Roger Federer has a good chance later this year to pass Pete Sampras for most aces in his career. Ivo Karlovic, in turn, is hot on Federer’s heels for No. 4 on the all-time men’s tennis aces list and could pass him at the U.S. Open this week.You may start hearing more about this leaderboard as Federer and Karlovic keep overtaking former greats and each other. If you do, it’s worth keeping in mind that among trivial sports records, the all-time aces title is a particularly meaningless accomplishment:The ace counts only go back to 1991, when umpires at ATP World Tour and Grand Slam events started recording point-by-point data, including aces (serves that land in and which the returner can’t touch with his racket). All-time leader Goran Ivanisevic and Sampras (No. 3 in aces) debuted three years before the match stats did. Sampras probably would have a much wider lead over Federer and No. 5 Karlovic if his 125 matches from his first three years on tour counted toward his ace total. And Ivanisevic would have a more secure grip on No. 1 if he got credit for his 136 matches between 1988 and 1990; as it stands now, his countryman Karlovic could pass him as soon as late next year. No. 11 Marc Rosset — who also debuted in 1988, a banner year for big servers — might have held the lead among Swiss players over Federer for longer if his 62 matches through 1990 counted. Even more of the careers of big servers Boris Becker, John McEnroe and Roscoe Tanner are shrouded by the sport’s statistical blind spot.The Davis Cup, the sport’s international team competition, counts toward players’ official match records. But merely for administrative reasons — “with all the ties all over the world we don’t have a system to get the data,” ATP stats overseer Greg Sharko said in an email — Davis Cup stats don’t count toward ATP totals. That means Karlovic doesn’t get credit for his 78 aces in a Davis Cup loss in 2009. On the other hand, Karlovic has played only 17 Davis Cup singles matches, while Federer has played 42 — more than Ivanisevic and Sampras, though three fewer than the 45 played by Andy Roddick, who is second on the all-time aces list. No aces from those matches count toward these players’ totals.All counting stats are crude ways to estimate athletes’ ability. Some quarterbacks amass more yards because they play for pass-happy offensive coordinators. Baseball players can get more runs batted in by batting often with teammates on base. Raw ace counts in a single match face the same problem: Karlovic got those 78 aces in the 2009 Davis Cup match because it went to 16-14 in the fifth set. That’s less impressive than his 44 aces in a three-set match earlier this year. It’s all the less meaningful, then, to compare ace counts over a season or career. Federer has a narrow lead over Karlovic mainly because he has played more than twice as many matches. That’s a credit to Federer’s overall superiority as a tennis player compared to Karlovic, and to just about everyone else who ever has lifted a racket. The better you are at the sport, the more you win, the more matches you play, and the more chances you have to rack up aces. It’s hard for Karlovic to keep up with Federer while losing in the first or second round of many tournaments and watching his rival get to keep serving for four to six matches into the final. But if the point of ace counts is to say who’s the best player, there are plenty of better ways to measure it. And if it’s to measure who has the best serve — ignoring returns and everything else in tennis — then a rate stat would do much better. Karlovic has aced opponents on nearly 23 percent of his service points since 2010, or more than double Federer’s 10 percent. Appropriately, Karlovic hit 24 aces in his U.S. Open debut Tuesday, while Federer hit 10. Both men won.Karlovic has started catching up — by playing more matches. The hard way to do that is to win more matches at big tournaments. The easier way to do it is to sign up for lots of the lower-level tournaments called 250s, which are the weakest ATP World Tour events that count toward ace counts. Karlovic has played in 23 250-level tournaments over the past two years. Federer has played in four. Those events have helped Karlovic make up ground on Federer, both because he’s getting more matches and because he’s playing weaker opponents. By median and mean ranking of opponents, Karlovic’s schedule this year and last has been roughly twice as easy as Federer’s. Weaker opponents are, on average, easier to ace. For instance, the last time Federer and Karlovic played each other, Federer’s ace percentage was higher than usual, at 11.5 percent, while Karlovic’s was lower, at 19.1 percent.
Together, LeBron and Kyrie combined for a Game Score of 72.4, the top single-game performance by a duo in the finals since 1984. That means their collective performance topped any by Jordan and Pippen, O’Neal and Bryant, or even James and Wade — and it’s not particularly close. 19925CHIMichael Jordan33.3Scottie Pippen24.557.8 2012Heat @ Thunder228 19934CHIMichael Jordan38.9Horace Grant23.462.3 11989Magic JohnsonLAL1+6.5+1.7+8.3 19904PORClyde Drexler33.9Jerome Kersey26.059.9 1993Suns @ Bulls321 19855LALMagic Johnson29.7James Worthy29.158.8 Source: Basketball-Reference.com 1992Trail Blazers @ Bulls228 When the smoke cleared on Game 5 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had powered the Cleveland Cavaliers to the seventh-biggest finals upset since 1984,1The earliest year for which Basketball-Reference.com has complete game-level data. according to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings (our favored way to get a snapshot of team quality). 2014Heat @ Spurs224 2003Nets @ Spurs221 2016Cavs @ Warriors526 42015Kyrie IrvingCLE5+4.7-0.8+3.8 51990Dennis RodmanDET1+1.3+2.3+3.6 20165CLELeBron James39.2Kyrie Irving33.272.4 92000Chris MullinIND3+2.4+0.8+3.2 Biggest NBA Finals upsets according to Elo forecast, 1984-2016 Source: Basketball-Reference.com 72016Kevin LoveCLE1+2.2+1.3+3.5 32000Kobe BryantLAL1+3.2+1.2+4.4 81996Nate McMillanSEA2-0.1+3.4+3.2 Dray is the second-best player to miss a finals game since ’84 But we shouldn’t let Golden State’s short-handedness take too much away from LeBron and Kyrie’s twin performances in Game 5. They scored 82 of Cleveland’s 112 points, accounted for 15 more with their assists to other Cavs and chalked up two of the top 22 single-game performances in the NBA Finals since 1984, according to Game Score, John Hollinger’s productivity rating. LeBron in particular dropped the second-best stat line of that entire span, trailing only Tim Duncan’s 2003 dismantling of the New Jersey Nets. 22016Draymond GreenGS1+1.4+3.7+5.1 101991James WorthyLAL1+2.3+0.5+2.9 BPM TALENT RATINGS Among players who played at least one finals game (i.e., those who were not injured earlier in playoffs, etc.)Source: Basketball-Reference.com, Daniel Myers 62015Andrew BogutGS2-1.4+5.0+3.5 20134MIADwyane Wade30.6LeBron James29.660.2 19871LALJames Worthy32.0Magic Johnson30.962.9 YEARPLAYERTEAMGAMES MISSEDOFFENSEDEFENSEOVERALL 19921CHIMichael Jordan36.9Scottie Pippen28.865.7 2001Sixers @ Lakers117% 1984Lakers @ Celtics127 YEARGAMETEAMNAMESCORENAMESCOREDUO SCORE Of course, Elo doesn’t capture that a certain someone was missing from Monday night’s game. Draymond Green, the Warriors’ all-world defender, playmaker and swag