Louisville Favored in Final Four but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion

This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout.,This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout. read more

Michael Vick To Wear Special Flak Jacket To Protect

The Philadelphia Eagles have taken new measures to protect Michael Vick’s oft-injured ribs.The team’s franchise quarterback will be under center for the team’s Sept. 9 regular season opener at Cleveland, only this time sporting a unique Kevlar flak jacket/vest that will cover up more of his torso than the one he was wearing when he took a helmet to the ribs in the Eagles’ second exhibition game at New England.“I really can’t explain what goes into this type of material,” he told the Philadelphia Daily News on Tuesday. “I’m just trying something different – that’s all I can tell you.”NFL quarterbacks have been wearing flak jackets for roughly 30 years to better protect the ribs they expose while passing the football.Some in the past have proven too bulky and restrictive, while some quarterbacks have just found wearing them at all to be annoying.But Vick, who says he’s still sore from the shot he received from Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham that knocked him out of his second preseason game in as many weeks, says he doesn’t foresee any problems.“It’s Kevlar,” he said, adding that his current one is a much lighter version of the one he first tried. “I’m looking forward to it … to give me protection and just to see what comes out of it. It’s going to be custom-fitted and fitted to protect all across my sternum, across my ribs. I think it’ll be a better fit.“You can barely feel them, the way we get them fitted.”X-Rays taken at Gillette Stadium last weekend showed no broken bones or fractured cartilage, as were the MRI and CT scan he underwent on Tuesday. Vick, instead, bruised his ribs and the soft tissue surrounding it. He also needed X-Rays on his thumb, which were also negative.The 32-year-old four-time Pro Bowler has completed just one full season (2006) over his 11-year NFL career, leading some to question whether he will have to alter his style of play to stay healthy. Rib injuries have sidelined him for three games in each of the past two seasons.Philadelphia, which is expected to be a strong NFC contender this year, hosts the Jets on Thursday to wrap up the preseason. read more

Didnt Lose a Step Derek Jeter Homers on First

Derek Jeter boasted that he was ready to return to the New York Yankees dugout and one pitch after he took the plate he proved it.The All-Star shortstop homered on the first pitch he saw, his first at-bat Sunday, in the Yankees’ 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.The slugger finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI as the Yankees won on a game-clinching single in the ninth from newly acquired Alfonso Soriano.“I said, ‘Thank God,’ because I didn’t want to go out there and play in extra innings because I was tired,” said Jeter. “We need contributions from a lot of people. It is not like I’m some savior.”

Petition Calling for Kobe Bryants Oscar Nomination to be

Salute @kobebryant on that Oscar!! #WeAreMoreThanShutUpDribble #UJustContinueToSitBackAndWatch— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 5, 2018 Congrats to KOBE first Oscar that’s big bro #dearbasketball. Proud of you, Big honor for you and your family. I’m jealous lol— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 5, 2018 Kobe Bryant, won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for ‘Dear Basketball.” (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)Despite the suit being settled 15 years ago, Kobe Bryant is still feeling the consequences of being accused of rape. The former Los Angeles Laker secured his first Oscar on Sunday, March 4 for his documentary, “Dear Basketball” as a petition that hoped his nomination would be removed continues to collect signatures.“The Oscars almost avoided nominating sexual predators for awards. Woody Allen and James Franco didn’t get anything. But Kobe Bryant, who was charged with a horrific sexual assault, was nominated,” petition creator Kelsey Bourgeois wrote on the Care2 petition, which has nearly met its 17,000 signature goal. “An important conversation has been started about sexual assault and harassment, so why is Bryant being honored for best animated short if Time really is Up?”Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee in 2003. The then-24-year-old NBA star, who was married to his wife, Vanessa, maintained the encounter was a consensual one. During a 2004 hearing, the 19-year-old accuser refused to testify and the parties ultimately settled out of court.During the 90th annual Academy Awards, Bryant appeared surprised by his honor for Best Animated Short. He continuously glanced down at the statue in his hands.“I don’t know if it’s possible. I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble,” he said, referencing viral comments a Fox News host made about LeBron James and Kevin Durant. “But I am glad we do a little bit more than that.”If it were up to Bourgeois, however, he wouldn’t have been able to snag the trophy in the first place.“He settled with his accuser,” Bourgeois, an advocacy communications coordinator for ‎Care2 and sexual assault survivor told Broadly Friday, March 2. “So in my mind, that doesn’t really make him innocent — it just makes him able to pay off someone who he wronged. I, of course, couldn’t possibly know what actually happened. But we have to believe women, especially when they accuse men who are typically ‘above the law,’ so to speak.”Regardless, Bryant, who has not spoken publicly about the petition, got lots of congratulatory messages from fellow athletes upon winning the award.Congrts @kobebryant https://t.co/q5AmPq1SKH— DWade (@DwyaneWade) March 5, 2018 read more

