But volume isn’t everything. Westbrook and Harden are having historic offensive seasons, but James has them beat on efficiency (while being only a hair behind in volume). James’s true shooting percentage is higher than both Harden’s and Westbrook’s, and LeBron generates more points per potential assist than the two.3An NBA player-tracking statistic that covers all passes that lead to a shooting foul, generate an assist or would generate an assist if the shot were made. Through April 10Source: NBA LeBron James26.422.749.1 James Harden29.127.256.3 Through April 10Source: NBA And then there’s the other side of the ball, where only Leonard rivals James. Harden’s defense generally falls on the wrong side of average, often to a comical degree. Westbrook racks up his share of rebounds and steals, but the consensus is that he’s nowhere near elite. And Curry is the soft spot in the Warriors’ defense despite having made great strides. That leaves LeBron and Leonard — and while Kawhi has won the last two defensive player of the year awards, ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus estimates that LeBron’s defensive impact has been nearly twice as great this season.4Leonard’s wonky defensive metrics have been the subject of much discussion this year, and should likely be taken with a grain of salt because Kawhi may be suffering from the random noise of unexpectedly hot opponent shooting from the free throw line and on 3-pointers.So there’s a statistical case for LeBron as MVP — both offensively and defensively. But the MVP award isn’t an objective one — there’s no agreed-upon definition of value. And that means voters’ decisions often come down to the narratives that wrap around the numbers. The 1961-62 MVP award, for example, didn’t go to Oscar Robertson and his season-long triple-double, nor did it go to Wilt Chamberlain and his 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. The winner was Bill Russell — who had lesser, albeit still eye-popping, numbers — because leading the Boston Celtics to the league’s best record and top defense proved more compelling.And it’s in this category of narrative that LeBron suffers the most by comparison. His Cavaliers have slid in the second half of the season, dragged down by atrocious defensive performances. He isn’t breaking any records. At 32 years old and with 14 seasons and an absurd numbers of minutes behind him, LeBron is “only” as good as he’s ever been. But that might make him the best two-way player in the NBA this season. His story just happens to be a rerun in syndication, an episode we’ve seen a half-dozen times before.So, forget the numbers.The MVP argument for LeBron goes something like this: Measure the man against himself. If you watched LeBron carry the Cavaliers back from the brink in last year’s NBA Finals, you know he’s the best player in the NBA, full stop. Nothing he’s done, or not done, this season has changed that basic fact. Look past the glitter of round numbers and records broken. LeBron James is your MVP. Stephen Curry1.3662.5% PLAYERPOINTS PER POTENTIAL ASSISTTRUE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE Kawhi Leonard25.78.934.6 PER GAME Greatness is often easier to recognize when it looks like nothing we’ve seen before.To a large degree, this is the MVP case for Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard: The first shoulders offensive responsibility to a previously unimagined degree, piling up counting stats at a historic pace. The second leans into the hyper-efficient idiosyncrasies of his game and leads one of the most extreme and extremely efficient offenses we’ve ever seen. The third has blossomed from a defensive stopper into a two-way superstar, one of the most efficient volume scorers in the league. Each is an MVP candidate not only because he played phenomenal basketball this season but also because he is so unlike recent MVP winners.And then there is LeBron James.Statistically speaking, LeBron has been at least as productive as the rest of that group, among the other elites in any metric chosen. But he’s been so good for so long that an incredible season doesn’t stand out. For LeBron, the incredible has become mundane.This is the third entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the case for James Harden and the case for Kawhi Leonard. Still to come: Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. Also, check out our NBA predictions.Much of the MVP conversation, for better or worse, is likely to center on volume. That’s what happens when one candidate is averaging a triple-double and another threatened to lead the league in both scoring and assists. James’s averages — 26.4 points, 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game1All stats in this piece are current through April 10. — are not as flashy as Westbrook’s or Harden’s, but he’ll join them, Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only players to average 26, 8 and 8 across a full season. So James isn’t that far behind Westbrook and Harden in how much offense he creates — and he has a sizable advantage on Curry and Leonard. We can see this by adding up the points each player scored and those he created for teammates with assists2Courtesy of the NBA’s player tracking statistics.: PLAYERPOINTS SCOREDPOINTS CREATED BY ASSISTTOTAL POINTS CREATED LeBron James1.3661.9 Russell Westbrook31.923.855.7 Kawhi Leonard1.2961.2 James Harden1.2761.2 Russell Westbrook1.2155.5 LeBron is more efficient than Westbrook or Harden Stephen Curry25.415.540.9 LeBron generates more offensive volume than Curry or Leonard
Trout’s most similar group averaged just fewer than 1.0 WAR by age 38. And that group contains eight Hall of Famers, including Griffey, Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Mel Ott. To further complicate matters, the quality of competition in MLB continues to improve over time, and the game is getting younger, making it more difficult to age well.However, if 1 WAR is worth $8 million in 2019, and that value inflates by 3 percent per season (for the first five seasons),2Basic assumptions which, granted, may need re-examining. the average of Trout’s comparable group would be worth about $450 million from age 27 through age 38. And it bears mentioning that Trout has accumulated 48 percent more WAR through age 26 than his comparable group of all-time legends. (Yes, Trout is good.)So Trout seems like a very good bet to deliver more value to the Angels than they’re paying him for in this contract, even if some of the assumptions above are more player-friendly than the current state of baseball’s economics. While many MLB mega-contracts end up looking bad in retrospect, this Trout deal might be the rare one that delivers positive surplus value for the team.Either way, with no opt-outs in the deal and a full no-trade clause, Trout and the Angels are committed to each other for the long haul. If Trout is interested in winning World Series rings, he took a risk in remaining in Anaheim: He has never won a playoff game with the Angels even while establishing himself at the game’s best player. As great as Trout has been, even the best player cannot do it alone — particularly not in baseball, which is a weak-link sport that is less dependent on star talent than other sports.But in some ways, the Angels’ outlook is improving for the second act of the Trout era. Albert Pujols’s albatross of a contract is coming off the books after the 2021 season — $28 million in present-day dead money the Angels can allocate elsewhere.The Angels entered Tuesday with $28 million committed in 2022 salaries, ranking 18th in baseball despite playing in the sport’s No. 2 market in Los Angeles. (The MLB average is $35.2 million committed in 2022, according to Spotrac.) So should the Angels want to compete in the market for high-end free-agent talent in coming years — like, say, Mookie Betts (free agency ETA 2021) or Francisco Lindor (free agency ETA 2022)3Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be a free agent after 2020. — they will have the flexibility and purchasing power to do so. As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels are closing in on a 12-year contract extension worth at least $430 million with outfielder Mike Trout, setting the all-time mark for both the largest contract (passing Bryce Harper’s $330 million deal from a few weeks ago) and the greatest average annual contract value in baseball history. Trout is a longtime object of fascination for us here at FiveThirtyEight; we’ve frequently extolled his virtues as baseball’s best and most consistent star. Now he has the record-breaking contract to match his talent — but one that might still represent a big bargain for the Angels. And the deal’s long-term nature only renews questions about Trout’s ability to win in L.A., as well as his potential to break through as a star off the field.At first glance, about $36 million per year seems like a tremendous deal for the Angels. According to FanGraphs’ estimated market values based on wins above replacement (WAR), a player with Trout’s 2018 production should have been worth about $79 million last season. That’s nothing new for Trout: FanGraphs estimates that he was worth $55 million (in 70 percent of a full season) in 2017, $78 million