OSU sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) during a game against Rutgers on Jan. 13 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorSitting at the podium in the bowels of the Schottenstein Center addressing the media Wednesday afternoon, Thad Matta pretended to flip a coin. The Ohio State men’s basketball coach looked upward, watching the imaginary disk rotate, before acting as if he caught it in the palm of his right hand.Completing the action, Matta slapped his right hand onto the backside of his left one, as he then showed the media what the result of the phantom flip was. He grinned. “That’s what it is sometimes,” he said. What spurred Matta to put on the routine was a question about the toughness of his youthful Buckeyes. His response showed just how hit-or-miss his team’s performances have been this season. The effort is there one night then gone the next, with seemingly no rhyme or reason, as if it’s up to chance — like flipping a coin.“That’s got to be where we get that constant,” Matta said of his team’s toughness. “I think we’re making strides in that regard. What I’m trying to avoid the best I can is any setbacks. That’s something that continues to be preached.” Likely prompted by a shift in the starting lineup, the Buckeyes’ toughness was visible Monday night in their 66-46 victory over Penn State. Freshmen A.J. Harris and Daniel Giddens cracked the starting lineup and helped provide OSU (13-8, 5-3) with the edge in the 20-point win. The question now, like it has been all season long, is which team will show up in the next game, which is scheduled to be Thursday night on the road against Illinois (10-10, 2-5). Will the starting five once again contain Harris and Giddens, meaning freshman guard JaQuan Lyle and redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson will come off the bench for the second consecutive night? “It could,” Matta said. “I just want to see guys fight.” That fight he is looking for in his players comes not only during live action but in practice, too. Matta said Harris and Giddens looked “noticeably different” leading up to the Penn State game, which explains the variation in the starting lineup. At the time of Matta speaking to the media, practice had yet to take place for the day, but the coach said he thinks Harris and Giddens understand how important it is for “what they do.” Giddens, who missed practice Tuesday because of illness, insisted that he doesn’t know what the starting lineup will look like against the Fighting Illini. “He just wants five guys to be prepared to go on the floor,” Giddens said. “Consistency has been an issue.” Although still searching for it on a more regular basis, sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop, who had a team-high 22 points against the Nittany Lions, said he felt that the team displayed a performance consistent both offensively and defensively on Monday. Matta agreed, saying that what transpired on the floor was just what he hoped for when he made the move to change the lineups. “That’s what I’m after,” he said. “Give me the constant, in terms of the effort, the toughness we need, both physically and mentally.” As for the result of the pretend coin flip, was it heads or tails? Will the toughness Matta has been searching for — and maybe found with the lineup switch — be there once the ball goes up? “I’ll tell you tomorrow at 9 p.m.,” he said, laughing. “Or 9:02 p.m.” A glimpse at Illinois The Fighting Illini have dropped five of their last seven games, but they head into Thursday’s matchup with a five-point win over Minnesota fresh in their minds. In that game on Saturday in Minneapolis, Illinois got a 28-point performance from junior guard Malcolm Hill to help carry his team to the victory. It was the 10th time this season that Hill led his team in scoring. Overall, he averages a team-leading 18.3 points per contest. The 6-foot-6 guard has good size for a backcourt player, and the Buckeyes know that he can fill it up despite holding him to 4-of-13 shooting and 14 points when the two teams met on Jan. 3. Along with Hill, fellow junior guard Kendrick Nunn has been excelling since returning from an early-season injury to provide coach John Groce with a formidable backcourt duo. The Chicago native averages just over 17 points a game on 45 percent shooting, while also scooping up 5.4 rebounds per contest. Matta acknowledged the recent play of the duo, describing its performance as “high-level.” Building off the strength of these two guards, the Fighting Illini have a tendency to play small, sometimes using four backcourt players at the same time. Typically, this could be a wrinkle in the gameplan for a team that has effective post players, like OSU, but Giddens said he sees “no problems” for the Buckeyes. “As long as we come in focused and ready to go, we’ll be fine,” he said. Up next After Thursday’s game, OSU will return to Columbus to prepare for its shot to avenge a 35-point loss to Maryland earlier in the month. The Buckeyes and the eighth-ranked Terrapins are scheduled to hit the hardwood Sunday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