A Decent Second Week Saved The US From Olympic Catastrophe

Now that the 2018 Winter Olympics are officially over, it’s time for one last update from our simple model that compares each country’s medal count with what we’d expect it to earn based on its history in each sport. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell: To get a given country’s baseline, we calculated how often it won gold, silver and bronze medals (out of all medals possible) in each Olympic sport from the 1998 Games through the 2014 Games.1With the exception of the Olympic athletes from Russia, who got a discounted version of the Russian Federation’s medal rates over the 1998-2014 span. Then, as things played out in Pyeongchang, we used those historical rates to determine how far every country was above or below its usual Winter Olympic pace. Here are the final numbers from 2018: Who impressed — and disappointed — in Pyeongchang?Actual and expected medal counts by country in the 2018 Winter Olympics 8Switzerland56415+1.4– 17Great Britain1045+2.6– 2Germany1410731-3.6– 12Japan45413+6.1– 18Belarus2103-0.9– Austria53614-7.1– New Zealand0022+2.0– 16Finland1146-3.3– Slovakia1203+1.7– 15Czech Republic2237+1.3– 10Sweden76114+2.5– 4United States98623-12.9– Liechtenstein0011+1.0– Slovenia0112-1.0– Ukraine1001-0.2– Olympic athletes from Russia26917-1.0*– 13Italy32510-0.7– Over the first half of the Olympics, the U.S. produced nine fewer medals than expected. In the second half, it was “only” 3.9 below its usual pace, and that number even briefly crept into positive territory after a five-medal performance on Day 13 that included a thrilling win over Canada in women’s ice hockey. Capping things off with a shocking upset gold in men’s curling (!!!), Team USA ended its stay in South Korea in better shape than it started.And, as Olympic researcher (and friend of the site) Bill Mallon points out, perhaps it was unfair to expect quite so much out of the U.S. this year anyway. The data we used to set America’s baseline included one Olympics with a home-field advantage (2002 in Salt Lake City), as well as another pseudo-home competition in Vancouver in 2010. Certainly, the travel to South Korea was much more grueling. Mallon also points out that the U.S.’s traditional dominance in X-Games style sports (such as snowboarding) might be eroding as other countries devote more attention to them — another reason why expectations based on recent history might have been unrealistic.Either way, the U.S. will leave Pyeongchang with a handful of indelible memories, despite the relative lack of medals overall. And the Norwegians, with their staggering 39 medals, will now have to grapple with their newfound status as an Olympic juggernaut.“We always want to win,” Norwegian sports commentator Fredrik Aukland told The New York Times. “But modesty is a big part of the culture here.”After Norway destroyed the field — and our medal tracker’s expectations — maybe braggadocio is the main thing it should work on going into the 2022 Games in Beijing. France54615+0.4– 14China1629-2.5– Australia0213-0.6– *Using medal rates for the Russian Federation, but with a 25 percent reduction to reflect that fewer athletes are competing this year, compared to previous games.Sources: Sports-Reference.com, International Olympic Committee CountryGoldSilverBronzeTotalvs. Expected 21Poland1012-1.8– 1Norway14141139+11.1– Latvia0011-0.7– Spain0022+2.0– Belgium0101+0.8– Kazakhstan0011+0.0 6South Korea58417+7.6– 5Netherlands86620+5.0– 25Hungary1001+1.0– Unsurprisingly, the record-breaking Norwegians blew away their expected total, nabbing 11 pieces of hardware more than expected based on the country’s track record. Olympic home-team South Korea also cleaned up, for nearly eight more medals than expected, continuing the general trend of host nations getting a major boost in performance at their own party. Meanwhile, others near the top of the table, such as Germany and Canada, medalled at a rate basically in line with what we’d expect (despite the latter’s existential curling crisis).And then there were the Americans. During the games, I wrote about the U.S.’s struggles, and Team USA did end up being the biggest underachiever in medals versus expected, with a -12.9 mark. That sense of letdown can be seen not just via our simple tracker, but also in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s internal projections — which, according to The Associated Press, set 37 medals as the expected target. Team USA is going home with 23 instead, its fewest in a Winter Olympics since 1998. (Interestingly, it did have the same number of golds — nine — as it did in each of the past three Winter Games, but many fewer silvers and bronzes.)A series of disappointing performances by big pre-Olympic favorites contributed to the generally mediocre showing for the U.S. But if there is any consolation, it’s that most of the U.S.’s underperformance happened in its first week or so in Pyeongchang, as Team USA did its best to right the ship in week 2: 3Canada1181029+1.2– read more

The Lynx Have The Best Stathead In The WNBA

The Minnesota Lynx have dominated the WNBA this season, as they have much of the last half-decade. The team has reached the finals in five of the past six seasons, including this one. And since Cheryl Reeve was hired as head coach in 2009, the Lynx have won three WNBA titles. They entered this year’s postseason as the top seed, with a 28-6 record, quickly dismantled the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals, and now face the Los Angeles Sparks, a team the Lynx went 2-1 against during the regular season. The two play for the title tonight in a winner-take-all Game 5.The engines of this success are obvious: Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles both ranked in the league’s top five for Player Impact Estimate,1Among players who played in at least 10 games. a statistic that measures a player’s overall importance to her team’s success when on the court, and Moore’s offensive rating (1.11 points per possession) led the league.2Again among players who played in at least 10 games. Fowles has had double-doubles in three of four games in the finals, and Moore scored 31 points on 9-17 shooting to take Game 4.But for all of Minnesota’s obvious weaponry, it has a secret one as well: Paul Swanson — the reclusive, in-house statistician for the Lynx and Timberwolves who is integrated seamlessly into the Lynx coaching staff. “Swanny has this unique ability to provide us with stats I wouldn’t think to ask for,” said Reeve, who carries around pieces of paper full of what the coaching staff calls “Swanny Stats.” “There isn’t another team in the WNBA that has the resources to employ someone like him.”Just as the Lynx aren’t any ordinary pro franchise, Swanson isn’t any ordinary stat geek. He entered analytical lore as the unofficial creator of the net plus-minus formula, which he unveiled in 2003 to demonstrate the legitimacy of Kevin Garnett’s MVP candidacy (which he lost to Tim Duncan). And since the beginnings of the WNBA, he’s been one of the few people breaking down and logging the advanced stats of an WNBA team and the league as a whole.To hear it from the coaches and others within the WNBA statistical community, Swanson’s input has helped shape coaching decisions during the team’s title runs. But his effect on the game extends even further: His meticulously curated stats site (which, though publicly accessible, is buried on Google) was a beacon for those who were disappointed by the WNBA’s output.“For a long time, Paul was virtually the only person providing these sorts of advanced stats,” said Richard Cohen of WNBAlien.com, who has corresponded with Swanson over email for years. “This season is the first time the WNBA has actually provided decent stats, but for a long time, his site was the only place you could get anything of value.”Kevin Pelton knows about the league’s statistical desert first-hand. Before joining ESPN, Pelton worked for the Seattle Storm as its advanced stats guru. “There were more independent resources in the NBA that were stepping in to fill that void whereas that never really existed in the WNBA,” Pelton said. “It’s up to Paul.”Not that you’ll hear any of this from Swanson, who wouldn’t comment for this article and has next to no web presence. Other than his frequent postings on the women’s basketball forum RebKell and a handful of mentions by longtime Lynx assistant Jim Petersen (“I try to mention his name and give him shout-outs anytime I can,” he said. “I call him the Great Paul Swanson.”), Swanson is a ghost.There are conflicting accounts of when Swanson began working for the Lynx and the Timberwolves. According to Ashley Carlson, the Lynx’s PR manager, Swanson has been employed as the statistician for both franchises since their inceptions (the Wolves began operations in 1989, the Lynx in 1999). But both Reeve and Petersen said Swanson was a freelancer until the 2000s, when his position became more solidified within the organization. “It’s evolved as a whole from being an independent contractor to now a full-time position,” Reeve said.Initially, it was Swanson’s meticulous game notes that drew attention. He would stay up all night after a game compiling and then updating not only the standard box sheet, but also the so-called “advanced” basketball stats that focused on per-possession numbers.“He was putting out the best game notes in the NBA,” said Petersen, who doubles as an announcer for Timberwolves games. He was one of Swanson’s early converts: “I just looked at it as rebounding numbers and never thought about if a team played fast or played slow and how that impacts the number of shots that go up,” Petersen told MinnPost in 2012.The analytical community didn’t take notice of Swanson until 2002 or 2003, around the time he started including net plus-minus in his game notes. “We didn’t understand how to use it because obviously there are a lot of limitations to just looking at raw plus-minus and that one player only has so much control over what happens on the court,” Pelton said.What kicked things off was when Petersen repeated a few of Swanson’s per-48-minute computations during several Timberwolves broadcasts. Those stats found their way to the Association for Professional Basketball Research message boards — an early petri dish for basketball analytics — and incited a vigorous debate. According to Pelton, there were many skeptics, but because he had access to the game notes, he knew the stats were legit. “Paul was the first I saw to present the argument, ‘Let’s physically compare how a team does with a specific player on the court versus how they do with a specific player off the court,’” Pelton said.But while Swanson’s ideas were clever and gaining steam in the mathier circles, it took longer for them to take hold in the WNBA. “A lot of coaches had learned to work without it and weren’t searching for it,” Pelton said.That meant there was opportunity for the Lynx. “No one in the WNBA was crunching the per possession numbers, and we had access to, but didn’t use, efficiency stats that were unprecedented for the league,” Petersen said. “When Cheryl came in, I told her what Swanny could do for us in terms of advanced stats.” Swanson’s role slowly began to evolve. “He would come to practice, and you don’t ever really think about him,” Reeve said. “I was told he was a fabric of the organization, so I started him off with small tasks, like charting practice.”Those charts, which Reeve refers to as “heat zones,” formed the basis of the Lynx’s defensive philosophy when the coach first arrived in Minnesota. “We were really interested in what our opponents shot at different spots on the court,” she said. Eventually, Swanson began charting the Lynx’s own shots, which Reeve said helped the coaching staff better formulate the team’s offensive execution. “If we really know something, and we want to highlight it, we’ll support it with the stats that bear it out,” Reeve said. “That resonates more with our players, rather than just saying we watched game video.”Two years ago, Reeve extended Swanson an invitation to the daily coaches meetings — an uncommon situation for a statistician. Although both Petersen and Reeve declined to go into detail about Swanson’s specific contributions — “I don’t want to give people ideas of what we do,” Reeve said — the coaches’ conversations with Swanson help shape their game prep and decision making. “We formulate scouting reports based on his information,” Reeve said. “And we’ll use his analysis to put together lineups, whether it is whole lineups or just post pairs and perimeter trios. If Swanny said it, then it is so.”If the Lynx win tonight, they’ll tie the Houston Comets’ record for WNBA titles with four. But whatever the outcome, their sustained run of excellence over the past few years is, from a certain angle, proof of the value of having information and having the good sense to put it to use in a league that’s starved for it. read more

