Month: September 2019

Why Cant Canada Win The Stanley Cup

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Stanley Cup banners of the Montreal Canadiens, the last Canadian team to win the championship, hang from the rafters at Bell Centre in Montreal.The N.H.L.’s conference finals will begin on Saturday, and fans in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh can still dream of a Stanley Cup championship. But this year is an unhappy anniversary for America’s northerly neighbor. It is 20 years since the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings to win the 1993 Stanley Cup; no Canadian team has won the championship since.Just how unlikely has Canada’s Stanley Cup drought been? And is there anything in the league’s economics that might help to explain it?The answer isn’t simple, so let me give you the executive summary before we parse the details.First, bad luck is a major component. Even after accounting for the fact that Canadian teams have rarely been among the league’s best in recent years, you would still have expected Canada to pick up at least a couple of Stanley Cups at some point.Second, the N.H.L.’s economic structure changed at an unfavorable time for Canada. During the first half of the 20-year drought, the league allowed teams to spend freely, but Canadian teams were hampered by the weak Canadian dollar. Since 2005, the Canadian dollar has recovered substantially, and Canadian teams are now turning large profits. But they are limited in their capacity to invest those profits in superior players because the league has instituted a hard salary cap.Third, there is almost certainly a shortage of N.H.L. teams in Canada relative to the demand for hockey there and the revenues that Canada contributes to the league. Teams in nontraditional hockey markets like Raleigh, N.C., Tampa, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., have won Stanley Cups since 1993, but without doing especially well financially. So have the Colorado Avalanche, who relocated from Quebec City in 1995-96. Had the distribution of N.H.L. teams more closely matched fan interest in the sport across the United States and Canada, Canada would have more teams in the league and – very probably – at least one Stanley Cup championship.Finally, and related to the excess demand for hockey in Canada, Canadian teams routinely sell out their arenas at high ticket prices — whether or not they are any good. This may reduce their incentive to compete.The simplest way to conceive of the situation is to assume that each N.H.L. team begins with an equal chance of winning the championship and to estimate the odds of a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup as a function of the number of Canadian teams in the league.Eight of the 26 N.H.L. teams, or 31 percent, were from Canada in the 1993-94 season. The percentage fell to 20 (6 of 30 teams) by 2000-1, before increasing to 23 percent after the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011.If a champion were randomly chosen from all N.H.L. teams active each season, the odds that a Canadian team would have won at least one Stanley Cup since 1993-94 are 99.2 percent. (This period comprises 19 seasons, excluding 2004-5 when the N.H.L. canceled its season because of a labor dispute.) That means the chance of Canada failing to have won a Stanley Cup is just 0.8 percent, yielding odds of about 125-to-1 against.But it is naïve, of course, to assume that the Stanley Cup champion is chosen randomly. Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals, for example, aren’t merely unlucky to have failed to reach the playoffs in 28 years: they have usually stunk. Perhaps the Canadian N.H.L. teams just haven’t been very good either.At first glance, the difference in competitiveness seems minor. Canadian teams have averaged 35.3 wins and 81.5 points per regular season over this period, compared with 36.7 wins and 84.4 points for the American teams. Canadian teams made the playoffs 54 percent of the time, compared with 56 percent for the United States-based clubs.However, the Stanley Cup is not normally won by an average team that just sneaks into the playoffs — instead, it usually goes to one of the best teams in the league. Eleven of the 18 Stanley Cup champions since 1993-94 have been seeded No. 1 or No. 2 in their conference. And there has been a lack of elite Canadian teams; only 14 percent of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds since 1993-94 have been from Canada.A more exacting way to evaluate the odds is by estimating each team’s chance of winning the Stanley Cup as a function of its playoff seed and its regular-season power rating. (Power ratings, in this case, are taken from hockey-reference.com’s Simple Ratings System, which accounts for each team’s goal differential and strength of schedule during the regular season.) We can accomplish this by means of a logistic regression analysis. The probabilities for each season are recalibrated such that the 16 teams that make the playoffs have exactly a 100 percent chance of winning the Stanley Cup, in total.In the 1996-97 season, for instance, I estimate that the Canadian teams had just a 2.1 percent chance of winning the Stanley Cup on the basis of their regular-season performance. Three of the six Canadian teams made the playoffs that year — but all as No. 7 or No. 8 seeds, and none of them were much good.In 15 of the past 19 N.H.L. seasons, in fact, the probability of a Canadian team winning the Stanley Cup, as calculated by this method, was lower than you would get if you drew from among all N.H.L. teams at random. Only twice — the Ottawa Senators in 2005-6, and the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11 — did a Canadian team enter the playoffs as the best bet to win the Stanley Cup on the basis of regular-season performance.You would still have expected a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup sooner or later. The chance that at least one would do so was 97.5 percent, according to this method. Nonetheless, the lack of dominant Canadian teams has helped to make the 0-for-19 drought merely unlikely rather than almost impossible — raising the chance of the Canadian shutout to 2.5 percent from 0.8 percent. So it is worth asking why Canadian teams have rarely been among the N.H.L.’s elite.Perhaps Canadian teams are competing on an unlevel playing field? Among the seven current Canadian N.H.L. teams, the median television market is 1.7 million people. By contrast, the median American team competes in a television market with 5.4 million people.Professional hockey, however, has an extremely regional following: it is extraordinarily popular in almost all of Canada, reasonably popular in parts of the northeastern and midwestern United States, and quite obscure elsewhere in the United States. These differences more than make up for the smaller size of Canadian markets. In fact, the typical Canadian team has considerably more N.H.L. fans in its market than the typical United States team does.In 2011, I estimated the number of fans for each N.C.A.A. football team by comparing Google search traffic for the term “college football” in different media markets. We can do the same thing for hockey by evaluating the number of people who searched for the term “N.H.L.”On a per-capita basis, searches for the term “N.H.L.” were more than seven times as common in Canada as in the United States. Although the United States population is about nine times larger than Canada’s, this makes up for a lot of the difference.How many N.H.L. fans are there in each country? A 