Just two minutes into the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers semifinal game in 2010, a free-kick from distance was flicked behind the U.S. back line, and a Mexican player running forward slotted it into the net. The U.S. looked stunned. Mexico scored again in the 27th minute and would go on to defeat the U.S. 2-1 — the only time it has managed to do so in the two teams’ 31 matchups — nearly eliminating one of the world’s best teams from the 2011 Women’s World Cup. (The U.S. was forced to play a two-games series against Italy to qualify for the World Cup, where it eventually finished second to Japan on penalty kicks.)On Friday night, the two teams will meet again in the CONCACAF Qualifiers semifinal, this time on U.S. soil. Despite handedly beating Mexico in two friendlies last month, 8-0 and 4-0, that 2010 semifinal game serves as a reminder for the U.S.: World Cup hopes can fade in a flash — even for a powerhouse team — with one bad game.We’ve updated our projections, and the U.S. now has a 95 percent chance of beating Mexico and advancing to the finals. That number makes it seem like Friday’s matchup will be lopsided, and it may be. But if Mexico sits in and defends as anticipated, the Americans may find it difficult to score and could be forced into overtime or penalty-kicks.Mexico, however, has not looked as strong at this year’s CONCACAF Qualifiers compared to 2010’s, losing to Costa Rica in group play 1-0. It has only a 4 percent chance of winning the tournament, but a 74 percent chance of placing third — enough to qualify for next summer’s World Cup.Below are the updated expected-win probabilities for the remaining CONCACAF tournament teams:The other semifinal matchup Friday night, between Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago, is evenly matched. Costa Rica is a slight favorite, with a 57 percent chance of beating Trinidad and facing the Americans in the final. The two teams have drawn two out of their five matchups. Costa Rica has beaten Trinidad twice, and Trinidad has beaten Costa Rica once. The last time they met, however, in December 2012, Trinidad crushed Costa Rica 4-0 (how seriously the teams took this game is unclear though, as it wasn’t recorded as an official qualifying or friendly match).The winners of the two semifinal games will play in the championship Sunday, with their World Cup berths already secured. The more interesting match may be the third-place game (also Sunday), when the winner will secure the last reserved CONCACAF spot at the World Cup. The fourth-place team, however, is not automatically eliminated and will play Ecuador in a two-game series for another World Cup berth.
On NBA fan engagementI was yesterday at the Boston Celtics game, and there was a lot going on besides the pitch. There were a lot of gadgets and bling bling. And it was good. I liked it. Audio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/carl_bayernanalytics.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.At Boston’s annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the main focus is on U.S. sports. But people come from all over the sporting world, and the globe, to exchange ideas and learn about what’s happening in the major U.S. sports. This was important enough for FC Bayern Munich, one of the best practitioners of the most popular sport on the planet in the middle of its season, to have its head of match analysis, Michael Niemeyer, come to Sloan — and catch a Celtics game in between sessions.He came by our booth at Sloan to talk to us about how Bayern and its recent coaches, especially current boss Pep Guardiola, are embracing analytics even as some U.S. coaches are free to ignore it as a sideshow. Listen to or download the interview via the player above. And read highlights from the conversation below. On the difference between Bayern and U.S. teamsOur job is seen differently in the U.S. You have data people who are not sitting out in the coaching office. … I think that you have to be in the coaching office. If you sit somewhere else, you never get it on the pitch. It won’t work. The only way it works is you have to sit right next to the coach. On in-game analytics-driven coachingNiemeyer: For me, the one thing that really has to come is the exchange from the analytics under the roof, the exchange between us with the bench. It’s not allowed in soccer.Carl Bialik: During the game.Niemeyer: During a game.Bialik: To say, hey, we picked up on this tendency.Niemeyer: Yeah. We can do it in halftime, and we do, but you’re not allowed to exchange during the game.Bialik: And if you could, that makes your department a lot more valuable.Niemeyer: Yeah, of course, of course. On Pep GuardiolaAs he came to Bayern, the first thing he said was: “The match analysis department is the most important department for me.” The second thing was: “I see a big part of my work in the auditorium.” The auditorium is the place where he has video sessions. If you want to bring your ideas to the pitch, you have to use these technologies and you have to use match analysis. On technology[Players] have laptops or iPads where they can see — we have an online platform similar to Facebook where they can discuss. And it’s an exchange platform.
Kentucky has to win two more games to become the first undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1975-76. And if the Wildcats succeed, the stats we have suggest that they’re a notch or two more dominant than those Hoosiers were.Getting data on Kentucky is easy: The Wildcats’ every game has a digital box score that’s been compiled and analyzed by the likes of Ken Pomeroy and our own March Madness predictions. But Indiana’s statistical record from its undefeated season remains in the analog age, locked in scans of stat sheets.To truly measure the 32-0 Hoosiers’ greatness, we’d want to compile the schedule and results of every Division I team that year. Unfortunately, that would involve inputting dozens of data points from hundreds of image files. And our favorite speed typist was busy.1Seriously, we asked him. So we simplified our analysis: We entered the scores of every Indiana game, then adjusted the Hoosiers’ average margin of victory by the average margin of victory of each of its opponents that season.2Accounting for home-court advantage. That gave us an estimate of Indiana’s Simple Rating System scores, which otherwise aren’t available for teams that far back.3We checked how well this technique estimates SRS for teams from the Big Ten — Indiana’s conference — and the SEC — Kentucky’s — for more recent seasons. We found it’s very reliable, with an r-squared of 0.96 against actual SRS for seasons since 1984-85. The distribution of its errors is approximately normal, with mean of zero and a standard deviation of 1.26, allowing us to create a confidence interval around its predictions and estimate the likelihood that Indiana’s true SRS was greater than or less than the known SRS ratings of more modern teams.What we found is that Kentucky has been slightly better, relative to its opposition, than Indiana was. Kentucky’s SRS is 29.05, meaning it would beat an average team on a neutral floor by about 29 points. Indiana’s estimated SRS is 27.49. Though that’s just an estimate, we can be fairly confident — about 90% sure — that Kentucky is the more dominant team. (Again, these are estimates only relative to the average team each season — the question of which team would win head-to-head is an entirely different one.) We also did a bit more data entry from those NCAA.org scans of old team stat sheets to compare Indiana’s core stats with Kentucky’s. Our former ESPN colleague Dean Oliver, now with the Sacramento Kings, developed four factors to describe teams’ style of play. We estimated these for Indiana,4We had to guess what share of its and its opponents’ rebounds came on the offensive side of the floor, because offensive and defensive rebounds weren’t listed separately in the stat sheets that year. To that end, we estimated from trends in recent college data (paywalled) and in the NBA that 35 percent of rebounds by Indiana and its opponents were of the offensive variety. and we also computed each undefeated team’s pace of play and its points scored and allowed per 100 possessions.Indiana was better than Kentucky in a few ways: It allowed fewer points per possession, shot for a slightly higher effective field goal percentage, forced a greater rate of turnovers and allowed slightly fewer free-throw attempts per shot from the floor. But in every other respect, and every net measure, the Wildcats best the Hoosiers.Of course, Kentucky is trying to finish as undefeated champion in 2015 — it’s not chasing the 1975-76 Hoosiers or perfection. Or, as Kentucky coach John Calipari keeps emphasizing to the media when they ask about his team’s quest to finish 40-0, “We know we’re not perfect. We’re undefeated, but we’re not perfect.” The coach is right, and he’d be just as correct if he were describing the 1975-76 Hoosiers.Both the 2014-15 Wildcats and the 1975-76 Hoosiers are great teams — probably among the 25 best teams relative to their competition in the last 40 years of men’s college basketball. But neither team ranks as the best in recent decades. What sets apart Kentucky and Indiana is that they managed to win all their close games and remain undefeated. Indiana won two games in overtime, and five more by five points or fewer. Kentucky has also won two OT games, and two other games by five points or fewer. Each team played nailbiters against Notre Dame: Indiana won by three on Dec. 11, 1975, while Kentucky won by two on Saturday to advance to this weekend’s Final Four in Indianapolis.We have reliable SRS data going back to 1985. Eight teams rank ahead of this season’s Kentucky squad, including two previous Kentucky teams: the 1996 two-loss champs, and the 1997 national runners-up. Those 1997 Wildcats — along with the No. 1 team on our list, the 1999 runners-up, the Duke Blue Devils — provide a warning to this year’s Kentucky squad that the best team usually doesn’t win the NCAA tournament. Even among the eight teams of the last 30 years that were more dominant than Kentucky has been so far this year, just two won the title.
