In the long, drawn-out days between Selection Sunday and the beginning of the round of 64, college basketball fans have two pastimes: filling out their brackets and complaining about the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s decisions.This year was especially ripe for the latter, with grievances coming in from all corners of the college basketball universe. (Hint: When even the No. 1 overall seed — in this case, Kansas — has room for complaint, the committee might not have done its best work.) But how much does this stuff really matter? Can small changes to the committee’s decisions make a big difference to a team’s odds of going deep in the tourney?To figure this out, we used the same method that drives our March Madness predictions and randomized the bracket around the committee’s S-curve rankings — the actual 1-68 ranking of teams the committee uses to guide the seedings and overall placement of teams in the bracket. Because the committee doesn’t adhere strictly to the S-curve within each “seed line” — it has the leeway to place teams according to factors (like geography) that go beyond balancing each region’s strength — we can judge how much the committee’s decisions at the margins affected each team’s chances of advancing to various rounds. And because we’re keeping teams in the same S-curve slots as the committee’s, we can examine these differences without delving into alternate universe-type scenarios in which the crusty old voters valued the teams differently.Here are the teams whose odds to get to the Sweet 16 and Final Four were helped and hurt the most. As far as the championship is concerned, these tweaks don’t matter much; most teams’ odds of winning it all were affected by less than a percentage point. But in terms of advancing to prestige benchmarks like the Sweet 16 and Final Four, the draw can have a relatively large effect. By being in a favorable region, for instance, Oklahoma’s Final Four odds were boosted by 12.1 percentage points, while Villanova was dinged by 4.4 points because it was dropped into the same region with Kansas.And that’s just looking at the committee’s deviations from its own S-curve. What if the crusty old voters did value the teams (slightly) differently? In another simulation, we randomized the S-curve itself, giving a team the potential to move up or drop down into the top or bottom half of the next “seed line.” For instance, a No. 3 seed could have moved up into one of the bottom two slots on the S-curve for No. 2 seeds or just as easily dropped into one of the top two slots for No. 4 seeds. For each of those random draws, we simulated the bracket and then tracked how much each team’s odds changed in their most and least favorable draws.Here are the results when we model the S-curve this way: By Neil Paine and Jay Boice More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Our sports podcast Hot Takedown previews March Madness. For top teams, the difference between its 20th- and 80th-percentile draw was 10 to 15 percentage points of Final Four probability, all due to the whims of its position on the S-curve.Certainly, there are more factors determining how far a team goes in the NCAA Tournament than simply its starting point in the bracket. But in a wide-open field in which every edge counts, even small shifts in probability can add up.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions. Embed Code
The Cleveland Cavaliers have wasted no time in the pursuit of a new coach after firing Byron Scott last Thursday. They are now heavily interested in rehiring former coach Mike Brown.Brown met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert over dinner Sunday night and the meeting went well, but no offer was extended to him, according to several media outlets.Cleveland initially extended the head coaching position to Phil Jackson over the weekend, after reports surfaced last week that he wanted to return to the game in a front office role. However, Jackson’s representative told the Cavs that he has no interest in the coaching job, according to ESPN.com.Brown told The Plain Dealer on Thursday that he was in no rush to return to coaching after he was fired by the Lakers after one season and five games. The Lakers still owe Brown about $8 million from his contract.The Cavaliers and Brown both agreed to think about the possible reunion before speaking with each other again later this week. But the Cavs surely have an eye set on Brown because he is the first candidate to meet with Gilbert.If Cleveland decides they want to reunite with Brown, they would probably like to have a contract completed before the end of the playoffs. Brown is expected to be at the top of list of several teams as vacancies continue to emerge.“Moving forward, we’ll look for someone with proven success and look for somebody who is strong defensively with proven systems,” Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant told The Plain Dealer. “We’ll look for somebody who is a teacher. We’ll look for somebody who is a grinder and a worker.”But media outlets are reporting that Brown is highly intrigued by the job because of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the club’s sizable salary-cap space.Before being fired by the Cavs in 2010, Brown, who was hired in 2005, had four seasons of 50 or more wins. His best coaching year was during 2008-09 when the Cavs went 66-16 and he won the NBA Coach of the Year.Brown was quickly fired after LeBron James decided to take his talents the Miami Heat, even though he led the team to a 61-21 record during the 2009-10 season.If the reunion of Brown and the Cavs occurs, there could be another possible reunion in 2014 when James can opt out of his contract. The Cavs will surely pursue him if they can keep the salary-cap space at a substantial amount.
