John Terry has been ruled out of Chelsea’s trip to Japan for the World Club Cup but Frank Lampard has been passed fit to return to action following a calf problem.Lampard is back in full training and has been included in the Blues squad for Saturday’s match against Sunderland.However, Daniel Sturridge has failed to recover from a hamstring problem in time for the game and a decision will be taken this weekend on whether the forward will go to Japan.Interim manager Rafael Benitez planned to take Terry to Asia but has been advised that a long flight may hinder the captain’s recovery from a knee injury.Benitez confirmed: “Sturridge is training but it is too early. He will not go to Sunderland and we will see if we can do something for Japan.“Terry will not fly as it will not be the best solution for him. He will not go to Japan.“Lampard is in the squad and will go to Japan. It’s disappointing for the other two but at least we have one more body.“Frank is an experienced player. We have a good team and a good squad but we need players with more experience. He can make a difference.”Click here for the Sunderland v Chelsea quiz See also:Benitez hopeful of January signingsTerry may not play against LeedsBone bruising prolongs Terry’s injury 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
2 March 2016George Airport is only the second in the world that uses solar energy, following Cochin International Airport in India.The first phase of the George solar project, officially opened by the Department of Transport and the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), is part of a R16-million plant that converts solar energy into direct current electricity using solar panels. The operation produces 680 kilowatts a day and powers 41% of the airport, with the aim to convert to 100% function by the end of the year.Acsa describes the new project as the best way to reduce energy demand from the national grid and harness solar power to power smaller airports around the country. The initiative is part of the company’s Vision 2030. It plans to open two more solar plants to serve Kimberley and Upington over the next two years.Acsa launches R16m solar power plant at George Airport https://t.co/lOHa1tWmM1 News via @EngNewsZA pic.twitter.com/dpkNgzj4Di— African Construction (@AfriConstruct) February 29, 2016The project falls under Acsa’s strategic environmental objectives which, in addition to reducing energy consumption, include minimising water consumption, increasing waste recycling, eradicating noise pollution and using energy efficient materials in all airports.“Sustainability, in terms of our environment, means that we need to over time be very careful about how we use any form of energy and then also other natural resources, like water,” says Acsa group executive, Andre Vermeulen. “As a company, we have got a plan in terms of our footprint, in terms of how we are going to consume electricity and water – especially electricity. It is about reducing our carbon footprint and becoming a carbon neutral company.”George Airport manager Brenda Vorster welcomed the project, which currently powers the airport’s car rental area, cargo warehousing, flight schools and airline offices, adding that “our second phase will be starting within the next year”.Transport Minister opens George Airport Solar Plant https://t.co/NU4cyI5WWx @DipuoPeters @WCGovTPW @Airports_ZA pic.twitter.com/lhttcDtMOv— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) February 26, 2016Minister Peters calls the project an enhancement for not only the airport industry, but also for the people of the area. “This is a way of contributing jobs. There were people who worked here during construction and we now know there are about 16 permanent jobs that have been created by this plant at the airport. We are also happy to indicate that the other regional airports will also be looking at how they’ll be able to introduce renewable energy.”Energy and transport were two crucial government portfolios in fulfilling the goals of the National Development Plan’s own Vision 2030 for the development of the country as a whole, she added.Source: News24
In this edition, we look back at the National Championships held between 1990 through to 1993, as well as the All Stars of Touch teams selected from the events. There wasn’t a National Championships held in 1989, due to the timing and location of the 1990 National Championships, to be played in Darwin. The 1990 National Championships in Darwin were the first to be held in the Northern Territory. Ashley Macrinos from the NT News wrote in one of his stories that although the home side didn’t have much luck on the field on the first day of the competition, it wasn’t all bad news. “The Northern Territory tasted success despite not winning a game on the first day of the Asics National Touch Football Championships at the Fannie Bay fields in Darwin yesterday.”“The NT was voted the best dressed State at the Titles for the first time in the Championships ten-year history,” Macrinos wrote. The NT News also quoted ATA President, Ken Wells, who gave the venue a huge wrap.“These fields are the best in the history of the titles. The lighting is superb. It is only the second time that the titles have been played under lights,” he told the NT News.New South Wales won back the Championship title in 1990, following their loss to Queensland for the first time in the previous Championships in 1988. Queensland, however, did win the Men’s Open division. After drawing the game 3-all, Queensland took out the title due to the fact that they finished higher on the competition table. The Queenslanders also won the Women’s 27’s division in the same fashion after their nil-all draw at the conclusion of their game. New South Wales won the Women’s Open title back in 1990 with a 4-0 win over Queensland, following their loss to their arch rivals in 1988. New South Wales also claimed the Mixed Open, Men’s 30’s, Men’s 35’s and Men’s 40’s divisions. The tenth National Championships was held at Canberra’s Bruce Stadium in March, 1991. Tasmania and Victoria both did not participate in the titles, making it the first titles since 1982 where all states weren’t represented. The Championships were opened by the Federal Minister for Sport, Ros Kelly, with the march-past being held at Parliament House. The ACT Women’s Open side started off the tournament strongly, as Graham Cooke from the Canberra Times reported.