Source: Kevin Pelton/ESPN Philadelphia 76ers7933.27710-223.2 4th266011th1930 6th238013th1760 Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats5644.16900+1255.9 New York Knicks3138.72660-478.7 NBA draft lotteries, 2013-15Sources: Basketball-Reference.COM, Wikipedia New Orleans Pelicans2850.92380-470.9 7th228014th1690 Toronto Raptors100.20-100.2 TEAMEXPECTEDACTUALLUCK Armed with those pick values — and the lottery probabilities for the past three years — we can run a series of simulations to figure out how much value each team was expected to glean from the draft before the lottery balls bounced, and how that value changed after the picks were finalized. I included lottery-protected draft-pick trades in this accounting, so situations where a team’s pick would or would not be traded depending on the outcome of the lottery are reflected — and, as we’ll see, can make a pretty big difference. Portland Trail Blazers2078.32030-48.3 Which teams have enjoyed the most (and least) lottery luck? Tuesday night marks the NBA’s draft lottery, the annual spectacle in which 14 franchises hitch their futures to a sack of pingpong balls. (And not the kind Michael Jordan plays with these days.) Although the process is weighted toward giving better picks to teams with worse records, it’s also an exercise in pure luck as to where the picks are ultimately distributed within that setup. So we decided to take a look at how much effect luck has had, and which teams have benefited from it in recent lotteries.First, we have to quantify the value of an NBA draft pick. Last summer, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton developed a draft value chart on a similar scale to the NFL’s famous Jimmy Johnson chart, based on the net wins above replacement value of the typical player picked in each slot (relative to his salary). Here were Pelton’s values for lottery picks: Milwaukee Bucks3132.43250+117.6 Minnesota Timberwolves7111.17880+768.9 Washington Wizards2329.62890+560.4 Dallas Mavericks1793.11760-33.1 The value of an NBA lottery pick 1st40008th2200 Cleveland Cavaliers5121.88000+2878.2 Phoenix Suns6312.75950-362.7 Oklahoma City Thunder3497.43530+32.6 Sacramento Kings7533.66860-673.6 Orlando Magic8720.88410-310.8 PICKVALUEPICKVALUE 2nd32509th2120 5th250012th1840 Boston Celtics2720.62380-340.6 Los Angeles Lakers5377.65530+152.4 Detroit Pistons6588.84400-2188.8 Denver Nuggets4324.24210-114.2 It’s no surprise to see Cleveland at the top — the Cavs won the lottery from the third slot (despite 16 percent odds) in 2013, when they drafted Anthony Bennett, then won it again the next year from the ninth slot (a 1.7 percent proposition!) and drafted Andrew Wiggins. Bennett’s awfulness aside, in recent lotteries no team has seen the balls bounce in a luckier direction than the Cavs. Meanwhile, the next-luckiest — and the least lucky — teams are linked through a trade conditional on where a pick landed, which Cleveland’s stroke of luck also influenced. In 2014, the Detroit Pistons’ first-round pick was top-8 protected, and they finished in the No. 8 lottery slot, with an 83 percent chance the pick would not be conveyed to the Hornets. Instead, because the Cavs won the lottery and everything else played out according to the pre-aligned slots, Detroit fell outside the top 8 and lost the pick, which Charlotte used on Noah Vonleh. (It almost certainly would have been conveyed to Charlotte anyway the following season, but it illustrates how one team’s unexpected lottery luck can have ripple effects for numerous other teams.)Finally, since we all love focusing on the tank-tastic Philadelphia 76ers, here’s that same distribution chart for their past three lotteries: 3rd289010th2030 CUMULATIVE PICK VALUE Miami Heat2067.42030-37.4 Utah Jazz6376.36030-346.3 To underscore that point, here’s a look at the possible distributions of Cleveland’s draft outcomes, and where they actually ended up: Indiana Pacers1967.11930-37.1 Notice that the entire x-axis of their distribution is shifted far farther right than, say, Cleveland’s — because the Sixers were so bad, their drafts had an enormous amount of expected value. But given that, they essentially hit on exactly the median expected value of those picks — with average luck, multiple years of tanking only carried them to the fourth-most valuable set of picks after the balls finished bouncing.Tuesday night, Philadelphia will have the highest probability of picking No. 1 — albeit with only a 25 percent chance. Let’s see if they can exceed the straight-down-the-middle lottery luck they’ve had the past few seasons.CORRECTION (May 18, 11:03 a.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the years in which two Cleveland players were drafted. Kyrie Irving was drafted in 2011, not in 2013, and Anthony Bennett was drafted in 2013, not 2014.
