In happier times, Dwayne and Siohvaughn Wade.Wade Wife Arrested – The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade has asked a Chicago judge to suspend his ex-wife’s right to visitation with their two children after a weekend incident that delayed the boys’ return to his custody and led to her arrest.Wade’s attorney, James Pritikin, filed an emergency motion and appeared in court Tuesday to have it heard, hours before the Heat guard was to play in Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.A hearing was set for June 26, which would be the date of Game 7 if the Heat and Thunder extend the series to its limit.Wade told The Associated Press that his sons have been with him in Miami since about 6 a.m. Sunday — “That’s what mattered most to me, getting them here to be with me on Father’s Day,” he said — and that the incident has not adversely affected his play in the championship series.Siohvaughn Funches-Wade was charged with two counts of attempted child abduction, two counts of unlawful visitation interference and one count of resisting arrest, Cook County Sheriff’s spokesman Frank Bilecki told The AP on Tuesday. Another woman at the home at the time, Nadgee Alarcon, was charged with one count of resisting arrest, Bilecki said. All the charges are misdemeanors.Funches-Wade posted $10,000 bond on Monday, Bilecki said, and is due back in court in August. It was not known if she had an attorney.“Once again, S.L. has used our minor children as the proverbial pawns in this contentious dissolution of marriage action,” Wade wrote in the filing, using initials to protect identities but referring to his ex-wife. “This court must take action to protect our minor children from further exposure to the present environment S.L. creates while they are in her care and preventing S.L. from exercising her parenting time in a manner that is harmful to our children.”The couple was divorced in 2010. Wade was awarded custody of the boys in March 2011. His ex-wife’s appeal of that decision was denied in December, and the couple is scheduled to return to court in September in an attempt to complete financial terms of the divorce.“The minor children have been subjected to great deal of drama/trauma as a result of S.L.’s conduct,” the filing said.Dwyane Wade has asked a Chicago judge to suspend his ex-wife’s right to visitation with their two children after a weekend incident that delayed the boys’ return to his custody and led to her arrest.According to the filing, the two boys were to be picked up by Wade’s sister around noon Saturday so they could make a 3:05 p.m. flight from Chicago to Miami so they could be in South Florida for the entirety of Father’s Day.Wade’s sister got no response at the home, and after “several hours,” the sheriff’s office was called to send someone to the scene, according to the filing. It also said Funches-Wade attempted to leave the home without the children when one of the responding deputies tried taking her into custody. The boys, at that time, were with Alarcon inside the home, according to the filing.Wade eventually hired a private jet to bring his sons home early Sunday, and upon their arrival, his older son told him that Alarcon “smacked him on the head,” according to court records.Records show Funches-Wade was transferred to a hospital after the incident on Saturday. She told officers she was experiencing shortness of breath and thought she was having an asthma attack.Wade recently finished writing a book primarily about fatherhood and the custody fight for his sons. It will be released Sept. 4.
Photo by businessweek.comDennis Rodman, who made waves during a wild CNN interview this week from North Korea, apologized through publicist Jules Feiler in an email to the Associated Press.This came a day after he sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at the start of an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang on Wednesday.Rodman has been slammed for not using his access to Kim and his visits to the country to help free Kenneth Bae, a missionary in poor health who is being confined in North Korea for “anti-state” crimes. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Rodman implied that Bae was at fault.“I want to apologize,” Rodman said Thursday. “I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dream of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It’s not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth.”Rodman said he wanted to apologize first to Bae’s family. “I’m very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I’m truly sorry.”In the interview, Rodman was asked whether he would raise the issue of Bae during his visit.“Kenneth Bae did one thing,” Rodman said. “If you understand what Kenneth Bae did — do you understand what he did in this country?”Asked to explain, Rodman declined to respond.Bae, a Korean-American Christian missionary and tour operator based in China, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a threat to its authoritarian government.Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said his family couldn’t believe what Rodman had said.“Here’s somebody who is in a position to do some good for Kenneth and refuses to do so,” Chung told KOMO Radio in Seattle on Wednesday. “And then after the fact, instead, he decides to hurl these unqualified accusations against Kenneth. It’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about. I’m not sure who he’s talking to, where he’s getting his information, but he’s certainly no authority on Kenneth Bae.”The U.S. State Department distanced itself from Rodman and said it did not want to “dignify” his activities or comments in Pyongyang by commenting on them. But spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department was open to speaking with Rodman on his return.“We have not reached out to him. We’ve said before, if he wants to reach out to us, we’re happy to hear from him and what he has to say,” she told reporters.Rodman dedicated the game to his “best friend” Kim, who along with his wife and other senior officials and their wives watched from a special seating area. The capacity crowd of about 14,000 at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped loudly as Rodman sang a verse from the birthday song and then bowed deeply to Kim, seated above him in the stands.Rodman said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event “historic.” Some members of the U.S. Congress, the NBA and human rights groups, however, say he has become a public relations tool for North Korea’s government.The government’s poor human rights record and its threats to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and the United States have kept it a pariah state. Kim shocked the world in December by having his uncle, once considered his mentor, executed after being accused of a litany of crimes including corruption, womanizing, drug abuse and attempting to seize power.Rodman has refused to address those concerns while continuing to forge a relationship with Kim.Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim, who inherited power after the death of his father in late 2011. Rodman has said he is not a statesman and instead is seeking only to build cultural connections with the North through basketball that may help improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington.
Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted “horrible” when Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted in NFL history, and it has cost him an undisclosed amount fine and suspension from the team until he “completes educational training” for his actions, according to the club.Sam, the former Missouri linebacker was selected by the St. Louis Rams, with the next-to-last pick in the draft. His reaction—including tears and a kiss from his male friend—was captured on television, prompting Jones to post on Twitter: “OMG. Horrible.”In the NFL, which is seeking to create a culture of sensitivity, Jones’ reaction was not welcomed, even if it represented many others’ views, too.“I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media,” Jones said in a statement released by the team. “I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team, and I wish him all the best in his NFL career. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Ross, my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for these tweets. I am committed to represent the values of the Miami Dolphins organization and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to do so going forward.”“We met with Don today about respect, discrimination and judgment, coach Joe Philbin said. “These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program. We will continue to emphasize and educate our players that these statements will not be tolerated.”Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told NFL Network soon after Sam was picked that he didn’t anticipate issues about his sexuality.“I don’t have any concern whatsoever. We drafted a good football player,” Fisher said. “I’m excited to get him on the practice field and get him going so yeah, there’s gonna be a little extra tension for a couple days, but Michael was the SEC co-defensive player of the year.”Sam had 11 1/2 sacks last season for Missouri. Many believe he would have been selected higher had he stayed essentially in the closet. NFL scouts, of course, likely would have learned he was gay after they began evaluating prospects after the season, since Sam was out to his college teammates — and there was a strong chance of him being outed against his will.
With how lopsided many of these first-round NBA playoff series have been, it would have been understandable to want the Thunder-Blazers matchup to continue beyond Tuesday, both because of its star power and because of the sheer back-and-forth competitiveness it displayed.But if the series had to end quickly, at least it went out with a bang: with Damian Lillard finishing not only with 50 points, but also with one of the greatest, most cold-blooded buzzer-beaters in NBA history — perhaps the most difficult one to ever end a playoff series, all things considered.This wasn’t Lillard’s first game-winner to end a series. He hit a more conventional one, coming off a screen for a lightning-quick catch-and-shoot opportunity, to knock out the Houston Rockets in 2014.But with Tuesday’s dagger, the Portland star finished off former MVP Russell Westbrook and his Oklahoma City club, literally waving goodbye to the visiting Thunder after nailing a shot just to the right of the Blazers’ half-court logo, a full 37 feet away from the basket. A shot from that distance would be difficult enough to knock down wide-open, let alone with an All-NBA defender like 6-foot-9 Paul George contesting it.“That’s a bad shot, I don’t care what anybody says. That’s a bad shot,” a defiant George told reporters after Oklahoma City fell, 118-115, putting an end to the five-game gentleman’s sweep.But in a way, that’s what made it such a spectacular one. Lillard wanted to take that shot. He had more than 10 seconds to make something else happen — to drive to the hoop for a closer look, or to potentially call a teammate over for a screen to get more space — and chose not to. Instead, he opted to let the clock run down to the final two seconds, took a side-step to his right and let it fly from 37. Ballgame.And despite George’s proclamation, that Lillard’s game-winner was a “bad shot” that went down anyway, consider this: Lillard had been doing stuff like this all series long. In fact, the buzzer-beater made Lillard an unthinkable 9-of-15 for the series from 30 feet and beyond, according to Second Spectrum. It’s part of the reason Lillard has been the most valuable player this postseason thus far.We’ve been critical of the Blazers and their roster construction at times in the past. A team built mostly around Lillard and CJ McCollum seems flawed, both because of the tough shots the guards rely on (especially when playing longer-wing defenders like Jrue Holiday last year) and because of the duo’s shortcomings on D. There have been some redeeming qualities present in their teamwide defense — the Blazers have been elite for years at limiting quality looks on that end of the floor. Still, the club’s calculus figured to get a lot tougher without starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who somehow had avoided serious injury in the past but then succumbed to a season-ending one just weeks before the playoffs began. And it didn’t help that the club entered this postseason having lost 10 playoff games in a row.Yet if Lillard can play anywhere close to this level going forward, it requires at least a brief reevaluation of everything. He had 34 points in the first half alone on Tuesday and hit three of his four attempts from 30-plus feet, including the one that sent the Thunder packing.Lillard’s ability to sink those shots — paired with Oklahoma City’s surprise that he’d even have the audacity to try them in some cases — was one of the key reasons Portland ran away with the series 4-1. The Thunder allowed him too much cushion, largely because defenders haven’t adjusted to the realization that Lillard, with nearly limitless range on his off-dribble jumpers, has arguably become the closest thing we have to Golden State’s Stephen Curry.Curry, Lillard and Atlanta rookie Trae Young were the only three players in the NBA to take more than 40 3-point attempts from 30 feet and beyond this past regular season, according to Basketball-Reference.com’s Play Index. Curry shot an impressive 31.1 percent, while Lillard hit 30.6 percent of his tries from that distance. (Young, promisingly, made 34.6 percent of his.)After the game, Lillard told reporters that his trainer, Phil Beckner, had him work on longer-than-usual 3-point attempts — closer to half-court — while working out in Oklahoma City earlier in the series. “I’m telling you, you’re gonna hit one of these,” he recalled Beckner saying.And unfortunately for the Thunder, that one — which might have been a bad shot for just about anybody other than Lillard — was enough to end their season in the most brutal way possible.
13Julius Erving31-34+7.8+6.3+5.93.2-4.6 10Kevin Garnett27-30+9.9+9.7+7.95.0-4.9 19George Gervin30-33+1.1-0.4-1.3-3.3-4.4 2Mookie Blaylock29-32+7.2+3.6+4.90.2-7.0 14Shawn Kemp24-27+6.5+3.1+3.82.0-4.5 12Bobby Jones25-28+7.7+5.1+3.83.1-4.6 Includes players who played at least 50 percent of available minutes each season in the four-season stretch.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 3Michael Adams28-31+4.4+1.7-0.1-1.6-6.0 4James Worthy28-31+4.0+2.3+0.7-1.6-5.6 15Dirk Nowitzki27-30+5.7+6.7+5.21.2-4.5 7Derek Harper28-31+4.3+2.8+0.7-0.9-5.2 18Dwyane Wade27-30+10.7+9.4+5.96.3-4.4 9John Drew23-26+3.1+1.3-0.7-1.8-4.9 8Terry Porter27-30+6.1+3.1+2.41.0-5.1 PlayerAgesYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 44-year Change 11Ricky Rubio25-28+1.9+0.8+1.7-2.9-4.8 Few players have ever declined so much as Melo, so quicklyBiggest decline in Box Plus/Minus (BPM) for qualified NBA players over a four-season span, 1976-2019 16Ray Williams25-28+4.0+3.1+3.9-0.4-4.4 Carmelo Anthony may have played his last game as a member of the Houston Rockets. Or maybe not. Who knows? Either way, the Carmelo Experiment in Houston hasn’t gone according to plan over the first month of the season. Coming off a charmed 65-win campaign in 2017-18, this year’s Rockets are below .500 — and while Houston’s problems run deeper than Anthony, he has done little to suggest they’re merely coincidental with his presence on the team.Going into the season, my colleague Chris Herring wrote that Anthony’s success or failure in Houston would largely depend on his ability to curtail his usual scoring tendencies and play effectively off the ball — finding opportunities for open shots (presumably off passes from Chris Paul and James Harden) and knocking them down. In addition, Anthony would need to prove he wasn’t a total liability on defense, considering Houston lost lockdown forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute over the summer.Unfortunately, Anthony hasn’t really done much in any facet of that role so far. He has dialed back the share of team offense he’s using — down to a career-low 20.5 percent usage rate — which would normally be a positive sign of accepting a diminished function in the offense. But he’s also stopping the ball too often — he has assisted just 2.9 percent of teammate buckets while on the floor — and his shooting hasn’t been up to par. Anthony is hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers at an effective field goal percentage of just 51.8 percent, which according to Second Spectrum ranks 32nd out of 48 shooters with at least 50 attempts. More concerning, Anthony also ranks 224th out of 266 qualified shooters in overall quantified shot quality, Second Spectrum’s metric for judging the expected value of a shot (based on distance, defender proximity, etc.). Anthony has always excelled at making tough shots, but in order to fit into Houston’s obsessively efficiency-maximizing scheme, he needed to prove he could generate easy ones, too.Moreover, Anthony has been a prime culprit in Houston’s drop from sixth in defensive efficiency last season to 20th this year. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Rockets are allowing an eye-popping 119.2 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the court, 10.1 more than they do with him off the floor. That 109.1 mark without Anthony would rank 14th in the league anyway, so it’s more than just Anthony that’s causing the Rockets to slip from their defensive form of last season. His arrival certainly hasn’t helped the cause, though.Anthony’s friend (and fellow Banana Boater) Dwyane Wade tweeted Sunday that fans and journalists were trying to make Anthony “the fall guy” for Houston’s slow start, and he has a point. Looking beyond Anthony, Houston has three rotation players — Eric Gordon, Gerald Green and Michael Carter-Williams — with true shooting percentages below 50 percent. Harden hasn’t quite recaptured his MVP form from last year, and Paul appears to be slowing down at age 33. The Rockets look sluggish (they rank 28th in pace) and are making only 32.7 percent of their many three-point attempts, which ranks a shocking 25th in the league.1For comparison’s sake, they ranked 13th last year.But Anthony is also hitting new statistical lows in what has been an otherwise Hall of Fame career. At age 33 with Oklahoma City last season, he’d never been worse according to Player Efficiency Rating (12.7), Win Shares per 48 minutes (.071) or Box Plus/Minus (-3.8). Although there was hope he’d just slumped in a bad situation on OKC, Anthony is blowing away those old career-worst marks this season: He currently has a PER of 11.5 with .043 WS/48 and a BPM of -5.1.It’s not unheard of to see a player dip so drastically in production as he ages into his 30s, but it is shocking to see it happen to a player who has been as good as Anthony has been and also hasn’t suffered a major injury. According to Basketball-Reference’s data, Anthony’s 7.7-point decline in BPM from 2015-16 to 2018-19 is tracking to be the largest since the ABA merger for any player who logged at least 50 percent of team minutes over each season in a four-year span. BPM by Year in Span … 1Carmelo Anthony31-34+2.6-0.7-3.8-5.1-7.7 A player had to be very good in order to even suffer so large a decline in the first place, and Anthony certainly fit that bill … once upon a time. Many of the names on that list managed to bounce back and be quality contributors going forward, though few were as old (and none as bad) as Anthony has been recently. So in that sense, the collapse of Anthony’s game has been historic — we’ve never really seen a star’s numbers fall off quite so much in such a short time.If the Rockets do end up cutting ties with Anthony, he may still draw interest from certain NBA teams. (At the very least, the Melo-to-the-Lakers rumor mill is already starting to rumble back to life.) And, however small, there is some evidence Anthony could be more effective in a different system than that of the Rockets, where his game never meshed with Mike D’Antoni’s overarching philosophy at either end of the court. But whether due to fit or declining skills, it has been a nothing less than stunning fall for Anthony these past few seasons. 17Scott Skiles26-29+1.6-1.4+1.0-2.8-4.4 20Kevin Willis29-32+1.0-0.4+1.1-3.2-4.2 5Dwyane Wade28-31+9.4+5.9+6.33.9-5.5 6Kareem Abdul-Jabbar37-40+4.9+4.5+1.6-0.6-5.5
201730–6–1.70 Before Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa became a household name in last season’s national title game, the Georgia Bulldogs had a 13-0 lead and were 30 minutes away from the program’s first championship in nearly 40 years. To start the second half, Nick Saban plugged in the freshman quarterback from Hawaii, and Tagovailoa rallied the Crimson Tide to an overtime victory, adding to the team’s already overflowing trophy case.Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs retreated with their tails tucked between their legs.This weekend’s SEC title game, then, represents the rematch. And once again, Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide stand in Georgia’s way.It’s ridiculous to think there’s a blueprint for beating Alabama when they’ve looked so dominant, outscoring opponents 588 to 165 this season. But there are a few areas where Georgia may have an advantage.Of course, Georgia doesn’t want to get baited into a shootout with arguably the nation’s best offense. Of course, limiting possessions and muddying up the game are a more optimal approach. Of course, Tagovailoa should be kept off the field as much as possible.All of this starts with running the