“With a second-half display as bright as the autumn sunshine bathing Bruce Stadium, the ACT Women gained a historic victory over Queensland on day one of the Australian Touch Championships. Touchdowns by Laura Basford, Lisa Camden and Jenny McClung, the last coming inside the final minute of play, gave the home side a 3-2 victory, fighting back from being 0-2 down.”“The ACT got better as the game progressed and the key to its win was the standard of communication among its players,” Cooke said in his story. New South Wales took a clean sweep in the Open’s divisions, winning back the Men’s Open title with their 4-3 win over Queensland in extra time, while also taking out the Women’s and Mixed Open divisions over Queensland. New South Wales defeated the ACT in the Men’s Over 30’s division. The result of the game was nil-all at full time and New South Wales were awarded the title due to being higher on the competition table. New South Wales also had victories in the Men’s Over 35’s and Men’s Over 40’s divisions over Queensland, while Queensland won their only title when they defeated New South Wales 2-1 in extra time in the Women’s Over 27’s division. The presentation function was held at the National Convention Centre where Australian teams to compete at the Second World Cup in Auckland later in the year were announced. The Eleventh National Championships moved back to Hobart, Tasmania in 1992 and while the weather was questionable, it failed to dampen anyone’s spirits. Peter Staples from the Hobart Mercury reported on the opening ceremony of the event. “As the band played Waltzing Matilda, the elite of Australia’s touch footballers marched along Bligh Street, Rosny, yesterday to launch the start of the Australian Touch championship to be played at Wentworth Park this week.”“Hobart last hosted the national Touch championships in 1983 but the sport has since grown enormously in popularity throughout Australia and is played competitively in New Zealand, Japan and USA,” Staples wrote in his article. Queensland’s Men’s Open team won its third title in four years in 1992, with its 3-2 win against New South Wales after the match went into extra time. New South Wales made it three successive Women’s Open titles when it defeated Queensland 3-2 with seconds left on the clock. Queensland also won the Women’s 27’s and Men’s 35’s division 3-1 in each game, while New South Wales defeated Queensland in the Men’s 30’s and Men’s 40 division. President of the ATA, Mr Paul Jonson, praised the Hobart tournament, saying that it was the best championship in eleven years of national competition.1993 signalled the move to the Tempe Velodrome in Sydney for the twelfth National Championships. In the lead up to the event, the Sunday Telegraph’s David Vujanovic wrote a preview on the Championships, saying:“In the premier divisions of the Men and Women’s Open, competition could not be tighter. The New South Wales team should reach the final in what is expected to be the highlight (of the Championships),” Vujanovic’s said in his story. And Vujanovic was correct in his predictions, with all three Open’s divisions going right down to the wire. Queensland’s Women’s Open team and New South Wales Men’s Open team both caused upsets, defeating their respective arch rivals in the final. New South Wales and Queensland also battled it out in the Mixed Open division, with New South Wales taking the win 2-1 in a drop off. Queensland took out the Men’s 30’s division with a 1-0 win over New South Wales, while New South Wales were winners over Queensland in both the Men’s 35’s and Men’s 40’s divisions. 1990 All Stars of TouchScott Notley (QLD), Paulette Oldham (QLD), Glen Haslam (NSW), Stacey Gregory (NSW), Kerry Norman (QLD), Andy Yiangou (NSW), John Fielding (WA), Peter Buckland (QLD), Sue Dorrington (NSW), Eddie Hilaire (NSW), Joanne Van Der Griend (NSW), Adrian Lam (QLD), Michelle Clough (NSW), Jamie Thomas (NSW).Coach of the Year: Maria Arthur (SA), Manager of the Year: Narelle Thompson (NSW) Referee of the Year: Tim Freebody (QLD), Official of the Year: Bob Watts (ACT – Tour Manager). 1991 All Stars of TouchJamie Black (NSW), Katrina Maher (NSW), Stacey Gregory (NSW), Tony Howard (NSW), Garry Lawless (ACT), Mick McCall (NSW), Donald Smith (QLD), Judy Malcolm (NSW), Darryl Fry (QLD), Michelle Clough (NSW), Jamie Thomas (NSW), Amanda Baska (QLD), Darren Shelley (NSW), Garry Clarke (NSW).Coach of the Year: Peter McNeven (QLD), Manager of the Year: Ian Rogers (QLD), Referee of the Year: Greg Summers (QLD), Official of the Year: Brian Rooney (NSW – Head Coach). 1992 All Stars of TouchMark Boland (NSW), Joanne Wong (NSW), Steve Hancock (QLD), Trevor Philips (QLD), Peter Buckland (QLD), Kerry Norman (QLD), Debbie Biddolph (NSW), Renee Clark (QLD), Alex Illin (QLD), Michael McGovern (ACT), Patrick Grehan (QLD), Kobie Jones (NSW), Jamie Thomas (NSW), Scott Notley (QLD). Coach of the Year: Garry Giles (NT), Manager of the Year: Ralph Powell (QLD), Referee of the Year: Tim Freebody (QLD), Official of the Year: Graeme Murphy (ATA Development Officer). 1993 All Stars of Touch Greg Young (QLD), Andy Yiangou (NSW), Ron Chilby (NSW), Teena Jennings (ADF), Darren Shelley (NSW), Katrina Maher (NSW), Mark Boland (NSW), Sharon Williams (QLD), Jeff Bartlett (NSW), Judy Malcolm (NSW), Giselle Tirado (NSW), Peter Marsh (QLD), Angela Daley (QLD), Stacey Gregory (NSW). Coach of the Year: Peter Bell (QLD), Manager of the Year: Ian Rogers (QLD), Referee of the Year: Rick Borg (QLD), Official of the Year: Bill Ker (QLD – Executive Director). Stay tuned to the TFA website for upcoming editions on the history of the National Championships. Touch Football Australia is calling on the Touch Community far and wide to celebrate 30 years of National Championships. Have you booked your tickets to the 30 Year Celebration Breakfast to be held on Sunday, 14 March, the day after the 2010 X-Blades National Touch League? Call Touch Football Australia on (02) 6212 2800 to book your seat.
By Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsCree NDP MP Romeo Saganash has asked Canada’s auditor general to probe the millions of dollars Ottawa spends fighting Aboriginal rights and title cases.Saganash sent a letter to Auditor General Michael Ferguson requesting an operational audit of the expenditures to determine whether Ottawa is using taxpayer money wisely and efficiently battling First Nations over rights.“I am asking that your office conduct an investigation into the government’s policies and practices to oppose the status and rights of Aboriginal peoples and defend itself in the courts,” wrote Saganash in the June 12 dated letter. “Such adversarial actions serve to unjustly deplete Aboriginal peoples’ financial resources and do not promote reconciliation.”The federal Aboriginal Affairs department spent over $100 million between 2012 and 2013 on legal fees, according to federal government records. The department’s own internal risk assessment found that a lot of the litigation money has been spent on losing causes.“As (First Nations) become impatient with outcomes, they often move disputes into the courts in order to increase the pace of resolution. Courts increasingly rule that the federal government is not living up to the ‘Honour of the Crown’ obligations,” according to the department’s risk profile for 2011.Ottawa has also recently twice challenged the rulings of the Specific Claims Tribunal, which was created to settle outstanding historical claims that had reached a stalemate at the negotiating table.The Federal Court of Appeal handed a loss to Ottawa earlier this month on one of those challenges, upholding the tribunal’s ruling in favour of the Kitselas First Nation.Ottawa is also challenging a tribunal ruling that sided with the Williams Lake Indian Band.In the letter, Saganash said he’s requesting the audit because federal departments have failed to adequately respond to his requests for clarity the amount of money specifically spent battling rights and title cases.“The answers to these requests…have been lacking,” wrote Saganash. “With many departments stating that this information was not ‘readily available.’”firstname.lastname@example.org@JorgeBarrera
CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It’s sat empty ever since the Calgary Public Library moved its central location to the East Village in November, but it won’t stay that way for much longer.First opened in 1963, the Castell Building will remain a place of knowledge and learning, thanks to a partnership between the University of Calgary and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.“We’re very excited for this partnership with CMLC, between the University of Calgary and specifically the Faculty of Environmental Design,” said U of C President Dr. Elizabeth Cannon. “This space in the old library will be activated through teaching, through research and really a community hub.”It will provide a satellite location for that faculty, as they explore what cities should be like in the future.“Really provides an opportunity to look at city buildings. And really, in that context, seeing how you can design cities to be more resilient, to be more innovative and to be more connected.”READ MORE: New Calgary Public Library opensIt’s a five-year partnership that begins in January, with $200,000 being spent renovating the main floor and basement of the old building, which sits along the CTrain line next to city hall.Michael Brown is President and CEO of the CMLC and is happy to see this project fit with their revitalization plans in the downtown.“The old central library is really a space that if we let it sit vacant for too long, it’s going to turn into something that we’re not really happy with. Over the last year, we’ve started having discussions with a number of city groups, and one of the groups that came forward was an environmental design group at the University of Calgary. They saw the vision of what this building could be and what it could turn into.”But that money does not mean it will transform the building into a luxurious space — because that is not required.“It’s not going to be necessarily a neat and tidy space, this is going to be a working space, this is going to be a studio space,” said Dr. Cannon. “And that’s what you want. A lot of creativity, a lot of innovation around the futures of cities.”“They’re used to working in spaces that aren’t quite perfect yet, they can keep designing as they work their way through it,” added Brown. “So $200,000 in this kind of space I think is peanuts to attract that great a tenant.”Breaking news announcement this morning – our faculty is activating the former central library…thank you @CalgaryMLC for making this possible! https://t.co/XYKuhtuX1C #urbanrevitalization #downtown #heritagereuse #yyc #architecture pic.twitter.com/j6Q9ari1lC— Environmental Design (@UCalgaryEVDS) December 10, 2018Dr. Cannon added this fits with the university’s ‘Eyes High’ strategy, which is also related to the recent opening of a research park in the northwest.It’s expected to draw in lots more traffic into the downtown, from students and faculty, to professionals and just general members of the public, as there will be numerous events inside the building as well.“Young people, old people, it’s definitely going to bring the uber-engaged in terms of their community. We’ve used the term for many, many years, urban explorers. They want to see things like this in their core,” said Brown.
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The City of Fort St. John will be welcoming a group of women leaders from Peru and Columbia as part of an international study tour on gender equality and women’s empowerment this weekend. The delegation, which will be visiting the Energetic City from May 6th – 13th, will tour local resource facilities, educational institutions, and visit non-profit organizations. The women, who are sponsored through a program with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, will also meet with local First Nations, business and community leaders to discuss inclusivity and gender diversity. “We are delighted to welcome these women to the City of Fort St. John and share our community’s expertise,” said Mayor Lori Ackerman. “As a resource-based city, we have worked hard to create a sustainable and inclusive community through collaborative partnerships, and hope to share this knowledge with these remarkable community leaders who are making a difference in Peru and Columbia.” In 2017, City Council passed a resolution to sign an agreement with the mayors of Chumbivilcas province in the Cusco region of Peru to work on strengthening the planning of local economic development and the inclusion of women in municipal development. The program had a delegation including Mayor Ackerman visit the Cusco region last year to help local governments with sustainable economic development planning, government transparency and accountability in mining areas, and share best practices in effective local government operation. The goal of the program is to help build more sustainable and inclusive communities in resource-based regions of Columbia and Peru through learning opportunities from their Canadian counterparts. The Sustainable and Inclusive Communities in Latin America is a five-year program and funded through grants from Global Affairs Canada. A number of other municipalities from B.C. and across Canada that have successfully diversified their local communities from single-employer and/or resource-based economies have also participated in the program.
neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): The NBA is now two games in to every second-round series, and each matchup is currently tied at 1-1 … except Warriors-Rockets, which was the series most people had circled as the most competitive (and compelling) of Round 2.So what better place to start our chat than that matchup, which the Warriors lead 2-0 heading back to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday. The Rockets have done a lot of Rockets-like things in the first two games: They’re making almost 16 threes and 22 free throws per game. Yet they were unable to steal away home court in the series late in either Game 1 or Game 2. Do the Rockets still have a realistic chance at knocking off Golden State, or were we all just foolishly trying to convince ourselves that we might see a different outcome this year?chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior sportswriter): I think it goes without saying that 2-0 against a team of that caliber is a tough place to be. We talked about it before, but the fact that Houston is Houston might have been enough to get the Warriors playing their hardest and most focused early on.Draymond Green has been a beast, in particular.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): I mean, they lost two games by 4 points and 6 points. And they have some excuses: the officiating in Game 1, and they were without James Harden for parts of the first half in Game 2, and then he was not entirely himself.I don’t think Game 2 felt quite as close as the final score, but Game 1 was pretty even.I guess all I’m saying is that we have had nine high-stakes playoff games between these two teams, and it feels like the Warriors are the better team, but hardly a dominant team.tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): I feel like what’s going to happen at the end of all this, if the Warriors do end up winning it all (which is very likely — our predictions still give them a 49 percent chance), fans and basketball critics alike are going to come out and say, “See? Why even watch basketball? We all knew the Warriors were gonna win.” And they will all forget how unlikely it did seem at times. It is far from a sure thing still.neil: And that was definitely the case last year as well. The Warriors were far from assured winners, even though in the end they won, as expected.chris.herring: I think the challenge is that so much of what Houston does is tied to Harden, who hasn’t played poorly at all, despite the eye issue in Game 2.I thought it was really noteworthy that, after he got none of those calls in Game 1, he simply didn’t kick his legs out in Game 2.But the real story is that Golden State is forcing him into more floaters, a bit higher up, than he normally likes to take his shots.tchow: I’m gonna be honest. I only watched the first quarter of Game 2 and maybe five minutes of the second quarter because the game started at 10:30 p.m.!! I have a 1-year-old. I can’t do this sh*t anymore.natesilver: The competition from the East should be a lot stiffer this year. But, again, we’re getting a liiiiiittttle ahead of ourselves. Our algorithm says the Warriors have a 77 percent chance of reaching the NBA Finals, which is high but also sort of in the Hillary Clinton zone of not a done deal. I do think Kevin Durant flipping the switch into looking like an MVP++ player is a big deal, though.chris.herring: I am kind of shocked Steph Curry continues to have the foul issues this far into the playoffs. It’s been bad for a hot minute now.But you’re right, Nate: It’s given Durant a chance to showcase what he’s capable of. (Honestly, my favorite versions of the Warriors are when KD gets to play without Steph and when Steph plays without KD — those guys are unbelievable scorers, but we rarely get to see them at their best because they play so many of their minutes together.)neil: Well, I want to talk officiating in general. As you guys alluded to, it’s been a huge theme in the series so far, whether over Draymond Green’s arguable contact with James Harden at the end of Game 1, the Rockets’ “audit” of missed calls in last year’s Western Conference finals, or Green’s comments that the officiating talk itself was embarrassing for the NBA. Does Houston have a case? Or is that just a natural consequence of how the Rockets play? Is there something inherently limiting about relying on drawing fouls in the playoffs, when it’s tougher to get a whistle?natesilver: A “natural consequence” doesn’t seem like quite the right phrase because I’d imagine that a lot of this is fairly deliberate — exploring the boundaries of the rules, especially in terms of Harden’s shooting form.chris.herring: Like I was saying a minute ago, I thought it was pretty interesting that Houston fell to the ground so much in Game 1 but, from what I remember, essentially didn’t do that at all in Game 2. I’d have to go back and watch the close-outs, but to me that signals that the Rockets might have known they were waging a losing battle.natesilver: I do think, if the game is called by the book, they got screwed out of a couple of three-shot shooting fouls in Game 1.chris.herring: Oh, absolutely.At least two or three, which, in a game that close … I’d be upset, too. You have to call the fouls the same way you would have during the regular season. I didn’t even think some of those were debatable in the first half.The crazy thing: In watching Game 2, it makes me wonder whether the Rockets are better off just trying to stand up straight as opposed to drawing fouls.It might have merely been a Game 2 improvement, with no reason for it, but they were great from the perimeter, and it happened on a night where they weren’t flailing or kicking their legs out, which I imagine changes the shot’s rhythm some.natesilver: Part of it is that awarding three free throws is such a high-stakes decision. It’s not quite like awarding a penalty in soccer, but you know what I mean.If all shooting fouls were two free throws instead, save maybe for the last two minutes when a team might try to maul a guy to prevent him from taking a 3-point shot, that might help.Or if referees were allowed to call nonshooting fouls in the event of incidental contact. Sort of the difference in a roughing the kicker penalty vs. running into the kicker.chris.herring: I’ve never seen something be such an enormous story for one game, then just not be a factor at all in the following oneI’m sure the league loves that it died down during Game 2. But it almost felt like the Rockets realized they weren’t going to get anywhere with that hope that they’d get more calls.neil: And yet, most of the fan reaction I was reading online was that the Rockets basically need to be