At 24, former Georgia Bulldog star football player Asher Allen, perhaps visualizing health concerns in the future, alerted Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier that he’s retiring.Allen, a three-year defensive back with the Vikings, has yet to say why he is quitting his profession, but he did suffer concussions in back-to-back seasons. With Junior Seau’s recent suicide and Dave Duerson’s and others — all because of brain injuries from playing football, it makes sense that Asher would give retiring as an option.But to do it at such a young age is surprising. Frazier said, “He’ll talk about it more at some point. But he explained to me that this was something he wanted to do. He had given it a lot of thought and that’s what he wanted to do.“I didn’t see that coming. But everybody has to make decisions that are the best for their family.”Allen became a starter last season after injuries hit the Vikings. He played in 12 games and started nine. The 2009 third-round draft choice added depth to the secondary.
The Steph Curry Pull-Up Vigil has been going on for weeks now.Curry is the pagan god of long-range pull-ups, a shot that doesn’t seem to have a place in a league obsessed with efficiency. But over the last three seasons, Curry has made it work anyway, leading the league in pull-up threes — taken and made — and hitting them about 40 percent of the time. But this season he got off to a slow start, making 21.4 percent of his pull-up threes in December, and today he’s sitting at 33.3 percent, just a hair below Russell Westbrook’s mark. Curry’s swoon is hard to explain, but he’s shooting 43.3 percent in his last 10 games and 48.5 in his last five. Smart money says he’ll be just fine.Glance at that pull-up leaderboard, though, and you’ll notice that Curry’s seat hasn’t been vacated, it’s been overtaken. Where just a few years ago Curry was the unrivaled king of pumping efficient points out of a traditionally inefficient well, today an armful of players are doing convincing Steph impersonations off the bounce.The logic against the pull-up three is simple: It’s far, far easier to shoot a spot-up jumper than it is to shoot off the dribble, and it’s far, far easier to find an open look by moving without the ball than it is while holding the ball. This is why most modern offenses are built to work the ball around to players in motion off the ball, looking for an open catch-and-shoot three, preferably from the corner. If the goal of an offense is to seek the most efficient shots, and the best offenses are chasing spot-up threes, then the alternative is clearly less than ideal.The argument in favor of the shot is somehow even simpler: If it goes in, it’s unstoppable. For a player with a certain set of skills, it’s a shot that’s both always available and always open.For the last three seasons, Curry has been unstoppable. For all the intricacies and nuance built into the Warriors’ offense, the single most unguardable piece of it was always Curry pulling up from 30 feet or sliding around a ball screen and flicking up a jumper. Fans, announcers and coaches all learned to recite the Steph Curry mantra: That’s a bad shot if anyone else takes it. Except, increasingly, it isn’t.This season, 26 players are taking at least two pull-up threes per game, up from 17 in 2013-14 and 21 last season. Of the guys taking at least two per game this season, 12 are hitting at least 36 percent (the league average for all threes), up from five in ’13-14. Kemba Walker is taking 4.5 per game and hitting 37.3 percent; Kyle Lowry is taking 4.1 per game and hitting 41.5; James Harden is making less than 32 percent of his, but he’s taking 6.4 a game, tied for the most in the four years the NBA has kept track of pull-ups. We can’t write off this wave of Steph-like gunners who have emerged as mere early-season noise this deep into the schedule. These players aren’t just taking Curry’s signature shots — they’re making a good number of them as well. And that says something about the way teams are approaching modern offense.Not many players can approximate the totality of Steph Curry, but they can emulate him piecemeal. The Rockets, for instance, are shooting from the parking lot this year, distorting the basic shapes of NBA defenses. And while not many teams can duplicate the ball movement of Houston or Cleveland — movement that sets up all those open threes — a good number of them have a guy who can shake his man and rise up for a three. In a league dominated by the long ball, teams seem to be coming around to the idea that sometimes one player can make his own shot, especially if the guy can hit it regularly.The shift in the league’s approach is noticeable at the team level as much as at the player level. In 2013-14, teams averaged 5.1 pull-up threes per game; by last season, that had climbed to 5.9 per game, and this season we’re up at 6.6. A shot and a half per game doesn’t sound like a lot, but that represents an increase of about 30 percent. For context, compare that to what’s happened during the league’s “scoring explosion” — that has come with just