Ocean City Tabernacle offers the Son Club throughout the school year. The public is invited to a free Family Christmas Celebration at the Ocean City Tabernacle on Thursday, Dec. 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.The evening will begin with a family dinner, followed by a special program featuring music from the ARK Preschool and Son Club After-School Program students, as well as Christmas carols for all to sing along. After the program, there will be Christmas cookies, professional family Christmas photos, face painting and more.Call 609-399-1915 or visit www.OCTabernacle.org and click on the Family Christmas Celebration banner for more information.
Inside the Mueller inquiry and the ‘deep state’ The former secretary of state details his frustrations on Iran, Israel, Russia, his revamp of the State Department, and his old boss GAZETTE: Putin famously hacked your phone in 2014 during a call with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and put out a somewhat salty transcript, hoping to embarrass you. People now look back at that incident as a sort of harbinger of what would come in 2016 with the election interference. First, do you think there is a connection and why do you think Putin had you hacked?NULAND: [New York Times reporter] David Sanger called me Patient Zero in the Russian hack-and-release strategy, and I think that’s right. When I had that phone call where we were trying to get [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych and the opposition to work together on a technical government, I obviously knew it was an open phone line. We were being transparent to the Russians about what we were doing, and the Russians had not publicly released a phone call in some 25 years. It was the beginning of a certain kind of hardball that they were playing with nonmilitary means, if you will. I had been the main interlocutor on the ground, trying to de-escalate the Maidan conflict so that the Ukrainians could find a way back to association with Europe, and obviously Russia was trying to stop that. So if they could take me off the boards by discrediting me with either the Ukrainian opposition, the Europeans, or my own government, then that would be a good win for them. But interestingly, they just ended up raising my profile and strengthening me in the conversation.GAZETTE: You were one of the people in the Obama administration to sound the alarm pretty early on about Russia’s 2016 hacking efforts. If you could go back and quarterback things, what would you recommend the U.S. do to thwart Putin?NULAND: I think the French actually had really good success in the context of [President Emmanuel] Macron’s election in deterring Putin by doing exactly what we had the option to do and didn’t do at the time, which was to go public with what they were up to, expose it, educate our news entities, educate our public. Because sunshine is the best disinfectant. It had the effect in France of virtually neutralizing any impact that the Russians were going to have. There were various things that we recommended in the middle of the campaign to be more overt about what we knew was happening, to put the evidence out, and to, how should we say, “treat the Russians in kind,” if you will — things that might have deterred them. But there were also concerns at leadership level that any activity like that would be twisted in the campaign as interference of our own in our election. And so the decision was made to wait and deal with the Russia problem after the election had happened. I think that nobody at that time anticipated that whomever was elected might choose not to pursue what the intelligence community had found out. So I think it was pretty obvious the tack that President Trump took to these things to make it about himself rather than U.S. national security. So we didn’t anticipate that we wouldn’t ever get the chance to come back to it.GAZETTE: Why is Ukraine of such intense interest to Russia, to Europe, to the U.S., and now, we’ve come to learn, lobbyist-lawyers like Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani? Tillerson’s exit interview A vivid account of the very beginnings of the FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump through the election and the special counsel’s report Related NULAND: Since 1991, when Ukraine declared its independence in the context of the Soviet Union breaking up, the Ukrainian people have tried three times to build a more democratic, more European state. And every time, that project has disintegrated either through lack of political will or through corrupt influence, including corrupting influence and money from Russia. So, this last time when Maidan happened, remember that the Ukrainian people took to the streets not because they were being denied EU membership; it was EU association. It was freedom to travel, to trade with Europe. And that was frankly too threatening for Putin to tolerate, so he made Yanukovych another offer: “Take $15 billion in loans from Russia instead.” We were always going to stand on the side of the Ukrainian people wanting their independence from Russia. I think Ukrainians at that time really thought that it shouldn’t be zero sum, that they ought to be able to have a strong relationship with Europe and a strong relationship with Russia. And in fact, there might have been advantages to Russia, since it also had free trade with Ukraine. They could’ve figured something out there, which