Month: September 2019

The second-and-short scenario is noisier than the others (since first-and-10 is far more common), but the difference is pretty clear. If you compare the horizontal gap between the lines, you can compare scenarios. For example, if a running back has the chance to go down after gaining 9 yards when 53 yards out from goal, he should only take the first down if he can get all the way to the 50-yard line. This difference seems to be tightest at midrange distances (which makes sense because the field is compressed), but it’s generally about 2 to 4 yards.So, if it’s first down and you see a rusher or receiver stretch out for that last yard, boo loudly.Gunslinger of the weekThe fickleness of the Hacker Gods5Don’t worry, you don’t need to pray to the Hacker Gods. You need to pray that the Hacker Gods exist. was on complete display last week, as they decided to let interceptions slide: Twenty quarterbacks threw picks at one point or another, and 10 of them won their games anyway.6In Week 2, only one QB won with any interceptions. This past week, Drew Brees had three interceptions, including a pick-6 with his team trailing — the coup de grace of the gunslinger — and his team still pulled off the win!Blake Bortles — the only rookie quarterback who saw any action last weekend — was not among the winners. He threw two interceptions in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ competitive loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.Most notably, on second-and-12, down 10-9 in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars’ coaches called a run, but Bortles called an audible for a pass. That pass was picked off and returned for a touchdown, and Jacksonville lost 17-9.Here’s what Bortles had to say after the game:It was a run. I just saw guys walk up. It wasn’t a good decision. We could have kept the run on and it wouldn’t have been a bad play. It would have given us a shot and it’s something that I can’t make that mistake again and definitely can’t check out of play into a pick-6.No! Don’t listen to the haters, Blake! Your instinct was right. Second-and-12 on your own side of the field is a terrible time to run in general (see our experimental chart of the week, below), and even worse if it’s late in a game you’re losing. Blake, to try to ensure you keep slinging, you get this week’s Gunslinger of the Week award. May it guide you in future games.Kicking awards for Week 5Last week, I introduced my system for evaluating the most and least valuable kickers. It plots points above and below expectation versus how much the kicker contributed to a game’s scoring margin.But then Alex Henery’s 0-for-3 week for Detroit broke the scale:To get it out of the way: San Francisco’s Phil Dawson is the MVK for Week 5. He went 5-for-5 including two 50+ yarders in a close win against the Kansas City Chiefs. Bravo!But on to the fun stuff: Henery essentially produced the Lions’ loss against the Buffalo Bills all by himself. If he’d made as many field goals as he was expected to, all else being equal, the Lions would have won. (The Lions released him after the game.)The three attempts Henery missed were from 44, 47 and 50 yards out (making him 1-for-5 on the season). Historically, this might not seem like the worst stretch imaginable, and Grantland’s Bill Barnwell had this to say about the ordeal:Imagine judging a hitter based on his batting average over a six-game stretch or an NBA player based on his shooting percentage after two games. That’s about what we do when we judge a kicker, who gets 35 chances to test his mettle across an entire 16-game season.But context matters. NFL kickers don’t miss from those distances the way they used to.7The expected value of kicks on that scale is calculated based on a probit regression over every kick since 2001 that includes the year that the kick was taken as a variable. Kickers now make roughly two-thirds of their FGs taken from 50+ yards and four-fifths of those taken from 40 to 49 yards. Based on my expected-value model (which adjusts for the year that kicks were taken), Henery’s -6.73 points below expectation in the game amounted to the tenth-worst single day by a kicker since 2001 (a period that includes more than 7,000 kicker games). But Kris Brown, a longtime kicker for Pittsburgh and Houston, had the second-worst day by a kicker for the Steelers in 2001, and then the best day by a kicker for the Texans in 2007. So a kicker can bounce back.Meanwhile, Detroit fell to 4-for-12 on field goals for the season. The entire league has only missed 44 attempts this year. That’s right, Detroit is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all missed field goals in the NFL this season! The single worst team kicking season since 2001 belongs to San Francisco in 2012. The Niners missed 14 field goals and ran 20.6 kicking points below expectation for the whole year.Through five games, the Lions are already running 16.6 kicking points below expectation. But Detroit signed former Bronco Matt Prater to try to dig it out of this hole. Prater had one of the best seasons by a kicker of all time last year, but he has been inconsistent, posting negative value added in four of his seven seasons in the league. If Prater isn’t in good form, Detroit may be the new bad kicking champions.Experimental chart(s) of the weekRiffing off the play/drive data I used for the chart of the week, I decided to take a look at whether running or passing is more effective in various situations. This chart uses the same distance and average points as the earlier chart, but it’s split into first, second and third downs with 10 yards to go.8Going for it on fourth-and-10 is too rare to be meaningful. It then plots the ultimate success of the drive when a pass is attempted versus when a run is attempted in those situations.From this, we can see that passing has led to better results in nearly any long-yardage situation. This is a little surprising, especially on first down. Game theoretically, if teams are selecting whether to run or pass optimally, and defending optimally, the value from each should be very similar. It’s possible that, on the margins, running and passing do have the same value,9In which case, it would be similar to what I’ve said about NBA 3-point attempts. but from the bubble sizes, we can see that the pass/run ratio is relatively even on first down, so it seems more likely to me that teams are just running in this spot too much.Similarly, we can look at short-yardage spots to see if those situations differ. The chart below is the same as the one above, except it looks at second, third and fourth downs with less than 3 yards to go.10Technically, I’m using “and-1” and “and-2” distances, which includes all distances between 0 and 2 yards, and possibly some distances between 2 yards and 3 yards, as discussed in last week’s column. Running data doesn’t always show what it appears to show, and the “eye test” doesn’t help much either. Our meager human eyes can’t really track the multitude of complex variables involved in whether a running play is successful or not. As I wrote last week, whether a team runs the ball is largely a function of whether it’s ahead or behind. A running back’s productivity is even more a function of role, quality of offense, and the situations his team gets into than it is for a QB. This makes it especially hard to judge outliers (and I love outliers).But the Cowboys have been playing competitive games in which Murray has been very consistent, and he has earned his yards in an extremely impressive fashion.One way to cut down on situational factors3Of course, to be even more accurate, it can help to do a situation-for-situation comparison, like I did for Jamaal Charles and Peterson in my NFC West preview. is to look only at first-and-10 runs that aren’t near the goal line. Like so:Murray has gained an average of 6.4 yards on these runs, compared to a league average of 4.4.His distribution of runs has been great as well. I’ve been critical of running backs (like Peterson) who put up big stats by breaking a lot of long runs but who get stopped too often, making their game like a less-efficient version of the passing game. But that’s not the case for Murray, thus far. He is breaking long runs at the same rate as a back like Peterson, yet Murray has only eight runs for no gain or loss of yardage (10.7 percent, or about half of Peterson’s career average of 22.2 percent). Moreover, Murray’s median run has been 5 yards, which compares favorably even to passing in the same situation, with a median distance of 4 yards. Through the first five games, Murray has been the ideal running back: consistently gaining positive yardage, setting up favorable second-down situations (he leads the league in runs of 7 to 9 yards), and still a threat to go the distance.Chart of the weekOne of my favorite mini-stats from the Murray first-and-10 data is that Murray has five runs this year of exactly4Inasmuch as these things are exact. 9 yards, and none of exactly 10 yards.This is smart! Running for 9 yards on first-and-10 outside of 25 yards from the goal is pretty much always better than running for 10. Getting to second-and-short is more valuable than getting a first down because it leads to a flexible situation and forces the defense to prepare for a wider variety of plays.Here’s the easiest way to understand this: A team is trading one down and one yard for the privilege of having only one yard to gain. Since the team will gain that one yard a high percentage of the time, it has a lot of flexibility: It can rush or sneak to try to pick up the first down (and collect bonus yards in the process), or it can launch a deep pass knowing that, barring a sack or a turnover, it will likely still have a short-yardage play on third down. The opponent has to defend everything from short-yardage runs to deep passes at once, meaning it defends each a little worse than usual.Those two yards before first down, then, are a sweet spot for offenses. How sweet is the sweet spot? Using drive data since 2001, I looked at how many points a possession produced on average, given its spot on the field, when it was second-and-short (defined as second-and-2 or less) versus first-and-10: Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is kinda killing it this year. Through five games, he’s leading the league in rushing by more than 200 yards1His 134 yards per game is more than 30 percent higher than second-place Arian Foster’s 101. — and he’s run for 100 or more yards in every game. He’s even getting MVP buzz, and with his help Dallas is 4-1, tied for the best record in football.Normally I don’t care much about running back stats. RBs have crazy seasons all the time, often signifying very little. This level of performance, for example, is pretty out of character for Murray and Dallas (which has been 8-8 in every year they’ve been together). Seasons like this usually come in two main flavors:The outlier running back has a featured role in some fancy new (usually QB-driven) offense. Examples include Edgerrin James and Marshall Faulk with Indianapolis, LaDanian Tomlinson with San Diego or Marshall Faulk with St. Louis.The outlier back’s stats are a kind of corrupt bargain with defenses that are willing to let the back put up big numbers while otherwise keeping the offense somewhat in check. Likely examples include Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders and Chris Johnson.2The year Johnson had 2,000 yards, the Tennessee Titans went 8-8. Of the seven times when a running back broke 2,000 yards in a season, only one player — Terrell Davis for John Elway’s Denver Broncos in 1998 — did so on a team that won more than 10 games (or even made it out of the first round of the playoffs). For short distances, it seems that running — on average — produces slightly better results. I was a little surprised by the second-and-short result, since (as previously discussed) this can be a great down for taking shots downfield. But the difference between the two is small, and the results may also be skewed slightly if teams are more likely to run when their chances of picking up a first down are better (such as in second-and-inches situations).On balance, the charts are fascinating to contemplate, but the takeaway is pretty basic, and so obvious that it’s almost counterintuitive: With long distances to first down passing is generally better, and with short distances running is generally better.Most empirically significant game of Week 6When teams do well despite “bad QB play,” it may not actually mean that their QBs are playing badly. Football is a game of limited resources. If a team’s QB is getting the job done, the GM may devote the team’s resources elsewhere.For example, say a GM has $130 million to spend (around the current NFL salary cap). He spends $65 million on offense and $65 million on defense. He pays the team’s quarterback $10 million, leaving $55 million for the rest of the team’s offense. The QB develops into a big-time stud, which leaves two options: The GM can keep spending the same amount on offense as on defense and end up with an above-average offense and an average defense; or, maybe the QB is good enough to produce an average offense with only a $35 million supporting cast, allowing that $20 million savings to be spent on improving the defense. It might not be pretty (especially for the QB), but whether the team’s wins come through offense or defense doesn’t matter to the GM. Why not have an average offense and a better defense?11Or special teams, or coach, or anything — and this applies to resources other than money, but money is the easiest to examine.This is more than just a thought experiment: The Baltimore Ravens have just $33 million devoted to non-quarterback offensive players — the lowest amount in the league and just 35 percent of their non-starting QB expenditures. In other words, aside from Joe Flacco, the Ravens have distributed their money nearly 2-to-1 in favor of defense. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have more than $63 million devoted to offensive players other than their highest-paid QB.12Technically, the Eagles’ highest-paid QB is Mark Sanchez. That means Nick Foles is starting out with a 2-to-1 money advantage.13Idea for future article: quarterback ratings adjusted for the salary of the rest of the offense!Which brings us to the most empirically significant game of Week 6: the Carolina Panthers vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.QBs like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton have been eclipsed somewhat by young stars like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, but the Seahawks and 49ers rank third and sixth in non-QB offensive expenditures, respectively. The Panthers and Bengals rank 15th and 23rd, respectively, by that measure. The Bengals have 38 percent of their cap space devoted to non-QB offense — as a share of non-QB salaries, that’s the fourth-lowest in football.Newton has about a $6 million spending advantage over Dalton. Seeing these two solid QBs on teams that don’t spend like crazy on offense go head to head may help us understand how financial considerations affect the game.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum. read more