quiet. That Harden has cried wolf too many times, etc. And remember, these are people siding with the Warriors, a team that has become hated over the years as it’s won so much. That kind of speaks volumes about the distaste for Houston’s foul-drawing strategy.natesilver: Yeah, I thought the “Rockets-are-sore-losers” narrative, while understandable, maybe made people less objective in evaluating the situation.chris.herring: I felt like I was seeing a lot of that the last few days, too.tchow: Yeah, Nate, on the latest Hot Takedown podcast, we had Kirk Goldsberry on as a guest, and he made the point that from an economical standpoint, drawing three free throws percentage-wise is worth more than a wide-open Steph or KD 3-pointer. In that sense, it would make sense to try to draw those so often.chris.herring: But here’s my thing:If the Rockets pour over the missed-calls report and find that the refs missed a bunch of those last year — which suggests it’s either not easy to catch, or that refs don’t like to call it — why make it such a big part of the strategy as you start another series with Golden State now?tchow: To prove themselves right?chris.herring: Idk. Part of me feels like the basketball world is too worked up about this series, when in reality, it’s the only one that’s not tied up at 1-1.It’s been a good second round so far.natesilver: I dunno, one thing about basketball is that there’s not usually a lot of luck.In a seven-game series, the better team wins a large majority of the time.But I wonder if Daryl Morey feels a little tilted (in the poker sense of that term) how his series have gone against the Warriors.They’ve had some bad luck with injuries, some bad luck on 3-point field-goal percentage — and whether you want to call it “luck” or something else, some frustrating games with the officials.And it’s also, like, if the league designs a bad set of rules and incentives, you shouldn’t get blamed for taking advantage of those incentives.There should be better incentives instead. The rules should be changed.chris.herring: That’s been the story of James Harden’s career: Fantastic player who’s always been fantastic at taking advantage of what’s there, whether fans like it or not.I really love watching that dude ball. It’s not his fault the loopholes are there.neil: As Kirk writes in his book, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”Either way, right now we give the Warriors an 84 percent chance of moving on to the conference finals.tchow: The good news is that Game 3 is at 8:30 p.m.!neil: On behalf of all of us East Coasters, thank goodness.In the other series out West, the Trail Blazers evened things up with the Nuggets with a 97-90 win Wednesday night. Portland stole-home court advantage, but our model still gives Denver a 61 percent chance of advancing. Are the numbers still too low on the Blazers?chris.herring: Probably. I have no idea, honestly.The Nuggets might be the most inconsistent team left in the playoffs. Last night was extremely rough for them — one of their worst shooting nights of the season. Their offensive rebounding was unreal, and so it left them with an outside chance to win late.I feel like they may have the better team, but their inconsistency scares me a bit. The 61 percent probability sounds about right to me for now.Quietly feel like the Moe Harkless ankle injury could be a tough one for the Blazers depending on how hurt he actually is going forward.I have it going seven games, and I won’t be surprised at all if and when it actually goes the distance.natesilver: I’m going to reiterate that this part of the bracket feels like the NIT to me. Unless whoever emerges from GSW-HOU does so with an injury, I don’t expect the Western Conference finals to be super competitive.neil: Yeah, conditional on making the conference finals, the Warriors have a 92 percent chance at the NBA Finals in our model; Houston has an 81 percent chance.natesilver: I almost feel like, narrative-wise, Portland has become a little bit underrated just because they’re facing off against two other very flawed teams. That Portland team with Jusuf Nurkic is pretty interesting, but they have a pretty low ceiling IMO without him.neil: I have been surprised at how well Enes Kanter continues to play. He’s averaging 21 points and eight rebounds in this series. (As someone who hated on him as an empty stat-padder early in his career…)natesilver: The knock in him (I almost typed “the Knick on him”) has always been his defense, though.What’s his +/- in the series?neil: It’s minus-4. But the team as a whole is in the red anyway.chris.herring: He’s useful for them, without a doubtI think he actually might be even more useful in a playoff series, depending on the opponent.Against OKC, for instance: Leaving him in the paint, without an easy way for Westbrook to get around him, was great for Portland. Westbrook wasn’t good or comfortable shooting his jumper in that series.So it mitigated the concerns about Kanter’s pick-and-roll defense.And in this series, you’re dealing with Jamal Murray, who’s a hot-and-cold shooter in the pick and roll, too.Kanter’s offensive rebounding is massive a lot of the time.natesilver: I guess mayyyyybe you could say that Kanter has never been in a position before to have teams take advantage of his skill set. OKC has never really been expert at maximizing its role players. And the Knicks, well, are the Knicks.tchow: For what it’s worth, in Game 2, Nikola Jokic went 1 for 8 when guarded by Kanter.chris.herring: I’m interested to see what happens as they shift to Portland.neil: Your point about defense is well-taken, Nate. Portland’s key might be to continue to play so uncharacteristically well at that end.Right now, they’re holding the Nuggets to 41.9 percent shooting from the field, including 31 percent from three.chris.herring: I feel like I’m so in and then so out on Denver. They have had some really rough performances.But the fact that they were still in it last night despite how poorly they shot was encouraging. Jokic has been playing out of his mind.neil: OK, since this is the NIT series of the playoffs, let’s leave Denver and Portland and move over to the East.tchow: In our playoff preview chat, I think we all agreed that the Eastern Conference playoff bracket looked a lot more interesting than the West, and I think that’s still pretty much true. I have no idea who will make it out of the East of the remaining four teams and could easily see both series going seven games.neil: Yeah, things have not really gotten clearer since either series opened. Let’s talk first about the semifinal series between the Raptors and Sixers, which resumes tonight with Game 3. Philly gritted out the win Monday night to even up the