Representatives needed for Celebration of Nations

The many countries and cultures that make up Brock’s growing international community will be at the centre of a popular event taking place next month.Brock International is looking for enthusiastic faculty, staff and students to participate in Celebration of Nations and represent their home country.“It’s a great opportunity to showcase your heritage and highlight unique aspects of your culture to others,” said Sandra Gruosso, interim Associate Director of Brock International Services.With more than 100 countries represented on campus, the annual event highlights Brock University’s multicultural diversity.The celebration, held Thursday, Feb. 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will see Market Hall transformed as members of Brock’s international community come together to share various foods, traditions and artifacts with faculty, staff and students interested in learning more about their cultural mosaic.The event provides the Brock community with an opportunity to deepen its understanding of the world outside Canada, and provides a chance to learn more about cultural traditions and values without leaving campus.Faculty, staff and students interested in sharing their global experience with the Brock community are invited to host their home nation and participate in the event by completing the sign-up form on the Brock International website by Friday, Jan. 26. read more

Record crowd pours in for Cuvée Grand Tasting

It was another packed event this year as the 31st annual Cuvée Grand Tasting brought almost 900 guests together to celebrate excellence in the thriving Ontario wine industry.Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the record crowd came to Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls Saturday, March 23 to sample from the largest selection of Ontario wines under one roof and taste unique culinary dishes from local chefs.“This is the largest event of its kind and the strong turnout of guests year after year truly showcases the importance of our grape and wine industry and the strong level of support it garners from our community,” said Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic.Tony Aspler presents Doug Whitty, of 13th Street Winery, the Tony Aspler Cuvée Award for Excellence Saturday, March 23 in Niagara Falls.The Grand Tasting also honours the talented people who work in the $4.4-billion Ontario grape and wine industry.The Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, presented to the individual or institution that best furthers the aims and aspirations of Ontario’s wine industry, was awarded to Doug Whitty and 13th Street Winery. Whitty is a third-generation Niagara grape grower and was the 2017 Grape King. As he called Whitty to the stage to receive the award, Tony Aspler credited him and 13th Street Winery with “enhancing the winery experience with art and sculpture and, of course, butter tarts.”Whitty called Aspler a “pioneer in this industry.”“He was there right from the beginning supporting us,” he said. “It is really a great honour for me to win this award, I am very humbled and thankful.”The Winemaker of Excellence Award winner was Bruce Nicholson from Inniskillin, who was selected for his contributions to the industry, his commitment to excellence and his mentorship to winemakers across Canada.This year’s Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award went to Martin Schuele, a grape grower in Beamsville. Sponsored by BASF Canada Inc., the award recognizes a grape grower who promotes excellence in vineyard practices.“The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a great opportunity for BASF to not only celebrate Ontario wines with our grape customers, but to also introduce those customers to some of the future industry leaders from Brock University and Niagara College,” said Scott Hodgins, Crop Manager, Horticulture for BASF Canada Inc.Schuele and his family, who grow for Arterra Wines Canada, have about 120 acres of vineyards and it’s been a family-owned operation since they arrived from Germany in the early 1980s. “Schuele vineyards have long been associated with vineyard excellence,” said CCOVI Senior Scientist Jim Willwerth. “Martin’s Chardonnay block was pristine with high quality fruit even in the tough 2018 vintage.”Cuvée also celebrates the next generation of winemakers and grape growers by providing scholarships to Brock University Oenology and Viticulture undergraduate and graduate students through the Cuvée Legacy Fund.The Cuvée Scholarship winners are:Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence: Marnie CrombleholmeCuvée Award for Academic Excellence: Jessica OppenlaenderCuvée Award for Academic Excellence in OEVC: Jeffrey MooteCuvée Graduate Scholarship: Jennifer Kelly“We are so pleased to provide these scholarship opportunities and industry recognition for the very deserving students of Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture programs,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a full-circle celebration of excellence in our industry, honouring the best and brightest in the business today, and looking forward to those who will shape the industry in the future.” read more

