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Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S6 in the next few months and as always there is a lot of rumour and conjecture about the phone. After all, besides the iPhone, it is perhaps the most hyped phone on the planet. Now, French blog NoWhereElse has leaked a metal frame, which it claims to be of the Samsung Galaxy S6.While it is quite evident that the phone is not being launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the phone could be launched in a month or so. Last year, the Galaxy S5 was launched at a low-key event at the Mobile World Congress.The leaked image indicates that the phone could have an all-new metal frame which accommodates for the camera module and the antennas. It also indicates that the design language will be different from phones like Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Alpha, which have metal frames, but plastic backs. This new design could be a part of rumoured Project Zero, which attempts to revamp the hardware designs found in Samsung’s portfolio.Recent reports have also suggested that the Galaxy S6 could sport a curved display like the Galaxy Note Edge.Recently, the phone was also found on Zauba, an India based import tracking site.Additionally, it is rumoured to be armed to the teeth with cutting edge hardware. This could include an Exynos 7420 or a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 5.5-inch 2k display. In addition, there are rumours, which suggest a 20-megapixel camera on the back with optical image stabilisation.advertisementSoftware wise, Android Lollipop can be expected with a new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.It is also being suggested that Samsung’s partners will be shown the Galaxy S6 at CES.
Looking for some game tips? Then the ‘Touchdown Zone’ is for you!Join us each month as we look at different Touch Football skills and tips to help you improve your game. This month, we look at passing from half. You can watch the video here – https://youtu.be/aEmDXgv7vws To view other skills and tips, please visit the TFA YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/touchfootballaus) or click on the links below: The Wrap – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3g_eBdHO3EHalf-time tips – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mXWGjbShkwExit patterns – https://youtu.be/JoX5_gFrSKU Dynamic Rollball – https://youtu.be/V156XcGjnpU Stay tuned to the TFA website and YouTube channel for upcoming editions of the â€˜Touchdown Zoneâ€™. Related LinksThe Touchdown Zone
TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Barcelona go official to deny Rabiot claimsby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona deny they have reached an agreement over terms with PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot.Barca have moved to head off speculation arriving from France.The Catalan club recognised that it had made contact with the French midfielder, but denies that it has reached an agreement with the player.This is Barcelona’s full statement:”Before the news appeared in France, FC Barcelona states that it has not breached any regulations regarding the signing of PSG players.”The only contacts were carried out in the month of August and again a week ago.
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante left frustrated by Wolfsberger drawby Carlos Volcano21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveRoma midfielder Bryan Cristante was left frustrated after their 1-1 draw with Europa League opponents Wolfsberger.Leonardo Spinazzola put Roma ahead in Austria before Michael Liendl equalised after the break with a ferocious effort.“We did expect it to be a tough match and we certainly could’ve done better, especially with the scoring opportunities that we created, but we knew they were aggressive and dangerous on the counter-attack,” the midfielder told Sky Sport Italia.“When we are under attack, everyone has to work for the team and hold out under pressure. At times, that is what happened today, but at others we could’ve done better.“Over the next few days, we’ll study the footage and see what we got wrong.”