a 25 percent rise in overall 3-point attempts over the same four seasons. As teams try to cram ever more threes into each game, a little revolution within the revolution is changing the ways that these shots are created. Hero ball is allowed back on the court, so long as it’s at the 3-point line.This spike in pull-ups isn’t just about the NBA’s faster, rip-and-run style of play these days. When I looked at numbers for the traditional image of a pull-up three — a point guard dribbling the leather off of the ball 30 feet from the rim for ages, only to pull up from deep without ever sniffing the paint — I still saw an uptick in volume and performance. Eleven players are taking at least one three per game on plays where they took seven or more dribbles before the shot (that’s the proxy we’re using for half-court, rather than transition, shots). Six of them are shooting at least 40 percent. Back in 2013-14, those numbers were seven and three.Because the NBA only has reliable data on pull-ups for a few seasons, it’s tough to say how much of this comes down to luck from year to year, like a player’s BABIP in baseball. Walker went from shooting 31.9, 25.6, and 32.2 percent on pull-up threes in years past to 37.3 so far this season; Lowry was a mid-30s guy until this season, when he’s jumped up to 41.5 percent; Kyrie Irving has consistently been in the high 30s to low 40s, except last season, when he slumped badly to 29.1. The individual players peaking from season to season can and likely will shift around. But even with a revolving-door cast, the trend can live on. If it does, it might just give the 3-point revolution a little more flavor.Whether it’s the razzle-dazzle of Curry’s Shammgod or Kemba’s UTEP two-step, or Westbrook hitting the handbrake and going from top speed to perfectly perpendicular in one bounce, or LeBron and Harden casually walking into an unblockable shot, the pull-up done right is a beautiful thing. And if its most proficient practitioners have reached a point where we can reclaim it from the analytics-say-it’s-bad graveyard, perhaps NBA fans won’t be so quick to mourn the next time Steph Curry has a bad December.
When coach Jim Tressel sat down quarterback Terrelle Pryor the week before the Rose Bowl Game and told him that the plan was to throw the ball, Pryor wasn’t the only one who was excited at the prospect of a game in the air.Junior Dane Sanzenbacher and sophomore DeVier Posey, Pryor’s leading receivers, were in for a big game as well.“I was very excited when Tressel said that we were coming to wing it,” Pryor said. “We knew what we could do.”The offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl, Pryor was complimentary of his teammates, especially his receivers.Pryor, who set a career high with 37 pass attempts, said he wouldn’t be able to do anything without “DeVier laying out for catches and catching the ball and Dane and the linemen just sweating, fighting,” he said.Sanzenbacher said that even though the team has focused on its running game in recent matches, “when you get the passing game started and when you get that chemistry going, it helps out,” he said.Sanzenbacher, whose previous record for receptions was against Toledo on Sept. 19 with five, led OSU in catches against Oregon while Posey led in yardage. Sanzenbacher had nine receptions for 64 yards and Posey had 101 yards on eight catches with one touchdown.Posey’s touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter sealed the Buckeye victory, putting OSU up 26 to 17.Pryor was “put it in a spot where all [the Oregon defender] could do was just hope I dropped it like before. He was all money all night,” Posey said.The touchdown pass was from 17 yards out and was a play the two had been working on for a while, Pryor said. Pryor threw to Posey in the back left corner of the end zone. Posey caught the ball just before stepping out of bounds. After the play was reviewed, it was confirmed that he had indeed made the catch.“I finally got it after watching all the tapes and film from Peyton Manning and stuff and trying to get the footwork and getting the ball out,” Pryor said. “DeVier made a great catch.”Sanzenbacher had several receptions in key drives to help the Buckeyes, who edged Oregon for possession with 42 minutes to 18 minutes. He snatched three first downs for OSU.Sanzenbacher’s game-long reception came just before the half and was an 18-yard advance. The second-down conversion set up Aaron Pettrey’s 45-yard field goal that put the Buckeyes up 16-10 heading into the half.He also caught an 11-yard pass late in the fourth quarter on a third-down conversion leading to Posey’s touchdown.Pryor was 23 for 37 with 266 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Ricky Crawford, from Lewis Center, Ohio, followed his dream and joined the Ohio State football team as a walk-on wide receiver during spring drills in 2008. “To come to Ohio State has been my dream since I can remember,” Crawford said. “I never wanted to go to a different school.” Despite only being on scout team, Crawford worked hard helping OSU prepare for