we were trying to negotiate. When Putin decides to retaliate for that by first, biting off Crimea and then a piece of eastern Ukraine, he had violated international rules of the road since the end of World War II: You don’t change borders by force and get away with it. So that was about Ukraine, but it was also about international rules of the road and standards of behavior, and here we were thinking that we could also Europeanize Russia, but not if they’re not going to live by basic standards of good neighborly relations.GAZETTE: Is it economics that he’s worried about in Ukraine, or is it further democratization and Westernization?NULAND: A third of Ukraine speaks Russian; they have cultural and religious and historical roots in common, lots of intermarriage, families back and forth. If the Ukrainians could have a peaceful, democratic European state with a market economy and more opportunity to travel, then Russians would start demanding the same thing of Putin, and Putin wasn’t prepared to give that, so it was intrinsically existentially threatening for Putin.GAZETTE: You served as spokesperson for the State Department under Secretary [Hillary] Clinton. For people who cover foreign affairs, it’s been jarring how both Secretary [Rex] Tillerson and now, Secretary [Mike] Pompeo seem to view the press as a nuisance and don’t value the spokesperson’s role. What role should the press play in the diplomacy ecosystem?NULAND: It’s absolutely essential because without the press, the American public, the global public has no idea what you are doing in terms of your diplomatic pursuits: what you’re trying to achieve, how you’re doing it, who’s doing it with you, why it’s a better alternative than war or other options that you might have. If you know a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, what’s the point? It’s always been essential to successful diplomacy to bring the public along and frankly, to have that diplomacy stress-tested against public opinion. I think part of the problem that we have now is with bipartisanship — which always used to begin at the water’s edge, you never would see Republicans and Democrats criticizing the country once they left it. Part of the reason we don’t have that anymore is we’re not out there as a community trying to explain what we’re doing and why diplomacy is better and to bring political leaders along, bring the public along, bring the international community along. So it’s a real loss. It’s part of the great atrophying of America power that we’re not out there explaining ourselves and defending ourselves and trying to create community of common interest.This interview has been edited for clarity and condensed for length. Swirling questions about the chaos in Syria, the fears of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and why Ukraine is so essential to Russia and the West are suddenly center stage in American political life. They’re complicated issues about which most Americans know very little. But for Victoria Nuland, a senior fellow in the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, they are at the heart of her life’s work. A career ambassador, Nuland spent more than three decades in the U.S. Foreign Service as a top Russian policy expert and representative to NATO, Ukraine, and Europe during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Nuland’s leadership of U.S. support for the Maidan revolution in Ukraine made her the first high-profile victim of politically targeted phone hackings ordered by Putin in 2014. She was also part of an international coalition that included then-Vice President Joe Biden that pressed the post-Maidan Ukrainian government to root out corruption and make reforms. Nuland, who spoke at Harvard about the trans-Atlantic alliance earlier this week, sat down with the Gazette to talk about a range of hot foreign policy issues, though she declined to discuss the Trump administration and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky because of the ongoing congressional inquiry.Q&AVictoria NulandGAZETTE: What’s your view of the situation in northern Syria right now after the president, saying our presence was no longer necessary, abruptly announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops this month?NULAND: The U.S. does have a strategic interest in how things turn out in Syria, and that’s why we were so involved in ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, and so on. And it’s not simply, although very importantly, that we went in with our own forces to defeat ISIS on the ground and we need to ensure that it can’t resurge in any way, shape, or form. But it is also so that no other great power, whether Russia or Iran, which is now effectively forming a police force on the ground in towns and villages across Syria for [President Bashar al-]Assad because he can’t maintain public control without them, gains greater influence and ability to extend their geostrategic reach in Syria. I think we have neglected to explain to the American people that either Iran is going to have more control of Syria or Russia is going to have more control of Syria or both. And that means not only that the Syrian people are going to suffer and that the country is going to continue to bleed for a long, long time, but it means that our own ability to affect stability and security in the Middle East will be greatly reduced.GAZETTE: What were some of the knock-on effects of President