Timo Ritakallio, the pension provider’s new chief executive, noted that the shortfall would need to be addressed by investment returns in future, rather than increased contributions.While Ilmarinen’s long-term investment strategy foresees a reduction in fixed income in favour of both infrastructure and real estate, the fund nevertheless saw its bond and money market holdings increase to nearly 40% of assets, up by 1.1 percentage point year on year.The asset class returned 2.4% overall, with money market instrument returns at zero for the second year running.Notably, the provider saw its corporate credit portfolio decline by one-sixth over the course of 2014, citing less interest by companies to take on loans funded by pension providers due to Finland’s struggling economy.Having issued nearly €100m in new loans in 2013, the amount fell to €55.5m last year, while the overall loan portfolio shrank in size from close to €1.8bn to €1.5bn, a 17.6% drop.Ilmarinen also continued to reduce its exposure to domestic equity, with Finnish shares only accounting for 30.2% of all listed shares, a 3.4 percentage point drop.Its exposure to Japanese and emerging market stocks also reduced.However, its holdings in Chinese equity increased markedly compared with 2013, exceeding 5% of the overall equity portfolio, while exposure to European equities increased, approaching 40% of equity holdings.The rebalancing saw equities fall from being the best-returning overall asset class, gaining 10.9% last year compared with 20.9% in 2013.The return nevertheless compared favourably with the 4.9% growth of its property portfolio and the 6.8% gains from absolute return funds, which account for 40% of Ilmarinen’s €1.3bn portfolio of ‘other’ investments. The holdings, which also include commodities, returned 17.7%.Ritakallio, who was announced as president and chief executive last year, said the provider’s diversified investment strategy had “proven to be extremely successful”.Ilmarinen previously announced that FIM Group chief executive Mikko Mursula would succeed Ritakallio as CIO.Read about how Ilmarinen is using its absolute return portfolio to replicate hedge fund strategies in-house Ilmarinen boosted its exposure to China and reduced holdings in emerging markets and Japan last year, returning close to 7% over the course 2014.The increased exposure to China follows AP2’s intention to double the size of its equity mandate, after its existing portfolio returned 59% last year. The €34.2bn Finnish pensions mutual also said an increase in pensioners, stemming from baby-boomers working lives’ coming to an end, had seen it become cashflow negative.It reported a shortfall of €180m, despite contributions of €4.4bn last year.
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Jayson Castro William. Photo from Fiba.comStruggling big time in the second half on Friday night, Gilas Pilipinas went to its two most reliable guns when the chips were down to score a 77-71 decision of Japan in the first window of their Fiba Asia 2019 World Cup Qualifying series at Komazawa Olympic gym in Tokyo.Jayson Castro and naturalized player Andray Blatche stepped up big and averted a collapse by the Filipinos, who bungled first half command with a lethargic third quarter and even trailed the under-rated Japanese twice before pulling this one out.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Keys to victory: Ateneo-La Salle Finals series Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 MOST READ Read Next Castro, voted best point guard in Asia twice, hit five straight points inside the final 1:50 that extended a 70-66 lead to a safe margin as the Filipinos gathered some momentum heading into their second match in three days.The Filipinos plane back home Saturday and will have very little time to cool their heels as they take on Chinese Taipei Monday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutBlatche epitomized the Filipinos’ offensive struggles but still had the guts to take over at the crunch, hitting a big triple that opened up an eight-point lead halfway through the fourth before issuing two critical feeds the rest of the way.Even with Blatche finishing with just three points after the first two quarters, Team PH still took the half comfortably and looked very fluid until several dry spells in the third allowed Japan to take a 40-37 lead. CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Kris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Castro finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, reprising his role as Gilas’ top go-to-guy, while the 6-foot-11 Blatche, who seemed to limp in the last four minutes, wound up with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.The Philippine defense was also one of the biggest factors for the win, as it held the Japanese to an atrocious 28 percent clip in the first half before bottling up the enemy’s top guns when it needed to in the stretch.Matthew Wright and Gabe Norwood also finished in twin digits for the Philippines with a combined 22, although the Filipinos would want to forget how they shot from afar in this one. Gilas missed its first eight attempts from that distance, before Castro drilled in two straight late in the second quarter.ADVERTISEMENT View comments
Iowa’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship knocked the Hawkeyes out of the College Football Playoff chase, though the team still earned the No. 5 ranking and a spot in the Rose Bowl opposite Pac-12 champion Stanford. All season long, Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd has mocked the Hawkeyes and challenged their credentials. He’s called the team overrated and “a fraud” even as it started off 12-0. Today, in typical Cowherd fashion, he got in one final parting shot at the black-and-gold clad program and its fans. Cowherd released a light-hearted video set to the tune of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.” He stares wistfully into the camera as lyrics poking fun at the Hawkeyes’ wins over lesser opponents play. My heartfelt message to Hawkeye Nation https://t.co/OizoLJnYeu— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) December 8, 2015For Iowa fans still looking for a reason to be mad at Cowherd, here’s another alley-oop for you, straight from the man himself.