ball. 201528–5–1.39 Perhaps the most underappreciated storyline in the SEC can be found in Athens. Running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were selected in the first two rounds of this year’s NFL draft, and Georgia’s run game improved.This season, the two-headed monster of Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift has run buckshot through the SEC. Each will likely eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Largely behind the two, the Bulldogs have over their last four games rushed for 1,345 yards, more than nine teams have accumulated all season. Georgia has the conference’s top rushing attack, gashing opposing defenses for 259.8 yards per contest on 6.3 yards per attempt, and leads the conference in total rushes of 10-plus yards (102) and 20-plus yards (35).Now, it seems silly to nitpick an Alabama defense that has allowed only six rushing touchdowns all season and ranks in the top 15 in both rushing yards allowed per contest (114.0) and rushing yards allowed per carry (3.3) … but we’re going to do it anyway. If Alabama’s ultra-young defense has had difficulty with anything, it’s mitigating explosive plays. Over 12 games this season, the Crimson Tide has allowed 13 carries of 20-plus yards, tied with five teams for 35th-fewest in the nation. On top of that, the Tide defense has also allowed 38 carries of 10 or more yards. Both numbers are the most Alabama has allowed through 12 games since 2011: 2017127.22 Source: Espn Stats & Information Group SeasonNat’l RankRush EPA/Game Season10+ yards gained20+ yards gainedYDS. After 1st Contact/Rush Alabama is vulnerable on the groundBig runs given up by the Crimson Tide defense and yards given up after first contact on a running plays each year (through 12 games) since 2011 201330–5–1.64 201633–6–1.36 201121–5–1.39 Yards after contact data is unavailable before 2011.Source: Espn Stats & Information Group Georgia’s expected points added per game on running plays during seasons under Kirby Smart 2018107.85 201433–7–2.13 Number of Opponent Rushing Plays with … 201223–6–1.47 201838–13–2.46 2016681.91 Opponents are running through Alabama tacklers like never before, too. This season, the Tide has allowed 2.46 yards after contact per carry, which is the worst performance for Alabama through the first 12 games of a season since 2011, the earliest year for which data is available. Of note: Only Memphis has gained more yards after first contact this year than Georgia.Of course, Tagovailoa is the closest thing to a cheat code in college football this season and could render these potential advantages for Georgia moot. The sophomore has racked up more passing touchdowns in the first half of games (27) than all but 21 schools1Excluding Alabama. have scored over the entire season. But this is an elite Georgia defense that could be Tagovailoa’s biggest test this season.The ultimate irony would be if a quarterback change by Smart decided the outcome of Saturday’s game. Jake Fromm has capably commanded the Georgia offense this season and has been sensational since his tepid showing during the team’s lone loss, which came against LSU. But Justin Fields, one of the most sought-after recruits from the 2018 class, has an uncanny athleticism that adds another potential threat to an already devastating offense. At receiver — again, the irony — Riley Ridley (brother of former Alabama star Calvin Ridley, who scored a touchdown in last season’s title game) has elevated his game this season. Fromm and Fields will look to Ridley, the team leader in receiving touchdowns, to take the top off the Alabama defense.If the game comes down to the wire, Georgia should be the more confident team. Long the Achilles’ heel of Saban-led teams, special teams could be what holds Alabama back. Kicker Joseph Bulovas has missed four of 16 field-goal attempts and has botched five extra points. And while the Crimson Tide ranks in the top two in offensive and defensive efficiency, it ranks a dismal 87th in special teams efficiency. “It’s not really acceptable,” Saban said earlier this month.Conversely, Rodrigo Blankenship, the bespectacled Georgia sensation, has been among college football’s most accurate kickers, nailing 19 of his 22 attempts and all 58 of his extra points. Georgia’s special teams rank far better than Alabama’s, landing at No. 38 in efficiency.It speaks to the sheer dominance of Alabama that Las Vegas sportsbooks installed the Crimson Tide as double-digit favorites against Georgia. But this is a dangerous underdog with all the trappings of a dominant squad. Some metrics consider the Bulldogs among the two best teams nationally. They won’t be short on motivation, if nothing else, as they seek to avenge last season’s loss when the lights were brightest.Check out our latest college football predictions.