upcoming opponents. In his first two seasons at OSU, Crawford received the scout team workhorse award five times. It should also be noted that Crawford has never missed a practice. Going into his senior year in 2010, Crawford changed his position to tight end adding a little bulk to his 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound frame. “I had to work hard to gain the weight,” Crawford said. “I’m helping with being a receiver/tight end, just going out there doing whatever I can do to help the team.” Crawford’s hard work, dedication and willingness to help the team have finally paid off. He was awarded a scholarship this season and has earned playing time in five games. “It’s a little different. I really haven’t noticed it too much other than the fact that I can stay after practice and eat,” Crawford said. After the season is over, Crawford said he wants to work out for the OSU pro day. However, if professional football falls through for Crawford, he has a backup plan. “I want to go back to school and get a degree in education and maybe coach high school football,” Crawford said. “I just know I want to stay close to sports.”
Two Ohio State football players are no longer with the team. Sophomore linebacker Conner Crowell and freshman offensive lineman Joey O’Connor “will no longer play football for the Buckeyes,” according to OSU athletics news release Wednesday. Crowell, who has had two surgeries to repair damage suffered from a lower-leg injury, will not be medically cleared by the team’s medical staff and O’Connor has requested a transfer to be closer to home, per the release. Crowell came to OSU as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals.com before sitting out the 2011 season as a redshirt. This past season, Crowell totaled one tackle in the three games he played in. A native of Waldorf, Md., Crowell amassed 212 tackles, nine sacks and five interceptions in his junior and senior seasons at North Point High School. O’Connor came to Columbus as a four-star prospect, according to Rivals.com before sitting 2012 as a redshirt.
Former Ohio State women’s basketball coach Jim Foster was terminated from his post without cause. In a comment to The Lantern, OSU athletics director for legal affairs Julie Vannatta confirmed the nature of Foster’s departure from the university, which previously had not been made clear. The former Buckeyes coach of 11 years was fired and will now receive installment payments that could amount to as much as $350,000. “Coach Foster has been terminated without cause. Under his employment contract, he is entitled to receive $350,000 in installment payments beginning on June 30, 2013, and concluding by April 30, 2014,” Vannatta told The Lantern. “Under his employment contract, he is required to make reasonable and diligent efforts to find a comparable employment position. If he chooses to retire from OPERS, rather than obtaining a new job, any retirement benefits he receives will be used to off-set the University’s obligation to pay him $350,000.” A Tuesday morning meeting with OSU athletic director Gene Smith and executive associate athletic director Miechelle Willis resulted in a split between OSU and Foster, a four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Award winner. During his time as coach at the Schottenstein Center, the Cheltenham, Pa., native amassed a 279-82 record and a .772 winning percentage. The postseason was not kind to Foster, however – he posted a 10-10 record in NCAA Tournament play while at OSU and his Buckeyes teams were eliminated in either the first of second rounds of the Tournament during seven of 10 postseason runs. A lack of sustained postseason success in the NCAA Tournament factored into the decision, Willis said. “We strive to be nationally competitive. We believe that we have everything in place here to be nationally competitive. We believe that means that we should be playing deep into (the) postseason,” Willis said. “We expect to be in the Final Four on occasion, and definitely the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight are expectations that we have.” OSU advanced as far as the Sweet 16-round three times (2004-05, 2008-09 and 2010-11), but no further. A second-round exit in the Big Ten Tournament marked the end of the Buckeyes’ 2012-13 season. After posting an 18-13 mark this year, OSU did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The team then decided it would not accept a bid from the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Had OSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament this season and been eliminated in the early rounds of the competition, Willis said on Tuesday that the end of Foster’s career at OSU was still possible. Willis said on Tuesday that OSU will immediately begin a national search for its next coach. The search will include coaches that are currently coaching in the postseason. “Our search will unfold as the postseason unfolds,” said Willis, who added that OSU would not reach out to coaches at other universities until their respective team’s postseason run was over.