2010 YouGov poll estimated that 11 percent of American adults were serious N.H.L. fans; a 2007 Scarborough Research study, using a stricter definition that was limited to the most avid fans, put the total at just 4 percent. Using the midpoint of those two surveys yields an estimate that 7.5 percent of Americans are N.H.L. fanatics, or about 23.5 million Americans among a population of 314 million.The frequency of Google searches in Canada for “N.H.L.” implies that about 54 percent of Canadians are serious N.H.L. fans, or about 18.5 million people in a country of 34.5 million.In other words, the two countries are reasonably close in their number of N.H.L. fans, despite the United States’ vastly larger population. I estimate that Canada accounts for something like 45 percent of the N.H.L. interest between the two countries. (The N.H.L., incidentally, makes about 40 percent of its national television licensing fees from Canadian networks — and the percentage is likely to increase after the league negotiates new Canadian TV contracts.)If N.H.L. teams were distributed between the countries in proportion to fan interest, Canada would have something like 12 to 14 teams out of a 30-team N.H.L. Instead, Canada has seven teams. This undersupply means that the Canadian N.H.L. teams have larger numbers of fans, on average.In the chart below, I have used the Google search data to estimate the proportion of people in various United States and Canadian media markets who are serious N.H.L. fans. (The method uses Google search data at the metro-area level for the United States and at the provincial level for Canada as metro-level data is unavailable for Canada.)The results demonstrate how much difference hockey avidity can make. Compare the cities of Los Angeles, Boston and Calgary. There are about 17 million people in the Los Angeles media market, 6.2 million in Boston’s and 1.6 million in Calgary’s. Based on their Google search traffic, however, I estimate that only 6 percent of the population in Los Angeles are serious N.H.L. fans, compared with 17 percent in Boston (high by United States standards) and 67 percent in Calgary (high even by Canadian standards). As a result, the three markets are roughly equivalent on hockey terms: each has about 1.1 million serious N.H.L. fans.Another astonishing result can be obtained by comparing Houston and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan — two markets that are occasionally mentioned as possible sites for N.H.L. expansion teams. Houston’s media market has about six million people, compared with not quite 340,000 for Saskatoon. However, I estimate that only 2 percent of Houston residents are serious N.H.L. fans, versus 46 percent of the population in Saskatoon. Thus, they are roughly equal at about 150,000 N.H.L. fans each.Accounting for the far greater propensity of Canadians to follow hockey, the median Canadian team plays in a market with about 1.1 million N.H.L. fans, while the median United States team plays in a market with about 530,000 fans.The American cities that have had their hockey teams for a long time generally place well above the United States median, however. Of the United States-based markets that had an N.H.L. team continually since 1990, all but St. Louis have at least 500,000 fans.So a couple of decades ago, there was a nice balance in the N.H.L. between American cities with large populations but moderate hockey interest, and Canadian cities with moderate populations but intense hockey interest. There were a few outlying cases — Los Angeles has very low hockey interest but a very large population, while Buffalo has a modest population but levels of hockey affinity that approach Canadian levels. These teams functioned well enough, and no team was dragging down the average that much. The American markets that the N.H.L. has ventured into since 1990 have only about 250,000 hockey fans on average, however.These differences in hockey interest have a profound effect on each team’s bottom line. In the chart below, I have compared the number of hockey fans in each market against their estimated operating profit or loss in 2011-12, according to Forbes magazine. (For the markets with multiple hockey teams, I have divided the fans as follows: in New York, 55 percent of the market to the Rangers, 25 percent to the New Jersey Devils and 20 percent to the Islanders; and in Los Angeles, two-thirds to the Kings and one-third to the Anaheim Ducks. These estimates are derived by evaluating the number of Google searches for the team names among the residents in each metropolitan area.)This measure of hockey fans does a very good job of predicting each team’s profitability. The 13 teams with 700,000 or more N.H.L. fans in their markets all made money and totaled $357 million in operating profits. The six teams in markets with fewer than 300,000 fans all lost money, totaling $77 million in operating losses. The teams between 300,000 and 700,000 fans had varied results but roughly broke even, on average. (This is the range in which a quality of a team’s management matters, along with other factors like per-capita income in the region and a team’s appeal outside its immediate metropolitan area.)Six of the seven Canadian teams are above the 700,000-fan threshold (and therefore made money). So did Winnipeg, with roughly 560,000 fans. In total, Canadian teams brought in $219 million in operating profits in 2011-12 — whereas the American teams made a net of just $31 million. (Outside of the highly profitable Rangers, in fact, the United States-based teams lost money that year.)So why have the Canadian teams struggled to win Stanley Cups?Part of it stems from the same reason that operating profits are so closely tied to the number of N.H.L. fans in each team’s media market. N.H.L. teams vary greatly in how many fans they have available to them. But under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement, there is relatively little revenue sharing. There is a hard salary cap, however, along with a high salary floor, so each team’s player expenditures are about the same.The good news for the Canadian teams is that, with nothing else to spend them on, those extra revenues flow through straight through to the bottom line. The bad news is that they could not spend them by investing in better player talent, even if they wanted to.Before the lost season of 2004-5, the N.H.L.’s economics were different: there was no salary cap. But something else was different as well: the Canadian dollar had been historically weak against the American dollar. Thus, the Canadian teams could not take full advantage of the excess demand for hockey in the country.In the next chart, I have estimated per-game ticket revenues for American and Canadian N.H.L. teams since 1995. Ticket revenues are calculated as per-game attendance during the regular season, multiplied by average ticket prices as reported by Team Marketing Report. (Since 2003, Team Marketing Report has designated a portion of tickets in each arena as premium seats; I assume that 20 percent of ticket sales are priced at premium levels.) All figures are denominated in current (inflation-adjusted) United States dollars. The chart also shows how much revenue the Canadian teams would have brought in had the American and Canadian dollars been trading roughly at parity throughout the period, as they have been recently.Per-game ticket revenues for the Canadian teams lagged somewhat behind the United States teams from 1995 through 1999. This was mostly because of the weak Canadian dollar; the Canadian teams would have run even