2011Mike Vick22.214.171.124.71.3 2011Tim Tebow37.1%126.96.36.199.0 2013Russell Wilson36.739.02.73.91.2 12016Jameis Winston34.9%80.7 2012Nick Foles188.8.131.52.01.5 2015Aaron Rodgers32.434.72.54.01.5 2016Aaron Rodgers29.471.82.64.01.4 2012Ben Roethlisberger24.744.92.54.01.5 72016Dak Prescott29.958.4 82015Tyrod Taylor31.757.9 92014Carson Palmer27.452.8 102013Ryan Fitzpatrick23.952.5 RANKSEASONPLAYERPRESSURE %QBR SEASONPLAYERPRESSURE %QBRIN POCKETBEFORE PASSSCRAMBLING SECONDS Rodgers’s performance through the regular season and two postseason games this year has been exceptional. His 71.8 QBR when pressured this season is the fourth-highest since 2009, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. On Sunday, Rodgers was pressured on 18 of 51 dropbacks, and while he was sacked three times and gave up an interception, he went 7 for 14 for 149 yards, including the 36 that brought the Packers into field goal position. His unadjusted QBR actually went up on these plays, from 79.4 on plays where he wasn’t pressured to 89.7 on plays where he was.We only have QB pressure data going back to 2009, so that table isn’t exactly a complete survey of the situation. But six of the best eight individual seasons of QBs performing under pressure have come in the last two years.A few possible explanations for that: First, random noise is always a possibility. Second, something in the collection or interpretation of the pressure numbers may have changed over the years. (I asked around at Stats & Info about this, and the folks there said nothing changed under the hood, but they did note that the stat doesn’t differentiate between duress that comes at the beginning of a play, before a QB escapes to relative safety, and duress that comes just as a QB throws.)One more caveat: Different shops have different ways of defining “pressure,” so numbers can shift slightly from site to site, but the unifying thread among all the methods is that the QB has to be affected by the rush. So some plays that simply require the QB to step up in the pocket to avoid the rush may be left out of the overall tally. That would seemingly underrepresent mainstays of passing-leader charts such as Drew Brees or Tom Brady, who excel at beating the blitz by throwing the ball before pressure can arrive.So if the Geriatric All-Pro wing isn’t cracking the pass rush, it should be obvious who is — the guys who can move. Here’s a table showing QBs since 2011 who created the most time outside the pocket. I took the average time to throw and subtracted time in the pocket, leaving us with those magical few seconds when a player such as Rodgers or Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick is rolling around the edge looking for a target: 2012Colin Kaepernick184.108.40.206.11.6 2013Terrelle Pryor220.127.116.11.41.8 2012Robert Griffin III25.518.104.22.168.5 2012Russell Wilson31.922.214.171.124.6 2012Aaron Rodgers23.4126.96.36.199.6 32013Josh McCown27.673.8 2014Colin Kaepernick31.524.42.44.01.6 2015Russell Wilson188.8.131.52.01.5 22015Jay Cutler30.975.0 2013Colin Kaepernick184.108.40.206.01.3 2013Aaron Rodgers25.019.42.54.01.5 Source: ESPN Stats & Info Group 2011Ben Roethlisberger25.4220.127.116.11.2 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group QBs under pressure, regular season and playoffs 2011-16 2011Aaron Rodgers18.104.22.168.01.4 42016Aaron Rodgers28.871.8 There are two types of quarterbacks who consistently create significant amounts of time between when they break the pocket and when they throw the ball: the bootleg and read-option acolytes and the guys who are (and must be) good at running for their lives. Along with a slightly younger version of Ben Roethlisberger and an always-battered Russell Wilson, Rodgers is one of the few QBs on that list who combine out-of-pocket moves with excellence at the more traditional in-pocket throws.But Rodgers has always been able to buy time once the pocket breaks down, and it’s only recently that he’s turned those moments of brilliance into sustained performance.Since the start of the 2014 season, Rodgers has thrown for 28 touchdowns and just five interceptions while under pressure. The league average over that