Commentary Ohio State mens basketball facing major issues as postseason play nears

Poor practices prior to games, on-court chemistry struggles during games and a disengaged star player have started to derail what seemed to be a promising year for the Ohio State men’s basketball team. After losing three of five games and dropping from No. 3 to No. 10 in the rankings during that span, the Buckeyes are facing major issues as the regular season winds down. OSU has two regular season games remaining, but the postgame mood following Sunday’s 63-60 defeat by Wisconsin was that of a NCAA Tournament loss. “Somebody’s got to step up and just be that guy to say, ‘This is enough,’ and bring us all together,” said sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas. It’s clear that the Buckeyes are desperate for leadership as the calendar turns to March, but where will it come from? Conventional wisdom would say that guard William Buford, the team’s lone senior, who sat inches to the right of Thomas as he professed the need for a leader, would be the primary player to speak out and rally the team. But the fact of the matter is that Buford’s leadership style doesn’t fit the needs of the Buckeyes right now. The team needs a vocal presence, something Buford has shown a discomfort with during his four years at OSU. That’s not to say that Buford isn’t a terrific player or a good leader. It’s just that his lead-by-example approach doesn’t seem to mesh well with a team that, aside from Buford, relies heavily on sophomores and a couple freshmen. What about All-American sophomore forward Jared Sullinger, whose past success and national recognition should instantly qualify him as a team leader? Sullinger has been quiet of late, failing to hit double digits points while shooting 1-of-7 on free throws the past two games combined. He was not made available for comment following the loss to Wisconsin, quite possibly his final game at the Schottenstein Center. During the postgame press conference, Matta implied that Sullinger has seemed disinterested lately. “I know this, when Jared is playing his best basketball, he’s engaged and into it,” Matta said. The theme of disengagement was prevalent throughout the team Saturday, leading Matta to throw the Buckeyes out of practice the day before their final home game. That’s a very alarming occurrence this late in the season when a supposed championship-contending team should be locked in for the stretch run. Matta dismissed immaturity as being at the root of OSU’s problems. “My freshmen always come to practice,” he said. “They do a great job. Honestly, I don’t know the answer.” Unfortunately at this point in the season the lightly-played freshmen will be of little help to a team devoid of leadership. If the Buckeyes want to make a serious run in March, the answer will have to come from within the quartet of sophomore guard Aaron Craft, Sullinger, Buford and Thomas. The most likely candidate at this point is Craft, who took the lead on answering postgame questions from the media Sunday. Whether or not this means Craft will elevate his leadership role moving forward remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, if the Buckeyes can’t come together and resolve their issues in the next couple weeks, the disappointment of February will turn into greater disappointment come March. read more

Bye week an unwelcome break for Buckeyes

Sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson (2) carries the ball as senior wide receiver Devin Smith (9) and sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) block during a game against Maryland on Oct. 4 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. OSU won, 52-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorFollowing back-to-back weeks in which the Ohio State football team amassed 710 and 533 yards on offense, respectively, it might face its biggest challenge yet — another bye week.Just as it seemed the Buckeyes were starting to gain momentum both offensively and defensively, they will now face their second bye week in a month.Coach Urban Meyer said during Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference that the bye week comes at an unfortunate time for the Buckeyes.“I wish we were still playing,” Meyer said. “This is one of those weeks that there’s some momentum, guys are feeling good, so I need to keep that momentum, keep getting better, and get out of this week healthy.”Meyer added that he is treating this bye week slightly different than he normally would, taking practice one day at a time.“I just did a very unique thing. I just did today’s practice and I am going to wait until tomorrow to do tomorrow’s,” Meyer said. “I am going to see how we go today. We do have a little more dings — not injuries but just guys are beat up a little bit.”The bye week comes after sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott posted his best two games of the season — and of his career — as he rushed for back-to-back 100-plus-yard games for the first time since he arrived at OSU.Elliott said he agreed with Meyer about the off week.“I do wish we were playing this week,” Elliott said following the 52-24 win over Maryland on Saturday. “But we will take another week to get it all together, keep it rolling and get better.”Not only was Elliott starting to hit his stride, but redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was beginning to impress as he totaled eight touchdown passes compared to zero interceptions in his last two games against Cincinnati and Maryland.Barrett said following the win against the Terrapins that he, along with the entire offense, is gaining confidence each week.“I feel like with the things that the defense present to us, we just take advantage of that. We just try to be prepared for anything and everything and so we just have to do a good job of executing,” Barrett said. “As far as myself, I’m just trying to get better during the week and not wait until gameday to just react to everything. I learn the defense on Tuesday and Wednesday so come Saturday I can have that confidence and go out and play.”Meyer said after the win against Maryland that he has been impressed with not only Barrett, but multiple players on the offensive side of the ball.“J.T. Barrett is playing very well and the big thing is we can still get better. The guys playing around him are pretty good too,” Meyer said. “There’s a lot of confidence when you start rotating six receivers in there and they are all quality guys.Meyer added that moving forward, his Buckeyes will have to keep up their intensity, especially during the bye week.“The road is just getting tougher and tougher. We are just worried about getting better this week,” he said after defeating the Terrapins. “It’s a bye week, I wish we were playing another one next week, our whole team wishes we (were) playing. I’m going to just give them as many game reps as I can to show maturity.”Following the bye week, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Rutgers on Oct. 18 at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. read more