with or slightly ahead of the American teams otherwise. From 2000 through 2003, the American and Canadian teams made about the same amount of money from a typical game despite a still fairly weak Canadian dollar. Since then, the Canadian dollar has strengthened, and Canadian teams have moved considerably ahead of the American teams: the average Canadian team now makes about 50 percent more than the average American team on a per-game basis. However, it is during this period that the N.H.L.’s salary cap has been in place.But even if the Canadian teams cannot spend their extra revenues on better player talent, this does not fully explain why they have been underachieving in the Stanley Cup and not at least winning their fair share of championships.Much of the reason, I must emphasize again, boils down to bad luck. Canadian teams have reached the Stanley Cup finals five times in the 19 seasons since 1992-93 but have come up short on each occasion, including in four cases where the series went to the seven-game maximum.One other factor, however, may be that there is so much excess demand for hockey in Canada that the Canadian franchises do not have to field especially strong teams to sell out their stadiums or to make a considerable profit. In the next chart, I have compared the per-game ticket revenues for each team in the 2012-13 season against the number of points they tallied between this season and the last one.For the United States teams, there is an imperfect but reasonably clear and statistically significant relationship between on-ice success and ticket revenues. There are lots of fair-weather American hockey fans, and they may not turn out unless their team is pretty good. In Canada, there is less competition from other sports, and there are many die-hard hockey fans who attend games almost no matter what. Consider, for instance, that the Toronto Maple Leafs increased their average ticket prices from about $75 (in inflation-adjusted United States dollars) in 2005-6 to $140 this season (or from about $85 to $140 in inflation-adjusted Canadian dollars) — despite never qualifying for the playoffs in the interim. They have almost always sold out their stadium anyway.These results can be generalized across other seasons. I ran a regression analysis that estimates per-game ticket revenues as a function of the number of hockey fans in a given media market, the number of points that a team averaged between the current season and the previous one, and a time trend. (Point totals are adjusted relative to the league-average number of points to correct for seasons shortened by labor disputes and changes to N.H.L. rules; the number of fans is expressed as a natural logarithm.)For American teams, an additional regular-season win (worth 2 points in the standings) yields about $10,600 in extra ticket revenues per game, or roughly $430,000 over a full regular season. For Canadian teams, the marginal value of an additional regular-season win is about $1,400 per game (or $60,000 per season), which is not statistically or practically significant.So the Canadian N.H.L. teams may suffer from a version of the problem that the Chicago Cubs faced during the “bleacher bum” years. Their fans are so loyal — happy enough to turn out for the spectacle and the beer even if the team stinks — that the franchises don’t have all that much incentive to put out a competitive product.Whether this has actually translated into complacency or mismanagement is harder to demonstrate. Even if N.H.L. teams are constrained in how much they can spend directly on player salaries, they could make other expenditures that should eventually translate into on-ice success — for example, by investing more in scouting and development. The Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks each employ 20 or more scouts, according to their Web sites — well above the N.H.L. average of about 15. So there is some evidence that they are making a good-faith effort to produce a quality team. (I wouldn’t want to slander any professional sports franchise by comparing it with the Chicago Cubs.)Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that these teams could stand some additional competition from N.H.L. franchises in their media markets and elsewhere in Canada.I estimate, for instance, that there are five million N.H.L. fans in the greater Toronto region (which I define fairly liberally to include the outskirts of the Golden Horseshoe): about twice as many as in the New York metropolitan area, which has three N.H.L. teams. And Montreal and Vancouver are not far from New York in their number of N.H.L. fans.Even acknowledging that additional N.H.L. teams in Toronto would not expect to draw as well as the Maple Leafs — just as the Islanders and the Devils do not have nearly as many fans as the Rangers — adding a second team in the Toronto area seems all but certain to produce another profitable N.H.L. franchise in a league where many teams are unable to break even. The new team would need to capture only about 14 percent of the Toronto market to reach the 700,000-fan threshold that seems to guarantee profitability in the N.H.L. A good case could also be made for a third Toronto-area team, along with second teams in Montreal and Vancouver.At the other end of the fan-interest scale, it seems very difficult for N.H.L. teams with fewer than about 300,000 hockey fans in their media markets to turn a long-run profit under the league’s current economic system. One might hold out hope that the newer hockey markets in the United States will grow to provide more revenue for their teams, but the evidence has not supported this conjecture so far. Per-game ticket revenues for United States teams in nontraditional media markets have grown at a rate of just 1.4 percent per year (inflation-adjusted) over the past 18 seasons, compared with 2.6 percent annually for traditional United States hockey markets and 4.2 percent annually for Canadian teams. These struggling United States teams hurt the Canadian teams both directly by diluting the share of Canadian teams in the league, and indirectly by compelling a salary cap structure that is meant to protect the struggling American teams (but which has yet to make most of them profitable).My best guess is that the economically optimal distribution of N.H.L. franchises would look something like the schema in the chart below. This would include two new teams in the greater Toronto area, one new team in Montreal and one new team in Quebec City. In lieu of a second team in Vancouver, Seattle — a marginal hockey market but probably better than several United States cities that already have N.H.L. teams — would get a franchise in the hope that support might spill over into British Columbia and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. New York would retain its three N.H.L. teams as the Islanders sought to find success in Brooklyn, while Los Angeles (which has no more N.H.L. fans than Philadelphia or Boston and fewer than Vancouver or Montreal) would be shaved to one. The six United States markets with fewer than 300,000 N.H.L. fans would lose their teams.This would yield a league with 11 Canadian franchises out of 28 — just shy of 40 percent — a level that comes much closer to the share of N.H.L. interest and revenues between among the two countries. And it would all but ensure that Canada’s Stanley Cup drought ends sooner rather than later. This story was originally published May 31, 2013. Once again, two U.S. teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, are headed to the Stanley Cup finals. read more

