Florida State was the nation’s preseason No. 1 college football team, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), a computer-generated power rating designed to measure the relative strength of each team in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision. But the Seminoles faced an early test Saturday in 25th-ranked Oklahoma State. It was an exam FSU would barely pass; while the FPI would have predicted an 18-point victory, the Seminoles squeaked out a mere six-point win that caused their FPI to drop by two points.ESPN’s Stats & Info Group has computed FPI back to the 2005 season, and Florida State’s was the fourth-worst Week 1 performance by a preseason No. 1 in terms of FPI points lost in the subsequent set of rankings:The three games resulting in bigger FPI losses for preseason No. 1s were all wins against extremely weak competition, by margins deemed unacceptably low according to the pre-game power ratings. By contrast, the best performance — Alabama’s 41-14 dismantling of Michigan in 2012 — was a rout against an opponent considered to be strong by the FPI.FSU’s win Saturday belongs to yet a different category. Oklahoma State is in a rebuilding phase, returning just eight starters from last season’s 10-3 squad, but it also carried an FPI rating implying it’d be roughly a two-touchdown favorite against an average FBS school. Among opening opponents for preseason No. 1s, only the Michigan team Alabama crushed in 2012 came into the game with a stronger FPI rating.There are worse ways to begin a season than beating an opponent of that relative quality. FPI is geared for maximal predictive accuracy, so a six-point win against a team with a rating of 14.1 points per game above average is still considered more indicative of success than scheduling a cream puff for the opener and only beating them by 40.
Fifteen years ago, Mike Martz had a radical notion: “Why does the run have to set up the pass?”That, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, was the question the new St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator posed to his head coach, Dick Vermeil, as they prepared for the coming NFL season in June 1999. It was to be Vermeil’s third in St. Louis, and judging from the press clippings, probably his last if things didn’t change in a hurry.1Things did change in a hurry, but it was still Vermeil’s last year with the team — just not for the reason fans expected before the season. Over the previous two seasons, Vermeil had coached the Rams to 23 losses and only nine wins, with an offense that ranked 23rd out of 30 NFL teams in passing efficiency and 26th in scoring.Then came Martz. “I don’t know of any assistant coach that came in, at any one time, in any one program, and made as big a contribution as Mike did at that time,” Vermeil said in a recent interview. In his estimation, Martz’s contribution to the Rams2Along with those of wide receivers coach Al Saunders, offensive line coach John Matsko, and strength coach Dana LeDuc. was equivalent to that of a first-round pick — and that’s not a hard case to make. Upon Martz’s arrival, the Rams went from laughingstocks to Super Bowl champs with an explosive attack that came to be known as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”It was, at the time, the third-most potent scoring offense and the second-most efficient passing attack3By adjusted net yards per attempt generated above league average. the league had seen in its modern incarnation.4Going back to 1970, the year of the AFL-NFL merger. And of even more historical significance, the Rams did it before the league became fixated on throwing the ball.While the longtime mantra of football coaches everywhere had been to “establish the run” before passing, Martz’s plan was to aggressively pass the ball until the Rams had a lead worth protecting with the run. Stocked with speed everywhere and willing to throw in any situation, the Greatest Show on Turf proved that pass-first teams could win championships, and it heralded the passing fireworks we see in the NFL today.“If you go back and look at the other teams of that era, the ‘conventional’ teams that you were competing with, [the Rams were] the aberration of the day,” said former Baltimore Ravens coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick, whose head-coaching debut came against the Rams in their 1999 regular-season opener. “St. Louis was so far ahead. It’s hard to say [they were] ‘pass-happy’ because they actually ran the ball pretty well,” he said. “But there’s no question they wanted to throw the ball.”As Billick noted, St. Louis still could run effectively — running back Marshall Faulk racked up the NFL’s fifth-most rushing yards in 1999 — but that wasn’t the team’s focus. The Rams anticipated what statistical analysts would eventually come to learn about football: Teams run when they win; they don’t win when they run. After using all that passing to build early leads, St. Louis rushed on the league’s sixth-largest proportion of its second-half plays — and no team devoted more of its fourth-quarter plays to running the ball. Martz had successfully flipped conventional football wisdom on its head, using the pass to set up the run just as he had set out to do.And ever since the Greatest Show on Turf hit the NFL scene, the league has trended toward ever more (and more effective) passing, further enabled by rule changes designed to incentivize every team to spread the field and throw the ball aggressively.The genesis of the Rams’ aggressive strategy came when Martz was coaching quarterbacks for the Washington Redskins a year earlier. As ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski tells the story in his book “The Games That Changed The Game,” Martz realized that his pass-heavy third-down play packages were too effective to be confined to such a narrow situation.5Despite relatively average yards-per-play numbers across all situations, Washington had ranked fourth in the league in third-down conversion rate in 1997. “Since we both love these plays so much,” Martz asked head coach Norv Turner, “why can’t we run them whenever we want? Why wait till third down?”“So what happened was that we decided to run these third-and-long plays regardless of down and distance or field position,” Martz told Jaworski. “To us it simply didn’t matter anymore. This kept defenses guessing — they couldn’t zero in on our tendencies, personnel packages, or formations, because they’d always have to be ready for the big pass.”Armed with such convention-breaking ideas, Martz represented the most revolutionary branch of the coaching tree originally planted by retired San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell. Martz’s preferred offensive system, nicknamed “Air Coryell” for its emphasis on defense-stretching pass plays, wasn’t new; as the name implied, the system was first developed by Coryell in the 1960s at San Diego State, and later used to great effect at the NFL level by the Chargers of the early ’80s.6Under the coordination of Turner, another Coryell acolyte, the Dallas Cowboys had won multiple Super Bowls running the offense in the early 1990s. But it had never been taken to the extremes Martz envisioned upon joining the Rams staff.During the 1998 season, just three teams passed on more than 50 percent of their first-down plays.7When the score was close, and filtering out late-game situations. Running the West Coast Offense under coach Mike Holmgren, the Green Bay Packers threw in a league-high 57 percent of those situations — but gained an average of only 5.8 yards per attempt.8By comparison, the league average across all passes that season was 6.8 yards. This was an artifact of the West Coast’s philosophy, which had overtaken the league in the two decades since its creation by legendary coach Bill Walsh. Similar to Coryell’s scheme, Walsh’s offense emphasized passing over rushing, but it focused on stretching the field horizontally with short passes as a means of ball control. By contrast, Martz wanted to throw early and often, but also sought to stretch the field with deep passing.“If you’ve got a Mercedes,” Martz said at the time, “you don’t keep it in the garage.”After an offseason overhaul, the Rams possessed the football equivalent of German engineering under the hood. First, they signed accurate passer Trent Green9Fresh off a career season under Martz in Washington. to conduct Martz’s mad experiment from behind center. Then, capitalizing on a brewing contract dispute with the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis heisted Faulk in a trade, giving up just a pair of draft picks for the league’s best all-around running back. Days later, they used the sixth overall pick in the draft on Torry Holt, anticipating a productive pairing at wide receiver with former Pro Bowler Isaac Bruce returning from injury. Even the role players, such as second-year receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, had otherworldly speed.Vermeil was already a longtime Air Coryell believer,10“I had run it myself in Philadelphia on a smaller-volume scale in the late ’70s and early ’80s,” he said. and had been trying to install the offense in St. Louis for two years, but lacked the proper personnel. “We had the foundation of it, installed by [former offensive coordinator] Jerry Rhome, the first two years I was there,” Vermeil told me. “I had actually limited [the playbook’s] growth my second year there because we couldn’t complete in the high 60 percent of our throws. So I instructed people to cut back in the volume, hoping that we could improve the execution and the completion percentage.”With Martz, Faulk, Bruce, Green and Holt in place, such cutbacks were no longer necessary. In the preseason of 1999, Green completed 28 of 32 passes (88 percent) before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the team’s third game. When unheralded backup Kurt Warner stepped in, Vermeil said, Martz and the coaching staff “made no adjustments” to the offensive scheme.True to Vermeil’s expectations, Warner ended up completing 65.1 percent of his passes, which at the time was the third-best single-season completion percentage by any quarterback ever.11Among quarterbacks with 450 attempts. In addition, the Rams came within striking distance of the 1989 San Francisco 49ers’ mark for the NFL’s second-most efficient passing offense since the merger12Relative to league average.More importantly, the Rams proved that a team could win without establishing the ground game before unleashing holy terror through the air. On first downs,13Again, when the score was close, and filtering out late-game situations. St. Louis passed a league-high 59 percent of the time, and gained 7.6 yards per attempt on those throws (11 percent more than the NFL average on all attempts that year) and scored a touchdown on 7.4 percent of them (almost twice the league average across all attempts). On the whole, the Rams passed 5.4 percent more than would be expected from their +9.1 average in-game scoring margin — still the biggest disparity by any Super Bowl winner since the merger.