in 2016 and $74 million in 2016. So if Trout continues his recent pace, the Angels will basically be paying him half of what he’d be worth on the open market over the next few seasons.Of course, Trout is also 27 this year, traditionally the age at which baseball players peak. Trout’s new deal will take him through 2030, his age-38 season. Even though no player in baseball history has posted more career WAR through their age-26 season than Trout,1According to a mix of WAR from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com. it’s probably safe to assume that Trout won’t continue to be a 10-WAR-per-season machine throughout the entire life of this contract.The old saying that “Father Time is undefeated” remains true — perhaps truer now than ever. And even star-level players peak more quickly than you might expect. While Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were superstars late into their careers, other outfielders similar to Trout — such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones — fell off a performance cliff after age 30 and never recovered.Here’s a plot of the 10 retired outfielders most similar to Trout through age 26 (according to The Baseball Gauge), along with the arcs of their seasonal WAR as aging took hold: Perhaps most important for the club’s long-term prospects is the productivity of its farm system. For much of Trout’s tenure with the Angels, the club had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. The Angels’ system ranked last in baseball in 2014, 2016 and 2017, according to Baseball America. That’s begun to change. The Angels hired Billy Eppler to lead their front office after the 2015 season; they improved to 14th in the rankings in 2018 and 13th this spring.Outfielder Jo Adell, L.A.’s first-round pick in 2017, has quickly become one of the game’s elite prospects, while starter Griffin Canning, a second-round pick in 2017, gives the Angels a second top-100 prospect. And help from the farm is not too far away: Eight of the top 10 Angels prospects are expected to open in Double-A or higher this spring. Moreover, if the Angels’ top prospect from a year ago, Shohei Ohtani, can become a consistent impact performer as a pitcher and hitter, L.A. could have two star caliber players in one roster spot.The Angels’ biggest long-term issue is that they are in the same division as the Houston Astros, who are on the cutting edge of evaluation and player development. The Astros took home the 2017 World Series trophy, won 103 games a year ago project to win 99 games again this season according to the FiveThirtyEight model, all while maintaining a farm system that has ranked fifth or better in three of the past four years. Baseball America ranks the Astros’ farm system No. 5 in the game entering 2019.It will be no easy task to supplant the Astros as kings of the AL West. And if Trout and the Angels can’t do that, it will be more difficult for Trout to raise his own profile, which lags well behind what his talent would suggest. Only one baseball player made ESPN’s list of the 100 most famous athletes in the world, and it wasn’t Trout — it was Bryce Harper at No. 99. This contract extension makes Trout very rich, but it also forces him to forfeit the chance to join a more likely World Series contender — and he’ll miss out on the spotlight that would have shown on him during his own free agency after the 2020 season.So now the pressure is even greater for the Angels to surround Trout with better talent and build a winner around him. By the end of this contract, he’ll have spent two full decades with the franchise. It would be a true shame if Trout’s next 12 seasons contain as little team success as his first eight did.
This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout.,This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout.
The big question right now is whether LeBron James will stay with the Miami Heat or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the fact that his departure from the latter in 2010 seemed to have burned a few bridges, some fans appear to have forgiven James and are hoping for his return.How likely is James to return to Ohio? That’s a difficult question, but we can try to get a rough sense from betting markets. The Cavs and the Heat aren’t the only contenders. Here’s an average of the latest betting lines on where James will play next season, converted into probabilities:Oddsmakers seem to think James is about a 50-50 bet to stay with the Heat. Cleveland has some hope, and the remaining teams not much. But if history is any indicator, both Miami and Cleveland might have reason to worry.James had to make a similar decision in 2010, and betting markets didn’t get that one right.Bettors thought James would stay put in 2010 as well. But the difference in spread is notable. Based on these numbers, bettors are 11 percent more confident in his loyalty than they were in 2010. The second most likely options in both scenarios make up for this difference, with the Chicago Bulls at a 24 percent chance in 2010 and the Cavs at a 16 percent chance currently.Just like these betting sites, we’ve had mixed success in predicting James’s moves. Until his announcement, it’s worth considering that maybe we don’t know the MVP quite as well as we think we do.
Penn State freshman punter Blake Gillikin (93) and OSU redshirt sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) rush towards the ball after a blocked punt in the second half of the Buckeyes game on Oct. 22. The Buckeyes lost 24-21. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For weeks, much of the talk for the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl has been about the offensive and defensive capabilities of both No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Clemson. However, there has been little discussed in terms of special teams, the unit that the Buckeyes take extremely seriously. Kerry Coombs, the secondary and special teams coach for the Buckeyes, has a knack for coaching some of the best special teamers in the nation year after year. According to him, the effort of his gunners and kick coverage unit could make the difference in a game as evenly matched as OSU versus Clemson.“I think they’re very, very good just like I think we’re very, very good,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a couple of areas in the game … I know that their national championship game last year hinged on some big special teams plays. I think that our kids are extremely well prepared, and I know that there’s are too. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it will be a factor in the game.”One of the biggest weapons on Coombs’ special teams unit is senior punter Cameron Johnston. Johnston, a native of Melbourne, Australia, who has been punting for the Buckeyes for four years now, and is in his fifth year with the team.Averaging a career-best 46.2 yards per punt in 2016, the Australian born punter has a few goals in mind against Clemson. The most prominent of those goals is limiting the returning ability of the Tigers’ returners.“You never know how many times you’re going to punt, but when you do, you got to make sure it’s in the right area,” Johnston said. “If you get zero return yards for the day, you’ve had a good day.”While netting zero return yards on punts has a lot to do with how the ball is kicked and the trajectory it takes before striking the turf the proper way, having help from teammates is necessary to limiting return yardage. Wide receivers like redshirt sophomore Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin have been instrumental on kick coverage success, playing predominantly at the outside coverage positions.The players at those positions, known predominately as “gunners,” are known for their speed and athleticism, as well as the ability to hunt down the ball and bring down the returner quickly, or forcing him towards the middle of the field. For McLaurin, the chance to cut his teeth as a special teamer has resulted in his development as a well-rounded player.“You kind of get your feet wet playing special teams,” he said. “Once you start making plays on special teams, you’re going to be making plays on offense. You see it all the time with guys coming through this program. That’s what we preach about competitive excellence.”Although the Buckeyes have yet to score on a punt return this year, it is worth noting OSU has not given up a touchdown on a punt either this season. Part of that statistic has to do with McLaurin’s ability, while another part comes down to how well Johnston has played.With a punter like Johnston who is a master at hang-time on punts, as well as a speedy player on the outside to get to the returner quickly, OSU might very well dictate the game. Pinning an offense deep in its own territory is something that Coombs feels could be the difference maker come Saturday.“All the difference,” he said. “And not just big (plays), but just the innate field position difference. If we can gain yards with special forces throughout the game, which is our objective, it doesn’t show up as a big play. But it makes a dent in the scoreboard.”OSU squares off against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the University of Phoenix Stadium.