The NBA regular season ends Wednesday, and the playoffs begin Saturday. And with that in mind, we’re going to shake things up a bit with regard to FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings.Until now, we’ve ranked every team according to a projection of its true talent over the upcoming week — and the upcoming week only — using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. (For more details on the original methodology, see our introductory rankings post.)But this week, with many teams resting key players in preparation for the playoffs, we’re ranking every team according to its projected playoff power rating. This means we’re projecting every team to be at “full strength” in terms of minutes given to players who will be available for the postseason, instead of only projecting for the next week. Playoff probabilities and expected end-of-season wins are still driven by projected minute distributions over the next few days, but the power ratings themselves have been geared to capture the talent that each team is bringing into the playoffs.With the playoffs being emphasized more in our ratings, it’s fitting that the San Antonio Spurs rank in the top two for the first time since early February. They’ve won 11 straight games, a run backed up by the underlying talent of one of the league’s best teams.The Atlanta Hawks also benefit from our switch to “playoff power” — while Thabo Sefolosha’s bizarre season-ending injury hurts their chances of winning the championship, we’ve boosted the playing time for many of their good players who have consistently been listed as day-to-day in the injury report in recent weeks.As for teams on the fringe of the playoffs, we noted last week that the Boston Celtics were basically a coin flip to make the playoffs, battling it out with the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for one of the two remaining postseason slots in the Eastern Conference. A week later, the Celtics have all but completely claimed their spot; our model now gives them a 98.9 percent probability of making the playoffs.By the same token, the Heat have almost completely dropped out of the race, with just a 2.4 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason. That leaves the Nets and Pacers to fight over one spot with two games left per team. Our calculations give Brooklyn the inside track largely because of the team’s possession of the tiebreaker over Indiana, in addition to an easier remaining schedule (the Nets face the No. 9 Chicago Bulls and No. 23 Orlando Magic; Indiana faces No. 7 Memphis and No. 15 Washington).Out West, the race for the No. 8 seed is between the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Pelicans have the edge in our simulations. Oklahoma City is marginally more talented, according to RPM, and is even projected to win fractionally more games on average, but New Orleans holds the tiebreaker over the Thunder.In no small part because of those tiebreakers, there’s a 45 percent probability that the Nets and Pelicans will be the final two teams to slip into the playoffs when the season ends Wednesday. read more