leader was suspended for Game 5 after picking up a flagrant foul from a shot at LeBron’s … [groin] area. The suspension was historic in its own right: According to the Box Plus/Minus talent ratings,2Consider these a slightly lower-fi version of ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus ratings, with the benefit that they can be computed going back to the 1970s. We’ve used them here in the past. Green is the second-best player to miss a finals game since 1984. (Magic Johnson’s 1989 absence takes the top spot — by a mile.) So take the magnitude of the Cavs’ Elo upset with a grain of salt. 2015Cavs @ Warriors224 YEARGAMEUPSET ODDS PLAYER 1PLAYER 2 1993Suns @ Bulls523 Top combined average Game Scores for single-game finals duos since 1984 20012LALShaquille O’Neal32.2Kobe Bryant26.158.3 Missing from this picture: the rest of the Cavs. Kevin Love, the team’s purported third banana, scored just 2 points and grabbed three rebounds, alongside four fouls and two turnovers. As a team, the Cavs had 16 turnovers and 22 fouls. That’s why it took both a historic suspension and a historic two-man performance for Cleveland to upset the Warriors and bring the series back to Ohio.Unfortunately for the Cavs, Green won’t be watching from next door in Game 6. And although LeBron and Co. will be at home, where Elo considers them 59 percent favorites to force a climactic Game 7, Cleveland was also the site of a late-game collapse and a double-digit defeat for the host team in Game 4. So the Cavs are not out of the woods yet — they’ve needed to make history to get this far against the defending champs, and to go any further, they’ll likely have to make some more.Check out our NBA Finals predictions.
Tennis fans were disappointed this weekend when Serena Williams backed out of the Italian Open before her semifinal match. Clay has perennially been her worst surface. Williams said backing out was the best way to prevent any further injuries—just before the summer stretch of the French Open, Wimbledone and the U.S. Open—after she had been complaining about pains in her lower back.“I [felt] a little bit of ache and pain and don’t want to go out there and start compensating and eventually hurt something else,” Serena told reporters.Serena’s withdrawal means that Li Na, the reigning French Open champion, will automatically advance to the finals in Rome.According to Williams this isn’t the first time her back has been a problem since she began playing in the Italian Open. Earlier this week she was reported saying, “It was feeling a little stiff and I don’t think this is the right moment to force [it]. I just want to relax and get ready for the next few months.” The decision has put an end to Serena’s streak of 17 consecutive victories. According to ESPN, several other players are nursing injuries as well, but there is no word out yet on whether there will be more withdrawals from the Italian Open.“Everyone. I’m sooooo sad and sorry I had to pull out of what has become my favorite tournament in Rome,” Serena tweeted. “Everyone has become so nice here in Rome and the tournament director is amazing. I will be here next year for sure.”Li Na will go on to compete with Maria Sharapova, the defending champion of the Rome Final, or Angelique Kerber of Germany.
How the Warriors have fared with and without KD and CurrySince 2016-17, playoffs and regular season 4June 7Golden State4080Warriors by 3 Curry + KD✓✓111.796.1+15.6 ✓98.498.9-0.5 GameDateLocationDurantCousinsFTE point spread Curry + Klay✓✓109.097.0+12.0 2June 2Toronto1060Raptors by 5 The most obvious conclusion from the lineup data, in fact, is that Curry is a lot better than Durant. With Durant but not Curry playing, the Warriors outscore opponents by a pedestrian 1.7 points per 100 possessions. But that’s not the same as saying they’re better without Durant. That’s especially true on offense, when there don’t appear to be any diminishing returns from having both Durant and Curry in the lineup at once.Dig a little deeper, and you find that while Curry and Durant work just fine as a tandem, there may be some diminishing returns from playing Durant and Thompson together. Lineups with Durant and Klay playing but Curry off the floor have been mediocre, perhaps because Durant doesn’t like to pass and Thompson relies heavily on assisted field goals. Furthermore, lineups with Curry and Durant but without Thompson have been better than lineups with all three together. The Warriors give up a bit of offense in those lineups, but they make up for it with superior defense by having players such as Iguodala on the floor. 5June 10Toronto5090Raptors by 2.5 Durant is out for at least Game 1, with no clear timetable for his return. Cousins is questionable for Game 1, but from the tone of the Warriors’ comments, he looks highly likely to return at some point in the series.You can see the impact of Golden State’s injuries in the evolving point spreads that our model establishes for each game of the series. In Game 1 — with Durant out and Cousins 50 percent likely to play (based on the very rough science of translating the Warriors’ vague injury guidance into probabilities) — the Raptors are 6-point favorites at home, per our model. In the event of a Game 7 in Toronto, by which point we assume that Cousins is definitely back and Durant is 80 percent likely to play — they’d be only 1-point favorites, conversely. Toronto would also be 4.5-point underdogs on the road in Oakland in Game 6. If the Raptors don’t strike early in the series, the odds will shift dramatically against them. 6June 13Golden State70100Warriors by 4.5 7June 16Toronto80100Raptors by 1 If our NBA model could talk, here’s what it might say about the NBA Finals:Bleep, bleep, bloop. Based on their accomplishments over the past few seasons, the Golden State Warriors are better than the Toronto Raptors at full strength. However, the Warriors will start the NBA Finals without Kevin Durant, and possibly also without DeMarcus Cousins. To state the obvious, being without those guys makes them a worse team. Meanwhile, Toronto is also a really good team, and its regular-season record somewhat understates its performance because its current lineup is stronger than it was for most of the season. Plus, the Raptors have home-court advantage. Run the numbers, and the Raptors come out as slight favorites in the series. Bloop, bloop, bleep.Make sense? Well apparently not, at least not to those of you who are wagering your hard-earned income on the series. Betting market prices imply that the Warriors are about 72 percent favorites to win the championship.We think our NBA forecasts, in their current, improved form, are pretty smart, but we also think sports betting markets tend to be really smart. (Note: This isn’t true for political betting markets, which are mostly pretty dumb.) So we wouldn’t suggest that you go out and wager all your loonies on the Raptors to become the first Candian team to win a title in a “Big 4” sport since … to the chagrin of literally every Canadian NHL team … the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.Still, it’s interesting to see the series through our model’s eyes. So while we also talked about our forecast on this week’s edition of Hot Takedown, I want to go through it in more detail here. Basically, I’m going to work through everything in the italicized paragraph, starting with the least controversial claims and moving to the most contentious ones.