Trump greenlighting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s incursion into Kurdish territory in Northern Syria? Are we looking at a regional realignment or is it too soon to say?NULAND: Well, the strategic tragedy of it was that when Trump made his decision, we were in the middle of a very intense negotiation with Turkey about how it could establish a buffer zone to protect its own territory without the U.S. having to leave and in a manner that would ensure that neither the Russians nor Assad nor ISIS regain that territory. And we were about halfway through those discussions. They were difficult, because those are the Kurdish homelands. And there was a question of whether Turkey and the Kurds could coexist if the U.S. was present as an honest broker. And rather than completing that in a way that would be stabilizing for Syria, that would end bloodshed rather than accelerate it and that would keep ISIS bottled up, when Erdogan said, “No, I got this,” Trump said, “Sure,” and we pulled out.I think all of it is dangerous. I think the Turkish ambitions are greater than the Kurds are going to tolerate. They want to recontrol those northern towns, and those are the homelands of these folks who helped us beat ISIS. I don’t think anybody has the capacity to keep ISIS bottled up if we are not present. And now you see the Russians volunteering to be an interpositional force, which just enhances their influence. You already see them talking to the Turks about selling them even more weapons systems. But it also takes the Russian ground reach deeper into the east of Syria, which is why the president has recalibrated now to keep some troops around the oil fields. If Russia and Assad and Iran get control of those oil fields, they’ll be able to finance all of this, and the benefit of that will not go to the Syrian people. It’ll go right into the pockets of the Kremlin and the ayatollahs and the Assad family.GAZETTE: How significant will the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi be in the fight against ISIS?NULAND: I think one of the most important things to remember is we would not have been able to achieve that without intelligence cooperation with both the Kurds and the Iraqis, which we built and nurtured and grew as a result of working together on security problems that they had, and working together against ISIS. So what happens when we withdraw from these relationships and when we’re less reliable? They have to find their own solutions, which might include accommodating ISIS or al-Qaida or whatever. So, are we going to be able to do the next one? It was obviously important to take al-Baghdadi off the battlefield. I thought we could have done it with more grace of discretion. I don’t think bragging about the details was seemly or necessary.GAZETTE: How damaging is U.S. abandonment of the Kurds to our standing in the world?NULAND: When you are an unreliable ally, then countries and leaders around the world who have bet their security by being on your team have to start hedging their bets and developing multiple relationships. And that just leads to the acceleration of the atrophying of American power and influence. So, you’re going to feel it. We’ve already felt it vis-à-vis our ability to influence Turkey’s behavior; we’re certainly going to feel it now in Iraq. Israel has been hedging for quite some time in terms of its relationship with Iran. And you see it in other aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Why should the Germans listen to us when we say, “Don’t deepen your economic and information relationship with China?” Are we offering any alternative to our way to them? No, we’re just telling them what not to do. We’re not working together on what to do. And so, they are hedging their bets vis-à-vis China, as well. “I think we have neglected to explain to the American people that either Iran is going to have more control of Syria or Russia is going to have more control of Syria or both.” On the road to impeachment? Harvard legal and political experts explore the thorny legal and political implications of trying to unseat Trump
Adria Hotel Forum (AHF), the only regional hotel-investment conference, will be held in Zagreb on February 18 and 19, at the Hilton Garden Inn. Conference participants are mostly owners, investors, board members and directors of hotel companies, consultants, bankers, lawyers and other experts.This year, the focus of the conference is on the changes that have occurred as a result of global events during 2018 and 2019. Countries such as Turkey and Greece and the countries of North Africa have returned to the tourist map, the tourist market has changed its course and it is to be expected that in the same way capital will look for locations where the return on investment will be greatest. Answers to the new situation, which means for Croatia and the region, will be given by global experts: Applications are open until Monday, February 17, and the full program and more information is available on the official conference website. Joep Peeters, Senior Vice President of Franchise and EMEA Owner Relations, Radisson Hotel GroupNicola Lichtenberg, Senior Director of Hotel Acquisition and Transactions, Arountown SAArdiana Sokoli, Member of the Management Board, Blafin GroupAlan Mantin, Executive Director for Southern European Development, HiltonMarkus Lehnert, Vice President of Development, Marriott Internatinaland many others.