Advertisement Advertisement For those who are adept at playing an instrument but not as comfortable manipulating technology, this idea might seem a bit daunting. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s truly easy and the benefits can be huge. Broadcasting live is a valuable tool that all forward-thinking 21st-century musicians should be aware of. There’s really no reason not to do it. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Login/Register With: Advertisement Platforms for broadcasting live gigs include Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube, YouNow, ConcertWindow, StageIt, and Gigee. They are not all created equal.If you perform live music, chances are you’ve broadcast yourself or participated in a live broadcast online. The speed of smartphone technology and the quality of the audio/video available to iPhone/Android users are pretty amazing — especially for those of us who have been professional musicians since before the tech existed. There are more streaming platforms and apps available than ever before, and the audio and video quality of the broadcasts gets better all the time with each new phone and software update.In my own experience, broadcasting my gigs regularly has led to new fans and a deeper connection with my existing audience. I have people who tune in for every broadcast! Very gratifying when you are playing to an empty restaurant; as long as there’s WiFi, I have a crowd online. And I made an extra $500 just from broadcasting in 2017 with very little promotion or effort beyond posting a tip jar link. My goal for 2018 is to improve that number with promotion, more targeted broadcasts aimed at my core audience, and more merch options. But that was still $500 I didn’t have before! That’s practically three weeks of groceries in the slow gig times. Twitter
The Atlanta Hawks had the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are favored to beat them and advance to the NBA Finals. The disregard for the Hawks is palpable—and misguided. The regular season counts for something—a lot, actually. And here is why they will send LeBron James and the Cavs fishing for the summer.Home City AdvantageAtlanta is party central for the entire NBA. The restaurants, lounges, night clubs, adult entertainment spots… they draw NBA players out of their hotel rooms as if by a trance. The late-night carousing wears on a team’s legs and concentration. In an evenly matched series like this one, that energy edge very well could be a difference-maker. And even if the Cavs decide to stay in their room, they won’t be watching Being Mary Jane. The “entertainment” can—and will—come to them.Best Team AdvantageThe Hawks’ unselfish style of play has been the hallmark of the best season in franchise history. Part of the reason they are disregarded is because they do not have a superstar player. But they have four all-stars, who, if they play to their regular-season stature, far exceed the Cavs, who do not have an injured Kevin Love. Talent wins, and the Hawks have more of it.