Bucknell hands LaSalle its 9th straight loss 9279

PHILADELPHIA — Nate Sestina scored 24 points and Bucknell cruised past LaSalle, handing the Explorers their ninth straight loss to start the season, 92-79 on Tuesday night.Bucknell has won its first three road games of the season for the first time since the 2005-06. The Bison now take an 11-day break for finals and return to action Dec. 15 at Ohio State.Sestina hit two free throws midway through the first half to put the Bison in front for good and took a 40-34 lead at the break. His jumper and dunk to start the second half pushed the lead to 44-34 with 17:05 left.Kimbal Mackenzie knocked down 10 of 11 from the free-throw line and added 19 points for Bucknell (4-3). Avi Toomer contributed 17 points and dished six assists.Jack Clark scored 21 points off the bench for LaSalle, with Miles Brookins and Jamir Moultrie each added 19.The Associated Press read more

Confidence spirits high for Ohio State mens basketball after 3game winning streak

Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. (32) shoots over a defender during a game against Purdue Feb. 8 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 67-49.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorJust 10 days ago, Ohio State senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. sat in the post game interview room at the Schottenstein Center visibly disgusted, disheartened and frustrated.He and his team had just lost its fifth game in the month of January, a 71-70 setback to Penn State, and the OSU senior couldn’t hold back his emotions any longer.“This game, this hurts the most out of every game since I’ve been at Ohio State,” Smith Jr. said Jan. 29. “These losses don’t hurt enough — this is embarrassing. Every other team in our conference is laughing at us right now.”How things have changed since that dark moment for the Buckeyes.Since the calendar flipped to February, OSU (19-5, 6-5) hasn’t lost, beating both then-No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 17 Iowa on the road and dispatching Purdue, 67-49, Saturday at home.After taking care of business against the Boilermakers (14-10, 4-7), Smith Jr.’s attitude was quite the contrary to that night in late January.“We’ve been winning. Simple as that. When you win, I feel good. When we lose, I feel bad,” Smith Jr. said with a smile.Smith Jr. did his part against Purdue, pouring in 16 points, including shooting 4-7 from beyond the arc. He had been in a shooting slump as of late, shooting just 32.5 percent since OSU started the season 15-0 prior to Saturday’s win against the Boilermakers. That changed Saturday, as he kept firing with confidence, helping OSU build a double digit lead that eventually led to a win.“It definitely opens things up for us,” OSU coach Thad Matta said after the win, referencing when Smith Jr. hits shots. “We want Lenzelle to take those shots when he’s open. He hit a big pull-up in the first half when they ran him off the line (and) he shot faked. But seeing him play like a senior, honestly I expect our seniors to play like that at Ohio State because they usually don’t make it that long.”The good vibes have spread throughout the team in the last week and a half, and the team seems to be playing some of it’s best ball of the season heading into a showdown with No. 10 Michigan Tuesday.“Any time you can get wins it adds confidence to the team, so that’s a great thing for us,” junior forward LaQuinton Ross — who scored a game-high 17 points against Purdue — said after the win Saturday. “I think we play a lot better when everybody’s got confidence. It’s good getting a win before we go play Michigan.“It’s a great feeling. Winning cures all like I said before and that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I think everybody’s been feeling a lot better.”It wasn’t just Smith Jr. who hit outside shots against the Boilermakers, as Ross, junior guard Shannon Scott and junior forward Sam Thompson also combined to hit four 3-pointers. That team effort helped secure the win, and Purdue coach Matt Painter said the fact that OSU’s won three in a row is because of just that: The Buckeyes are making shots.“I always say that it’s a miracle that your offense is better when the ball goes in,” Painter said after the game. “They’re a good team, and you’re going to go through some tough times in this league. They’ll be there at the end. They’ll be good in the NCAA Tournament.”Even with the three straight conference victories, OSU still sits fourth in the Big Ten standings, three and a half games behind conference leader Michigan State. They’ll have a chance to make up more ground against the Wolverines Tuesday, who — despite losing on the road against Iowa Saturday — are only a half game out of the conference lead.“Pretty sure my team’s feeling good right now, but tomorrow’s a different day. Everybody’s probably going to forget about this one and we gotta get ready,” Smith Jr. said. “We got a great opponent coming in here now. They’re a great team and they’re playing some really good basketball as of late and we gotta be prepared to play even better basketball if we want to match that and get the win here.”Matta agreed, adding that one bad stretch of basketball could cost any team a game in the Big Ten.“You’d like to feel good, you’d like to feel great. But right now, geez. One bad segment of a game could cost you the game with what we have left on our schedule in terms of who we’re playing and when we’re playing, where we’re playing,” Matta said. “I hope our guys are feeling better about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and how we’re doing it. That’s why I want them to be confident. Just in terms of our execution’s better, I think defensively we’ve been a lot more active and communication’s been a lot better.” read more