“Run the numbers, and the Raptors come out as slight favorites in the series.”OK, so that’s actually the most contentious claim — we’ll loop back to it at the end. But I do want to point out that “slight” really does mean “slight” in this instance. The Raptors are merely 55 percent favorites in the series, at least based on our current understanding (as of early Wednesday morning) of the injury prognosis for Durant and Cousins. In our election forecasts, we’d label a race like that as a “toss-up.”“Plus, the Raptors have home-court advantage.”In a seven-game series between two equal-strength teams, the home team should win about 54 percent of the time, according to our model. So basically, the entirety of the Raptors’ very small edge in the series is because a Game 7 would be played in Toronto. If the Warriors had won two more regular-season games and had home-court advantage instead, they’d be roughly 53 percent favorites to win the series, per our model.And if anything, our model might be understating the impact of home-court advantage in this series. The Warriors are generally regarded as having one of the biggest home-court advantages in the league, and Toronto is 40-11 at home between the regular season and the playoffs.“Based on their accomplishments over the past few seasons, the Golden State Warriors are better than the Toronto Raptors at full strength.”Our NBA team projections are derived from our CARMELO player projections, which use data from the past three seasons plus the current season.That’s a good thing for the Warriors, because if you based the projections based on this season’s data alone, the Raptors would be more substantial favorites. Three of their five starters — Pascal Siakam, Danny Green, Marc Gasol — have significantly outperformed their preseason CARMELO projections. (Reserve swingman Norman Powell has also outperformed them to a lesser extent.) For the Warriors, conversely, Cousins significantly fell short of his preseason projections — no doubt because of his injuries — and his current projection is probably too optimistic. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green also slightly underperformed their projections, although Green has been great in these playoffs. Andre Iguodala and Kevin Looney have outperformed their projections, but overall, the Warriors are helped by the fact that we’re looking at multiple years of data.So even though both teams played about equally well this year — the Raptors went 58-24 to the Warriors’ 57-25, but the Warriors had a slightly better point differential and played a slightly tougher schedule — our model would have the Warriors as 65 percent favorites if each team was at full strength to start the series (or 69 percent if the whole series were played on a neutral court).1The Raptors’ only current injury is to backup swingman OG Anunoby; our model actually thinks they’re slightly better off without Anunoby since it likes the rest of their reserves better, so his injury actually helps their rating slightly. The 65 percent figure refers to the version of the Raptors with Anunoby healthy. This reflects the Warriors’ accomplishments over the past several seasons in addition to having more playoff experience, a factor that our model accounts for — although the Raptors, with former NBA Finals MVP Leonard as well as Green (118 career playoff games), Kyle Lowry (80) and Gasol (77), have plenty of experience of their own.In other words, our model takes some countermeasures to the fact that veteran, championship-driven teams like the Warriors tend to lollygag their way through the regular season. It looks at longer-term performance, and it accounts for playoff experience, as well as the increased playing time that’s given to top players in the playoffs, which helps top-heavy teams like Golden State. Is it doing enough to account for those factors? Maybe not, and our model has had plenty of challenges with teams like the Warriors and LeBron James’s Cavaliers in the past. But it’s at least aware of these issues, and it doesn’t hold the Warriors’ good-but-not-great regular season all that much against them.“Toronto is also a really good team, and its regular-season record somewhat understates its performance because its current lineup is stronger than it was for most of the season.”The Raptors were often without the services of what our model regards as their two best players. They played 22 regular-season games without Leonard, who was frequently rested for “load management,” as well as 17 games without Lowry. In addition, they only acquired Gasol in February, and he’s a significantly better player than the center he replaced, Jonas Valanciunas, according to our model. It also took some time for Toronto to take full advantage of Siakam, who played fewer minutes and took fewer shots early in the season.Thus, the current version of the Raptors is associated with an Elo rating that would peg them not as a 58-win team, but somewhere in the mid-60s instead.Until recently, however, that elite version of the Raptors existed mostly on paper. The Lowry-Green-Leonard-Siakam-Gasol lineup played only 161 regular-season minutes, although it was highly effective when it did play, outscoring opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions. That group has now played 314 minutes together in the playoffs, and — somewhat remarkably given that the Raptors have been playing extremely tough competition in the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers — it’s still outscoring opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions.So Toronto’s starting lineup has begun to prove itself — you have to be really good to win four straight games against the Bucks, who were the NBA’s best regular-season team. And I should probably mention that our model also had the Raptors slightly favored against Milwaukee2In fact, as 55 percent favorites, the same as it currently has them against Golden State. despite the Bucks having been heavily favored in Las Vegas.“However, the Warriors will start the NBA Finals without Kevin Durant, and possibly also without DeMarcus Cousins. To state the obvious, being without those guys makes them a worse team.” Curry✓108.296.4+11.8 From ABC News: LineupCurryDurantOff. RatingDef. RatingNet Rating KD + Klay✓✓101.2100.6+0.6 KD✓102.3100.6+1.7 Neither You’d think that all of that seems pretty reasonable. Our model is saying that having Durant and Cousins healthy-ish instead of injured-ish is worth about 5 points per game to the Warriors.But that’s not the narrative surrounding the Warriors at the moment. Instead, the stat you’ve probably heard is this one: 31-1. That is, the Warriors are 31-1 in their last 32 games without Durant but with Stephen Curry playing. This has lead to plenty of talk-radio chatter about whether the Warriors are better off without Durant, who has an option to become a free agent at the end of the season.Like most narratives, that one leaves out some of the messy details. Our ESPN colleague Kevin Pelton has a long, detailed breakdown of the Warriors’ play with and without Durant. I’d suggest you read the whole thing. For one thing, that 31-1 record overstates the case somewhat, since it arbitrarily ignores the first six games that the Warriors played without KD (counting those, they’re 34-4) and since their point differential wasn’t quite as strong as their record in those games would suggest. Those games were also played against a fairly easy schedule.Perhaps more importantly, Pelton finds based on game-by-game data that being without Durant lowered the Warriors’ ceiling. With both Durant and Curry in the lineup, the Warriors had so much firepower that they could take possessions off against mediocre teams, especially on the defensive end. In the NBA Finals, however, the Warriors will presumably be playing every possession at close to maximum effort, with or without Durant. So they’re deprived of a top gear they would have had with him healthy.We can also look at the Warriors’ lineup data over the past three seasons (including both the regular season and the playoffs), which accounts for their performance on a possession-by-possession basis with various combinations of players. With both Curry and Durant on the floor, the Warriors outscored opponents by a dominating 15.2 points per 100 possessions. With Curry only, that number falls to 11.