Ohio State field hockey gearing up for No 9 Northwestern

OSU field hockey players gather in a huddle during a game against Iowa on Oct. 19 at Buckeye Varsity Field. OSU lost, 4-2.Credit: Ban Jackson / For The LanternThe Ohio State field hockey team is set to play its final road game of the season against a top-10 opponent.OSU (6-9, 1-5) is scheduled to travel to Evanston, Ill., on Saturday to take on No. 9 Northwestern at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are coming off a 5-2 victory against Michigan State on Sunday, which helped them regain a share of first place in the conference.Northwestern (11-5, 5-1) used its speed and set plays to take down the Spartans, connecting on two penalty corners to help put Michigan State away.The Wildcats could pose some problems for OSU in the midfield as they boast two of the top scorers in the Big Ten at that position.Sophomore midfielder Dominique Masters scored twice against the Spartans, bringing her season total to 10 goals. That mark is good enough for ninth in the conference to go along with her 26 total points.The Canterbury, U.K., native is joined in the midfield by fellow sophomore Isabel Flens.Flens is tied for second on the team in assists with eight, and is tied for seventh in the Big Ten with 28 points on the season. She hails from Hattem, Netherlands, and is one of six players from outside the United States playing for Northwestern.Regardless of international players or high-scoring attackers, both teams have their sights set on postseason play.The Buckeyes and the Wildcats are gearing up for a run in the Big Ten Tournament where the winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.But before OSU can turn its attention fully to the tournaments, it’ll have one more game remaining on the regular season slate.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Michigan on Nov. 2 at Buckeye Varsity Field. The game is set to begin at noon before the Big Ten Tournament kicks off on Nov. 6 in Ann Arbor, Mich. read more

Mens Lacrosse Ohio State selected as No 3 seed in NCAA Tournament

Ohio State senior attack Eric Fannell scored five goals in the Buckeyes dramatic comeback 11-10 overtime victory over Maryland on April 22 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsComing off their 10-9 loss to No. 1 Maryland in the Big Ten tournament finals, Ohio State (13-4) has been selected as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament. The Buckeyes will host Patriot League champion Loyola (Md.) (10-5) on Sunday. This is the sixth NCAA tournament appearance for OSU, third under coach Nick Myers.The Buckeyes received three goals from freshman attacker Tre Leclaire on Saturday, but the team lost to Maryland in the finals of the Big Ten tournament. Junior midfielder Connor Kelly had five goals for the Terrapins.Loyola is coming off its third Patriot League tournament title in four years, and its third regular-season title over that same time span. The Greyhounds will be making their 20th appearance into the tournament and sixth since 2010. The game will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday in Ohio Stadium. The winner of that game will face the winner of the Johns Hopkins/Duke matchup. read more

Football Urban Meyer talks improving running game in Big Ten Teleconference

Urban Meyer watches the Buckeye offense in the first quarter of the game against Indiana on Oct. 6. Ohio State won 49-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorAs No. 3 Ohio State prepares for a Week 7 game against Minnesota, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in the Big Ten Teleconference there needs to be something that changes in the running game.He said the offensive coaches have talked about everything, including placing both sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior running back Mike Weber on the field at the same time more often. However, he said that’s not the major issue of why the running game needs to improve. It’s the defensive sets Ohio State running backs are facing. “Everybody is packed in there on us, so somehow we have to get out of that,” Meyer said. “There’s a variety of ways to do that. One’s throwing the ball a bit more, one’s trying to get on the edge a bit more … as opposed to slamming up in there all the time.” In Saturday’s 49-26 win over Indiana, Ohio State rushers averaged 3.2 carries, with Dobbins recording 82 yards on 26 touches with a rushing touchdown. Meyer also said there is no update on the status of freshman running back Brian Snead. Snead has been practicing with Ohio State, but has not been with the team on game days after not traveling with the team to Arlington, Texas, to face TCU on Sept. 15 because of what Meyer referred to as “disciplinary actions.” Penalties hurt Ohio State Despite coming out of the first six games of the season with wins, Ohio State has still struggled with penalties in the first half of the season. The Buckeyes are No. 118 in the nation, averaging 8.5 penalties per game and have recorded 80.83 penalty yards per game, which is No. 119 in the country. Meyer said this is an area of concern for his team moving forward. “I’m not one of those guys that goes crazy on penalties, especially when you are playing aggressively, etc., but that is far too many,” Meyer said. “That’s something we have addressed constantly.” Meyer said the main area of concern is penalties in the kicking game, saying that is the point where he loses his mind because those penalties are “devastating.” Ohio State to face top Minnesota defense Meyer and the Ohio State offense will face a Minnesota defense of which the head coach thinks very highly. Through five games, the Golden Gophers have allowed 23.4 points per game, with opponents averaging 324.2 yards of offense per game, third-best in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Iowa. Minnesota has been effective in defending the pass game, as one of four teams in the conference to allow fewer than 200 yards passing per game, with opposing quarterbacks completing 57.7 percent of passes. What makes Meyer the most concerned is what the Golden Gophers do defending what he considers the best part of the Ohio State offense: the big play. “They don’t, big plays, they are one of the best teams in the country in giving up big plays, they keep it all in front of them,” Meyer said. “We are kind of a big play offense. That’s the biggest challenge I see right now.” Ohio State will play Minnesota in Ohio Stadium at noon on Oct. 13. read more

Researchers sexism fears are putting womens health at risk scientist claims

first_imgThe research is then generalised and widened out for women, despite there being evidence gender “matters fundamentally, powerfully and pervasively”.Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream”, possibly to the detriment of women’s health, it was claimed.According to The Times, neurobiologist Larry Cahill, from the University of California Irvine, said for years the assumption had been that “once you get outside of reproductive functions, what you find in males and females is fundamentally the same and therefore there is no reason to study both sexes – and beyond that it is not good to study females as they have pesky circulating hormones”.He added that the last two decades had proven the assumption as “false, false, false”. “The heart of the resistance is the view that if neuroscience shows males and females are not the same in brain function, we are showing they are not equal. That is false,” he said. The heart of the resistance is the view that if neuroscience shows males and females are not the same in brain function, we are showing they are not equalProfessor Larry Cahill Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream”, it has been claimedCredit:Cultura Creative (RF) / Alamy Stock Photo Scientists’ fear of being labelled sexist is putting women’s health at risk because researchers have ignored crucial gender differences in the brain, it has been claimed.Male and female brains react differently to drugs when it comes to some conditions, such as strokes, but research predominantly concentrates on men, the guest editor of this month’s Journal of Neuroscience Research said.   Scientists have widely failed to highlight the differences for fear of being “a pariah in the eyes of neuroscience mainstream” 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. One example Prof Cahill gave was Alzheimer’s, where apoptosis – the process of programmed cell death – occurs differently in men and women. Scientists looking into the process and coming up with drugs to deal with the illness “would damn well be aware of the differences”, he added.It was added that in some drugs testing cases, these generalisations may have instead put men’s health at risk. Lazaroids, a rejected stroke treatment, may have worked for men but was deemed as no longer working after being used on both sexes.Eric Prager, the editor of the journal, said in the future any submissions would have to state the sex of the subjects used, as well as an explanation of why this is the case.last_img read more