Opinion Cincinnati Reds core players have much to prove to be playoff

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips lays out for a ground ball during a game against the San Francisco Giants July 24 at AT&T Park. The Reds won, 8-3.Courtesy of MCTCincinnati has become accustomed to playoff-caliber professional sports franchises. There was a time in my life I never thought I would be able to write that. But now, the Bengals have made the playoffs three consecutive years, and the Reds have qualified for October baseball three of the last four seasons.Sadly, my hometown has learned nothing but hard lessons during that time.The Bengals lost to the San Diego Chargers at home during the AFC Wild Card round Jan 5, extending their playoff win drought to 23 years. The Reds haven’t advanced in the MLB playoffs since 1995. Sure, they teased the fans in 2012 when they were up 2-0 in a best-of-five series with the San Francisco Giants. My heart still aches from the three straight losses — all at home — that followed.When the first signs of a playoff game going bad start to show, a noxious solution of fear and doubt creeps up the spine of every player, coach and fan like an all-encompassing ooze from the murky depths of the Ohio River. Die-hard fans begin to succumb to the dark side, muttering to their friends about how they should have seen it coming. It’s a facade presented by teams that consistently give birth to hope before tripping on the umbilical cord, falling and smothering it.This year, I can’t let that happen. Opening Day at Great American Ball Park is only three short days away, and I am trying my best not to let my love of everything Reds blind my expectations.Cincinnati still has its core group of winners together. The franchise faces, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, are All-Stars with experience and impressive offensive numbers. The starting rotation could still be one of the best in the National League if Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and the promising young southpaw Tony Cingrani all stay healthy.A key component of the lineup this season will be leadoff man center fielder Billy Hamilton, who is replacing Shin-Soo Choo, now with the Rangers. Hamilton is a talented prospect with amazing speed that can change any game at any time, but has yet to go through the rigors of extended time in the majors. He had 13 stolen bases in 13 games with the Reds at the tail-end of 2013, and was only caught stealing once. At that rate, if he plays in 131 of the 162 games this season, he will break Rickey Henderson’s modern-era record for most stolen bases in a season. Henderson’s 130 steals have stood since 1982.Hamilton and the rest of the club won’t have an easy start to 2014. In the first month of the regular season, they face St. Louis six times and Pittsburgh seven times. Both of those teams made the divisional round of the playoffs last year. Most experts project the Cardinals to win the division, and the Pirates are expected to battle with Cincinnati all season for a wild card spot.Injuries only add to the tough April schedule. Videos of relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman being struck in the face by a line drive during a spring training game March 15 will make me cringe until June, but hopefully he will be able to pitch again by mid-May. Chapman, along with pitchers Latos, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, will start the season on the disabled list.The Reds are still a good team, but have yet to prove if they can be great. New pieces like Hamilton and manager Bryan Price could make or break this club. Much like Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, former Reds manager Dusty Baker took a lot of criticism for decision making and game adjustments, especially during playoff games. Much unlike Bengals owner Mike Brown, Reds president Bob Castellini made a leadership change. I’m excited to see how Price handles the lineup and situational matchups.Speculation and “sabermetrics” are a huge part of baseball, but nothing matters until the ump calls “Play ball!” So we’ll just have to wait and see.When the Reds take the diamond at 4:10 p.m. on March 31 for opening day, I’ll be sitting on my couch in eager anticipation. Even with graduation, a job search and midterms hanging over my head, I honestly cannot imagine a better way to spend three hours than watching the Redlegs begin their 2014 campaign.Because you can tell me they’re past their prime. You can point to the superior salaries and sustained success of teams like the Dodgers or the Cardinals. You can call me crazy or baseball boring for all I care. I’m still going to watch the whole game. And the next game, and the next game — because for some reason, I still believe this team can break the bad streak and win a playoff series in 2014.Even if I’m wrong, at least I’m not a Cleveland fan.For ’tis better to have made the playoffs and lost than to not make the playoffs at all … right? read more