series, despite Kawhi Leonard going off again for 35 points. What has stood out about each team so far that might swing the series going forward?chris.herring: In the chat last week, we talked about the question of who Tobias Harris could realistically guard.The answer in Game 1 was nobody, which was problematic, as the Raptors’ two best scorers did serious damage.The difference in Game 2 was Philly’s adjustment to play Harris on Marc Gasol, and to have Joel Embiid and the other centers guard Pascal Siakam. It paid really, really nice dividends for them, and that’s the thing I’m really curious to watch in Game 3.natesilver: I guess those defensive matchups sort of make sense but also the sort of thing that you could counteradjust to, especially with an extra day off to scout and strategize.chris.herring: Exactly.neil: That shows up in the stats, too: Harris was a game-low minus-23 in Game 1 but was plus-6 in Game 2.chris.herring: In both series, I think, it’s going to be a question of whose adjustments are better.Because each set of changes and adjustments have pretty clear counters.tchow: Btw, I don’t know if Neil is doing this on purpose but we have NBATV on at the office right now, and Neil is moving the chat along at the same exact pace as Grant Hill and company are moving along their playoff coverage. They just wrapped up DEN-POR and moved on to PHI-TOR before cutting to commercial break. Uncanny.neil: LOL, Tony. Definitely a coincidence… 😒chris.herring: I did think the put-the-big-on-Siakam adjustment was smart, though.When Siakam is in the middle of the floor, you can give him some space, because he shoots really terribly from the top of the key. By contrast, he’s solid from the corners. (And when he’s in the corner, you have the help of the baseline as a second defender.)tchow: It definitely made a difference. Siakam shot 80 percent from the floor and 75 percent from three in Game 1. In Game 2, he shot 36 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three.chris.herring: The Sixers don’t have but maybe one guy who can credibly guard Siakam (and Ben Simmons is doing his best to guard Kawhi), so that shift was really important for them.It may not work going forward, but you had to try it.natesilver: What if Gasol decides to take more shots? He’s been pretty passive, offensively, since joining the Raptors. But he is capable of scoring, either in the post or from downtown.chris.herring: If Gasol ends up being the guy to torch you, I think you can live with that more easily than Siakam.Also, I’d expect for the Raptors to do more to get Siakam rolling, and to use him in pick and rolls in hopes of having Philly switch them. That would nullify the Harris/Embiid stuff they’re doing.Again, the countermoves are going to be fascinating.To Neil’s initial question, too: The other thing that stands out is just how damn good Kawhi is.The guy is Terminator in a basketball uniform.He couldn’t do it all by himself in Game 2. But he’s just having his way from a scoring standpoint.neil: He’s probably been the best player of the playoffs so far, at least by the advanced metrics.chris.herring: I’m surprised Toronto is at 24 percent and Milwaukee only 14 percent. (Although a lot of that is due to head to head Toronto-vs-Milwaukee odds.)natesilver: I mean, there’s a case to be made that Toronto is just super good.chris.herring: Yeah. I think almost 70 percent sounds about right in that case.natesilver: They won 58 games in the regular season while missing a bunch of Kawhi and Kyle Lowry. And with Gasol only on the roster for the last third of the season.chris.herring: The matchups still favor them, and I think they’ll figure out a way to get Siakam going. Just not guarding him at the top of the key isn’t going to be enough.Am interested to see whether Kawhi can keep doing this for the whole series, though. He’s completely wrecking Philly.natesilver: Kawhi looks like an MVP in the playoffs, and neither of the two losses they’ve taken in the playoffs (to Orlando in Game 1 or Philly the other day) seemed to expose particularly exploitable problems.Our model also thinks Philly is quite good, by the way. It gives them a lot of credit for being good “on paper.”So I think our prices are relatively fair, but if I had to pick one, maybe it’s the over on Toronto. natesilver: Are people stretching a little too hard to call this an even series? Game 1 really wasn’t all that competitive, the Raptors have the best player, they were the much better team in the regular season, and all the adjustments and counteradjustments are gonna cancel out.I mean, there are only five games left and the Raptors have lost home-court advantage, but I feel like if this is a nine-game series, or an 11-game series, the Raptors are a huge favorite.chris.herring: I dunno. On the one hand, yeah: Toronto should have the upper hand. But we haven’t seen Nick Nurse under all that much pressure before. I assume they’ll counter well, but if they don’t … it’s not as if Philly doesn’t have talent.There are pretty clear things that could happen to tilt this in the Sixers’ favor, though I wouldn’t put my money on those things.And the next two are in Philadelphia. I think this is about all the Sixers could ask for at this stage.I would like to see Embiid do a bit more offensively. He was sick during the last game, but if he can’t find advantages against Gasol (which has been the case for a while now), it becomes harder to see how Philly can beat them four times. Unless the Raptors have no counter whatsoever for what happened to Siakam in Game 2.tchow: Nate, are you proposing we make the postseason even LONGER to ensure the best team wins?natesilver: I think it should vary based on how enjoyable the series is.Like if people find GSW-HOU annoying, just make it a three-game series.neil: We should develop a metric: The SILVER (Series’ Ideal Length Varied by Enjoyability Ratio)chris.herring: Oh, Lord.natesilver: Neil.tchow: According to SILVER, Sixers vs. Raptors should be best-of-11 and Bucks vs. Pistons should have been a one-game playoff.neil: LOLSo while we workshop our latest backronym metric, let’s end the chat by focusing on the Bucks and the Celtics. After disappointing at home in Game 1, Milwaukee can breathe again thanks to a 123-102 win in Game 2.Was that Game 1 loss just a blip on the radar for Milwaukee, or something to legitimately worry about for them as the series shifts to Boston?tchow: Giannis Antetokounmpo had a +/- of minus-24 in Game 1. What happened?