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s still a very good number — Curry is impossibly good! — but it’s in the same ballpark as the Raptors’ current starting lineup, and the Raptors have more depth and home-court advantage. Likelihood of playing for Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins reflect our subjective estimates based on news accounts about their conditions. How KD, Curry and Klay play togetherSince 2016-17, playoffs and regular season The Warriors will get tougher to beat as they get healthierFiveThirtyEight point spread for the NBA finals 95.699.6-4.0 LineupCurryDurantThompsonOff RatingDef RatingNet Rating Klay only But the thing is, our projections actually account for all of this on-court/off-court data, at least to some extent. One of the metrics we use to fuel our projections, Real Plus-Minus (RPM), is largely based on the lineup data. So the fact the Warriors have played quite well with Curry but without Durant is accounted for in their respective ratings. Our forecasts think that Curry is quite a bit better than Durant — if Steph were injured instead of KD, it would really have Golden State in trouble.You can also go too far in looking at the on-court, off-court stats. They can be noisy, and there are also a lot of technical complications in evaluating so many five-player lineup combinations together. In fact, we’ve found that RPM (which itself is a blend of box score statistics3e.g. points, rebounds, assists, steals. and lineup data) actually goes slightly too far in using the lineup data, so we hedge against it by blending it with another metric based on box score statistics called Box Plus/Minus or BPM.“Run the numbers, and the Raptors come out as slight favorites in the series.”So do I — Nate as a basketball fan, not as a model co-designer — really buy what our model says?I mostly buy the part about the Raptors being better than they’re given credit for. Their current starting lineup has been very good, and I can imagine the betting public sleeping on it a bit because it’s involved several fairly subtle changes (e.g. upgrading Valanciunas for Gasol, Leonard playing every game, etc.). Nor do I see any obvious flaws with the Raptors, who can work effectively as either an up-tempo team (perhaps with Gasol off the floor) or in the half-court, with Leonard draining midrange jumpers and corner threes.Leonard’s health is a concern, however, particularly insofar as it could affect his ability to effectively defend Curry, a tempting matchup for the Raptors.As for how the model is evaluating the Warriors, I’m less sure. As I mentioned, the metrics behind our model (RPM and BPM) don’t actually like Durant that much; while he was repeatedly going off for massive games against the Clippers and Rockets, a few of us were complaining that the model underrated him. But there are a couple of things that worry me. First, although we have a few tricks to try to account for the Warriors’ variable effort level, their indifference during parts of the past few regular seasons may be contaminating the data to some degree. Second, our model tends to assume that building a lineup is a fairly linear process, when it isn’t. The Warriors are insulated against the loss of Durant to some degree because Thompson functions better as Curry’s Splash Brother sidekick than as a third wheel in Curry-Durant lineups.The handful of minutes each game that the Warriors play without Curry on the floor are liable to be a disaster, however, and if Leonard somehow can bottle up Curry the same way he did Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Warriors are probably toast. And I think our model actually overrates Cousins, who isn’t likely to play up to his projections while recovering from his multiple injuries.Overall, I think our model is mostly right about the Raptors, but more wrong than right about the Warriors. Since it only has the Raptors as extremely narrow favorites, that might be enough to tip the balance slightly in Golden State’s favor. But I find it hard to contemplate how the Warriors can be as heavy as 3-to-1 favorites, as they nearly are in Vegas. There is, if nothing else, a lot of uncertainty about how well the Warriors can play against a top-level team without Durant — I’m sorry if I don’t regard the Portland Trail Blazers as a top-level team — and the Raptors are good enough that the Warriors will probably have to bring their A-game.Bleep, bleep, bloop. None of them 3June 5Golden State3070Warriors by 2.5 Curry + KD✓✓115.099.8+15.2 107.195.7+11.4 Lineups are weighted by minutes playedSource: NBA Curry + KD + Klay✓✓✓115.9100.9+15.0 Check out our latest NBA predictions. 1May 30Toronto0%50%Raptors by 6 91.6100.5-8.9 Likelihood of playing Lineups are weighted by minutes playedSource: NBA KD only✓104.9100.6+4.3 Curry only✓
Source: Sports-Reference.com Matt MooreUCLA101.47Oregon St.131.69+30.22 Kevin CraftSan Diego St.109.18UCLA101.72-7.46 Danny EtlingPurdue110.95LSU144.36+33.41 Wes LuntOklahoma St.137.31Illinois119.54-17.77 Will GrierFlorida145.61West Virginia169.18+23.57 Russell WilsonNC State135.47Wisconsin191.78+56.31 Baker MayfieldTexas Tech127.66Oklahoma189.39+61.72 Joe DaileyNebraska111.92North Carolina114.10+2.18 Brock BerlinFlorida161.09Miami (FL)128.65-32.45 Scott McBrienWest Virginia110.42Maryland142.04+31.62 First schoolSecond school Ryan MallettMichigan105.69Arkansas158.11+52.42 Brandon McllwainSouth Carolina99.15California104.41+5.26 Steven ThreetMichigan105.26Arizona St.133.41+28.15 Jordan WebbKansas118.11Colorado103.72-14.39 Ryan FinleyBoise St.115.63NC State140.04+24.40 R. KovalcheckArizona108.91Vanderbilt119.07+10.16 Shea PattersonMississippi141.22Michigan149.85+8.63 Kyle BolinLouisville141.56Rutgers98.21-43.34 Clint TrickettFlorida St.151.55West Virginia132.40-19.15 Jake HeapsBrigham Young114.13Kansas97.00-17.13 Darell GarretsonUtah St.137.68Oregon St.103.97-33.71 Zach MaynardBuffalo124.42California128.36+3.94 Davis WebbTexas Tech138.37California135.63-2.74 Jake RudockIowa129.96Michigan141.50+11.54 Kyler MurrayTexas A&M109.19Oklahoma203.26+94.07 Tyler MurphyFlorida121.05Boston College126.19+5.14 Danny O’BrienMaryland123.54Wisconsin120.73-2.80 Jon BeutjerIowa129.16Illinois126.77-2.39 Pete ThomasColorado St.121.17NC State115.07-6.09 Not