It’s no secret that running backs have been falling out of favor on draft day since the NFL’s pre-1980s ground-and-pound era. The amount of draft value invested in the position1As defined by a pick’s expected approximate value in his first five seasons. has declined continuously over the last half-century. This reached a low point in 2014 when not a single running back was taken in the first round for a second consecutive season.Things have changed a bit over the past few years. In the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, two rushers — LSU’s Leonard Fournette (who went to the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (picked by the Carolina Panthers) — were taken among the top eight picks for the first time since 2005. This came after the Dallas Cowboys picked Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in 2016, to great success. And in 2015, two running backs were chosen in the first round.Clearly, a running back renaissance is in the works. Right?Well, sort of. While it’s true that teams haven’t sworn off stud running backs completely at the top of the draft, they’re also being more selective. After McCaffrey went at No. 8, the class of 2017’s other first-round hopefuls — such as Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon — were all still available at the end of the night. It’s been five years since a team has taken a RB in the second half of the first round.A lot of this has to do with the economics of the position, as ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote on Wednesday. Because the rookie wage scale pays high picks well and running backs are being devalued across the league as a whole, highly drafted RBs are instantly among the highest-paid players at their position before they ever take a snap in the pros. That means teams better be damn sure about a running back before spending a first-rounder on him (lest they end up with the next Trent Richardson). The problem: teams can’t be sure about much on draft day. Only the elite of the elite check off enough boxes to make that kind of investment feel worthwhile.Adding to the risk, running backs also age differently from the rest of the NFL. Unlike, say, quarterbacks — who improve steadily during their early-to-mid 20s and peak right before age 30 — a running back’s shelf life is much shorter. Depending on the research you look at, RBs peak somewhere between the ages of 24 and 26, with the majority of their most productive seasons front-loaded early in their careers. So if you do manage to snag a game-changing runner, you’re most likely getting the best he has to offer before his rookie contract even has a chance to expire.Because of this, a team willing to invest a high pick on a running back better be in a position to win immediately, otherwise his best years could be squandered. For all the talk about the “Zeke Effect” — that Elliott’s high selection and subsequent performance in Dallas would spur increased investment in running backs on draft day — Elliott fell into a tremendous situation as a rookie with the Cowboys. Dallas’s mammoth offensive line paved the way for Elliott to lead the NFL with 999 yards before first contact.2To be clear, Elliott is a tremendous player; he was also second with 632 yards after contact. That’s a luxury Fournette won’t have in Jacksonville, where he’ll run behind an O-line that ranked sixth-worst in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards metric. (Maybe he should call 2015 No. 10 pick Todd Gurley, who has had to run behind a patchwork Rams line, for advice.)The Jags are betting that Fournette’s ridiculous ability to break tackles and run away from defenders in the open field will render that point moot, and maybe it will. But that also underscores just how talented a running back needs to be to justify a high draft pick these days. For those who possess that skill level, things are looking up compared with a few years ago. But for the rest, they’ll still have to wait to hear their names called at the podium. read more

In our quest to solve baseball riddles, we sometimes turn to our friends on Twitter for assistance for topics worth tackling. This one, from @ursus_marit, got our attention. In the eight days since this question was posed, home teams have enjoyed some moderate success. Still, the broader point stands: Road teams are faring unusually well this year. We’re on pace to see the fourth-smallest home-field advantage in the past 20 years, with home teams winning just 52.7 percent of games. There could be any number of reasons for this happening, from random chance to the possibility that Major League Baseball’s closer supervision of umpires is curbing Eric Gregg-level home-cooking calls on balls and strikes. It’s all interesting fodder for backward-looking conversations.What interests us more are the forward-looking implications for this statistical anomaly. Every October, we hear about the challenge of winning games on the road during the playoffs. Could the biggest outliers — the teams performing much better on the road than at home — have an advantage in the postseason?To conduct this experiment, we looked at the entirety of the League Championship Series era (starting in 1969) and tallied home and road winning percentages for every team during the regular season. We then gathered the results of every playoff game during those four-and-a-half decades from Retrosheet.org, noting which teams played at home and which ones played on the road.We controlled for obvious variables, such as overall record and opponents’ record. We then asked our fundamental question: Is there a significant effect that improves playoff outcome predictions, if we also include how much better or worse a team tended to play in a particular location?The answer is: Yes, pretty much. Here’s the quick, slightly gorier math: Looking at all postseason games from 1969 through 2013, we found a marginally significant value to the road team’s road winning percentage minus its home winning percentage, even after controlling for its overall winning percentage. The p-value came in at .07, above the .05 threshold at which we define statistical significance. For every one standard deviation in road winning percentage minus home winning percentage, we can add or subtract nearly 3 percent1To be more precise, 2.9 percent. from the road team’s chances of winning a playoff game.For the 1969-2013 period, the home team won 55.8 of all playoff games.2Compared to 53.9 percent for regular-season games during that period. But make the road team one standard deviation better than average based on road vs. home differential, and the home team wins only 52.9 percent of the time. Make the road team one standard deviation worse, and the home team wins 58.6 percent of the time. We can see how that relationship works in the chart below:The 1969-2013 playoff team with the biggest positive gap between its regular road and home records is the 1981 Kansas City Royals. That’s a bit of a cheat, because that was a strike-shortened season that saw a couple of mediocre teams play into October, thanks to an impromptu rule that granted playoff spots to the best teams from the first and second half of that season. So the Royals cracked the postseason that year, despite posting an overall record that was three games under .500, with a terrible 19-28 home record that netted a .404 home winning percentage.The table below shows the top 20 playoff teams since 1969, as ranked by biggest positive gap between road and home records:Now here’s the million-dollar question: Which potential playoff teams are playing much better on the road this year than at home?Here again, the Royals make an appearance, this time as the playoff contender with the third-biggest positive road-to-home split. Kansas City sits at 42-32 (.568) on the road this season vs. 40-35 (.533) at home, a gap of .035. The Royals are battling for their playoff lives, holding a two-game lead in the race for the second wild-card spot — not counting a soon-to-be-completed suspended game in which they trailed 4-2 in the 10th inning before rain pushed the game’s end to Sept. 22. That means if the playoffs were to start today, Kansas City would travel to Oakland for a one-game playoff. With veteran ace James Shields potentially getting the call for that game,3Depending on how the schedule plays out and if the Royals juggle their rotation. the A’s limping to the finish line, and KC being tough on the road, that could be a favorable matchup for the Royals.Bachelor No. 2 is the Los Angeles Dodgers. They own the best road record in the National League, a stellar 46-29 (.613), but a more modest home record of 40-35 (.533) — a gap of .080. The Dodgers sit just a half-game behind the Washington Nationals for best overall record in the NL, meaning they have a chance to secure home-field advantage until the World Series. On one hand, this would lessen the importance of being world-beaters on the road. On the other, having an unusually strong road record in the regular season correlates to overall success in the playoffs, not just road playoff success.But the most intriguing sleeper might be the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners own the best road record in the American League, a gaudy 42-29 (.592), but just a 38-40 (.487) mark at home — a huge gap of .105 that would be the fourth-largest for any playoff team in the past 45 years. The Mariners are the team on the Royals’ heels. They have a killer one-two starting pitcher combination of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma,4Granted, Iwakuma has slowed down in his past few starts, including a rough outing Monday in which he allowed four runs in just 4.1 innings. potentially setting up Iwakuma to start a one-game playoff on the road (assuming the schedule holds and King Felix starts the final game of the regular season). They also face a remaining schedule that could bode well in their quest to crash the postseason dance: a tough four-game set in Anaheim, then three against a weak Houston Astros team, four against a Toronto Blue Jays team that will probably be eliminated by then, and three final games against the Halos — who will almost certainly have clinched the AL West, setting up a potentially easy series against second-string talent while the Angels’ stars rest. And more than any other team, Seattle won’t bat an eyelash at the severe home/road split left in these final two weeks; 10 games on the road vs. just three remaining at home could work out great for the Mariners’ playoff hopes.So, keep an eye on these road warriors as the regular season enters its home stretch. If history is any guide, they might surprise in the playoffs … assuming they get that far. read more