Vince Doria (far right), Matt Mitten (second from right), Joe Nocera (second from left), and Andrew Zimbalist (far left) are introduced on Friday at the Sports Society Initiative’s forum on paying college athletes. Credit: Mitch Hooper | Lantern reporterThe topic of financial compensation for collegiate student-athletes has been sweeping the nation in recent years, and on Friday, Ohio State, home to one of the country’s most profitable athletic departments, was at the forefront of that discussion.Two separate panel discussions — the first featuring sports policy analysts and writers, and the second consisting of seven former Buckeye athletes — were held on campus in an event organized by the university’s Sports and Society Initiative. The three-hour conversation, titled “Paying College Athletes,” encompassed nearly all sides of the debate, from legal and political angles, to methods and realities of implementation, and to athlete testimonies and alternatives. Dialogue among the panel members was passionate, insightful and respectful, although it jumped around frequently. Yet, that is inherent with any conversation about financial compensation for student-athletes. The issue is so complex, like splitting the atom, that any discussion on it could seem scattered because there are myriad factors to consider and understand.Kristin Watt, an attorney and former OSU basketball player in the 1980s, does not support a pay-to-play model, but she, like the few other panelists with a similar position, completely acknowledged the inequities in the current system. Although she said there likely will be inequities no matter what, there are “absolutely” problems that can be fixed.“Forums like this, I really want to congratulate Ohio State for putting this on,” said Watt, who was on the second panel. “The more we talk about it, the more issues get out and the more people get educated … That’s what helps spur changes.” A high point during the event was when former OSU running back Maurice Clarett delivered his opening statement. Despite his dominant freshman season for the Buckeyes in 2002, Clarett is infamous for his off-the-field tribulations, which included accepting improper benefits that played a role in his dismissal from the university and spending more than three years in prison on multiple charges. When Clarett spoke, the some hundred people in the audience were captivated, clinging to his every word. Clarett said he “absolutely” supports a pay-for-play model for collegiate athletes, citing his personal story as evidence. Growing up in the poverty in Youngstown, Ohio, Clarett said he took money under the table to help him pay personal expenses, namely fixing his car’s transmission. “My spiral of events wouldn’t have happen if I had money,” Clarett said passionately. Clarett said his situation — coming from poverty and needing support beyond just an academic scholarship — is no anomaly. Clarett also spoke poignantly about the lack of emphasis that some programs place on education. Clarett said he was nowhere near the education level needed at OSU and that he was shuffled through classes just to stay eligible. This is common, Clarett said, with those coming from inner city schools. At one point, amid the Youngstown native’s emotional soliloquy on academics, Lawrence Funderburke, a panelist and former OSU basketball player, interpreted. “Preach it,” he said. “Keep preaching.”As Clarett’s opening statement wrapped up, a few members of the audience stood up, applauding. Vince Doria, former Senior Vice President and Director of News at ESPN, started the discussion on the first panel. Doria, an OSU graduate, acknowledged his past employer’s role in the growth of big-time college athletics through massive television deals, yet he said he supports a pay-to-play system. His proposal contains different tiers of payment for players in revenue sports based mostly on playing time. It might not be perfect, Doria said, but at the very least, it “begins to address the unfairness of the current system.” A key portion of Doria’s rationale for supporting additional compensation beyond academic scholarship is that the notion of providing education is misleading, he said. “A scholarship is really the opportunity to achieve an education,” he said. Doria said with the vigorious schedule that athletes have because of games and training, they don’t get the same chance to work outside of the classroom to really take full advantage of the scholarship and obtain a comprehensive education. Joe Nocera, a sports business columnist at The New York Times and co-author of “Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA,” is outspoken about the reforms he feels are necessary. Nocera left no room for where he stood on the issue, enunciating his clear support for paying student-athletes. In fact, Nocera said he even believes that the term “student-athlete” is incorrect.“(The NCAA) shouldn’t call them student-athletes, but rather athlete-students or employee students, because that’s what they really are,” he said. “Let’s be honest about what the NCAA is. … it’s a cartel.”Former OSU basketball player Kristin Watt (right) speaks at a forum about paying college athletes while former OSU running back Maurice Clarett (left) listens. Credit: Mitch Hooper | Lantern reporterWhen Nocera first began writing about the injustices he believes college athletes face, he said he got emails from readers asking why he was spending his time writing about it. His explanation, delivered passionately on Friday, pierced the crowd.“This is not a sports issue. This is a human rights issue and civil rights issue,” said Nocera, who also brought up the NCAA’s transfer policy, which he denounced. “I came at this through the prism of rights, not pay.” Watt, the former OSU basketball player, was not alone in her opposition to a pay-to-play model. Joining her in dissent was a Marscilla Packer, a fellow former OSU basketball player, Funderburke and Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts. “I think there are meaningful reforms that can address the economic injustices without going for the pay-for-play model,” said Zimbalist, who cited concerns over growing television revenue and the complicated tax-exempt status donations to athletic departments have. Some of the most common agreed upon reforms that did not involve a direct cash payment included guaranteed scholarships lasting at least four years. Currently, they are for one year, with the option to be renewed. Lifetime health insurance was another proposal that seemed to be agreed upon by all 11 panelists. Nocera said it’s clear that if an athlete sustains injuries while playing sports in college for a university, it’s the school’s duty to make sure the individual has the proper care he or she needs during his or her lifetime. Funderburke, who founded a youth organization after retiring from the NBA, said he has a five-point plan to help student-athletes that does not involve a pay-for-play system. It included mentoring arrangements, life-skills courses for athletes, a deferred-savings stipend and a family emergency fund. “We’re never going to be fair or equitable, but we can at least be sensible,” he said. If there is one thing the panel illustrated, it’s that there is a lot to consider when looking to address injustices in college athletics. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but having open forums like the panel can prove to be instrumental, said Kelly Trent, a former OSU golfer who is “on the fence” on specifics but agrees collegiate sports are littered with inequity. “For this thing to advance, it’s going to take some giving on both sides,” said Doria, the former executive at ESPN. “And the history of the NCAA in that area hasn’t been good.”