Megatron May Retire But He Isnt Washed Up

Based on data from Pro-football-reference.com 2Antonio Brown27PIT6,016 6Demaryius Thomas28DEN4,330 5Calvin Johnson30DET4,355 8Eric Decker28NYJ4,142 4A.J. Green27CIN4,816 Projected future yards, active wide receivers age 25+ And though 2015 certainly wasn’t the best year of Johnson’s career, he hasn’t shown any unusual swings in his production — even the “cliff” after his record-setting 1,964 yards in 2012 is consistent with regression to the mean (not to mention he missed several games yet scored far more touchdowns) — and is still well above average.Retirements by receivers still producing at a level as high as Johnson are almost nonexistent. The closest example is probably Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe, who had to retire after a severe neck injury at age 29. Sharpe finished his career with 8,134 receiving yards and 65 receiving touchdowns, while Johnson has 11,619 receiving yards and 83 receiving touchdowns. Johnson’s total is actually the second-most yards by a receiver by age 30 since the merger, and most of the other top receivers on that list still had thousands of yards ahead of them: (Note that combining Johnson’s current receiving yards with his projections would put him ahead of Terrell Owens for second on the all-time yards list behind Rice, though Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall both project even higher totals than Johnson.)If Johnson ultimately decides to leave, good for him. If he ultimately decides to stay, good for football. 10Larry Fitzgerald32ARI3,957 Of course, both of these curves are skewed by Jerry Rice. Moreover, Johnson has had to shoulder a heavy burden in his career. So, I experimented with a number of variables to predict production among NFL players in their late 20s and beyond (call it back-of-the-envelope modeling). I found that — in addition to age — the most recent season is the most significant predictor, but that both past performance and burden are statistically meaningful as well.2I wanted to account for all of present season performance, past performance, how explosive the player has been, and how much of a load they’ve had to carry — all while remaining predictive and statistically sound — in a short period of time. Ultimately, the model that paid some tribute to all of those factors and performed best among those I tested was a linear model using age, yards and TDs gained in the present year, total TDs prior to the current year, and total receptions prior to and including the current year: lm(aftYds ~ Age + Yds + TD + cumTDs + thruRec, data=wrseas[Year<=2011 & Age>=25]. There is likely much room to improve on this, but it works as a first pass.With all of this taken into account, the balance of Johnson’s career projects to be the fifth-most productive among those of active NFL receivers age 25 and older: 3Brandon Marshall31NYJ5,050 1Julio Jones26ATL6,213 Further, Johnson’s 1,214 yards this season are the 14th-most for a 30-year-old since the merger. Production as a 30-year-old is a pretty good predictor of future career success for receivers, and it also suggests that Johnson might have 4,000-plus yards left in him: 7Doug Baldwin27SEA4,293 This rumor has been around for a while, but ESPN reported more details Sunday about the Calvin Johnson retirement saga, citing sources who suggest Johnson is “content” with his decision to call it quits. Johnson may have his reasons — health-related or otherwise — to retire, and he can do what he pleases. (I, for one, enjoy seeing players come and go for the sheer information value of it all.) But whatever is going on, it should be clear this isn’t a matter of Megatron’s career having run its natural course.Johnson, who won’t turn 31 until September, would be one of the most shocking retirements since fellow Detroit legend Barry Sanders bowed out of the league after the 1998 season. But Sanders – also 30 at the time and considered by some to be in his prime – had just matched the lowest yards per attempt of his career for a 5-11 team. And more importantly, he was a running back. Running backs don’t age nearly as well as receivers.Since the 1970 merger, there have been 294 seasons of 1,200-plus rushing yards and just 24 of them came from running backs aged 30 or older. Meanwhile, there have been 258 seasons of 1,200-plus receiving yards, with 56 by players aged 30 or older. While most starting receivers are usually in their mid-to-late 20s, we do start seeing significant attrition around the 30-year mark. It isn’t surprising that non-productive older receivers are quickly replaced by younger, cheaper alternatives. But for those with the skill and good fortune to stick around, there isn’t any drop-off in average performance.Here’s how Johnson compares to the gaggle of receivers who started the majority of a season since 19701I know there are more advanced wide receiver statistics than “yards,” but I’m not certain any are significantly more predictive of future career prospects.: 9Jeremy Maclin27KAN4,069 RANKPLAYERAGETEAMYARDS read more