RATE STATISTICS 8Jason Kidd50,11117.9.133+1.543.9 Of course, Curry showed two years ago that it can be done — and he might have done it again last season, if not for the injury that slowed him down as the playoffs went on. And although Paul is not exactly the same kind of game-changing revolutionary as Curry, he comes with his own type of basketball genius, which manifests as putting passes exactly where they need to be to maximize his teammates’ chances of making the shot, dominating the midrange-shooting game in a way that actually makes it efficient, and rating as the league’s best defensive point guard (by a wide margin) despite being one of the shorter guards in the league. In other words, as far as we can tell, Paul has all the tools he needs to be a championship player, even though his teams haven’t made a serious run at the championship yet. So either today’s methods of observation haven’t fully captured Paul’s flaws while picking up what he does well (very possible, though less so as more advanced methods — such as plus/minus and player-tracking data — trickle into the stats) or he’s a genuine statistical anomaly.In any case, time is running out. As CBS’s Matt Moore wrote in August, the chance of Paul’s greatness being forgotten — or at least not fully appreciated — grows with each postseason disappointment. He’s played well enough in the playoffs, but whether the cause is bad luck, bad timing or simply that the NBA is not geared for players like him to carry championship squads, Paul has not made the kind of postseason impact that the rest of his résumé deserves. And with Curry’s Warriors gearing up with even more talent than when they broke the all-time wins record last year, it could be another futile springtime for Paul and the Clippers.Check out our NBA predictions. PLAYERTOTAL MIN. PLAYEDPLAYER EFF. RATINGWIN SHARES PER 48 MINSPMVAR How will your favorite NBA team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016-17 season » 3Jerry West36,57122.9.213+4.762.1 4Magic Johnson33,24524.1.225+5.361.4 Of course, some of that shortfall in playoff success points is also just plain bad luck, like when Paul broke his hand during last season’s first round, effectively killing the Clippers’ chances of advancing before they’d really started. And some of it might have to do with the grand plan the Clippers hatched five years ago, when they traded for the game’s best point guard and began taking steps to assemble a championship team around him.In the last 28 NBA seasons, a point guard has been the best player (according to VAR) on only two championship teams: the 2004 Detroit Pistons, where Chauncey Billups led an ensemble cast of characters — including Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace, each of whom could also have made a claim for “best player” honors — and the 2015 Golden State Warriors, where Steph Curry was busy redesigning the sport of basketball. Aside from those two really unusual cases, you’d have to travel back to Magic Johnson’s 1988 Los Angeles Lakers to find the last champ whose top statistical performer was a floor general. (Apologies to Isiah Thomas of the 1989 and ’90 Pistons, whose advanced statistics were never really in line with his Hall of Fame reputation.)In the intervening years, 17 big men4Centers or power forwards. have led championship squads, as have nine wing players.5Shooting guards or small forwards. But NBA teams led by point guards have averaged 14 percent fewer dynasty points per season than all others, despite being stronger during the regular season6As measured by efficiency differential. on average. Since the end of the Showtime 1980s, it’s been pretty tough to build a championship team with a point guard as its centerpiece.And throughout basketball history, that’s basically been the norm. Between the 1951-527The first season in which minutes played were tracked, and therefore the earliest year where we can track per-minute advanced statistics. and 1969-70 seasons, zero NBA champions had a point guard as their best statistical player. So in that sense, the 1970s and ’80s were anomalous, rife as they were with championship point guards such as Johnson, Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the Knicks and even the underappreciated Gus Williams of the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics. If we look at the entirety of NBA history, point guard-led teams have been about half as likely to win a championship as their peers, even after controlling8Via a logistic regression that attempts to predict a team’s probability of winning the championship based on its regular-season efficiency differential, the composite PER/WS plus-minus of its best player and whether or not that player was a point guard. The coefficient on the point-guard dummy variable was significant and very negative, meaning teams whose best players were point guards were much less likely to win a championship across six and a half decades of NBA history. for how good the team — and its best player — were statistically. The most valuable point guards ever (by advanced statistics) 5Chris Paul27,72525.7.249+6.156.9 2Oscar Robertson43,88623.2.207+4.673.1 SPM (statistical plus/minus) is based on player efficiency rating and win shares per 48 minutes. VAR (value above replacement) converts SPM into a measure of a player’s total value in the minutes he played.