Is the DH Rule Slowing the Game Down

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I checked the data provided to me by ESPN Stats & Info, focusing on 1997 to 2013 (interleague play started in 1997 and 2013 is the last full year in the data set).My first check was the simplest. I divided all games into four categories: games between AL teams, those between NL teams, interleague games hosted by AL teams (which have the DH) and interleague games hosted by NL teams (which don’t). Games between AL teams were, on average, two minutes and 15 seconds longer than games between NL teams.But that gap might be because certain AL teams — notably Boston and New York — are slower than NL teams and not because of different rules. Luckily, interleague and World Series games provide a useful test, because teams typically have played each opponent roughly the same number of times at home and away — albeit not necessarily in the same season. That should control for any effect from particular teams or matchups.So, when the same two teams played each other in an NL park or an AL park, which game was longer?On average, surprisingly, the longer game has been in the NL park — by 15 seconds. That calculation is based on more than 2,000 games each in NL and AL parks — defining interleague to include regular-season and World Series games between an AL team and an NL team.That’s solid evidence that it’s the style of individual teams, rather than the DH rule, causing the discrepancy in length of AL and NL games. And, in fact, if I isolate the 1997-2013 data set to just games without Boston or New York, then AL-only games are faster, on average, by a minute and five seconds relative to NL-only games. (Interleague games without the Red Sox and Yankees continue to be roughly the same length with or without the DH rule — one second longer without the DH.)But maybe that’s unfair — of course AL games will look faster once I’ve removed the league’s two slowest teams. So I tried two more tests.First, I removed the Red Sox and Yankees, but also the two AL teams with the fastest games, on average: the Blue Jays and White Sox. AL-only games without the league’s four biggest outliers averaged two hours, 55 minutes and 5 seconds. All NL-only games averaged two hours, 55 minutes and 2 seconds — just three seconds faster. Meanwhile, interleague games without those four AL teams were 18 seconds faster, on average, in NL parks. So, again, there’s no evidence that the DH lengthens games.Finally, I instead removed the NL’s two teams that played the longest games, to complement my removal of the AL’s two slowest teams. From 1997 to 2013, those two NL teams were the Mets and the Dodgers. Without them, and without the Yankees and Red Sox, the average NL-only game was nine seconds slower than the average AL-only game. And the average interleague game in an NL park took 13 more seconds than the average interleague game hosted by an AL team.So while the DH theory made sense, I’m confident the DH doesn’t lengthen baseball games. When I wrote last week about the slowdown of MLB games in recent years, I noted that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were the two slowest teams. Both are in the American League, and maybe that’s part of the explanation. After all, AL games are played with the designated-hitter rule, which means pitchers don’t have to bat. That allows managers to change pitchers without affecting the lineup, which could prompt them to yank more pitchers mid-inning. Since pitching changes lengthen games — by about two minutes each, according to my analysis — games played in AL parks could be longer simply because of the DH rule.Reader Gabriel Haro wondered as much: read more

