Hot Takedown More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (Dec. 15, 2015), we look at whether the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team will sweep every team before it in this year’s NCAA season. With FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver, we explore the rise of Kristaps Porzingis and whether we can compare him to Dirk Nowitzki. Plus, we try and understand a metric that’s earning college football coaches hundreds of thousands of dollars. And a Significant Digit on Odell Beckham Jr.’s almost-record-breaking number of touchdown receptions.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Links to what we discussed are here:Benjamin Morris on why last season’s Huskies were so good.Nick Martin on the metric earning college football coaches millions.Odell Beckham Jr.’s magic touchdown caught on pylon camera. If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.
Is Manti Te’o gay?That is the question, according to reports, that NFL executives want answered before the upcoming NFL draft. Because of the culture of NFL locker rooms, that could be a key issue in Te’o’s NFL stock.“Here’s the elephant in the room for the teams, and it shouldn’t matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL,” Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports said on the Dan Patrick Show. “Teams want to know whether Manti Te’o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it’s a different world. It shouldn’t be that way.”The concern about Te’o’s sexuality has been rampant since news broke that he engaged in a two-year online relationship with a man masquerading as a woman. But here’s the rub: It is doubtful teams asked Te’o, who interviewed with 20 teams, directly about his sexual orientation. Amazingly, a few years ago, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was asked by Miami Dolphins’ general manager Jeff Ireland if his mother was a prostitute, creating a major backlash.“I don’t think you can ask (Te’o) that question — because of the Dez Bryant question a few years ago,” Florio said. “If you go Katie Couric on Manti Te’o, it’s going to come out that some team, some GM, some coach asked Manti Te’o if he’s gay. Then you’ll have to deal with all the distraction and all the stuff that flows after that.”Patrick, formerly of ESPN, asked Florio: “You’re telling me that you’re hearing from teams who want to know this, but how do you ask it? Are they trying to find a finesse way to ask that question, or are they going to do investigative work on finding out if Manti Te’o is gay?”Florio answered: “It’s been described to me as the proverbial elephant in the room, and I don’t think anyone knows how to solve this dilemma yet. It’s just that they want to know what they’re getting. They want to know what issues they may be dealing with down the road. We just assumed that at some point there would be an openly gay player in an NFL locker room, and the team would have to work with the realities and make sure that everything’s fine.“Now you have a situation where you have a guy who was in a relationship with a fake girl who ended up being a real man, and the man has said to Dr. Phil that he was romantically in love with Manti Te’o, it just raises a lot of questions that the NFL at some point is going to have to deal with.“Tony Dungy makes a great point on this. If the NFL were ready for an openly gay player, there would be an openly gay player. Nobody knows better the feel of an NFL locker room than someone who’s in it.“I’m not saying anyone would take Manti Te’o off the board if they suspected he’s gay or know he’s gay. That’s just the thing that’s out there that they want to know the answer to.”
The NBA Board of Governors granted changing the Charlotte Bobcats’ name back to the Hornets starting the 2014-15 season.The Hornets name became available after New Orleans changed their name to the Pelicans earlier this year. The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, and two years later the Bobcats joined the league as an expansion team.Commissioner David Stern mentioned that Michael Jordan, who is the owner of the Bobcat, has lobbying to get the Charlotte Hornets name back since he purchase the organization back in 2010.“We’re thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas,” Jordan said in a statement. “The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn’t be happier with the Board of Governors’ approval of the name change.“With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back!”