1. Will Terrelle Pryor continue taking care of the ball on the road? Pryor is third in the Big Ten in total offense with 302 yards per game. He is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week after recording six total touchdowns last week against Eastern Michigan. But the key stat for No. 2 is that he has only turned the ball over twice this season. OSU becomes nearly unbeatable if Pryor takes care of the football, but this is the first time the Scarlet and Gray have played away from Ohio Stadium this season. 2. Can “Boom” and “Zoom” get on track? Between them, Dan “Boom” Herron and Brandon “Zoom” Saine have six rushing touchdowns and 361 yards rushing. Even their yards-per-carry average of 4.6 (Herron) and 4.7 (Saine) are solid. But anyone who has watched the first four games would say these two running backs could do better. Saine appears to be having trouble changing direction and finding the right holes. Herron has trouble breaking past the second level of the defense. Right now, Pryor is OSU’s leading rusher. 3. Will the Illini break OSU’s 100-yard individual rusher streak? Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Fighting Illini’s three games in 2010. It has been 27 games since the OSU defense allowed a 100-yard rusher. The “Silver Bullets” have only allowed seven 100-yard rushers since the start of the 2005 season, fewest in the nation. Something’s got to give. But consider this: Illinois has played Missouri, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois to open the season. Chances are LeShoure will have trouble getting to the century mark. 4. Does anyone know what Illibuck is? Whenever OSU and Illinois meet, the Illibuck trophy is at stake. The original Illibuck was a live turtle. But the grind of traveling back and forth between Champaign and Columbus took its toll and Illibuck died in the spring of 1927. His successor, a wooden replica, has been used ever since. Members of two of the schools’ junior honorary societies meet at halftime of the game to award Illibuck to the previous year’s winning school. OSU leads the series 62-30-4 and has a 33-12 advantage in Champaign. 5. Will OSU have another close call in Memorial Stadium? Although Illinois’ last victory over OSU in Champaign was nearly 19 years ago, a 10-7 win on Oct. 12, 1991, the last four times OSU has visited Memorial Stadium, the scores have been close. OSU won 24-21 in 2000, 23-16 in overtime in 2002, 17-10 in 2006 and 30-20 in 2008. However, none of those OSU teams boasted the combination of a high-scoring offense (third in the nation in points) and suffocating defense (No. 19 in points allowed). Coach Jim Tressel said the difference between playing at home and playing on the road is pretty clear-cut in terms of dealing with hardship during the game. “You’re going to have some adversity,” Tressel said. “You’re not going to have that crowd there to help you through it. So you better play as well or better than you’ve ever played this year if you want to be successful.”