Kobe Bryant Hints That He Will Retire In Two

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Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant can see the end of his spectacular career, and it is not far off. At 34, he has prepared as intensely as a soldier, year in and year out, and while he has had some super-human exploits on the court, there comes a time to shut it down.He signed a three-year contract extension for close to $90 million that runs through the 2013-14 season. If you listen to Bryant, that would be it for the player many categorize as the “closest thing to Michael Jordan.”“It’s just that three more years seems like a really long time to continue to stay at a high, high level of training and preparation and health,” Bryant said. “That’s a lot of years. For a guard? That’s a lot of years.”Health has been one of Bryant’s biggest obstacles over the last couple of seasons. During the summer of 2011 he traveled to Germany to have a radical procedure performed on his left knee, which was apparently worked because he averaged nearly 39 minutes and 27.9 points a game.Still, Bryant concedes that mentally he has to embrace playing beyond next season.“It’s not about health necessarily,” he said. “It’s about ‘Do I want to do it? Do I have that hunger to continue to prepare at a high level?”Bryant’s hunger to prepare at such a high level has led him to five NBA championships, 14 All-Star appearances, eight times NBA All Defensive First Team and two Olympic gold medals.He is fifth on all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.  Bryant currently has 29,484 points going into the 2012-13 season, needing 516 points to reach the 30,000 points mark. In order to tie Chamberlian, Bryant needs to average 23.6 points a game during the regular season to tie Chamberlain.Above all, Bryant plays for championships, and this newly constructed Lakers team with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash has him excited – and believing in the organization.There does not seem to be any doubt is Bryant’s mind that in the next two seasons will be his last, although he has been careful to not say it definitively. But there is one thing that Bryant is certain about though: He would not consider hanging on for a couple more years just to be a role player.“That’s not gonna happen,” he said. “That’s just not me.” read more

How Do You Lose When You Make 17 Threes Ask The Rockets

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In each of the past two seasons, the Houston Rockets have shattered previously held records for 3-pointers made and attempted. They took the three to previously unseen heights by connecting on 1,256 of 3,470 attempts during the 2017-18 season, then surpassed both of those marks by making 1,323 of 3,721 of their shots from beyond the arc this year.Given that they’ve attempted so many more threes than any other team, it should come as no surprise that the Rockets have also had more single-game 3-point explosions than any other team. The Rockets have made at least 15 treys an incredible 113 times in the past two seasons,1Regular season and playoffs. including Tuesday night against the Warriors, when they made 17. The next-closest team is the Brooklyn Nets, who have nailed 15-plus triples just 51 times in the last two years.Connecting on at least 15 shots from beyond the arc guarantees you at least 45 points, so it’s not surprising that the Rockets’ record when hitting all those treys was incredibly good heading into last night’s game. The Rockets were 89-23 in such games prior to their Game 2 loss — good for a 0.795 winning percentage, or the equivalent of a 65-win season.So then how does a team to manage to lose when hitting 17 3-pointers? The quick and easy answer: by turning the ball over 18 times.The Rockets gave the ball away on each of their first three possessions of the game, six of their first 10, and a total of nine times in the first quarter alone. With those blunders, they dug themselves a 14-point hole less than eight minutes into the game. Houston cleaned things up a bit during the final three periods, but the early struggles gave the Rockets a turnover rate north of 16 percent — far worse than their seasonlong average of about 12 percent, which ranked ninth in the NBA.Usually, the Rockets are able to overcome error-filled performances like this one.2 Such is the benefit of orienting your entire offense around The Math. Before dropping Game 2 to the Warriors, James Harden and company were 19-12 over the past two seasons in games in which their turnover rate was at least 15 percent. Turning the ball over 15-plus percent of the time against the Warriors, though, is a different story altogether. Golden State is practically unbeatable when its opponent coughs up as many possessions as the Rockets did in Game 2.Since acquiring Kevin Durant before the 2016-17 season, the Warriors had racked up a 41-6 record3Before last night’s win. when forcing a turnover on at least 15 percent of their opponent’s possessions. After Tuesday’s win, they’re now 3-0 when forcing the Rockets into that many errors — with the prior two victories coming in Game 3 and Game 6 of last year’s Western Conference finals.The Rockets compounded their turnover problems by allowing a ton of offensive rebounds. With Draymond Green (five) and Andre Iguodala (four) leading the way, Golden State snared the board off one of its own misses 18 times during Game 2. That 36.7 percent offensive rebound rate made this both the Warriors’ fifth-best offensive rebounding game of the Durant era and Houston’s sixth-worst defensive rebounding game this season.In the NBA, if you have enough talent and that talent is harnessed in the right way, you can overcome all kinds of deficits. You can shoot your way to victory even when you’re irresponsible with the ball and even when you let your opponent run wild on the offensive glass. Sometimes you can even overcome the odds and win when you do both of those things. Just, not against the Warriors. Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