“The spread-out type of system, it really did begin with them, because they were so explosive,” Billick told me. “It was a little bit different [from their contemporaries], but they were very successful with it. Kurt Warner made it work, and they spread you out in a way that very few teams could spread you out — that looks, today, very familiar.”Although no one knew it at the time, the Rams were at the leading edge of something that was about to take over pro football. The NFL’s average passer rating in 1999 was 75.1 — essentially the same as it had been for a decade — and Warner’s 109.2 rate led the league by a mile. It was, at the time, the second-highest single-season mark ever. Within five years, though, the league-average rating had eclipsed 80.0 for the first time ever, with two players14Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper. surpassing Warner’s rating from 1999. By last season, the average NFL passer rating was 84.1, with Warner’s 1999 mark dropping to 10th all time. Because of their sheer effectiveness, pass-first offensive philosophies have gone from the vanguard (see Coryell’s Chargers, or the various Run-and-Shoot teams of the ’90s) to commonplace over the last 15 years.The conventional narrative is that Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots finally solved Martz’s offense in Super Bowl XXXVI, limiting the Rams to 17 points by making Faulk a non-factor. But St. Louis still moved the ball well in the loss, amassing 427 total yards while Faulk notched 130 yards from scrimmage.15In other words, if not for three turnovers, the Rams would likely have won another Super Bowl in 2002. And after a disastrous 7-9 season in 2002, a reloaded version of the Greatest Show on Turf emerged behind another obscure QB (Marc Bulger) to tie for second in the NFL in scoring during the 2003 season.16Ranking behind only Vermeil and Green’s Kansas City Chiefs. The true end came later, as the Rams’ talent scattered. Faulk retired in 2006, while Bruce, Holt and All-Decade left tackle Orlando Pace donned unfamiliar uniforms in their twilight years. Martz took his system to Detroit, San Francisco and Chicago, garnering mixed reviews when lesser talents were plugged in.To the coaches, then, the Greatest Show on Turf was really about the perfect marriage of a high-powered strategy and a gifted roster.“This game has been, is now, and always will be about talent,” Billick said. “Taking nothing away from the system, you’re talking about Hall of Famers like Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner — who I believe will be in the Hall of Fame — the talents of an Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt … These were unique talents that the system adapted to very, very well.”Vermeil concurred. “Very few teams ever have that kind of skill, at one time, on their side of the line of scrimmage,” he said.It was those players who allowed Martz’s progressive game-planning to thrive, and it was his system that showcased their skills. His fingerprints can still be seen on the league 15 years later.Thanks to Grantland’s Chris Brown for help with this article.
For several years, NFL higher-ups have been a bit sour on the extra point. It slows down the game; kickers make them so often that they’re not really exciting, or even tense; and even if one is missed, it’s less “OMG, did you see that?” and more “WTF, kickers are terrible!”In preseason games, the NFL has experimented with narrowing the goal posts and/or moving back the spot of the kick on attempts. It is rumored to be considering eliminating the extra-point option entirely.That’s one way to encourage two-point conversions. But it’s not as exciting as the idea that the Indianapolis Colts are offering. This week, the Colts caused some buzz by making a crazy-sounding suggestion to the NFL’s competition committee: If a team converted its two-point attempt, it would get a shot at an additional point by attempting a 50-yard field goal.Considering that kickers now make 50-yard attempts about two-thirds of the time, this essentially means that successful two-point tries would be worth 2.66 points. That would clearly affect coaches’ strategy after a touchdown — or at least it should. Currently, a team needs to be able to convert a two-point attempt 50 percent of the time to make it a better option (barring tactical reasons) than an extra point. But in the Colts’ extra-extra-point scenario, a team would only have to convert its two-point attempt from scrimmage about 38 percent of the time.In 2014, teams made 48 percent of their attempts, which is just about in line with how they’ve done for the past decade. So under the proposed change, going for two would probably be right in most circumstances. (That’s a small sample size, though. It’s unclear exactly how good teams really are at converting two-point attempts because they are taken so rarely and teams don’t take them with equal frequency.)Even if the Colts’ rule came to be — and that’s a very unlikely prospect — the coaches wouldn’t necessarily catch on even though the math would be in their favor. Many coaches still kick field goals on fourth and goal from the 1, and that is generally a much worse mistake.But suppose for a second that the strategy did catch on. It would likely have a big ripple effect. Having a kicker who can convert from 50 yards consistently would become a lot more valuable. Also, knowing that teams could come back from nine points down on a single possession might make coaches play more aggressively in a number of different situations.The competition committee has already rejected the idea, meaning that it’s unlikely to be adopted any time soon. (It will still be offered up to the owners next week, but without the committee’s endorsement.) But that leaves room for my alternative: How about any time that a team converts a 2-pointer, it can either take the two points or take one point and try again? Then no lead would be safe.
Up until his Golden State Warriors failed to mount a second-half comeback against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, it had been a great week for Stephen Curry. Late Sunday, word leaked out that the Warriors’ guard would be named MVP for the 2014-15 NBA season, and Curry accepted the hardware Monday.Curry’s chief rival for the award, Houston’s James Harden, was reportedly disappointed over the outcome of the voting. It’s a completely understandable reaction: The best advanced metrics had Curry and Harden neck-and-neck in the MVP race for most of the season, so Curry’s big edge in first-place votes likely owes more to the Warriors’ incredible team record than any real difference between the two players. In fact, according to our wins above replacement (WAR) metric, Harden slightly edged Curry in value, 16.8 to 16.6.The truth is, we’ll never know which player really deserved the award … in part because a phrase like “most valuable” is very hard to quantify. Metrics are imperfect, probably to a much greater degree than any stathead would like to think. But one thing we can do to combat a false sense of certainty is assign probabilities to each player’s case for adding the most value. Along the way, we can also compare the results to past MVP races — for instance, how did Curry-over-Harden compare to other MVP decisions in history?To measure the uncertainty between a player’s measured WAR and his actual “talent” — that is, the number of WAR he would earn if we were omniscient and knew the exact contributions of every NBA player — we can look at the confidence interval around a player’s measured value.1In this case, since we need to use Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) for historical seasons, I looked at the standard error between a player’s multi-year projected SPM talent and his Real Plus/Minus (RPM), a new metric that melds a player’s boxscore stats with his on-court influence over the team’s scoring margin. I then combined that with the standard error between RPM and “true talent” to estimate the probability that any given player had the league’s true best WAR in a given season. In turn, those confidence intervals can tell us the probability that a player was truly the most valuable (by WAR) in a given season.This year, Harden was the most likely “true” WAR leader — but with a mere 22 percent probability of being the best. In the past 37 NBA seasons,2The 1978-79 season is the earliest for which this calculation can be run. this year is the seventh most uncertain in terms of whether a WAR leader was actually the league’s true most valuable player. Meanwhile, Curry came in third this season with a 12 percent probability of being the true best player in the league (the Clippers’ Chris Paul was sandwiched between Harden and Curry at 19 percent).In some ways, 12 percent is very low probability. Since 1978-79, only 12 players have won the award with less certainty that they actually produced the league’s greatest value. But the 2014-15 season also featured an unusually wide-open MVP race. Kevin Durant, last year’s winner and the presumptive favorite going into this season, missed 55 games with injuries and only recorded 4.5 WAR. And LeBron James, who’d been projected as the league’s best player on a per-minute basis every season between 2005-06 and 2013-14, produced his lowest WAR (13.1) since his rookie season — yet still had a 9 percent probability of being the true best player in the NBA. And that’s without even getting into the cases to be made for Russell Westbrook (9 percent probability of being the best) or Anthony Davis (4 percent).On the other hand, the gap between Harden and Curry’s odds of being the best player was just 10 percentage points. Excluding the 17 seasons since 1978-79 in which the most likely true WAR leader was also named MVP, that’s the sixth-smallest gap between any MVP and that season’s leader in “true best player” probability:By that standard, Curry’s win was a far cry from past miscarriages of MVP justice, such as Michael Jordan losing out to Magic Johnson in 1988-89 despite Jordan having a 55 percent probability of being the league’s true best player — the second-highest “best player” certainty of any season since 1978-79, trailing only James’s 66 percent mark in 2009-10.Conversely, there was no such certainty in a season like 2014-15, where several of the usual MVP suspects were absent from the front of the race. In such a situation, you can’t really go wrong (or, perhaps, you can’t really go right) no matter which MVP you choose.
Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On Thursday’s show (May 10, 2018), Neil and Kyle preview both conference finals matchups. They discuss how the Celtics overcame injury after injury to make the Eastern Conference finals, revel in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ remarkable play against the Toronto Raptors, and wonder whether the Western Conference finals are the de facto NBA finals. They also bid farewell to the Sixers and other eliminated teams.The Lab will be back with another episode next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, which are updated after every game. Embed Code By Neil Paine and Kyle Wagner More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed
We also did a bit more data entry from those NCAA.org scans of old team stat sheets to compare Indiana’s core stats with Kentucky’s. Our former ESPN colleague Dean Oliver, now with the Sacramento Kings, developed four factors to describe teams’ style of play. We estimated these for Indiana,4We had to guess what share of its and its opponents’ rebounds came on the offensive side of the floor, because offensive and defensive rebounds weren’t listed separately in the stat sheets that year. To that end, we estimated from trends in recent college data (paywalled) and in the NBA that 35 percent of rebounds by Indiana and its opponents were of the offensive variety. and we also computed each undefeated team’s pace of play and its points scored and allowed per 100 possessions.Indiana was better than Kentucky in a few ways: It allowed fewer points per possession, shot for a slightly higher effective field goal percentage, forced a greater rate of turnovers and allowed slightly fewer free-throw attempts per shot from the floor. But in every other respect, and every net measure, the Wildcats best the Hoosiers.Of course, Kentucky is trying to finish as undefeated champion in 2015 — it’s not chasing the 1975-76 Hoosiers or perfection. Or, as Kentucky coach John Calipari keeps emphasizing to the media when they ask about his team’s quest to finish 40-0, “We know we’re not perfect. We’re undefeated, but we’re not perfect.” The coach is right, and he’d be just as correct if he were describing the 1975-76 Hoosiers.Both the 2014-15 Wildcats and the 1975-76 Hoosiers are great teams — probably among the 25 best teams relative to their competition in the last 40 years of men’s college basketball. But neither team ranks as the best in recent decades. What sets apart Kentucky and Indiana is that they managed to win all their close games and remain undefeated. Indiana won two games in overtime, and five more by five points or fewer. Kentucky has also won two OT games, and two other games by five points or fewer. Each team played nailbiters against Notre Dame: Indiana won by three on Dec. 11, 1975, while Kentucky won by two on Saturday to advance to this weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis.We have reliable SRS data going back to 1985. Eight teams rank ahead of this season’s Kentucky squad, including two previous Kentucky teams: the 1996 two-loss champs, and the 1997 national runners-up. Those 1997 Wildcats — along with the No. 1 team on our list, the 1999 runners-up, the Duke Blue Devils — provide a warning to this year’s Kentucky squad that the best team usually doesn’t win the NCAA tournament. Even among the eight teams of the last 30 years that were more dominant than Kentucky has been so far this year, just two won the title. Kentucky has to win two more games to become the first undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1975-76. And if the Wildcats succeed, the stats we have suggest that they’re a notch or two more dominant than those Hoosiers were.Getting data on Kentucky is easy: The Wildcats’ every game has a digital box score that’s been compiled and analyzed by the likes of Ken Pomeroy and our own March Madness predictions. But Indiana’s statistical record from its undefeated season remains in the analog age, locked in scans of stat sheets.To truly measure the 32-0 Hoosiers’ greatness, we’d want to compile the schedule and results of every Division I team that year. Unfortunately, that would involve inputting dozens of data points from hundreds of image files. And our favorite speed typist was busy.1Seriously, we asked him. So we simplified our analysis: We entered the scores of every Indiana game, then adjusted the Hoosiers’ average margin of victory by the average margin of victory of each of its opponents that season.2Accounting for home-court advantage. That gave us an estimate of Indiana’s Simple Rating System scores, which otherwise aren’t available for teams that far back.3We checked how well this technique estimates SRS for teams from the Big Ten — Indiana’s conference — and the SEC — Kentucky’s — for more recent seasons. We found it’s very reliable, with an r-squared of 0.96 against actual SRS for seasons since 1984-85. The distribution of its errors is approximately normal, with mean of zero and a standard deviation of 1.26, allowing us to create a confidence interval around its predictions and estimate the likelihood that Indiana’s true SRS was greater than or less than the known SRS ratings of more modern teams.What we found is that Kentucky has been slightly better, relative to its opposition, than Indiana was. Kentucky’s SRS is 29.05, meaning it would beat an average team on a neutral floor by about 29 points. Indiana’s estimated SRS is 27.49. Though that’s just an estimate, we can be fairly confident — about 90% sure — that Kentucky is the more dominant team. (Again, these are estimates only relative to the average team each season — the question of which team would win head-to-head is an entirely different one.)
OSU freshman guard Austin Grandstaff (3) dribbles the ball during a game against Virginia on Dec. 1 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost 64-58.Credit: Bree Williams | Lantern PhotographerIt might have come against a Virginia Military Institute team picked to finish last in the Southern Conference in the conference’s preseason coaches poll, but the Ohio State men’s basketball team will surely take its 89-62 win on Saturday any way it can get it to snap its four-game losing streak.“I feel like it’s definitely a sense of relief,” redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson said. “We’re a young team, but we’re still hungry, and I feel like in this game we grew a lot.”Facing a team that contains no players taller than 6-foot-6, the Buckeyes used their height to great advantage to control the paint on both ends of the floor and open up the outside game on offense.OSU (3-4) held a commanding 40-14 lead in points in the paint, while scoring 29 second-chance points and outrebounding the Keydets (3-4) by a margin of 48-27.Four Buckeyes finished with double-digit points, led by 19 from sophomore guard Jae’Sean Tate and 17 from junior forward Marc Loving.“It’s definitely a different feeling, a different atmosphere in the locker room,” Loving said about getting back on the winning side. “It feels good to get a win under our belt, but we still have a lot to work on to keep the one-game winning streak alive.”The Buckeyes came out of the gates firing, looking to put a kibosh to their losing streak. The home team jumped out to a 19-9 lead in the first six and a half minutes of the game, and put themselves in position to run away with the game.Some turnovers and missed looks fueled a very quick Keydet run, though, which saw them take a 23-22 lead midway through the first half. The deficit snapped OSU back to attention, as it went on a 17-3 run from that point en route to taking a 42-31 lead into the intermission.Loving said when VMI mounted its brief comeback, the team didn’t panic or press it too much.“I feel like we’re a very confident basketball team,” he said. “When moments happen like that, we just try to come together as much as possible, because if we don’t we will end up losing the game.”The Buckeyes shot just 4-of-14 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half, but made up for it by shooting 12-of-20 inside of it. As a whole, OSU shot 47 percent from the field in the first half, while holding the visitors to 33 percent. Sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop led the charge in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting with two blocked shots.OSU coach Thad Matta said he was happy with the looks that opened up on the perimeter despite the shots not always falling.“I thought that even though we didn’t shoot that high of a percentage, I thought our execution was a little better,” he said.The Scarlet and Gray continued the strategy of utilizing the team’s size to open up opportunities in the second half.OSU bumped its lead up to 18 points midway through the half, with much of the attack centering around the big, physical nature of Thompson, who scored six points in the second half to finish with 13. “He’s shown us, just in terms of his skill around the basket, I think he’s got a pretty good feel when he catches the ball, just in terms of what needs to be done, what he needs to do with it,” Matta said.Loving also played a big role on offense in the second half, with 11 points in the final 20 minutes. Another extended run later in the half, this one of the 11-0 variety, put the contest out of reach and put the nail in the coffin of OSU’s losing streak.VMI junior guard QJ Peterson, who came in averaging 20.2 points per game, was the leading scorer for the Keydets with 23 points, but was only able to shoot at a 6-of-16 clip as he was guarded tightly throughout by Bates-Diop.Two areas of major concern throughout the season for OSU saw improvements for Matta’s squad on Saturday: free-throw shooting and turnovers.The Buckeyes came into the game with the 11th worst free-throw percentage at 59.4 percent and averaging 15.7 turnovers per game, the 32nd worst mark in the nation.On Saturday, however, OSU shot an efficient 15-of-19 at the line (78.9 percent) and only coughed the ball up a season-low nine times.