Free Agent CJ Miles Leaning Toward Lakers

CJ Miles, a left-handed veteran  who can score in bunches at times, remains without a team. But not for long. The former Utah Jazz shooting guard has generated interest from many teams — including Utah, which would not like to see him depart. But the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Miles could decide in the next few days on the Los Angeles Lakers.The newspaper reported that Miles has met with representatives of the Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks. Still, playing backup to Kobe Bryant and competing being a part of a championship-caliber team could appeal to Miles more.Not good for Utah is that Miles is an unrestricted free agent, meaning that if he signs somewhere else, the Jazz would not receive anything in return.  The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Miles could make a decision this week. If he signs with the Lakers, the source said, it’ll likely be a one- or two-year deal via Los Angeles’ mini mid-level exception. Miles, 25, has already met with Dallas and Cleveland since free agency started July 1.It makes sense that the Lakers would covet the 25-year-old Miles. The Lakers are thin at shooting guard behind Bryant. They have second-year player Andrew Goudelock and Christain Evenga — no disrespect, but they do not elicit a lot of excitement.Miles is effective enough to give Bryant extended breathers, which would be beneficial to the Lakers come the playoffs. Also, Miles is an above-average, tough perimeter defender that could play some small forward in a pinch, too.The problem for the Lakers: Miles, who averaged 9.8 points on 38 per cent shooting last year, could be seeking more than what the Lakers can offer.  A mini mid-level is only about $3 million a year. And while Miles’ stock has dropped some over the past season, playing so-so on a bad team, he is young and and probably wants a longer deal.What the Lakers have going for them is that they are the Lakers. That lure could be irresistible for Miles. read more

Jerry Sandusky Will Speak At Sentencing On Tuesday

Lawyer Joe Amendola with Jerry Sandusky.Jerry Sandusky, convicted child molester, will make a statement at his sentencing hearing Tuesday, according to his lawyer, Joe Amendola.Amendola said, “It’s as certain as certain can be” that the former Penn State assistant football coach will address Judge John Cleland and profess his innocence before he is sentenced on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.Nobody else is expected to speak on Sandusky’s behalf during the sentencing hearing Tuesday in Bellefonte, Amendola said.“What I anticipate he’ll say is that he’s innocent,” Amendola said outside the courthouse.The attorney said others, including Sandusky’s wife, have submitted letters on his behalf and that Dottie Sandusky stands by her husband and will attend the sentencing.“He’s going to fight for a new trial,” Amendola said. He said “the important thing” about sentencing for the defense “is it starts the appellate process.”Last week, jurors in Sandusky’s trial said they wished Sandusky is imprisoned for life.Gayle Barnes, a homemaker and former school district employee, said she thinks a lot about the victims, particularly the eight who testified against Sandusky and provided what she considers the critical evidence of guilt. She said he deserves life in prison.“I do still feel good, what we as jurors did,” Barnes said. “I didn’t go there saying off the bat he’s guilty. I needed to listen to every single thing that was said.”Barnes said she has been in touch with a fifth juror and an alternate juror who also plan to attend the sentencing.High school science teacher Joshua Harper, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State, said that he takes pride in having served on the jury, and that the guilty verdict was not a close call. He wants Sandusky “put away for the rest of his life, really.”“This is what prisons are for, you know,” Harper said. “I mean, I don’t think you let a guy loose like that.”He also felt the victim testimony was pivotal.“It was such a consistent pattern of behavior,” Harper said. “It was just so solid. The defense was just so thin. There was no evidence that these kids were lying. Even the minor inconsistencies that the defense tried to bring up — and did bring up — that made it more convincing.” read more