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Cardiff boss Warnock furious with ref ‘experiment’ for Watford defeatby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveCardiff City boss Neil Warnock was furious after their 3-2 win over Watford.Andrew Madley officiated the game at Vicarage Road, which ended in a win for the Hornets, the young referee’s first Premier League game of the season.In fact it was only Madley’s second ever match officiating in the English top tier, a decision which left Warnock bemused.”I was disappointed in one or two things,” said Warnock.”I thought Murphy should have had a free-kick, I thought it was very similar to the one he gave on the edge of their box.”And I thought Troy Deeney was lucky not to get a card if I’m honest. Conditions were poor but once he started sliding in and the goalie was going to get it, he could have pulled his foot away.”When I’ve got Andre Marriner sat at the side of me and I’ve got a young referee who’s (refereeing) his first game of the season, I don’t understand that at all.”Whether it’s just because ‘it’s only Cardiff City and we’ll let someone have an experiment today…”
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Liberal government, which had promised to address the health care problems that dominated the spring election campaign, drew derisive opposition reviews by adding only $6.2 million in new health spending to a budget worth $10.5-billion.The majority government’s added investment Tuesday — on top of planned spending in an April 27 budget that was shelved due to the May 30 election — is a tiny fraction of the $4.2 billion annual health department budget.Finance Minister Karen Casey said the budget “builds” on the earlier document, and fulfills Liberal promises to deliver back-to-back surpluses and lower taxes.“We made some difficult, but necessary, decisions to live within our means. At the same time, government made key investments in communities across the province,” Casey said.“Nova Scotians . . . want more timely access to primary care and to family doctors. They want shorter wait times for surgeries, and they want better access to mental health services.”The budget hikes overall spending by $19-million over the April document.The extra health spending includes $2.7 million for orthopedic knee and hip surgeries, $2.0 million for mental health, $800,000 to assist people who need cancer drugs and have limited private insurance coverage, and an added $800,000 for the opioid use and overdose program.The budget also keeps the $2.4 million promised in April to support the recruitment and retention of doctors. The funding creates 10 new places in the family residency program at Dalhousie University and opens 10 new spaces a program that assists international doctors in establishing practices.Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie pulled no punches, saying he was “pissed off” by a budget that in his view failed to live up to Liberal claims that the government had heard concerns on the campaign trail about a lack of doctors and long wait times.“It’s very clear all of that was just lip service,” said Baillie. “No new money for primary health care and family doctors … when it comes time to put his money where his mouth is, the premier lets everybody down.”NDP Leader Gary Burrill was equally dismissive of the government’s fiscal efforts for a sector he says is in crisis.Over the past two years, stagnant funding and delayed spending on health facilities has accompanied stories of bursting hospital pipes, shortages of family doctors and — over the past winter — a dying patient left to languish for over six hours in the hallway of an overcrowded emergency department.“It’s a bit like they’ve brought a garden hose to a house fire,” Burrill said.“All those people that are looking for a family doctor, they’ll be looking to the budget and asking: ‘Is this going to help me with my predicament?’ Plainly it’s not.”The budget still has a $21.3-million surplus, but that’s $4.6 million lower than the original budget due to a drop in revenue from income tax and the increase in departmental spending.In dismissing the opposition’s complaints, Premier Stephen McNeil said the government had carried out its promise by adding $82 million in new spending to health, including the April figures.McNeil said voters had also sent another message during the campaign, and that’s why the government didn’t use more of its surplus for health.