Few colleges had more success in the first decade of this century than the University of Texas, whose football and men’s basketball programs regularly brushed shoulders with the nation’s elite. But what’s been happening in recent years has been nothing short of bewildering.With Mack Brown at the helm, the football team won 158 games in 16 seasons, for a win percentage of .767. That span included the Longhorns’ famous undefeated season of 2005, when Vince Young helped defeat USC and win the school’s first undisputed national title in 35 years. On the court, the Rick Barnes-era was the most successful in the school’s history. Barnes won 402 games in 17 seasons, for a win rate of .691, and took the Longhorns to their first Final Four in 56 years. Under Brown and Barnes, who both coached their first game for the Longhorns in 1998, the University of Texas represented dominance and stability. But after the football team fell to 4-5 on the season under Tom Herman last Saturday and with the men’s basketball team set to open its new season on Friday coming off of an 11-22 record last year, it’s the women’s basketball and volleyball teams keeping the Longhorns from total irrelevance.Don’t get us wrong, the Longhorns will survive regardless of what happens to their two largest sports for generating revenue, especially if the women’s hoops team continues to make it to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. But it’s certainly baffling how much this former juggernaut of football and men’s basketball has declined considering the resources at its disposal to hire top coaches and recruit the best talent. It reportedly cost Texas $19 million to fire Charlie Strong from the top football coaching position and hire Herman from the University of Houston. And the deal to hire current men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart — who had numerous schools trying to secure his services after taking Virginia Commonwealth, a mid-major, to the Final Four in 2011 — wasn’t cheap either, costing Texas about $22 million over seven years.The regression has been significant: Since Brown and Barnes departed, the football and men’s basketball programs combined to win less than half of their games.1Longhorn football has a .435 win percentage since 2014 while the basketball team has a .470 win percentage since 2015. To give this some context, we compared Texas to some of the other schools that have been consistently competitive in both sports — in other words, not one-sport powers like Kansas (basketball) or Georgia (football). Specifically, we looked at every school that ranked inside the top 50 in all-time wins for both football and men’s basketball and calculated the harmonic mean of their football and men’s basketball Elo ratings since 1988, the earliest we have data for both sports.2We used a harmonic mean instead of a straight average to make sure a team was performing well (or poorly) in both sports at the same time. This allows us to see how these teams compare in the combined success of their two biggest programs. UT’s decline has been rapid and, for Longhorns fans, the results will be depressing. 201421.58816.462 201327.68616.615 The basketball program’s recruitment problem hasn’t been attracting top talent — the Longhorns have produced several NBA stars in recent years, including Avery Bradley, Tristan Thompson and, most recently, Myles Turner. Instead the Longhorns have failed to translate their NBA-caliber talent into postseason success — the Longhorns have failed to make the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament since 2008.But things may finally be turning around. After its rough recruiting class in 2017 — which was disrupted by the firing of Strong and hiring of Herman — the football team has rebounded to secure 16 commitments from the ESPN Top 300 so far for the 2018 class and is No. 2 in team rankings. And Smart has the basketball team ranked No. 12 as of Thursday, which is impressive considering that the school is coming off its worst season in decades. Smart’s class could improve after the early signing period, which is happening now. The Longhorns are in the hunt for No. 7 Keldon Johnson and No. 13 Quentin Grimes. 20176?33.444 RECRUITING CLASSTEAM RANKWIN PCT.TEAM RANKWIN PCT. 201515.6069.417 20114.5885.615 BASKETBALLFOOTBALL 20094.7063.929 *2018 basketball team rank as of Nov. 9, 2017; 2018 football team rank as of Nov. 8, 2017**For basketball, the year of a recruiting class is for freshmen whose first season begins that fallSource: ESPN Currently, only Missouri ranks worse than Texas, and Missouri’s problems in and away from the sports world have been well documented (sorry to drag you into this, Mizzou fans). For more context, Wisconsin is currently the best two-sport school.3Greg Gard took the men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 last season, and Paul Chryst’s football team is currently 9-0 and ranked No.8 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Based on this measure, it’s fair to say that the Longhorns are in the midst of one of their worst stretches in almost 30 years.On the football side, the problem can be traced to recruitment. Between 2009 and 2012, Texas registered four consecutive top-5 recruiting classes, according to ESPN’s team rankings. In the next five years: zero. Last season, they ranked No. 33. Think about that for a second: The University of Texas with the 33rd-best crop of freshman football talent. The turnover from Brown to Strong to Herman is certainly a factor here. Since NCAA rules stipulate that football players must stay in school for three years, talented high-school players seek stability — not knowing who your head coach will be next year can be the difference between a top recruit committing to your program and going elsewhere.But another disconcerting thing about the Longhorns’ recent dip in recruitment is that Texas plays in the epicenter of high school football — no state produced more recruits in ESPN’s Top 300 rankings in 2016, and only Florida produced more in 2017. But recently, it has lost its hold on the best prospects from within its own borders. As a result, the top Texas high school recruits are increasingly looking outside of the state. Among the top 30 recruits in Texas in 2017, LSU was the most popular destination (five players chose to go to Baton Rouge, compared with the three who picked Austin). 20124.4713.692 Texas is finding its way back onto the recruiting mapUniversity of Texas men’s basketball and football recruiting class ranks 201812?2? 20108.7782.417 201611.33310.417 Although the school has been rocked by huge personnel turnover over the past four years, there’s a little light on the horizon. The football team has three games remaining on its schedule and is just one win away from being bowl eligible, so Herman’s team could end another tough year on a positive note (Granted, Texas’s boosters won’t be doing backflips over a trip to the Cactus Bowl — but it’s something.) As for Smart and the basketball team, they’re resting their hopes on freshman center Mohamed Bamba, who is ranked No. 4 among incoming freshmen by ESPN heading into the new season. With a fresh start kicking off Friday, Smart will be looking to take his team back to the NCAA Tournament.
Here are the notes Neil worked from for the conversation: Embed Code Hot Takedown More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed After Chris Paul and Alex Ovechkin were knocked out of their playoffs this month, there were a lot of hot takes about how neither was a big enough star to carry his team to a championship. On this week’s “Hot Takedown,” Kate Fagan, Neil Paine and Chadwick Matlin look at some of the research on whether you need a star to win a title, or whether winning a title makes you a star. According to Neil’s analysis, the sport that relies on star players the most is basketball — then come baseball, football and hockey.
Welcome to this week’s episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s special show (July 14, 2015), we go to Stat School. With Kate on vacation, Chad out of the office and Neil stuck in New York, we pre-taped an episode that breaks down three ways to measure batting, in increasing complexity: batting average, OPS (on-base plus slugging) and wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). Neil schools Kate and Chad on the pros and cons of the stats, and what sabermetrics has taught us about players like the Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above.Below are some links to what we discuss on this week’s show:Nolan Arenado’s stat page.An in-depth explanation of batting average.An OPS breakdown.What is wRC+? More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Hot Takedown If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.
As if to put an exclamation point on their recent winning ways, the Toronto Blue Jays went into the Bronx over the weekend and swept the AL East-leading New York Yankees by a combined score of 10-1, narrowing New York’s division lead to a mere game and a half.The Blue Jays’ hot streak has been linked to their aggressive deal-making before MLB’s July 31 trade deadline. But as Victor Mather of The New York Times rightly pointed out in a column Monday, Toronto had the characteristics of a dominant team before they added any players. As of July 28, they possessed the American League’s top per-game run differential and its best underlying statistical fundamentals, despite a sub-.500 record.Baseball statheads have long known that a team’s run differential is generally a better predictor of future wins and losses than its record. So, it stood to reason that the Blue Jays would eventually turn things around. But we should also be careful not to swing too far in the opposite direction and ignore team records entirely.Run differential — which is usually expressed on the same scale as a winning percentage using the pythagorean formula — is indeed a better predictor than a team’s actual record. When predicting future wins at this stage of the baseball season, run differential is about 1.8 times as important as actual winning percentage. But that still means the optimal mix of pythagorean and actual winning percentages is roughly a 65-35 split, a ratio that gets closer to 50-50 as the season draws toward its end.This means that even if you know a team’s run differential, it also pays quite a bit to know its W-L record. While teams do tend to regress toward their underlying metrics, especially early in the season, we can capture additional signal by measuring a team’s ability to actually win ballgames (shock!).As for the Blue Jays, they’re clearly one of the AL’s best teams, especially with the extra weapons they picked up at the deadline. But their recent run of success wasn’t completely fated by their great underlying metrics earlier in the season — odds are, that disappointing record also said something real about them.
