Steph Curry Trails Shaun Livingston In The NBA Finals MVP Race

Andre Iguodala+54+19%+3.2 For all of his supposed offensive woes, Curry has a slight edge on total offensive contribution. But Steph has had an abnormally poor defensive outing. Thus, on a combined points-contributed basis, we can see that Livingston pretty much dwarfs the competition as it stands, having contributed 24.1 points to Steph’s 4.3 and Klay Thompson’s 3.5. Here’s a table with the combined points added for all the Warriors players who have averaged 15-plus minutes in the series, as well as their plus/minuses (from ESPN) and WPAs (per inPredict): After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 on Friday night, the Golden State Warriors are one win away from their second consecutive NBA championship. Moreover, regular-season MVP Stephen Curry finally had a big game, going seven for 13 on 3-pointers and scoring 38 points. In a series with few breakout performances, this may be enough to regain Curry the inside lane on the Finals MVP should the Warriors win in the days ahead.Now, don’t get me wrong: I think Curry is the most valuable player on the Warriors, and would be no matter what. But if there’s going to be a silly award for contributing “value” over a small number of games — and we’re willing to give that award to the Andre Iguodalas of the sport when they step up — Curry’s uneven performance so far still puts him in a pretty sizable hole, especially relative to his backup, Shaun Livingston.Granted, Livingston has averaged 10 points per game (compared with Curry’s 21.5), but he has done it on 16 of 25 shots, for an effective field goal percentage of 64 percent (the highest on the Warriors of anyone with more than 20 shots).More importantly, in his 89 minutes of play (Curry has 131), Livingston has also been an extremely effective defender, with his opponents’ effective shooting coming in at a team-low 28 percent.Livingston has been involved in fewer plays than many of his teammates, but his per-play contribution has more than made up for that deficit. Using qSI (amount scored above/below expectation for each shot) for shots taken and defended, we can sum up the total number of points added by each player on each side of the ball: Draymond Green+36+11%+1.6 Klay Thompson+11+10%+3.5 SHOOTER+/-WPACOMBINED POINTS ADDED Shaun Livingston+31+17%+24.1 Harrison Barnes0+18%-2.3 Warriors averaging at least 15+ minutes per Finals game.Source: NBA PLAYER-TRACKING DATA, espn, Inpredictable Who’s done the most for the Warriors? Stephen Curry+12-1%+4.3 Iguodala leads in plus/minus, and is the choice of some to repeat as MVP. But Livingston holds his own in those much more volatile stats while dominating the tracking metrics. And Curry trails across the board.Of course, the player-tracking doesn’t capture all value contributed, nor does MVP voting hew perfectly to value. If Curry puts up big numbers in a Game 5 victory, he will almost certainly win the award; the same may be true of virtually anyone with the race seeming so wide open. But at this moment, the balance of evidence suggests that Curry’s mid-range-shooting backup has been the most on fire so far. read more