“We cut our turnovers down. We had single-digit turnovers for the whole game,” Loving said. “I feel like we have to carry that out throughout the rest of the season.”Freshman center Daniel Giddens, who leads the Big Ten with 3.3 blocks per game, was unable to play on Saturday as he dealt with an illness, but that didn’t stop OSU from altering five shots. Matta said after the game that he expects Giddens to return on Tuesday.That game on Tuesday is set to come against Air Force. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) dribbles the ball during a game against Northwestern on Jan. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe surging Ohio State women’s basketball team (18-4, 10-1) handled a struggling Wisconsin team (6-15, 2-9) with a suffocating defensive performance Thursday night to keep the train running smoothly into the highly anticipated matchup with No. 5 Maryland on Monday.Coming into the matchup against the Badgers, the Buckeyes had won 13 of their last 14 games overall. The 87-61 victory pushed No. 7 OSU’s home winning streak to 11 games, while the Badgers have now dropped nine of their last 10 games overall.OSU coach Kevin McGuff said he was satisfied with the way each member of the team immediately found their individual roles and contributed in the contest.“We had good communication, good concentration, good effort,” McGuff said. “Everybody (that) came off the bench knew exactly what we were in. They were locked in and focused.”The Scarlet and Gray started the game off slow, plagued by poor shooting. But that all changed with a little over two minutes left in the first quarter. The Buckeyes scored 11 of their 19 first-quarter points in that short amount of time, aided by a trio of 3-pointers.The momentum OSU created carried over into the second period. The Buckeyes quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead and started to step it up on defense. The lead blossomed to 20 points midway through the quarter, but a late surge pushed the Badgers back to a 13-point deficit at the break.In the opening half, senior guard Ameryst Alston led the way for OSU with 12 points, while junior forward Shayla Cooper added 10 points along with seven rebounds. The nation’s third-leading scorer, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell, was held to only three points in the first half but found other ways to help her team out. For the Badgers, Cayla McMorris and Michala Johnson each put in eight points.While the Buckeyes held a steady lead at the break, they saw the opportunity to put the game away early with a lopsided third quarter, and did just that.“The third quarter was as good a defensive quarter as we’ve had probably all year,” McGuff said.The Buckeyes held Wisconsin to only seven points in the entire third period, pressuring the Badgers into shooting only 18.2 percent from the field. Using the full-court press to their advantage, the Buckeyes put together a lockdown team effort throughout the 10 minutes.When the final buzzer sounded, the Buckeyes headed off the floor with heads held high. Alston was the leading scorer for OSU with 21 points, while Mitchell, who had a strong second half shooting the ball, added 16. Cooper earned her sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, as well.Nine different OSU players saw the floor, eight of whom scored in the game, displaying an ability and a willingness to get everyone involved.“I think that’s what’s so special about our team. We have so many different aspects (and) a lot of us can contribute,” Alston said. “It’s always great to see (different) people out there playing.”Continuing Big Ten play, the streaking Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Maryland at home Monday, which is scheduled for a 9 p.m. tipoff.
OSU redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker (24) celebrates his pick-six during the second half of the Buckeyes game against Nebraska on Nov. 5. The Buckeyes won 62-3. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State hosted one of its biggest games of the year last week against No. 10 Nebraska, under the lights. It was the second largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history and arguably had the most talented list of visiting recruits since OSU coach Urban Meyer began his tenure. The pregame spectacle that was the laser-light show inside the team tunnel, the fireworks shooting off atop the scoreboard and an introduction video highlighting the 2014 national championship were done to make an impression on those in attendance. However, it was up to the Scarlet and Gray to leave the lasting impact. And so they did, with the defense setting the tone.Junior safety Damon Webb intercepted a pass that was tipped by junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan and redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore, then returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. That was the team’s fifth pick-six of the year, which marked a school record.“That was big. The crowd was going crazy on the first third down of the game,” Webb said. “That definitely lifted up the crowd and had momentum on our side.”The OSU defense has been a catalyst at times for an offense that has struggled with a quick start for nearly the whole season. Two weeks ago, for the very first time all year, the Buckeyes notched its first touchdown on its first drive of the game. This time around the defense was one of the best offensive weapons for coach Urban Meyer.Later in the game, redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker made a difference on defense by making his fifth interception and scoring his second touchdown of the 2016 season. OSU now has six interceptions for touchdowns this year, with three games still to play.The skill and athleticism in the OSU secondary has begged the question if any players have tried to play both sides, offense as well as defense. Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said that for the defense to get better, the player have to focus on their individual positions rather than try to learn a new one, not saying that the players wouldn’t be open to taking a stab on offense.Regardless, the OSU secondary has been electric when the players have the ball in their hands. Co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach Greg Schiano has been mostly responsible for the increase in scoring for the offense. Schiano has put an emphasis on making the most of opportunities; a play Schiano calls “sideline return.” McMillan said that there’s one thing on his mind when the ball is caught by one of his teammates: “Turn around and block somebody.” “This is a game of energy. It’s a game of momentum,” Fickell said. “If you got momentum, you got to find a way to keep it. If you don’t have the momentum, you got to do something.”OSU currently ranks fourth in the nation in passing defense and ninth in the country with 14 interceptions. Last Saturday, Nebraska was just 1-for-13 for 12 yards in downfield passing against Conley, Ward and Lattimore. Webb said that there’s not necessarily a competitive between the defensive backs to see who can have the most interceptions at season’s end, but there’s definitely some discussion in the group.“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said. “Just looking forward to Maryland and trying to make the same thing happen.As for any nicknames for the unit, Webb said that’s still a work in progress.No. 5 OSU kicks off at Maryland at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
After a season-ending shoulder injury in 2010, Ohio State lacrosse redshirt junior defenseman Matt Kawamoto set his sights on a big return last season. After being named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and garnering All-American honorable mention honors, Kawamoto said he feels he accomplished just that. “I was shocked,” Kawamoto said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to push to become an All-American.” Kawamoto racked up 32 ground balls and caused 14 turnovers in a total of 15 games for the Buckeyes this season. Coach Nick Myers said the way Kawamoto plays is what catches his eye. “The intensity Matt brings to the field really helps define who we are,” Myers said. “He’s got a great voice, and so much of defense is communication.” Myers also said the entire Buckeyes benefited from the leadership that Kawamoto provided. “He is also a glue-guy who brings the other five or six defensemen together, and gets everyone on the same page,” Myers said. “He is very vocal, and I think guys are drawn to that. Off the field, he is also a great teammate. He will always be there for you.” After his injury in 2010, Kawamoto said the transition back into lacrosse was difficult, but that he had plenty of encouragement. “I came back in the fall working on just getting stuff back and taking small steps,” Kawamoto said. “I really turned it up once the season came around.” Myers said that while Kawamoto has always had the potential to be an All-American, there was a moment when the coaches all came to a consensus that the 2011 season could be special for Kawamoto. “He came back in January in the best shape I have ever seen him in,” Myers said. “He had that same motor we had always seen but just another level of intensity. He had the injury before, but it really made him step back, understand the opportunity he has and that you never know when (injuries) can come up on you. In turn, he just worked that much harder on his game.” Kawamoto said he celebrated the award by relaxing with his friends and going home to Virginia to see his family. Although Kawamoto was excited to be named an All-American, he said he will not be resting on laurels for next season. “I personally like to look at team goals before anything else,” Kawamoto said of his upcoming senior season. “I want to win the ECAC league and make it to the NCAA tournament to make a run at a national championship. I think we have the team and talent to do it. We just have to put it all together.”