(Left) Former Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson is reported to be coming to OSU as a defensive coach. Courtesy of The Daily CollegiateArkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash is reported to be coming to OSU as a defensive coach. Courtesy of Arkansas Athletic Department It has been a week since Ohio State formally announced a new addition to football coach Urban Meyer’s coaching staff, and another is imminent, according to multiple reports, social media accounts and the school’s own directory.OSU officially named assistant head coach and defensive line coach Larry Johnson to Meyer’s staff Jan. 15. But the other new staff member, co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Chris Ash, has yet to be announced by the school as a coach.Aside from when Ash will officially join Johnson as a member of the Buckeyes coaching staff is how much each new coach will be paid.An OSU spokesman told The Lantern in a series of emails Tuesday that the Buckeyes have “only announced Larry Johnson as a member of the coaching staff.”The spokesman also said the Department of Human Resources has yet to inform him of Johnson’s salary following multiple email requests by The Lantern beginning Jan. 15.The Lantern has been requesting information on both of the new coaches’ salaries since Johnson was announced by the school as a coach last week. The Lantern staff requests for the salaries of new OSU employees after their hiring and is typically provided the information within 24 to 48 hours of submitting the request.Though he has not yet officially been named an OSU coach, Ash has since changed the bio for his personal Twitter account, @CoachChrisAsh, to reflect his reported new position.“Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach for The Ohio State University,” the bio reads, also including a URL address to the football page on the OSU athletic website, where he has yet to be listed.Ash is also listed on OSU’s public directory Find People as “Assistant Coach – Major Sports.” Ash’s working title is listed as “Assistant Coach – Football” in the directory.Johnson, who is set to replace former OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel after Vrabel announced his intentions to join the NFL’s Houston Texans via Twitter Jan. 9, is known for his ability to recruit and mentor defensive linemen who eventually make the jump to the NFL. Meyer called Johnson an “outstanding addition” to the Buckeye coaching staff and said he has “great respect for (Johnson) as a family man, as a coach and mentor of young men and as a recruiter,” according to an OSU press release.It appears Johnson has already been hot on the recruiting trail since being announced as a coach at OSU. According to his personal Twitter account, @OSUrushmen1, Johnson’s first day working for the Buckeyes was Jan. 16.“Great first day as a buckeye on the road ! Osurushmen1,” a tweet from the account read. Johnson, along with Meyer, was also in a photo posted to the social media site by OSU defensive line commit Dylan Thompson, @BRONCODE59, posted Monday evening.According to the USA TODAY coaches database, Ash made a base salary of $550,000 this past season at Arkansas, including a “max bonus” of $45,833. Johnson’s salary while he was at Penn State was not available on the database, and the school did not respond to multiple requests by The Lantern for the figure.In his second and final year at OSU, Ash’s predecessor, Everett Withers — who was announced as the new head football coach at James Madison University Dec. 20 — earned $585,000. Vrabel made $291,004.Both coaches look to strengthen a defensive unit that has gone south since Meyer took over following the 2011 season, a year where the Buckeyes finished with the nation’s 19th best defense. The unit finished 34th in 2012 and 47th overall this past year.OSU is set to kick off the 2014-15 season Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Carey Fagan was named the Assistant Athletics Director for Ohio State on May 8. Credit: Jay LaPrete | Courtesy of OSU AthleticsOhio State women’s gymnastics coach Carey Fagan is moving on from coaching and will become OSU’s Assistant Athletics Director for Sport Administration and Student-Athlete Well-Being, the university announced on Monday.In her new role, Fagan will be assigned sports to oversee, act as a mentor for student-athletes and coaches and provide guidance and education while maintaining awareness of team cultures and dynamics, the press release said.“Although it was a difficult decision to leave coaching, this is truly an opportunity of a lifetime and I am extremely excited and grateful to be a part of (OSU Senior Vice President and Athletics Director) Gene (Smith)’s vision for our department,” Fagan said in a statement.Fagan spent 13 years coaching the women’s gymnastics team and was named Big Ten coach of the year twice in her tenure. In 2012, OSU reached the NCAA National Championships for the first time in 23 years and she was named NACGC/W National Coach of the Year. In Fagan’s final season as coach, OSU placed fifth at the NCAA Champaign Regional.She is replacing former assistant athletics director Martin Jarmond who was hired as Boston College’s Director of Athletics last month.“She has built this program into a constant contender in the Big Ten and the NCAA overall,” said OSU Associate Athletics Director for Sport Administration Shaun Richard in a statement. “She is leaving the program in great shape for the next leader.”