(FWIW, he did bounce back fine. Game 2, his +/- was plus-20.)chris.herring: I think it’s actually pretty similar to Toronto-Philly. The Bucks punched back with a different strategy in Game 2, and now the ball is seemingly in Boston’s court to try and adjust to it.natesilver: Gordon Hayward was pretty nonexistent in Game 2 and not great in Game 1, which is bearish for Boston because I really think they need him to be pretty good to compete at an elite level.neil: Also, Kyrie scored 26 on 57 percent shooting in Game 1. Had 9 points on 22 percent in Game 2.natesilver: It did feel a bit like maybe the Celtics were gonna steal one game in the series because of Brad Stevens and their coaching/analytics/scouting staff, and maybe Game 1 was that game.chris.herring: We touched on it last week, when we discussed the Bucks being ranked No. 1 in the league on defense but doing so with a drop strategy in pick and roll coverage. They got torched with that in Game 1, and Boston had a field day from deep. But they moved to a completely different scheme in Game 2 and switched everything (something they almost never did in the regular season).And for what it’s worth, Boston was the least-efficient team in the NBA against switches during the regular season, according to data from Second Spectrum.So I’m interested to see what they counter with, because the Bucks certainly have the length and versatility to make life difficult for them with that strategy.To Tony’s question from before, we did some writing on what went wrong for Giannis in Game 1.The truth is, Giannis kind of lives off of open-court opportunities. He’ll score plenty without them, but if he has them, it showcases how and why he’ll likely be the MVP. It’s nearly impossible to stop him with just one guy (and sometimes even two) in the open floor.But Milwaukee wasn’t forcing enough misses in Game 1 for that to even be a real possibility for him. And even when it was, the Celtics set up a wall against him. Was something they did effectively against Giannis all year.natesilver: So are you saying that Giannis is liable to be less effective in the playoffs, when it becomes more of a half-court game?chris.herring: Yes and no.I think he will still score, and if you overcommit to trying to stop him, he’s unselfish and will find his teammates, who finally hit shots in Game 2The other thing that’s interesting: Giannis’s struggles as a jump-shooter are well-documented. He was the worst wide-open shooter in the NBA from three on 150 or more attempts.But he started knocking them down at a somewhat respectable clip after the turn of the new year. And when Boston dared him to shoot them in Game 1, he shot 3 of 5.He’s 5 of 9 from three for the series!I imagine that if you’re Boston, you’re simply going to make him prove he can hit that shot. But the idea that he’s begun to figure out how to hit threes should be terrifying for everyone outside of the state of Wisconsin.natesilver: I’m happy to let him shoot as many threes as he wants.I don’t think you learn how to shoot threes in one series. Maybe if it’s a big offseason focus of his, sure.neil: Either way, the model currently gives the Bucks a 70 percent chance of winning. In fact, it also gives Toronto exactly the same 70 percent chance against Philly, despite both series being 1-1.Do those probabilities seem right to y’all? If you had to take the over or under on one, which would it be?chris.herring: I feel like Milwaukee’s is a touch high, even though they’re my favorite to come out of the East.tchow: Interesting, I was going to say I would pick the Bucks to be too low.neil: I’m in the same camp, Tony. Really more based on looking at our title odds for each: Check out our latest NBA predictions.
The last time Fredrik Modin and Samuel Pahlsson went to Vancouver, British Columbia, they left with a 7-3 drubbing at the hands of the Canucks. For their next trip, they’re looking to bring back gold.Columbus Blue Jackets Modin and Pahlsson were part of the Swedish squad that captured the gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy. Along with their countrymen, they will begin their defense of the medal against Germany in the preliminary round of this year’s games.In addition to Pahlsson and Modin, four other Jackets will be making the trip to Vancouver to represent their respective countries. They are Fedor Tyutin (Russia), Milan Jurcina (Slovakia), Jan Hejda (Czech Republic) and Columbus captain Rick Nash (Canada).Oddly enough for a team located in the heart of America, there isn’t a single Blue Jackets player representing the U.S. in the 2010 games.This will be the second Olympic Games for Nash. He represented Team Canada in the Turin Games, where the powerful Canadian squad finished in a disappointing seventh place. Now that the games are being hosted by his home country, there will be an increased impetus to win, especially for Nash, who was limited to one assist in six games in Turin.“There was tons of pressure the last time in Turin,” Nash said of his last Olympic experience. “But anytime you put on the red-and-white maple leaf, there’s a lot of pressure.”Nash is probably already salivating over the possibility of playing on a line with fellow Canadian and all-world center, Sidney Crosby. It will be the first Olympic Games for Crosby, who was left off the 2006 team.Nash can’t be blamed for feeling the heat. He plays for a country where hockey is raised to a level that makes finding a comparison here in the U.S. difficult.One Canadian columnist summed it up this way: “The thought of a losing effort is something wholly unacceptable and incalculable within this culture, where national pride and hockey skill are inseparable entities.”It may be the final time for some of these Jackets to represent their home countries. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s recent comments on the future status of NHL players in the Olympics has cast some doubt on their possible participation in the 2014 games.There is currently no agreement in place for the 2014 games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.There are many variables for Bettman to consider going forward. Chief among these are economic and competitive factors.“It’s difficult for any business, any league, to shut down for two weeks with the attendant loss of attention and everything that flows from it,” Bettman said. “And there are competitive issues.”The competitive issues he is referring to are because of the fact that not every NHL team sends the same amount of players to the Olympics. Or any at all for that matter. So when the season resumes, some teams may have benefited from the two-week break more than others.Is that enough to pull the plug?“I know the players are passionate about representing their countries. We have a long history as a sport in international competition and that’s something that’s important to the players,” Bettman said. “But we have to decide on balance, ‘Is it worth it?’”