college basketball polls syracuse louisville YouTube/SyracuseCollege football’s regular season may be winding down, but college basketball’s is just starting to heat up. This week, after impressive victories over Boston University and USF, Kentucky remains atop the Coaches’ Poll. Maryland, Duke, Michigan State and Iowa State round out the top five.Some big movers? West Virginia, which is now 6-0, rose up seven spots to No. 15. Oregon and Cincinnati both moved up the same number of slots to No. 16 and No. 17, respectively. Xavier, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Louisville, Providence and Butler also entered the poll. Here it is in its entirety, via USA Today:1. Kentucky2. Maryland3. Michigan State4. Iowa State5. Duke6. Kansas7. Villanova8. Oklahoma9. North Carolina10. Virginia11. Purdue12. Gonzaga13. Vanderbilt14. Arizona15. West Virginia16. Oregon17. Cincinnati18. Xavier19. Syracuse20. Texas A&M21. Miami22. Louisville23. Baylor24. Providence25. ButlerThe AP Poll has also been released. There are a few differences. Duke is a bit further down, at No. 7. And Syracuse rose from unranked all the way to No. 14. Check it out, via the Associated Press.1. Kentucky2. Maryland3. Michigan State4. Kansas5. Iowa State6. Oklahoma7. Duke8. Villanova9. North Carolina10. Virginia11. Purdue12. Xavier13. Gonzaga14. Syracuse15. Oregon16. Vanderbilt17. Cincinnati18. Texas A&M19. Arizona20. Wichita State21. West Virginia22. Miami23. SMU24. Providence25. Louisville
Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth” may have an approval rating of under 20 per cent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s still one of the most popular movies in the world right now.The teenage romantic comedy is the latest in a string of successful screen adaptations from self-published writers on Wattpad, a website where aspiring novelists can share their books, often one chapter at a time.The Toronto-based company wants to branch out beyond e-books and believes it can tap into loyal fanbases and a trove of user data to help movie and TV producers discover the next big hit.“I think it is an exceptionally unique time in entertainment,” said Aron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios, a roughly two-year-old division that is responsible for taking stories from the website and turning them into adaptations for movies, film, TV, games and any other possible avenue.He sees opportunity in a world where big budget movies expected to be box office hits fail to turn significant profits, and where television networks cancel many shows after a one-year run — leaving studios with scarce returns on big investments. Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube have also been pumping out original content to lure traditional movie and TV audiences.Wattpad determined it could help producers avoid duds by scouring readership data to determine popular texts.“It isn’t using data at any one point in the process,” said Levitz. “It’s actually using it continually.”In May, the company announced Hulu picked up supernatural thriller “Light as a Feather” for a straight-to-series deal, and Sony Pictures Television acquired the rights to “Death is my BFF.”Wattpad looks at both what readers are reading and writers are writing from millions of subgenres in order to select a story it believes will resonate.Once a story is selected, the company continues to use data to develop it into marketable content. They may, for example, use reader comments on specific lines or sections of text and opt to eliminate a secondary character from a script if enough readers indicate they didn’t love that person. The company profits as a producer, Levitz said, while writers earn money selling the rights to their text. He did not provide further details and, as Wattpad is a private company, would not say how much of their revenue stems from the studio arm.Wattpad relies on its data to help companies market the projects and reach that promised built-in audience of readers before an adaptation is released to help ensure its success.“It means we can use that data to motivate audiences to go, go to box offices, turn on streaming services or go to bookstores,” said Levitz.The company ran a contest that asked writers to submit their real-life teenage love stories to re-energize “The Kissing Booth” fans who were first introduced to the then 15-year-old author’s tale in 2011.After it’s Netflix premiere date, “The Kissing Booth” rose to one of the top 10 most popular movies in the world, according to movie site IMDB. It’s now sitting at the no. 12 spot.Isabelle Ronin, a 31-year-old author who turned her self-published Wattpad writing into a book deal, was thrilled to see the success of “The Kissing Booth” and excited by how many Wattpad stories are being turned into movies and TV shows. She’s hopeful an opportunity will emerge for her too.“Oh my god, I hope so,” she said. “I hope so.”She self-published “Chasing Red,” which has been read about 187 million times, on the website in 2014.She landed a publishing deal and turned her romance novel about a college student who finds herself suddenly homeless and the basketball player who offers her a place to stay into two books, “Chasing Red” and “Always Red.”Wattpad increasingly wants to showcase stories like Ronin’s on other platforms. The company is working to expand its studio operations. It grew its L.A. and Asia teams this year.“Wattpad sees the studio business as an important part and cornerstone of strategy,” Levitz said.That strategy, which Wattpad says can help traditional media in an age of disruption, is also helping to fuel the changes as the self-publishing platform sells content to alternative media companies, like Netflix.YouTube is also working to tap into undiscovered talent and showcase it on its website, adding more pressure on traditional studios.The video-sharing site recently launched its Premium service, formerly known as YouTube Red, in 17 countries. Premium gives watchers access to its music-streaming service and original shows content for a monthly fee.While some of their original productions rely on professional actors, others take YouTube personalities with an established audience and a good idea to create premium subscriber content, said Adam Smith, vice-president of product for YouTube Music and Premium.Joey Graceffa, for example, hosts “Escape The Night” — a mystery series in its third season and available to watch with a YouTube Premium subscription. He’s built up more than 11 million followers across two channels.YouTube earns revenue from the ads played before the creator’s videos and subscription fees, said Smith. YouTubers earn a share from both sources as well.“It’s something we do intend to continue to invest into.”Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter.