How the NFLs Top Receivers Stats Would Change If They Played With

The New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham lost an arbitration hearing Wednesday in which he sought classification as a wide receiver rather than a tight end. Graham’s desire to be a wideout might seem counterintuitive to fantasy football players used to a game where being a tight end makes Graham even more valuable. But in the NFL, Graham will lose money as a result of the decision. He’s been designated with the Saints’ franchise player tag, which means that his compensation is determined by the top salaries in the NFL at his position. The five highest-paid NFL wide receivers make an average of about $12 million per season — more than the $7 million the top tight ends do.The arbitrator’s decision might seem unfair to Graham. Over the past three NFL seasons, Graham ranks eighth in the NFL in receiving yards, fourth in receptions and first in receiving touchdowns. He’s put up stats comparable to the best wide receivers — but he won’t be paid like one.But there’s a catch, and it has nothing to do with Graham’s position. Instead it involves his quarterback. Over the past three NFL seasons, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has ranked first in the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions. Graham has been a big part of that. But even if we subtracted Graham’s receiving statistics from Brees’s totals, Brees would rank seventh, third and sixth in those categories.So we can say Brees’s numbers would still be very strong with an average tight end (or even with no tight end at all). But what would Graham’s numbers look like with an average QB?We can come to some reasonable estimates by using ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating. Unlike most other quarterback statistics, Total QBR seeks to isolate the contribution of the quarterback as opposed to his receivers and his offensive line. It does so by using play-by-play tracking to account for things such as misthrown balls, yards after the catch and defensive pressure.Unfortunately, there’s not yet any analog to QBR for wide receivers and tight ends. But we can use QBR to estimate the effect a quarterback has on his receivers’ statistics. The next couple of paragraphs, which detail the method, are going to be a little dry; scroll down if you want to see just the results.To come up with these estimates, I used a subcomponent of QBR called Pass EPA, which focuses on a quarterback’s passing performance (as opposed to Total QBR, which also accounts for his rushing statistics and his propensity to avoid sacks and draw penalties). I ran a series of regressions on team totals from the 2011-13 NFL regular seasons, which estimated a team’s receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns as a function of its Pass EPA. In essence, this reflects what a team’s passing statistics would look like given average receivers and pass protection but its actual quarterbacks. For example, a team with the quarterbacking of the 2013 Dallas Cowboys (mostly Tony Romo) would project to about 360 receptions, 4000 passing yards and 29 touchdowns given average receivers and offensive linemen.We can then divide a team’s projected statistics by league-average figures to estimate what effect its quarterbacks had on its receivers. For example, the average team since 2011 has had 24 passing touchdowns. Since the 2013 Cowboys projected to 29 touchdowns instead based on their QBR — about 20 percent higher than average — this implies that Romo boosted his receivers’ touchdown totals by 20 percent. Thus, we can reduce the touchdown totals for Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and other Cowboys receivers by 20 percent to estimate how they would have done with league-average quarterbacking.Let’s return to Graham. His quarterback isn’t the good-but-not-consistently-great Romo; it’s the spectacular Brees. Here’s what I estimate Graham’s numbers would have looked like with an average quarterback instead of Brees:In the table above, REC, YDS and TD represent a receiver’s unadjusted receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.Graham has been averaging about 90 receptions and 1,200 yards per year under Brees. I estimate that his totals would be more like 75 receptions and 900 yards with an average QB. And he’d go from having about 12 touchdowns per season to seven or eight instead. (Quarterbacks have an especially large impact on their receivers’ touchdown totals, in part because it requires consistent quarterbacking to get a team into the red zone.)These revised totals would still qualify Graham as an exceptional tight end — but they’d only be very good by the standard of a wide receiver. In the next chart, I’ve listed the actual and QB-adjusted receiving statistics for the top 50 players in the NFL as ranked based on a fantasy football scoring system of one point per reception, one point per 10 receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown. (Fantasy football scoring systems place too much emphasis on touchdowns rather than yardage, but I’ll leave that argument for another day.)Based on his average fantasy points (FP) per season since 2011, Graham ranks third among all receivers and tight ends. But his FPs decline by almost 25 percent using his QB-adjusted statistics, so he falls to 14th place instead.Graham has benefited as much from his quarterbacks as any player in the NFL. Other pass-catchers for the Saints have been helped almost as much. So has Wes Welker, who left the New England Patriots and joined the Broncos just as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady began to show some signs of age. In Denver, Peyton Manning, apparently ageless, had perhaps the best QB season of all-time.The biggest gainer is the Browns’ Josh Gordon, who has posted excellent statistics despite a horrible quarterbacking situation in Cleveland. If Johnny Manziel lives up to the hype, Gordon could be a fantasy football monster next season (if he plays; Gordon failed a drug test and will be suspended for a yet to be determined number of games).For most other players, the effects are not so dramatic. Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall rate as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers according to both raw and QB-adjusted statistics.But the league’s best tight ends tend to fall with the adjustment for quarterback quality. Rob Gronkowski drops from No. 20 to No. 39, for instance. Witten falls from No. 21 to No. 31 and Antonio Gates from No. 42 to No. 48.This could be a fluke — it’s a small sample of players. But it could also mean that tight ends are especially dependent on having good QBs. Along with slot receivers like Welker (it might be best to think of tight ends like Graham as being analogous to slot receivers), they tend to rely on routes based on precision and timing rather than beating their man downfield. Running those routes — and catching passes in traffic — requires a lot of skill. But the quarterback’s impact may be proportionately higher. That may be part of why NFL teams do not pay the best tight ends as well as the best wideouts. read more

