September 16

Syracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about Wake Forest

first_imgSyracuse will begin its two-game road trip to the state of North Carolina with a game against Wake Forest on Saturday at noon in Winston-Salem. The Orange (11-7, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) is coming off its first win of the ACC season, a 62-40 drubbing of Boston College (7-9, 0-3) on Wednesday night.Wake Forest (10-6, 1-3), losers of four of its last six, gets a chance to right the ship at home against the Orange.Here’s everything you need to know about the Demon Deacons.All-time series: 3-0 in favor of SyracuseLast time they played: Syracuse needed overtime and a 35-point effort from Rakeem Christmas on Jan. 13, 2015 to defeat Wake Forest, 86-83. Christmas hit six free throws in the game’s final 43 seconds to come back from being down by nine points in the second half. The win improved the Orange to 4-0 in the conference at the time.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I don’t mind being in this situation,” Christmas said after the game. “I get the ball a lot. I can make plays down there. I can find my teammates. I just want to help my team win.”Wake Forest Report: WFU is coming off its worst loss of the season, a 93-91 home defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech. As a whole, though, the Demon Deacons have been a pleasant surprise. They have wins over Indiana – a team undefeated in Big 10 play — as well as UCLA, Arkansas, LSU and North Carolina State. They have lost three games on the season at home, including a 91-82 defeat to Richmond. WFU’s greatest weakness is its turnover margin. It turns the ball over at a 19.5 percent rate, but only forces turnovers at a 14.8 percent clip, which ranks 336 out of 351 teams, per KenPom. Wake is a team that gets up and down the court and has three players that average in double-figures in points, led by forward Devin Thomas at 16.9 per game. WFU was also recently boosted by the return of Codi Miller-McIntyre, who returned from an injury in December.How Syracuse beats Wake Forest: Syracuse needs to play to Wake Forest’s weakness and force turnovers and get in transition. On the flip side, it needs to protect the ball against a team that struggles to create those types of chances for itself. Syracuse also can’t let Wake Forest use its size advantage. Wake Forest is one of the nation’s better offensive rebounding teams, but Syracuse has been the better rebounding team in each of its past two games. That trend needs to continue. Teams play slowly on offense against Syracuse and Wake is a team that likes to push the pace. If Syracuse is forcing turnovers and making shots difficult for Wake, then it plays right into SU’s preferred pace.Statistic to know: Wake Forest allows around 36.9 points on average in the first half of games, but 41.9 points in the second half of games. In total it has allowed 590 first half points and 670 second half points. And despite being 10-6 on the season, Wake Forest has been outscored 1260-1244 on the year.Player to watch: Last year, Konstantinos Mitoglou went off for 26 points against Syracuse on 10-of-13 shooting. Last year, a healthy Miller-McIntyre dropped 24. This season, though, has been all about Thomas, who is averaging a double-double for the Deacons. He gets to the line a lot, and is eighth in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, per KenPom. While he’s on the court, he blocks 6.3 percent of opponents’ 2-point attempts, which is also among the tops in the country. He’s been a presence this season for a team that has more than half its scoring come inside the 3-point arc. Comments Published on January 14, 2016 at 10:09 pm Contact Sam: sblum@syr.edu | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