The seniors of the Ohio State football team did not get to finish their career by playing in a bowl game, but some will have the opportunity to play in postseason all-star games in an effort to improve their stock for the 2013 NFL Draft.Two former Buckeyes, cornerback Travis Howard and defensive end Nathan Williams, will have that opportunity at the East-West Shrine Game Saturday.Howard and Williams are among a select group of college football players projected as potential NFL draft selections who were invited to St. Petersburg, Fla., to make an impression on NFL scouts, coaches and executives. The players practiced in front of NFL personnel Monday through Thursday, and the week culminates with Saturday’s game.Howard said the opportunity has been a “great experience overall” thus far.“It’s just a tremendous game to be a part of,” Howard said. “Just to go out there and just to showcase your talent … it’s definitely a great feeling. You can definitely see where you stand out at and see if you fit in with certain guys at certain positions.”Williams, who returned to play 10 games as a fifth-year senior after missing the entire 2011 season due to microfracture surgery on his right knee, said it was an honor just to get invited to the Shrine Game.“I feel very blessed to even be considered to be with all these guys, all these great players here,” Williams said.Williams played defensive end for the Buckeyes last season but began his OSU career as a linebacker. He said he has played as both a middle and outside linebacker this week and thinks he has impressed scouts with his versatility.“It’s been great to get back behind the line and kind of have everything develop in front of you, and to have those big bodies take up gaps,” Williams said.Williams said he believes he is best suited to play linebacker at the next level.“I think I’m best at being a linebacker for sure because of my body type and my versatility as far as rushing the passer and pass coverage responsibilities go,” Williams said. “Hopefully I get to a team that knows where they can have a position for me … I just know that whatever team gets me is going to have a great one and hopefully I make the most of my opportunities.”Howard also said he believes he has made a positive impression on those in attendance this week.“I’ve been getting a lot of great looks and making great plays on the ball and been talking to a lot of scouts,” Howard said. “There’s been a lot of interest (from NFL teams) … A lot of scouts said they love that I was there to compete and make plays on the ball.”Williams and Howard both have the ultimate goal of making it to the NFL, and are considered possible late-round selections in April. NFLDraftScout.com currently projects Howard as a sixth- or seventh-round pick as the 29th-best cornerback in the draft class, while DraftCountdown.com ranks Williams as the No. 18 outside linebacker in the draft.Howard said one of his greatest takeaways from the week has been the opportunity to work with Al Harris, who played cornerback in the NFL for 14 seasons and is the cornerbacks coach for the West squad this week.“He did so many tremendous things as an NFL player,” Howard said. “He told us so much stuff within these three days that we’ve been here, just little things just to elevate your game.”Most of the week has revolved around football, whether that be performing on the field or meeting with and learning from NFL personnel off the field, but Williams and Howard both said one of the most valuable experiences of Shrine Game week was visiting the Shriners Hospital for Children – for which the game was created to benefit – in Tampa, Fla.“Having a day with those kids … when you do things like that, it really opens up your eyes and makes you realize just how blessed and how thankful you are to be in a position where you are as a person,” Williams said. “Going to the hospital and playing with those kids … it was a lot of fun.”The Shrine Game is set to kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on NFL Network.Former OSU safety Orhian Johnson, who played in 49 games and had six interceptions over the past four years, will also have to showcase his talent in front of NFL scouts Saturday. Johnson, who could not be immediately reached by The Lantern, will play for the American roster at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. EST from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and will be televised on ESPN2.
Cody Cousino / For The LanternThen-sophomore Braxton Miller evades the defense during a game against Michigan on Nov. 24, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 26-21.For the first time in Ohio State football history, eight individuals were chosen to serve as captains for the 2013 version of the Buckeyes.Members of the eight-man leadership crew, along with coach Urban Meyer, addressed the media after practice Wednesday.Senior backup quarterback Kenny Guiton was one of the eight chosen to lead OSU this season, and the news did not come as a surprise to team members, as Guiton received a large portion of his teammates’ votes.“Most votes (were for) (senior offensive lineman Jack) Mewhort, second most was C.J. Barnett and then Kenny was not far behind, he was like third or fourth,” Meyer said.Guiton said he was surprised to receive the honor, but not surprised that his teammates look up to him.“I was surprised that I was a captain, but I’m really not surprised that I’m a leader,” Guiton said.Meyer went on to express more accolades for his backup quarterback, saying “he’s an incredible kid; (his) parents need to be proud of that guy… I think he should be a coach, I really do, I’ve had that chat with him.”Guiton was not the only gunslinger to be named captain, as junior starting quarterback Braxton Miller was also given the honor.Miller said that he has “big shoes to fill,” left by previous OSU captains, but that he is ready to “take charge.”With eight captains, this year’s Buckeye squad tops the previous high of six set in 2010.Now that the captains have been named, the Buckeye players and coaches are ready to shift focus exclusively toward Saturday’s matchup against Buffalo. Meyer said it’s an incredible feeling to represent his home state and that there are a number of tasks to accomplish.“The responsibility (is) you have to put a good team out there, and that’s really all our focus is,” Meyer said. “Yes it’s exciting and we’re fired up and all that. Every Friday night is a tough night to sleep. You just want to put a good product out there.”Senior wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said this year’s team is a lot different from last year’s and has the potential to put up more points as a result.“I feel like our tempo this year is so much more flawless, we’re so much more crisp on our assignments, we’ve got way more leaders and playmakers out there,” Brown said. “You’ll see a lot of points if we can execute and do what we do.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Buffalo Saturday at noon in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State redhshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo during the game against Ryerson on Sep. 30. Ohio State lost 7-4. Credit: Wyatt Crosher | Lantern ReporterNo. 16 Ohio State (5-1-2, 1-1-0-0 in Big Ten) will square off against a conference opponent for the first time in three weeks as No. 10 Notre Dame (4-3-1, 0-0-0-0 in Big Ten) comes to town Friday and Saturday for the Fighting Irish’s first-ever conference series as a Big Ten team.After a pair of wins against Robert Morris, the Buckeyes ranked in the USCHO Division I Men’s Poll for the first time since the opening weekend of the season. Ohio State holds a four-game win streak and six-game unbeaten streak coming into its clash with Notre Dame this weekend.“Any time you can put a streak together I think that’s important,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We certainly haven’t played our best hockey, which is exciting for me, and we know we are going to have to be at our best Friday.”The Fighting Irish enter this series after splitting a pair of games against Nebraska-Omaha last week. Both games featured high-powered offenses battling it out, with 19 goals scored between the two teams in the series.Notre Dame ranks No. 10 in the NCAA with 3.62 goals per game. Ohio State’s defense ranks third, having only allowed 1.5 goals per game through the team’s first eight games.On the battle between one of the best offenses against one of the best defenses, junior defenseman Sasha Larocque said no matter the opponent, Ohio State’s defense needs to play the same way.“Treat them like anyone else,” Larocque said. “They’re going to come hard, they’re a fast team, obviously super skilled, so we have to go out there and play our game and respect them, but make sure we’re on top of what we need to do to be successful.”Notre Dame’s offensive firepower comes largely from senior forward Jake Evans, who leads the NCAA with 15 points. Following just behind Evans are two high-scoring defensemen in senior Jordan Gross and junior Bobby Nardella. Gross leads all NCAA defensemen with 11 points, and Nardella is tied for second with 10.Rohlik said the team has not strategized specifically to defend those players, but knows the team must always be aware of them.“It’s about us and how we play,” Rohlik said. “We know we have to play five-man defense, five-man offense and we can’t really single out one guy and prepare for that other than knowing where they’re at on the ice.”This series is a battle of opposites in many ways, as the two teams could not be more different when it comes to style of play this season. Aside from the top offense against the top defense, Notre Dame ranks seventh in the NCAA on the power play but is middle of the road for penalty kill. Ohio State is sixth while down a man, but is the third-worst team in college hockey while on the power play. Ohio State redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo ranks in the top 10 in both save percentage and goals against average, while neither Fighting Irish goaltender ranks in the top 30.This is Ohio State’s most important series since opening the year against Wisconsin. The Buckeyes’ offense appears to be clicking at the right time, after scoring a season-high eight goals this past weekend. The defense has been there every game for Ohio State, but it will face its toughest match yet with Evans and company this weekend.“They’re probably going to be the best team we’ve played so far,” senior forward Matthew Weis said. “We’re all looking forward to it, it’s their first game in the Big Ten and we want to welcome them the right way.”