CARM-Elo chancesVegas chances 8Timberwolves47-3515651<110 How Elo is forecasting the Western Conference playoffsAs of April 12 7Bucks44-3815001<120 TeamRecordRatingWin Conf.Win TitleWin Conf.Win Title 2Warriors58-241628844435 376ers52-3016593011175 Statistical favorite: After years of taking a backseat as Golden State dominated our pre-playoff predictions, the Houston Rockets are now front-runners to win the West. Specifically, CARM-Elo gives soon-to-be MVP James Harden and friends a 57 percent chance of making their first NBA Finals appearance this summer. Incredulous? Fine, but doubt Houston at your own peril. Remember that this season’s Rockets team shares many of the same characteristics with the Warriors back when Golden State was first making the climb toward transcendence. Teams that produce all-time great seasons like Houston has this season tend to win NBA titles at a tremendously high rate. Nothing in the regular-season numbers suggests that the Rockets should be anything other than solid favorites to take the conference — if not more.Betting favorite: There is a huge disparity between the chance our model gives the Golden State Warriors of winning the championship and what the betting markets say. CARM-Elo gives the defending NBA champs only an 8 percent chance of winning the West, tied to the team’s relatively unexceptional 58-win campaign that ended with Steph Curry injured and Steve Kerr calling his team out over a series of listless final-month losses. And yet, Golden State remains the betting market’s Western Conference co-favorite (alongside the Rockets), with an implied 44 percent chance of going to the NBA Finals for a fourth-straight season. Similar to the situation with the Cavaliers, the Warriors’ strong odds can be attributed to disagreement over how much we should read into a talented team’s regular-season struggles. The oddsmakers are clearly putting a lot more weight on Golden State’s track record than what we’ve seen on the court in 2017-18 — and considering how well we know the Warriors are capable of playing, that’s probably a good call.Dark horse: The West is so crazy that we could highlight a few teams here, but the Utah Jazz stand out in particular. According to CARM-Elo, they rank as the NBA’s third-best team going into the playoffs — trailing only the Rockets and Raptors — even after making our adjustment for playoff experience (of which the Jazz have very little). Utah put itself in a bit of an unfortunate position by losing to Portland on the final day of the regular season, which dropped the Jazz from the No. 3 seed down to No. 5. As a result, Utah lost home-court advantage in the first round, and the formidable Thunder were locked in as its first-round opponent. (It also set them up for a potential second-round collision course with the Rockets.) Even so, our model lists the Jazz as tied with OKC for the second-best chances of winning the West, and they could prove a dangerous opponent for the top seeds if they make it out of the first round.Best first-round series: CARM-Elo says the closest matchup of the first round is the aforementioned clash between the Thunder and Jazz. Oklahoma City is a slim favorite at 52 percent, by virtue of having home-court advantage. But these teams are very evenly matched: Both posted 48-34 records, and only 5 points of CARM-Elo separate their ratings. This one might be a referendum of sorts on the importance of playoff seasoning — the Jazz are the least-experienced team in the postseason field, while the Thunder rank fourth-highest behind only the Cavaliers, Warriors and Spurs. That edge might be enough to push OKC over the top, although whoever wins the prize likely has a date with the Rockets in the next round. Enjoy these teams while they last.Check out our latest NBA predictions.CORRECTION (April 12, 2018, 4:45 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the possibility of the Utah Jazz facing the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round if the Jazz had won their final game. Although Utah would have been the No. 3 seed if it had won, it could have played several different teams depending on the results of other games. 8Wizards43-391487<1<121 TeamRecordRatingWin Conf.Win TitleWin Conf.Win Title 5Pacers48-3415473<110 How Elo is forecasting the Eastern Conference playoffsAs of April 12 Statistical favorite: The numbers say this might finally be a breakthrough year for the Toronto Raptors, who are in the playoffs for a fifth straight season but have only one conference finals appearance (and zero NBA Finals berths) to show for it. Everything seemed to come together for Toronto this season, from a mega-efficient offense to a defense that improved to fifth-best in basketball. Add in a career year from DeMar DeRozan and a world-beating second unit, and the result was the top seed in the East — with a 42 percent chance to win the conference, according to CARM-Elo. That number is much higher than the 30 percent chance that CARM-Elo is giving the 76ers, the team our model thinks has the second-best chance of making it to the NBA Finals. And it’s hugely better than the 14 percent we’re giving the three-time defending conference champion Cavaliers. If the regular-season indicators mean anything, Toronto has earned every bit of its favorite status.Betting favorite: Another year, another case of the stats underrating the Cleveland Cavaliers’ chances in the East. Our model struggled to assess the Cavs last season too, and LeBron James’s squad proved the data wrong by tearing through the East with only one loss en route to the NBA Finals. The same scenario is shaping up to happen this season — and Vegas knows it. That’s probably why the Cavs are favored by the markets to win the conference again (albeit as less of a favorite than in the past), despite a regular season that was unimpressive by the standards of a LeBron team. In the battle between skepticism over Cleveland’s inconsistent form and trust that James can will his team to an eighth consecutive NBA Finals,2Including his time with Miami and his second stint in Cleveland. the bettors are still giving LeBron the benefit of the doubt.Dark horse: Although our ratings are higher on the Philadelphia 76ers than the Las Vegas odds are, both predictions think the Sixers are an intriguing pick to contend for the East crown. On the one hand, Philly’s near-total lack of playoff seasoning is a troublesome indicator for the postseason, where experience matters more than we sometimes acknowledge. (A late-season injury to star big man Joel Embiid also complicates matters; Embiid is recovering but probably won’t be ready for Game 1 of Philadelphia’s opening series with the Heat.) But Philadelphia is loaded with talent, from Embiid down low to likely rookie of the year Ben Simmons at the point and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who on Wednesday became the youngest player to post a triple-double. The Sixers are also playing at something close to peak form going into the playoffs, having won 16 straight games to close out the regular season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest winning streak ever for a team entering the playoffs, and it’s one big reason why both our model and the Vegas odds list Philly as the only East team other than Cleveland or Toronto with a double-digit probability of winning the conference title.Best first-round series: The East doesn’t have as many quality first-round duels as the West, but the Celtics and Bucks should be an interesting matchup. Boston lost its star player, Kyrie Irving, with just a week to go before the playoffs. The Celtics have home-court advantage and enough supporting talent to win a postseason series without Irving, but the onus will be on Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier to cap off their breakout seasons with great playoff performances. On the Milwaukee side, the Bucks have largely underachieved this season, although they’ve been slightly better after firing Jason Kidd in January. They also have the best individual player in the series by far, according to Basketball-Reference.com’s Value Over Replacement Player, in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak had an MVP-type season this year, and he possesses the skills to potentially take over a series all by himself. It’s been a year since the Bucks put a scare into the Raptors before losing in the first round, and Milwaukee could be poised to actually win this time around. 1Raptors59-23168342%17%29%7% 3Trail Blazers49-3316126332 4Thunder48-3416589532 Vegas odds based on the implied probability of betting line.Source: VegasInsider.com 1Rockets65-17177257%44%44%35% 7Spurs47-3516226310 5Jazz48-3416639531 2Celtics55-2715789231 6Heat44-381491<1<110 6Pelicans48-3415954210 At long last, it’s time to put regular-season basketball in the rearview mirror and move on to the NBA’s main event — the playoffs are finally here! And FiveThirtyEight is here, too, to help predict how it’ll all go down. With the help of our CARM-Elo projection model, and the betting odds1According to Sportsbook.ag. as a second opinion, what follows is our survey of both the Eastern and Western Conference postseason landscapes. And in a departure from last season, when the Warriors were near-universal favorites on the eve of the playoffs, there’s actually some uncertainty in the playoff outlook this time around. Vegas odds based on the implied probability of betting line.Source: VegasInsider.com CARM-Elo ChancesVegas Chances 4Cavaliers50-3216251444510 read more

Ohio State recruit Chris Carter’s attorney doesn’t think there’s a case against the three-star recruit, he told The Lantern on Thursday. “As a criminal defense attorney,” said Harvey Bruner, Carter’s lawyer, “I don’t believe there’s anything.” Bruner said a Cleveland policeman told him charges would not be filed against Carter, who was released from jail Wednesday afternoon after being arrested Tuesday on suspicion of misdemeanor sexual imposition. The case is still under investigation, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday. Bruner said he expects the investigation to be completed Friday. Carter, from John F. Kennedy High School in Cleveland, was held on suspicion of fondling as many as eight girls while pretending to measure them for junior ROTC uniforms, The Plain Dealer reported Wednesday. Carter, 18, is a member of his high school’s JROTC, Bruner said. Carter did not sign a letter of intent on National Signing Day, Wednesday. The university cannot comment on recruits who did not sign a letter of intent, team spokeswoman Shelly Poe said. Bruner has not talked to Carter since the time of his release, but Bruner said Carter would sign with the Buckeyes. “I know that for a fact,” he said. Carter is a 6-foot-4, 325-pound lineman and a three-star recruit, according to Scout.com. Carter was held in jail overnight Tuesday. A 15-year-old girl told officers that Carter took her out of her classroom and into another room, and told her he needed to measure her for a uniform, according to a police report. read more