As the Ohio State men’s tennis team came together in a room at the indoor Varsity Tennis Center eagerly waiting to see where and who they play in the first round of the NCAA tournament, one person was missing. That person was coach Ty Tucker. He was nervously pacing back and forth in his office. “I’m not a fan of the whole selection thing,” Tucker said. But as soon as the NCAA was ready to announce the brackets for the tournament, Tucker gave in and stood outside the door to await his team’s fate.Once he heard the announcement that OSU would host Western Michigan, Tucker walked to his computer and began studying the Buckeyes’ first opponent in the NCAA tournament.No. 4 OSU will face Western Michigan (21-10) at 1 p.m. on May 15 at the Stickney Tennis Center. As a reward for the their 32-1 season, the Buckeyes will host the first- and second-round matches.“We’ve won a lot of matches at home so obviously we want to be at home,” Tucker said. “We’re looking forward to playing Western Michigan.”The Buckeyes, whose only defeat this year came to top-seeded Virginia, have a few notable schools in their bracket, including Michigan, Illinois and defending champion Southern California, who defeated OSU in the finals last year. “It’d be nice to get them back,” sophomore Chase Buchanan said. When asked if that was a match he wanted, Buchanan said, “definitely.”Like most coaches, Tucker is not looking ahead. His main focus is Western Michigan.“I know that they’ve won the MAC (Mid-American Conference) five years in a row,” Tucker said. “I know that teams that have won five championships in a row are used to winning.”The Buckeyes go into the tournament as one of the favorites. Tucker said his team’s experience and realizing the importance of the doubles’ point are major factors.“I’m sure Justin (Kronauge) will have these guys as a captain ready to play,” Tucker said. “They’ve got to come out understanding four, five, six minutes of great play can set up a win early on in the doubles’ point.”The Buckeyes have done that all year, including having another undefeated season at home. Now, they have a shot to make another run. “We have a lot of potential as well as many other teams in this tournament,” said Kronauge, OSU’s all-time wins leader. “Hopefully we fight harder and we prepare the next two weeks to get ready.”
When Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta started sophomore Amir Williams at center against Chicago State Dec. 29, it might have raised some eyebrows. After all, it was the first time all season Matta had made a change to the starting lineup. But when the starters were introduced Wednesday night for OSU’s Big Ten opener against Nebraska, and Williams was still one of them, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Against the likes of Winthrop and UNC-Asheville, Matta favored the steady, yet generally unspectacular play of senior forward Evan Ravenel. But in losses to No. 1 Duke and No. 6 Kansas, Williams received more playing time than any other OSU big man. If the Buckeyes are to accomplish their goal of a Big Ten championship and a deep NCAA tournament run, they will need to beat teams with the size and talent of Kansas or Duke. And to do so, they will need Williams to play often, and play well. “It’s just been great to have a center,” said junior point guard Aaron Craft of Williams’ emergence in the starting lineup. “We haven’t had one in a couple of years.” Craft’s comment came off as a bit of a joke, likely a chance to poke fun at a teammate who’s in the limelight for the first time of his collegiate career. But it also cut to a hard truth; though Williams has been a member of the Buckeyes for two seasons, his inconsistent and sometimes soft play had left OSU without a center. Coming out of Detroit Country Day School in Birmingham, Mich., Williams was ranked by ESPN as a four-star prospect and the fourth best center in the class of 2011. As a freshman, Williams showed that the high-ranking might have been based heavily on unrealized potential, as he displayed an extremely unpolished game in limited action. This season, Williams has started to scratch the surface of his potential. He still makes mistakes-against Nebraska he whiffed on the opening tip, air-balled a shot in the post and allowed his man to drive for a couple of easy scores-but his numbers are up across the board. This is in part a product of receiving more playing time, but also likely an indication that he’s more comfortable on the court this year. “He’s just been playing great,” Craft said. “I think he’s doing a great job coming in and understanding how he can affect the game, and not stepping out of that.” Most importantly, Williams is thriving as a defensive anchor. Against Nebraska, the 6-foot-11 center blocked four shots, altered many more, and was a key factor in holding the Cornhuskers to just 30.4 percent shooting. “I thought they did a good job with their interior defense,” said Nebraska coach Tim Miles. “We were, what, 11-for-35 on 2s? That’s just ineffective basketball. We couldn’t get (our big men) going inside the paint, and that hurt us.” Nebraska, though, is hardly one of the best teams in the Big Ten. In fact, they might be one of the worst. The conference’s most likely contenders-namely Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota-all feature players that can score in the post. OSU’s success against the league’s elite hinges upon Williams’ ability to do what he does best. “(He needs to be) blocking shots, altering shots, (getting) offensive rebounds, put-backs,” Craft said. “It’s the little things that end up being big in big games, especially in the Big Ten.” Williams said he’s up for the challenge. “I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Williams said. “Every team in the Big Ten has that one center that can score the ball or run the court. I have total confidence within myself, I can matchup with anybody in the Big Ten.”