Warsaw– Polish senators hailed, on Thursday in Warsaw, the Moroccan democratic experience which is a model in the region.During a meeting of a delegation of MPs from the house of advisors, led by its speaker Mohamed Sheikh Biadillah, with deputy president of the foreign affairs committee at the Polish senate Bogdan Klich, rapporteur of the project of report by the political affairs and democracy committee at the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly, the senators, who said that they closely followed the situation in the Arab world and protests which ousted some dictators, noted that Morocco succeeded in undertaking intelligent political reforms that meet the expectations of citizens, away from unrest that rocked some countries in the region. They also called for strengthening partnership between Morocco and Poland in the different area
Last year, under first-year head coach Brian Shaw, the Nuggets learned to love the long ball. Denver attempted almost five more threes per game last season than in 2013, despite not playing all that much faster. That increase was the second-largest year-over-year jump in the NBA.6Beaten only by the Phoenix Suns’ amazing 7.3 threes per game increase.Shaw’s push for more threes was aided by the arrival of Randy Foye, a gunner for hire, who hoisted 498 3-pointers last season (11th most in the NBA). Wilson Chandler, too, set a career high for threes attempted. The return of Arron Afflalo, acquired from Orlando in the offseason, figures to increase Denver’s 3-point launching. Afflalo shot 42 percent from three on 300 attempts last season.But Afflalo’s threes — especially the corner threes — are welcome. Afflalo shot 49 percent from the corner three spots last season, a success rate that will bolster the Nuggets’ already potent attack. Denver was the third-best team from the corners last season, connecting on 42 percent of its attempts.Much of Denver’s ability to generate corner threes will depend on Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson. Both excel in getting to the rim and causing the defense to collapse, but Lawson is the better at finding 3-point shooters. Thirty-one percent of his 542 assists last season were on 3-pointers, and 52 were from the corner.With the uncertain timing of the return of JaVale McGee from a stress fracture in his leg, the Nuggets figure to play small again this year (other than Timofey Mozgov). This means their race for a playoff spot in the West again could come down to their 3-point shooting. — John Ezekowitz (Editor’s note: This article was published before the Lakers announcement on Friday that Steve Nash would not play this season because of a back injury.)As Kobe Bryant returns from the leg fracture that limited him to six games in 2013-14, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping he has one more playoff push left before he ends his illustrious career. But that’s going to be hard to do with this supporting cast. The Lakers are coming off a 27-55 season, the highest single-season loss total in franchise history. And perhaps more troubling, they received an unusually small amount of production from their future Hall of Famers, traditionally the franchise’s bread and butter.According to a wins above replacement (WAR) variant I computed based on a combination of Player Efficiency Ratings and Win Shares,2For those curious, I regressed PER and Win Shares per 48 minutes onto Real Plus-Minus (RPM); you can estimate a player’s RPM using the formula 0.15*(PER – 15) + 30.5 *(WS48 – 0.1). I then made sure the minute-weighted average of a team’s estimated RPMs scaled to the team’s efficiency differential for the season in question, and computed WAR using the same process FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver employed in this article. This statistic is useful in cases where RPM (for which data only exists going back to 2000-01) or even Statistical Plus-Minus (which extends back to 1976-77) are not available; Basketball-Reference.com computes WS and PER going all the way back to 1951-52, the first year the NBA kept track of minutes played. the Lakers have received an average contribution of 20.6 WAR per season from their Hall of Fame-bound players,3Or future Hall of Famers, as determined by Basketball-Reference’s Hall of Fame probability statistic. which places them second to the Boston Celtics’ 21.8 mark among NBA franchises since 1951-52. During the decade of the 1980s, and again in the first five seasons of the 2000s, the Lakers got more than 28 WAR per season from Hall of Famers alone. And from 2006-2013, as they won two more championships and another conference title, the Lakers received an average of 16.4 WAR from Hall of Famers per year. But last season, the Lakers’ future HOF contingent — which included Bryant (who has a 100 percent probability of making the Hall according to Basketball-Reference), Pau Gasol (61 