September 16

Women’s swimming captures first Pac-12 title in history

first_imgThe last time the USC women’s swimming and diving team won a conference championship, most of the current swimmers’ and divers’ parents were still in high school. The year was 1985 — a year before the then-Pacific 10 began recognizing women’s athletics — when the Trojans swam their way to the Western Collegiate Athletic Association title.Just over three decades later, the Trojans are conference champions once again.Led by solid veteran leadership and explosive young talent, the No. 4 USC women’s swimming and diving team beat the odds to defeat Stanford, the nation’s top-ranked team; Cal, the defending conference and NCAA champions, as well as six other teams to capture the crown. A year after the men’s swimming and diving team won their first conference championship in 36 years, head coach Dave Salo understood the impact that the win had on not only this team but the entire Trojan family that they represent.“There is nothing better than making Trojan alumni and fans proud of their Trojans,” Salo said. “The drought of team championships is over for USC.”Historically, USC has boasted several outstanding individual swimmers but hasn’t been able to put together the team effort it takes to win a collective title. That script was flipped this year, as the Trojans — despite only winning three events — won the championship by over one hundred total points.USC, who finished third in the 2015 Pac-12 Championships, posted a total of 1481 points. They were followed by No. 1 Stanford, who scored 1344, and No. 6 California, with 1306. From there, the gaps between schools widened: Arizona came in fourth with 1125 points, and UCLA, Utah, Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State all finished with fewer than 1000 total points.One of USC’s individual winners, junior swimmer Chelsea Chenault, was there when the Trojans fell short of their goal last season.“It’s just an awesome experience to be the first team to ever win the Pac-12 Championship for our school,” Chenault said. “We’ve just been so strong, we’ve been fighting on this whole year.”Chenault was the individual winner in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday evening, and freshman Elizabeth Stinson went the distance on Saturday night to win the 1650-yard freestyle. They would be the only two Trojans to win their individual events.“Nothing is more satisfying than a team championship, especially when it was as balanced as this was,” Salo said. “No one star propelled this. It was everyone taking responsibility and making a contribution.”USC’s other team victory came in the 800-yard freestyle relay on the first night of the championships, when the quartet featuring freshmen Kirsten Vose and Allie Wooden, and juniors Anika Apostalon and Chenault obliterated the school record with a time of 6:55.17. Their finish in the 800 free was good for an NCAA “A” cut time and is currently the nation’s top time in the event this year.While the Trojans certainly deserve to celebrate after their first-ever Pac-12 conference title, they won’t have long to relax. The NCAA Championships begin in mid-March at Georgia Tech, and with the confidence the team has built up after winning the conference title, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in position to compete for their first national championship since 1997.“The lesson learned throughout this championship was that when we put our mind to something we can get it done,” Salo said. “But at this point, winning the Pac-12 championship was one of those events that can transform a team not just for the immediate NCAA championship but for many championships we may face over the next several years.”With only ten graduating seniors on the roster of 34 swimmers and divers — including fifteen talented freshmen — this may not be the last time we see the Trojans at the top of their conference in the near future.last_img read more

August 26

Hoornstra: Entrepreneurs emerging from baseball’s analytic curtain offer a peek at what’s next