DeVier Posey and Dan Herron Receiver DeVier Posey and running back Dan Herron, both seniors, were expected to return from five-game suspensions this week. However, both players’ suspensions will be extended at least one more game because of additional violations, as announced by OSU athletic director Gene Smith on Monday. First-year head coach Luke Fickell said that neither player is in danger of being dismissed from the team as of yet. “This is still something that’s undergoing and I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have all of the information that they are going through probably just as of yet. Not that I’ve seen anything that we wouldn’t want a guy around right now.” Reinforcements arrive for the offensive line Unlike Posey and Herron, left tackle Mike Adams is back for OSU. Beyond that, Adams is listed as a starter for Buckeyes’ offensive line on Saturday against Nebraska. Adams’ arrival will be a welcome sight for his linemates, which allowed nine sacks against Michigan State last Saturday. Injury Updates Redshirt freshman receiver Verlon Reed, tied for second on the Buckeyes in receptions, has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Fickell said. The banged-up receiving corps should be aided by the return of sophomore Corey “Philly” Brown this week, after he missed the last three games with a lower leg injury. “We’ll see how he runs around out there (Tuesday),” Fickell said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right.” Fickell said he is doubtful senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams will play this Saturday. Senior defensive end Solomon Thomas, who is returning from his five-game suspension this week, is not listed on the two-deep depth chart. However, Fickell said he expects Thomas to see playing time on Saturday, but did note that he is coming back from a broken leg in the Spring Game. Captaincy carousel slowing down Familiar faces are emerging among OSU’s weekly picks for game captains. Senior center Mike Brewster will make his third appearance as a Buckeyes’ game captain on Saturday against Nebraska. Linebacker Andrew Sweat and defensive back Tyler Moeller are each making their second stint as captains. Long leash for Braxton Miller Fickell said freshman quarterback Braxton Miller will not have a “short hook” if he struggles against the No. 14-ranked Nebraska on Saturday. “We don’t want a guy going in thinking that by any means,” Fickell said. “Braxton is the guy that right now is our starting quarterback, and you know, I would think hook-wise, we don’t want him to ever think that.” Miller was pulled from last Saturday’s game against Michigan State at the end of the third quarter and replaced by redshirt senior Joe Bauserman. Kickoff for the Buckeyes’ game at Nebraska is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.
Junior center Amir Williams (23) dunks the ball during a game against Iowa Feb. 4 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. OSU won, 76-69.Courtesty of The Daily Iowan/Alyssa HitchcockWhen a team is on the road in a hostile environment, college basketball coaches typically look to their seniors to lead the way.That was the case Tuesday night in Iowa City, Iowa, as Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft did a little bit of everything to help lead his team to its second straight road win, defeating No. 17 Iowa, 76-69.Craft finished with a game-high 17 points, recorded six steals, dished out six assists and delivered a crucial driving layup with 1:21 remaining while getting fouled. His free throw put the Buckeyes (18-5, 5-5) up, 66-59, but Iowa would not go away.The Hawkeyes (17-6, 6-4) cut the lead to four after a free throw by senior forward Zach McCabe with 54 seconds left, but they never got that close again.The battery of junior guard Shannon Scott, junior forwards LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson and senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined to make 10 of 12 free throws after the lead was cut to four to help seal the win for the Buckeyes, who won their second straight game against a top 20 opponent — following up a 59-58 victory at then-No. 14 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.The Buckeyes shot 25-49 from the field in the game, including 7-16 from beyond the arc. Their perimeter defense proved to be the difference, as Iowa shot just 3-20 from deep.After trailing, 33-31, at halftime, OSU took the lead for good after Smith Jr. buried a three from the wing with 18:39 remaining. Smith Jr. finished with 12 points, one of five OSU guys to score in double figures including Craft, Ross with 13, junior center Amir Williams with 12 and Scott with 11.Sophomore guard Mike Gesell led the Hawkeyes with 16 points, and junior center Gabriel Olaseni added 14 off the bench.After the two straight road wins, OSU is set to come home Saturday and take on Purdue (13-9, 3-6). The Buckeyes last beat the Boilermakers, 78-69, Dec. 31 in West Lafayette, Ind. Tipoff for Saturday is set for 6 p.m.
OSU junior heavyweight Kyle Snyder lifts Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery before slamming him to the mat for a takedown in the heavyweight finals of the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. OSU placed second, behind Penn State. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsST. LOUIS — Ohio State finished second at the 2017 Division I NCAA Wrestling Championships and sent a total of nine wrestlers to the event. Five of those went on to be named All-Americans, four placed in the top three of their weight classes, and one won a national championship.125 poundsOSU’s redshirt freshman Jose Rodriguez went into the tournament unseeded and lost 13-4 in the first round of the championship bracket to American University’s No. 11 Josh Terao. Rodriguez was able to get a single victory over Ohio’s Christian Moody, but was later pinned by Nebraska’s No. 5 Tim Lambert.133 poundsRedshirt junior Nathan Tomasello entered the tournament with a perfect regular season record and a Big Ten championship. He beat Illinois’ No. 8 Zane Richards by a score of just 3-1 in the quarterfinals after getting major decision victories over his first two opponents.In the semifinals, it was a Big Ten championship rematch with Iowa’s No. 4 Cory Clark. Tomasello beat Clark at Big Tens 5-4 on a last-second escape, but Clark fought to a different outcome at the NCAA tournament with a 7-4 decision.In the consolation bracket, Tomasello took down Nebraska’s No. 7 Eric Montoya and Michigan’s No. 5 Stevan Micic in the finals to finish in third place for the second consecutive year.141 poundsOSU freshman Luke Pletcher entered the tournament as a No. 12 seed and defeated Michigan’s Sal Profaci 8-5 in the first round, but lost to All-American Anthony Ashnault from Rutgers.In the consolation bracket, Pletcher was able to pick up another win over Iowa’s Christopher Carton, but Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon upset him in his second consolation match.149 poundsRedshirt sophomore Micah Jordan came into the tournament as a No. 4 seed and, as a recent Big Ten runner-up, looked dominant early.Jordan put together a technical fall over North Carolina’s Troy Heilmann, and then defeated Maryland’s No. 13 Alfred Bannister with a 10-2 major decision.In the quarterfinals, Jordan faced off against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen. Jordan lost to Sorensen in their regular season matchup, but notched a win at the Big Ten championships.Jordan lost, this time 3-0. In the consolation bracket, Jordan beat Lehigh’s No. 10 Laike Gardner 9-6, getting a technical fall over South Dakota State’s Alex Kocer and a major decision over Northern Illinois’ Max Thomsen.In the consolation finals, Jordan faced Sorensen yet again, and was held scoreless for the second time, losing 4-0. 