percent) and Steve Nash (55 percent4Admittedly a lowball figure, this is an artifact of MVP awards not being factored into the Hall of Fame probability method.) — generated just 0.8 WAR, the lowest such output Los Angeles has received since 1994-95, when nary a single Hall of Famer suited up in forum blue and gold.The rueful joke about the Lakers, at least from fans of the league’s other 29 franchises, is that they consistently manage to “pick up a HOFer or two every 4 years or so when their team’s playoff performance starts to slide a little,” in the words of one Internet commenter after LA was on the verge of acquiring Dwight Howard in 2012. And it’s basically true: Shortly after George Mikan’s career wound down, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West reported for duty, to be joined later by Wilt Chamberlain. Soon came the next wave: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Magic Johnson and James Worthy, whose departures were followed within a few years by the arrivals of Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant. And four years after O’Neal left, along came Gasol. The supply of Hall of Famers rarely goes un-stocked in Laker-land.That’s why, as a rule, the Lakers don’t stay bad for long. The team has only suffered back-to-back losing seasons twice since 1961, and in each case it snapped back above .500 — and stayed there for an extended period of time — starting the very next year.The Lakers appeared to follow their classic “pick up a HOFer” formula when they eventually did snag Howard. But the cycle was, for once, broken; after a single disappointing season in LA, Howard did the unthinkable, spurning the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. Now the only future Hall of Famers in sight are the 36-year-old Bryant and 40-year-old Nash, as newcomer Carlos Boozer has but a 7 percent chance of ever making the Hall, and overhyped rookie Julius Randle will probably be lucky to be more than a bench player in the NBA.The Lakers have a history of grabbing all-time greats to plug holes, and they will have salary cap space available starting next season. But as it stands now, they’re looking at the distinct possibility of painful Hall of Famer withdrawal after Bryant retires. The franchise has essentially never had to deal with that before. — Neil Paine Anthony Davis cannot generate any more hype — there’s that much of it already. Fresh off a dominating performance at the FIBA World Cup (54 percent shooting from the floor, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game), Davis is poised to make the jump into the game’s elite.Last year, when he wasn’t on the bench with a fractured hand, Davis put together an offensive season that was nearly as good as any by a second-year power forward or center in the past 30 years. If we look at his Offensive Rating7Offensive Rating measures offensive efficiency by estimating how many points a player produces through made shots, free throws, assists and rebounds per 100 possessions. versus his Usage Rate,8Usage Rate measures how many of a team’s possessions he “uses” up — via shooting, drawing fouls or turning the ball over — when he is on the floor. Davis produced a season matched only by Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson, scoring at an efficient rate while using more than 25 percent of his team’s possessions.Of course, not all of Davis’s stats were world-beating last season. According to Evan Zamir’s invaluable NBA WOWY9With Or Without You. database, New Orleans allowed as many points per possession (1.10) when Davis was on the court as when he was not. And despite his 6.7 percent block rate (most among players who played more than 2,000 minutes), Pelicans opponents took a larger percentage of their shots at the basket and made a larger percentage when Davis was on the floor.While Davis definitely has improvements to make defensively (see Zach Lowe’s excellent feature for details), New Orleans had other defensive shortcomings last season. Which is why the Pelicans signed Omer Asik. Asik was one of the best defensive centers in the league according to Real Plus-Minus,10Real Plus-Minus is the latest version of Adjusted Plus-Minus, a measure of a team’s point differential when a player is on the court vs. off it. Read more about it here. and should provide Davis with a legitimate defensive backcourt partner who might be able to complement his athleticism and uncanny ability to block shots.As long as Davis can remain healthy, his performance at the World Cup and the improvement of his supporting cast both point toward his ascension into the top five or 10 players in the NBA. — John Ezekowitz The Kings began their offseason with a move that confused many in the NBA, especially those who do analytics. In July, they decided against re-signing excellent young point guard Isaiah Thomas, and replaced him with Darren Collison.Last