March Madness Final Four Set With Badgers UK UConn

Remarkable, but the NCAA tournament tops itself almost every year. This version of March Madness produced countless dramatic finishes, upsets, surprises and heroes. Only a quartet of teams remaimn standing, a Final Four in Texas that has the makings for something special.Here’s how No 1. Florida, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Connecticut advanced to the biggest weekend of  A NCAA basketball season, where the Gators will face surprising UConn, and UK, with five freshmen starters, will take on the deliberate Badgers:* Kentucky outlasted Michigan, 75-72, on Aaron Harrison’s 25-foot three-point shot with 2.6 seconds remaining. It was a thrilling game that put the Wildcats in rarified air: The Wildcats are the first set of five freshmen starters to advance to the Final Four since Michigan’s renown “Fab Five” in 1992. Also, Kentucky is the first team in NCAA Tournament history to defeat both participants of the previous year’s championship game (Michigan and Louisville).* Shabazz Napier of Connecticut was dazzling in leading UConn to a 60-54 victory over Michigan State, the team picked by many to win the title. Napier scored 17 of his 25 points in the final 20 minutes. His three free throws with 37.6 seconds left were typical of the clutch play he exhibited. And so, the Huskies came back from nine down in the second half to  make it to next week against Florida.* Florida was too big, too strong, too talented and too determined to allow Dayton to derail the Gators’ championship aspirations. Florida won 62-52, and the outcome never really was in doubt. Florida controlled the pace of the game and limited Dayton’s transition opportunities. The Flyers had been running and gunning in their three previous tournament wins, but scored just eight transition points on Saturday thanks to Florida’s full-court pressure defense.* Wisconsin’s tough defense and deliberate pace were key factors in the Badgers advancing past No. 1-seed Arizona, 64-63, in overtime. Center Frank Kaminsky had 28 points, six in OT, and 11 rebounds and scored from inside and outside, including three 3-pointers, for the No. 2 seed Badgers (30-7). It’s Wisconsin’s first Final Four appearance since 2000, and first for 66-year-old coach Bo Ryan, who earned his 704th career victory. read more