165 poundsOSU redshirt sophomore Cody Burcher entered the tournament as an at-large qualifier and unseeded, and seemed outmatched by the competition. Burcher was held scoreless by Arizona State’s No. 7 Anthony Valencia in the first round, losing 11-0.In the consolation bracket, Burcher fared a little better, but still lost his first matchup 2-1 to Ohio University’s Yoanse Mejias.174 poundsRedshirt junior Bo Jordan came into the tournament as a Big Ten champion for the first time, and carried a No. 3 seed along with only one loss on the season.Jordan earned a 10-1 major decision over Harvard’s Josef Johnson in the first round and a 10-4 decision over Iowa State’s No. 14 Lelund Weatherspoon in the second.In the quarterfinals, he continued marching along, beating Iowa’s No. 11 Alex Meyer with a 4-3 decision. In the semifinals, Jordan faced off against Cornell’s Brian Realbuto, who handed Jordan his only loss of the season.Jordan fought from behind for most of the match, but employed an acrobatic takedown in the last 20 seconds that also saw him pick up near-fall points to secure a 11-7 victory.In a Big Ten championship rematch, Jordan and Penn State’s Mark Hall faced off for the national title at 174. Jordan won the Big Ten bout, but Hall was able to win, 5-2.184 poundsHopes were high for No. 6 seed Myles Martin at the 2017 NCAA tournament, after winning a national championship as a true freshman in 2016, becoming the first Buckeye to ever do so.Looking impressive in his first matchup, he was two points away from a technical fall over Bucknell’s Garrett Hoffman.Martin’s run was spoiled by Illinois’ No. 11 Emery Parker in the second round, losing 14-9.In the consolation bracket, Martin took down Penn’s Joe Heyob with a tech-fall before a 12-3 major decision of Edinboro’s No. 14 Dakota Geer.Next, Martin faced a fellow All-American in Northern Illinois’ Drew Foster, and was able to come out victorious after surviving a sudden victory period.Martin’s charge was stopped short by Iowa’s No. 3 Sammy Brooks. At the NCAA tournament, Brooks defeated Martin with a 6-2 decision to send Martin to the fifth-place match.There, Martin impressed once again, getting some much-needed team points over Oklahoma State’s No. 4 Nolan Boyd and winning with a 10-6 decision.197 poundsRedshirt freshman No. 3 Kollin Moore, who recently won a Big Ten championship in his first year of competition, barrelled through the first two rounds of the tournament with a 16-6 major decision over North Carolina State’s Malik McDonald and a 16-4 major decision over Oregon State’s No. 14 Corey Griego.In the quarterfinals, Moore faced a tougher challenge in Oklahoma State’s No. 6 Preston Weigel, but picked up a 13-5 major decision.In the semifinals, a rematch with Minnesota’s No. 2 Brett Pfarr, the Gophers avenged his loss at the Big Tens with a 13-9 decision over Moore.In the consolation bracket, Moore pinned Virginia Tech’s No. 4 Jared Haught in the first period en route to a third-place finish as a freshman. He suffered only four losses on the season, all four against Pfarr and 197-pound champion J’Den Cox of Missouri. HeavyweightNo. 1 seed and junior Kyle Snyder entered the tournament with sky-high expectations. A world and Olympic champion, he had an undefeated season for the Buckeyes.After getting through the first two rounds with technical falls, Snyder sustained a rib injury against Colorado’s No. 16 Garrett Ryan.In the third match, Snyder looked dominant for the first two periods, but his injury began to show in the third, during which he failed to record a point and was ridden out by Minnesota’s No. 8 Michael Kroells, but still won 13-7.That would be the last time the injury seemed to bother Snyder.In the semifinals, Snyder rolled over Duke’s No. 4 Jacob Kasper 19-6 and advanced to face Wisconsin’s No. 2 Connor Medbery in the NCAA Finals.Yet another Big Ten championships rematch, and this one went in favor of the Buckeyes. Snyder tallied two takedowns en route to a 6-3 win over Medbery and his second consecutive national championship at 285 pounds.
Health watchdogs are calling for improvements in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancerCredit:Alamy “We want to improve the outcome for everyone diagnosed with skin cancer.”Skin cancer can be split into two groups: malignant melanoma, which can prove fatal, and non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas which are rarely fatal.Non-melanoma skin cancers are more common, with 72,000 cases diagnosed in the UK in 2013, although experts say the true number is significantly higher.The standards also urge GPs to carry out better monitoring of cases where low-risk basal cell carcinomas have been removed.Dr Rachael Robinson, a Nice skin cancer expert, said: “There are competent GPs who are trained to perform basal cell carcinoma skin surgery and may do this in GP surgeries or part of a community clinic.“However there is currently no agreed process in place to support good practice in this area and so this quality statement seeks to address this by recommending those GPs maintain training standards, record activity and perform audits.” The remainder are diagnosed in outpatient clinics, at emergency presentation, and inpatients who are already staying in hospital, with unexplained symptoms. In a number of cases, the data does not show where they are diagnosed.Skin cancer can be split into two groups: malignant melanoma, which can prove fatal, and non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas which are rarely fatal.Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of Nice, said: “Melanoma causes more deaths than all other skin cancers combined and we don’t have reliable data for the spread of non-melanoma skin cancers.“This quality standard tackles the key areas for improvement in skin cancer care, from promotion of the warning signs, to early diagnosis, to better treatment options. Health watchdogs have called for improvements in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer after new figures showed just half of skin cancers are being diagnosed after an urgent referral by GPs.The warning from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) comes as figures show cases of skin cancer have risen by almost 50 per cent in a decade. In England there were 12,246 new cases of malignant melanoma in 2013, with around 2,000 deaths a year. The rise of package holidays has contributed to a huge increase in skin cancer among middle-aged and older people, previous figures show.Earlier this year Cancer Research UK said the “sun, sea and sangria” generation were paying the cost of decades of cheap package holidays, and the desire for deep tans. This quality standard tackles the key areas for improvement in skin cancer care, from promotion of the warning signs, to early diagnosis, to better treatment options. We want to improve the outcome for everyone diagnosed with skin cancerDr Gillian Leng, Nice Nice has published new standards, urging GPs to follow existing advice to refer patients with suspected malignant melanoma for an appointment within two weeks.The watchdog highlighted data from the National Cancer Intelligence Network, which shows that just 56 per cent of malignant melanomas were diagnosed in secondary care following a two-week referral for suspected cancer in 2013.The data shows that 29 per cent of cases are still being referred to secondary care via the standard GP referral in 2013, which in some trusts means waits of between four and six weeks. 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.