Ohio State sophomore middle blocker Jordan Fry (11) and sophomore setter Becca Mauer (1) block the ball on Sunday, Oct. 14 at St. John’s Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Michigan State in 3 matches. Credit: Claire Kudika | Assistant Design EditorFor its second time this season, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team will face Michigan State (15-12, 3-11 Big Ten) and Maryland (15-11, 6-8 Big Ten) this week. The Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing, Michigan, on Wednesday and return home Saturday to host Maryland for Ohio State’s senior night.The Buckeyes will honor senior setter Olivia Dailey and senior outside hitter Audra Appold after the match against Maryland. Ohio State will also honor former Ohio State volleyball players Jasmine Koonts and Taylor Hughes. The Buckeyes swept Michigan State in their last match and are seeking redemption against Maryland after their 3-2 setback earlier in the season. Michigan State is on a seven-match losing streak, five of which were hard-fought battles against nationally ranked teams. Despite those losses, head coach Geoff Carlston anticipates the Spartans to be stronger than they have been in the past. “They got everyone back and they’re playing better,” Carlston said. “We were a different team when we played them. We had Audra (Appold) and Madison (Smeathers) both healthy, so we’ll be different, and they’ll be different.”Maryland freshman libero Allegra Rivas was awarded Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last week, currently ranking No. 6 in the conference with an average of 4.54 digs per set this season. Sophomore setter Nicole Alford also records 9.91 assists per set. The Buckeyes have dropped their past six matches. “Once we get to 20 points we need to get better at stepping on the gas a little more,” Dailey said.Carlston plans to use scrimmage time to practice exactly that. “We’ll do a lot of stuff at 20-20 and try to play those games because we do it all the time anyway,” Carlston said. “We just need to keep establishing our personality and confidence in those moments as best as we can.”The Buckeyes will face Michigan State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Maryland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at St. John Arena.
English National Opera has risked the wrath of its core fans after announcing it is to stage a new version of Carousel starring Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins, as it bids to expand its audiences to lovers of musicals.ENO has announced it is working on 41 performances of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, with the same company which produced last year’s Sunset Boulevard and Sweeney Todd.It is the second musical announced for the London Coliseum next year, with Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell also put on in the summer as part of plans to raise revenue for ENO by renting out its stage.After announcing the new show, the company was accused of compromising its integrity, with one director claiming it had stabbed the industry in the back and critic claiming its brand was now “down the toilet”. 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. @E_N_O Please say this is a joke @Save_ENO.— Jacky Tarleton (@JackyTarleton) November 25, 2016 @E_N_O @KathJenkins @AlfieBoe The most embarrassing announcement yet in a long line of embarrassing announcements @Save_ENO #getagripPollock— Thomas Walton (@keikobadger) November 25, 2016 Very sad to hear of our national Opera company putting on a musical “starring” an opera hater and a not worthy and with no company chorus.— Matthew Rose (@roseandfriends) November 25, 2016 John La Bouchardiere, a director, said there was “no excuse for casting below standards of commercial theatre”, declaring of ENO on Twitter: “The end is nigh.”The 41-performance run of Carousel will be directed by Lonny Price from April 7 onwards, with tickets costing £12 – £110. So that’s the last of ENO’s integrity totally compromised. Yes there will be bums on seats but at what cost ? #carousel— Gillian Webster (@GilWebster) November 25, 2016 Glenn Close starred in the hit ENO production of Sunset Boulevard Carousel, the 1956 film Alfie Boe, the singer But Cressida Pollock, its CEO, said it was essential for ENO to expand its audiences through putting on new musicals, with the publicly-funded body having a responsibility to appeal to more than just a small proportion of critical opera fans.She added ENO’s first foray into musicals with the GradeLinnit company, Sweeney Todd, had 57 per cent of its audience coming to the Coliseum for the first time, with eight per cent of those going on to return to a more traditional opera.The production will use some of the ENO’s chorus, which found itself in the headlines this year over much-criticised changes to their contracts, and the in-house orchestra. “We’re doing very specific musicals here, which are semi-staged with leads which will draw a new audience, create excitement around ENO and potentially introduce people to opera for the first time.“I think that is absolutely within our remit.” But no sooner had the news been announced than it was heavily criticised by the opera world.Gillian Webster, the lyric soprano, said: “So that’s the last of ENO’s integrity totally compromised. Yes there will be bums on seats but at what cost ?” Decisions have not yet been made over whether it will be the full chorus and orchestra or a proportion of each. Carousel marks the first time singer Jenkins has worked with ENO.Pollock told the Telegraph: “We all have to look at how we reach audiences, and how we demonstrate to new audiences that if you like a musical, come and see an opera.“We are here as a publicly-funded company to serve the public. And the overwhelmingly positive public reaction to this demonstrates that we are doing just that.
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. The famous walls are a two-mile sandstone circuit and represent one of Chester’s most popular tourist attractions.The Romans began building them between 70AD and 80AD as a defensive structure to protect the city and fortress.Apart from a 100-metre (330 ft) section, the walls almost completely surrounded the ancient city section of Chester, with a number of ‘gate’ entrances.What do you think? Join the debate by leaving a comment below. A demonstration of how the anti-pee paint works in Hamburg, where it is also usedThe council has released a humorous video and is promoting it via social media, on beer mats and posters.It shows a bearded “hipster” enjoying a night out in Chester, with the script reading: “Every night people are out; laughing and having fun.”But at the end of the night, a creature emerges. It has no respect for the city and pees in dark corners. But we are fighting back!” The historic walls of Chester have been coated in anti-pee paint to stop drunken revellers urinating on them after an evening out. The Roman city is known for its Grade I-listed, 2,000-year-old walls built by the Romans in 70AD to protect Chester from Welsh attacks.But the council said its fragile sandstone walls are being damaged – and the city’s beauty ruined – by drunk partygoers and visitors desperate to relieve themselves.Now the ancient brickwork has been coated with hydrophobic paint, called Ultra-Ever-Dry, which causes splash-back – leaving the guilty person with an unexpected soaking. Cllr Karen Shore, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “Most party-goers will enjoy the festive season and respect our beautiful city.”However, a minority are damaging historic structures by using the city centre as a public toilet. The liquid-repelling paint has been applied in secret locations across the city.”Anyone spending a penny in public this festive season may get more than they bargained for.” It’s pee-back time! Chester walls take revenge on urinating Christmas partygoers https://t.co/9Uqm9TFkFa pic.twitter.com/NvdE8EpROz— Cheshire West (@Go_CheshireWest) December 2, 2016