JaVale McGee Is No Joke

15Karl-Anthony TownsMIN3,0301301.5 Among the top 15 in total dunks during the 2016-17 regular season.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 7Hassan WhitesideMIA2,5131632.3 PLAYERTEAMMIN. PLAYEDTOTALPER 36 MINUTES 8Mason PlumleePOR, DEN2,1481312.2 1JaVale McGeeGS7391215.9 During the 2016-17 regular season, McGee took a career-high 78 percent of his shots at the rim. In 2012-13, rim shots accounted for only 65 percent of his total attempts.2Before this season, McGee’s career high for the share of his field-goal attempts at the rim was 65.4 percent in 2015-16. Similarly, just 3 percent of McGee’s field goals this season were attempted from outside of 10 feet, whereas these jumpers made up at least 10 percent of his shots in each of his previous campaigns. While McGee’s effectiveness at the rim this season (73 percent field-goal percentage) is basically unchanged from the past two seasons, his condensed shot distribution means that he’s more efficient overall.The Warriors have several actions designed to get McGee near the rim. Most reliably they deploy a Curry-Green high pick-and-roll with McGee positioned at the edge of the lane. Curry’s dead-eye shooting tends to demand a double team in this situation, allowing him to slip a pass to Green around the free-throw line. From there, the Warriors gain a numerical advantage with only McGee’s defender remaining to stop Green’s marauding drive down the lane. The ultimate result is a lob to McGee and a slam dunk.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/embedded-video-02-curry-green-pnr-to-green-mcgee-alley-oop.mp400:0000:0000:09Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The Warriors also use a McGee-Curry ball screen up top. In this variation, McGee picks Curry’s defender and rolls hard to the rim, Curry slings the ball toward Green at the wing, and Green relays it to the cutting McGee for an alley-oop.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/embedded-video-03-mcgee-curry-pnr-green-mcgee-alley-oop.mp400:0000:0000:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.McGee gets dunks when he rolls to the basket after setting off-ball screens for Klay Thompson, too. He gets dunks when Andre Iguodala beats his man off the dribble. He gets dunks in transition. He gets dunks on putbacks. He gets all kinds of dunks, all the time. In fact, McGee led the league in dunks per 36 minutes this season.3Among players who played at least 200 minutes. 4Dwight HowardATL2,1991993.3 3DeAndre JordanLAC2,5702533.5 5Rudy GobertUTA2,7442353.1 14Steven AdamsOKC2,3891121.7 12Anthony DavisNO2,7081361.8 McGee has been spectacularly efficient with his shots, posting a career-high true shooting percentage of 64 percent this season. And even though he doesn’t play a lot, when he’s on the floor, he’s a big part of the Warriors offense. McGee was one of just 14 players — including superstars LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Durant and Curry — who combined 60+ percent true shooting with a 20+ percent usage rate this season.Although some of it is a luxury of playing with his talented Warrior teammates, McGee’s improved efficiency is mainly the result of a more disciplined shot selection. Compare his shot chart from this season with the one from the 2012-13 season, when he played for a 57-win Denver Nuggets team. Note that with the Warriors, McGee is attempting nearly all of his shots from inside the paint; whereas with Denver, he regularly stepped away from the basket to shoot. 9Tristan ThompsonCLE2,3361221.9 DUNKS 11Kevin DurantGS2,0701071.9 2Clint CapelaHOU1,5511633.8 6Giannis AntetokounmpoMIL2,8451942.5 13Andre DrummondDET2,4091181.8 The Golden State Warriors have acted out many familiar scenes during this year’s playoff run. Kevin Durant has crossed up big men en route to vicious slams, Draymond Green has continued to revolutionize rim protection, and Stephen Curry has danced his way to almost 30 points a night. But a bit player has elbowed his way into the spotlight, too: Warrior reserve center JaVale McGee.In Golden State’s opening series against Portland, McGee was outstanding in his supporting role, chipping in 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 12 minutes per game. He also gave the Warriors a decided advantage over the Blazers when he was playing, contributing to a +48 scoring margin for the Warriors during his 48 minutes on the court. In Game 1, McGee stuffed Portland’s Damian Lillard to ignite a fast break, hustled down court to rebound a missed transition jumper, and set up Curry for a corner three that gave the Warriors the lead. The sequence was emblematic of McGee’s play during the series: exuberant and useful. You could describe McGee’s whole season like that. A player who was once derided as a laughingstock of the NBA is enjoying an unexpected breakout year.In the offseason, McGee had to scratch and claw just to earn an NBA roster spot. After a slew of leg injuries limited the big man to only 62 regular-season appearances over the previous three seasons combined, McGee was waived by the Dallas Mavericks in July. He eventually accepted a non-guaranteed contract and a training-camp invitation to audition for Golden State’s final roster spot.McGee’s image wasn’t helping his prospects, either. After years of unwanted attention on “Shaqtin’ A Fool” — the NBA’s blooper show hosted by Shaquille O’Neal — McGee was saddled with a nasty reputation as basketball’s court jester. Warriors coach Steve Kerr told The Washington Post that his view of McGee had been colored from afar — “he’s had the reputation of being flighty.” Speaking to the Mercury News earlier this season, McGee characterized the opinion held by many NBA fans more bluntly: “They think I’m a dumb person.”Once in camp, however, he won over his teammates and coaches with a bevy of high-flying dunks and blocks and earned the 15th spot on the squad. Before a preseason game, Kerr told SFGate that he was optimistic about the player’s fit with Golden State: “He gives us something that we don’t have with our other centers, just with that ability to catch a lob and finish. I think he has the potential to help us. We’ll see how it all goes.” As it turns out, it has gone really well.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/embedded-video-01-mcgee-curry-dribble-handoff-curry-mcgee-alley-oop.mp400:0000:0000:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.During the regular season, McGee led all NBA players1Minimum 20 games played. in plus-minus per possession, with the Warriors edging their opponents by an average of 19.2 points for every 100 possessions he was on the court. This impressive stat stands in stark contrast to McGee’s career norms — he’s posted negative plus-minus numbers in nearly all of his previous seasons. In part, McGee’s statistics reflect the strength of his new team. He’s asked to play only about 10 minutes a night, and those minutes rarely come during clutch situations. Still, his plus-minus mark substantially surpassed the numbers of his more-renowned teammates: Curry (17.5), Durant (15.9), and Green (15.5), suggesting that he isn’t just an anonymous extra, either. McGee’s dream season has been about more than just a string of dunks, though. With the encouragement of the Warriors coaches, he has distilled his game down to its essence. “The thing about it is I have to know my role, and my role isn’t to get post-up touches and stuff like that,” McGee told reporters after the playoff opener. “My role is to rebound, block shots and run the floor.”Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/embedded-video-04-mcgee-blocks-rebounds-runs-the-floor.mp400:0000:0000:14Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.McGee is providing a lift on defense, too. He’s tall, long and springy, which allows his teammates to funnel ball handlers in his direction. It’s a perfect responsibility for McGee, who is good at sloughing off his man in search of blocks. During the regular season, McGee contested shots at the fifth-highest rate in the NBA (0.5 contests per minute). One benefit of this McGee-centric Warriors defensive scheme is that his teammates — Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green — each foul at a lower rate when he is on the court to back them up, saving them each an average of 0.6 fouls4Includes shooting, personal and blocking fouls on defense. per 100 possessions.Despite the seeming transformation, McGee told the Post that he hasn’t metamorphosed into some more-mature version of himself. “I’ve been the same goofy guy I’ve been this whole time,” he said. And there have been some goofy moments: missed dunks, behind-the-back turnovers, even one attempt to inbound the ball for the wrong team. But McGee told the Post that his new team recognized that he is also earnest: “They knew who I am and realized, underlying me laughing all the time, I’m actually working hard.” Indeed, many of McGee’s bloopers this season — and even his mishaps from his peak Shaqtin’ years — are errors of overzealous activity and effort.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/embedded-video-05-mcgee-misses-multiple-layups-trys-hard.mp400:0000:0000:09Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.In the opening round of the playoffs, the Trail Blazers were an undermanned and undersized team that offered McGee an ideal opportunity for success. The Western Conference semifinals provide a new challenge for McGee: the Utah Jazz and their likely soon-to-be All-NBA center Rudy Gobert. Gobert demands more attention from McGee on defense and makes it more difficult for McGee to find dunk opportunities on the other end. Indeed, McGee had a very quiet Game 1 against Utah, tallying just one dunk and one block in nine minutes. But I don’t expect that Gobert will be taking him lightly moving forward. McGee has opened eyes and shut mouths all season with his stellar play. And he has long since proved that he’s more than just a 7-foot punchline.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 10LeBron JamesCLE2,7941451.9 This JaVale McGee guy sure can dunk read more

