked “extinguishing” their consciences, were in court for the ruling.Mr Lee was also present for the latest ruling in a case which has attracted enormous attention.The bakery’s appeal against the finding of discrimination was heard at the Supreme Court sitting in Belfast in May.During the hearing the justices were told that the owners were being forced to act against their religious beliefs.David Scoffield QC, for Ashers, argued that the state was penalising the baking firm, with the courts effectively compelling or forcing them to make a cake bearing a message with which they disagree as a matter of religious conscience. The "gay cake" - this one made by another bakery - with the design Support Gay Marriage with the faces of Sesame Streets Bert and Ernie The Rainbow ProjectThe Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s largest support organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, expressed its disappointment at the Supreme Court ruling.Director John O’Doherty said: “Ashers agreed to make the cake. They entered into a contractual agreement to make this cake and then changed their mind.”While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself, this does not change the facts of the case.”We believe this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification. We will however take time to study this judgment by the Supreme Court to understand fully its implications for the rights of LGBT people to access goods, facilities and services without discrimination.”We do not believe that this matter should have been brought to court. We believe that Ashers bakery should have accepted the Equality Commission’s invitation to engage in mediation, where a remedy could have been found without the expense and division surrounding this court case.”However, most damaging of all has been the attempt by politicians to use this case to justify amending the law to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people with the so-called ‘conscience clause.”‘Peter LynasPeter Lynas, director of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, said: “This is a win for everyone, no-one should be forced to say something that they disagree with. Gareth Lee felt ‘like a second-class citizen’Credit:Eddie Mulholland “It is disappointing that this case has been pitched as Christians versus the LGBT community.”This ruling affirms that this was never the case.”The Ashers bakery have served Mr Lee in the past and continue to be willing to serve him again.”Whilst no one should be discriminated against because of any protected characteristic, this judgment is clear that this is not what happened in this case.” read more

Sir Elton John Liz Hurley and Heather Mills settle phone hacking claims

“Sincere apologies have been offered to the claimants for the distress caused by the invasion of privacy.”No admission of liability has been made to any allegations of illegal information gathering at The Sun newspaper.” Heather MillsCredit: Stephen Chernin/AP Callum Galbraith, a partner at Hamlins, said: “The litigation relates to allegations of phone hacking and unlawful information gathering at The Sun and the News of the World.”Notwithstanding the settlements and the growing body of evidence, News Group Newspapers Limited continue to refuse to acknowledge that any phone hacking took place at The Sun.”An NGN spokesman said: “News Group Newspapers has settled cases relating to voicemail interception at the News of the World which closed in 2011. Heather Mills Sir Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and Heather Mills have settled their phone hacking claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN), their lawyers have confirmed.The latest phone hacking case involving NGN, publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, was due to go to trial next week at the High Court in London.But, in a statement issued on Friday, solicitors Hamlins said Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish, Ms Hurley, Ms Mills and her sister Fiona had agreed terms with NGN.The law firm said the claims were “the fourth trial in the last 18 months which has settled very close to the start of the trial date”.The statement added: “As lead solicitor for the claimants, Hamlins are applying shortly to commence the next batch of claims being brought against NGN.” 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. read more

Wild salmon stocks hit lowest level on record after disastrous season on

Salmon catches on Scotland’s rivers fell to their lowest level since records began last year, sparking calls for the preservation of the species to become a national priority.Fisheries Management Scotland said official figures to be released by the Scottish Government on Wednesday would confirm that Atlantic salmon are at a “crisis point”.Rod and line catches are believed to have been lower than since records began in 1952, after a disastrous year on famous rivers, including the Tay, the Tweed and the Spey.Alan Wells, chief executive of FMS, which represents the country’s district salmon fishery boards, said: “Figures for 2018, taken together with those of recent years, confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point.”Some of the factors impacting on wild salmon stocks may be beyond human control.”But Scotland’s Government and regulatory authorities now have a historic opportunity to do everything in their power to safeguard the species in those areas where they can make a difference.” Anglers gathered at the start of a new season on the Tay this year more in hope than expectationCredit:Jeff Mitchell/Getty He added: “Salmon conservation must become a national priority in what is the International Year of the Salmon.”We are calling on all regulatory authorities urgently to place a renewed emphasis on the crucial importance of salmon conservation. 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. salmon fishing Andrew Graham-Stewart, of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, said ministers needed to act now to protect salmon and sea trout from the impacts of salmon farming. “There are many examples where positive interventions have already helped, but more must be done.”Mr Wells said ministers and agencies needed to co-ordinate efforts to protect salmon in a way that was currently not happening.In 2017, the total rod catch was put at 49,444 fish, a drop of 20 per cent on the five-year average and the fourth lowest figure on record. Nine out of 10 fish were returned in a bid to help stocks.According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, wild salmon and sea trout numbers are being “decimated” on their annual migration from Scottish rivers to the waters of Greenland and the Norwegian Sea.For every 100 salmon that leave rivers for the sea, less than five return, marking a decline of nearly 70 per cent in salmon numbers in just 25 years.The trust has launched a project to track young salmon (smolts) going to sea for the first time in bid to learn what happens to them on the journey.Causes for the drop in numbers are thought to include global warming affecting the feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and over fishing at sea. In Scotland’s west coast rivers, the drop in numbers has also been blamed large concentrations of parasitic sea lice in coastal salmon farms. read more