“Nova Scotians want us to live within our means. They want us to make the investments that reflect who they are … and we will continue to do so as we go forward.”McNeil said strategic investments in health would continue over the long term and would be reflected again in next spring’s budget.In the April budget, the health budget rose almost two per cent — and it is now consuming about four of every 10 dollars spent by the province as its population continues to be among the country’s oldest.Meanwhile, an unexpected clean-up operation on a waterfront development in Halifax is consuming $4.7 million that wasn’t in the pre-election calculations.There’s also an additional $2.5 million for the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, a joint program with Ottawa that funds research and innovation in the fish and seafood sector.The Liberals are keeping a promise to reduce taxes by an average of $160 for a half-million low- and middle-income earners. They’re doing that by increasing the basic personal exemption by up to $3,000 for taxable income up to $75,000.The change is weighted towards lower-income Nova Scotians, and will also mean 63,000 poorer Nova Scotians will no longer pay provincial income tax after the program kicks in Jan. 1, 2018.Earlier this year, the suicides of three young students in Cape Breton prompted calls for more prevention and support programs. The budget adds money for social workers, guidance counsellors and mental health clinicians.“During the last campaign, Nova Scotians said clearly that mental health was a priority for them,” said Casey in her speech. “We will hire more clinicians, put more support in underserviced areas, and cut wait times for mental health care.”The Liberals say they are still planning to spend about $6 million for new collaborative care centres — one of the measures aimed at remedying problems in primary care, and addressing the premier’s 2013 election promise to provide each citizen with access to a family doctor.The cost for the middle class tax cut in the 2017-18 budget remains at $22 million. The annual cost to the treasury will be $85 million.In addition, a previously announced tax cut on small business income will cost about $14.1 million a year.The province’s net debt is about $15 billion, which is $15,860 per person.Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
Wimbledon00.00.0 Leicester City10.20.1 CHANCES OF … TEAMACTUALEXPECTED UNDERPLAYOFF SYSTEMEXPECTED UNDERXG SIMULATIONS Manchester United137.5-5.5 West Ham United00.00.0 Newcastle00.9+0.9 SEEDTEAMMAKING SEMISMAKING FINALWINNING FINAL Tottenham Hotspur00.6+0.6 Queens Park Rangers00.00.0 Aston Villa00.4+0.4 Southampton00.1+0.1 The final weekend of the English Premier League is upon us and the league has scheduled all 10 matches simultaneously on Sunday in order to maximize excitement. The problem is that there’s not much excitement left — and there hasn’t been for awhile. Chelsea has been the runaway favorite to win the title for a few months now, and the team officially clinched a week ago. This isn’t uncommon. Even Leicester City’s shocking run to a league title last year, one of the most exciting outcomes in league history, was clinched two weeks before the end of the season. And in the 2014-15 season Chelsea clinched the title a full three weeks before their final match. Awarding the EPL trophy to the team atop the table at season’s end eliminates most of the debate about England’s best team, but it also can eliminate fun.It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine for a moment that after this weekend’s mostly meaningless matches,1 we were headed for the inaugural round of Premier League playoffs to decide the league champion. What would happen if more than a century of English soccer tradition was thrown out in favor of a shamelessly Americanized format?As an experiment, I set up a mock six-team playoff for the Premier League and forecasted the results using our SPI ratings. There are a variety of playoff formats that could be used, but six teams feels right; it’s a small enough number that teams would have to compete to get in, but big enough that it would widen the pool of potential champions. Also, to reward teams that do well during the regular season, the top two teams in the table would be awarded byes. The next four teams would be seeded and would play one other team in a home-and-home aggregate, similar to the Champions League. From there the semifinals would follow the same format. Also similar to the Champions