The Ohio State men’s basketball team played its first game in November, but to the players, the real season has just begun. “The Big Ten has started,” said junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. “We’re shooting real bullets now.” The No. 8 Buckeyes (11-2) opened Big Ten play on Jan. 2 with a blowout win against Nebraska, but winning league games will likely become substantially tougher in the coming weeks. OSU is set to face three ranked opponents in its next four games, and three of those four games will be played away from home. Directly ahead is a matchup on Saturday against No. 11 Illinois (13-2) in Champaign, Ill. The Illini were upset by unranked Purdue in their Big Ten opener Wednesday, which might have displayed some of Illinois’ weaknesses, but also a served as a cautionary tale of what can happen when a team doesn’t play its best on the road against a conference opponent. “You see Illinois, who’s playing great, go in against Purdue and taking a loss,” said junior point guard Aaron Craft. “Every game in the Big Ten is going to be a tough game.” If the Buckeyes are to beat the Illini, and win a game against a ranked opponent for the first time this season, it’s likely imperative that they contain senior guard Brandon Paul, who torched OSU for 43 points last season as Illinois secured an upset win at home against the then-No. 5 Buckeyes. This year, Paul is averaging almost 19 points per game and has tallied double figures in all 15 of the Illini’s games this season. “We saw first hand, when he’s rolling, how good he can be,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “He’s one of the best guards, not only in the Big Ten, but probably in the country.” Smith Jr. said that OSU will play with a heightened awareness on defense to ensure Paul doesn’t produce a repeat performance. “Of course we know what he’s capable of from last year,” Smith Jr. said. “Hopefully we just come out and play a better defensive game and be able to guard him a little better.” If there was a particular facet of the game in which the Buckeyes struggled last year against Paul, it was finding him while in transition defense. Occasionally OSU lost track of Paul on the fast breaks, allowing the guard to spot up for wide-open jumpers. As a result, he buried eight 3-pointers. “They like to get out in transition and run a lot,” Smith Jr. said. “He spots up on the wing and if you get there a second late, the shots going up. Sometimes he’s fortunate enough to make a lot of those shots.” Saturday’s matchup will also be the first meeting between Matta and his long-time assistant John Groce. Groce served under Matta at OSU from 2004-2008, and was also on Matta’s staff while at Xavier and Butler. Matta. though, said he’s not focused on who he’s coaching against, just the task at hand. “That’s all irrelevant,” Matta said. “It’s a Big Ten basketball game and you’ve got to get yourself ready to go.” The Buckeyes are scheduled to tipoff with Illinois at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. read more

Ohio State junior starting pitcher Connor Curlis delivers a pitch Friday night against Nebraska in Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Mac Connor | Ohio State AthleticsThe Ohio State baseball team (17-8, 0-1 Big Ten) got off to a hot start, scoring three times against Nebraska starter Luis Alvarado in the first two innings.But the Cornhusker ace blanked the Buckeyes over the next 6.1 innings and Nebraska (14-12, 2-2 Big Ten) finished off a 7-3 win in the Buckeyes’ conference opener Friday night.“We tried to control [Alvarado]’s rhythm a little bit, but he was pounding the strike zone,” head coach Greg Beals said. “Give his competitive spirit credit, because he got popped in the mouth early in the game and stayed in there and kept competing.”With no outs and a runner on first in the fifth inning, Husker junior shortstop Angelo Altavilla laid a sacrifice bunt attempt down the third base line. Third baseman Conner Pohl threw the ball away, allowing Nebraska sophomore center fielder Joe Acker to score on the throwing error. Altavilla later crossed home plate on a single by senior first baseman Scott Schreiber to give Nebraska the 5-3 lead.In the bottom of the ninth inning, a pinch-hit single, a fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Ohio State junior second baseman Brady Cherry. Nebraska closer Jake Hohensee shut down the opportunity and polished off his sixth save of the season with his third strikeout.Junior Connor Curlis started on the mound for the Buckeyes and was nearly unhittable through three innings, sitting down nine of 10 batters with four strikeouts. But the game began to unravel in the fourth inning.Schreiber smacked his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a no-doubter over the left field fence. Senior second baseman Zac Repinski kept things going with a one-out double to put two runners in scoring position. Both runners scored on a ground ball and a single to even the game at three.Curlis finished with eight strikeouts, surrendering three earned runs in 6.2 innings of work. Ohio State extended its early lead when redshirt junior designated hitter Nate Romans deposited the 1-0 pitch directly above the 400-foot sign in center field during the bottom of the second inning that put the Buckeyes ahead 3-0.“He came at me with the changeup first pitch and he didn’t hit with it, so I was sitting fastball and he left it up,” Romans said. “It’s kind of funny too, because we’ve got these new bat regulations and stuff and the wind was blowing in.”Nebraska scored two insurance runs in the eighth inning, closing the door on a potential Buckeye comeback. read more

first_imgA lottery winning rapist told police “I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m not going anywhere” as they tried to arrest him, a court heard.Iorworth Hoare, 64, now known as Edward Thomas claimed the police were jealous of his lifestyle after he was convicted of resisting arrest.He became aggressive after four police officers arrived at his house following an allegation of flashing, telling them: “I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m not going anywhere.”Hoare, who was convicted of attempted rape in 1989, hit the headlines in 2004 after winning £7.2 million on the Lotto while on weekend leave. He was released from prison in 2005 but remained on life licence. I explained the reason why I was there, and his words were: ‘I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m not going anywhere.’Pc Sam Maughan The charges of flashing were previously dropped, but Bedlington Magistrates’ Court in Northumberland heard Hoare’s demeanour was “very aggressive” when officers arrived to take him into custody following the allegation.After entering his house, a converted chapel in Broomley, Northumberland, he demanded to use the phone to contact his solicitor.Pc Sam Maughan told the court after they handcuffed one of his hands, Hoaremoved across the room and had “clenched his right fist and was extremely tense”.A scuffle ensued and another officer, Pc David Chadwick, was forced to deliver a “knee strike” and force him down onto a sofa, resulting in Pc Chadwick suffering cut fingers and a grazed wrist. Pc Maughan said during the incident that Hoare refused to look her in the eye and only addressed the male officers.”I asked if we could go inside and he took us into the living room area,” she said. “I explained the reason why I was there, and his words were: ‘I’m a multi-millionaire, I’m not going anywhere.'”He started going towards the telephone, stomping around saying: ‘I’m not going anywhere, I want a solicitor.'” Hoare, who lives with his partner as well as ten cats and two tortoises, claimed “the police were jealous, I have a very good lifestyle”.He also told the court that if he had wanted to fight then the outcome would have been different, saying: “I have been in prison a long time, I know how to fight. I would know what to go for first.”Chairman of the bench Richard Smith said they were satisfied that the offence of resisting had been committed as they found the evidence of the police compelling.”We believe their behaviour was proportionate and you became aggressive and were shouting after being arrested,” he said. Hoare was sentenced to one day in detention and ordered to pay £650 costs. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