season, Thomas scored 20 points per game with a 57 percent True Shooting Percentage, the 10th-best mark for a point guard in the NBA, while maintaining a 35 percent assist rate and shooting 52 percent on drives to the basket. Collison is an effective shooter, but he is inferior to Thomas in almost every other statistical category. He had one of the worst assist rates (22 percent) for a point guard who played more than 2,000 minutes last season, turned the ball over more frequently than Thomas, and had one of the worst Defensive Real Plus-Minus marks (-3.23) for a point guard. What makes the move even more puzzling is that the Kings didn’t save that much salary: only $1.5 million per year.The Kings’ roster turnover has been dramatic since the beginning of last season (when 23 different players suited up for the Kings). Both point guards, Collison and presumed backup Ramon Sessions, are new to the team this year, as is rookie shooting guard Nik Stauskas.They’ll have to mix in with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, who are coming off successful World Cup campaigns for the U.S. national team. It’s a defining season for both players, as Cousins is entering what should be his prime and Gay is in a contract year at the end of a much-maligned max deal. Both of them love to shoot — Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the only pair of teammates who can match the duo’s elevated Usage Rates (32.7 percent for Cousins, 27.6 percent for Gay) — and it’s likely their Usage Rates will climb with Collison running the point instead of Thomas.With DeMarcus Cousins, anything is possible, but given the depth and quality of the Western Conference, any realistic hopes of the Kings contending likely left with Thomas. — John Ezekowitz Last year was the second time Jeff Hornacek made history as an overachiever for the Suns.The first came in 1989. As the third leading scorer, at 13.5 points per game, on that year’s team, he was a key factor in its historic run. Even though the Suns were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals that season, they were the greatest overachievers — defined as actual wins relative to what we would expect before the season14These backward-looking retro-predictions use the Statistical Plus-Minus (SPM) metric devised by FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine, and the SPM projection system devised by FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver. They allow for estimates of how good a team “should have been” in a given season (based on how its players performed in preceding seasons) going back to 1979-80. — of any team going back to 1980. The 1989 team was expected to only win about 33 games, and finished a whooping 26 games better than expected.Last year, Hornacek’s Suns joined Hornacek’s Suns. Except this time he was their coach. In his first year as a head coach, he made the 2013-14 Suns the 13th-greatest overachieving team of all time, earning 48 wins instead of the projected 32.Those 16 wins over expectation were by far the best of any team last year.Last year’s Suns team was solid offensively. While fast-paced and led by speedy guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, it ranked eighth in relative pace. Fast, but not like Steve Nash’s “:07 Seconds Or Less” Suns. The 2014 Suns’ relative offensive rating was eighth. For overall efficiency, they were 10th.Offense aside, however, they were just average, ranking 15th in relative defense. We project the Suns to win 44 games this season, good for 14th in the league and ninth in the Western Conference, so just shy of the playoffs. To make it to the postseason, the Suns will have to overachieve again. — Andrew Flowers After an offseason of homecoming parties, failed coups and depressing injuries, the NBA is back. To celebrate, we took each player’s projected Real Plus-Minus and wins above replacement, calculated a total for each team, and ran 10,000 simulations of the NBA schedule to divine likely records and championship odds.1The rosters we used came from ESPN.com’s depth charts, and were current as of Monday, Oct. 20. We’ve split the teams into the lower and upper tiers in each conference; these are the seven teams that likely won’t make the playoffs from the West. So ease into your red wine bath (hi, Amar’e) and let us tell you the stats, x-factors or regressions that offer a preview of the coming season. As Gordon Hayward went, so went the Jazz. And last year, neither went far. Heading into restricted free agency, Hayward finished last season with a career-low true shooting percentage of 52.0 percent and an ugly career-low 3-point percentage of 30.4 percent. The Jazz were 25-57.Given those shooting struggles, it may seem strange that the Charlotte Hornets signed Hayward to a max offer sheet this summer, and that the Utah Jazz matched that contract, retaining him. But Hayward has a diverse