Keira Knightley scared every time I go outside after being bombarded by infatuated

first_imgBut he was arrested after he was chased away down the street by her husband former Klaxons singer James Righton.Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard the film star was planning on moving away from her North London borough where she lives.In a victim impact statement read out in court by prosecutor Rita Ali, Ms Knightley said: “His actions have had a severe impact on my life and the lives of my family.”Since I reported he incident to the police after he meowed through my letter box and had a scuffle with my husband on my doorstep, we are now looking to move house outside the borough.”We have lived here for two years and my family have enjoyed visiting shops and playing in local parks and being close to the heartbeat of London.”My husband and I had hoped our children’s would go to school here. This man has caused me a lot of stress and panic.”I am scared every time I go outside. When I return home I have to look behind me concerned, I don’t know who might be on the shadows.”I have had fan mail through the door in the past but never has it been God strange or concerning. The thought of him being in he other side of the door has left me quite shaken.”If I was to see this man again I wouldn’t know what to do. If I was with my child we wouldn’t be able to run away easily. The thought of my daughter being at risk is my worst nightmare.” When I return home I have to look behind me concerned, I don’t know who might be on the shadowsKeira Knightley Keira Knightley at Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards last month His lawyer Abu Kibla said: “When he was told by Ms Knightley’s husband not to contact them anymore, that was the notice he required. He has no intention of contacting her again.”He court heard he previous worked in haematology but had to stop after a decline in his mental health.The court heard he has a previous conviction in 2011 for exposure after sending multiple letters to a female member of staff at a hospital, booking tickets and planning days out with her, before turning up at her home address completely naked.District Judge Robin McPhee said: “The offence is so serious it does justify an immediate prison sentence due to the aggravating features.”I take into account you have already severed around ten days in custody and I come to the conclusion that it is good practice in your case to suspended the operation of your sentence.”Revill, of Hackney, East London, was sentenced to a eight week prison sentence suspended for a year.He was also ordered to take part in a mandatory mental health treatment programme for six months and a rehabilitation activity requirement with the probation service.He was also given an indefinite restraining order banning him from contacting Ms Knightley directly or indirectly including members of her family.He is also not allowed within 100 meters of her or her family and the family home. He was also made the subject of an exclusion zone in the north London area. Mark Revill bombarded Hollywood star Keira Knightley with pictures of cats At a previous hearing Revill, who pleaded guilty, said he was in love with the actress but said he had only approached the actress in an attempt to promote his music.On social media, Revill has made a number of references to cats, and changed his name to ‘Mark McCattipus’ on Facebook.Prosecutor Ms Ali told the court at Revill’s sentencing: “The complainant in this matter is a famous Hollywood actress by the name of Keira Knightley.”Over the course of two months the defendants bizarre behaviour causes the victim severe harassment, alarm and distress amounting to the stalking of her.”The defendant calls himself ‘Ziggy’ and he is known locally. He attended her home address and by sending her letters, meowing through her letterbox and drawing in chalk outside her house.”Describing one package posted through the door the prosecutor said: “It included glossy paper with cats on with a note which said ‘that’s you on the right, the stupid looking one and thats me on the left’.”He also sent other handwritten notes which said “listen to my music” and asking “have you listened to my music”Wearing a black vest with the words “I’m sorry I’m bad” on it, Revill was given an eight weeks sentence suspended for one year and a restraining order banning him from contacting her.center_img Keira Knightley, the actress, was looking to move out of her family home after an infatuated stalker left her “scared every time I go outside” and for the safety of her daughter.The 31-year-old film actress said Mark Revill, 49, caused her “a lot of stress and panic” after he bombarded her with cat postcards and meowed through her letterboxRevill, the musician, stalked the Pirates of the Caribbean star actress for three months at her £3.9million five-bedroom house in north London. He repeatedly went to her house, waited outside and used chalk to draw an arrow pointing to her door.He hand delivered through the letterbox a USB stick cat-themed music on it, with one track called “fuzzy kitten waltz” and a JPEG image, and a handwritten note saying “listen to my music”. 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. Keira Knightley at Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards last monthCredit:Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock Mark Revill bombarded Hollywood star Keira Knightley with pictures of catsCredit:CENTRAL NEWSlast_img read more

Takeback Tuesday number of parcels at Post Offices expected to jump by

first_imgAs the first full working day of the year, Tuesday could come as a shock to the system for many returning to the office after the Christmas break.But one business is gearing up for what is likely to be one of its busiest days of the year: Royal Mail. The service has disclosed that staff are being told to expect a 50 per cent jump in the volume of parcels being returned tomorrow on what is being nicknamed “take back Tuesday”.The prediction is based on the number of parcels already logged with Royal Mail through its Tracked Returns service, which is used by more than 1,000 online retailers to enable customers to send back unwanted purchases.The rise of internet shopping has transformed not only the way people buy their Christmas presents but how they dispose of or exchange any unwanted gifts afterwards. Royal Mail expects a 50 per cent jump in the number of parcels to process on Tuesday 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. Instead of the traditional pile of ill-fitting jumpers and unwanted shirts on shop counters in the month of January, customers are increasingly able to return goods by post.Customers using the Tracked Returns service simply select the name of the retailer or supplier from a list of more than 1,000 brands on the Royal Mail website, print off a label and deposit the parcel at a Post Office.The system also enables retailers to track the progress of returned items as they make their way back to warehouses and stores.Parcel volumes are also likely to be boosted by recipients of gifts selling them off on sites such as eBay, which also rely on the mail system. Unwanted Christmas presents will be sent back on Tuesday Clothes and shoes are the most likely to be returned Clothes and shoes are the most likely to be returned Psychologists say the best time to try to sell on gifts is in the window between Christmas Day and New Year when people are thought to be more receptive to exchanging them and on the look-out for bargains.Separate research by Royal Mail found that clothing and footwear are still the most likely items to be returned and that women are driving the returns boom.A survey of online shoppers  found that 30 per cent of participants said they had returned women’s clothes, almost twice as many as had sent back men’s or children’s clothing. Last year the first full day back after Christmas was nicknamed “mail-back Monday” as Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on Fridays rather than Sundays. Unwanted Christmas presents will be sent back on Tuesday Recent research published by eBay claimed that British people open an estimated 115 million less-than-desirable gifts, worth as much as £2.2 billion, every year.The study, based on a poll of 2,000 adults, found that almost a third of people reported having “little or no attachment” to some gifts only a few days after Christmas.Last year eBay had more than 4,500 items listed specifically as “unwanted Christmas gifts” in the first two weeks of January alone.But those determined to make a killing from unwanted Christmas presents could already have missed the boat.  Royal Mail expects a 50 per cent jump in the number of parcels to process on Tuesdaylast_img read more