When Spring Training Matters

Jose ReyesTOR.364.228.359-.005 Nick CastellanosDET.337.484.350+.013 Brandon MossOAK.374.571.380+.006 Kolten WongSTL.313.514.326+.013 Mike MoustakasKC.321.615.331+.010 Travis d’ArnaudNYM.318.206.312-.006 A.J. PollockARI.337.503.344+.007 Going into the 2013 baseball season, you would have been forgiven for thinking Marlon Byrd’s days as a relevant player were behind him. He was 35 years old, an age at which most players’ skills have deteriorated significantly. He was coming off a miserable year, one in which he hit .210/.243/.245, was discarded by two teams (the Cubs and the Red Sox, who combined to go 130-194 on the season) and received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for the banned substance tamoxifen.1It remains unclear when exactly Byrd was using performance enhancing drugs, and how much of a residual effect they had on his horrendous 2012 season. Although he signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in February, few thought Byrd would even be serviceable in the upcoming season.Then Byrd went on a tear in spring training. He hit .357/.393/.571 in exhibition games, was subsequently named the New York Mets’ opening-day right fielder and went on to put up the best year of his career — in New York for five months of the season and later, after a trade, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff team since 1992.With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to connect the dots and declare that Byrd’s hot spring set the tone for his renaissance season. But is that what happened? Does an unusually strong March have any predictive power over a player’s performance once the games count?The answer is … well, sort of. To find out what that means for this year’s crop of spring standouts, I looked into all the data since 2006, the earliest season for which lists spring-training statistics. Using wOBA, an advanced metric to measure a batter’s offensive performance,2I used the harmonic mean of plate appearances in each sample as the weights. I ran a weighted correlation3A quick primer on correlations: They measure the linear relationship between two variables, on a scale that runs from -1 (strong negative relationship) to 1 (strong positive relationship). The closer to 0, the less of a relationship there is. between performance in the spring and during the regular season. It revealed a weak relationship between the two variables, at best.4The correlation coefficient was 0.189, which is relatively feeble.You can see that weak relationship below. Each dot on the graph represents a player’s season plotted according to his spring training wOBA and his corresponding regular season wOBA.We also have access to information beyond a player’s spring-training statistics. In the case of a veteran player like Byrd, we know his track record from recent seasons and can use that data to inform expectations for the forthcoming season.But there’s a more sophisticated way to see if spring training matters come the regular season: Use a linear regression5Even quicker regression primer: this method seeks to model a linear relationship between two or more variables. The advantage of regression here is that it can estimate the impact of an increase in one variable (spring training wOBA) while holding the other (preseason projected wOBA) constant. to determine the predictive significance of spring training after controlling for expected performance. And as luck would have it, establishing a baseline of expected performance is where statistical forecasting systems6Such systems seek to set an expected level of performance for each player based on his age, previous statistics and sometimes even comparisons to similar players. can come in very handy.One of those systems was developed by sabermetrician Tom Tango, who releases a set of projections known as the Marcels (so named for the pet monkey from the show “Friends”) before each season. These projections are “so basic that a monkey could compute them,” but they perform no worse than far more sophisticated projection systems — a testament to the fundamental power of a weighted average of recent seasons and a simple aging adjustment. The sabermetricians (and brothers) Jeff and Darrell Zimmerman took the time to calculate historical Marcel projections for players going back to 1901, which we can use to build our regression.We then find that spring productivity is statistically significant when predicting actual performance in the upcoming season, even after controlling for a player’s Marcel projection. However, while significant, the effect is extremely small: To raise his expected regular-season wOBA by just a single point, a typical player would need to hit for a wOBA roughly 17 points higher than expected during the spring.In other words, spring numbers can and should affect our predictions for a player’s regular-season production, but only slightly, and only after a particularly strong or weak performance.Among players likely to get playing time (a minimum of 400 plate appearances, according to Fangraphs’ depth charts), we should keep an eye on the likes of the Tigers’ prospect Nick Castellanos, the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong, the Royals’ Mike Moustakas and the Mariners’ Brad Miller, all of whom are tearing up opposing pitching during the spring thus far. And the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, last year’s National League MVP, could be even better than expected this year given his spring. There’s no guarantee any single one of these guys will use the spring to propel himself to a great regular season — or, conversely, that a rough spring portends certain doom — but the data says these players are more likely to diverge from their projections now than they were just a month ago. Austin JacksonDET.354.544.360+.006 Brad MillerSEA.342.566.352+.010 Skip SchumakerCIN.313.471.319+.006 PlayerTeamProj.wOBASpringwOBARevisedwOBADiff. Andrew McCutchenPIT.402.666.407+.005 Yasiel PuigLAD.397.147.387-.011 Yoenis CespedesOAK.352.145.345-.007 PlayerTeamProj.wOBASpringwOBARevisedwOBADiff. (Revised wOBA is what we would expect for the players’ 2014 wOBA after we factor in their spring performances.)At the other end of the spectrum, the projected everyday players whose poor showings in spring training are most likely to cost them during the regular season are 2013 rookie sensation Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, the Mariners’ Corey Hart, and the Cubs’ Ryan Sweeney and Junior Lake. Jose TabataPIT.340.105.334-.006 Ruben TejadaNYM.315.142.309-.005 Dustin AckleySEA.316.496.323+.007 Abraham AlmonteSEA.335.267.330-.005 Junior LakeCHC.351.166.344-.007 Corey HartSEA.367.209.358-.009 Ryan SweeneyCHC.325.098.317-.008 read more