array of offensive skills and, perhaps more importantly for a Jazz team without many standout players, he’s a workhorse.The full nature of Hayward’s offensive responsibilities are probably best shown by Seth Partnow’s True Usage statistics, which measure total offensive involvement, including a player’s assists and potential assists (as calculated by SportVU Player Tracking statistics). True Usage can be read as the percentage of a team’s offensive possessions involving a player when he takes a shot, gets fouled, turns the ball over or creates a scoring opportunity for a teammate.Hayward’s True Usage was 42.33 percent last season, 11th among all wing players and roughly the same as Carmelo Anthony’s. He also had an Assist Usage5Assist Usage measures the percentage of possessions a player is on the floor in which he creates a scoring chance for a teammate. of 18.38. That number was fourth among all wing players, and roughly the same as LeBron James’s. Even though Hayward didn’t shoot well, the Jazz’s offense was better by 3.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.From the Jazz’s perspective, the key to getting value from Hayward’s massive new contract, and getting the most out of his versatility on the court this season, is asking him to do less. Alec Burks and Trey Burke will both have another year of experience, and explosive rookie Dante Exum will probably have the ball in his hands plenty. Hayward’s shooting percentages should climb this season as he works slightly more off the ball, finding shots by spotting up, cutting to the basket or driving against a defense that has already shifted.It may seem counterintuitive for a team to ask its best and highest-paid player to take on a smaller offensive role, but in the Jazz’s case it may be the answer to many of the team’s offensive challenges. — Ian Levy With Kevin Love gone, the Minnesota Timberwolves are starting over after trading away a homegrown superstar. (Sound familiar?) Rather than sit through another season of rampant Love speculation,11Love could have opted out of his contract after the 2014-15 season, opening up the very real possibility that he would leave Minnesota as a free agent with no compensation at all. Timberwolves coach/general manager Flip Saunders decided to move on with whomever he could get for Love — a haul that included the No. 1 overall picks from each of the past two NBA drafts (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett), plus under-appreciated veteran Thaddeus Young.Minnesota preemptively unloaded Love in part because it was unable to convince him that his teammates were good enough to win. And certainly the Timberwolves didn’t do enough winning to even make the postseason a year ago, finishing just 40-42 in what was supposed to be a strong playoff push for the team.12Although they did increase their win total for the fourth consecutive season. Amid the rubble of another frustrating season — which came in spite of Love’s ongoing statistical brilliance — the weak-supporting-cast argument was tough to overcome.But the 2013-14 Timberwolves were a better team than their wins and losses indicated. Their Pythagorean record — i.e., the record we would have predicted them to have based on their point differential — was 48-34, good for seventh in the Western Conference. After adjusting their average margin of victory for strength of schedule, Minnesota was the ninth-best team in the NBA last season.That would have shown up in the standings if not for Minnesota’s dismal record in close games, which led to the seventh-most negative disparity between actual and Pythagorean wins of any team since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger. And as much as we extol the virtues of execution in crunch time, these differences are, traditionally, mostly the product of bad luck.It’s very possible the Timberwolves would have enjoyed a reversal of fortune in 2014-15, had they simply kept Love.Instead, the Wolves are counting on the development of Wiggins, Bennett and 2014 No. 13 overall pick Zach LaVine to boost an existing core that includes Nikola Pekovic and FiveThirtyEight darling Ricky Rubio. But although Wiggins was regarded as a once-in-a-generation prospect in high school, his college numbers suggest a future better described by “solid starting wing” than “next LeBron.” Meanwhile, Bennett is coming off one of the worst rookie seasons in NBA history,13By any rookie, much less a No. 1 overall pick. and LaVine’s undistinguished stats at UCLA have me wondering if he’s doomed to follow in Joe Alexander’s footsteps as a workout warrior turned draft bust.Minnesota was in a difficult position with Love, and trading him to Cleveland yielded as good a package as the team was likely to get, given its relative lack of leverage. Even so, Love was a true franchise player, and Minnesota pulled the plug on his Timberwolves career a year early, leaving the team’s future in some very unproven hands. — Neil Paine