League, the final would be played as a single match at a neutral site such as Wembley.If you applied that playoff set-up to this season’s standings, the playoffs would give us two more Manchester Derbies in the first-round and would pit Liverpool against Arsenal. Chelsea and Tottenham would be waiting to play the winners.Chelsea would still be favored to win the playoffs — their first round bye and top seed helps quite a bit — but every team would have a reasonable shot at the title. Here’s how it would look: Ipswich Town00.00.0 Arsenal01.11.4 TEAMACTUALEXPECTED UNDER PLAYOFF SYSTEMCHANGE Liverpool00.40.6 Nottingham Forest00.1+0.1 Chelsea54.4-0.6 Bolton00.00.0 Arsenal34.8+1.8 6Manchester United36146 Leeds United00.6+0.6 Impact of playoff system on league titles, 1992-93 through 2016-17 TITLES Assumes the order of the top six teams will not change during the final weekend of matches. This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes. Tottenham Hotspur00.50.3 Newcastle00.00.0 Expected titles under playoff system vs. xG simulations, 2010-11 through 2016-17 Southampton00.10.1 1Chelsea✓70%38% NUMBER OF TITLES 4Liverpool58198 5Arsenal42114 Chelsea21.51.3 Includes all teams that would have qualified for the playoffs since 1992-93. This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes.Sources: ESPN, James Curley 2Tottenham Hotspur✓5226 Manchester City22.1+0.1 3Manchester City64%3418 Everton00.2+0.2 Liverpool02.6+2.6 Norwich City00.00.0 Manchester City22.02.6 Mock 2016-17 Premier League playoff forecast Blackburn10.5-0.5 Leicester City10.2-0.8 Everton00.10.0 Chelsea’s chances of winning the league would drop from 100 percent to 38 percent, and the five other teams that have been eliminated from the title race would still have hope.I also set up playoff forecasts to see how our system might have affected the number of titles won by each Premier League club since 1992-93. Liverpool and Arsenal would likely have benefitted the most, while Manchester United likely would have won fewer than their league-leading 13 titles in that time span. Includes all teams that would have qualified for the playoffs since 2010-11.This playoff structure has six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes.Sources: ESPN, Opta Manchester United21.20.7 Playoffs, of course, inject luck into a championship but there are indications that a team still needs a significant amount of luck to win the league outright.You can see how luck infiltrates league titles by looking at teams’ goal tallies. Goals scored and conceded will get a team to the top of the standings but they aren’t necessarily the best indicator of a team’s underlying talent, nor are they the most predictive of future performance. Expected goals, a metric we use in our SPI ratings, are a better gauge of each team’s quality of play. We can also use expected goals to approximate how likely each team was to win the league based on the shots it took over the course of the entire season.2These expected goal simulations indicate that Manchester City have been unlucky not to win the title this year; if we rerun the season thousands of times, they win the league 61 percent of the time given the shots they took and conceded. Last year’s Leicester City team was fortunate to win the league according to these simulations; they only had a 9 percent chance of winning the league based on their expected goal numbers.Finally, if we look at the projected number of titles won over the past seven seasons3 based on these expected goal simulations, the number of titles each team is projected to have won is quite similar to the number of titles we expect them to have won if the league had playoffs. In other words, this implies that there may be just as much luck involved in winning the league outright as there would be in a playoff system. Players have incredibly busy schedules already with some juggling league and cup play, the Champions League and their international team responsibilities, so any playoff system probably shouldn’t add more matches to their already packed schedules. Perhaps the size of the league could be reduced by a team or two, or some regular season matchups could be a single match on neutral ground rather than home-and-away to allow for the extra playoff matches.I don’t know if playoffs are the right thing for the Premier League. I do know that I haven’t watched many matches during the second half of the season, but I’d watch these playoffs.Check out our latest soccer predictions.