first_img Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield For Buffi and Fearing, it isn’t hard to imagine opportunities for growth. The principles they studied in college, and practiced with the Dodgers, readily apply across multiple sports and ability levels.“Fifteen years ago, you stared at hours of video looking for things on a pitcher, which is not generalizable to anything,” Buffi said. “Now you’re applying a machine-learning algorithm to rows of data. That’s very generalizable.”Therein lies a polarizing sentiment. Some will hear the sound of the passion draining from their beloved game. To others, the idea of the local baseball team as a springboard for private entrepreneurship sounds invigorating. Before long – I think – the takeaway will be much more relatable. The expansion of analytics departments across baseball, and all sports, will evoke more human faces and more universal stories.Fearing grew up rooting for the Dodgers in the San Fernando Valley, cheering Kirk Gibson as he rounded the bases in 1988. Buffi compensated for his slight frame as a pitcher in Little League by mastering a curveball, which he kept throwing until he graduated from high school. His arm never fell off. For now, these are the foundations of the stories just beginning to emerge from behind baseball’s analytic curtain. Harvard-Westlake alum Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Team photo day at Dodger Stadium requires time and space. One afternoon each year, all the players and coaches walk from the clubhouse to left field. They climb a series of portable bleacher seats to assemble a sea of white, outnumbered by rows of non-uniformed staff. A team photographer ascends a tall ladder. Several photos are snapped. The process lasts about 90 minutes from set-up to tear-down.Wednesday was team photo day at Zelus Analytics in Austin, Texas, where president Doug Fearing and his seven full-time employees were quickly on to bigger and better things. In Culver City, Reboot Motion co-founder and CEO Jimmy Buffi hasn’t even scheduled a photo day yet. His company has barely existed for a month. It consists of two employees: co-founder Evan Demchick and Buffi, whose commute now spans the length of his bedroom.Fearing and Buffi recently comprised 10 percent of the Dodgers’ research and development team. A year ago, Fearing left to launch his own startup analytics firm. Buffi did the same after the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs in October. Their exits from baseball did not shake the industry. They occurred in relative darkness next to those of two former general managers – Ned Colletti became a pro scout for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks in September, and Paul DePodesta has been the Cleveland Browns’ chief strategy officer since 2016.But the determination of Fearing and Buffi to strike out on their own – or, more preferably, capture the private sector’s version of an elusive World Series championship – is more instructive. It casts the existence of a team like the Dodgers as not a social institution, or merely a big business, but as a development vehicle for entrepreneurs whose innovation might be incidental to the actual game of baseball.center_img To put this in context, go back to last winter. Several teams went on a surprising hiring spree, plucking coaches from the ranks of independent consultants. Robert Van Scoyoc (Dodgers), Johnny Washington (Padres) and Tim Laker (Mariners) became major league hitting coaches in the span of a month. A fourth Craig Wallenbrock disciple, Brant Brown, was named the Dodgers’ hitting strategist. The Angels reached even farther outside of the box by hiring Derek Florko, who had never worked in professional baseball, to be the hitting coach at Class-A Inland Empire.The trend hasn’t slowed. In October the Reds hired Kyle Boddy, the founder of the independent Driveline training facility, to be the team’s director of pitching initiatives/pitching coordinator. If outside consultants gaining acceptance into professional baseball is what’s now, the career arc of Fearing and Buffi could signal what’s next.To understand why you have to appreciate the skill set of an analyst like Fearing or Buffi.Fearing got his Ph.D. in operations research from MIT in 2010. Buffi got his Ph.D. in biomechanical engineering from Northwestern in 2014. The data they crunched for the Dodgers had direct bearing on the players on the field, but their academic training was not specific to baseball.“I think the typical model was, you’re a college kid, you show up at the Winter Meetings, you get an internship,” Buffi said. “A lot of them have sports management degrees. Your whole experience/skill-set is highly baseball-specific. That just ends up being your career. “But my experience with the Dodgers is that the things being implemented now are more generalizable. Sensors, computer vision, machine learning, statistics – all the things like ‘big data’ that people are now implementing in pro organizations – this only started to become a thing in the past five-ish years – these things are much more generalizable.”Fearing agreed.“The past five years there’s been a ton of innovation that is not in any way limited to R&D,” he said. “It’s across the organization, bringing in good people at every level. For the Dodgers to create that environment is not surprising.”If Moneyball introduced the metaphor of a pendulum swinging from scouting to analytics, Fearing and Buffi are out to prove we need a new metaphor. Billy Beane once told a reporter that he was more worried about losing Farhan Zaidi, then an executive in the Oakland A’s front office, to Apple or Google than to a rival baseball team. That fear was never realized. Zaidi left the A’s for the Dodgers and now works for the Giants.To hear Buffi and Fearing describe their hopes, their ambitions, their short- and long-term goals, is spiritually reminiscent of Silicon Valley, if not Silicon Valley. Buffi performed his doctoral research on optimizing the mechanics of baseball players before this data was coveted by actual MLB teams. He likes to repeat something he was told by his skeptical peers in college: “Jimmy, this is super cool research you’re doing, but we have no idea how you’re going to get a job doing it.”Buffi’s first baseball opportunity came via Boddy, working for Driveline. His second came from the Dodgers. It wasn’t until recently, however, that Buffi saw the possibilities for scaling his passion project upward and outward to the public.“Back in 2014-15, the only viable way to get 3D human movement data in sports was marker data: you have to stick 50 of these reflective balls all over your body,” he said. “It’s a super-annoying process. The system cost $50,000. I wanted it to be accessible by a lot of people. The system itself made it impossible to scale. That’s why I didn’t start the company back then.”Now, Buffi said, he can see the possibilities for a 3D motion-capture app on the iPhone – and not just for baseball players. He’s already working on a prototype for golf. Who can analyze, customize, and interpret the results of sophisticated data for ambitious coaches and athletes? Reboot Motion, he hopes.Fearing has so far landed six MLB teams as clients, one in each division. He’s already thinking about which major sports league might be his next frontier.“Teams are starting to recognize there’s value in investing in the analytics space,” he said. “This is creating a new avenue to make those investments. One thing (Zelus) can do that’s hard to do internally, it’s hard to find external references when you’re working in a team environment because the only groups that have access to the same information are other teams, and they’re hesitant to share information. We allow our partner teams to compare and contrast the work they’re doing internally with ours.”Related Articles Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros last_img read more