every QB transfer is a program saviorQuarterbacks who threw at least 50 passes at another FBS school before transferring to a Power 5 program and how their passer rating changed, 2000-18 Beyond sheer volume, this year’s group of transfer quarterbacks is especially fascinating because it might also be the most talented bunch the sport has seen. Jalen Hurts’s father was not far off when he speculated after the 2017 season that Hurts could be the “biggest free agent in college football history.” The quarterbacks potentially debuting in new uniforms next weekend include a national champion in Hurts and three former five-star recruits (Fields, Washington’s Eason and Northwestern’s Johnson). This could have a major effect. Oklahoma does not need Hurts to do much more than his numbers would already indicate. Even an average 4.9-point bump in passer rating from his career 148.8 would put him among last season’s 20 most efficient quarterbacks in the major conferences.No matter what becomes of this year’s crop of transfers, schools will surely keep swapping quarterbacks in the future. Transfers can be good for the coaches, who find a one- or two-year solution to their quarterback vacancies. After two of his quarterbacks transferred, Arkansas coach Chad Morris replaced them this past offseason with graduate transfers Ben Hicks, originally at Southern Methodist, and Nick Starkel, from Texas A&M. “As I’ve shared all along, we are always in the quarterback market. It doesn’t matter — we are always in that market,” he said last winter. And it appears quarterback reps are going to remain scarce at Clemson, for example, with Heisman co-favorite Lawrence only a sophomore.Still, high expectations will follow a transfer anywhere. It would be hard to ask Hurts to replicate the Heisman-winning seasons of Mayfield or Murray. Expecting Fields, a sophomore with 39 career passing attempts, to equal what NFL first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins did last season is also a stretch.But that doesn’t mean those teams won’t try. “If Jalen does win the starting job from everything I’ve seen, I’m not sure there’s anything we’ve done before I wouldn’t do with him,” Oklahoma’s Riley said in a radio interview last month. Defenses should buckle up. The twists and turns are just getting started. Jake LutonIdaho100.19Oregon St.129.33+29.14 Everett GolsonNotre Dame138.21Florida St.149.16+10.94 Greyson LambertVirginia108.02Georgia139.50+31.48 Keller ChrystStanford128.89Tennessee130.78+1.90 Tom SavageRutgers123.45Pittsburgh138.24+14.80 Robert MarveMiami (FL)107.19Purdue125.91+18.72 Sam KellerArizona St.142.15Nebraska133.74-8.41 Matt LoVecchioNotre Dame125.27Indiana114.24-11.03 Mitch MustainArkansas120.53USC110.47-10.06 Michael MachenKent St.100.56Baylor82.09-18.47 Wilton SpeightMichigan132.20UCLA125.99-6.21 Jeremiah MasoliOregon130.56Mississippi121.11-9.45 Dayne CristNotre Dame127.00Kansas96.52-30.48 Ryan WillisKansas104.36Virginia Tech138.01+33.65 John O’KornHouston123.90Michigan105.48-18.42 You don’t have to look hard at college football these days to find somebody, somewhere, talking about transfers. More players are switching teams each year, and more are seeking waivers that grant immediate eligibility at their new school — and it seems like just about everybody in the sport has an opinion about it.“The issue with the transfer portal is we’ve gotten very liberal in giving people waivers, so, when we do that, it becomes free agency,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said last month. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, too, has cautioned against “free agency in college football.”But even calling it “free agency” is understating the flurry of moves. Of the top 25 teams in the preseason coaches’ poll, as many as eight could start a transfer at quarterback later this month. Five of those eight quarterbacks1This figure could be as high as six, depending on the outcome of the quarterback battle at Washington State University. Anthony Gordon, a junior-college transfer, appeared in two games for the Cougars last season. He is currently competing with Gage Gubrud, who recently transferred from neighboring Eastern Washington, for the starting job, though the current rumors coming out of Pullman appear to favor Gordon. were not active for their current team last season. For comparison, in the NFL — which, of course, has literal free agency — only about four of 32 starters weren’t on their current team last season.2This includes rookie Kyler Murray in Arizona and traded quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Nick Foles in Denver and Jacksonville, respectively. Depending on the outcome of the quarterback battle in Miami, either recent signee Ryan Fitzpatrick or trade acquisition Josh Rosen will start. A few other quarterback competitions remain unresolved as of publication.In the last decade, transferring in college football has increased in frequency. Some of this is due to changes in NCAA guidelines and the establishment of a transfer portal that facilitates contact between players and coaches. The NCAA’s evolving stance on immediate-eligibility waivers — which allowed Michigan’s Shea Patterson to play last season after transferring from Ole Miss, and Justin Fields to suit up for Ohio State this season — has expedited the transfer movement.The optimal approach is to find an elite talent and develop him, as Clemson has done with Trevor Lawrence and Alabama with Tua Tagovailoa. But those who miss out on that chance sometimes turn to the next-best option — and it often works. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, entering his fifth year with the program, has coached the last two Heisman Trophy winners. Both were transfers, Baker Mayfield from Texas Tech and Kyler Murray from Texas A&M. It’s no longer only bench players who move schools in search of more playing time; athletes of all levels and abilities are taking advantage of their newfound mobility to develop their careers.The impact of this wave of transfers is evident at both the college and professional level. Alabama and Georgia produced the current starting quarterbacks for four of the top five teams: the Crimson Tide’s Tagovailoa, the Bulldogs’ Jake Fromm, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Ohio State’s Fields. Five of the 11 quarterbacks taken in the 2019 NFL draft were transfers.3The five were Kyler Murray (Texas A&M to Oklahoma), Will Grier (Florida to West Virginia), Ryan Finley (Boise State to North Carolina State), Jarrett Stidham (Baylor to Auburn) and Gardner Minshew (East Carolina to Washington State).The college football programs themselves have also incentivized player movement. Teams’ increasing reliance on younger quarterbacks chases away the rest of the depth chart: If a freshman has a firm hold on the starting job, there’s no playing time available for three years, barring an injury. Lawrence’s emergence at Clemson in 2018, for example, sparked two departures — Kelly Bryant to Missouri and Hunter Johnson to Northwestern — while Georgia’s Fromm pushed out two more, Fields to Ohio State and Jacob Eason to Washington.The search for playing time creates a ripple effect: Soon after Fields showed up at Ohio State, quarterback Tate Martell, previously expected to start in 2019, transferred to Miami. After Hurts arrived at Oklahoma, Sooners