Junior forward Claudia Kepler (24) looks to pass the puck during a game against Minnesota State on Oct. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 5-3.Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State women’s hockey team (9-20-1, 5-18-1) was swept in a home series by the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers (28-1-1, 22-1-1) over the weekend despite putting up a battle in both games against one of the nation’s elite teams.Heading into the series, the Buckeyes were on their best four-game stretch of the season after recording two wins, a tie and a loss over their last two series.This was the second series between the Badgers and Buckeyes this season. The two teams played in the first conference series of the season in Madison, Wisconsin, in early October. Wisconsin outscored OSU 15-0 over those two games.This time around, the Buckeyes showcased their improved play despite losing both contests by scores of 2-1 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday.In Game 1, the Buckeyes held with the conference leaders throughout the first period but allowed a late power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the period. The goal for the Badgers was scored by junior defenseman Jenny Ryan.Both teams continued to battle in the second and third periods, and the Badgers broke through with a goal from sophomore Annie Pankowski to double their lead.The Buckeyes were able to find the net against the country’s best defense when junior Claudia Kepler scored her 12th goal of the season about halfway through the period. However, that was all the scoring the home team could manage despite a late power-play opportunity, and the game ended with Wisconsin taking the 2-1 win.On Saturday, in an emotionally charged contest, neither the Badgers nor Buckeyes were able to break through offensively in the first period. The Buckeyes got out to a slow offensive start with only two shots in the period, but sophomore goalie Alex LaMere was able to block all 12 of the Wisconsin shots to keep the game goalless.Four minutes into the second period, however, sophomore forward Baylee Wellhausen broke through to give the Badgers a one-goal lead. Then, a little over a minute into the third period, the Badgers got their second goal of the game when freshman Sam Cogan beat LaMere, sealing the 2-0 win.OSU will look to rediscover its ability to put points on the scoreboard when it travels to Bemidji State University next weekend to take on the Beavers in its final away series of the regular season. The games are scheduled to begin on Friday at 8:07 p.m. and Saturday at 5:07 p.m.A request for comments from the team after the second game of the weekend was denied.
Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue questions an official’s call during a game on Feb. 8 at in Cleveland. Credit: Courtesy of TNSFifty-two years.That is the amount of time since the city of Cleveland has been able to lay claim to a professional sports championship. Fifty-two years of long, agonizing pain for most Cleveland sports fans. However, a dawn seems to be coming.This year’s Cleveland Cavaliers look poised to be the city’s best chance in the past couple decades to defeat a sports curse that has plagued the town for the better part of the past century.The Cavs came as close to a championship in 2015 as any Cleveland team since the Indians lost in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins. They lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors in a series in which they were hampered by injuries, playing without stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.This year, the Cavaliers have had their ups and downs. Former coach David Blatt was fired about a month ago despite leading the team to a 30-11 record to start the season. Assistant coach Tyronn Lue was promoted to the head role, and the team is 10-4 since the move.Lue’s promotion, seemingly, was put in motion in order to counteract the Warriors’ offensive juggernaut, as many expect the two teams to meet again in the NBA Finals come June. Lue has stressed a more up-tempo offense, and it’s worked, evidenced by an increase in scoring from 101.4 points per game to 107.3 under the 38-year-old rookie coach.Although the team did not necessarily have bad conditioning before the coaching change, Lue has stated on many occasions that the Cavaliers need to get in better shape.This is something Cleveland will need if it goes up against the Warriors — a team that averages an astonishing 115.0 points per game and usually has five players on the court who can run in transition.One thing the Cavs have focused on is incorporating Love into their offense more. At times, Love looked out of place in Blatt’s offense, and he was visibly frustrated when he did not receive the ball.The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) puts up a shot during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant in Cleveland on Feb. 10. Credit: Courtesy of TNSUnder Lue’s offense, Love has seen an increase in touches, both in the post and at the elbow.Love is especially dangerous at the elbow, where he is able to hit the mid-range jumper. In the post, he has success backing down his defender for a baby hook near the block or pass to open shooters like J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson that spot up on the 3-point line.Channing Frye, who was recently acquired in a trade from Orlando, looks to play a pivotal part in the Cleveland offense as well. A 6-foot-11 post who shoots 3-pointers well, Frye playing alongside Love would give James four different options to kick the ball out to when he’s driving to the rim.Not surprisingly, a game plan to stop the Warriors first starts with containing Stephen Curry. Curry, the reigning MVP, is averaging 29.8 points per game this year and has terrorized the league from the 3-point line.Matthew Dellavedova proved capable at times guarding Curry in last year’s Finals. The key to his performance, and something the Cavs need to emulate again, is constant pressure on Curry. Whoever guards Curry has to pick him up right as he crosses half court and not leave his side until the rebound is secured.Additionally, if the Warriors do employ their small-ball lineup, Cleveland needs to use its size to gain an advantage on both the offensive and defensive boards.After losing to the Warriors last year in the Finals and both games this season, including a 132-98 blowout, the Cavaliers will undoubtedly have one eye on the Finals as they finish the season and head into the postseason.One could argue that Cleveland needs to focus on one game at a time. It’s a valid point, as the Cavs have a tendency at times this year to play down to the level of their opponents, namely a 106-97 loss to a Charlotte Hornets team playing with neither Al Jefferson nor Kemba Walker.However, the Cavaliers have shown they can make quick work of Eastern Conference foes in the playoffs. Besides perhaps the Toronto Raptors, no team poses a real threat to Cleveland’s hopes for back-to-back Finals appearances.Most importantly, the Cavaliers need to stay healthy. Fans and analysts alike have questioned, “What if?” in regards to Love and Irving’s absences in the Finals last year. Irving has a history of being injury-prone, so his minutes will need to be monitored as the Cavaliers advance deep into the playoffs.Despite what many say, the “Cleveland Curse” is real. Fans of the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns have gotten their hearts broken time and time again whenever it seems a championship run is impending. However, it is very possible that this just might finally be the year that the city of Cleveland can forget years of misery and rejoice as the Cavaliers bring home a championship.
Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is tackled during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs Oct. 27 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Browns lost, 23-17.Courtesy of MCTThe Drive, The Move, The Decision.Do I need to continue?These moments are painfully seared into the memories of Cleveland fans everywhere and the pain still lingers long after they were made.While I myself have only experienced a few of these heartbreaks as a native Clevelander, the sting of past failures is still felt by people like my father, who experienced The Drive, John Elway and the Denver Bronco’s 98-yard touchdown drive to tie the game in the AFC Championship game in 1987, firsthand.Let’s start with the Cleveland Browns, shall we? A franchise that has never once been to the Super Bowl and has made just one appearance in the playoffs since returning to the shores of Lake Erie in 1999.Being a Browns fan is a lot like believing in Santa Claus as a child. You hope and pray he is real, but deep down you know you will be disappointed when you see a family relative dressed up as Santa giving you a 4-12 record instead of the 11-5 record you asked for multiple times.Disappointment comes with the job description when cheering for the brown and orange. And yes, it is a job trying to cheer for a team that has started 20 different quarterbacks since the 1999 season. Imagine going to a job where your boss is fired every few weeks and a new one is brought in. Imagine this continuing for 15 years, and each year, your product becomes worse to the point where you quit.That is exactly what my father did when the Browns left Cleveland in 1995. He had been a season ticket holder for the Browns for years and when they left, he had just about given up hope. But being the proud Clevelander that he was, he returned for the opening game of the 1999 season when the new Browns made their return to city of rock ‘n’ roll. The brown and orange fell to the hated Steelers that day 43-0 and my dad has not attended a Browns game since. Can you blame him?But while the Browns have struggled for years, it wasn’t until The Decision, LeBron James “taking his talents” to Miami, that the Cleveland Cavaliers fell from the ranks of the NBA playoff regulars.The Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in 2013, a player who averages only 4.1 points per game in 12.7 minutes played. In the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”The one team that seems to be Cleveland’s only hope of being a successful sports town anytime soon is the beloved Cleveland Indians. The franchise that has not won a World Series since 1948 came within three outs of bringing the trophy back to Cleveland in the 1997 World Series before Jose Mesa and Charles Nagy quite literally threw the game away, allowing the Florida Marlins to celebrate a championship in just their fifth year of existence.But there is room for optimism at Jacobs Field in 2014 (I know, I know its “Progressive Field” now, but if you are any kind of Tribe fan it is still “The Jake” to you) coming off of an appearance in the playoffs in 2013. Although their berth in the American League Wild Card Game ended in defeat as the Tribe fell to the Tampa Bay Rays last season, the likes of former Buckeye Nick Swisher and 2013 All-Star Jason Kipnis have given Tribe fans a reason to cheer again and get excited about a team that has been so close to a title for so long.So to all you non-Cleveland fans out there who are disappointed when your team loses in the postseason or doesn’t bring home a title, don’t despair. Be happy you don’t cheer in a city that hasn’t won a major championship since 1964 — when the Browns won an NFL championship in the pre-Super Bowl era. And to all of my fellow Clevelanders out there who are desperate for a winner, remember our mantra as the Indians take the field this week:“There’s always next year.”