first_imgJulie Hartridge, the coroner’s officer, told the hearing that Mr Pearson was a “healthy man” and an experienced swimmer. Simon Pearson died as he battled to save his 10-year-old daughter Lily Simon Pearson died as he battled to save his 10-year-old daughter LilyCredit:Caters News Agency A businessman who drowned trying to rescue his daughter repeatedly urged her to “hold my hand” moments before he died.Simon Pearson, 47, lost his strength as he battled to hold his 10-year-old Lily up above the waves.He had been swimming with his daughter and his father-in-law, Anthony McGregor, at Lido Bosco Verde in Ostuni, southern Italy, where the family was on holiday in July.The trio got caught in a strong current, but while Mr McGregor managed to cling to a buoy, Mr Pearson fought desperately to hold Lily out of the water.A rescuer who reached the pair was faced with a choice over who to save and managed to get the little girl to safety.Italian beach worker Martino Maggi, 49, also died trying to save the family.Mr Pearson’s final words were revealed by his wife, Emma , 43, at an inquest in Shropshire.In a statement, Mrs Pearson wrote: “Lily told me that the whole time the only word Simon uttered was ‘hold my hand’. She said ‘he was working so hard to try and save me’ but then her dad lost his strength.”Simon was a dearly loved husband, son and father and we will never forget how hard Simon worked to save his daughter.”center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The inquest heard that the Pearsons, their two children Lily and Monty, six, and Mrs Pearson’s parents Yolanda and Anthony McGregor settled at the beach at 9.30am, just minutes before the tragedy.They had been visiting the resort for 15 years and were familiar with the area.Mr Pearson, a former public schoolboy from Old Church Stoke, Powys, was the managing director of building firm Jesmonite.His family did not attend the hearing at Shirehall but the statement from his wife was read out in the court.The inquest was told doctors in Italy found Mr Pearson’s lungs full of water.Shropshire Coroner Mr John Ellery concluded that his death was caused by drowning.Mr Ellery said: “It was clearly an accident. This was a double tragedy and our condolences to both the Pearson family and Martino’s family in Italy.”Giuseppe Chiarelli of Brindisi Port Authority said that particular stretch of coastline “unfortunately isn’t new to this kind of tragedy”.As recently as July 14 four lifeguards rescued three Russian tourists and an Italian who were unable to return to the shore of a nearby beach.last_img read more

first_imgThe group in the car were returning from Brentwood where they had gone to collect a stolen motorcycle, Ms Ayling said.She said Mr Pordage’s friend told police that one of the teenagers “was arguing, trying to be a big man when he held the bag up and shot him twice”.He said the weapon “looked like a homemade gun, but it was in a blue carrier bag”, Ms Ayling added.The trial continues. The male passengers then got out of the car and there was a confrontation which ended in Mr Pordage being shot, Chelmsford Crown Court heard. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “The reason for the shooting appears to be no more than either Mr Pordage or the friend he was with remarked that the driver of the car Mr Blundell was in had a nice bum,” said Ms Ayling.She continued: “The man who allegedly did the shooting, Bradley Blundell, now 18 years old, disappeared on the night of the shooting and has not been found to be arrested and to stand his trial.”Two other teenagers are on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies Mr Pordage’s murder.It is alleged that he got out of the car armed with an extendable baton – and while he did not fire the gun, he was acting together with Blundell and intended that Mr Pordage “suffer at least really serious bodily harm”.Saul Stanley, 18, of no fixed address, denies two counts of possessing a prohibited firearm – a sawn-off shotgun and a converted revolver – two counts of possessing ammunition without a firearms certificate and one count of possessing prohibited ammunition.Ms Ayling said: “There’s no doubt that Saul Stanley held back and that’s why he’s not charged with murder.”Both Stanley and the 16-year-old boy deny attempting to pervert the course of justice by, together with Blundell, destroying or disposing of evidence including weapons, clothing and telephones. A teenager gunned a man down outside a petrol station over a comment that he “looked like the Milky Bar Kid”, and he is still on the run from police, a trial heard.John Pordage, 34, was killed by a single shot to the chest at a BP garage in Chelmsford, Essex.Tracy Ayling QC, opening the prosecution case, said that either Mr Pordage or a friend told alleged gunman Bradley Blundell that he looked like the Milky Bar Kid.The prosecution allege that Blundell, who was 17 years old at the time and is now on the run from police, shot Mr Pordage dead.Chelmsford Crown Court heard Blundell was one of three male passengers in the back of a car while its female driver filled it with fuel.Ms Ayling said Mr Pordage or his friend made “flirtatious remarks” to the driver, including that she had a “nice bum”.”Further comments were made, this time towards the males in the back of the (car), particularly in reference to Bradley Blundell,” Ms Ayling said.”Reference was made to him looking like the Milky Bar Kid.”It may well be that that remark was the catalyst for what followed.” Reference was made to him looking like the Milky Bar Kid. It may well be that that remark was the catalyst for what followed.Tracy Ayling QC Mr Pordage was returning from a nightclub and on his way to buy cigarettes when he was attacked at around 2.10am on August 5 last year at the garage in Baddow Road. The BP petrol station in Chelmsford where John Pordage was fatally shot Credit:Nick Ansell/PA Wire The BP petrol station in Chelmsford where John Pordage was fatally shot last_img read more

first_imgThe road closure led to delays of up to seven miles Credit:Gareth Fuller /PA The road closure led to delays of up to seven miles  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. No other details about the incident or the person who died have so far been released.The incident caused hours of delays with between six and seven miles of queues stretching back to junction 11 and a diversion was in place. Officers gather evidence on the motorwayCredit:Gareth Fuller /PAcenter_img A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a body was found on a motorway.Part of the London-bound M20, near Ashford in Kent, was closed for nearly 24 hours after officers made the discovery at 6.05pm on Tuesday.The person was pronounced dead at the scene, between junctions 9 and 10.Officers appealed for the driver of a silver Nissan Qashqai to come forward and a man attended a police station on Wednesday evening, Kent Police said.He was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody, a force spokesman said on Thursday. The road reopened shortly after 4pm on Wednesday.Police had appealed for drivers who were on the road at the time of the incident to check their vehicles for signs of a collision and look at dash cam footage. Officers gather evidence on the motorwaylast_img read more

first_imgSupporters of Ms MacLachlan outside courtCredit:JULIAN SIMMONDS “Terfs have a history of taking people’s pictures and posting them in pages like GenderIdentityWatch.com, a database that makes us a target for the far-right,” she told the court. The group of radical feminists, including Ms Maclachlan, had gathered at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park last September to discuss changes to the Gender Identity Act which will make it easier for people to define their gender themselves.Transgender activists were holding a counter demonstration when the two groups clashed and Ms MacLachlan, who describes herself as a “gender critical feminist,” was allegedly punched. A radical feminist has been warned by a judge to refer to the transgender defendant as a “she” during an assault case.Maria Maclachlan, 61, was giving evidence against Tara Wolf, 26, whom she claims tried to attack her at a rally, knocking her to the floor.She told Hendon Magistrates’ Court: “A hooded figure suddenly ran at me, ran past me from left to right, knocking the camera from my hand.”They swatted it. Although it was knocked out of my hand it was caught by the strap so it didn’t hit the ground, which I thought was the intention.”District Judge Kenneth Grant warned Ms MacLachlan to refer to Miss Wolf as “she” while giving evidence.He said: “The defendant wished to be referred to as a woman, so perhaps you could refer to her as ‘she’ for the purpose of the proceedings.” Tara Wolf arrives at the court with supporters.Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Tara Wolf arrives at the court with supporters. “(The complainant) was trying to get people’s faces. She was filming the argument that was going on between the two groups.”Ms Maclachlan argued that she was not even aware the group were trans, saying she thought they were all male.”They were not easily perceived as trans. I don’t mind going though them face-by-face if you want to argue the toss,” she said.center_img  Tara Wolf arrives at the court with supporters. “When I started filming I didn’t have any particular intention of what I might do with the footage. I might have shown it to my husband, I might have posted it on my Facebook page, or I might have uploaded it on my blog.”She denied she was trying to make the protesters feel “scared, uncomfortable or unsafe”.Wolf admitted posting on Facebook ahead of the event: “I wanna f*** up some terfs. They’re no better than fash (fascists).”She claimed she made the comment out of bravado and wanted to protest peacefully.The trial is due to last two days. She was filming a group who were chanting “When TERFs attack, we strike back” and claimed she simply thought she might get some “amusing footage”.Ms Maclachlan has admitted that following the event she sent out a tweet featuring a close-up of the defendant’s face with the words: “Hiya, got any hair restorer while I’m in hiding? Love Tara.”Miss Wolf, who faces one charge of assault by beating, admitted being involved in the fracas but insists she was acting in self-defence.She said Ms Maclachlan was shaking her partner “like a rag doll” when she struck her.She described the event as a hate rally and said the fight broke out because she feared Ms MacLachlan planned to out her as transgender online. Supporters of Ms MacLachlan outside court  Tara Wolf arrives at the court with supporters.Credit:JULIAN SIMMONDS Ms MacLachlan replied: “I’m used to thinking of this person who is a male as male.”The row was the latest in an ongoing battle between Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), who believe that transwomen should not be given the same rights as those born female, and transgender activists.The two factions have repeatedly clashed over the issue of men who “self-identify” as female and are allowed in women-only spaces and take on roles reserved for women.last_img read more