2013-14AtlanticRaptors0.585 12014-15Atlantic-3.6-3.924 The worst division ‘winners’NBA division winners (or leaders for the 2018-19 season) with a win percentage of less than 0.600, since the league expanded in 2004 32005-06Northwest-3.4-3.134 92005-06Atlantic-2.3-2.382 72015-16Atlantic-2.5-2.572 72013-14Atlantic0.422 62004-05Southeast-2.4-2.646 There are also signs that this year’s Southeast might be among the worst overall divisions we’ve seen during the 30-team era. The current combined record of the Hornets, Heat, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks is just 119-159. That works out to a 0.428 combined winning percentage — worse than all but eight other divisions since the 2004-05 season. So in terms of the ability of its teams to actually win basketball games, the 2018-19 Southeast ranks among the bottom 10 percent of all divisions since the most recent league expansion. 52004-05Southeast0.417 2005-06NorthwestNuggets0.537 For the most part, divisions in the NBA have become more a formality than anything else. It’s been four years since the league last guaranteed division winners home-court advantage during their first-round playoff series, and it’s been 12 years since division winners were guaranteed a top-three seed regardless of their record.1A division winner was still guaranteed at least a No. 4 seed until the 2016 playoffs. These days, the top team in a division is not guaranteed to make the playoffs at all — the top eight teams from each conference advance to the postseason regardless of division alignment.If we’re being completely honest, it sure seems like the only real use the league has for divisions these days is scheduling.2The NBA schedule works the same way every season: Each NBA team plays each of the 15 teams from the opposite conference twice a year, the four other teams from its own division four times a year, and the 10 teams from the two remaining divisions in its conference either three or four times in a given season, with the determination being made seemingly at random, though it is in actuality largely based on arena availability. The only other benefit appears to be the occasional excuse to make fun of the lonely division winner banners that hang in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.But this season, one of the league’s six divisions really stands out — and not for a good reason. Not a single one of the teams in the Southeast is above .500, with the Charlotte Hornets sitting in first place at 27-28.No division winner has finished below .500 under the NBA’s current alignment, which was established in 2004 when the league expanded to 30 teams and split them into six divisions to accommodate the then-expansion Charlotte Bobcats. Since Charlotte re-entered the league, the worst division winners were the 2005-06 Denver Nuggets, the 2006-07 Miami Heat and the Southeast’s winner from a year ago, the 2017-18 Heat, which each finished with 44 wins and a 0.537 winning percentage.Only 14 division winners (including this year’s Hornets and Houston Rockets, who are leading their divisions) since 2004 have finished with a winning percentage south of 0.600 — otherwise known as the teams that won fewer than 50 games (or the lockout-shortened season equivalent) and still managed to win their division. 12009-10Atlantic0.385 2016-17SoutheastWizards0.598 32015-16Atlantic0.407 Source: Basketball-Reference.com 52004-05AtlanticCeltics0.549 102013-14Central0.0-2.314 12018-19SoutheastHornets0.491 2006-07SoutheastHeat0.537 Top 10 worst collective records among NBA divisions since the league expanded in 2004 82005-06Northwest0.424 92018-19Southeast0.428 The Southeast is even worse when you account for scheduleThe worst NBA divisions by Simple Rating System and point differential since the league expanded in 2004 62017-18Southeast0.420 Source: Basketball-Reference.com Despite the truly historic nature of the Southeast’s horribleness, the division is pretty much guaranteed to get at least one playoff team this season, sparing it the ignominy of being the first NBA division in history to entirely miss the postseason. The dreadful Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks will surely finish with the three worst records in the conference, which means the worst the Southeast champ can do is finish eighth in the East and earn the right to be smoked by the Bucks or Raptors in the first round of the postseason. (Even with the newly flattened lottery odds, those three awful teams also have a considerably better chance to land the No. 1 pick and the right to select Duke superstar Zion Williamson, while the Hawks, Magic and Wizards will more likely be left picking in the mid-to-late lottery, possibly dooming the Southeast to even more mediocrity in the future.)Meanwhile, only one of the Clippers, Kings and Lakers is likely to be headed to the postseason in the West, despite all three teams being projected to finish with better records than every single team in the Southeast. If the season ends with the 38-win Hornets in the playoffs and, say, the 41-win Lakers staying home, perhaps the NBA will finally decide to move to an open-seeded playoff system — with the best 16 teams making it to the dance regardless of conference alignment.Check out our latest NBA predictions. 