How Far Is Tiger Woods Behind Jack Nicklauss MajorWinning Pace

When Tiger Woods teed off Thursday afternoon to begin this year’s Masters bid, it was the start of just his third appearance of the 2015 season and his first competitive round since a back injury forced him to withdraw on the first day of the Farmers Insurance Open in early February. As Woods shot a 1-over-par 73 in the first round, all eyes were on his form — even though he’s done little of note over the past two seasons to warrant the attention.Famously, Woods has won 14 major golf championships over his stellar career, a tally that ranks second only to Jack Nicklaus’s 18 major titles. A win at the Masters would give Woods 15, but he hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. In the intervening years, his game and personal life have been thoroughly ravaged, with injuries taking a particular toll recently. What once seemed to be destiny — Woods’s overtaking of Nicklaus as the winningest major champion ever — now looks like a fool’s notion.With Woods in action again at Augusta, where he’s won four green jackets, we tried to track how far his major championship-winning pace (and therefore his chances of catching Nicklaus) have fallen in recent years. The biggest strike against Woods? The fact that he is 39 years old — well past the prime of major winners since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958:If you toss out all major winners currently younger than 461The age at which Nicklaus won his final major. to prevent the sample from being skewed toward younger, still-active champions such as 25-year-old Rory McIlroy (whose future major totals are as yet unknown), the average major-winner in golf is about 32.5 years old. And only 12.5 percent of all major titles since 19582Excluding those of Julius Boros and Peter Thomson, who were left out of the aging-curve sample because they won major titles both before and after 1958. were won by players aged 39 or older. By any measure, the time for winning majors is quickly running out for Woods.Of course, Woods’s track record is better than just about any other major-winner ever. Through age 32, when Woods last won a major, he led Nicklaus 14-11 in the trophy count. (Even now, after a drought of more than six seasons, Woods is only one major short of Nicklaus’s pace at the same age.) To estimate how many major wins remain in a player’s career, we ran a Lowess regression for players at each age who had won at least one major to that point in their career.3Specifically, we derived a multiplier for each age to estimate total lifetime majors based on the player’s career-to-date major count. As an example, the multiplier for an age-26 golfer is 3.0, meaning you should expect his career total of major wins to be 3.0 times what it was after his age-26 season. For Tiger Woods, who won eight major titles through age 26, this leads to a career major estimate of 24. And by that method, Woods’s mean expectation was to pass Nicklaus for most of his career after his banner 2000 season — even after being afflicted by injury (he missed the second half of the 2008 season with a torn ACL) and scandal (he was limited to 12 tournaments and zero wins in 2010 after his many infidelities came to light):Since a major-less 2011, though, Woods’s projected career major tally dropped below the number necessary to pass Nicklaus. Our system now sets Woods’s expected remaining majors at a mere 1.2 — and that might be too high. The regression uses Woods’s entire track record to date, perhaps not realizing how much his form has slipped in recent seasons. It’s also worth noting that Nicklaus was an incredible outlier. He won more majors after the age of 37 (four) than all but 14 golfers have ever won in their entire careers. So at a certain point, it was probably unrealistic to have expected Woods to follow the same pace, even before witnessing how much his game — and health — have slipped in recent years.Woods front-loaded so many major titles that he’d only need a comparatively modest per-tournament win rate over the remainder of his career to pass Nicklaus. But even given that head start, Woods’s abrupt decline goes to show that there are no sure things in sports. read more