span is 3.2 touchdowns per season to 3.2 interceptions. For the season, Rodgers’s QBR when he was pressured was 71.8, which would have put him ninth in the league on all plays, not just pressured ones.So the big question then: What did Rodgers change?Rodgers’s pressure numbers look very similar to his old ones on depth of pass, time to pass, and many other stats. The only difference by the numbers is that he appears to be completing more of the same passes he’s been throwing for years.A critical part of this improvement seems to be that Rodgers is even more comfortable getting out on the edge early in his progressions. Here’s a play against the Vikings in Week 7 of 2011, Rodgers’s first MVP season:He looks a like a traditional quarterback, going through his progressions until the pocket finally folds, and he busts out and finds an open man.And now here he is this season:In part out of necessity, Rodgers no longer bounces around the pocket, or slides around blockers while keeping his feet set. These days, he often makes one or two reads and books it to the outside, where he essentially sets up a secondary pocket. It’s almost a bizarro version of the simplified offense many young mobile QBs run, in which they make one read and then bolt if their man isn’t open.Who knows if Rodgers will keep this up. Maybe this is unsustainable. Maybe the magic outside the pocket really is just fortuitous but still random chance converging in one season. But Rodgers has had enough success this season that if he keeps on doing what he’s doing, it’ll be hard to argue it’s just luck, no matter how unlikely it might seem.Check out our latest NFL playoff predictions. 2016Tyrod Taylor35.522.214.171.124.3 2011Joe Flacco22.8126.96.36.199.3 62009Peyton Manning15.761.2 2011Kevin Kolb188.8.131.52.91.5 52015Ryan Fitzpatrick22.571.5 2014Russell Wilson184.108.40.206.01.5 A certain number of things that happen during a football game come down to skill, and a certain number to luck, and it’s important to be able to tell one from the other. Aaron Rodgers dropping deep in the pocket on a free play and rifling a 34-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Richard Rodgers, under-throwing him but threading it precisely between linebacker Sean Lee’s outstretched arm and his earhole against the Cowboys last weekend? That takes some baseline NFL skills, but mostly it’s a bad pass getting a lucky break. But Aaron Rodgers slipping the pocket, rolling left, pausing, waiting for his receivers to come back across the field, and hitting Jared Cook for a 36-yard catch that was inbounds by a toenail and set up the game-winning field goal? Now that’s a little bit of luck and a whole lot of skill.Aaron Rodgers is unusually good when pressure comes his way. One of the bedrock principles of defense in the NFL is that pressuring the quarterback works. It worked on Tom Brady and the 18-0 Patriots in 2008, and God knows it worked on Cam Newton and the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Get to the quarterback, the thinking goes, and you’re in good shape, failing a stroke of luck or the spectacular. But these days there’s a group of quarterbacks, Rodgers included, who are defying that conventional wisdom.Since 2009, the league average QBR1I’m using the “raw” version of QBR for this post, since Total QBR isn’t calculated at the split-level. The raw version is just the Total QBR number before it’s adjusted for strength of opponent. on plays with QB pressure is just 18.5, according to ESPN Stats & Information — just barely better than the worst quarterbacking season of the century, Jimmy Clausen’s catastrophe in 2010, which came in at 14.5 QBR. This season, QB performance has seen a modest bump to 29.3 — better, but still not very good. The notable difference, however, is now there are a few quarterbacks who are finding ways to thrive.Here’s a chart showing the quarterbacks since 2009 who performed best on plays flagged as QB pressures:
The Philadelphia 76ers are going to make the playoffs — not that their best players know what that feels like. Teams with their level of inexperience don’t usually push past the first round. Can the Sixers break the mold?