Her daughter, Kim Vella, 57, told the inquest that at 4.10pm on the day of her mother’s death she received a telephone call from her in a “manic state”.She said she then called the older persons mental health care team, saying she was “extremely concerned”, and was put through to her mother’s carer, Emma Bulbrooke.She said: “She was of the opinion that they were due to go out of hours and that it was best for me to make my way to the house and do the best I could.”If I didn’t like what I saw I was to call 999 but I wasn’t told what to ask for. They were closing at 5 o’clock.”Mrs Vella said she then went to her parents’ house, where she found her mother in an “uncontrollable state”, accusing her and her father of “ganging up on her” and attempting to get her sectioned.She said she did receive a call while at the house from Ms Bulbrooke but this had been passed to her father.She said her mother attempted to hit her and, with her father, restrained her on the floor but she managed to escape when she went to get a phone to call 999.Mrs Vella said she had been “shocked” by the response from the care provided to her mother in the weeks and months leading up to her death as she felt her case was not “prioritised” despite her deterioration.Describing her mother before her illness, Mrs Vella said: “She was one of life’s beautiful people.”Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri told the inquest that toxicology tests carried out after Mrs Munns’ death showed no trace of the anti-psychotic drug risperidone which she had been prescribed suggesting that she had not taken it for up to five days previously.The inquest is expected to last for four days. A care worker from the controversial Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust told the daughter of a 74-year-old woman just hours before she fell to her death from a motorway bridge that they could not respond to a “crisis call” because the office was about to close for the day, an inquest has heard.Marion Munns, a retired nurse, had previously been admitted to the Western Community Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, for three months in 2014 for depression and had returned home after showing improvement – but her condition deteriorated again the following year.The grandmother died on November 12 2015 after she had become distressed and escaped from her Southampton home through an upstairs window before climbing off the garage roof and running away. Marion MunnsCredit:Family handout/PA Her body was found on the M27 motorway and the Winchester inquest heard that the mother-of-two died of severe multiple injuries.Her husband, John Munns, said in a statement that her condition deteriorated during 2015 and her behaviour became increasingly “erratic”, including an obsession with drinking water.He said she had become “sullen and lethargic” and added: “She was zombie-like with no personality. This wasn’t my Marion, she was deteriorating.” If I didn’t like what I saw I was to call 999 but I wasn’t told what to ask for. They were closing at 5 o’clockKim Vella, daughter of Marion Munns 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.
One in 20 Anglican parishes in England now have only four worshippers on a typical Sunday.Yet the Church of England still has an estimated 1.1 million regular worshippers.And despite the ongoing decline in traditional Sunday services, attendances over festivals such as Christmas remain buoyant, according to the figures.Last year attendance on Christmas itself jumped almost five per cent to just over 2.5 million people. It was the festive headcount since 2011.In addition 2.3 million people attended advent services in churches while civic carol services attracted 2.7 million. Although there will be some overlap, the combined attendance at Christmas and advent services adds up to 7.5 million people. 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. Britain has become a nation of Christmas-only churchgoers, according to new figures showing a boom in attendance at festive services while Sunday congregations slump to an all-time low.Official statistics from the Church of England show just over one per cent of the population of England now attends its services on a typical Sunday, a third of the level in the 1970s.Last year an estimated 810,600 attended a Church of England service on an average Sunday, two per cent lower than the previous year and down seven per cent over five years.The total weekly attendance – which includes a proportion of those joining in mid-week services – slipped to 961,400 last year from 977,800 the previous year. It amounts to a decline of more than 100,000 worshippers – or almost 10 per cent – over five years. Christmas and advent services remained popular. Pictured is the advent procession at Ely CathedralCredit: David Rose By contrast 7.2 million people across the UK watched the Queen’s speech last Christmas and 6.6 million saw Downton Abbey.William Nye, the Church of England’s Secretary General, said: “The Church of England is setting out on a journey of renewal and reform, aiming to reverse our numerical decline in attendance so that we become a growing church in every region and for every generation.“The Church of England is open to and for everyone in England, building up the Body of Christ and working for the common good.“For some of those who support our work, weekly attendance at services is part of their discipleship. There will be many others, as we know from the census, who identify with us but who worship on a less regular basis.“These figures represent a realistic assessment of where we start from in terms of weekly attendance.“We are confident in a hopeful future where our love of God and service of neighbour will form the basis for future growth.“Statistics for Mission provides an invaluable foundation for this and demonstrates that the Church, fully aware of where we are yet confident of the future, still has a strong base to work from.” We are confident in a hopeful future where our love of God and service of neighbour will form the basis for future growthWilliam Nye, the Church of England’s Secretary General
Danny Cipriani of EnglandCredit: Dan Mullan – RFU The court heard the 29-year-old Wasps fly-half and Ms Murphy were in a casual relationship in the early part of 2015.Prosecutor Wendy Hewitt said: “The story starts in the first half of 2015 when Mr Cipriani was befriended by Ms. Murphy on Facebook.”They began what can be said as a casual relationship. They met up a couple of occasions when they had sexual relations.”The court heard the pair did not want a committed relationship and throughout their WhatsApp messages Mr Cipriani was described as being “courteous and gentlemanly towards her”.It was in July, however, that Ms Murphy revealed she was pregnant to the rugby star and told him she was not going to be keeping the baby. Former England rugby star Danny Cipriani was blackmailed for £15,000 by two strippers after failing to support one of them after she aborted his child, a court heard.Lisa Murphy, 39, and Violet Smith, 29, both admitted trying to extort money from the former England player between September and October 2015.The pair were due to stand trial on Monday at Kingston Crown Court but changed their plea after the judge indicated they would not be sent to prison if they admitted the charge. 