The National League Finally Is Getting Some Interleague Revenge

Obviously, it’s still early. But even if we limit ourselves to the first 50 interleague games of each season (to make an apples-to-apples comparison with 2018), this is the NL’s best record in interleague play ever, supplanting its 31-19 start in 1999. Back then, the NL was competitive — it ended up winning almost 54 percent of its games against the AL that year. This season might bring a long-awaited return to its old form.Some of the reasons for the change were emerging last year. The DH just isn’t the advantage it used to be; so far this season, AL designated hitters have an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of only .725, their worst mark in nearly three decades. Perhaps that’s why AL teams are just 6-19 (a miserable .240 winning percentage) at home against the NL this year, a complete reversal of the trend that used to fuel American League dominance.The specter of tanking also applies here. Of the nine teams tracking for at least 88 losses in FiveThirtyEight’s MLB prediction model, six (the White Sox, Royals, Orioles, Tigers, Rangers and Rays) are in the AL. 4After Tampa Bay at 88 losses, the next-losingest predicted record belongs to the Oakland Athletics (84 losses), a big gap that probably can serve as the de facto barrier between tankers and simply mediocre ballclubs. Meanwhile, some of the most improved teams in the majors (such as the Braves, Phillies and Pirates) are in the NL, along with a group of already solid teams who got better over the offseason (the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Brewers).Although the AL still has the advantage in top-line talent — only one of this year’s top 10 in WAR (Nationals ace Max Scherzer) is in the NL — things appear to have tilted in the NL’s favor overall. It’s worth noting that the NL has gotten off to a hot start before, only to crash and burn by year’s end: In 2016, it won 30 of the first 50 interleague games… then promptly went 105-145 the rest of the way. So we could end up looking back and thinking how cute it was that the NL had such a large early edge on its AL rivals. But at least there are some reasons to think this year is different, and that the NL’s newfound success is sustainable. For all the talk about conference imbalance in the NBA, basketball isn’t the only pro sport in which one half of the league usually dominates the other.1And the West does dominate in the NBA. Even after a rocky start, it ended up winning the NBA’s interconference battle for the ninth straight season in 2017-18, 221-199. Since baseball’s Interleague play was introduced in 1997, it has largely served as an excuse for the American League to show its superiority: The AL went into the 2018 season having run up a 1,503-1,257 record on the National League in interleague play over the previous decade. How good is that? If the average AL team were playing a 162-game season against its NL counterpart over that span, it would win 88 games — roughly good enough to make the playoffs in the NL most seasons.Why the big disparity? For one thing, the AL has typically had more star power: In the past decade, eight of the top 10 players in baseball according to wins above replacement2Using an average of the WAR versions found at Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. (Mike Trout, Adrian Beltre, Zack Greinke, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia) spent time in the AL, while only three (Clayton Kershaw, Joey Votto and Greinke) played in the NL.3You can extend this further down the list if you want: 13 of the top 15 played in the AL, versus just six in the NL, and so forth. The rule difference that grants AL teams a designated hitter at home also helped them rack up a big home-field advantage over the years.But so far in 2018, the AL’s edge has eroded. After about a month and a half, NL teams are 32-18 against their AL foes, outscoring them 242-208. If this holds, it would be the first time the NL has won interleague play since the 2003 season. read more

Ohio State unable to manufacture runs against Northwestern drops quarterfinals showdown in

OSU freshman Emily Clark (20) during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe Big Ten title hopes for the Ohio State softball team were ripped away by Northwestern University on Friday. No. 6 seed OSU threatened to score several times in the final innings but ended up being eliminated from contention, losing 3-1 to the No. 3 seed Wildcats.The Wildcats were led by a stout defense and solid pitching, and the Buckeyes offense struggled to produce runs, while also giving up too many runs in the first frame of the game.Things got off to a rough start for OSU when the Wildcats scored three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. After a dominating, seven-inning outing against Penn State on Thursday, OSU junior pitcher Lena Springer was pulled after allowing the trio of runs on Friday.Her replacement, junior pitcher Shelby Hursh, held the Wildcats to the three runs they scored in the first, along with striking out six. However, the strong showing out of the Tipton, Indiana, native was not enough to give OSU the win.A few highlight plays by the Buckeyes were potential sparks to fuel a comeback, but the Scarlet and Gray ultimately fell short of advancing in the tournament. OSU redshirt senior shortstop Maddy McIntyre made a difficult play to end the third, reaching far behind her head while racing toward the outfield to catch a line drive. After a pinch-hit single by freshman outfielder Bri Betschel in the top of the fifth, a double play quickly ousted any chance of OSU scoring in the fifth. A typically high-powered lineup for the Buckeyes was shut down by the combination of senior pitchers Amy Letourneau and Kristen Wood from Northwestern. Out of the five hits picked up by OSU, only one was for extra bases: A double by freshman utility player Emily Clark drove in senior outfielder Cammi Prantl for the only run of the game for the Scarlet and Gray.The Buckeyes will now have to wait and see their fate for the NCAA tournament. The team is projected to be within the top 64, but the loss to Northwestern on Friday could hurt OSU’s chances. read more