PLAYERAGEPAWARPREV. HIGHCAREER WARYR+1YR+2YR+3YR+4YR+5NEXT 5 YRS. What’s in store for Giancarlo Stanton’s Yankees career?For players whose first 7-WAR season came between ages 25-29, average statistics in that season and each of the next five seasons, 1920-2017 IN FIRST 7-WAR SEASONWAR IN… *Average for 66 comparable players.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs Comparable players*276628.06.027.65.04.44.13.63.020.2 For our historical group — which includes the likes of Frank Robinson, Manny Ramirez and Tony Gwynn — the drop was relatively steep from their career-best season. On average, they fell from 8.0 WAR that year to 5.0 the following season, with the total diminishing over each of the next five years in a predictable aging pattern. Only 10 of the 66 ever had another season as good as their breakout campaign. Granted, Stanton’s big year was slightly less out of place with the rest of his career, so he’ll probably feel the pull of regression a bit less than other players might. And a batter who produces between 3 and 5 WAR is no bum — quite to the contrary, 5 WAR is roughly the border where All-Star seasons start to take shape.Plus, the Yankees might not even need Stanton to reproduce his 2017 in order to have a great season next year: Their run differential suggests they were roughly as good as the 104-win L.A. Dodgers last year, despite winning “only” 91 games. New York would have been formidable without Stanton, and with him (plus Judge, Gary Sanchez and others), they’ll be a right-handed power-hitting squad the likes of which the game may never have seen before.But at the same time, Stanton will probably not reach the heights of his performance from 2017 ever again — meaning the Yankees are getting a very good player but probably not one with perennial MVP potential. After all, there’s a reason they call it a “career year”: You only get one of them per customer.Either way, after several relatively quiet offseasons, general manager Brian Cashman and the Yankees seem to be returning to their big-ticket superstar roots. Now we’ll see if they can also revive the tradition of winning World Series. G. Stanton276927.26.434.6?????? After several weeks of involved trade discussions that would send prized Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton to either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals, the baseball world was thrown a curveball Friday when it was reported that Stanton rejected both deals — and that the New York Yankees had swooped into the bidding. According to multiple reports, and assuming Stanton approves the deal, the Yankees had done on Saturday what the Giants and Cards couldn’t: They reeled in the game’s top power hitter.There were only two hitters last season who hit more than 50 home runs in MLB. Now, the Yankees have both of them: Stanton and fellow right-handed behemoth Aaron Judge. There’s reason to think Stanton will like hitting in Yankee Stadium as much as his new teammate. According to The Baseball Gauge’s park adjustments, Marlins Park was the third-most-difficult home run-hitting park for right-handed batters last season, which had the effect of depressing righty homers by about 20 percent relative to an average MLB ballpark.1The full-season park factor listed by The Baseball Gauge is 0.90, implying a 10 percent drop, but that number also reflects that a team plays half its games on the road, in (presumably) neutral parks. So the effect in Marlins home games alone would be about 20 percent. You read that right: Stanton smashed an MLB-leading 59 bombs — the most in baseball since 2001 — and took a serious run at Roger Maris’s pre-steroids HR record despite playing in one of the game’s most difficult parks for right-handed power hitters. There’s a reason Stanton was named NL MVP even though his team finished 20 games out of first place — it was one of the great individual seasons of this millennium.If you use The Baseball Gauge’s adjustment and extrapolate Stanton’s 2017 homers to a typical park, he’d project to have hit about 66 homers — easily shattering Maris’s mark. What’s more, Yankee Stadium ranked as the third-most-favorable park in baseball for right-handed home run hitters last season. Continuing our exercise above to project Stanton’s season into Yankee Stadium, he would figure to have hit around 73 homers (!!!) if he’d played in the Bronx instead of Miami. Now, the obvious caveats apply: Park factors are imperfect measurements that don’t account for each park’s exact dimensions, instead inferring the effect in a somewhat noisy way by looking at the change in home runs between a team’s home and road games. But even so, Stanton is probably going to get some kind of assist in his power numbers simply by upgrading his park situation.The real question for the Yankees is whether that boost will be enough to offset the tug of regression to the mean. Stanton had the best season of his career in 2017, and not just in the HR column, where he set a new career high by 22 homers. He also reached new career marks in isolated power, strikeout rate, on-base plus slugging and wins above replacement,2Using an average of the WAR models found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. in addition to playing 150 games in a season for the first time since 2011. There’s a very good chance that last season was the best we’ll ever see out of Stanton, who still has at least 10 years and $295 million left on his gargantuan contract. It would be unfair to expect him to reproduce anything close to that level of performance, particularly given his history of injuries.According to WAR, Stanton was worth 7.2 wins at age 27 last season, the first time he ever broke the seven-win barrier in a single season. Since 1920, 66 hitters have cracked 7 WAR for the first time between the ages of 25 and 29 (provided they also put up at least 20 career WAR from their rookie season through their breakout season).3Stanton has 34.6 career WAR through 2017. Those players had that big year at an average age of 27.2 — roughly the same as Stanton last year — so they make for a good sample from which we can draw a comparison for Stanton’s next few seasons.