quarterback Austin Kendall left for West Virginia.It’s not just at the highest level of the sport. In addition to the eight top 25 teams, Mississippi State (Tommy Stevens, formerly of Penn State), Virginia Tech (Ryan Willis, previously at Kansas) and Missouri (Bryant) are among the power-conference schools who have settled on or considered starting transfer quarterbacks.But what gets lost in the drama of the quarterback carousel is that these transfers are rarely a magic solution. Yes, Mayfield and Murray were the two most successful transfer quarterbacks this century, based on passer ratings.4Three of the pair’s five combined seasons at Oklahoma — Mayfield’s 2016 and 2017 campaigns, and Murray’s 2018 season — rank among the four most efficient passing seasons in NCAA history, according to Sports-Reference.com. But schools turning to a transfer to transform their program often end up disappointed.Since 2000, 94 players have attempted at least 50 passes in a season for two different schools. Here we see the trend over time: five quarterbacks joined a new team between 2000 and 2004, while 13 transferred schools between 2005 and 2009. Twenty-eight quarterbacks transferred between 2010 and 2014, and 48 of those 94 have departed for greener pastures since 2015.Of that group, 58 transferred to a Power 5 school. (This includes both quarterbacks who transferred from non-Power 5 schools as well as quarterbacks who transferred between Power 5 schools.) Nineteen Power 5 transfers improved their passer rating from their first stop to their second by at least 15 points, an impressive rise. But 12 more saw their passer rating drop by at least 15 points.5This also omits the quarterbacks who seek greener pastures but didn’t end up earning enough playing time to merit inclusion on our list. The average change in passer rating is plus-4.9, and the average bump in completion percentage is 2 points, both modest upticks. However it may seem, it’s just not that easy to move towns, learn a new offense, adjust to new teammates and coaches and blossom into a completely different player. A.J. SuggsTennessee113.27Georgia Tech113.35+0.08 Jarrett StidhamBaylor198.95Auburn144.35-54.60 Gardner MinshewEast Carolina127.10Wash. St.147.56+20.46 Patrick TowlesKentucky116.80Boston College113.16-3.64 Kenny HillTexas A&M154.84Texas Christian138.36-16.47 Peyton BenderWash. St.106.30Kansas113.66+7.36 Brandon HarrisLSU133.86North Carolina72.34-61.52 Allan EvridgeKansas St.104.44Wisconsin116.50+12.06 PlayerNameRatingNameRatingChange
Draymond Green’s playmaking PASSES TO SHOOTEREFG%QSQQSI Games 1-44945.953.9-8.0 Game 5856.353.9+2.3 Crunch time in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals wasn’t subtle. The Oklahoma City Thunder lost the ability to run even basic basketball plays — they had six turnovers in the last five minutes, with four coming in a disastrous two-minute stretch — and Kevin Durant, who has played masterful defense all series, spent the final possessions looking like an overgrown Tim Thomas. Klay Thompson carried the Golden State Warriors with a record-setting 11-for-18 performance from three, and Stephen Curry registered enough of a pulse to get the Warriors over the final hump. But just as important to the Warriors’ Game 6 win as those runs of inept or brilliant play was Draymond Green’s return to form.The Warriors are solid favorites to win Game 7 tonight: -7 at the sports books, 70 percent to win by ESPN Stats & Info’s Basketball Power Index and 68 percent to win by our CARM-Elo forecast. Plenty of factors will go into tonight’s result, including the reemergence of Curry’s shot and handle and the sustained defense of both teams (the Warriors contested 56 of 58 field goal attempts by Durant and Russell Westbrook in Game 6 and forced each to shoot under 40 eFG%, according to player-tracking data). Curry also seemed to begin to solve Durant switching onto him in Game 6. But the Warriors need Green to play in Game 7 like the all-world playmaker of the regular season and Game 6.Green was lively on offense and forceful on defense in Game 6 in ways he wasn’t in Games 3 and 4, both won by the Thunder. He pressured the ball high and made crucial stops in the fourth quarter after the Warriors went to their “Lineup of Death” with about six and a half minutes remaining remaining. And throughout the game, he created shots for the Warriors at a rate and of a quality that was more like his regular season performance, when he was one of the best playmakers in the league.Using player-tracking data from the NBA, we can show Green’s ups and downs as a playmaker. Here’s the qSQ (shot quality expressed as the predicted effective field goal percentage of a shot, as determined by factors like defender location and where the shot came from) and qSI (how much better shooters did than the qSQ prediction) for Green’s passes to shooters in the regular season, and in the Western Conference finals so far. Game 61471.454.1+17.3 Green’s regular season numbers are outstanding — at +5.6, he ranked fourth in the NBA1Among players who passed to shooters at least 500 times. in qSI (meaning his teammates made shots he created for them more than player-tracking data expected), edging out both Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul (each at 5.2). High qSI numbers stem from having good teammates, but just as much, they come from providing value on shots that still escapes the scope of player-tracking data. Mike Conley, for instance, was No. 1 in the league (+6.7) before he went out to injury, and his Memphis Grizzlies are stocked with guys who couldn’t hit the ocean from an aircraft carrier.You can see in the numbers that Green’s passes weren’t very effective early in the series, but you could see this in the games just as easily, particularly in Games 3 and 4. Partly this was due to Durant playing suffocating defense, but Green wasn’t driving, rolling to the rim or putting pressure on the defense in any of the ways that he typically does. The shot difficulty numbers are broadly the same, but this is a place where the numbers don’t tell the whole story, with many of Green’s passes coming a little mistimed or just slightly out of rhythm. The result was a bunch of possessions that looked like this: Green came to life somewhat in Game 5, but in Game 6 he was outstanding. It’s tempting to look at that massive qSI number and assume that Thompson simply shot the Holy Ghost out of the ball, inflating Green’s numbers. That’s a little true — eight of the 14 shots Green created went to Thompson, who hit four, including three of his threes — but Green also created many of those with pressure and timing. In other words, this wasn’t simply the difference between shooters making and missing shots, but a fundamental change in the quality of the shots, even if player-tracking data doesn’t quite catch it.Consider the fast break in the video below, where Green drives into Durant’s chest before passing off to Andre Iguodala. On a similar play in Game 4 (in the above video), he passed off before putting his body on Durant, allowing KD to recover and break up the play. Source: NBA player tracking data Regular season1,06162.056.4+5.6 If Golden State gets more plays like these out of Green in Game 7, the Warriors will be that much closer to regaining their peak form, and likely on their way back to the NBA Finals.