Ohio State field hockey set to open their season at the University

OSU and University of Delaware are set to face off both days this weekend at noon in Newark, Delaware. 9/02/06Ohio State 2, Delaware 1 (Newark, Delaware) 8/25/07Delaware 4, Ohio State 0 (Columbus, OH) OSU then-sophomore midfield/back Carolina Vergroessen (28) tries to defend the ball from California then-freshman forward Janaye Sakkas (20) during a field hockey game on Oct. 25, 2015, at Buckeye Varsity Field. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Managing EditorThe Ohio State field hockey team opens up its 2016 season with a doubleheader against the No. 14 Delaware Blue Hens.OSU coach Anne Wilkinson welcomes back eight starters, including junior midfielders Maddy Humphrey, Carolina Vergroesen and junior goalkeeper Liz Tamburro. Humphrey and junior midfielder Morgan Kile were the second and fourth leading scorers last year, respectively. In games where Humphrey scored in 2015, the Buckeyes were 6-3. Vergroesen also made a strong impact last year, starting in all 19 games and average 69 minutes per contests.OSU’s defense is also experiencing the return of key players, none more important than Tamburro. The junior led the Big Ten in saves (134) and saves per game (7.1) in 2015. Tamburro also ranks eighth in OSU history with 250 stops in only two seasons.In front of Tamburro is trusted junior defender Caroline Rath. She ranked second nationally with eight defensive saves last fall. Together, Rath and Tamburro, were responsible for being the core of the defensive that led to three shutouts in 2015. As for the Blue Hens, they’re coming back from clinching their third straight CAA title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament last season. Coach Rolf van de Kerkhof welcomes back nine starters and 14 letter winners. This includes senior Esmee Peet, the CAA’s Preseason Player of the Year.OSU vs. University of Delaware HistoryThe Buckeyes and the Blue Hens have met four times in the past and have split the contests. Their last meeting was back in 2008 at the Blue Hen Classic where OSU had a successful 2-1 win in overtime. Previous matches also include:08/25/07: Delaware 4, Ohio State 0 (Columbus, OH)09/02/06: Delaware 1, Ohio State 2 (Newark, Delaware)09/12/81: Delaware 5, Ohio State 0 (Storrs, Conn.) 9/12/81Delaware 5, Ohio State 0 (Storrs, Connecticut) read more