201516 NBA Preview The Suns Have Talent But Lack Shooting

Last year’s Phoenix Suns won 39 games, and despite their dramatic offseason — which included being spurned by primary target LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as a ton of player turnover — we don’t see them doing much better or worse. They settled for 33-year-old true center Tyson Chandler, who is probably more of a sure thing (in the short run) anyway. The Suns traded 26-year-old power forward M. Morris (Marcus) to Detroit, but kept 26-year-old power forward M. Morris (Markieff). Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas are also gone, leaving the Suns with only two point guards on the roster instead of four. While our projections aren’t high on No. 13 draft pick Devin Booker, don’t be surprised if the rookie gets a good amount of playing time as a shooting guard taller than 6-foot-3.FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projects Phoenix to go 40-42:1In the following chart, we assume that in addition to the listed players, some portion of Phoenix’s minutes will be filled by generic players of “replacement level” quality — that is, the type of players who would be freely available off the waiver wire during the season. The big question everyone has about Markieff Morris seems to be how he will respond to the Suns’ decision to get rid of his twin brother, Marcus, and how he will respond to the fact that his team unsuccessfully tried to upgrade him to LaMarcus Aldridge. Note: CARMELO does NOT account for offseason drama (maybe in version 2.0). Brandon Knight is a longtime point guard who has been (and will likely continue to be) pushed into a shooting guard role. Last year, in a limited number of games with the Suns, this didn’t go very well. His .472 true shooting percentage in his 11 games with Phoenix is by far the lowest he has posted for a team in his career. With experience at shooting guard under his belt and the Suns’ dearth of options at that spot, P.J. Tucker may be due for another role shift. Since arriving in Phoenix, he has actually seen his shooting guard minutes decline — from 78 percent to 41 percent to 21 percent over the past three years. He’s also one of the team’s more efficient shooters (Tucker’s TS% of 54.1 percent was second only to Bledsoe) and is the best 3-point shooter among players with substantial minutes remaining on the team. Though that’s less because his .345 3-point rate is great than because the Suns dumped all four players ahead of him (Thomas, Morris, Dragic and Gerald Green). Eric Bledsoe is the Suns’ most prolific offensive (read: “star”) player and will continue to be their playmaker. It’s less clear who will be consummating those plays, as four of the Suns’ top scorers from last year have departed. And in worse news, Bledsoe is a small, offense-oriented point guard with a questionable 3-point shot (.326 from downtown last year and .325 for his career). That particular species of player is not known to flourish in the modern NBA. According to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, Tyson Chandler arrives in Phoenix as already their best player. The 7-1 defender/rebounder had the fifth-highest defensive plus-minus (DRPM) among centers, and despite not being a top scorer he posted the eighth-highest offensive plus-minus (ORPM). The main issue with Chandler is that, at age 33, CARMELO expects him to decline fairly rapidly, projecting him as providing 5.9 wins above replacement this year — down from 8.1 last year – and then to 4.3 next year. Read more:All our NBA player projectionsAll our 2015-16 NBA Previews 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. Finally, we must mention Devin Booker, not so much because he’s projected to do much, but because circumstances might press him into action. The main accomplishment for Booker — one of approximately 475 players drafted out of Kentucky last year — probably was getting more than 20 minutes a game on that squad. The good news is that he took about half his shots from 3-point range and hit a respectable 41.1 percent (note that college 3-pointers are easier). Sadly for Suns fans, he had only 17 steals in 38 games, so he’s obviously doomed. Last year, the Suns were about league average on both offense and defense. This year, CARMELO expects them to have an improved defense (thanks to Chandler) and a worse offense. With so few offensive options, it seems that something has to give (like, will Chandler be given more offensive responsibility than he’s used to?). We’ll see.Here’s what CARMELO has to say about the Suns’ key squad members: read more