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. Christopher Wing, prosecuting, said Wild had a £100-a-day crack and heroin habit so hid himself under the cathedral altar table and waited until the building was closed.He then emerged and smashed a collection box, but realised his escape would be difficult. Mr Wing said: “He then found himself unable to get out, so he climbed around the carvings and tombs and mortuary chests.”These items are of significant historical importance. They are damaged and it will cost a lot of money to repair them.”In order to make his way out Wild kicked out panels of stained glass windows which were last restored in the 19th century.”He got out of the window and dropped 25 feet and got multiple fractures when he hit the ground.” It is a place of worship and important spiritually to many people. Damage causes real distress. It is valued and loved in this city.Judge Susan Evans QC Wild had managed to damage mortuary chests at Winchester Cathedral, Hants, which held bones of some of the country’s Saxon kings from over 1,000 years ago.The six mortuary chests are believed to contain the remains of Egbert, King of Wessex, who died in 839 AD.They are also understood to contain the bones of King Cnut, commonly known as Canute, who was a king of Denmark, England and Norway.Other chests to be damaged are thought to have William Rufus, who was King of England from 1087 until 1100, and Saint Swithun, who was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester.All Wild managed to steal was £10 cash from the charity donation box, Winchester Crown Court heard, before falling 25 feet from the window. Wild suffered a total of five fractures from the break-in which happened overnight on May 9 and 10 this year. After PC Vanes made the connection, he tracked Wild down via the taxi firm to his room at a hostel in Hyde Street, Winchester.While there, he found cathedral donation envelopes and arrested Wild.He told police he sometimes went to the cathedral to pray and was also sometimes suicidal about his drug-ruined life which has seen him amass 31 convictions for 67 offences.He admitted burglary and criminal damage, estimated at £37,867, to the mortuary chests and stained glass windows through which he battered an escape route.Nicholas Cotter, mitigating, said Wild’s life had been blighted by drugs and the need to find money which led to a string of offences.He said the broken bones were “perhaps a Biblical punishment” and he was still in pain.He said the damage was not malicious but reckless as, in his drug-addled state, Wild sought to flee the scene.Jailing Wild, Judge Susan Evans QC said: “Winchester Cathedral is an important symbolic building. It is a unique building that many people work hard to preserve.”It is a place of worship and important spiritually to many people. Damage causes real distress. It is valued and loved in this city.”The cathedral is financially self-supporting. It has insurance but the cost of the claim will mean a greater premium the next year.”I accept your remorse and that you did not intend to cause the level of damage you did and that you continue to suffer the effects of the fall.”The mortuary chests are currently stacked on the ground as part of a research project into the bones inside, which have become jumbled up.However, they are believed to contain members of the Royal families of Wessex and England, from Cynegils who died in 642 AD to William Rufus, who was slain in the New Forest in 1100.St Swithun, who is patron saint of the cathedral and whose bones are said to be in the chests, is famous for the proverb which states that if it rains on July 15 – St Swithun’s Day – it will rain for the next 40 days.The first time the bones were mixed together happened when Bishop Henry of Blois exhumed them in 1158 to re-enter them into lead coffers.Then in 1642, during the English Civil War, Parliamentarian troops stormed the cathedral and toppled the chests in an act of sacrilege.They were gathered up and replaced, but it’s impossible to know which bones belong together. Work to identify them at the cathedral, which attracts over 300,000 visitors a year, continues. A thief caused nearly £40,000 worth of damage to a cathedral’s historic relics then broke both his ankles as he smashed through its stained glass windows to escape.Paul Wild has been jailed for 20 months and remains in considerable pain a little over three months later in what a court heard was “perhaps a Biblical punishment”.On the night of the theft, a policeman saw Wild crawling away near a taxi rank, but simply assumed him to be drunk.But when PC Ben Vanes was called to the crime scene, he made the connection and later tracked down the 34-year-old heroin addict. The statue of St Swithun in the cathedralCredit: Stephen Lock
Most fashion fans scrolling through Instagram for the first time on Boxing Day probably expected photographs of illuminated Christmas trees and piles of presents to dominate their feeds. Instead, they found tribute after tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day. The pop superstar and prolific songwriter was behind many of the anthems of the 1980s and ’90s- and his videos were the crossroads for the worlds of fashion and music. Nowhere was this more true than in ‘Freedom! ’90’. The video starred the five leading supermodels of the day – Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz- lip-syncing to Michael’s lyrics. The video was inspired by photographer Peter Lindbergh’s January 1990 cover of British Vogue which showed models in a refreshingly honest way – a revolutionary move after the gloss and glamour of the previous decade.”They were the kind of models who were really independent, joyful and sporty, but – most importantly – they were strong in themselves. I thought that should be the future,” Lindbergh recently told The Telegraph of that era-defining image. “It’s a blue Christmas without you #GeorgeMichael Thank you for your soulful music and open heart ,” read Turlington’s caption to an image of her face from Freedom. 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. George Michael and Linda Evangelista Campbell posted two pictures: one from the 1991 Versace show in which she, Evangelista, Crawford and Turlington walked the runway arm in arm, mouthing the lyrics from Freedom, and another of Michael’s face. Crawford posted a video clip from an awards ceremony, and wrote, ‘Feeling very honored to have been part of #GeorgeMichael’s #Freedom90 video. His bravery inspired all of us. RIP George.’ ) By this morning, those models were among the dozens of fashion insiders sharing their memories of Michael, 53, on the social network.Evangelista posted a photo of herself with Turlington and Michael, writing: am beyond heartbroken and devastated by another tragic loss. R.I.P. dearest Georgy. #GeorgeMichael # ripgeorgemichael”
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. Liam Thomson with partner Sophie and elder daughter LolaCredit:nigel bennett/nb press ltd An IPCC spokesman said: “Our independent investigation into a fatal road traffic incident in the area of Pontrilas, near Hereford in which Liam Thomson died, is ongoing.”We have served notices on two West Mercia Police officers to advise them they are subject to investigation.” Their lawyer Nick Turner, of Russell and Co, said the case could pave the way for other children who were unborn when their parents were killed to bring compensation claims. Mr Turner will argue that the children have been deprived of Mr Thomson’s income. He was a probationer dairyman when he died. The 22-year-old female driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and is now on bail.The two police officers, who were pursuing the car on an unlit lane in dense fog in an unmarked BMW X5, have been put under investigation. Mr Turner said the case could involve a compensation clam for up to half a million pounds. He said: “I’ve been doing civil actions against the police for 25 years and I can’t recall ever coming across a case where the plaintiff is a three-month-old child born a week after the police killed her father,” he said.The sisters’ claim will be brought under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, which allows relatives of those killed by the wrongdoing of others to claim compensation. This case will clarify whether the act covers unborn children. A three-month-old baby is to become the youngest person ever to sue a police force after her father was killed in a police chase before she was born, in a case that could set a legal precedent. Amelia Thomson’s father Liam, 23, was killed in a night-time crash on a country lane in Pontrilas, Herefordshire, in December last year. His two daughters Lola, 5, and Amelia, three months, are now set to bring dependency claims against the force for causing his death.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has hit out at the epidemic of fake news in his annual Easter sermon. Archbishop Welby said that the public has become used to facts “being reduced to the level of opinion” and that “opinions are in themselves the only facts that seem to count”. He spoke as the Royal Family attended an Easter service at St George’s chapel at Windsor Castle. The Prime Minister Theresa May also attended a service at St Andrew’s Church in Sonning, Berkshire. Archbishop Welby said that Christians who have been targeted by bombing in Egypt will continue to celebrate Easter because of the “reality” of the Resurrection. Last week churches St George’s in Tanta and St Mark’s in Alexandria, both in northern Egypt, were attacked by bombers who killed at least 45 in attacks for which Isil has claimed responsibility. Archbishop Welby said: “We are used to facts being contested. We are even used to facts being reduced to the level of opinion. “So individualised are our news cycles that our opinions are in themselves the only facts that seem to count.”However, what brings the faithful out to worship in Tanta and Alexandria is truth. It happened.”In his Easter address Pope Francis also referenced violence in the Middle East, condemning Saturday’s attack on a convoy of Syrian evacuees near Aleppo. He said: “At this time support the efforts of those who are actively working to bring relief and comfort to civilians in Syria, the victim of a war that continues to sow horror and death. “The latest despicable attack yesterday on fleeing refugees has resulted in numerous deaths and injuries. Bring peace to all the Middle East, from the Holy Land to Iraq and Yemen as well.” 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.