Historic England also argued the design may be “overly functional in appearance and of insufficient artistic merit” unless it was a commemorative piece of art, the judgement revealed.The council added that it was unnecessary or inappropriate for the wreaths to remain in place for so long. Now, the Chancellor of the Diocese, Stephen Eyre QC, in his role as a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court, has over-ridden the objections and ruled that such a long term tribute to the ward heroes is appropriate.Granting permission for the scheme he dismissed the parish council’s suggestion that the wreaths did not need to remain in place for so long and said: “I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the wreaths to remain in the vicinity of the memorial for an extended period.” “The nearby parish church is listed at Grade I and the war memorial at Grade II.” I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the wreaths to remain in the vicinity of the memorial for an extended periodChancellor of the Diocese, Stephen Eyre QC Turning to the design of the wreath holders he said he was satisfied that what had been proposed was “of an appropriate quality”. “The wreath holders may very well not be of the high artistic quality which would result from commissioning a top flight designer and saying to such a designer that money is no object,” he said. “They are nonetheless of an appropriate standard. The appearance of the churchyard and in particular of the area around the memorial will be improved by the introduction of the wreath holders because the wreaths will be kept in an orderly manner.”It may not be as great an improvement as Historic England might have wished but it is an improvement nonetheless and as such is to be welcomed.”A spokesman for Tutbury Parish Council said the dispute is with the Tutbury War Memorial Preservation Committee.She added: “Tutbury Parish Council are concerned of how these wreath holders will deteriorate and interfere with the view of the church. Furthermore, we are concerned about what change in behaviour this structure may cause.”It is the Parish Council who has a responsibility to ensure that the closed churchyard remains safe for all to use and would not want young people congregating or climbing on this structure.”A spokesman for Historic England said: “When asked for our views on the proposal to erect a metal frame for the display of wreathes close to the war memorial at Tutbury Historic England believed that the design was ‘overly functional in appearance and of insufficient artistic merit’ in this sensitive context. He continued: “This means that the introduction of wreath holders is a proper measure in the process of improving and restoring the memorial.” Villagers have defeated Historic England following a row about honouring their war dead, as a Church judge ruled they can use a wreath holder to display poppies all year round. Residents in Tutbury, Staffordshire, put forward a proposal to buy two holders so they could display poppies and other wreaths at the Grade I-listed St Mary’s Church. The plan, which was put forward by local vicar, the Rev Ian Whitehead, church warden Jocelyn Hickman, and the chairman of the local war memorial’s preservation committee, won the support of the Parochial Church Council.But it ran into opposition from conservation group Historic England and the local parish council, who raised concerns the displays may be too prominent in the curtilage of the church and may not be in keeping with the listed building. 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.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte are to take a starring role at the wedding of their aunt, Pippa Middleton, as Kensington Palace announce they will be page boy and bridesmaid.Princess Charlotte, who will have just celebrated her second birthday, will walk down the aisle with Miss Middleton on May 20th, at St Mark’s Church, Englefield. Princess Charlotte, walking and talking at a children’s party in Canada last year Pippa Middleton and James Matthews, who will marry on May 20 After the service, the newlyweds will travel to Carole and Michael Middleton’s home for the reception, expected to be held in a marquee in their 18-acre garden. Prince George, who will take on page boy duties Among other guests of honour will be Mr Matthews’ parents, David Matthews and Jane Parker, who own the five-star Eden Rock Caribbean hotel in St Barts where they have hosted various members of the Middleton family.His brother, reality TV star Spencer Matthews, is also expected to attend as best man. The 12th century church is away from prying eyes, on a private estate near Englefield House which is owned by MP Richard Benyon. Her own wedding, to millionaire Mr Matthews, will take place six miles from the village of Bucklebury where she grew up with elder sister Catherine and younger brother James. The Cambridge family attend the Christmas Day service at St Mark’s Church in Englefield, England The palace said it had no further details on guests and was unable to confirm whether Prince Harry would have a plus one.It has been widely speculated that his girlfriend, the actress Meghan Markle, will not be attending. Resident priest Rev Nick Wynne-Jones will officiate at the wedding ceremony, a spokeswoman at the church said.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their two children were photographed attending the church for the Christmas Day service in 2016 with the Middleton family and Mr Matthews. The statement appears to settle the question of whether the Duchess of Cambridge herself would be a bridesmaid, omitting her name from the list of official duties bestowed on her children.Miss Middleton, the Duchess’ sister, was maid of honour at the Royal wedding in 2011, becoming a household name thanks to admirers of her striking white dress and lively interaction with the Royal family on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte in Canada The Middleton family join the Royals for the christening of Princess Charlotte in 2015 Pippa Middleton fulfilling bridemaid’s duties at her sister’s wedding A spokesman for Kensington Palace said: “Miss Pippa Middleton and Mr. James Matthews are pleased to confirm their wedding will take place at St Mark’s Church, Englefield, on the morning of 20th May.”The service will be attended by close family and friends, including The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Prince George will be a page boy, and Princess Charlotte will be a bridesmaid.” Prince George, who will turn four in July, will act as page boy as Pippa marries James Matthews, a 41-year-old hedge fund manager. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the wedding, along with Prince Harry, Kensington Palace confirmed. 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.
Finsbury Park mosque was once notorious for its links to extremist preacher Abu Hamza, but has since worked hard to turn itself round to be a thriving centre of the local Muslim community.The Egyptian hate preacher was imam at the five-storey red brick mosque from 1997 until 2003 and under his leadership it became synonymous with Islamist extremism in the UK.As Hamza attracted a circle of extremist acolytes to the mosque, he also strengthened his grip by bullying and excluding anyone who did not support him. Abu Hamza al Masri speaks outside the mosque to his congregation during Friday prayersCredit: Heathcliff O’Malley Around 1,000 worshippers attend the mosque each Friday for prayers. The mosque says: “People can see a change has taken place and that’s why they are coming back.”Yet the Hamza years have continued to haunt the mosque.Earlier this year it won an apology and damages from a news and financial information company after it was wrongly included in a global risk database linking it to terrorism.The Thomson Reuters database compiled for banks and finance companies placed the mosque in a “terrorism” category based on outdated information and old press reports, the High Court heard.The designation led HSBC to close the mosque’s account and other banks refused to take its business.Thomson Reuters agreed to pay £10,000 in damages plus legal costs as well as making a statement of regret. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A number of terrorists were linked to the mosque, including shoebomber Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate explosives on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in 2001.In January 2003, police raided the building as part of a major investigation into an alleged plot to produce ricin poison. They sealed the mosque and returned it to the trustees.But even though he was denied a base, Hamza continued to preach outside the gates every Friday in a stand-off with the authorities. The mosque’s website describes the period after 2005 as “the new era”, with a “new management team, new Imams, a new name and new ethos”. Hamza’s grip was only broken by his arrest for terrorism offences in 2004 and the mosque’s new management have since worked hard to dispel his shadow.The building finally reopened in 2005 under new management and has since been widely regarded as a success story.