Ohio State womens volleyball sees 20 lead evaporate in loss to No

Members of the OSU women’s volleyball team during a game against Michigan on Nov. 14 at St. John Arena. OSU lost 3-0. Credit: Giustino Bovenzi | Lantern PhotographerAfter taking the first two sets from fourth-ranked Minnesota on Wednesday night, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team had the Big Ten leaders on the ropes.But the No. 16 Buckeyes (22-9, 11-8) couldn’t deliver the knockout blow, dropping three consecutive sets to fall to Minnesota (25-4, 17-2) for the second times in as many matches this season (27-25, 31-29, 17-25, 15-25, 9-15).The loss marked OSU’s second straight and its seventh over its last 11 matches.Meanwhile, the win for the Golden Gophers guaranteed them at least a share of the Big Ten title.Minnesota junior middle blocker Hannah Tapp put forth a dominant performance with 20 kills on a .500 hitting percentage and added seven blocks to lead all players with 24 points.Also breaking the 20-point mark were junior outside hitter Sarah Wilhite (20 kills, three blocks, two aces) and senior outside hitter Daly Santana (17 kills, three aces, three blocks).With hard-fought, extra-point wins in the first two sets, OSU looked poised to pull off the upset in Minneapolis, but unforced errors proved to be the difference down the stretch as it blew the two-game advantage.The Buckeyes committed only one hitting error and attacked .348 in the first frame, though it took all they had to fight off the Golden Gophers. Faced with set point on three different occasions, OSU was able to force extra points and flipped a 25-24 deficit into a 27-25 win.The Scarlet and Gray didn’t find as much success on offense in the second set, but held Minnesota in check (.068 attack percentage) behind five blocks. The teams battled even further into extra points than they did in the first set, but the OSU was again able to find its way to a win.An upset looked even more certain for the Buckeyes when they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set, but things unraveled from there as they would lead only once more — for a brief time in the fifth set — in the remainder of the match.OSU was significantly out-hit, .375-.140, over the final three frames as it committed 19 attack errors (versus only six for Minnesota) and had nine shots blocked.Three Buckeyes notched double-doubles in the loss: senior outside hitters Elizabeth Campbell (18 kills, 15 digs) and Katie Mitchell (11 kills, career-high 14 digs), along with freshman setter Taylor Hughes (career-high 54 assists, 15 digs).Reigning Big Ten freshman of the week and outside hitter Audra Appold led OSU with 19 points by way of 18 kills and one solo block.As it tries to get some degree of momentum heading into the NCAA tournament, OSU is scheduled to wrap up the regular season on Saturday in St. John Arena on senior night against Rutgers. In the teams’ previous matchup in Piscataway, New Jersey, the Buckeyes handled the Scarlet Knights rather easily in three sets. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. read more

Clippers catcher Santana named league player of the week

Catcher Carlos Santana earned the International League Player of the Week award in his first week with the Columbus Clippers.  Santana came to the Clippers from Class AA Akron to start the year and is considered a top prospect in the Cleveland Indians farm system.  In four games for the Columbus Clippers last week, Santana compiled a batting average of .438, a league-leading four home runs and eight RBIs.  “Santana is our guy. He had a great year last year with me in Akron,” Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said. “He’s a real exciting player, a switch-hitter who is really good from both sides of the plate. He has a great arm and is outstanding defensively behind the plate.” The awards keep rolling in for Santana, who was named Most Valuable Player of the Class A California League in 2008 and Most Valuable Player in Class AA Eastern League in 2009. read more