For nearly three months, Jim Tressel’s punishment progressively grew more severe, despite a lack of NCAA instruction or new hard evidence further faulting the coach. What started as a slap on the wrist – a two-game suspension and $250,000 fine – ultimately became an indirect pink slip – his forced resignation. Ohio State planned to keep Tressel until the backing for such a measure eroded and external pressure heightened, said athletic director Gene Smith, who voiced his support for Tressel for most of the 12 weeks the coach was under siege. “Our intent was to retain him as our head coach,” Smith told The Lantern on Tuesday. “When you look at his body of work and what he accomplished, you look at this one action and try to take that in total perspective. I felt that (retaining him) was the best thing for the kids who he had recruited to his program and who were here.” The two-game ban didn’t last long. Nine days after a March 8 press conference in which Tressel admitted to his role in covering up OSU’s offseason scandal, Tressel asked for his suspension to be upped to five games. “I request of the university that my sanctions now include five games so that the players and I can handle this adversity together,” Tressel said in a statement on March 17. The coach and his players never got the opportunity to deal with the adversity together. On May 30, Tressel resigned, though not until OSU released its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations last Friday did the university publicize that it “sought and accepted” Tressel’s resignation. “The University eventually determined that it was in the best interest of the University and Tressel for Tressel to resign, and he agreed to do so,” OSU’s response to the NCAA reads. Outside pressure forced the university’s hand, Smith said. “As we went on and had conversations about expanding it to five games and then ultimately asking him for his resignation, the support had deteriorated for Jim,” Smith said. “The brand of the institution was now at stake in a greater form. We were constantly under attack, and so when I sat down with him that Sunday night and had that conversation, there was no hesitation on his part when I asked him for his resignation. “It was a process, and we moved to a point where we just felt that the brand of the institution was at stake and we just needed to separate our employment relationship and try to restore the brand of the institution.” Through email conversations with former OSU walk-on Christopher Cicero, now an attorney, Tressel knew of Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey’s involvement in selling memorabilia to Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Cicero warned Tressel that Rife dealt drugs. Heeding that warning, Tressel kept quiet. Rife pleaded guilty on June 28 to charges of selling marijuana and laundering drug money. When university officials discovered the email chain between Tressel and Cicero, OSU suspended Tressel for two games for his failure to pass along his knowledge to the appropriate university figureheads. Tressel reached out via email to Ted Sarniak, Pryor’s mentor from his hometown of Jeanette, Pa., but never contacted Smith, President E. Gordon Gee or anyone in the OSU compliance department. In Tressel’s response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations, his attorney, Gene Marsh, wrote, “He prioritized those concerns as his focus on the safety of the student-athletes, the gravity of the federal criminal investigation, and the request for confidentiality made by the individual who provided the information. At the time, those concerns trumped any thought he had relating to possible NCAA rules violations.” Smith said when he learned of Tressel’s wrongdoing, he was understanding given the coach’s precarious situation. “I kind of understood it for a while as I first looked at it,” Smith said. “I said, ‘OK, I see that.’ But obviously, the infractions are sitting right in front of you, so I couldn’t get by that. You have a responsibility as an NCAA member to ensure compliance. To make that decision on your own without at least bringing it to me or university general counsel, I have a hard time with it.” Tressel spent a decade as a luminary figure in Columbus, supported by OSU fans appreciative of the program’s winning tradition and of his influence in the community. That’s what made his actions so difficult to swallow, Smith said. “I was totally shocked and surprised and really disappointed when I first heard of his decision and saw the emails,” Smith said. “Every single level of emotion went through me. I was dumbfounded as to why he would make a decision on his own and not share that information and ask for help.” Smith touched on a number of topics during his interview Tuesday with The Lantern. On his confidence in the athletics compliance department: “I never wavered on them. There are things that we can do better and we have been creative, you saw some of those things in our response that we’re going to implement and they’re focused on particular issues, not broad-based compliance.” On whether the NCAA needs to adapt some of its rules to coincide with today’s world: “A lot of the rules in our books need to be modified to where we are today. There’s a number of rules in our books that were put in place in the ‘80s, some even in the ‘70s. They’re not applicable to today’s culture and today’s reality.” On how he went about selecting media members to attend a private press conference last week to discuss OSU’s response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations: “We just focused on people that I’d worked with for a long time and wanted to have a discussion and that’s what we did. In the moment at the time, I did what I felt what I needed to do relative to the message.” OSU will start its season Sept. 3 against Akron under Tressel’s replacement, Luke Fickell.
Add New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s name to the ever-growing list of people who consider themselves Ohio State fans. Or, at least, that’s the way his daughter sees it. Assistant women’s lacrosse coach Amanda Belichick, 27, said her father has become an OSU fan since she started coaching at OSU. She said it helps that her father also has close ties to OSU football coach Urban Meyer and former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, now the defensive line coach at OSU. Many of her father’s former assistants have moved toward the college ranks. “I think with Bill O’Brien going to Penn State, he’s (her father) spreading his wings in the college world,” she said. “It’s great to see that Patriots connection out here.” While her father is known for being rather short with the media, Amanda Belichick, a graduate of Wesleyan University, spoke candidly about growing up as the daughter of an NFL coach. “People give him a hard time for not divulging too much information, but that’s, you know, not his job,” Amanda Belichick said. Growing up as the daughter as one of the most successful coaches in NFL history, one might assume that coaching would be a natural progression for Amanda Belichick. “I have a lot of memories of watching him breakdown film and drawing out plays and analyzing a game plan,” she said. But she said she hadn’t even considered coaching until after graduating from Wesleyan University in 2007 when she took a job coaching high school lacrosse, soccer and ice hockey at a boarding school in Connecticut. “I worked in the admissions office and it was kind of my full-time job,” she said. “What I loved about that job, and coaching was such a small part of it, was the coaching.” She stuck with lacrosse because it was something that she had been around her entire life. “We’ve always been a lacrosse family,” she said. “It’s been my passion, it’s one of his (her father) passions.” Amanda Belichick followed coach Alexis Venechanos to OSU from the University of Massachusetts where the pair helped lead the Minutewomen to an Atlantic-10 championship in 2010. Now that she is in coaching, having an NFL head coach for a father does have its advantages, she said. “I’ve really had an opportunity to work with him and talk about preparation and really evolve the way I prepare for my own, whether its practice or evaluating ourselves or evaluating our opponents,” she said. “Those are things that I’ve really been able to take from him.” But Amanda Belichick said her and her father’s relationship goes beyond coaching. “There are a lot of things that are personal that have nothing to do with sports that we can connect on,” she said. These topics include things like movies, books and a passion for history, she said. Amanda Belichick joked that during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, she can only reach her father in the very early morning or very late at night. She said during a week like this she understands he’s busy and never tries to hold him up. When the ball is kicked off Sunday from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Amanda Belichick said she will be watching with the same nervous excitement that she watches all her father’s big games with. “You want the best for your father and you want to see him be successful,” she said. “I know how hard he works. To see him go out and win games is great.” The Patriots organization and the OSU women’s lacrosse team did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment. The Patriots and New York Giants will play in Super Bowl XLVI at 6:30 p.m., Sunday. Tight end Jake Ballard and center Jim Cordle are both former Buckeyes and are on the Giants’ active roster.