Early in the season, many people probably had tonight’s game circled on Ohio State’s schedule. Michigan State was ranked No. 2 in the initial ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll, and with the Buckeyes at No. 5, the Spartans’ visit to Columbus had the potential to be one of OSU’s biggest games of the year. Although the Buckeyes have held up their end of the bargain, MSU is 14-10 overall and 6-6 in Big Ten play. As it stands now, the Spartans are still fighting to make it into the NCAA Tournament, and a win at No. 2 OSU would go a long way to getting them there. Struggling Spartans With several returning players, coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans were widely considered to be one of the premier championship contenders in the nation. But with inconsistent play and off-the-court issues, including the dismissal of junior guard Korie Lucious, MSU is far from a title contender. The Spartans, who have won a share of the past two Big Ten regular season titles, in addition to making appearances in the past two Final Fours, got off to a rough start to their non-conference schedule, which included losses to Connecticut, Duke, Syracuse and Texas — all of whom are ranked in the Top 25 of both polls. MSU’s woes carried into its Big Ten schedule, with the Spartans dropping games to Penn State, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin. Despite MSU’s struggles, OSU senior guard Jon Diebler is expecting to get the Spartans’ best shot tonight. Regardless of MSU’s struggles, however, senior guard Jon Diebler said OSU isn’t taking the game against the Spartans lightly. “Michigan State is a very good basketball team,” Diebler said. “I know they’ve probably received a lot of crap for how they were ranked early on and how they’re doing now, but they’ve got great players on their team and a great coach.” Izzo, the coach whom Diebler and others spoke highly of, is a reason people aren’t quick to count MSU out. Senior guard Kalin Lucas is a former Big Ten Player of the Year. That talent and experience make the Spartans dangerous despite their less-than-stellar record, OSU coach Thad Matta said. “You just look at what these guys on this team have accomplished in their time there; I think they’re a great basketball team, I really do,” Matta said. “You look at coach Izzo and, I mean, he’s been in the league longer than anybody, and his record speaks for itself. You know, I’m glad we only play them once this year.” Coming off a loss After starting the season with 24 straight wins, OSU is now forced to recover and play with a losing streak on the line for the first time all season. Though there is hardly any shame in losing at Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3 Big Ten), the Buckeyes are no longer No. 1 in the country and, perhaps, have something to prove for the first time in several weeks. Junior guard William Buford said his team has recovered from the defeat, but it hasn’t forgotten it. “I think everybody is a little bit more focused after we lost,” Buford said. “Nobody on the team likes to lose, so I think we’re more focused in.” Matta said although a loss obviously wasn’t what he had planned, he expects his team to be just fine moving forward. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first loss of my career,” he said. “You have to pick yourself up, and we have another really good basketball team coming in here tomorrow night, so we have to get ourselves ready to go. “My father told me a long time ago, ‘If you die with every loss and go crazy with every win, it’s going to be a rough life in coaching, so you just sort of live with it and get these guys ready to go.’” Big Ten title race With six games remaining in the regular season, the Buckeyes sit atop the conference standings. Despite the loss on Saturday, OSU is still two games ahead of Wisconsin and Purdue (20-5, 9-3 Big Ten). The Buckeyes say they haven’t lost sight of their goal, and tonight’s game against the Spartans is an important step toward achieving it. “This is another game, and we’re trying to win the Big Ten,” Diebler said. “Our mindset hasn’t changed.” With the dreams of an undefeated season gone, Diebler said his team’s sights are set, and have been set all season, squarely on a conference championship. “We didn’t come here, into this season, to go undefeated,” he said. “Obviously it would have been nice, but we’re still two games up on second place in the Big Ten and that’s our first goal, to win the Big Ten. Yes, we lost. Yes, it’s not acceptable to lose, but it’s not the end of the world. We still have six more games left and we’re sitting in a pretty good position right now.” The Buckeyes’ and Spartans’ first and only meeting of the season is scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. Ben Axelrod contributed to this story.