Ohio State mens tennis coach Ty Tucker superstitious in sweatpants

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It’s time to put your sweater vests and bow ties away. There is a new fashion statement that this campus can adopt to show support for a team that hasn’t lost a home game in more than eight years. Ohio State men’s tennis coach Ty Tucker has six Big Ten Coach of the Year titles, six regular season Big Ten championships and five NCAA quarterfinals appearances. Almost all of these accomplishments were achieved while wearing gray cotton sweatpants and a white baseball cap to every match. “Every year I get a fresh pair of socks and new shirt to go underneath (my jacket). People don’t know how hard it is to keep everything separate,” Tucker said. When on the road, Tucker said he washes his ensemble in college laundromats, making sure to keep the designated gameday sweatpants, shirt and socks apart from the rest of his attire. He wears only one outfit per season. Chris Britt, the student athletic communication contact for men’s tennis, said Tucker is “very superstitious.” Tucker, a bit distraught having brought up bad memories, also said he no longer takes his team to Olive Garden because they lost two matches after dining in one. “We lost twice,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t do Carrabba’s or Macaroni Grill and we get pasta.” After a heartbreaking loss to the University of Southern California at the NCAA National Championship in 2009, Tucker told The Lantern instead of washing his sweatpants, he would burn them to signify the end of the season. But it took more than superstition and luck to turn the Buckeyes into the third-ranked college men’s tennis team in the nation. Tucker makes sure the team captains endorse new players after their official visit to make sure they are a good fit. “Athletically speaking, you’re looking for an athlete, when you’re out there watching, out there playing and fighting and never giving up,” he said. “We try to stay away from anyone we think might give up even one point in a match.” Tucker said most college tennis players never make it to the professional circuit. It is important to him to recruit athletes who will continue to play and practice hard, even if OSU is “the last stop on their journey.” During the winter months, the team practices five days a week. “We try to, definitely for the first hour-and-a-half, keep water breaks to a minimum and try to keep the high-intensity going on,” Tucker said. Tucker, a 41-year-old OSU attendee , knows what it takes to perform at the college and professional levels. He was the No. 1-ranked college singles player during his freshman year and achieved a world ranking of No. 273 in 1994. On the junior circuit, Tucker defeated Grand Slam singles tournament champions, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang. Most recently, Tucker’s team defeated No. 26 Notre Dame, 5-2, on Saturday. The Buckeyes improved to 9-1 during against ITA Top-30 teams in the win. In a sport that is largely based on individual performance, Tucker instills a strong team-mentality in his players. “They know they’re playing for Ohio State Buckeyes and that means more than anything,” he said. “They only care if the team wins.” Tucker acknowledges his methods are a bit strange but said he wants nothing more than to bring light to the tennis program. “Sometimes I think my quirks overshadow what they’re doing out there,” he said. “But what’s important is that people come out and see the group of hardworking guys we’ve got.” The biggest motivator to his team, Tucker said, is the way the athletic department has treated his organization increasingly well. “As good of care as Ohio State takes of our facilities and being able to travel the country and play the best teams, you’ve got to be willing to practice and compete in your matches like it might be the last time ever,” Tucker said. Last year, the athletic department encouraged students and fans to participate in “Dress Like Ty Tucker Day” during the home match against Indiana. Kaitlyn Labrozzi, a fifth-year in Russian and international studies who wore gray sweatpants and a red OSU jacket to the match, said functions that rally support around the tennis team are few and far between. “I like to dress like Ty Tucker anyway,” Labrozzi said. “If there were more of them, the team would probably gain notoriety on campus and in the community. They are wildly underrated and we should support teams that do well, regardless of the sport.” read more