Michigan arrived in Columbus not the least bit intimidated by the No. 1-ranked, undefeated Ohio State men’s basketball team. The Wolverines stood toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes for most of the game Thursday night, but despite trailing at halftime, OSU showed exactly how it’s managed the second-best start in program history. “Ohio State is really good,” Wolverine coach John Beilein said. “There’s a reason they’re undefeated.” On the shoulders of freshman Jared Sullinger’s 10th double-double of the season, OSU (23-0, 10-0 Big Ten) bested unranked but feisty Michigan (13-10, 3-7 Big Ten), 62-53. Sullinger played all 40 minutes, scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes to victory. OSU jumped out to a quick lead, beginning the game with a 7-0 run, but the Wolverines were in no mood to let the Buckeyes blow them out early. A 3-pointer from junior guard Zack Novak tied the game at 14-14 with 11:39 to go in the first half. Four minutes later, a jumper from junior guard Stu Douglass gave the Wolverines their first lead, 20-19. The Buckeyes regained the lead, but back-to-back Michigan buckets to close the half put OSU down, 26-23, at the break. It was just the fourth time all season the Buckeyes have been trailing at halftime, and they entered the locker room with 10 turnovers and shooting just 36 percent from the field. “That’s not Ohio State basketball,” freshman point guard Aaron Craft said of the Buckeyes’ offensive struggles in the first 20 minutes. “That’s not what we’ve been doing all year to get us in the position we’re at.” A basket from redshirt freshman forward Jordan Morgan gave the Wolverines a 30-24 lead early in the second half, but two 3-pointers from junior guard William Buford tied the game, 30-30, and ignited the sellout crowd at the Schottenstein Center. With his first points of the game, senior forward David Lighty gave the Buckeyes a two-point lead with just less than 14 minutes remaining. The Wolverines quickly tied it, but a 7-0 Buckeye run, capped with a Lighty free throw, gave OSU a 44-36 lead with 9:37 to go. Again, however, Michigan answered. Back-to-back 3-pointers from freshmen Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. cut the Buckeye lead to two. But Sullinger’s eight points over the next five minutes fueled a 10-3 OSU run that gave the Buckeyes a 54-45 lead, their largest of the game to that point, with less than three minutes remaining. “In the second half we took our intensity to another level,” Sullinger said. “We know it’s Michigan, and we know they’re going to give us their best shot. On top of that it’s a rivalry, so we just had to take it to another level.” After struggling through the first half, OSU shot 54 percent from the field in the second, and ended the game on an 18-9 run to earn the nine-point victory. Buford finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Lighty and senior guard Jon Diebler added nine points apiece. The win, despite the seemingly comfortable margin of victory, was yet another game that perhaps could have gone either way down the stretch. The close games, Buford said, are simply what comes with a No. 1 ranking and will only help the Buckeyes in the long run. “We know every team is going to come after us,” Buford said. “We’re the No. 1 team in the country. They’re giving us their best shot, and we’re taking people’s best punches right now so when we get to the tournament we’ll be prepared.” OSU coach Thad Matta is happy as long as his team keeps winning, regardless of how close the games are. “It’s amazing, and I keep saying this just looking across college basketball,” Matta said. “There are great players, there are great coaches and to be sitting here today 23-0 and 10-0 in the Big Ten is something else.” The Buckeyes travel to Minneapolis to play No. 18 Minnesota at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Buckeye fans won’t have to worry about their archrival celebrating a national championship in basketball this season. The Michigan Wolverines fell Monday night to the Louisville Cardinals, 82-76, in the national championship game. Louisville became the eighth school to win three, or more, national championships and coach Rick Pitino becomes the first coach in history to win a national title at two different schools. In a fast-paced game that saw a combined 158 points, the game came down to the fight in the paint. Louisville’s sophomore forward Chane Behanan made a big impact during the second half, with 12 rebounds that eventually wore down a perimeter oriented Wolverine team. Coming into the game, it was thought that standout freshman forward Mitch McGary would handle the inside for Michigan. However, it was the Cardinals who played with an increased physicality, including eight rebounds and three blocks from junior center Gorgui Dieng. It can also be said that the game was won by the Cardinals well before the second half as they withstood an Wolverine run from an unlikely source. Freshman point guard Spike Albrecht averages 1.8 points per game and saw sporadic playing time during the tournament, but the young guard exploded with a bevy of threes and dropped 17 points in his first 16 minutes of play to give Michigan a 12-point lead at 33-21. With 11:09 to play in the first half, Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke was hit with his second foul. Michigan coach John Beilein made a crucial decision to sit his star point-guard for the remainder of the first half. The Cardinals capitalized on Burke’s absence by turning up the pressure and going on a run of their own. Louisville junior guard Luke Hancock hit four 3-pointers down the stretch of the first half to whittle the Michigan lead down to one. Louisville carried the momentum through the second half to bring the national title back to the Bluegrass State for a second consecutive season after Kentucky won the national championship last season. The Wolverines were not able to bring the Big Ten a national championship on a year where the conference was considered by many to be the strongest in college basketball. Some Buckeye fans reluctantly pulled for the Wolverines in a display of conference pride, but the Cardinals were just too tough and experienced for their opponents. Hancock was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after two breakout performances. The transfer from George Mason dropped 20 much needed points in the national semifinal against Wichita State, before adding another 22 off the bench in Monday’s title game.