Auburn junior quarterback Nick Marshall (14) breaks a tackle during a game against Georgia Nov. 16 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn won, 43-38.Credit: Courtesy of MCTCollege football is funny.A sport that brings joy and despair to people across the country week in and week out, the game is particularly dubious on the final weekend of the regular season.Known as “Rivalry Weekend,” the final Saturday before the 2013 postseason did not disappoint either.From an Ohio State’s fan perspective, emotional highs and lows ensued from defeating archrival Michigan in Ann Arbor in thrilling fashion — picking off redshirt-junior Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner in the end zone to deny Michigan the necessary two points that would give them the victory.Fans, players and the like were proud because the Buckeyes had just recorded their 24th straight win under coach Urban Meyer, but also turned their attention quickly to another rivalry game — The Iron Bowl.The same could be said for both myself and my colleagues at The Lantern, who had just left Michigan Stadium with the knowledge that No. 1 Alabama held a touchdown advantage over No. 4 Auburn. Upon tuning into the game on the radio and hearing that the Tigers had tied it up with 32 seconds to go, we made the correct decision to U-turn into the closest restaurant with a TV (Red Robin) because seeing if the unthinkable could happen — The Crimson Tide no longer rolling — was something we could not miss.All year, OSU has been slotted behind the top-ranked Tide and No. 2 Florida State, who had already taken care of business against rival Florida earlier in the day to finish regular season play unbeaten. So, if the Buckeyes were to even get a chance to compete for the final BCS National Championship, ‘Bama was going to need to either fall Saturday or next week in the SEC Title game. It seems unthinkable that an undefeated OSU would be left out of the national championship game, but because of the national perspective of the Big Ten as second tier to other conferences like the SEC, the possibility was at its highest point.Then lightning struck.While we were waiting to order our food, the referees put one second back on the clock, giving Alabama a chance to save its unbeaten season in regulation. Alabama coach Nick Saban turned to redshirt-freshman kicker Adam Griffith to attempt a 57-yard field goal for the win. Griffith’s attempt was short, Auburn senior cornerback Chris Davis retrieved it, and returned it 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown.Red Robin, filled with members of Buckeye Nation, exploded — and I couldn’t help myself but join in on the excitement.With a win against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game, the Buckeyes — barring any sort of BCS catastrophe that will allow a one-loss Auburn team to jump them in the rankings — will be heading to Pasadena, Calif., in early 2014 in search of the program’s eighth national championship.In a mere four hours, Buckeye fans went from holding their breath when Gardner took the snap on the two-point play, to extreme jubilation when Alabama’s undefeated season was no more. Suddenly, seeing OSU back at the top of the sport is a very real possibility.As a journalist writing on deadline for the OSU-Michigan game, the last half of The Game’s fourth quarter brought stress to both my fingers and head.But as a college football fan, rivalry weekend proved once again why the sport is tough to be topped.
Thad Matta stands on the sidelines during a game against Minnesota. OSU won, 64-46.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorWhen a college basketball game is closing on the the final minutes of play, most coaches would say each possession becomes increasingly more important.The value of making the correct read, protecting the ball, making free throws and getting good shots goes up in such a way that if a team fails to do those things, they are likely to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard when the buzzer sounds.Ohio State coach Thad Matta said Saturday doing the little things — like converting free throws, keeping proper spacing on offense and defending to his team’s capability — is what ultimately led to its 65-63 loss Thursday night against Penn State.Even junior guard Shannon Scott knew something was off that night in State College, Pa., mentioning that at times when the Buckeyes (22-7, 9-7, fourth in the Big Ten) were trying to decipher the Nittany Lions’ zone defense, not everyone was on the same page.“We’re not seeing it all the way the whole time. There’s been possessions where three players are running one play, and two players are running a different play,” Scott said Saturday. “We’ve gotta have a better focus on our offense, especially against the zone.”When Matta was told that Scott said the team sometimes has trouble getting into the right sets offensively — even though the team is 29 games into the season — he said it shows how OSU’s mind wasn’t in the right place against Penn State.“That just tells you the concentration wasn’t there. And a lot of that is on Shannon and (senior guard) Aaron (Craft). We were going way too quick the other night,” Matta said. “We had a guy stop and tie his shoe twice during the game, and we didn’t start our offense until there was 22 seconds on the clock. We had wasted possessions on those two possessions.”The No. 22 Buckeyes are likely going to need to have those little things corrected when they are set to travel to Bloomington, Ind., to take on Indiana (16-12, 6-9, eighth in the Big Ten). The Hoosiers won the Big Ten regular season title last year, beating the Buckeyes by a game in the standings.OSU’s second loss this season to Penn State this year was not exactly what the Buckeyes had planned, Scott said, but there’s no time to worry about that with a quick turnaround to take on Indiana.“It cuts us deep, losing another game. But we can’t really dwell on it. It’s too late in the season to start dwelling on our mistakes,” Scott said. “It’s not time for that right now. We gotta all be men and move on from that and make the most of our next games.”Despite falling to Penn State Thursday, OSU would still be the fourth seed in the Big Ten Tournament — and get a first-round bye — if the season ended today, because Iowa also lost Thursday, on the road at Indiana.The Hoosiers are led by sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, who is currently fourth in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game.“Ferrell is obviously one of the top point guards in the country and (freshman forward Noah) Vonleh is a monster,” Matta said of the Hoosiers two leading scorers. “Just a well-coached basketball team, very good basketball team and it’s another Big Ten war for us.”Despite their record, Indiana isn’t going to be an easy opponent, Scott said.“We know none of our games are going to get easier. Indiana’s a great team,” Scott said. “Their record doesn’t show how good they really are, so we all know that coming into the game. We’re going to be prepared for them and hopefully be ready to play.”The loss to Penn State came on the heels of six wins in seven games for OSU, but Matta said he’s not concerned about his team’s confidence level.“It’s funny because with this quick turnaround, I’m not even worried about confidence,” Matta said. “Our focus is quite honestly, ‘Hey that’s behind us. We can’t change that. Here’s what we gotta do to try to win the basketball game’ … In terms of being 25 games or whatever we are into the season, come on — you gotta man up. You gotta carry your weight around here and get the job done.”Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. Sunday at Assembly Hall.