Cambridge lecturer defeats exhusband after he tried to halt maintenance payments as

first_imgA Cambridge University lecturer has won a court battle against her lawyer ex-husband who claimed he should not have to pay her maintenance because she is too hardworking.Three judges have refused “belligerent, unhelpful and dictatorial” London solicitor Goran Mickovski’s bid to stop payments to his ex-wife, Kathleen Liddell.The former couple shared a £1.2m family fortune when they split in 2011 after 11 years of marriage.After they broke up, 40-year-old Mrs Liddell moved from part-time to full-time hours despite having “tiny children” to care for, saying she needed to work “as hard as she can” to “survive financially”. I understand and accept her decision to work full time… she is working as hard as she can and she can’t earn any moreJudge Markanza Cudby The case made its way to the Court of Appeal But Lady Justice Macur dismissed Mrs Mickovski’s challenge to Judge Cudby’s order, saying: “The wife says, ‘I need to work in order to survive financially’. She was struggling. Each month her outgoings exceeded her income.”That is why she needs maintenance going forward and why the judge made the findings that she did. The judge congratulated her for getting herself back to work full time with tiny children. “The judge found that the husband had not been accurate in his assertions… she accepted the evidence of the wife. We intend to refuse the husband permission to appeal.”Mr Mickovski was given two months to pay the £34,000 to his ex – who represented herself in court – along with £3,543 in legal costs.He must keep on paying her £723-a-month maintenance until he comes up with the £34,000 lump sum The former matrimonial home in Islington of Kathleen Liddell and Goran MickovskiCredit:Richard Gittins/Champion News The former matrimonial home in Islington of Kathleen Liddell and Goran Mickovskicenter_img Judge Cudby found last year that Mrs Liddell still needed the maintenance payments as she was struggling to make ends meet.”She receives no real financial contribution from her partner,” the judge said, adding: “I’m satisfied that she works hard… I understand and accept her decision to work full time… she is earning £53,000-a-year and I accept she is working as hard as she can and she can’t earn any more.”The judge also branded Mr Mickovski “belligerent, unhelpful and dictatorial” after hearing him give evidence.But his barrister, Stephen Lyon, told the Court of Appeal that Judge Cudby’s decision not to end the maintenance payments had left his ex more comfortable than she needed to be, when by now she should be financially “independent.””The increase in salaried income that she gained by going full-time matched the level of maintenance he was paying, therefore she no longer needed it,” he said.”There was no continuing need for financial support from the former husband at £723-a-month,” he told the judges.Mr Lyon insisted that Mrs Liddell was “in a position now to be independent of the husband and that she could immediately adjust without undue hardship to the immediate termination” of maintenance.The wife’s five-bedroom home “arguably exceeded her needs,” he argued, adding: “There was no consideration of need.””We say the judge gave no reasons for her decision and no analysis. The impression one gets from the judgment is that the judge is saying, ‘you’ve not convinced me you can’t afford it, so you can carry on paying’. That’s not the law, bluntly.” But her 43-year-old ex-husband later took her to court, asking Judge Markanza Cudby to stop the £723-a-month maintenance he had been paying her because his ex-wife’s wages had increased. However, Mrs Liddell was “congratulated” by the divorce judge for her strong work ethic.The judge went on to order her ex-husband to pay her the whole sum of the maintenance she was due for the next four years at once in a £34,000 lump sum.Two more judges at London’s Court of Appeal heard Mr Mickovski challenge that order, arguing that his ex-wife had been left in a financial position that “exceeded her needs”.Lady Justice Macur and Lady Justice Eleanor King heard that the former couple lived in an £800,000 home in Islington, north London, which made up the bulk of their £1.2m wealth.As well as the maintenance payments, Mrs Liddell received a £555,000 lump sum when the marriage broke down and, in return, signed her half of the house over to her ex, who still lives there.The academic used the money to buy a five-bedroom property in Cambridgeshire near her £53,000-a-year job at the University’s law faculty.She now shares the house with her new partner, a chartered accountant, while Mr Mickovski, who is also required to pay child support, has re-married a businesswoman working for British-American Tobacco. The case made its way to the Court of AppealCredit:NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP 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

Eyewitness describes Whitehall terror arrest suspect looked relaxed

first_imgEyewitness Chris Kacyk recalls the arrest of the man suspected of plotting to carry out a terrorist attack in Westminster on Thursday. 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

Prince William and Harry to do their duty to Diana by standing

first_imgDiana, Princess of Wales with Prince William, right, and Prince Harry outside St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle The Royal Family walk behind Diana’s coffin The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has urged broadcasters to treat religion seriously It follows a plea from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Rev Justin Welby, last year for broadcasters to treat religion with “the same seriousness” that it treats politics, economics or drama. BBC broadcaster Roger Bolton, writing in a piece entitled”Why isn’t the BBC taking religion seriously”, has previously argued: “How can young people and immigrants to this country understand the UK without learning of the crucial role Christianity has played in the formation of its political structures and culture?” The Royal Family walk behind Diana's coffin Claudia Winkleman hosts a makeover show “It was beautiful at the same time, and it was amazing, now looking back at it, it was amazing that our mother had such a huge effect on so many people.”When you’re that young and something like that happens to you I think it’s lodged in here, there, wherever – in your heart, in your head and it stays there for a very very long time. “I think it’s never going to be easy for the two of us to talk about our mother, but 20 years on seems like a good time to remind people of the difference that she made not just to the Royal Family but also to the world.” Nigella Lawson Nigella Lawson “I think an element of it is feeling like we let her down when we were younger. We couldn’t protect her. “We feel we at least owe her 20 years on to stand up for her name and remind everybody of the character and person that she was. Do our duties as sons in protecting her.”Prince Harry added: “When she died there was such an outpour of emotion and love which was quite, which was shocking. Diana and her sons in 1995 Claudia Winkleman hosts a makeover show Lucy Worsley A spokesman said of the show, announced last night as part of the BBC’s news Factual season: “From opening fetes to marrying local couples, vicars are knitted into the fabric of country life, acting as a pillar of support in times of crisis and personal sorrow.”Other shows include Earth from Space, broadcasting images of the planet from cameras in orbit, a makeover show hosted by Claudia Winkleman, and a documentary following  Miriam Margolyes around Middle America to explore its politics. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has urged broadcasters to treat religion seriously The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry are to speak for the first time in detail about the moment they heard news of their mother’s death, saying they feel it is their duty to share what really happened to protect her memory.The brothers, who were 15 and 12 when Diana, Princess of Wales died, will speak candidly about the week following the Paris car crash, for a 90-minute documentary on the BBC.In a clip of the show broadcast at a BBC reception, the Duke said they had wanted to take part after feeling they had let her down by failing to protect her in life. “Part of the reason why Harry and I want to do this is because we feel we owe it to her,” he said. Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince William, right, and Prince Harry outside St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle In programmes designed to appeal to older audiences, a new cohort of famous senior citizens will return to the Real Marigold Hotel, and notable public figures will debate “Britain’s Greatest Invention”.Nigella Lawson returns with a new at-home cookery show, and Anne Robinson explores the nation’s views on abortion. A series of programmes will tell the story of the Partition of India on its 70th anniversary.In an unusual commission for BBC Four, Lucy Worsley will host a recreation of a fireworks display designed for Elizabeth I. The programme, announced last night as part of the BBC’s new factual season, will “tell the inside story of the tumultuous and unprecedented week that followed the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and explore how she came to have such an extraordinary effect on the nation and people around the world”, a spokesman said.It joins a season of factual programming ranging from the real life of vicars to fireworks seen by Elizabeth I.The BBC announced its coming documentaries will include a six-part show, A Vicar’s Life, described as a “ heart-warming, observational series” showing life “at the heart of the rural community”. Lucy Worsley Diana and her sons in 1995 Alison Kirkham, controller of factual commissioning at the BBC, said: “Count on us to provide a place for difficult issues and joyous passions to sit beside each other; to embrace complexity and authorship; and to take creative risks and back specialism.“There are programmes that open our eyes to the world, that show us what has never been seen and take us to places we have never been . . . and that entertain and inspire us.“But there are also commissions that interrogate some of the big issues facing our society today  . . . programmes which will be bold enough to ask challenging questions, spark tough debate and target real change.”   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