Berkshire/Surrey/HampshireIt will be mainly overcast with cloudy skies and the chance of a heavy shower in the afternoon. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).EssexA clear start. It will then be mostly cloudy in the morning. Brighter spells later, but the risk of an isolated thundery shower too. Moderate southerly winds. Very warm and humid. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F). Debris in the village of Coverack after flash floodingCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty We are experiencing problems with the 101 lines due to the weather,999 lines are ok you can also contact us via the website if you need us— East Cambs police (@EastCambsCops) July 19, 2017 South WalesLargely dry initially, but then rather cloudy and wet with outbreaks of rain at times, generally light. Further rain is expected during the evening too. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 21-24C (70-75F). Sitting up with the dog who’s freaked by the storm and snapped these pic.twitter.com/7ySE4gJVYP— Bill Bailey (@BillBailey) July 19, 2017 Water had to be pumped out of a number of properties in Tunbridge Wells, the fire service said, after it received more than 60 calls to the 999 line within one hour. Crews from Kent Fire and Rescue Service attended but, despite two of the calls stating that people were trapped inside properties, no rescues were needed.Residents and business owners affected by the flooding in Coverack have been told council reserves will be used to help repair the damage. Cornish Coastguard Services attend the scene following a flash flood Credit:Matt Cardy/Getty The lightning storm captured over GuildfordCredit:Richard Waters/REX/Shutterstock A lightning bolt lights up the night sky over PortsmouthCredit:Steve Parsons/PA “This morning it’s probably going to be parts of the Midlands and eastern England that see potential for some heavy rain, some thunderstorms, and then a bit of a lull,” he said. A lightning display over the Brighton horizonCredit:Max Langran Thunderstorms are continuing to affect parts of Britain, with lightning and heavy downpours expected to hit both the morning and evening rush hours.Torrential rain could cause some localised flooding, and people are being warned of the risk of disruption to power networks from lightning strikes. Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said crews remained in Coverack on Wednesday morning.”Cornwall Fire and Rescue remains in attendance on scene, working with the community to salvage,” a spokeswoman said.”Reliefs are being arranged for crews on scene. It is expected that the fire service will remain in attendance until midday, assisting the community.”UK weather forecast: Wednesday, July 19 A yellow weather warning is in place right through the day for large swathes of England and Wales, with the Met Office predicting a month’s worth of rain could fall in some places in a matter of hours.The intense conditions caused flash flooding in a coastal village in Cornwall on Tuesday, with some 50 properties affected and several people having to be rescued from their homes. East AngliaIt is expected to be dry for much of the time with hazy sunshine, but there is the chance of a thundery shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. Feeling hot and muggy. Max temp 26-29C (79-84F). Almighty #Thunderstorm in #Kent! Always amazes me. This is from the bedroom window!! ☇⛈☇⛈☇ #lightning #thunder #thunderstorms #StormWatch pic.twitter.com/Mt94IbowAz— Rich Walters (@therichwalters) July 19, 2017 North SeaIt will be largely dry and bright with spells of sunshine and variable amounts of cloud. A wet evening though with light rain or drizzle. Moderate easterly winds. Warm again. Max temp 19-22C (66-72F).Northern ScotlandA windy day. It is going to be dry with sunny intervals and variable amounts of cloud. Damp during the evening though with patchy rain and drizzle. Strong south-easterly winds. Warm. Max temp 19-22C (66-72F), but cooler along much of the coast.Argyll & ButeIt will be cloudy with the chance of patchy light rain for a period. Hail and thunder showers possible during the afternoon. More persistent and heavy rain during the evening. Cooler with a moderate easterly breeze. Max temp 16-19C (61-66F).West Scotland/Western IslesIt is going to be bright with sunshine and light showers, more especially during the afternoon. Showers merging into more persistent rain by evening. Moderate easterly winds. Warm despite the showers. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).OrkneyA windy day. After a bright start, it will be mostly cloudy in the morning. Brighter spells later, but with isolated showers too. A dry but cloudy end to the day. Strong south-easterly winds. Max temp 14-17C (57-63F). Adam Paynter, leader of Cornwall Council, told BBC Radio Cornwall: “With things like this, money won’t be a problem – we do have reserves we can use for this type of incident.” An entrance to a bed and breakfast property is block by rocks and debris from flash flooding in CoverackCredit:Ben Birchall/PA “Then just in time for the evening rush hour, a different location, this time across parts of northern England, north-west England in particular by the looks of it, will see the worst of the weather in places.” 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. The silent #storm is still looking amazing from #camberwell. Here’s my view across central #london #lightning @LondonSnowWatch pic.twitter.com/eXiJO06sfj— Tim Walker (@electricfoto) July 18, 2017 Here’s what the weather is expected to be like in your region today. LondonIt will be dry with bright or sunny periods, especially during the course of the afternoon. Moderate south-westerly winds. Very warm and muggy again. Max temp 24-27C (75-81F). A man looks at a damaged driveway caused by water from flash flooding in the coastal village of Coverack in CornwallCredit:Ben Birchall/PA The British Airways i360 is lit up by lightning in BrightonCredit:Max Langran North WalesIt is expected to be a generally unsettled day with a lot of cloud and showers or longer spells of rain, mostly light. Remaining wet into the evening. Cooler with a brisk south-westerly wind. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).Lancashire/MerseysideIt will be unsettled and wet for much of the day with showers or more persistent rain, heavy at times with thunderstorms likely. Further evening rain. Fresh easterly winds. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).CumbriaIt is expected to be very unsettled with overcast skies, heavy showers and thunderstorms for much of the day. Some torrential downpours are likely. Rain easing by evening. Brisk easterly winds. Max temp 21-24C (70-75F).Isle of Man/Irish SeaIt looks set to be very unsettled and thundery throughout the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent heavy rain. More persistent rain by evening. Fresh easterly winds. Max temp 17-20C (63-68F).East MidlandsEarly thundery showers will generally clear. Then overcast with cloudy skies and scattered heavy showers, mostly later, with the small chance of thunder. A dry end to the day with some late spells of sunshine. Moderate south-easterly winds. Humid. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).Yorkshire/Humberside/NorthumberlandIt is going to be mixed with patchy light rain in places, clearing to leave scattered thundery showers. Persistent rain developing again through the evening. Moderate south-easterly winds. A very warm and humid day. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F). Flash flooding hit the coastal village of Coverack in CornwallCredit:PA Emergency services work on the scene of flash flooding in Coverack, CornwallCredit:LEAHLILY11/Twitter Scottish BordersIt will be an unsettled day with showers or longer spells of rain, mostly light at first but becoming increasingly heavy and thundery later. Brisk south-easterly winds. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F).Central/Edinburgh/Fife/TaysideIt is going to be unsettled and wet for much of the day with showers or more persistent rain, mostly light in the morning but heavier with thunderstorms likely later. Cooler with a moderate easterly wind. Max temp 16-19C (61-66F).Grampian It is expected to be dry for a time, but mostly cloudy. Sun and scattered showers during the afternoon. More persistent rain by evening. Cooler with a moderate south-easterly breeze. Max temp 17-20C (63-68F).Dumfries & Galloway/Ayrshire & LanarkshireIt will be very unsettled and thundery through the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent rain. Staying wet during the evening but the rain should ease. Moderate easterly winds. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).GlasgowIt is expected to be very unsettled with overcast skies, heavy showers and thunderstorms for much of the day. Some torrential downpours are likely. A wet evening too. Cooler with a moderate easterly breeze. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).HighlandsFollowing a clear start, it will be mainly dry with hazy sunshine, but also the chance of an isolated shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. Staying warm. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F). LincolnshireIt looks set to be generally bright with spells of hazy sunshine, but there is a risk of a thundery shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. A very warm and humid day. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F).Herefordshire/Staffordshire/ShropshireAfter thundery showers at first, it will become mostly cloudy with grey skies and the chance of a thundery shower during the afternoon. A dry but still rather cloudy evening. Moderate southerly winds. Very warm and humid again. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F).Channel IslandsAn increasingly windy day once more. Largely dry initially, but then rather wet with rain and drizzle for a time. Some sunshine later, but still the chance of an isolated thundery shower. Fresh south-westerly winds. Warm and humid. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).Somerset/Dorset/Devon/Cornwall An increasingly windy day. It will be a rather unsettled day with grey skies and outbreaks of showery rain, mostly light. Remaining wet through the evening. Brisk westerly winds. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F), but cooler along the north coast due to an onshore wind. Lightning flashes near the Spinnaker Tower in PortsmouthCredit:Steve Parsons/PA ShetlandA generally fine day, as it will be dry and bright with sunny spells and variable amounts of cloud. Moderate easterly winds. Max temp 13-16C (55-61F).Northern IrelandIt is expected to be cloudy with the chance of patchy light rain for a period. Hail and thunder showers during the afternoon. Persistent rain developing again through the evening. Cooler with a moderate south-easterly breeze. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F).Republic of IrelandAcross much of the country, it is going to be very unsettled and thundery throughout the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent heavy rain. Just the odd spot of rain by evening. A cooler feel with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F), but cooler along the west coast due to an onshore wind.What will the weather be like tomorrow?A much drier and brighter day on Thursday for many, but it will feel fresher. Rain over Northern Ireland will move into western areas later. A council spokesman confirmed some properties in Coverack and one of the roads suffered structural damage and are due to be inspected by structural engineers. KentIt is going to be mainly cloudy in the morning. Sunny periods later, but the chance of an isolated thundery shower too. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F). Lightning storm over the English Channel seen from Brighton beachCredit:Max Langran Two people were rescued by a coastguard helicopter, and one witness described the flooding as “quite horrendous”.A meeting for residents, attended by council officers, will be held at a local hotel on Wednesday.Commuters in the Midlands and east of England could be caught up in downpours on Wednesday, while those in north-east Wales and the North West will bear the brunt in the afternoon, Steven Keates from the Met Office said. He said the nature of the thunderstorms would be “hit and miss” and that the showers should move through the country “relatively quickly”.After a warm night, temperatures are expected to remain high on Wednesday for parts of eastern England where the mercury could rise to the low 30s, Mr Keates added.Cambridgeshire police said the adverse weather conditions have caused problems with its non-emergency 101 service. Speaking from the west Cornwall village, he added: “It’s been absolutely unbelievable to see. I think it’s going to take a little while to get this sorted out and tidied up but obviously the main thing is that nobody’s been injured and everybody is okay in the village.”The council and the emergency services have done a great job, they’ve been here all night to ensure that everybody is safe and they are doing what they can to make sure everything can get back to normal as soon as possible.”