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. His response was, “Hi baby. That’s a shock to me too,” and the prosecution said he repeatedly offered her support.Ms Hewitt said: “Mr Cipriani first brings up the subject of money and asks how much it will cost on the basis he would pay for it all.”Murphy says as far as she understands it is all free and on the NHS.”The news came while the pair were discussing other matters including Cipriani’s disappointment at not being selected for the England rugby squad.The court heard things “started to sour in the middle of September 2015” when Murphy began to struggle financially following the abortion.In a message to Cipriani she said: “I didn’t want to ask because I’m so independent. It’s been five weeks off work and still not at work.”She added: “Is there any way you can help me as I’m self employed and I have got bills to pay.”He asked if she wants £1000 but she clarifies she actually wanted £5,000.The prosecutor said: “Cipriani seems to have a change of heart at this stage. She sends a message ‘are you getting funny with me?”He replied: “Not going funny. I didn’t expect you to ask me to pay for your salary. That’s quite different.”The prosecutor said: “He then says he will try and get some money.”The court heard she became quite agitated and repeatedly text messages the rugby player for the money and many times without reply.Ms Hewitt said: “She is clearly upset. In her text messages she repeatedly referred to the procedure she has undergone and referred to losing the child on a number of occasions.”It was in October Murphy recruited her friend Smith, who she worked with at the gentlemen’s club called Junction 9, in Bedfordshire.She began to text Cipriani using Murphy’s phone to try and get money from him. In one message she said: “My name is Violet Smith – I’m a friend of Lisa’s.”She has just been taken to hospital because the abortion of your baby has caused her life threatening problems. I just thought you would like to know, Mr Cipriani.”He responded: “I’m going to help her out but I can’t physically be there.”The court heard that Murphy told him she worked as a promoter, not a stripper. She wept and turned away from the judge as the details of the case were read out.The prosecutor said: “It was during the course of these messages the prosecution say that Violet Smith tells him Murphy works as a stripper.”Smith asks him for £1,500 to cover the cost of the abortion procedure. Then on October 12 Murphy then demanded Cipriani give her the number of his publicist.Smith and Murphy continued to message Cipriani and his publicist about the money.The prosecutor said: “There is discussion about how much they can get.”Smith then messaged him saying: “Just wanted you to know I have told Lisa to go to the papers with all of this.”The pair negotiated with The Sun newspaper for an exclusive story with reporter Jonathan Reilly, while Smith continued to talk with Cipriani’s publicist.The court heard Smith told Murphy she hoped to get £12,000 from The Sun but added: “I’m trying to get £15,000 from the publicist.”In the messages Murphy said she wanted money for “loss of earnings, loss of the baby and trauma to her mind and body”.It was also revealed Murphy had undergone chemotherapy following a cancer scare.The court heard by the end of October Cipriani went to his agent, then the police after The Sun contacted him telling him that they were going to publish the story.Earlier in the day Hannah Duncan representing Murphy said: “The offence was an irrational act on behalf of both women.”There is a the report that says her hormone levels were very high. This has led people to behave in an irrational and out of character manner.”She added: “It was an act of desperation on very very particular and unusual facts.”Murphy, of Northampton, and Smith, of Slough, Berkshire, were both bailed to be sentenced on Tuesday morning. Danny Cipriani at Westminster Magistrates’ CourtCredit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph
Miller has recently relocated to New York, and has been photographed out and about with Marlowe and Sturridge, who she dated in 2011.The pair announced their engagement in 2012, and are understood to have split in 2015.The actress said the move to the US had inspired a change in her “easy” London life, which saw her “drink too much wine” with friends and spent weekends away in the country. “I think in a break-up somebody has to be a little bit cruel in order for it to be traditional, but it’s not been acrimonious in a way where you would choose to not be around that person.“We don’t live together, as has been reported recently, but we do half the time.“Everybody will stay over or we’ll all go on holiday and that’s because we genuinely want to be around each other.“It’s great for our daughter that she has two parents who love each other and are friends. He’s definitely my best friend in the entire world.” Credit:Alexi Lubomirski The full interview is published in the April issue of Harper’s Bazaar, on sale March 1. “It was all gorgeous and great, but I’m really trying to kick myself up the ass in some way, and New York is very good at doing that,” she added. 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. Miller lives with her ex for half the yearCredit:Alexi Lubomirski Sienna Miller, the actress, has told how she lives for half the time with her ex-fiance, in a bid to ensure their daughter can see they still love one another.Miller said she and Tom Sturridge stay with one another despite their split, because they genuinely like to spend time together.The actress said she believed it good for their four-year-old daughter Marlowe to see them co-parenting happily, calling him her “best friend”.In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Miller said: “We still love each other. Sienna Miller with ex-fiance Tom Sturridge
Prince William on his first day of school, January 1987 When Prince George starts school on Thursday, he will no doubt be just as nervous as any other four-year-old.But the third-in-line to the throne will have some familiar faces by his side, as Kensington Palace announce both his mother and father will be joining him for the school run.The Duke of Cambridge will be there to hold his son’s hand for his first day at Thomas’ Battersea, as the Cambridge family settles full-time in London to support the Queen in her duties.The decision makes good on a promise made by the Duchess when she met fellow Thomas’ parents earlier this year and told them: “I may see you at the school gates”. The Duke and Duchess have spoken often of their wish to be hands-on parents, emphasising the importance of encouraging Prince George and Princess Charlotte of speaking about their emotions.The young Prince William was taken to his first day at school, in January 1987 at Wetherby, by his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, while his father was unexpectedly stuck in a snowstorm.Both the Prince and Princess took Prince Harry for his first day, accompanied for photographs by a lively Prince William. The Duke of Edinburgh accompanied the young Prince Charles for his first day at Cheam. Prince George starts nursery Credit:Duchess of Cambridge/PA The school run on Thursday heralds the start of a new era for the Cambridge family, as they base themselves at Kensington Palace full time. The Duchess, who will also be helping Prince George settle into school and Princess Charlotte start nursery, will undertake engagements publicising addiction, family breakdown and the importance of early intervention.Prince George, meanwhile, will be busy at Thomas’s, described by The Good Schools Guide as “busy” and “slightly chaotic”, with 19 different languages spoken in pupils’ homes.The school, where fees cost from £17,604 a year, was reviewed as “a big, busy, slightly chaotic school for cosmopolitan parents who want their children to have the best English education money can buy.That is what they want and, to a large degree, that is what they get”. Prince Charles arrives at Cheam School in 1957 with his mother, The Queen, and father Prince Philip A full programme of engagements through the autumn will see the Duke, along with other senior members of the Royal Family, step up support his grandmother The Queen, and continue his key charitable interests.As well as an overseas trip in November, Kensington Palace said he would focus on initiatives dealing with homelessness, conservation, cyber-bullying. 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.