How The Winter X Games Designs Its Courses

The winter X Games in Aspen1FiveThirtyEight is owned by ESPN, which also runs the X Games. began on Thursday, which means extreme skiers and snowboarders performing tricks that will make your stomach drop, even if you’re just watching from the comfort of your couch. Each year these athletes attempt to jump higher, fly further, spin faster and generally do more ridiculous stunts than they did the year before. And as the competitors progress, the courses they ride have to evolve, too. To deliver the thrills that audiences and athletes want, course designers must find ways to allow riders to go bigger without compromising their safety.Chris Gunnarson is the president of Snow Park Technologies, which for 21 years has been building, among other things, snow features for these games, including jumps from small to massive. I asked Gunnarson to walk me through some of the math involved in building courses for two of winter X Games’ most iconic events: big air and slopestyle. Big air is just one massive, terrifying jump where the goal is for athletes to land the biggest trick they can. Slopestyle is a long run that starts with a relatively level section at the top, where skiers and snowboarders grind and do tricks off rails and boxes, before the course descends rapidly into a series of three increasingly large jumps.As the courses and performances get bigger and more innovative, athletes are continually giving SPT feedback on how the jumps feel and whether they allow the latest tricks. But as important as rider feedback is, Gunnarson bases much of the course design on the cold realities of physics.“A simple ballistics calculator” — like one a hunter might use — “is one tool used to look at what gravity will do to a moving object, like an arrow being shot from a bow,” Gunnarson told me. “The initial angle and speed of the arrow will dictate the distance it will go and the arcing path it will follow.” Similarly, if you know the speed at which the skier or snowboarder hits the jump, how much they weigh and what angle they take off at, you can draw the arc of their trajectory and more or less pinpoint where they will land.The jumps on both the big air and slopestyle courses will have a final launch angle of 32 to 35 degrees, and each landing area has a “sweet spot,” which has a grade of somewhere between 34 and 37 degrees. Given a typical rider’s speed and the angle at which they take off, that slope is the best way to allow them to come down, set the edge of their board or skis, and gradually change the downward momentum they picked up while falling back into forward momentum. If the landing zone is too flat, all that downward force goes directly into the rider’s legs, which may result in more impact than they can handle. If it’s too steep, the rider can’t slow themselves down and regain control.On the slopestyle course, Gunnarson says, the lip of the jump is typically four to eight feet above the top of the landing area, which helps the athletes get more hang time than the ramp alone would give them. The horizontal distance between the lip and the landing area increases with each jump to account for the rider’s ever-increasing speed as they come screaming down the mountain.While these calculations seem simple enough in theory, SPT’s builders must also take into account a number of confounding real-world variables that make the equations much more complicated. The quality of the snow changes how much friction is dragging on the board or skis, making the jump faster or slower, and of course each rider’s mass affects their speed through the air. The way competitors hit the jump matters, too. “One rider might ‘pop’ off the takeoff, thereby increasing their launch angle and potentially increasing their height in the air and the distance they travel,” Gunnarson said. “Another rider might ‘press’” — bend their knees as they take off — “by absorbing the takeoff, thereby decreasing their launch angle, which may also decrease their height in the air and the distance they travel.”These factors can create a tremendous amount of variation in where the rider comes down, which creates a potentially dangerous problem. Even when conditions are ideal, a handful of riders are injured every year simply because they are pushing their limits. (ESPN stated that it does not publicly share event injury statistics.) So building a landing area that helps keep athletes safe is all about putting the sweet spot in a location where riders taking a wide range of trajectories can hit it.SPT has found that for both slopestyle and big air, the sweet spot should begin between 55 and 75 feet from the lip of the jump and should maintain a consistent angle for at least 100 feet before it starts to fade into the normal slope. Essentially, the course designers make it nearly impossible to overshoot the landing, even when riders cover a huge distance — some of the snowboarders in the 2016 big air event flew more than 100 feet.The jumps that course designers build for the X Games are very different from the features you’d typically find at a ski resort. Everything is scaled up and built for elite riders who are constantly redefining what is possible in their sport. And neither the designers nor the athletes could pull it off without the math that determines how the courses can keep up with riders while also keeping them safe. read more