Tressel asks for 5game ban after NCAA upholds players suspensions

Zack Meisel contributed to this story. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has asked for a harsher suspension after the NCAA determined Thursday its initial ruling of a five-game suspension in a case involving five OSU student-athletes will not be reduced. “Throughout this entire situation my players and I have committed ourselves to facing our mistakes and growing from them; we can only successfully do that together,” Tressel said in a press release. “I spoke with athletics director (Gene) Smith, and our student‐athletes involved, and told them that my mistakes need to share the same game sanctions. Like my players, I am very sorry for the mistakes I made. I request of the university that my sanctions now include five games so that the players and I can handle this adversity together.” The ruling comes just eight days after OSU suspended Tressel for two games, as well as fined him $250,000, for withholding information regarding the players’ misdeeds. He was first made aware that the players might have broken NCAA rules on April 2, 2010, when a Columbus attorney, Christopher Cicero, alerted Tressel in his first of a series of e-mails. “Coach Tressel has requested that he sit out the first five games of the 2011 season,” Smith said. “I have accepted his request and we are taking action to notify the NCAA. Until the NCAA has completed its investigation, we will not be publicly discussing the details of this case.” On Dec. 23, the NCAA ruled that five junior Buckeye football players — quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas — would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia, awards and game-worn clothing. Freshman linebacker Jordan Whiting was suspended for one game for receiving discounted tattoos. “While we are disappointed that our appeal request was denied, we respect the NCAA and accept its ruling,” Smith said. “The players are sorry for the disappointment they have caused, will learn from their mistakes and will strive to earn the confidence and support of everyone associated with the university through their future conduct.” OSU began working on an appeal on behalf of the suspended players shortly after the NCAA made its initial ruling on the matter. All six suspended Buckeyes were eligible to participate in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas on Jan. 4, a 31-26 Buckeye victory. In the press release, a Big Ten athletics representative and professor at OSU stressed that the university has been working toward ensuring student-athletes are receiving a proper education regarding NCAA rules and regulations. “The university remains steadfast in its commitment to continually improve the compliance education process,” said John Bruno, faculty athletics representative to the Big Ten and NCAA, and OSU professor of psychology. “We believe that we do a good job in educating our more than 900 student-athletes, but we strive to do better to help them make good decisions.” Besides the suspensions, the players will have to repay benefits they earned, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. This was the university’s final opportunity to appeal. read more

Commentary rainy conditions dont dampen buzz surrounding Presidents Cup

Tiger Woods misses a putt on the 2nd hole during the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, Oct. 5.Credit: Courtesy of MCTRain drenched the Presidents Cup over the weekend, but that did not stop some of the best golfers in the world from showcasing their talents in Jack Nicklaus’ backyard. The spotlight remained on the course, as Tiger Woods and the United States team hung on for an 18.5-15.5 victory over the International squad.This was not my first golf event at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, but it was certainly one to remember. I have been to the Memorial Tournament and played at Muirfield plenty of times before, but there was never that “buzz” in the air that came when watching singles play Sunday. Seeing the U.S. team together gave the feelings of camaraderie and pride, joining with fellow Americans to cheer on our country as they took on the best golfers from around the globe.Sunday, the American team held a sizable 14-8 lead heading into the singles matches, only needing wins in four of the 12 remaining matches to retain the cup. Just one year ago, the Americans were in the same spot in the Ryder Cup, but lost eight of 12 matches on the final day of play, falling to Britain 14.5-13.5 in stunning fashion.The tension from last year’s collapse could be felt in the crowd in the early part of Sunday as the American side dropped four of the first six matches. However, as the day went on, the thought of a repeat collapse disappeared, as Zach Johnson defeated South African Branden Grace. Johnson’s four and two victory put the U.S. on the doorstep, just one point from its fifth-straight President’s Cup victory.I was lucky enough to be near the 18th green as Woods wrapped up the victory for the Americans by securing a win over South African Richard Sterne. The sight of the American side celebrating and rejoicing is something I will remember for a long time, as it was truly a memorable experience to see the U.S. defend its crown and home turf in a convincing fashion.Overall, the rain showers and humid conditions could have made for a less than enjoyable experience for the first three days, but Sunday’s stoppage-free play gave Nicklaus and his course a moment to shine in the world’s spotlight. read more