Young mayor tipped as rising star of Labour party behind bars for

first_imgA teenage politician tipped as a rising star of the Labour Party is behind bars over a sex attack on a fellow youth activist which left her feeling “shattered in a billion pieces”.Dylan McAughey – a former member of the UK Youth Parliament – was just 17 and dressed in a onesie when he forced himself on the young woman during a night in watching movies and eating pizza.McAughey, who was also a youth mayor elect in his hometown of Oldham, Greater Manchester, grabbed the victim’s sleeveless playsuit and undid her bra then began biting her neck and breast as she tried to fight him off. During the 15 minute assault, the girl, a college student, reminded McAughey he had already had a girlfriend – but he laughed and replied: “I don’t like her anymore.” The girl escaped when her mobile phone started vibrating.In a statement to police the victim claimed the assault had pushed her into a “blame process which has shattered that alternative reality into a billion pieces, taking her heart and soul with it”.She said she is so haunted by the incident, she dropped out of university quit her part time job, moved away from her home city and has been referred to an eating disorder clinic following bouts of self harm. Dylan McAughey with MP Debbie AbrahamsCredit:Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd Labour Party aide and member of the British Youth Parliament Dylan McAughey with MP Caroline FlintCredit:Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd The incident occurred on December 29, 2014 after McAughey invited the girl round to his home via a message on Snapchat to give her a Christmas present. McAughey appeared in a televised debate on mental heathCredit:Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd “I tried to get off the bed but he wrapped his arms around me and said: ‘You are not going anywhere; you need to stay’. In the end I managed to push him off and get off the bed. He walked me to my car because it was dark outside and his mother had told him to earlier on.”The court heard McAughey sent the women a Snapchat message on December 30 saying: “I am sorry. I just want to apologise for scaring you I didn’t mean to overstep the mark and I know I have probably f—ed it. I didn’t want to because I really like you.”The second sent on New Years Eve added: “I am sorry I don’t know what else I can say to you. I didn’t mean to upset you. I haven’t slept because I have been to figure out what I have done.”A third read: “Will you come to the police station with me, I shouldn’t be allowed out after what I have done.”McAughey later admitted kissing the girl, now 20, but said all sexual contact was consensual and claimed the Snapchat messages were taken out of context.He claimed the woman “appeared to be blaming all her misfortunes at his door”. “Yet instead of owning up to what you did and apologising, you have consistently tried to worm your way out of this situation. The effect upon her has been immense and all this because you couldn’t or wouldn’t take no for an answer. Dylan McAughey with MP Debbie Abrahams Dylan McAughey with MP Debbie Abrahams Referring to McAughey, the victim added: “I wake up screaming and sweating with flashbacks of that incident. This is no life – it isn’t my life, because I’m no longer living. You broke me more than I ever thought it was possible to break someone. Your work outside curricular studies is impressive but it is also noteworthy that your work around self-image and bullying make it all the more unforgiveable that you took advantage of such a vulnerable girlRichard Mansell QC He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for 10 years and was banned from working with children.The teenager – who was studying law at college in the hopes of becoming a barrister – wrote a letter to trial judge Richard Mansell QC complaining his career prospects had been “dashed by failings in the legal system which he loved and adored”.But the judge told him: “You took advantage of this girl in the most appalling way when she wanted nothing to do with you sexually. McAughey appeared in a televised debate on mental heath “Your work outside curricular studies is impressive but it is also noteworthy that your work around self-image and bullying make it all the more unforgiveable that you took advantage of such a vulnerable girl.”You have demonstrated no remorse for this offence. Not only did you accuse the victim of initiating and enjoying this sexual encounter – you continue to lie and in a letter to me, complain that your hopes of a career in law have been dashed by failings in the legal system.”The legal system has no place for people with attitude like yours and so your loss of career prospects is due entirely to your own actions.”Earlier, the court heard how McAughey had gone into politics after being a youth ranger and in 2011 he was elected by 8,000 people to become a councillor for Oldham Youth Council and became its chairman.In 2014 he clinched a seat in the UK Youth Parliament in 2014 and spoke in a debate that was televised and formally recorded by Hansard about mental health services being made more available for young people.He later became youth mayor elect in Oldham and would pose for numerous selfies with various Labour MPs including Dennis Skinner, Debbie Abrahams and Caroline Flint. Labour Party aide and member of the British Youth Parliament Dylan McAughey with MP Caroline Flint “Then he put his hand behind my back and he undid my bra. I went to reach for my phone but he grabbed my arm. I told him that I needed to go home but at that point he had a clump of my hair in his hands.”Then he pulled my playsuit down and pulled my bra down with it so that I had nothing on. Then he started biting my neck and my nipple. Then he started going further down and biting me and I kept telling him to get off me and that he was hurting me.”The biting was aggressive and he was using his teeth. I was trying to wriggle away but he was still on me. I was crying and telling him that he was hurting me but he just didn’t say anything and just carried on – it must have lasted between 10 to 15 minutes.”He put his hands into my tights and into my underwear and started putting his fingers inside me. He had his legs over mine so they were pinned down. I got a text and he put his head up and I pushed him off and told them that I was going. I grabbed my clothes and put them back on. He was just lying on the bed watching me. “He was just a mate I wasn’t attracted to him. I didn’t have any feeling towards him he was just a friend,” she said.”We had only really met up about two times so I thought it was a bit weird that he got me a Christmas present. When I arrived at his he was wearing trousers and a shirt but then he went and got changed. He appeared from behind the door and was wearing a onesie.”He turned down the lights and pushed me down onto the bed and started kissing my neck. He pulled my tights down and I was crying and saying no but he carried on.”He was biting my nipple and I was trying to push him off but he was too strong. He grabbed my arms and wouldn’t let me go. I just kept wriggling and saying that I needed to go.”She added: “I had no idea he was going to try anything because he had a girlfriend but then he rested his head on my shoulder and that is when he started to kiss my neck.”One hand was on my hip and the other was behind my head. When I told him to stop because he had a girlfriend he laughed and said he didn’t like her anymore anyway. Dylan McAughey with MP Debbie AbrahamsCredit:Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd  “I had to give up everything because you made me give up on myself. I will never forgive you for what you have done to me and how you have stolen so much away from my life and for making me feel that I am worthless. I may never be okay again because of you.”At Manchester Crown Court, McAughey, now 19 and a father of one, denied sexual assault but was convicted after a trial and was sentenced to two years in youth custody. 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