82015-16SoutheastHeat0.585 2005-06AtlanticNets0.598 RANKSeasonDIVISIONWIN pct. 62006-07AtlanticRaptors0.573 72018-19SouthwestRockets0.582 22013-14Atlantic-2.7-3.212 102011-12AtlanticCeltics0.591 RANKSeasonDIVISIONPt Diff.SRS 102008-09Pacific0.429 112017-18NorthwestTrail Blazers0.598 22017-18SoutheastHeat0.537 42009-10Atlantic-3.0-3.066 52018-19Southeast-2.6-3.050 42005-06Atlantic0.415 22014-15Atlantic0.395 82008-09Pacific-2.3-2.428 The season isn’t over yet, though, which means there’s still time for the Southeast to get even worse. Washington just traded away Otto Porter and Markieff Morris at the deadline after its star, John Wall, suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will keep him out for at least a year. Miami, likewise, shipped away rotation player Tyler Johnson and received very little on-court help in return. The Hornets did not add Marc Gasol, as had been heavily rumored, while the Hawks are finalizing a buyout with Jeremy Lin, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and could potentially do the same with Dewayne Dedmon. The Magic added former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz but dealt away Jonathon Simmons to do it, and Fultz is more of a future asset than a present one, anyway.Accordingly, the FiveThirtyEight NBA predictions expect this division to fall off slightly: The division’s combined projected winning percentage is just 0.420, which would rank sixth-worst among the group of 10 teams listed above. Additionally, the Hornets are projected to win the division with a record of just 38-44, which would fall an incredible six wins short of the 44-win 2018 and 2007 Heat and 2006 Nuggets.What’s remarkable about the Southeast, though, is that each one of these teams has managed to post a losing record despite the opportunity to rack up wins against other Southeast teams. As a result, the win-loss records might actually undersell how bad the division really is. Consider two more reliable indicators of team quality: point differential and Basketball-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS). Point differential has been shown time and again to be more predictive of a team’s future performance than actual win-loss record, while SRS takes point differential and adjusts for strength of schedule, then scales that adjustment so the league average is 0 and every point represents one point above or below average.The 2018-19 Southeast division has the fifth-worst combined per-game point differential of the 30-team era. And when you adjust for those five teams’ relatively soft schedules, they’ve actually been outscored by 3.050 points per game, seemingly confirming this as the fifth-worst division (out of 90) since the then-Bobcats and now-Hornets came into the league. And given the aforementioned roster realities, it’s not at all difficult to see the Southeast sinking further into the depths of despair. Source: Basketball-Reference.com RANKSeasonDIVISIONWinnerWIN pct. 2014-15AtlanticRaptors0.598
The last of six Ohio State women’s lacrosse players hospitalized for a rare but potentially dangerous muscle disorder is set to be released from the hospital at noon Wednesday, Christopher Kaeding, the head team physician for OSU’s athletic department, told The Lantern in an email. OSU assistant director of athletic communication Alissa Clendenen was not sure whether the six athletes would play in the team’s next game, scheduled for Sunday, but she did say in an email, “once released, players are not expected to miss any time because of their condition.” On Friday, six OSU women’s lacrosse players were admitted to the Wexner Medical Center at OSU to be evaluated after showing symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, OSU assistant director of athletics communication Alissa Clendenen confirmed to The Lantern. Rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder that causes a breakdown of muscle fibers and releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream, can cause kidney damage and in extreme cases, kidney failure. Trainers evaluated the team for symptoms after one athlete complained of not feeling well, according to the release. None has kidney damage, according to media reports. The names of the six players have not been released. In January 2011, 13 football players at the University of Iowa developed the disorder after overexertion during a squat-lifting workout. A report cleared coaches, players, physicians and trainers for wrongdoing but recommended the strenuous workout that contributed to the hospitalizations be dropped from training. All 13 players made full recoveries. The women’s lacrosse team did not have games this past weekend. They next play at Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday at 1 p.m.
With his contract at Juventus about to be terminated this month, Stephan Lichtsteiner has admitted negotiation over his potential transfer to Arsenal is on.Arsenal are in talks with right-back Lichtsteiner over a contract with the 34-year-old expected to become a free agent when he ends his seven-year spell with the Serie A champions, according to Sky Sport.About whether or not the deal is done for the Swiss to join the Gunners, Lichtsteiner dismissed a done deal claim.“Nothing is finished yet,” he told reporters“I cannot comment on the negotiations.Fiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.“As long as nothing is completed, that is always interesting in football. I think we all know that.”New Gunners boss Unai Emery is understood to be a long-term admirer of the player, who could become his first signing since succeeding Arsene Wenger.Lichtsteiner is set to captain Switzerland at the World Cup and take his international caps to over 100.He has won seven Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias and three Italian Super Cups at Juventus after joining the club from Lazio in 2011.