A Super Bowl MVP and former Buckeye football star met students for an autograph session on campus.Santonio Holmes, the former Ohio State wide receiver, signed autographs at the Ohio Union for students and fans Tuesday night.Holmes, the Super Bowl XLIII MVP, spent two hours signing autographs for his fans in the Archie Griffin Ballroom.Jessica Kachovec, a first-year from Cincinnati, attended one game every year growing up and remembers seeing Holmes play in the Horseshoe.“He’s an amazing player,” Kachovec said. “The only reason I watch Pittsburgh is because he plays for them.”Holmes, who played for the Buckeyes from 2002 to 2005, now plays wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.“He was the man,” said Scott Diamond, a third-year from Cleveland, about Holmes’ days as a Buckeye. “He’s definitely one of the best NFL players Ohio State has ever produced.”Sean Sirianni, a fourth-year and Pittsburgh native who was excited when the Steelers drafted Holmes, was looking forward to meeting him because of the OSU-Pittsburgh connection they share.Holmes was recently accused of throwing a glass of liquor at a woman in a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. that caused a laceration.Despite the incident, he was welcomed with great support at the OSU event.“I really hope it all turns out OK,” Diamond said. “I hope he plays well and people hopefully forget the off-field issues when he’s done playing.”
First-year Ohio State baseball coach Greg Beals insists that the Buckeyes (1-2) not set specific goals as they progress through this season, though he will demand a “fighting mentality.”“We’re too young and too inexperienced to have these expectations of, ‘We should win all our games,’ or, ‘We should do this, this and that,’” Beals said. “We need to go out and establish ourselves as a baseball team before we start setting up what our goals are.”Beals has emphasized an approach that he says will help build a great team.“We have expectations about going through the process (of improving) the quality of our at-bat, the quality of our pitches,” Beals said.Redshirt senior right fielder Brian DeLucia has already bought into his new coach’s thinking.“For right now, our expectations aren’t very extensive in terms of where we want to be at the end of the season,” DeLucia said. “We’re gonna take it game by game.”With 19 underclassmen on its 33-player roster, OSU is a young team. DeLucia said the team’s youth is part of the reason for tempering predictions about wins and losses.“We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team,” DeLucia said. “We’ve got a lot of learning experiences, a lot of obstacles to overcome.”DeLucia also said his only personal expectation for the season was that he and his teammates would “fight like dogs.” Having already played their first three games, Beals’ players have proven to be resilient.While competing in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Florida on Friday and Saturday, OSU dropped its first two games, losing, 11-5, and, 2-0, to Cincinnati and No. 20 Louisville, respectively. The Buckeyes then eked out an 8-7 win on Saturday against No. 23 St. John’s in a game that lasted 11 innings.Beals pointed to Sunday’s win, his first as OSU’s coach, as evidence of the Buckeyes’ unwavering effort on the field.“It’s gonna take all of us, and a great example of that was the Sunday win,” Beals said. “We had to go deep into our bullpen. It took a lot of guys, and we ended up laying down a bunt to win a ball game.” In Beals’ eyes, the path to success is very simple.“Anyway, anyhow, anybody,” Beals said, “we gotta get that mentality to just fight and claw to get every success we can.”There is no set number of wins that the team is striving for, but redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Paul Geuy said the outlook is positive.“Expectations are quite high,” Geuy said. “It’s going to be a good year, definitely.”