The wife of Val James, the first American-born Black player to play in the National Hockey League, said, “I cried for a week” after reading the first 77 pages of her husband’s new book, “Black Ice: The Val James Story.”The level of racism James endured in a 13-year career—mostly in the AHL, plus just 14 games over two seasons in the NHL—stunned Ina James, who thought he had a grasp of the scope of hatred her husband experienced.“My first question was, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ “ she said to The New York Times.When she cried as she spoke those words, James said, “This is why I didn’t tell her.”James’ book details in depth the racism he encountered in the 1980s as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. For instance, after a game in Boston in ‘82, angry fans blocked the team bus of the Sabres, who had two Black players that season. The fans pelted the bus windshield with a beer bottle into the windshield, called James a vile name and demanded he exit the bus.Angry, James headed for the door. But coach Scotty Bowman ordered him to return to his seat.A shoulder injury ended James’s career in 1988, and no one noticed, just as his entry into hockey history was not acknowledged at the time. The fact that no one seemed to notice he was gone did not bother James; he was mentally fatigued from all he put up with over his career in the AHL and NHL.“There is the only way I can explain it for people who don’t understand that feeling,” James, 57, said. “Let’s start with women. What’s the worst thing you can call a woman? Imagine having one of those words thrown at you every three seconds for 60 minutes. Now multiply that 40 road games a year.”In the book, James recounts a story in Salem, Va., in 1981 when a teenager brought a watermelon to the game to give to him.The Times interviewed Warren Skorodenski, a former Springfield, Mass., Indians goalie who spent five seasons in the N.H.L, who said he recalls some Springfield, Mass. Fans dressing in Ku Klux Klan hoods and linesmen had to spend stoppages of play to retrieve bananas thrown on the ice at James.“It was disgusting,” Skorodenski said. “To be in his shoes, I just couldn’t imagine.”As a Black person growing up playing hockey on Long Island, James was a rarity—and that’s where the racism first started. He said in his book that disgusting slurs were hurled at him when he was 13 during a youth tournament in Michigan.“When I started skating, I set out to be a hockey player, not a black hockey player,” he wrote. “However, the two concepts quickly became intertwined. And not by choice. From early on, there were some people who were determined to prove that being black and being a hockey player were mutually exclusive.”When a shoulder injury ended James’s career in 1988, he seemingly vanished. He was emotionally drained, he said. James returned to Long Island for about a year after retirement before relocating with his wife Niagara Falls, where they have lived mostly in obscurity.He said he contemplated writing a book right after he stopped playing. But he was not ready…until now.“I had to deal with it in my own mind, and pretty much forgive,” James said. “That’s the only word that comes close to it. Just to cleanse my own mind of it all, and to think.”
OSU sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed dribbles the ball against UC Santa Barbara at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Ohio State AthleticsThe Ohio State men’s soccer team knew it was heading into its toughest match of the season. As OSU stepped onto the field at College Park, a place where coach John Bluem team has never recorded a win, the Buckeyes looked to hand Maryland its first loss of the season. The Terrapins would prove to be too much to handle, as they would go on to defeat the Buckeyes 2-0 on Friday night, handing OSU its fourth straight loss.Maryland attacked early and often in the first period and was quickly rewarded for its efforts.In the 13th minute, sophomore forward Gordon Wild netted his Big Ten-leading 10th goal of the season to put the Terps ahead 1-0.Moments later, in the 19th minute, sophomore forward Sebastian Elney was able to find the back of the net from 15 yards out to extend the Terrapins lead to 2-0.The two goals would be more than enough for Maryland, holding the Buckeyes scoreless through 90 minutes. OSU has not been able to get on the scoreboard in its last two games, being held without a goal for the last 243 minutes. The last time OSU found the back of the net was in the 27th minute against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Sept. 28.A big reason for the Buckeyes’ loss was a very poor first period, in which they were outshot 11-2. They were able to outshoot Maryland 7-5 in the second period, but by that time the Terrapins had taken their foot off the gas and protected their lead.Despite the loss, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Parker Siegfried had a solid night in net. Siegfried made six saves, giving him a total of 37 on the year through 12 games.With the loss, the Scarlet and Gray fall to 3-9 on the season, with a 2-3 record in conference. The team will now return to Columbus, where they begin a two-game home stand with matches against Oakland and Indiana.