The Ohio State coaching staff wore Coach To Cure MD patches during the Ohio State-Rutgers game on Sep. 30. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorAmerican Football Coaches Association coaches across the nation participate in Coach to Cure MD during one college football game per season. Last Saturday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes made an effort to raise awareness and tackle muscular dystrophy. The coaching staff wore patches during its game at Rutgers to spread awareness of MD. The team also raised over $10,000 collectively to fight the disease. MD is close to the heart of the football team as one of its biggest fan, Jacob Jarvis, is a person with the disease. Jarvis has been an honorary captain for the team, and scored the winning touchdown at the spring game in April.“When he comes into a room, it gives you a little perspective on your life,” redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett said in a statement. “He brightens up everybody each and every time he comes around us. He is a Buckeye and just a kid that loves Ohio State and the people around Ohio State.”Jarvis first met Meyer in 2013, and the Buckeyes have been raising money to help Jarvis win his battle since that season.To donate to help those suffering from MD, fans can visit CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting CURE to 50555 to make a $10 donation.
Officers said a “significant number of bladed weapons”, many of them ceremonial kirpans, were later recovered from the scene after the siege which ended without injury. The protesters arrived at the temple in the early morningCredit:SWNS Armed police surrounded a Sikh temple after scores of men, some carrying swords, stormed the building reportedly in an attempt to disrupt an interfaith wedding.Fifty-five people were arrested for aggravated trespass following an eight-hour siege at the Gurdwara Sahib in Leamington Spa, which has a history of tensions over mixed marriages.A group calling itself Sikh Youth Birmingham claimed responsibility for the raid, which it said was a peaceful protest undertaken to “uphold the sanctity” of the traditional marriage ceremony. Richard Barns, a witness, said he had earlier seen 10 members of the group standing at the door to the building with their arms folded. “It was quite intimidating,” he said. “It looked like they were securing the door.” The Sikh Council has argued that the marriage ceremony, known as Anand Karak, should be reserved only for Sikhs, but it has also called for a halt to protest at mixed weddings.Superintendent David Gardner, of Warwickshire Police, said: “Over the coming days we will be working with the local Sikh community to address some of the ongoing issues that have culminated in today’s events.” Police officers attended the sceneCredit: KAMERON SIDHU/CATERS NEWS Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Police, who cordoned off a wide area outside the temple, were seen taking pictures of the arrested men on mobile phones before loading them onto a coach.Officers described the incident, which lasted from about 6.45am to 2pm on Sunday, as a culmination of “ongoing issues”.In July, protesters attempted to disrupt another mixed marriage at the temple.Jatinder Singh Birdi, a former treasurer at the temple, said: “There have been tensions that have been going on for a couple of years with some people objecting to mixed marriages in taking place in the gurdwara.“The general consensus is people are respectful of mixed marriages if the traditions are respected. Nothing has happened on this level before.” The Gurdwara Sahib committee has faced criticism in the Sikh community in recent days over proposals to construct a new building, described by some opponents as a “party venue”, next to the temple. Nothing has happened on this level before.Jatinder Singh Birdi, former temple treasurer A Sikh bride was understood to have been scheduled to marry a Hindu groom at the venue later in the day.The group inside the temple posted a video online of men clad in black with orange bandanas, chanting traditional Sikh verses, as well as a video showing an encounter with two armed policemen who went in to try to talk to the men.One of the men in the first video was waving a placard that read “Stop violating Sikh principles for money”. Armed police at the temple