However, an audit by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) suggests that ahead of Christmas, less than 81 per cent of patients were being seen within four hours – against a target of 95 per cent. The figure is the worst recorded since the college began tracking A&E units three years ago.The RCEM audit of more than 50 hospitals also revealed thousand of operations cancelled during Christmas week, with 70 per cent more cancellations this year compared with last.A number of NHS trust chief executives described the pressure as “relentless” with several on Tuesday saying they had never seen such pressure during 30 years in the health service.Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “The position at the moment is as bad as I’ve ever known. We are simply not coping, we were at full capacity before the sorts of pressures that we should be able to manage – like a rise in flu – is pushing us over the edge.“Things are terrible now, but I am fearful the next few weeks will be horrendous.” As an A&E consultant @UHNM_NHS I personally apologise to the people of stoke for the 3rd world conditions of the dept due to #overcrowding pic.twitter.com/HW5JR8PSJ2— Dr Richard Fawcett (@docfawcett) January 2, 2018 Sir Bruce said: “I want to thank NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard under sustained pressure to take care of patients over the Christmas. We expect these pressures to continue and there are early signs of increased flu prevalence.“The NHS needs to take further action to increase capacity and minimise disruptive last-minute cancellations.”Successive governments have banned mixed-sex wards, in a bid to protect patients’ dignity.The decision to relax the rules was last night seen as a desperate measure, as pressures mount.In Staffordshire, one senior consultant said vulnerable patients were now being treated in “third world conditions” amid mass overcrowding.Dr Richard Fawcett, a consultant in emergency medicine at Royal Stoke hospital, said it broke his heart to see elderly and frail people lining NHS corridors.The Army doctor, who has done three tours of Afghanistan commanding a field hospital, tweeted a personal apology to patients: The chaos follows a rise in flu cases when many hospitals were already close to capacity, with high numbers of frail patients stuck on wards for want of social care.By Tuesday night 12 NHS trusts – including two ambulance services covering almost nine million people – had declared they had reached the maximum state of emergency. Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials.The instructions on Tuesday night – which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed – followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades.Hospitals are reporting growing chaos, with a spike in winter flu leaving frail patients facing 12-hour waits, and some units running out of corridor space.Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, on Tuesday ordered NHS trusts to stop taking all but the most urgent cases, closing outpatients clinics for weeks as well as cancelling around 50,000 planned operations.Trusts have also been told they can abandon efforts to house male and female patients in separate wards, in an effort to protect basic safety, as services become overwhelmed. Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, said more action needed to be taken to tackle waiting listsCredit:Christopher Jones North East Ambulance Service is among trusts declaring the highest state of alert, warning that its “response standards to potentially life-threatening calls have deteriorated”. The trust said it had received 19,000 calls to 999 in the week which just ended – one quarter more than the same time last year – while coping with 40 per cent more 111 calls.Some patients who would normally be sent an ambulance were now being asked if they could make their own way to hospital, with help from relatives, the trust said. East of England Ambulance Service, also at maximum capacity, said some patients were being sent taxis to get them to hospital, with paramedics stuck in ambulances queuing at hospitals for more than 500 hours in the last four days.’Black alerts’In addition, 10 hospital trusts said they were at the highest level of pressure – better known as a “black alert” – under a four-point scale of “Operational Pressures Escalation Levels” used to bring emergency plans into motion, when patient safety is at risk.Among those admitting they had now reached this level of pressure were: Dartford and Gravesham NHS TrustRoyal Cornwall Hospitals Portsmouth Hospitals NHSMaidstone and Tunbridge WellsMedway NHS Foundation TrustUniversity Hospitals Of LeicesterEpsom and St Helier University HospitalsTaunton & Somerset Foundation TrustYeovil District Hospital Foundation TrustRoyal United Hospitals Bath Many more trusts refused to provide information about pressure levels, with several saying NHS England no longer allowed them to divulge the information, which used to be published in previous winters. Officials have also stopped weekly updates of data showing how A&E units are performing against the four-hour target. One ambulance trust resorted to taxis to ferry patients to hospital, while another asked patients to find a family member to get them to hospital, with paramedics stuck outside A&E units in record numbers.Health officials said pressures on the NHS were expected to continue to rise, with flu levels surging. 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.
The father of a teenager who has become the 48th person killed in London this year has described him as “wonderful son” who had simply gone out to see friends and never came backAmaan Shakoor, 16, was standing with friends outside Walthamstow Leisure Centre when he was approached by two hooded men and shot in the face.He died of his injuries in hospital at 5.45pm yesterday, becoming the 48th person to be murdered in the capital so far this year.The shooting of Amaan came less than half an hour after Tanesha Melbourne, 17, was shot dead in a drive-by attack three miles away in Tottenham, fuelling fears of a surge in youth violence and spiralling tit-for-tat disputes between gangs.Speaking at the family’s east London home Amaan’s father, Mohammed Shakoor, said: “He was a wonderful son. We need time to come to terms with this, we are obviously devastated.”Another family member added: “We are so sad, he was a lovely boy and he has gone. He went out to see friends and never came back. it’s so shocking.” Acting Chief Superintendent Tania Coulson said police had launched extra patrols in Walthamstow and ordered tough stop and search powers to detain young men suspected of carrying weapons.Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, wrote on Twitter: “Much here @DavidLammy says will echo in Walthamstow – we also need an urgent investigation into how young teenagers getting hold of guns in this country too. Will be following up with mayor, home office and colleagues to push for this and resources we need.”In another separate murder investigation, a reward of £20,000 has been offered for information leading to the arrest of the killers of Abraham Badru, 26.Badru, the son of a Nigerian MP, who had previously received a bravery award for saving a teenage girl from a sex attack, was shot in Hackney, east London, on March 25 after opening the boot of his car to look for a drink. Friends claimed he had been “chilling in the wrong place” and was the victim of a “postcode war”. The scene where a 16-year-old boy was shot on Monday evening and left in a critical condition in Markhouse Road in Walthamstow, east London.Credit:Stefan Rousseau/PA Another friend said the Amaan had been targeted in a case of mistaken identity.“It was mistaken identity and he got caught up in something. He was hanging with his friends and was shot. He was in wrong place at the wrong time.”Qurban Hussain, 72, who has known Amaan’s family since the 1960s said the teenager was “friendly” and was often seen at the local mosque.He said: “It is so sad, Amaan was very friendly, a very nice and polite teenager, his family are very nice as well so it is terrible for them. I have known his grandparents since 1962.”Another boy aged 15 was stabbed in the same attack. His injuries were described by police as life changing but he has since been released from hospital.Police investigating Amaan’s death said they were called to the leisure centre on Markhouse Road at 10pm on Monday after residents reported hearing two gunshots.Damian Slay, 17, from east London who knew Amaan, said: “They must have run up to them, stabbed one in the arm and faced the other one and just shot him in the face and run off.”Amaan was the 19th young person under the age of 25 to have died as a result of knife or gun crime in London so far this year. They said that Amaan had attended Kelmscott School in Walthamstow.One said: “This was nothing to do with drugs or anything. I can say he definitely did not sell drugs. He was just chilling in the wrong place. It was a postcode thing. He was with the wrong people in the wrong place. There is a postcode war out there.”Another added: “He was a nice boy. We used to see him helping his mum doing the shopping. He was a good footballer at school it’s such a shame – he wasn’t a bad person.”Speaking outside the scene of the shooting a man who gave his name only as Osman, 32, said of Amaan: “He was just a good lad. He wasn’t involved in gangs or drugs or anything like that.”It was a case of mistaken identity. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”Osman said the youngster was just a normal kid who was into football and loved hanging out with friends, adding: “There are gang wars going on and this young lad has just unfortunately got caught up in it.”He was in his last year at school studying for his GCSEs. He had his whole future ahead of him.” 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.