CDC reports 8M flood relief bill minus donations

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedDigicel, ExxonMobil donates to CDC’s flood relief effortsMay 24, 2017In “latest news”Region 9 flooding intensifies as waters continue to riseJuly 4, 2017In “latest news”Opposition urges swift relief for Kwakwani residents affected by floodingJuly 14, 2018In “Health” The Guyana Government has expended almost $8M from the national coffers so far to support the flood relief efforts ongoing in Regions Seven and Eight which were hit by flash floods this past week when intense rains caused the Potaro and nearby rivers to overtop their banks, displacing or affecting in excess of 3,200 persons.Deputy Director of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Major Kester Craig, today (May 23, 2017) provided an update on the inter-agency relief efforts—even as waters have begun to recede in some areas.Major Craig met with members of the media at the CDC Headquarters, Thomas Lands Georgetown and said so far $2.8M has been spent on the flights alone into the affected areas.Providing an update on the impact of the flood by Region, Major Craig observed that in the Potaro/Siparuni locale, “Farmlands and homes in villages of Kaibarupai, Waipa, Chenapau, Itabac, Kanapang, Kopinang and Sand Hill Settlement flooded.”According to Craig, the flood waters reached as high as 25 feet in some areas.He reported too that in addition to inundated homes, several acres of farmlands have also been threatened—some under water.One of the hardest hit villages, according to Craig, is Kaibarupai; 113 residents were flooded 26 of whom had their homes completely washed away.According to Major Craig, “Residents of Kaibarupai were forced to evacuate uphill and construct temporary shelters.” Chuing Mouth, Kanapang, Itabac, Kopinang, Sand Hill Settlement and Chenapau were among some of the hardest hit areas in Region eight, according to Major Craig.State InfrastructureThe CDC Assistant Director reported that several State owned infrastructure also suffered intense damage and pointed to the health post at Kaibarupai which was flooded.He said the school at Itabac has since shifted and has become unstable.Major Craig reported too that parts of road from Itabac to Kanapang were damaged and is impassable by vehicles and an engineering team from the Guyana Defence Force has since been flown into the area to conduct assessments with a view to effecting emergency repairs.In Region Seven, Major Craig said the full impact of the flooding is still being assessed.He reported however that, villages of Kako, Kamarang (Warawatta), Jawalla, Waramadong, Imbaimadai, Philippai, Amokokopi, Quebenang and Paruima were all flooded.He said all of the farms in Kako have been flooded, some by as much as 15 feet while in Quebenan 80 farms have been affected.According to Major Craig, crops in the farms have already started to wilt as the soil is still water logged. While there has been no outbreak of water borne diseases, the CDC Assistant Director did point to a reported increase in mosquitoes in Kako.Expanding on the relief efforts, Major Craig reported that 327 relief food hampers were distributed in Chenapau, Kaibarupai, Waipa, Sand Hill, Itabac, Kanapang.Other official agencies involved in the relief efforts according to Major Craig, include; the Ministries of Health and Indigenous Affairs, the Guyana Water Incorporated, the Guyana Defence Force and the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) among others. read more

ExxonMobil expanding local workforce Country Manager

ExxonMobil’s Country Manager Rod HensonUnited States (US) oil giant ExxonMobil said it has made significant progress when it comes to expanding its local workforce, by creating opportunities for more Guyanese to join their team.ExxonMobil’s Country Manager Rod Henson revealed that his company currently employs 585 or 52 per cent Guyanese. The company’s local office grew to 40 employees of which 70 per cent are Guyanese, he said on Tuesday.Henson made this statement while delivering remarks at the Liza Phase 1 Development reception on Tuesday evening, where he noted that things are progressing smoothly as they should.In addition to that, Henson said that Guyanese have joined the Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) team and are serving in several professional capacities.These include: facility engineers, materials management coordinator, management system coordinator, health and safety coordinator, and health and environment coordinator, among others.Speaking briefly on local content, Henson said over US$14 million was spent on Guyanese suppliers. Together with their contractors, the company has also utilised many local suppliers.About 50 per cent of ExxonMobil’s employees, contractors, and subcontractors are Guyanese. That is expected to grow.ExxonMobil has also opened the Centre for Local Business Development here to promote the establishment and growth of small and medium-sized local businesses.In essence, Henson said his company has been able to grow local business capacity and has made huge investments into the local economy, through a series of strategic development policies. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedExxonMobil’s 80% success rate in Guyana “unprecedented”- Country ManagerJuly 24, 2018In “Business”Public will be made aware of all oil payments to Guyana Govt – ExxonJuly 9, 2017In “Local News”Other operators in oil and gas sector ‘positive’ for Guyana says ExxonFebruary 8, 2018In “Business” read more