Ohio State mens hockey teammates have different outlooks as pro prospects

Junior defenseman Sam Jardine (21), senior forward Chad Niddery (19) and senior forward Tanner Fritz (16).Credit: Photo Illustration by Mark Batke / Photo editor, Photos by Kelly Roderick (center), Michael Griggs / For The LanternOhio State men’s hockey senior forward Tanner Fritz stood outside the locker room with his hands tangled inside his shirt. The more he spoke about plans for the future, the more his voice softened.Minutes later, a smile broke across the face of his teammate, junior defenseman Sam Jardine. The Chicago Blackhawks’ draft pick spoke proudly about his draft day, but as he discussed his NHL status, his tone changed from self-confident to self-precautionary: he’s still working toward a contract. As Jardine spoke, Chad Niddery sauntered down the hallway that leads to the OSU locker room. Upon hearing he’d been requested for an interview, the Buckeyes’ senior forward half-jokingly declined his requirement to speak. Why would anyone want to talk to him?Moments later, Niddery, the guy that unsuccessfully suppressed his disdain for interviews, couldn’t mask excitement for the next stage in his hockey career, a stage that will likely earn him another stamp on his passport. Three guys. Three different situations. Three entirely different perspectives on the future. On its roster, OSU has two players who were selected in the NHL Entry Draft and four who were invited to 2014 NHL development camps but have not been drafted. Below is a comparison of three Buckeyes who share the same locker room, but belong to different categories with regards to their future.Senior forward Tanner FritzNHL Status: Undrafted, Attended Chicago Blackhawks Development Camp last JulyAfter graduation, Fritz wants to play professional hockey, and if he can have it his way, he’ll play in North America.Aside from being contacted by the Nashville Predators his sophomore year, Fritz’s invite to the 2014 Blackhawks development camp was his first indication his future might lead to the NHL.The OSU captain has 92 points in 117 games played. He caught the eye of NHL scouts last season when Blackhawks representatives, who were at an OSU–Michigan game to watch Jardine, approached Fritz after the game, he said.Chicago’s representatives believed Fritz fit the Blackhawks’ style of play and wanted to introduce him to the organization, he said.“It’s a pretty humbling experience,” Fritz said of attending the development camp. “Just seeing how fortunate and lucky (the Blackhawks) are … it’s every kid’s dream to be in that position.”Chicago instructed Fritz to make better use of his speed and shot, he said.In his final season, Fritz is working to improve his play with the knowledge that scouts are always in attendance and that small plays can make a big impact. “You know there’s always going to be people watching,” Fritz said. “It doesn’t take much for them to notice you.”Still, Fritz acknowledged there’s a chance he won’t receive additional NHL attention, in which case he might make use his connections in the business to earn a tryout. While NCAA athletes are not permitted to have agents, many have family advisers to assist their career decision-making. Fritz, however, does not have one.He’s a lone rider in limbo, but said he’s not nervous for the future. Junior defenseman Sam Jardine NHL Status: Selected by Chicago Blackhawks in 2011 NHL Entry Draft (169th overall)Jardine had just arrived home when the Blackhawks officially claimed his rights in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Before his selection, he had become uneasy about falling to the sixth round and left his house to calm himself.By the time he had returned, Chicago’s chief amateur scout Bruce Franklin, who recognized Jardine when he was playing for the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, called Jardine to relay the good news: The then-future Buckeye was NHL property. In his third season with OSU, Jardine has 25 points in 74 games played, often logging time on the Buckeyes’ top defensive pairing.With his foot in the door, Jardine is now working toward earning a contract from the Blackhawks when he’s finished at OSU. Unlike Fritz, he has a family adviser. “Everyone always tells you that as soon as draft day comes, you’re right back into the pool with everyone else again,” Jardine said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself.”The Blackhawks are keeping tabs on Jardine. Representatives from Chicago attended multiple games last season and Blackhawks’ development coach Mark Eaton was in Columbus for the OSU–University of Nebraska-Omaha series earlier this year.Jardine will have contact with Chicago throughout the year, but any comments the Blackhawks make are general, as they are wary of infringing on the instruction of Buckeye coach Steve Rohlik, Jardine said. “You put in the work so that you’re performing for the team here, for Ohio State,” Jardine said. “The extra benefit of that is preparing yourself for the NHL.”Senior forward Chad Niddery NHL Status: Undrafted, not invited to a 2014 NHL Development CampThe Buckeyes’ addition of freshman defenseman Janik Möser might have done as much for the team’s blue line as it has for its fourth-year forward applying for dual-citizenship in Germany.“I’ve always dreamed of going overseas,” Niddery said. “I’d love to go to Germany or Sweden or Switzerland and play over there.”Niddery, whose grandmother is German, will often get language lessons from Möser, who grew up in Mannheim, Germany. Knowing basic German is a requirement for citizenship and something Niddery seems to have his heart set on learning before he attempts to play overseas. During a five-minute discussion of his hockey future, Niddery mentioned the prospect of playing professional hockey in North America only in passing. At 24, Niddery said he doesn’t consider the idea of starting in the lower tiers of American or Canadian professional leagues as enticing as his preferred option.He plans to follow the path of two members of the OSU hockey staff. Buckeye director of hockey operations Layne LeBel and associate coach Brett Larson each played professional hockey in Germany.The connections will be key for Niddery, the senior said. European recruiting is mostly done via word of mouth.“I’m at the age where I have buddies that (play) over there now,” Niddery said. “Basically you just have to network as much as you can just to get that one opportunity.”Niddery’s optimism comes during what might be his career-best season. He’s logged one goal and three assists through 11 games, four points shy of last year’s career-best point total for a season.Any nerves for the future are hidden by his electric excitement. “Get paid to play hockey overseas? Man, that’s living the dream,” Niddery said. “That’s how I look at it.”As the three teammates ponder their professional futures, the Buckeyes are just one game into Big Ten play. OSU fell to Michigan State, 3-1, Thursday night at the Schottenstein Center to start off its conference season. read more