Usually, when a team vying for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament loses late in the regular season, there is cause for concern. But that concern can be alleviated when all the other teams looking for No. 1 seeds also happen to lose. That’s exactly what happened last week. With its loss to Purdue on Sunday, No. 2 Ohio State (26-2, 13-2 Big Ten) was able to maintain its grip on a top tournament seed last week because No. 3 Kansas (26-2, 11-2 Big 12), No. 4 Pittsburgh (24-3, 12-2 Big East) and No. 5 Texas (24-4, 12-1 Big 12) lost. This allowed fifth-ranked Duke (25-2, 12-1 ACC) to jet to No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Jerry Palm, bracketology expert and owner of CollegeRPI.com, said the Blue Devils’ ascension in the rankings isn’t necessarily deserved. “Duke went from No. 5 to No. 1 because the four teams ahead of them lost,” Palm told The Lantern, “not because Duke’s better.” One of Duke’s losses came to Florida State (19-7, 9-3 ACC), whom the Buckeyes beat, 58-44, Nov. 30 on the road. Duke’s other loss came Jan. 30 to then-unranked St. John’s (17-9, 9-5 Big East). OSU’s two losses came to No. 12 Wisconsin (20-6, 10-4 Big Ten) and No. 8 Purdue (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten). In Palm’s most recent bracket, Pittsburgh, OSU, No. 6 San Diego State (27-1, 12-1 Mountain West) and Kansas are all No. 1 seeds with Texas and Duke right on the cusp. He said Pittsburgh and OSU clearly have the best résumés at this point in the season. Despite losing to No. 7 BYU (25-2, 11-1 Mountain West) on Jan. 26, San Diego State remains a viable contender for a top seed, even though it plays in the lesser-known Mountain West Conference. Behind leading scorer and rebounder Kawhi Leonard — who’s averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game — the Aztecs are in a better position for a No. 1 seed now than anyone could have anticipated. They get a rematch against BYU on Sunday in a game that could solidify their position. Palm said that of the top four teams to lose last week, the Longhorns’ loss to Nebraska (18-8, 6-6 Big 12) was “the worst” loss of the group. The Cornhuskers are fighting for a chance at an at-large bid, and the loss dropped Texas to No. 5. The Buckeyes will be favored in each of their three remaining regular season games — against Indiana (12-15, 3-11 Big Ten), on the road against Penn State (14-12, 7-8 Big Ten) and the rematch game against Wisconsin — and they need a solid showing in the Big Ten Tournament to warrant the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance, Palm said. “It’s a grind,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “I’m glad I’ve chosen the attitude I’ve always had in my approach to coaching — I’m not looking back. “Every day in college basketball is survival mode; there’s no doubt about that.” The other most likely contender for the top overall seed is Pittsburgh, which will have to face a gauntlet of Big East teams finishing off its regular season and in its conference tournament. The Big East is arguably the best conference in college basketball.
On June 23, 1972, the United States government passed an education amendment that included Title IX. Within the amendment was a statement that clearly summarizes the purpose of Title IX and what it stands for: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Almost 40 years after the amendment was signed into law, women are still fighting for equal consideration in sports against their male counterparts. It is not always at the collegiate or professional levels either, where most of the media attention is focused. More often than not, it is in high schools where isolated incidents continue to take place. Last week, Our Lady of Sorrows Academy’s baseball team in Phoenix forfeited the state championship game it was scheduled to play against Mesa Preparatory Academy in Mesa, Ariz. because Mesa had a girl named Paige Sultzbach starting at second base. Our Lady of Sorrows is a member of a separatist branch of the Catholic Church and said that playing against a team with a girl would violate the school’s mission to teach boys and girls separately. I’m not here to start a religious debate, question the beliefs of any religion, or say what is the right or wrong thing to believe. My question is simply this: What’s the big deal? Sultzbach is obviously a good enough player to be a starter for a varsity team, where she is the only female member, that reached the state championship game. She even sat out two previous contests against Our Lady of Sorrows this season out of respect for the views of the school. As a passionate person, she was not about to sit out the state championship game though, and who could blame her? As a member of a team and a fierce competitor, there should be no reason a person, male or female, should be asked to sit out after they have worked all year to reach the biggest game of the season. Many people who have played a high school sport know that it is almost every player’s dream to play for a state championship in his or her respective sport. It is something I dreamed about many times growing up, but like many people, I was never fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live that dream. Sultzbach and her teammates had that opportunity, but it was taken away from them because she is a girl. I admire Sultzbach’s decision to play even though she knew it would cause her team to win a state championship by forfeit which she said was absolutely not the way she wanted it to be. Most people want to feel like it was earned because it means more that way. Sultzbach clearly earned the right to play baseball for her school and to play for a state championship, but Our Lady of Sorrows denied her that chance. And the fight for equality continues for another day.
Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) spikes the ball during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographerThe No. 13 Ohio State women’s volleyball team started its season by winning 13 straight matches, including a four set victory over then-No. 10 Michigan. The team’s winning streak came to a halt when the Buckeyes fell to No. 15 Michigan State in three straight sets.The Buckeyes (13-1) struggled early against the Spartans on Sunday, but still had a chance in each set. OSU jumped out to an 18-14 lead in the match’s opening set, but MSU fought back to take get the win, 27-25.Throughout the match, OSU struggled with passing, due partially to dominant serving from its opponent. The Spartans finished the day with eight service aces, as well as 14 errors. These problems and Michigan State’s strong serving led to OSU dropping the next two sets, 25-23 and 25-22.Senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary finished with 10 kills in the losing effort and said her and her teammates must use this match to grow as they move forward in Big Ten play.“We just didn’t come out strong, and we’re gonna use this, work on what we need to do this week to be ready for Indiana and Purdue next week,” Leary said.OSU coach Geoff Carlston was also impressed with the Spartans’ serving game.“We just didn’t pass very well, but in Michigan State’s defense that’s the toughest serving team I’ve ever seen,” he said.Carlston said the match exhibited poor play from some typical stars, while some others were able to step up.“We rely a lot on Kaitlyn Leary and she struggled today,” Carlston said. “I thought our freshmen really stepped up and played well.”Leary had an uncharacteristic seven errors on top of her 10 kills while freshman right side hitter Taylor Sandbothe led the team with 12 kills while committing just one error. Sanbothe’s classmate, outside hitter Kylie Randall, added 11 kills of her own to go along with two errors.Following the first set, Carlston made a change at the libero position, as senior Julianne Mandolfo donned the scarlet jersey instead of senior Davionna DiSalvatore.“Davionna got aced three times in one set (against MSU), that’s something that can’t happen,” Carlston said. “That’s the luxury we have. They’re both really, really good and so if one is struggling, we can put the other one in and vice versa.”Carlston also shuffled his lineup late in the match, throwing sophomore outside hitter Katie Mitchell onto the court in the third set in hopes of extending the match.“What we had been doing the past two sets hadn’t been working,” Mitchell said.Mitchell said the team’s cohesion will have to improve this week in practice.“We kind of fell apart a little bit,” she said. “We need to bounce back as a group.”Freshman outside hitter Chloe Reinig and senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski led the way for the Spartans with 12 kills each.Even with a loss to the Spartans, the players were able to take some positives away from its win against Michigan on Friday night, especially the great play of Sandbothe and Randall, Leary said. She said she was proud to see them step up.“They both really stepped up as freshmen and we needed that, especially with me starting off a little slow, they definitely brought that and that’s what helped us win this game tonight,” Leary said Friday.Sandbothe said there were a lot of emotions for her coming into the first Michigan clash of her college career.“There’s a lot of people here, so I was a little nervous, but excited,” she said after the win against the Wolverines. “This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of.”The official attendance for the match against Michigan was about 4,500.Even though the Buckeyes came out victorious, the team struggled at times. OSU led the second set 22-16 before eventually losing 27-25.Randall said the team made some mistakes at the service line that contributed to the loss.“In the second game, we missed four to five in a row so I think we could definitely work on that,” she said.Carlston added that the personnel OSU had on the court in the set it lost did not leave them with a very good chance to win.“We got stuck in a rotation that we weren’t playing very well in and they were playing very well in, and that’s the game,” he said.Leary led the match with 22 kills while Sandbothe recorded 12 kills and eight blocks and Randall finished 11 kills and four blocks.OSU is set to travel to Indiana this weekend for its first road matches of the Big Ten season. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., at 7 p.m. Friday and Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., at the same time Saturday.