Trumpet crumpet Alison Balsom leads revolt against British Airways over greedy musical

first_img“We will always do our best to accommodate smaller musical instruments in the cabin.“In order to ensure there is enough space for all customers to store their belongings, larger musical instruments can be carried in the hold in a hard case. Alternatively customers can choose to buy an extra seat to carry them in the cabin at a discounted rate.” British Airways has been branded a “greedy disgrace” by one of the world’s leading classical musicians after the airline apparently announced it was charging for smaller instruments brought on board.Alison Balsom, the renowned trumpeter, led a revolt against the airline that prompted a loud and stirring chorus of disapproval. Ms Balsom wrote:   The outcry forced BA to issue a statement apologising for any misunderstanding and an insistence that the policy on carrying small instruments had not changed.Musicians are reluctant to allow precious instruments, often worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, out of their sight and into the hold where atmospheric conditions can also cause damage.On Tuesday, BA’s customer services posted a message to the classical music website, Slipped Disc which stated that from now on instruments carried on flights would be charged.  That’s it, I’m done @British_Airways – we’ve all been so patient with the lowering standards but not to let professional musicians bring on their (small) instruments as hand baggage? We take hundreds of thousands of flights -it’s our living. A greedy disgrace.— Alison Balsom (@alisonbalsom) December 19, 2017 “It’s true that we’ve changed our policy and we’re unable to allow musical instruments to be carried in cabin as hand baggage without charge. We ask all passengers travelling with musical instruments to contact us for assistance prior to their journey,” said BA.Hours later the airline said that advice had been wrong. Larger instruments such as cellos, guitars and double basses would continue to require an extra seat that must be paid for while violins and trumpets and the like, carried in hard cases, could be taken in the hold free provided there is space. A spokesman said: “We are sorry for the misunderstanding. We appreciate how precious instruments are to musicians and offer special arrangements for transporting them, which are detailed on ba.com . Meanwhile Escala, a prominent electric string quartet, said they refused to be bullied by BA into paying for their violins and violas on a trip back to London from Amsterdam two weeks ago.The quartet said in a statement: “There seem to be different rules in different countries. It is so unclear. It makes us nervous every time we approach the BA desk.”center_img The complaint trumpeted by Miss Balsom is hard to ignore. She is one of the classical music industry’s most bankable stars, having twice been named female artist of the year at the Classic Brits.Last week, she was unveiled as the new artistic director of the Cheltenham Music Festival and has been dubbed the ‘crumpet with the trumpet’. Her husband is the Oscar-winning film director Sam Mendes.Ms Balsom’s anger was accompanied by stirrings of discontent from the strings section. Rita Manning, a professional violinist, had complained of being charged £240 for a separate seat for her instrument on a recent flight to Jersey. Her fellow travelling musicians were also been charged.  Alison Balsom Alison Balsom 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

Star Wars fans defy church protests to attend first cinema showing on

first_imgStar Wars fans have defied warnings they were breaching God’s law by attending the first film to be shown in a public cinema on the Isle of Lewis on a Sunday.All 183 tickets were sold for the showing of The Last Jedi, the latest instalment of the space saga, at the An Lanntair arts venue in Stornoway. Others attended a workshop which involved building a model Death Star.Two protestors turned out at the cinema, with a woman holding a placard urging the cinema-goers to keep Sundays holy on the Sabbatarian isle off the west of Scotland.The other protestor, the Rev. David Fraser of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), argued that they should “repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.”David Green, the chairman of the venue’s board, said some staff had faced pressure from their families over the move but argued that no one should be able to dictate to others “what they can and what they cannot do.”The island was traditionally staunchly Presbyterian and its observance of the Sabbath was so strict there was a time when play park swings were chained up at dusk on Saturdays.This has been diluted in recent years with the first commercial flight landing at Stornoway airport in 2002 and the island’s ferries operating on Sundays since 2009, despite fierce protests. Elly Fletcher, the chief executive of the An Lanntair arts venueCredit:Western Isles News Agency An Lanntair has Lewis’s only cinema and will open on the last Sunday of the month until March as a trial. More than half the tickets for next month’s Sunday film, the Pixar animation Coco, have already been sold.The venue conducted a survey showing a “significant majority” back the change but the Rev Fraser, 78, said: “This is a serious breach of God’s law.”The Sabbath is to be kept holy – people are forgetting about higher things and going against the the Christian tradition of our island heritage and culture. There should be freedom of choice within the limits of respect of the religion and culture here.”He added: “We are making our convictions clear – we are not trying to block people going in, but making clear what we believe in and that they should be seeking their own salvation and God’s ways. Spending Sunday in a cinema is not God’s way.” But Mr Green said: “We have been really careful to do this in the least disruptive or offensive way. It is about a quiet afternoon for families. How we continue, and if we continue, with this will be decided at the end of the trial.”The only regret I have is that some members of staff have been put under pressure over this – some have family members who have objections for cultural or religious reasons. But no member of staff has been forced to work on a Sunday.”Hereward Proops, 37, a therapist who attended the showing with his two children, said: “I think it’s fantastic. If people don’t want to go to church they should be allowed to go to the cinema. I think quite a lot of people to want this to happen.””Nobody is going to stop people observing the Sabbath. I cannot understand why people cannot accept choice. Live and let live, I say.” Elly Fletcher, the chief executive of the An Lanntair arts venue 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. Campaigners have raised the funds for a trial opening but leisure facilities, including a swimming pool and sports centre, remain closed on Sundays in observance of the Sabbath.Teeing off on Sundays is banned at the Stornoway Golf Club under a historic clause in the lease with community landlord, although a recent survey showed overwhelming support for it to be allowed.last_img read more