“Although he is seriously unwell, he was able to recount how he faced the attackers armed only with his baton, outside London Bridge station. For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud.”Read our live blog of the London Bridge terror attackThe officer’s colleagues set up a JustGiving page in his honour and have been fundraising to send him on holiday once he gets out of hospital.Nearly £5,000 has now been raised.Fellow officer Ken Lees wrote on the page: “If ever a colleague deserved recognition it’s this guy. Totally selfless courage in the face of potential death. This is what it means to be a police officer. I am proud to have worn the same uniform.” A friend, Clare Hawkins, wrote: “For an amazingly brave man. I hope this helps you get back on your feet and helps [you] to make a full and quick recovery. Keeping you in our thoughts.”Another colleague, Tony Brett, wrote: “I would like to commend your bravery in the most challenging of situations. I hope you are as proud of yourself, as I am of you. An absolute Diamond Geezer.” 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. An image showing a suspected terrorist, wearing what appear to be canisters around his waist, on the ground after being knocked down by police officers during in Borough MarketCredit:GABRIELE SCIOTTO/ EPA A rookie officer who took on the London Bridge terrorists with a baton was stabbed in the face and suffered “life-altering injuries”, a friend has revealed.The officer was wounded in the face, leg and hands when he attempted to tackle the knife-wielding terrorists as they continued their killing spree in the bars and restaurants around Borough Market.A friend whose husband works with the officer, who has not yet been named, told The Telegraph he had sustained “life altering but not life threatening” injuries in the brutal attack, hailing him as a hero who “sets the example we should all follow”.The officer, who joined the British Transport Police less than two years ago, is believed to have been still on probation.BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther paid tribute to the “enormous courage” of his colleague, after it was revealed he had fought off the terrorists armed with just his baton. Three Metropolitan Police officers were also among those injured during the attack on Saturday night.One was an off-duty Southwark officer and amateur rugby player who battled heroically to stop the terrorists. He was stabbed as he attempted to overpower one of the terrorists, rugby-tackling him to the floor. He remains in hospital in a serious condition.A further two Met officers were both on duty Southwark officers. One was a plain clothes officer who sustained a head injury, the other a uniformed officer who sustained an injury to his arm. He said: “Having visited the officer in hospital shortly after he was admitted for treatment, I was able to hear his account of what happened. It became clear that he showed enormous courage in the face of danger, as did many others who were at the scene and rushed to help.
Ben Thomas, Principal of Thomas’s London Day Schools, insisted that George would be treated like any other pupil, saying his first half days would give the Duke “just enough time to get home and recover, have a cup of coffee” after the school run before returning to pick him up. Prince William on his 18th birthday at Eton Credit:PA The Prince, who turned four in July and will be one of the youngest in his year, spent the morning settling in with new friends before returning to Kensington Palace to report back to his mother and two-year-old sister.The Prince arrived at Thomas’ Battersea shortly before 8.50am, travelling in a child seat in the back of the family Range Rover in his blue shirt, red and navy jumper and smart shorts. The four-year-old is joining one of three reception classes at private, co-educational day school Thomas’s Battersea. If he stays at the selective establishment until the end of Year 8 when he turns 13, the total cost will be £172,116.Fees at the school cost from £17,604 a year, and increase to £19,884 a year for those in Year 3 and above.Headmaster Simon O’Malley says on the school’s website: “We hope that our pupils will leave this school with a strong sense of social responsibility, set on a path to become net contributors to society and to flourish as conscientious and caring citizens of the world.” Prince George looks a little nervousCredit: Richard Pohle/The Times Holding his father’s hand for reassurance, he glanced up only once as he walked across the car park, with the Duke appearing to give him a cheery pep talk along the way.Showing diplomatic skills already practiced in his overseas Royal tours, the Prince took the outstretched hand of Helen Haslem, head of Thomas’ lower school, and shook it politely. With the help of his new teacher, the Prince then made his way into school to find his coat peg and seat with his four-year-old classmates. The children are described as enjoying school life and following the establishment’s most important rule: “Be kind.”The 2014 inspection also states: “Pupils are adamant that there is no bullying at the school.”It says the children have an excellent understanding of cyber and prejudice-based bullying, and have their own anti-bullying committee, which trains older pupils to help younger pupils in need of peer support.This will be important to the Duke of Cambridge who is a vocal campaigner against bullying, and has set up an industry-wide taskforce to tackle cyberbullying. 10 things you didn’t know about Prince George’s new schoolFees at Thomas’s Battersea cost £17,604 a year and increase in Year 3. If George stays at the selective establishment throughout, until the end of Year 8 when he turns 13, the total cost will be £172,116.The school’s most important rule is “Be kind”. It expects its pupils “not just to tolerate but to celebrate difference, including faith, beliefs and culture”.The school also teaches leadership. “We aim to equip our pupils to lead by example; to be prepared to stand out from the crowd; to be the first to respond to someone in need; to stand up for what they believe to be right; to risk making an unpopular decision, if they believe it to be for the greater good,” it says.It has also reportedly discouraged pupils from having best friends, in order to stop others from having their feelings hurt.George will enjoy small class sizes of about 20 pupils. The average class size for primary schools in England is around 27 children.The Prince will be learning ballet – along with French, art, drama, ICT and music, as well as the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.Uniform is compulsory, including smart, pulled-up socks and navy bermuda shorts.George must have a red art smock, which costs from £30, a swim hat and a PE kit.Parents are advised to register their child soon after birth to be in with a chance of going to the oversubscribed school. Wannabe reception pupils are given an entrance assessment before being offered a place.The school dinners are often organic. Previous menu choices range from freshly baked courgette, halloumi and beetroot layer slice, to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified pangasius, leek and spring onion risotto, and oven baked beef meatballs with cannellini beans in a tomato and basil sauce with grated organic cheese and fresh crudities and steamed 50/50 brown and white rice.A new chapter for the CambridgesGeorge’s first day at school will also mark a new chapter for the Cambridges as they are now mainly based in their Kensington Palace apartment rather than their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall. William went on to board at Eton College, as did Prince Harry, for five years and it offered him a sanctuary when his parents were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce and provided stability in the difficult years that followed his mother’s death. Thomas’s Battersea teaches 560 boys and girls aged from four to 13, and is divided into a lower, middle and upper school.Art, ballet, drama, ICT, French, music and physical education are all taught by specialist teachers.Around 6.5 per cent of the UK’s school children are educated in private schools, according to the Independent Schools Council, and George’s parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing a royal tradition by opting for an independent institution rather than a state school.The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry went to Wetherby School in London, then Ludgrove School in Berkshire and on to board at Eton College. What does Ofsted say about it?Thomas’s Battersea is rated as outstanding by Ofsted, with pupils cited as making rapid progress in their learning. Show more Her prep school was St Andrew’s School in Pangbourne, Berkshire, where she returned for a visit in 2012 shortly before the announcement she was pregnant.She joined the public school, where fees are up to £4,980 per term, in 1986 when her family returned to the UK after spending two-and-a-half years in Jordan where she attended a nursery school.She stayed until she was 13 and was predominantly a day girl but in her later years also boarded for part of the week. Reception classes have a form tutor and a teaching assistant – and the head of lower school Helen Haslem will meet George and his parents at the school gates on his first day.Do they have good school dinners?Of course. School dinners boast an impressive range of wholesome options – and the catering team make sure the offerings feature organic meat, vegetables and dairy whenever possible.Past menu choices range from freshly prepared authentic lamb ragout with garlic and fresh herbs, served with organic grated cheese, baton carrots and cucumber, and steamed fibre-rich whole-wheat twisty pasta, to Mediterranean 50/50 couscous and quinoa, and baked smoked mackerel on a bed of puy lentils. Fees at Thomas’s Battersea school cost from £17,604 a yearCredit:Dan Kitwood/Getty Asked about Prince George looking anxious at the school gate, he told ITV News: “Poor old thing. He’s been left there to have to get on with it, when the parents go away. That’s the problem. It’s good for you in the end, I suppose. It’s character building, I suppose.”When asked if he gave the four-year-old any advice, he said: “Of course not, he wouldn’t take it from me, I don’t think, at that age.“No, but I shall be interested to hear how he got on. At that age you don’t worry quite so much about going to school as you do when you get a bit older. It’s that business of meeting new people and wondering, you know.” The Duke is a full-time working royal after leaving his job, at the end of July, as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.The expectation is he will now carry out more royal duties in support of the Queen and his own charity work and causes.What were his parents’ school days like?The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be particularly conscious of making sure their son Prince George enjoys his school days.As a 14-year-old, Kate withdrew from independent girls’ school Downe House in Cold Ash, Berkshire, after just two terms when she was reportedly bullied.She started afresh at Marlborough College, a £36,525 a year co-educational boarding school in Wiltshire, where she went on to blossom, captaining the hockey team and doing well in her exams.The Duchess is patron of school-based counselling charity Place2Be, and, with William, attended a child mental health conference to learn about issues surrounding the transition years between primary and secondary education.The couple also selected anti-bullying charity Beatbullying as one of the recipients of their wedding gift donations.William’s first experience of school was Mrs Mynor’s Nursery School in west London which he joined aged three.From the age of four the Duke went to Wetherby School, also in west London, before spending five years at Ludgrove School in Berkshire. He said: “There won’t be any special treatment at all. In fact what his parents would like for him, as any parent would like for their child, is they have a wonderful, fulfilling and private childhood in a place which is secure.”The school’s reception year, he said, would be “incredibly exciting” for the Prince but focused on him feeling safe, secure, and mastering the basics such as carrying his school lunch on a tray independently. The Duke later said Prince George had a “good day”, adding: “It was really nice actually. It’s a nice school.”Speaking at an afternoon event for the England Under 20 football team, he told head coach Paul Simpson: “It went well. There was one other parent who had more of an issue with their children – so I was quite pleased I wasn’t the one.”The Prince of Wales also sympathised with his grandson, describing the experience as “character building”. According to the Good Schools Guide, it is “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.”The assessment added: “Plenty of opportunities for pupils to excel but withdrawn types might find it all somewhat overwhelming.”Around 19 different languages are spoken in pupils’ homes, and it is described as having great facilities from science labs to two art studios and two pottery rooms with their own kiln.George will enjoy small class sizes of around 20 pupils. The average class size for primary schools in England is 27.1 pupils, according to government figures. His housemaster Dr Andrew Gailey was an important source of support. Dr Gailey’s role earned him an invite to the royal wedding in 2011 and the title of Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).It was Dr Gailey who was cited as influencing William’s university choice, having studied at St Andrews himself.Publicity surrounding Kate’s time at Marlborough College has benefited the school, which was recently able to open up a Marlborough College in Malaysia. The school also implements a strict control on the use of salt and sugar. Desserts have included an oven-baked oatmeal and raisin cookie served with a banana milkshake, and steamed jam and coconut sponge with organic custard.What about the uniform?The Prince’s smart, new uniform – which must be bought from John Lewis – includes a £25 navy v neck pullover with red trim and an embroidered red unicorn school logo on the chest, navy bermuda-style school shorts with smart front pleats and belt loop detail, and long red socks with navy stripe detail on the turn-over. Prince George is greeted by head teacher Helen HaslemCredit:/ AFP PHOTO / POOL / RICHARD POHLERICHARD POHLE/AFP/Getty Images/AFP Mr Thomas said: “We want him to have the confidence to be himself with all his quirks and idiosyncrasies and characteristics.” The Duke stayed with his son for around 40 minutes before leaving in the care of his new teacher.A Royal source said of the Duchess, who is suffering hyperemesis gravidarum: “She would have done anything to be here. It’s a big day in her son’s life but she really has been very sick.”Thomas’s Battersea is a family-run establishment situated in an old grammar school in a well-to-do area of London, nicknamed Nappy Valley because of the large number of affluent young families that live there.He will be in a class of up to 22 children, and as a July baby be one of the youngest. In comparison, research released by Nationwide Current Accounts has shown parents in the UK spend an average of around £141 per child on back-to-school uniform and sports kit after the summer break, not including items such as stationery, books, lunch boxes and technology.Thomas’s Battersea follows the Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum which focuses on: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language, physical development; literacy; mathematics; understanding the world; and expressive arts and design.Who is the headmaster?Like George, headmaster Mr O’Malley starts at the school in September.An Aberdeen University graduate, he has taught in Kenya and previously was headmaster of Wellesley House School in Kent, a post he held for 11 years.The Good Schools Guide praised Mr O’Malley, describing him as “ambitious and enthusiastic; generated an energy and buzz about his previous school. Much-liked and respected by parents”. His black school shoes must be polishable and laceless. Other items George will be taking with him are a red art smock, which costs from £30, a sports kit including a swim hat, and a pair of black ballet shoes.George’s compulsory winter and summer uniform, plus sports and ballet kit, will have cost William and Kate more than £365, not including extras such as a winter hat and scarf. Kate Middleton pictured in 1988 when she attended St Andrew’s Prep School Ms Haslem and the Duke of Cambridge escort the prince across the playgroundCredit: REUTERS/Richard Pohle/Pool With his brand new shoes and jumper big enough to grow into, a shy Prince George embarked on his first day of school today, clutching his father’s hand while his mother was laid up with illness.The Duchess of Cambridge missed the milestone moment in her eldest son’s life after being struck down by severe morning sickness in the early stages of her third pregnancy.Instead, the Duke did the honours, encouraging his apprehensive son and carrying a school bag labelled “George Cambridge” across the playground and into the reception class. What kind of school is Prince George going to?Prince George of Cambridge’s new school costs more than £17,000 a year, serves freshly prepared organic meals for lunch and aims to ensure the young future king becomes a “conscientious and caring citizen of the world”. The Duke, introducing himself too, told her that Prince George had been excitedly pointing out the other children in their school uniform on the way in. 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.