Football Top 2018 tight end prospect Jeremy Ruckert commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State regained its top spot in the 2018 recruiting rankings when four-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert announced his commitment to the Buckeyes Monday afternoon on Twitter.5-star TE Jeremy Ruckert races to his commitment #BRCommitmentWeek pic.twitter.com/Bc41A6COrJ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 17, 2017A 6-foot-5.5, 238-pound tight end is the top-ranked player at his position and the No. 52 overall prospect in his class, according to 247Sports composite rankings.The Buckeyes had to fend off two Big Ten rivals to earn Ruckert’s commitment with Michigan and Wisconsin in the running along with Notre Dame.The Lindenhurst, New York, tight end is the top player in his state and is the seventh-best player in Ohio State’s 2018 class, according to 247Sports composite rankings.This is the first time since July 24, 2015 – when 2016 prospect Luke Farrell committed – that Ohio State has received a commitment from a tight end. The Buckeyes did not have a tight end in their 2017 recruiting class. read more

Finns law 100000 sign petition after police dog stabbed in the head

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first_imgMore than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for police animals to be given the same status as police officers if assaulted while on duty.It comes after police dog Finn was stabbed in the head and chest while chasing a suspect in Stevenage on October 4.Police animals are not currently protected in the same way as officers if they are assaulted in the line of duty.The ‘Give status to Police Dogs and Horses as Police Officers’ petition could now be debated in the Commons.  “I propose that UK Police Dogs and Horses be given protection that reflects their status if assaulted in the line of duty,” David Burstow wrote. “This would be similar to the US Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection.” Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner, David Lloyd, told the Hertfordshire Mercury the force “fully embrace the sentiment behind the petition”.A 16-year-old has been charged with assaulting an officer and criminal damage in relation to Finn’s injuries, the BBC reports. Finn with some of his get well cards. He’s feeling more himself today & starting to get a little cheeky to – much more like his old self. pic.twitter.com/wfcs5Eu5nI— BCH Police Dogs (@BCHPoliceDogs) October 13, 2016 His handler, PC David Wardel, who was also injured , said Finn is now recovering from his injuries.“Finn is an amazing partner. I can’t think of anyone or any animal I’d rather work with. His enthusiasm every day is second to none and it does rub off on you. He’s always raring to go.“It’s been really overwhelming for me, my family and our colleagues, so I would like to thank the public for all their love and support for Finn.” 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

Common cold cure a step closer after scientists crack genetic code

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first_imgScientists analysed the Human Parechovirus Credit:AP The next stage is to screen for potential anti-viral drugs that target this decoding mechanism which could potentially see drug development results within the next ten years.Professor Peter Stockley at Leeds said: “The coding works like the cogwheels in a Swiss watch.”We now need a drug that has the same effect as pouring sand into the watch; every part of the viral mechanism could be disabled.”We need to move away from a vaccine approach, which is what we have for flu and polio.”He added that protecting against infection by the use of vaccines was “both very expensive and logistically difficult”.Professor Sarah Butcher, from Helsinki, said: “This new research means that treatment would be less likely to trigger drug resistance, which is currently one of the major problems in anti-viral therapy.”This discovery could be a great leap forward in curing a host of conditions.”The study was published in Nature Communications. The coding works like the cogwheels in a Swiss watchProfessor Peter Stockley, University of Leeds A cure for the common cold has moved a step closer after scientists claimed to have “cracked” the genetic code which underpins the illness’s many strains.Developing vaccines to tackle colds is considered largely futile because the virus mutates.However, researchers now say a simple gene-targeting drug able to cure all examples of the virus may be available within ten years. Genome Until now, scientists studying the Human Parechovirus had believed that the signals regulating the assembly of a virus were located in a small area of the genome.But now a British-Finnish team has established that the virus forms as a result of multiple dispersed sites in the genome acting togetherThey found that details of the decoding mechanism appeared identical in all strains of the virus, potentially allowing a single drug to treat them all, something that is not possible with a vaccine. 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

GCHQ advises British political parties how to withstand attacks from Russian cyberattackers

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first_img Show more Chancellor Philip Hammond, a former defence and foreign secretary, also said the NCSC had been blocking “potential attacks” on Government departments and the public at a rate of around 200 hacks a day.US intelligence services have accused the Kremlin of breaching Democratic National Committee computers in an attempt to interfere with the presidential election won by Donald Trump.Germany’s domestic intelligence agency warned in December that Russia was trying to influence the upcoming federal elections with “increasingly aggressive cyber espionage”. GCHQ spies have warned political parties of the threat Russian hackers pose to democracy.Seminars will be held to educate politicians on the threat from the Kremlin after its spies were accused of carrying out cyber-attacks to tamper with US and German elections.Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has written to leaders of all the main political parties to offer advice on how to withstand attacks, according to The Sunday Times.In the letter, he said: “You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system.”This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts.”In February, Mr Martin warned that 188 high-level cyber-attacks, “many of which threatened national security”, had struck Britain in the previous three months. National Cyber Security Centre CEO Ciaran Martincenter_img National Cyber Security Centre CEO Ciaran MartinCredit:Dominic Lipinski/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.last_img read more