Quinn Pitcock Last week: 3-0 Overall: 9-4 Picks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oregon Justin Zwick Last week: 3-0 Overall: 11-2 Picks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oregon Zack Meisel Last week: 1-2 Overall: 6-7 Picks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Alabama, Stanford Dallas Lauderdale Last week: 3-0 Overall: 9-4 Picks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oregon James Laurinaitis Last week: 3-0 Overall: 9-4 Picks: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Alabama, Oregon Last week, Justin Zwick, James Laurinaitis, Dallas Lauderdale and Quinn Pitcock all predicted the same winners for the three games of the week. Lantern sports editor Zack Meisel opted to be different. He was the only participant to choose Arkansas over Alabama and West Virginia over LSU. Poor decision. Meisel went 1-2, while the other four completed a perfect week at 3-0. This week, it’s more of the same, as Zwick, Laurinaitis, Lauderdale and Pitcock all envision the same outcome for the four games selected. Zwick leads the way with an 11-2 mark, while Lauderdale, Laurinaitis and Pitcock sit at 9-4. THIS WEEK’S GAMES: No. 2 Ohio State @ Illinois No. 11 Wisconsin @ No. 24 Michigan State No. 7 Florida @ No. 1 Alabama No. 9 Stanford @ No. 4 Oregon
What a difference a year makes. The last meeting between Ohio State and Purdue left the Buckeyes stunned and the Boilermakers euphoric. Upset 26-18 by underdog Purdue, OSU left West Lafayette, Ind., a year ago shocked and embarrassed. At the time, the loss was devastating. One year later, it was motivating. The OSU coaching staff hung reminders of last season’s uninspiring effort this week to ensure its team didn’t forget the debacle. “You walk in the building, the hallway, locker room, weight room, anywhere you can think of it was there,” senior offensive lineman Justin Boren said. … “After we lost I think the headline was ‘Train Wreck’ or something and it just reminded us that we have to take care of business.” On Saturday, it appeared as though the coaches’ ploy worked. This year’s Buckeye squad refused to fall victim to Purdue. They were ready. Dominating their opponent in every facet of the game, the Buckeyes thrashed Purdue 49-0. “I’ve never been a part of this team where we had to come off a loss straight into a team that beat us last year,” senior captain Dane Sanzenbacher said. “We all had a lot of emotions coming into the game. Not a lot needed to be said. Everyone was ready.” Looking to avoid a repeat performance, the Buckeyes sprinted to a 42-0 halftime advantage. “It was definitely something that we remembered, and we definitely didn’t want to let that happen to us again,” safety Orhian Johnson said of last year’s loss. “We felt like we needed to go out there and just play our game and just get after them early.” OSU’s 76 yards on the ground in the first stanza alone were 10 more than the Buckeyes had in all of last year’s contest combined. Compiling almost triple the rushing yards from a year ago and outgaining the Boilermakers 489-118, the Buckeyes did everything they could to erase the unpleasant memories from a year ago. And recording nine tackles for losses while pitching its first shutout of the year, the silver bullet defense avenged its subpar performance at Purdue a year ago as well. “We try to make every game a statement game,” safety Jermale Hines said. “When you’re a Buckeye, you tend to have a lot of pressure on you because people expect you to win every game. We didn’t get it done last year but we came together as a team, as a coaching staff and fought hard.” Although the Buckeyes had extra motivation suffering their first loss of the year a week ago, quarterback Terrelle Pryor said it was the previous Purdue game that had him fired up. “I think Purdue last year was a lot more motivation than last week,” Pryor said. “I think Purdue last year really motivated us because they really kicked our butts up and down the field the whole game.” Fortunately for the Bucks, it was them doing the butt-kicking this time around.
Twelve former Ohio State athletes are ready to be cemented into Buckeye lore. The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame is set to induct most notably former Indiana coach Bob Knight and current OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel. Joining Knight and Vrabel in the honor are Ray Griffin (football) Pete Cusick (football), Joseph Gailus (football), Dick Schafrath (football), Rex Holman (wrestling) George Downes (wrestling), Jessica Davenport (women’s basketball), Louise Bond-Williams (fencing), Keturah Lofton (track and field) and former volleyball coach Jim Stone. All 12 inductees are scheduled to be officially honored Friday night in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom at the Ohio Union. The ceremony’s reception begins at 5:30 p.m. before dinner and the program at 6:30 p.m. Knight, an OSU alum and former Army, Indiana and Texas Tech coach, will be inducted with the Class of 2012 this fall as the hall of fame’s first-ever recipient of the “lifetime achievement” category. According to a released statement, the purpose of Knight’s honor is to recognize “outstanding former Buckeyes who have excelled in their careers after leaving Ohio State.” Knight amassed a record of 902-371 over the course of 41 years of coaching, While at Indiana, Knight led the Hoosiers to three national championships (1976, 1981, 1987) and 11 Big Ten titles. Perhaps most notably, Knight’s 1976 Indiana team remains the last college basketball squad to go undefeated with a record of 32-0. Vrabel, who was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and back-to-back All-American selection in 1995 and 1996, still holds the university’s career sack record (36) and career tackle for loss record (26). A native of Akron, Ohio, Vrabel played 14 years as a linebacker in the NFL. Eight of those years were spent under Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick, where Vrabel was an integral part of three Super Bowl championships in 2001, 2003, and 2004. In New England, Vrabel recorded 57 sacks, 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles, His skills for the Patriots, though, weren’t just limited to the defensive side of the ball as he scored 11 touchdowns as tight end-two of which came in two different Super Bowls for New England. The Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame was created in 1977 and has honored 261 men and 96 women so far. 108 football players have been inducted into the institution since its inception. The 12 inductees are scheduled to be recognized at halftime of the Buckeyes’ football game against California on Saturday at noon.