Tiger Woods Completes His Staggering Career Comeback

From ABC News: The first time Tiger Woods won the Masters, becoming the youngest to ever do it, he decimated the field and crumbled in his father’s arms. “We made it,” Earl Woods told his then-21-year-old son. Woods is now 43-going-on-60, still donning his trademark Sunday red. He scaled Augusta National this weekend for the fifth time,1Jack Nicklaus has the all-time record with six victories at the Masters. holding off a number of contenders, some of whom grew up watching him transcend the sport, on the back nine. What once seemed inevitable was anything but just a few years ago, as Woods battled surgeries and off-the-course maladies.“Maybe the son of golf has returned,” broadcaster and former Masters champion Nick Faldo said as Woods left the 17th green.It had been 3,954 days since Woods last won a major. Somehow, it felt even longer. Winning a major is an accomplishment reserved for a select few, but for a 10-year span beginning in the late 1990s, it was as synonymous with Woods as audacious drives and timely putts.This didn’t come out of nowhere. Bettors knew there were signs that he was putting it all back together. But it was also known that this might have been the best remaining shot he had at summiting Augusta.Suddenly a man who went five years without a win on tour has two in the past seven months. His turn-back-the-clock performance materialized when it mattered most. He now has three top-10s in his past four majors.He did it by playing Amen Corner at one-under on the final day, while the other two members of the final pairing played it one–over.Just as he has previously, Woods bashed the par-5s (-8), going three-under on them over the final round. He approached the 15th hole in a three-way tie with Xander Schauffele and Francesco Molinari, detonated his tee shot and immediately began walking toward the hole as it soared through the sky. He two-putted his way to a birdie and an outright lead and never looked back.The last time Woods won the Masters, his chip-in on the No. 16 green provided the signature highlight of his career. Playing the same hole 14 years later, Woods added to his legend. He struck an 8-iron to the center of the green, spinning it back down the hill where it stopped 4 feet from the pin. As pandemonium played around Woods at the tee box, a replay showed him at-ease cooing “come on” to his ball at it inched closer to history. That wasn’t the only time precision paid off for Woods on par-3s, which he played four-under for the tournament, the best four-round score among his five wins. When Molinari and Tony Finau found the water on No. 12, it was Woods who found the green and two-putted his way to par.Nine players entered the weekend within a shot of the lead, the most in Masters history. That historically congested scoreboard continued Sunday, as each hole seemed to carry implications for the top 15 in the standings. The win marked the first time Woods came from behind in the final round to win a major.Most unbelievable was the winding path Woods had to take just to get back to Butler Cabin. His career first began to go off the rails with a knee injury that cost him half of the 2008 season, and although he played well in 2009 (leading the PGA Tour in money won), he also blew a Sunday major lead for the first time ever when Y.E. Yang overtook him at the PGA Championship.Then came The Accident, which brought to light an ongoing pattern of behavior that tore apart Woods’s personal life. Even that may not have been the low point, however. Woods only dropped to 52nd in the World during his post-scandal struggles — and eventually fought back to reclaim the No. 1 ranking in 2013, winning five events and once again taking the money title. But in the years that followed, Woods would play so poorly and infrequently that he dropped to 674th in the world in early 2017. Such a pronounced valley in performance (particularly relative to the rest of his career) led plenty of pundits to write off Woods’s chances of ever winning another major. Those takes look scorching hot in retrospect, but it’s difficult to find an established veteran player whose ranking dropped outside the top 600 and who managed to claw back to win a major. Then again, Woods is one of the greatest pure talents in golf history — if anyone was going to rewrite that record book and make such an astonishing comeback, it would be him.Age comes for everyone, of course. And the aging curve for golfers heads south well before 45, which will be here for Woods in no time. But even as younger players increasingly dominate the sport, there’s still room for perhaps the greatest golfer of all time to enhance his legacy.It was Woods’s first Masters victory in 14 years, snapping Gary Player’s all-time record of 13 years between wins, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The win is Woods’s 81st on the PGA Tour, one shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record. It’s also his 15th major championship, three shy of Jack Nicklaus’s record. When asked about Woods’s rekindled pursuit of history on Sunday, Nicklaus said, “he’s got me shaking in my boots.”Golf’s prodigal son has officially returned, and what happens next is not known. But no one will again underestimate what Tiger Woods is capable of on a golf course. read more