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Paul’s postseason numbers are great, though a bit lower than we’d expect given his stellar regular-season stats, even after considering the increased difficulty of postseason opponents. His career playoff averages — a 25.5 PER and .206 WS/48 — are down from his respective marks of 25.7 and .249 in the regular season; those playoff rates mean Paul was worth about 1.3 fewer points (per 100 possessions) to his team than he was in the regular season. The average playoff team since 2006 had a regular-season efficiency differential of +3.6, meaning the level of the competition rises in the playoffs, but we’d expect an individual player’s number to drop by only a fifth of that, since a team’s plus/minus impact is spread across all five players on the court, so Paul’s numbers have dropped almost twice as much as we’d expect them to in the postseason. 6Gary Payton47,11718.9.148+2.148.9 9Chauncey Billups33,00818.8.176+2.941.0 7Steve Nash38,06920.0.164+2.644.5 10Walt Frazier30,96519.1.176+3.139.7 1John Stockton47,76421.8.209+4.578.6 But there’s always that pesky question of the postseason: Although Paul’s teams have qualified for the playoffs in all but three of his 11 NBA seasons, they haven’t made it very far once there: They’ve lost in the first round four times and in the second round on four other occasions. And that’s it. In the entire history of the NBA, few players with individual numbers as great as Paul’s have seen so little postseason success.In fact, I have a system of playoff success points that can be used to measure a team’s postseason accomplishments in proportion to how many teams it had to beat out to get as far as it did. And only one NBA player — Karl Malone — ever accumulated fewer career dynasty points than Paul has, relative to what we’d expect based on their lifetime VAR tallies: Few point guards in NBA history have the résumé to go toe-to-toe with Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. So how can it be that he’s never played in the conference finals?The battle lines on the topic of Chris Paul are well defined. On the one side, you have supporters of Chris Paul, Point God; on the other, a coalition of traditionalists, stat-skeptics and perplexed quants wondering how a player who dominates every advanced statistic we throw at him, and who has had excellent teammates for the last five seasons, has found so little playoff success. At its most basic level, this can devolve into a debate about the usefulness of stats in identifying a franchise player, versus, say, the ol’ Eye Test. Thankfully, Paul’s stature in the league helps fend off the worst of these arguments, but every great troll opinion has its own grain of truth. In this case: If every tool available to us says Paul is a Michael Jordan-level player, and if we believe basketball is the team sport most influenced by a single, all-powerful player, how do we explain Chris Paul’s dismal playoff record?Paul’s individual profile really is top-notch. Although he only turned 31 near the end of last season, Paul is already the sixth-most-decorated point guard1According to the positional designations at Basketball-Reference.com. ever in terms of MVP voting. His statistical portfolio is mind-boggling: Paul currently ranks as the most efficient point guard in NBA history, according to both career win shares per 48 minutes and player efficiency rating. Among all guards, period, he trails only Michael Jordan in each metric. If you combine both metrics into a composite statistical plus/minus index2No, PER isn’t a great stat, and win shares has its flaws as well; FiveThirtyEight readers know we much prefer the plus/minus family of advanced metrics, including box plus/minus (which powers our CARMELO projection system). But BPM is only available going back to 1973-74, and a proper contextualization of CP3’s career needs to include players from earlier eras — your Jerry Wests, Walt Fraziers, Oscar Robertsons and so forth. Fortunately, PER and WS are better together than they are apart, with PER’s love for high-usage players filling in WS’s blind fixation on efficiency. To be precise, I generated the combined version by figuring out the mix of each (relative to league average) that best correlates with Jeremias Engelmann’s Real Plus-Minus. The composite still isn’t better than, say, BPM, but it isn’t bad, either, particularly for comparing players across eras. and use that to measure each player’s career value above replacement (VAR),3VAR is structured the same as Basketball-Reference.com’s VORP, right down to the replacement level of -2.0 points per 100 possessions, but uses our PER/win shares composite as its foundation instead of box plus/minus. CP3 is the fifth-most-valuable point guard to ever set a sneaker on an NBA court:
No. 1 Washington Mystics26-8, 9-1 in past 10 gamesYou may have heard that the Washington Mystics have a good offense. That’s true, but it’s a little like saying that UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma, an 11-time NCAA champion, is a good coach. Led by MVP front-runner Elena Delle Donne, guard Kristi Toliver, point guard Natasha Cloud and Meesseman, Washington recorded the highest points per possession (1.128), the highest effective field-goal percentage (53.6 percent) and the most assists (746) in league history over an entire season. Delle Donne became the first player in league history to shoot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 90 percent from the free-throw line.1With minimums of 100, 25 and 50 makes, respectively. Cloud just set a new Mystics single-season assists record, and Meesseman, Hawkins and guard Aerial Powers all have credible cases for WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year. With a double-bye to the semifinals, the Mystics get a nine-day break, which they will use both to rest their bodies and to fine-tune their play on both ends of the court. That break could be just what the doctor ordered for the Mystics to win their first-ever WNBA title. No. 3 Los Angeles Sparks22-12, 7-3 in past 10 gamesEvery team this season has had to deal with players missing games, whether due to injury, the FIBA EuroBasket tournament in late June or personal reasons. For the Sparks, though, it was at a different level: The first time their entire roster was available to play was Aug. 22. So in many ways, it feels like Los Angeles’ season is just getting started. The good news is that the Sparks have three All-Star talents with championship experience in Chelsea Gray (14.5 PPG, 5.9 APG), Candace Parker (11.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.5 APG) and Nneka Ogwumike (16.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG). The bad news is that the roster is still settling in under first-year head coach Derek Fisher and, as The Athletic’s Sabreena Merchant recently detailed, the Sparks have struggled to close out games on the road. That could be a problem because the Sparks are unlikely to have home-court advantage beyond the second round. One player to watch in a potential semifinal series against Connecticut is Chiney Ogwumike, who was acquired from Connecticut shortly before the 2019 season. In three games against her former team this year, she averaged 14.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and shot 69 percent from the field. No. 7 Minnesota Lynx18-16, 6-4 in past 10 gamesIf you believe in the phenomenon of “odd-year teams,” Minnesota should be your bet to win it all in 2019, as the Lynx won WNBA titles in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. But head coach Cheryl Reeve’s team wasn’t even a surefire playoff team at the start of the year, returning only three players from 2018 (a fourth, Temi Fagbenle, rejoined the team midway through the 2019 season) and adding nine through the draft, free agency and trades. Center Sylvia Fowles (13.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG), point guard Odyssey Sims (14.5 PPG, 5.4 APG) and potential WNBA Rookie of the Year forward Napheesa Collier (13.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.9 SPG) have been Minnesota’s Big Three this season, and they will likely need to play like it to get Minnesota to the semifinals. The other crucial stat for the Lynx will be turnovers, which have been their Achilles’ heel all season. They turn the ball over on 20.5 percent of their possessions, which ranks last in the league, and surrender more than 16 points per game off of those turnovers. Those numbers will almost certainly need to improve for the Lynx to advance. No. 2 Connecticut Sun23-11, 7-3 in past 10 gamesConnecticut settled for the second seed after spending several weeks atop the league standings and finishing with a 15-2 record at home, tied with Los Angeles for best in the league. That home-court advantage bodes well for them in the semifinals, as the Sun will host the first two games and a potential Game 5. What else bodes well? They cannot draw Phoenix, their playoff nemesis of late, until the WNBA Finals (and even then, it would be a best-of-five series, not a single-elimination game).The Sun are led by center Jonquel Jones (14.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG), forward Alyssa Thomas (11.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.1 APG) and point guard Jasmine Thomas (11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG). Guard Courtney Williams is one of the most exciting players to watch leaguewide: She grabs 5.6 rebounds per game despite standing only 5-foot-8, she can score in bunches, and she has the swagger to match her game. Backup center Theresa Plaisance could be an X-factor; Connecticut acquired her from Dallas at the trade deadline specifically to give the team the kind of veteran forward that teams like Los Angeles (Chiney Ogwumike), Washington (Tianna Hawkins, Emma Meesseman) and Las Vegas (Hamby) have on their benches. Put all of these pieces together, and the Sun have a strong chance of making their first WNBA Finals since 2005. No. 6 Seattle Storm18-16, 5-5 in past 10 gamesThe Storm are the defending champions, but they have an entirely new look in 2019 after seasonlong injuries to stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart. They can struggle on offense, ranking ninth in offensive rating, but are perhaps the most exciting team in the league to watch on defense. Point guard Jordin Canada and forward Natasha Howard rank first and second in the WNBA in steals per game, which fuels the Storm’s 17.3 points per game off of turnovers, good for the third-best mark in the league. Howard also ranks third in the league in blocks with 1.7 per game, making her the first WNBA player to rank in the top three in steals and blocks per game since Yolanda Griffith in 1999. Watching Seattle is even more exciting because it usually means seeing relatively few stoppages in play; despite playing such an aggressive defense, the Storm both commit the second-fewest fouls and draw the second-fewest fouls in the league, per 100 possessions. The Storm’s road to a championship looks quite different than it did last season, when they were the No. 1 seed, but tough defense, a talented point guard and a potential First Team All-WNBA forward aren’t a bad place to start. No. 4 Las Vegas Aces21-13, 6-4 in past 10 gamesBefore the season started, Las Vegas was a trendy pick to win the title behind three former No. 1 draft picks, sharpshooter Kayla McBride and 6-foot-8 center Liz Cambage. The team’s defense has been formidable, but the Aces have been inconsistent on offense, which may have cost them a chance at a double-bye. As SB Nation’s Mike Prada recently explained, they’ve actually been better when Cambage and starting forward A’ja Wilson — arguably the team’s top two players — are not on the court together. But the Aces made the playoffs for the first time since 2014, and they now have a chance to peak at the right time. Look for potential WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby (11.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 48.8 percent shooting) to tip a game in the Aces’ favor with her energy and versatility off the bench. No. 8 Phoenix Mercury15-19, 4-6 in past 10 gamesThe Mercury still have Taurasi, arguably the greatest WNBA player of all time, but she is recovering from back surgery and is “day-to-day for the foreseeable future,” according to High Post Hoops’ Brendon Kleen. And, unlike the previous two seasons, the Mercury will start the playoffs on the road, where they went only 6-11 this season. To make another run to the WNBA semifinals, the Mercury will likely need a big performance from 6-foot-9 All-WNBA center Brittney Griner, who is averaging 20.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season while shooting 56.4 percent from the floor. Forward DeWanna Bonner, the Mercury’s other 2019 All-Star, will also need to be efficient on offense. She has carried the team at times this season and averages 17.2 points per game, but she has struggled with efficiency, shooting only 38 percent from the floor, including 27 percent on 3-pointers. An X-factor for Phoenix could be the experience of head coach Sandy Brondello, who has 17 career WNBA playoff wins and knows a thing or two about being the underdog from coaching Team Australia against the United States. Don’t be surprised if she has a trick or two up her sleeve. After more than three months of jockeying for position, four of the eight playoff-bound WNBA teams will begin their postseasons on Wednesday. As the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds, Chicago, Seattle, Minnesota and Phoenix will face off in two single-elimination games. The reward for the winners is another single-elimination game on Sunday against No. 3 seed Los Angeles or No. 4 seed Las Vegas. In the past few seasons, this playoff format has produced several upsets, including Washington over New York in 2017 (courtesy of nine 3-pointers from Kristi Toliver) and Phoenix over Connecticut in both 2017 and 2018 (courtesy of Diana Taurasi, who sports a career 13-1 record in playoff-deciding games).Meanwhile, atop the bracket, Washington and Connecticut secured double-byes, skipping the single-elimination games, and they now await the winners of the first two rounds for their best-of-five semifinal series.Let’s take a look at each of the eight playoff teams, starting with the four in action Wednesday and progressing to the title favorites. No. 5 Chicago Sky20-14, 6-4 in past 10 gamesBehind first-year head coach James Wade and point guard Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky surprised many onlookers by challenging for a top-4 seed. The Sky’s strength is its backcourt: Its top three scorers are starting guards Diamond DeShields, Allie Quigley and Vandersloot. Vandersloot also recently broke her own WNBA record for assists in a season — finishing with an even 300 — and averages 11.2 points, 9.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. With center Jantel Lavender recently suffering a season-ending injury, Wade will have to come up with a game plan for Chicago to battle inside. One blueprint might be in the Sky’s 105-78 win over Phoenix on Sept. 1: Griner scored 26 points for Phoenix, but Chicago hit more than 50 percent of its shots, had six players score in double figures and committed only six turnovers to run away with the win.
Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) throws a pass in the fourth quarter of the game against Michigan on Nov. 25 in Ann Arbor. Ohio State won 31-20. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorLast season, redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins secured the backup quarterback position when redshirt junior quarterback Joe Burrow was temporarily sidelined with a hand injury. In that backup role, Haskins threw for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, completing 70.2 percent of his passes across eight gamesWhile the numbers in his limited play aren’t gaudy by any means, Haskins made his best case for the 2018 starting job on a single drive against his team’s arch-rival. Once J.T. Barrett was forced to exit the game and Ohio State trailed 20-14, Haskins orchestrated a scoring drive that proved to be the game-winner in its 31-20 victory. Given the collectiveness he showed in the most tense moment of his football career, Haskins made a strong case for why on Sept. 1, when the when the Ohio State football team opens its season against the Oregon State Beavers, he should start at quarterback. “It’s crazy to go win the biggest rivalry in sports. I never thought it would be a reality,” Haskins said after the win. “I got my number called and it worked out for me. I’m thankful.”Worked out for him it did, most importantly in the eyes of head coach Urban Meyer.“I can’t say it’s comfort yet,” Meyer said after the game. “But to see him perform in that environment, and more importantly against that defense. That’s an elite defense.”If there’s one thing about quarterbacks that matters to Meyer, it’s big-game experience. That was evident when he began the 2015 campaign with Cardale Jones — who led his team to a national championship the year prior —, to be the Week One starter over Barrett, — who became statistically the greatest quarterback in school history.From a scheme standpoint, Meyer has almost always had a quarterback weith the ability to make plays on the ground. Haskins has the skills to extend a play at times, but in no way are his legs a threat for opposing defenses to worry about.The lack of mobility, however, might not be a detriment to his chances of becoming the starter since Ohio State will be returning two previous 1,000-yard rushers. Last season, Barrett out-carried Mike Weber or J.K. Dobbins in seven games and out-carried both combined on two occasions.With that duo behind him, the Buckeyes’ offense can become more simplified. The running backs run and the quarterback throws. And Haskins will throw well because what he lacks on the ground, he makes up for with incredible arm talent.“It would mean the world to me [to be the starter],” Haskins said following Ohio State’s Cotton Bowl victory. “I’ve been working for this since I was a little kid and it’s right there so I’m going to go take it.”
Thierry Henry has hailed Vincent Kompany’s impact at Manchester City as being similar to the one that John Terry had at ChelseaThe Belgium international joined the newly-crowned Premier League winners back in August 2008 from Bundesliga side Hamburg and, after replacing Carlos Tevez as the club captain back in 2011, Kompany has led City to three league titles.But in recent seasons the defender has been struggling with injury issues with Pep Guardiola having reportedly admitted to have grown tired with the constant setbacks.Yet Kompany returned to the side on 3 February in their 1-1 draw against Burnley and has since been an ever present figure at the back with the Belgium having led City to the Carabao Cup later that month in their 3-0 win against Arsenal at Wembley.Report: City are stunned by Norwich George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Manchester City was stunned by Norwich City in todays Premier League clash.Much has been made in recent days of the potential impact of Aymeric…“When Vincent Kompany talks, he’s eloquent, intelligent, knows the game, is a good player and a great leader. It’s exactly what you want from him.” said Henry, according to Sky Sports.“He’s had a difficult couple years with injuries, but he never gave up, was always there for the team with a smile.“It’s very important to have these types of players to win titles. We saw it at the end of John Terry’s career at Chelsea. You can always rely on Vincent Kompany, on what he can bring.”