Prof Gray urged older people to find exercise classes that they enjoy, and to walk everywhere if they can.“We have this thing where, if our elderly mum is getting on and she can’t get to the shops any more, that we go and help her. This is completely wrong. We need more activity with every year that passes,” he said.“I don’t find gyms very welcoming for older gentleman and ladies. They’re full of young pups wearing very little clothes and lifting heavy weights around.“But things are slowly changing, there are some great classes out there, and socialising while exercising is very important,” he said.He warned that the younger generations are setting themselves up for an unhealthy old age, particularly for the growing number of people who work from home. “They often slide out of bed, into the office, via the kitchen and that’s it,” he said.For those who commute to a desk job, things are not much better, according to Prof Gray, with the combination of inactivity and stress providing the basis for joint and brain problems. He said: “Desk jobs are like the polluted water problems of the 1970s.“I want Bear Grylls to commute from Barking into London and sit at a desk for nine hours – now that’s a challenge.” Older people should be given a course of pilates lessons as a birthday gift rather than slippers or chocolates, according to Diana Moran, the ‘Green Goddess’ exercise guru.Moran, 78, said people in their 60s and 70s can have greater fitness than millennials because they did no spend their childhoods playing video games.However, it is essential that they continue to exercise in old age, she told an audience at the Oxford Literary Festival.Moran, who earned her nickname when she appeared on BBC breakfast television in a green leotard, said: “I see people in gym classes that are in their 60s and 70s that are much fitter than those in their 30s and 40s. They had to walk to school, were made to do sport and PE, and because of that our bone bank is stronger.“When I ask for presents I ask for pilates lessons, things to help my hobbies and stimulate my brain, not slippers and chocolates.”Moran has co-written a book, Sod Sitting, Get Moving! With Prof Sir Muir Gray, clinical advisor to Public Health England. 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.
Over the years the programme has evolved as the terror threat changed. While al-Qaeda was considered the main threat at first, now the policy is aimed at combating Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the pull of militants in Syria.The cash has gone into a broad range of areas. In 2010, it emerged that CCTV cameras in Muslim areas of Birmingham – 72 of them hidden – were partly funded by Home Office counter-terrorism funding.In 2016, it was reported that one component of Prevent has been a covert propaganda campaign that aims to bring about “attitudinal and behavioural change” among young British Muslims. 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. He admitted some communities find the programme to be “unpalatable” but he said they need to accept they have a role to play in combating terror. Video: How Jihadi John was radicalised The Prevent brand is now “toxic” in parts of the Muslim community, he said.In April 2016, a United Nations special rapporteur warned that the programme might stifle healthy discussion and debate, an accusation repeated three months later by Rights Watch UK.In October, a study by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a US-based NGO, found that the strategy was badly flawed, potentially counterproductive and risked trampling on the basic rights of young Muslims.Kings College London (KCL) sparked an outcry last year after it admitted that student and staff emails can be “monitored and recorded”, under the Government’s Prevent strategy, in a bid to root out potential extremists. Has it been successful?Defending the Prevent programme after the Manchester attack, Ms Rudd said it had helped stop 150 people – including 50 children – from leaving Britain to fight in Syria in the last year alone.”There’s really strong evidence of Prevent initiatives helping families, saving children’s lives and stopping radicalisation,” she told Question Time. “Prevent is saving lives, it is doing good work.” A very interesting exchange between Amber Rudd and an audience member on tonight’s. #bbcqt pic.twitter.com/IRwAhHojuF— EL4C (@EL4JC) May 25, 2017 The Government’s former terror watchdog said in the days after the Manchester attack that the Prevent anti-terror programme needs to be “strengthened”.David Anderson, who stepped down from the role of independent reviewer of terrorism legislation last February, said the suicide bombing was likely to “focus minds” on the importance of Prevent. Hundreds of children and teenagers have been flagged up to a counter-terrorism programme over right-wing extremism.New figures released by the Home Office show that in 2016/17 there were 272 under-15s and 328 young people aged 15 to 20 referred to the Prevent scheme over suspected right-wing terrorist beliefs.Across all ages, 968 referrals were made linked to right-wing extremism, an increase of more than a quarter on the previous year when 759 individuals were highlighted as being of concern.The threat from right-wing extremism has grown in recent years, with domestic groups in the UK forming international networks with hate-filled groups in Europe. In 2017 British police and security services foiled four murderous right-wing plots.Prevent, which has an annual budget of about £40 million, aims to stop people being drawn into terrorism.Anyone concerned that someone they know is at risk of radicalisation can refer them to Prevent, but only a small percentage of cases are deemed to require anti-extremism action.What is Prevent?The government introduced Prevent in 2003, but it was not made public for some years. It is one of the four Ps that make up Contest – the government’s post 9/11 counter-terror strategy:Prepare for attacksProtect the publicPursue the attackersPrevent their radicalisation to start withThe programme was expanded greatly in the wake of the 2005 London bombings, with almost £80 million spent on 1,000 schemes in the six years after the attacks. Why has it been criticised?Prevent has been criticised as being counter-productive with some suggesting it puts people off sharing information with the police.Harun Khan, the then deputy head of the Muslim Council of Britain, told the BBC in 2014 that Prevent was alienating the very people it was intended to reach. “Most young people are seeing [Prevent] as a target on them and the institutions they associate with,” Mr Khan said.In the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester’s metro mayor, said there was a need for a “fundamental review” of Prevent, which he said had led to members of Britain’s Muslim community feeling “picked on”.
A leading university has become embroiled in a major research scandal, after an inquiry found that scientific papers were doctored over an eleven year period. A panel of experts was set up to investigate the claims and their findings were set out in a report earlier this year. However, the report has not been made… UCL launched a formal investigation after a whistleblower made allegations of research fraud in dozens papers published by scientists at the Institute. Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck and one of the country’s top geneticists, is accused of “recklessness” by allowing research fraud to take place under his watch at University College London’s (UCL) Institute of Child Health.