Plant winter flowers to help bees survive till spring Government urges

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. While most wild bees exist in a state of near hibernation throughout winter, greater availability of food improves their chances of surviving until the following spring.Lord Gardiner, Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, said: “Bees are a much-loved feature of the English summertime and crucial contributors to our biodiversity and our economy.“But it’s important not to forget bees’ needs during the winter months too, when providing food and a home are much more important than ever.“Planting evergreens for winter food and leaving areas of gardens undisturbed throughout the winter to provide homes mean we can all help pollinators emerge safely in the spring.” People should install evergreen plants in window boxes and allow sections of their gardens to grow wild to help bees survive the winter, the Government has urged.Experts are calling for a nationwide effort to protect the threatened species during the cold months, including boosting food supplies by planting winter-thriving shrubs and ivy, as well as early flowering bulbs like crocus and snowdrop.Garden owners are also encouraged to leave suitable places for hibernation undisturbed, by letting areas of lawn grow long, in particular north-facing banks, where bees like to burrow.Bee numbers have declined sharply in recent decades, mainly due to a 97 per cent reduction in flower-rich grasslands since the 1930s and use of agricultural pesticides.center_img Tim Lovett, from the British Beekeepers Association, said increasing the availability of winter plants would only work as long as bees felt inclined to leave their nests to find them.“The main mitigating factor is the weather,” he said.“Until the last few days it’s been quite mild.“Bees don’t just put on a scarf and head down to the shops.“If it’s cold they won’t go out.”Yesterday the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs lauded projects to bolster bee numbers, including one in Sydenham, South London, which has used “green manure” to encourage growth of winter plants.last_img read more

Breast cancer drug that costs just 4p could save lives of women

first_imgA pill that halves the risk of breast cancer among high risk women and costs just 4p per day should be offered on the NHS, the drugs watchdog will announce.Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will mean around 600,000 healthy women should be given the chance to take anastrozole.The drug has been shown to halve the chances of developing breast cancer for high-risk post-menopausal women. Women could be offered the drug by their doctorCredit:Andrew Matthews /PA Nice estimates that around 622,970 women would be eligible to be offered anastrozole by their doctors. It is thought that the new recommendation could save around 39,000 women over the age of 50 from the disease.Nicola Smith, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Taking a pill to reduce the risk of breast cancer is an encouraging new option for post-menopausal women at high risk of the disease.” Baroness Delyth Morgan of Breast Cancer Now told the Daily Mail: “Studies have shown anastrozole cuts the risk of the disease in post-menopausal women by more than 50 per cent in the first five years, and, crucially, it has fewer side effects than other preventive options such as tamoxifen and raloxifene. “However – like tamoxifen – anastrozole is not licensed for this purpose, and we are concerned that patients will therefore not be able to access this treatment, despite this recommendation.” A trial found taking anastrozole for five years cut the risk of contracting the disease by 53 per cent among that high-risk group. The findings about the efficacy of the drug  by Queen Mary University and Cancer Research UK three years ago were described by campaigners as bringing the scientific community “one step closer to creating a future without breast cancer”. The drug was also found not to have side effects like acute aches and pains.Anastrozole belongs to a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. It blocks production of oestrogen and is used to treat post-menopausal women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer. 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. Taking a pill to reduce the risk of breast cancer is an encouraging new option for post-menopausal women at high risk of the diseaseNicola Smith, Cancer Research UK GPlast_img read more