All week long the players and coaches of the Ohio State men’s basketball team stressed the importance of being ready for every Big Ten game. “Every game in the Big Ten is going to be a tough game,” said junior point guard Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes learned how true that statement was, the hard way, while being routed by Illinois, 74-55, on Saturday in Champaign, Ill. OSU looked flat and sloppy from the opening tip and trailed by double-digits for most of the game. In fact, the Buckeyes played so poorly that they committed nearly as many turnovers, 16, as they had made shots, 20. OSU was also outrebounded, 39-28. OSU junior forward Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 24 points, but it wasn’t enough for an OSU team that’s still searching for a second scorer to assist Thomas. Against Illinois, the rest of the Buckeyes shot a combined 28 percent from the floor for 31 points. Senior guard Brandon Paul led Illinois (14-2) in scoring with 19 points on 6-12 shooting. The Illini had four players score in double figures. OSU is now 0-3 against opponents ranked in the Associated Press top-25 poll. As it stands, OSU has been defeated by the No. 1, No. 5 and No. 11-ranked teams in the country. With the loss OSU falls to 11-3 on the season and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes play next on the road against Purdue on Jan. 8. Purdue defeated Illinois in its Big Ten opener on Jan. 2.
Senior defenseman Joe Meurer (11) tracks an opposing player during a game against Marquette Feb. 22 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. OSU won, 11-7.Credit: Brett Amadon / Lantern photographerAfter picking up its first win in almost a month, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (2-5, 1-0) welcomes No. 7 Notre Dame (3-2, 2-0) to town, a team the Buckeyes haven’t beaten since 2004.Junior defenseman Evan Mulchrone said this game provides a big opportunity for OSU to earn a quality victory as well as getting a chance to take down a team no current Buckeye has done in his career.“Right now at this point in the season we are just taking it one game at a time,” Mulchrone said. “This is a big one on our schedule. They’re not in our conference but they are a team that we haven’t beaten in years so we are trying to get the opportunity to get back at them for once in my career.”Playing without its leading scorer in junior midfielder Jesse King as well as starting goaltender Greg Dutton, OSU was able to snap a three-game skid Friday with a 10-7 win against ECAC opponent Bellarmine.Never trailing throughout the contest, the Buckeyes got big performances from sophomore attackman Carter Brown, who had five points, as well as freshman goaltender Nick Doyle, who made nine saves in his first collegiate game.OSU coach Nick Myers said the Buckeyes will need more of the same on the offensive end Tuesday if they are going to score on a Notre Dame defense yielding only 8.80 goals per game.“It’s important that we run our offenses, that we turn scoring opportunities into shots on cage, and make sure that we generate quality opportunities,” Myers said. “They’re defense is excellent. They have great goalie play, they are very well schooled, very well prepared … but I think for us, it’s executing our schemes, focusing on taking care of the ball and making sure we end up with shots not turnovers, and then doing a great job on the defensive end of making our stops.”Playing in the ACC, arguably the toughest conference in college lacrosse, Notre Dame has played four teams currently ranked in the top 20 in its first five games.However, after splitting their first four contests of the season, the Fighting Irish picked up a convincing win over No. 8 Virginia, 18-9, March 16.Leading the way for Notre Dame was sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh with four goals and six points. Only once this season has the Rockville Centre, N.Y., native been held to fewer than five points in a game.Senior defenseman Joe Meurer said OSU cannot expect to stop Kavanagh every time, but his coaches have a gameplan in place which Meurer expects will limit his chances.“We’re going to stick to our scheme,” Meurer said. “We have a really good game plan going into the game. Matt’s a great player, he’s very dynamic, but we are going to play with seven like we do every week and try to limit him as much as possible. He might get a play or two here and there, but we are going to do everything we can to limit him.”This is the first meeting between the two teams since March 2013, a 9-4 victory for Notre Dame.Game time is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.