Cleveland Indians week in review Struggling offense plagues Tribe on the road

The start of the Cleveland Indians’ second road trip looked like déjà vu from the disappointing 2009 season.Cleveland managed a 2-4 record in the first six games of the trip, including an 8-1 win at the Minnesota Twins, which was the first win for the Indians at the Twins’ new Target Field.None of the six games was decided by fewer than five runs, including two shutout losses, one to Minnesota and the other to the Oakland Athletics.Studs: Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot. Carmona is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts, and Talbot has been a huge surprise, going 2-1 in three starts with an ERA of 2.25.Duds: The offense. As it stands, the Indians’ offense has the second-fewest runs in the American League with 60, ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles. Thirteen of Cleveland’s 60 runs have been RBIs from outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.Up Next: The Indians finish up the road trip with three games against the Los Angeles Angels beginning today, followed by a weekend series against the American League Central Division-leading Twins. read more

Commentary Forgotten former Buckeye Mike Conley Jr is best Ohio State alum

During the past Ohio State men’s basketball season, a pregame video was played before home games featuring many past Buckeyes, such as Michael Redd, Greg Oden and Evan Turner. One player who was not included was Mike Conley Jr. The former Buckeye point guard was part of a trio, along with Oden and Daequan Cook, who left OSU after one season following the 2007 NCAA Tournament runner-up campaign. Conley was drafted No. 4 by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2007 NBA draft. Since then, it seems like Conley has been forgotten by Buckeye faithful. Maybe it is because many fans did not agree with his decision to turn pro, particularly after he promised to return following the championship game. Maybe it has something to do with playing for a small-market, perennial lottery team like Memphis. For whatever reason, it never seems to me that Conley gets recognition as a Buckeye legend with others such as Oden and Turner. Now in his fourth season as a professional, the 23-year-old Conley is starting to establish himself as a solid NBA player. After receiving a five-year, $40 million contract extension before this season, Conley set career highs in points, assists and steals. He is one of the leaders of a young Grizzlies team that is contending in the NBA Western Conference playoffs. The Grizzlies entered the postseason as a No. 8 seed and upset the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round in six games. Memphis is now battling the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals. The series is tied, 2-2. For the postseason, Conley is playing 39.4 minutes and averaging 15.9 points and 6.2 assists per game. Going up against two of the NBA’s top point guards, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Conley has held his own. Still, Conley is going largely unnoticed. Most basketball analysts and pundits have been raving about the play of forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol, two of Conley’s teammates — and rightfully so. Randolph and Gasol have been putting up gaudy numbers throughout the playoffs. The orchestrator of those performances is Conley. As the point guard, he makes sure the Memphis big men are getting the ball in places and situations where they can take advantage, just like he did with Oden during their time together at OSU. He can take matters into his own hands, as well. During Game 4 against the Thunder on Monday night, Conley made a game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. Remember the 2007 second round game against Xavier? Conley scored 11 points in overtime, single-handedly closing out the game for the Buckeyes when Oden fouled out on the bench. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins understands the importance of Conley to his team. “Mike’s our head,” Hollins told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Mike controls the game for us. He’s our director.” With a slew of young talent, the Grizzlies are on the rise and could be a formidable contender in the West for the next several years, and with Conley signed to the long term, he should get plenty more opportunities to showcase his abilities on the big stage. Now showing: Mike Conley, the best OSU player in the NBA right now. read more