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. Passing sentence, Judge Philip Statman said the trio had deliberately targeted a vulnerable victim on November 3 last year. Henry Vincent was fatally killed in a botched break-in in Hither GreenCredit:Kent Police Vincent’s funeral is due to be held next week. However, no mention of their relative’s death was made during the sentencing hearing other than a brief reference to a “bereavement”. Henry Vincent was killed during a break-in in Hither GreenCredit:Fiona Hanson Judge Statman added that while Vincent Snr’s previous conviction was an aggravating factor, he had been “out of trouble” for a substantial period of time.The trio appeared in court three weeks after 37-year-old Henry Vincent died during a break-in at the home of pensioner Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, and his wife, Maureen, 76, in Hither Green, south east London, on April 4.Mr Osborn-Brooks was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released without charge. “You tricked your victim into believing that there had been some form of damage which may have been caused by a pigeon, that there was rot in the roof and furthermore, there was an infestation,” he told them.”You came along at various times to the home address and certain works were performed but not to an appropriate standard by any means. To put it in its most neutral form, any work that had been done was a botched job.”Your victim describes how your visits made him feel intimidated. This was all three of you taking on different roles as part of a joint enterprise to embark upon what was clearly a scam…You were all in it together.”This was deliberate targeting of a victim and he was a vulnerable person at the time.” An uncle and cousin of career criminal Henry Vincent, fatally stabbed in a botched burglary in Hither Green, have been jailed for swindling a homeowner out of £6,000.David Vincent, 50, and his 26-year-old son, also called David, ripped off Robert Etheridge by convincing him he needed urgent building work on his house in Dartford, Kent.They, together with another man, conned the 60-year-old, who was off work sick at the time, into believing his fascia boards were rotten and his loft was infested with rodents, bird nests and maggots. They also showed him three dead rats as part and tried to extort as much as £13,000, a court heard.Maidstone Crown Court was told the rogue traders wore jackets emblazoned with a company logo “Ideal Home Improvement” and used a van bearing the same name.Their deceit was discovered when Mr Etheridge contacted his insurance company and the firm alerted police.A genuine builder who later inspected the property concluded the work was “valueless, non-urgent and bodged” and that there were no infestations, the court was told.The father and son, from Orpington in Kent, together with 36-year-old John Baker, of Eltham, south east London, admitted fraud.Vincent Snr, who has a previous conviction for a similar scam, was jailed for 21 months. Father of three Vincent Jnr was sentenced to 18 months. Baker, a father of two, was also jailed for 18 months.
Remarkably, the landowners or finders of 86 of the objects acquired by museums waived their payments, preferring to donate them for the public good.Michael Ellis, arts minister, said: “I applaud the large number of interested parties waiving their right to a reward for treasure cases, with individuals foregoing their share in 86 cases this year. These donations have allowed museums to acquire find that they may not have otherwise been able to, thereby allowing the public to enjoy and experts to study them”.Referring to a DCMS study which showed that 1.5 per cent of adults in England had taken part in metal detecting in the last year, he said: “This increase in detecting has contributed hugely to the extension of our knowledge of our past.”Experts say programmes such as Detectorists, a BBC sitcom starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones which began airing in 2014, have tempted more amateur searchers to try out the hobby. The most remarkable find came from a Staffordshire field: four twisted neckbands later confirmed as the earliest example of Iron Age gold ever found in Britain.The two men who discovered the find had swept the field 20 years earlier with no joy, only to come across the find of a lifetime in December 2016.In Peover Superior, Cheshire, another two friends found nearly 7,000 Roman coins in a field. Ronald Lees 62, described how they had found wire, ring pulls and nails before his metal detector beeped on the hidden hoard.“I was soaking wet and freezing cold, but all of a sudden nothing else mattered – I was ecstatic,” he told his local newspaper at the time. “The last person who held the coins could have been a Roman Emperor, a gladiator or a serf.”It has now been valued at £40,000 and has been acquired by Liverpool Museums.A selection of the most unusual and valuable finds are announced at the British Museum each year. Metal detectorists Joe Kania (left) and Mark Hambleton, who discovered a collection of gold torcs on Staffordshire farmlandCredit:Staffordshire Council The Leekfrith gold torcs discovered on Staffordshire farmlandCredit:Staffordshire Council They may be stereotyped as amateur hobbyists, spending their evenings traipsing through fields for the love of the search.But the life of a metal detectorist can very well pay off, it seems.The average treasure find reported to the authorities and valued last year made £2,671, it has emerged, a total value of £643,683 across 241 items.It is the first time the valuation committee has released figured for the average find, as the number of reported treasures continues to rise each year.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The Treasure Act Annual Report, which has just been published and records objects found in 2016 which have now finished going through the process of valuation, showed 1,116 worthy finds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, some 363 of which are considered so significant they have been acquired by public collections.The average find was worth £2,671, it found, thanks to numerous exceptionally high value items including the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs found in Staffordshire and worth £325,000, and a grave assemblage found around Winfarthing, Norfolk at £145,000. A total of 60 items, or collections of items, were valued at more than £1,000, with finders fees being split between the detectorist who struck gold and the owner of the land it was found on.The median value was finds was £270, once numerous coins, jewellery and significant metal fragments were taken into account.The figures discount those finds not suitable for reporting: from modern coins to metal trinkets uncovered for curiosity’s’ sake but not worth sending to a museum.Hobbyists in Norfolk were particularly successful, with a total of 130 finds in the year, with Suffolk at 80, Hampshire at 62 and Lincolnshire at 56 also enjoying a fruitful season. 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. Excavations of an Anglo Saxon grave in Winfarthing, Norfolk, where a gold necklace and pendants of “national significance” were found and valued at £145,000.Credit:John Rainer/PA
After raising concerns over the episode on… During the latest episode of the show, the trio drive through Colombia, with Clarkson in a Jeep. His co-hosts suggests the vehicle is for gay people, with Hammond suggesting Clarkson needs a new grooming routine and a change of clothes. 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. The pop star accused the Amazon Prime motoring show – hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – of making “repulsive” jokes at the expense of the LGBT community. He said: “Maybe some nice chaps. Suede but ventilated at the back.” Later, The Weather Girls’ hit It’s Raining Men plays from the Jeep’s stereo. Will Young has threatened to report The Grand Tour to Ofcom over its alleged “homophobic” content.
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a teenage girl was found dead inside a Wiltshire home.The victim died at the scene despite the efforts of paramedics – who called police to a residential street at around 3.15pm.Officers arrived at the house in Calne, a town of 7,000, and arrested the teenager a short time later in nearby Chippenham.Police are currently holding the male, thought to be known to the victim, as pathologists prepare to carry out a post mortem.Residents claimed the victim had recently began learning how to drive – and could often be seen practicing in the area.Kier Pritchard, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said: “My thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic event.”It’s such a tragic and early loss of life. All family members and the wider community will be absolutely devastated.”Thank you to all police officers, staff and wider partners for your professional response.”Meanwhile, Superintendent Conway Duncan offered the family of the victim his condolences as he promised ‘a robust response’.He said: “This investigation is still in its early stages but I would like to reassure the local community that a robust police response was launched yesterday and will continue in the days to come. 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. “The thoughts of everyone at Wiltshire Police are with the family of the victim at what must be a devastating time for them.“They are receiving support from specially trained officers and we will continue to do everything we can to help them come to terms with what has happened.“People in Calne are likely to see a significant police presence in the area over the weekend as our enquiries progress.“If anyone in the local area has any concerns, please approach one of the officers on patrol or at the cordon and they will be happy to answer your questions if appropriate to do so.”