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Schools are putting parents under pressure to home school pupils who they want to expel, a report has found.The number of children being home educated has risen by 27 per cent in the last year, according to a survey of local authorities carried out by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).Around 57,800 children were home schooled in 2018, up from 45,500 in 2017 and 37,500 in 2016.Debbie Barnes, chair of the ADCS educational achievement policy committee, said that in some places, schools are using home schooling “as a means to illegally exclude children with special educational or behavioural needs”.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Some parents said that when schools threaten to permanently exclude their children, this can lead to a home education “decision”, according to the report. One local authority said that they attribute the rise in home education to the trend for strict behavior approaches at schools.Another authority reported that schools often “suggest” home education to parents when they are “under threat of warnings” over the behaviour or attendance of their children.Ms Barnes said that parents have a right to educate their children at home, children’s services directors.She added: “However, if the learning experience provided in the home does not meet children’s needs, when schools are using home schooling as a means to illegally exclude children with special educational or behavioural needs, when parents use home schooling as a means to avoid attendance fines or as a cover to send their children to illegal schools, that’s when we worry.” The majority of local authorities said that 80 per cent of those home schooled had previously attended school. ADCS said that a greater awareness of home education, rising birth rates and improved recording by local authorities may, in part, account for some of the growth.Earlier this year, MPs warned that haircut and uniform violations are being punished by schools as severely as drug and weapons under “zero tolerance” policies.These behaviour policies have become a popular among headteachers as they seek to instill discipline and improve results. But such policies have been criticised by MPs who say they are leading to more students being temporarily or permanently excluded from school. read more

After she retired she worked in a local shop for a number of years.Ms Smith said: “Most people who have commented have sent their best wishes to her and think she’s a brave lady. The family agree – she is brave and she is a wonderful inspiration to everyone who knows her.”We are all so very grateful to Greater Manchester Police for being so agreeable to take part in this surprise for her. It really has made an old lady very happy.” Josie Birds in the back of a police van Josie Birds, from north Manchester, requested to be taken into custody by officers as she said she had been good all her lifeCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Greater Manchester Police responded to Ms Smith on Twitter and said: “I’m glad our officers could help out, looks like she got the full experience!”Give our best to Josie and I’ll try and pass your message back to the officers who kindly helped out.”Ms Birds, who has six daughters, 20 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, worked at Avro Energy, where she met her husband Alf. A 92-year-old great-great-grandmother was arrested by police at her own request because she “wanted to know what it was like to be naughty”.Josie Birds, from north Manchester, requested to be taken into custody by officers as she said she had been good all her life.The experience was organised by a family friend and two off-duty officers came to her house on Saturday afternoon.Her granddaughter Pam Smith said: “They accused her of robbing a Co-op and her response was, ‘I don’t do my shopping in Co-op’.”They put her in handcuffs and took her to the police station in the back of the van, where they ‘questioned’ her rigorously.”She wanted to go into the cells too, but they drew the line at that and gave her tea and cake instead. She was lit up all day Sunday talking about it, and she is still excited about her experience.” read more

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedTrump says porn star Daniels is conning the mediaApril 18, 2018In “World”Trump attacks Michael Cohen over ‘Playboy model payment tape’July 21, 2018In “World”Trump: Impeach me and the market crashesAugust 23, 2018In “World” LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — A porn star sued President Donald Trump on Tuesday to declare a “hush agreement” over their alleged affair invalid because he never signed it, documents say.President Donald TrumpLos Angeles lawyer Michael Avenatti posted on his Twitter account a copy of what appears to be the suit filed on behalf of the porn star who goes by the name Stormy Daniels. Her real name is Stephanie Clifford.The hush agreement does “not exist, because, among other things, Mr Trump never signed” the document with a Superior Court of California stamp, the suit says.It alleges she had an intimate relationship with Trump from 2006 to 2007, which she sought to reveal after Trump won the Republican Party nomination for president and other women claimed to have had sexual encounters with him.With help from his lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump then sought to “aggressively… silence Ms Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the presidential election,” the document says.Cohen prepared a non-disclosure agreement, a copy of which is attached to the lawsuit and which required a US$130,000 payment to be wired from a company known as Essential Consultants LLC to Clifford in return for her silence, according to the documents.Using the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison, Clifford and Trump were to sign the agreement, along with Essential Consultants.Days before the November 2016 presidential election which Trump won, Clifford put her name to the document, as did Cohen for Essential Consultants, it says.“Mr Trump, however, did not sign the agreement, thus rendering it legally null and void and of no consequence,” the document adds.Cohen told US media last month that he paid Clifford US$130,000, prompting her manager to suggest a non-disclosure agreement had been broken.Cohen declined to give details such as why he made the payment, or if Trump was aware of it at the time.“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said, according to the New York Times.Trump declined to comment on the issue. The White House has dodged questions about whether allegations of an affair are true, claiming the matter was dealt with during the campaign.Cohen’s comments came after the watchdog group Common Cause filed a federal complaint in January arguing that the payout may have violated campaign finance rules. read more

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedMining industry has to do more to regulate itself – Minister TrotmanJuly 30, 2016In “Mining”Diamond natural gas explosion: Deadline for capping crater extendedJuly 5, 2018In “Business”25 mining deaths in twelve monthsSeptember 15, 2015In “Crime” Two weeks after an underground gas pocket exploded at a residence in Diamond, East Bank Demerara, the intense cleaning-up exercise is still ongoing, while officials at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) are making preparations for the construction of an apparatus to cap the methane gas that was detected.Commissioner of GGMC, Newell Dennison“If everything goes according to plan then we could be looking at perhaps another week or so to make sure that the site is clear enough for us to get access to do the operational works that were intended. But you know the weather has to be also cooperative,” Commissioner of GGMC, Newell Dennison told this media group on Sunday.He explained that the Commission will have to await the completion of the clean-up exercise for an assessment to be done before work can commence on the construction of the contraption apparatus.“It is intended that we will construct an apparatus, we will construct the conductor casings that we would want to put into the vent; those things will have to be constructed. But I wouldn’t want to preempt what it is exactly that would have to be done because there might be modifications of what is intended and what we observe, after the full clean-up and actually get a good look at the orifice that has been presented to us,” Dennison said.Previously, GGMC’s Senior Petroleum Technologist, Mitchell Prince, had explained in a briefing with the Ministry of the Presidency that the plan is to run two sizes of casings into the orifice to seal it off. He noted that they are going to be using an 18-inch casing on the outside and a four inch diameter casing on the inside, then seal around it with concrete and build a valve at the top.The GGMC Commissioner noted that the cleaning exercise is expected to be wrapped up in a week’s time, the construction and installation of the apparatus will take another two to three weeks to be completed.Questioned about the financing of these works, Commissioner Dennison disclosed that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has made certain materials available to be used for the construction of the apparatus while GGMC will be making provisions for the additional works. He opted not to preempt the cost, saying that “it might be a moving target.”The cleaning exercise is expected to be wrapped up in a week’s timeAt about 18:00h on June 15, construction workers were drilling a well at the Lot 1200 Section ‘A’ Block ‘X’, Great Diamond, residence (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue) when they hit a natural gas pocket causing an immediate explosion, which lasted the entire night with fluctuating eruptions, as high as 30 feet, of various substances including soot.Local stakeholder agencies had since come together to monitor the situation and tests conducted found traces of Methane gas at the location.According to officials, the gas emanating is does not pose any threat to surrounding neighbours and as such, a safe zone was established in the area. read more