Does your handwriting mark you out as a Great Briton

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first_imgLikewise the writing of Isaac Newton, the mathematician, astronomer and physicist, when he was 40 years old in 1682  revealed  huge ‘I’s,a large signature and elaborate capital letters.“Isaac also had a big ego and loved showing off his superior knowledge. He was self-important – locked into who he was – and sometimes he acted quite bizarrely, petulantly, completely ‘out of character’, in order to indulge himself and get the attention and recognition he craved,” said Trussell. A letter written by Queen Victoria in 1858 when she was 39 years old In contrast, Florence Nightingale’s hand revealed a ‘fair and diplomatic’ individual who was always ‘wanting to do good deeds, always with people’s best interests at heart. Nightingale, who lived between 1820 and 1910 was a social reformer, statistician and the founder of modern nursing. A letter written by Queen Victoria in 1858 when she was 39 years oldCredit: www.queen-victorias-scrapbook.org.jpg English engineer and inventor Isambard Kingdom Brunel Tracey Trussell, handwriting analyst, said: “Handwriting is like ‘brain writing’ because it comes through the central nervous system. It’s a snapshot in time.“My job is to interpret every swirl, stroke, slant, flourish, space and loop on the paper, enabling the true character of the individual to step off the page.” English engineer and inventor Isambard Kingdom BrunelCredit: Hulton Archive Trussell said his script betrayed a wildly ambitious individual but also a realist: “ Isambard Kingdom Brunel was outspoken, assertive, hard lined and highly persuasive, yet with diplomatic aplomb.   “It has been enthralling peeking behind the writing of these Great Britons Graphology is a little bit like piecing together a jigsaw to build a complete picture. While it is difficult to be too prescriptive, these samples have thrown up some strong clues as to what underpins a Great Briton.”While it is likely to be the sign of a strict education, joined up writing also featured throughout the handwriting samples, with Trussel said reflected a writer’s thinking process and ability to function in social situations. Connected words are indicative of an articulate, logical and adventurous person. Isaac Newton  Trussell said the writing of Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a good indication of joined-up writing reflecting his single minded and indomitable spirit. Brunel was involved in a series of engineering feats which revolutionised transport and industry in Victorian England including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, the Thames Tunnel, numerous bridges including the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and the Great Western Railway.A sample of his writing from 1838, when he was just 32 years old showed sharp, spiky letters with a marked right slant, fast speed, long and light ‘t’ bars as well as ‘vanity loops, bows and clever collecting strokes.’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. A handwriting sample from Isaac Newson, written in 1682 when he was 40 years old. A letter written in 1838 when Brunel was 32 years old.Credit: Brunel Institute  If your handwriting slants to the right, and you cross your ‘t’s with a flourish, you might be pleased to learn that you are in distinguished company.A study of the penmanship of Great Britons such as Isaac Newton, Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria, show they share a striking number of ‘character’-istics.Graphologist Tracey Trussell, who believes that personality can be determined through handwriting, claims there are remarkable similarities in the way well-known scientists, monarchs and pioneers expressed themselves.Working with Royal Mail, Trussell analysed letters and notes from the country’s defining figures and found common traits included a narrow right margin, a marked slant to the right and long and high ‘t’ bars.Most also showed a steady rhythm to their writing, large ‘upper zones’, seen in the high stems of letters ‘b’, ‘d’, and ‘k’, wide, roomy characters, and extravagant ‘lower zones’ such as when writing ‘g’, ‘j’ ‘p’, ‘q’ and ‘y’. In all, ten different handwriting samples were analysed with other Great Britons including Claudia Jones, the founder of the Notting Hill Carnival, compose and writer Ignacio Sancho,  x-ray pioneer Rosalind Franklin, Ignatius Sancho, feminist and women’s rights campaigner Millicent Fawcett, naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin, and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.David Gold, Director of Public Affairs & Policy at Royal Mail, said: “It is amazing to think that something we do every day can reveal so much about us. There have been many Great Britons throughout the years and we hope this list helps identify the next Great Britons.” A handwriting sample from Isaac Newson, written in 1682 when he was 40 years old. A letter written in 1838 when Brunel was 32 years old. Isaac Newton  “He had a mature attitude, a self-disciplined, indomitable nature, a common sense pragmatic approach, and was an extraordinarily clear thinking man – open-minded, long-sighted and perceptive – with the ability to grasp essentials and follow through his logical thought processes.”  A sample taken from Queen Victoria in 1858 when she was 39 years old showed among other traits, a marked right slant, fast speed, a stilted quality, long high and some crucifix t-bars, wide ink-filled or flooded ovals and vanity loops.“The ‘stilted’ quality of her writing, where the natural rhythmic flow of the handwriting is restrained or held back in check, demonstrates on paper the control, repression and self-discipline the writer was placing on her natural enthusiasm, communion or rapport with life,” added Trussell.“She needed structure and security in her life – she couldn’t cope with change. She also didn’t like making mistakes or getting anything wrong.”last_img read more