August 16

Les Miles addresses Pooka Williams at Big 12 Media Days, stands by one-game suspension

first_imgMiles, of course, referred to KU running back Pooka Williams — a preseason first-team media selection on the 2019 All-Big 12 team and a 1,125-yard rusher last season. He was reinstated last week after a seven-month suspension following a domestic violence charge.MORE: Major storylines for all Power 5 media daysMiles anticipated the question and addressed it in his opening comments.“I did not make this decision,” Miles said. “But I stand by it and see is as a right one.”Williams returned to the program last week. He will serve a one-game suspension this season and will sit out the Jayhawks’ opener against Indiana State.“Action was taken immediately,” Miles said. “We felt like a strong point was made, not only with Pooka but with the team, the idea that for 7 1/2 months, Pooka was going through a process and he didn’t have the opportunity to spend time with his team, go to the weight room, just be a part (of the team).“Pooka went through a legal investigation with the legal community. Pooka also went through proceedings with the conduct board with the university. Basically, understood very much that if he did not meet the criteria that the board asked, that this would not last long, and he really met every criteria that he could.”Also on Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby clarified the Big 12’s policy on dealing with athletes who are accused of or commit domestic violence.“It’s not a domestic violence policy,” Bowlsby said. “It’s a ‘serious misconduct’ policy so it covers domestic violence but also a wide variety of other things.“The Kansas process followed what our misconduct policy describes, and that is that the decision is made outside of the athletics department and within university higher administration. That’s the level at which that decision was made.”MORE: Big 12 Media Days team schedules, players attendingWilliams was arrested on assault charges after an incident with his girlfriend in December. She told police Williams punched her in the stomach and grabbed her throat. The Kansas City Star has reported the woman showed police text messages from Williams admitting to punching her in the arms.A police officer found bruises on the woman, according to an affidavit. Williams claimed the bruises came from trying to lead her out of an apartment and into the hallway to talk, and then when he tried to move her out of his way as he left.“He’s taken responsibility,” Miles said. “He’s been remorseful. He’s learned from this experience, as has our team. We’re thankful to have him back. And again, no violence against a woman is OK.” ARLINGTON, Texas — New Kansas coach Les Miles got in front of the question before anyone could ask it.“There is no proper way to put it,” Miles said Monday during his time on the podium at Big 12 Media Days. “There is no violence — violence will not be accepted with women. Period.” Williams later released a statement through the university.“My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m very sorry to those who were impacted by my poor choices,” he said. “I am disappointed in myself, not just as a man, but as a student-athlete looked up to by younger kids. My suspension from football has been hard, but I have learned from it. “I’m thankful I can continue with my education at KU. Looking ahead, the most important thing to me is to regain the trust and respect of my classmates, teammates, and fans. I am humbled to return to football and to prepare for the season.”last_img read more