first_imgA new survey published by Clifford Chance identifies top drivers and risks for M&A across an increasingly complex global landscape. More than half (57%) of mining and metals sector respondents to a new survey, Cross-border M&A: Perspectives on a changing world, are expecting current cross-border M&A activity levels to be maintained or increased over the next two years. Some 70% of sector respondents expect to focus on strengthening their core business rather than diversifying into new areas and, accordingly perhaps, the great majority (59%) expect to see some disposal of assets in response to tax, regulatory and political risks.The research, which was conducted by the Economist Intelligent Unit on behalf of Clifford Chance, surveyed nearly 400 companies with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion from across a range of regions and industry sectors, including the mining and metals sector.The survey also revealed that 55% of mining and metals companies are focusing their M&A strategy on high-growth economies, rather than domestic (28%) or global developed markets (17%).A number of significant themes in the mining and metals sector emerge from the survey findings:Shareholder pressure was a frequently identified driver behind sales in the sector (cited by 32% of mining respondents). Despite record income from historically high commodity prices, many mining companies have significant funding pressures because of record capital expenditure commitments. Shareholders are increasingly concerned about the impact of project spend on earnings and there is mounting pressure for companies to respond by selling non-core and costly assetsCultural integration issues emerged as a more prominent barrier to M&A activity (for 24% of mining respondents). Additionally, some 67% of mining respondents agree that concerns about cultural differences are a deterrent to pursuing cross-border deals – a higher figure than any other sectorMinority investment in a local company is, overwhelmingly, the most popular deal structure. For buyers, this can manage exposure to operational and regulatory risks as well as overcome merger control issues. For sellers, minority stakes can be sold to raise funds for projects while maintaining overall controlCash is not necessarily king: Acquisition activity is less likely to be funded by cash than in other sectors. Cash is preferred by only 16% of mining respondents against an average of 37% across all sectors, despite many miners having record cash inflows from increased production and high commodity prices. Acquirers are willing to consider a range of funding sourcesSovereign wealth funds are the most important finance source for the mining and metals sector according to 32% of respondents (up from 22% two years ago), the highest level across all sectors, and a sign of the strategic importance of commodity supply to developing economies.David Lewis, co-head of Mining and Metals sector commented, “The energy, mining and utilities sector has been the most active sector by value in 2011 with some $557.1billion in announced deals, up 3.6% from 2010 ($537.7billion). This buoyant market was fuelled in part by the Asian superpowers’ continued fight for natural resources and assets becoming available at reasonable prices. While the frenzy may have slowed, we see that continued strong demand for natural resources, with particular focus on the untapped resources of less well-developed regions such as Africa, and shareholder pressure to focus on core assets, will still drive deal flow in the sector.”last_img read more

first_imgDingo Software, the supplier of heavy asset management software and services, has announced the formation of what it claims is the world’s first Global Asset Wellness network. “Customers will now be able to receive expert maintenance insights on a wide range of mining assets anywhere, anytime” said Paul Higgins, CEO of Dingo. After developing this Cloud-based approach with customers in 2007, Dingo’s Asset Wellness network now protects over 70,000 major components daily, having received and processed tens of millions of data samples from a large range of sources including oil analysis labs, vibrations systems, VIMS, Komatsu VHMS, Detroit DDEC, Cummins Cense, Equipment Management Systems, SAP, tyre wear, component inspection reports and images, CMMS work orders, undercarriage wear, and fluid consumption.Data entering the 24-7 network is transformed into proactive work using Dingo’s Trakka software, which first filters the information using sophisticated rules and statistics, passing identified problems to teams of experienced maintenance experts for real, contextual decisions.  This announcement links Dingo’s global Insight and Action Centres and extends coverage across all time zones, meaning lower risk and higher responsiveness for customers. Dingo’s network is comprised of dedicated Asset Insight centers in Brisbane and Denver, connected to Asset Action centres in the UK; Muswellbrook, New South Wales; Timmins, Ontario; Fernie and Kamloops in British Columbia; Madisonville, Kentucky; Silver City, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Elko, Nevada.  This Asset Wellness network is connected to customers through the Cloud-based Trakka software and to data sources through Dingo’s Connector Library.“Much like in human health, asset intensive industries are looking for ways to push the boundaries of what it means to operate in an optimum state”, said Higgins.  “While ‘health care’ triggers images of hospitals treating the ill, ‘Wellness’ describes groups of people enjoying long and full lives, through regular exercise and proactive measures.  This vision captures what Dingo is bringing to the world of Asset Management.” In a recent example, a Dingo customer, whose five mines are served by Dingo’s Denver Insight center, realised a 19% improvement in average life across an entire mining system.  This was achieved through close monitoring of health indicators, combined with rapid action on recommendations issued directly from Dingo’s Network, to maintenance staff. “Users benefit from analysis of the largest OEM-independent database of comparative machine performance information,” commented Colin Donnelly, Dingo’s Director of Engineering. “Our goal is to make it easy for asset managers to find and fix problems before they become an expensive failure, and to take care of their machines so they can maximise their longevity.”last_img read more

first_imgSandvik has opened a major new repair, rebuild and support centre in Orange, New South Wales, designed to deliver industry-leading levels of service, as well as environmental, health and safety performance to mining operations throughout the state’s Central West. Its new Orange High Productivity Centre incorporates a modern, high-tech repair and rebuild facility, including a paint booth, along with a large warehouse operation. The facility has been purpose-built to help it better serve the needs of mines in the region, and improve safety performance in line with its customers requirements. It will also service equipment for customers from outside the region. According to Jim Tolley, Sandvik Mining’s Vice President, Sales Area Australia, the new facility is the latest example of the company’s focus on service and support for its customers throughout Australia.“Our Orange High Productivity Centre – as one of four of these centres nationally – will set new standards for safety and environmental performance, service efficiency and turnaround times for our Central West customers. It has been designed with one purpose: to align with our customers’ goals and boost their productivity.“Sandvik’s service benchmarks are to ensure that our customers’ equipment remains safe and fully productive 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year – and to achieve that, nearly 75% of our staff worldwide are dedicated to customer support.”Tolley said the company’s new Orange centre was the latest example of this philosophy.“Employing 40 people, it incorporates a state-of-the-art workshop and a warehouse, each of which are larger than our entire previous facility in Orange – and because of our standardised processes and readily available spare parts, we can provide rapid and cost-efficient repairs. This includes the ability to rebuild equipment to as-new condition, to Sandvik’s OEM specifications and standards, and with full factory warranty.”Complementing Sandvik’s new rebuild facilities at Orange is a fleet of mobile service vehicles crewed by a fully trained field service team with the skills and experience to handle a wide range of requirements. This field service coverage extends to Cobar and Broken Hill through dedicated service centres located in those locations.“Our field service technicians can also carry out machine inspections, advise on operational and maintenance practices, and assist customer technicians,” Tolley said.“Whether it’s scheduled or unscheduled maintenance calls, our field service technicians have the in-depth product knowledge and rapid support response to get customers’ equipment up-and-running as soon as possible. We realise that trained, customer-focused technicians are vital to maintaining equipment and delivering productivity targets.”Field services available from the Orange High Productivity Centre include:•           Repairs and breakdown services•           Servicing assistance•           Fault diagnosis•           Machine condition audits•           Scheduled maintenance•           Service maintenance agreements•           Machine tune-ups.In addition to its service and support capabilities, Sandvik’s new Orange High Productivity Centre will serve as its regional warehouse for the entire NSW Central West.“In most cases, we can now provide immediate replacement of parts and components for all types of Sandvik equipment used in this region,” Tolley said.“Combining our industry-standard service workshop, greatly expanded warehouse capacity and our extended field service capabilities gives us the ability to deliver reduced downtime and increased productivity for our customers.”last_img read more