OSU coach Urban Meyer looks on after facing Michigan State on Nov. 21, 2015. OSU lost, 17-14. Credit: Lantern file photoSince the end of last season, OSU coach Urban Meyer has been waiting for his team to step up and replace those who departed for the NFL. While some Buckeyes have fulfilled that request and claimed spots on the depth chart, Meyer is still searching for improvement on all nine units ahead of the first game on Sept. 3.“We’re not there yet,” Meyer said.Ohio State is a little more than two weeks into practice and has fewer than two weeks until its first game against one of Meyer’s former teams, the Bowling Green Falcons. Fall camp has officially ended, and Meyer has begun to narrow down his personnel.On Monday, he named redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard as a starter and said that if junior weak-side linebacker Dante Booker and redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber each have another week showing progress, both will get the call as starters.But Meyer made it clear that some guys need to elevate their own performances, specifically mentioning the offensive line. He said that the two-deep on the unit would not be prepared to enter a game situation.“It’s all about getting game-ready and that’s what this week is all about,” Meyer said. “Because next week you’re installing gameplans.”At practice, each coach has his own chart of players with criteria to determine if each one is game ready. The chart documents the amount of reps each player takes and the number of practices in which the player has been involved.Before each practice, Meyer sits down with his coaches to go over the players at the top and near the top of the depth chart. When a player is deemed game ready, that player receives a green check next to his name. Meyer said that none of his guys will see playing time until the player receives that distinction.Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said that the skills necessary to be game ready are different for every member of the team. Smith wants to have six receivers available at all times, so the pressure is on his crew to be game ready.“I can’t stamp everybody as game-ready but there are a couple guys that are really close,” Smith said. “They’re really responding to coaching and playing at a high level right now.”Meyer said that he has had situations with past teams in which players were just not good enough to play at the season’s beginning. For the 2016 Buckeyes, Meyer said that’s not the case. He’s confident in the talent his team possesses. It just comes down to reps, scheme and other factors.“(Being game-ready) is going to be so critical this year — more than ever with a young team,” Meyer said. “It’s got to be clear to them what you got to do to get ready.”
Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) breaks away on an 81-yard touchdown run during the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin on Dec. 6 in Indianapolis. OSU won, 59-0.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State football team found out it was playoff-bound when the final College Football Playoff rankings were announced Sunday afternoon, but the Buckeyes wouldn’t have earned that spot without their drubbing of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game a day earlier.OSU (12-1, 8-0) topped the Badgers, 59-0, locking up its 35th Big Ten title. With a new quarterback in the lineup and having recently learned of the death of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, the Buckeyes’ dominating performance came as a surprise to many.But surprise or not, The Lantern sports editors picked five key takeaways from the win that booked OSU’s ticket to the playoffs. 1. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones didn’t miss a stepJones — starting in place of injured redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett — completed an eight-yard pass to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas on the first play of the game. Then five plays later, he heaved the ball downfield and found the hands of senior wide receiver Devin Smith for a 39-yard touchdown.Less than two minutes is all it took for Jones to show everyone at Lucas Oil Stadium — and anyone watching on TV — that he did, in fact, go to Indianapolis to play football.Throughout the game, the Glenville High School product showed off his world-class arm strength and surprisingly reliable accuracy and decision-making skills on his way to MVP honors.Jones totaled 257 yards and three touchdowns as he completed 12 of 17 pass attempts in the game without turning the ball over. Anyone who predicted those numbers likely also predicated on OSU win, but with almost nothing to go off of, not many could have expected Jones to have the success he did.It was a near flawless performance, and had he struggled, a win alone might not have been enough to get the Buckeyes to the playoffs.2. Senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett might be the Buckeyes’ most important playerBefore Saturday, the argument could have been made that Barrett had been the main key to OSU’s success. But with the way Jones performed, a quick look to the defensive line shows who the Buckeyes’ true leader from a physical and emotional standpoint is.Bennett donned No. 53 in honor of Karageorge, and played with a chip on his shoulder from start to finish. He tallied a career-high four tackles for loss to go along with two sacks, and forced a fumble that was recovered and returned for a touchdown by sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa.Bennett had made mid-game speeches to spark the Buckeyes more than once this season, but it was clear that his play on the field — and leadership on the sidelines — helped key OSU to arguably its most important win since the 2002 National Championship Game.3. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott simply outplayed Wisconsin’s Heisman candidateWisconsin redshirt-junior running back Melvin Gordon is likely going to be a Heisman Trophy finalist as the nation’s top rusher, but on Saturday he wasn’t even the best player at his position on the field.OSU’s Elliott broke Gordon’s own Big Ten title game record with 220 rushing yards, and he did it on just 20 carries. Gordon managed just 76 yards on his 26 attempts and couldn’t help the Badgers put points on the board, while Elliott scored 12 points on his own.Through 13 games, Elliott has tallied 1,402 rushing yards on 217 carries with 12 touchdowns while adding 26 receptions for another 208 yards through the air.Elliott’s play of late has drawn comparisons to former Buckeye Carlos Hyde, and if he keeps improving, he could easily end up having an even better collegiate career.4. The Buckeye defense answered the Bell and then someSophomore safety Vonn Bell, along with the rest of the Buckeye defense, lived up to their “Silver Bullet” mantra Saturday night. Bell, who tied for the team lead in tackles against Wisconsin with seven, recorded his fifth interception for the season late in the first quarter to set the tone for the Buckeye defense. The Buckeyes not only held Wisconsin redshirt-junior quarterback Joel Stave to 187 yards passing on 17 of 43 through the air, but they also shut down potential Heisman finalist Gordon all night long. For an OSU defense to perform like they did on the biggest stage in the Big Ten conference showed that the Buckeyes are…5. Deserving of the No. 4 seed in the College Football PlayoffThe Buckeyes leapfrogged Texas Christian to get into the inaugural College Football Playoff and they deserve it. OSU put up a 59 spot on the second-best defense in the country and held the nation’s leading rusher to a 2.9 yards per carry average. The Horned Frogs did indeed dominate the Iowa State Cyclones, but it doesn’t help that the Cyclones entered that game 2-9 on the season. It also hurt the Big 12 in that they no longer have a conference championship game. Do not be surprised if the Big 12 isn’t actively looking for two new members before the start of next season.The Buckeyes put on a clinic in the conference title game and will now get a shot at the No. 1 team in the country in Alabama. Nick Saban versus Urban Meyer is must-see TV and you can bet all eyes will be on the Superdome on Jan. 1 for the Sugar Bowl. Kickoff in New Orleans is set for 8:30 p.m.
To fill a shortage in its elite Marine Raider units, the Marine Corps wants to adjust its fiscal 2019 budget proposal so it can add 400 personnel next year. It originally requested growing by only 100 Marines — and by 1,100 service members since FY 2017 — to reach an active-duty end strength of 186,100 by Oct. 1, 2019. Documents released in February along with its budget request showed the Corps reaching an end strength of 186,400 by FY 2023.To hit its end strength goal, Marine Special Operations Command wants to add combat and combat service support personnel, rather than special operators, reported Marine Corps Times. The command’s shortage stems from the constraints imposed by the statutory budget caps and are not a result of recruitment problems or attrition rates.Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy Dan Cohen AUTHOR
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump (R) in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images [Representational Image]Saudi Arabia is threatening to sell its oil in currencies other than the dollar if Washington passes a bill exposing OPEC members to U.S. antitrust lawsuits, three sources familiar with Saudi energy policy said.They said the option had been discussed internally by senior Saudi energy officials in recent months. Two of the sources said the plan had been discussed with OPEC members and one source briefed on Saudi oil policy said Riyadh had also communicated the threat to senior U.S. energy officials.The chances of the U.S. bill known as NOPEC coming into force are slim and Saudi Arabia would be unlikely to follow through, but the fact Riyadh is considering such a drastic step is a sign of the kingdom’s annoyance about potential U.S. legal challenges to OPEC.In the unlikely event, Riyadh was to ditch the dollar, it would undermine its status as the world’s main reserve currency, reduce Washington’s clout in global trade and weaken its ability to enforce sanctions on nation states.”The Saudis know they have the dollar as the nuclear option,” one of the sources familiar with the matter said.”The Saudis say: let the Americans pass NOPEC and it would be the U.S. economy that would fall apart,” another source said.Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry did not respond to a request for comment.A U.S. state department official said: “as a general matter, we don’t comment on pending legislation.”The U.S. Energy Department did not respond to a request for comment. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said that NOPEC could lead to unintended consequences.DOLLAR HEGEMONYNOPEC, or the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, was first introduced in 2000 and aims to remove sovereign immunity from U.S. antitrust law, paving the way for OPEC states to be sued for curbing output in a bid to raise oil prices.While the bill has never made it into law despite numerous attempts, the legislation has gained momentum since U.S. President Donald Trump came to office. Trump said he backed NOPEC in a book published in 2011 before he was elected, though he has not voiced support for NOPEC as president.Trump has instead stressed the importance of U.S-Saudi relations, including sales of U.S. military equipment, even after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.A move by Saudi Arabia to ditch the dollar would resonate well with big non-OPEC oil producers such as Russia as well as major consumers China and the European Union, which have been calling for moves to diversify global trade away from the dollar to dilute U.S. influence over the world economy.Russia, which is subject to U.S. sanctions, has tried to sell oil in euros and China’s yuan but the proportion of its sales in those currencies is not significant.Venezuela and Iran, which are also under U.S. sanctions, sell most of their oil in other currencies but they have done little to challenge the dollar’s hegemony in the oil market.However, if a long-standing U.S. ally such as Saudi Arabia joined the club of non-dollar oil sellers it would be a far more significant move likely to gain traction within the industry.WHAT IF?Saudi Arabia controls a 10th of global oil production, roughly on par with its main rivals – the United States and Russia. Its oil firm Saudi Aramco holds the crown of the world’s biggest oil exporter with sales of $356 billion last year.Depending on prices, oil is estimated to represent 2 per cent to 3 per cent of global gross domestic product. At the current price of $70 per barrel, the annual value of global oil output is $2.5 trillion.Not all of those oil volumes are traded in the U.S. currency but at least 60 per cent is traded via tankers and international pipelines with the majority of those deals done in dollars.Trading in derivatives such as oil futures and options is mainly dollar denominated. The top two global energy exchanges, ICE and CME, traded a billion lots of oil derivatives in 2018 with a nominal value of about $5 trillion.Just the prospect of NOPEC has already had implications for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Qatar, one of the core Gulf OPEC members, quit the group in December because of the risk NOPEC could harm its U.S. expansion plans.Two sources said that despite raising the dollar threat, Saudi Arabia did not believe it would need to follow through.”I don’t think the NOPEC bill will pass but the Saudis have ‘what if’ scenarios,” one of the sources said.ASSET SALESIn the event of such a drastic Saudi move, the impact would take some time to play out given the industry’s decades-old practices built around the U.S. dollar – from lending to exchange clearing.Other potential threats raised in Saudi discussions about retaliation against NOPEC included liquidating the kingdom’s holdings in the United States, the sources said.The kingdom has nearly $1 trillion invested in the United States and holds some $160 billion in U.S. Treasuries.If it did carry out its threat, Riyadh would also have to ditch the Saudi riyal’s peg to the dollar, which has been exchanged at a fixed rate since 1986, the sources said.The United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, relied heavily on Saudi and OPEC supplies for decades – while supporting Riyadh militarily against its arch-foe Iran.But soaring shale oil production at home has made Washington less dependant on OPEC, allowing it to be more forceful in the way it deals with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations.Over the past year, Trump has regularly called on OPEC to pump more oil to lower global oil prices, and linked his demands to political support for Riyadh – something previous U.S. administrations have refrained from doing, at least publicly.
A young man was hacked to death by miscreants at Kacharipara of Pabna municipality on Thursday evening, reports UNB. The deceased was Ariful Islam Sagar, 22, son of late Abdul Hamid of the area.Officer-in-charge of Sadar police station Abdur Razzaque said a group of miscreants chopped Ariful indiscriminately around 7:30pm, leaving him injured.He was taken to Pabna General Hospital where physicians declared him dead, the OC said.
Kazi Nazrul IslamThe 119th birth anniversary of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam will be celebrated in the country on Friday in a befitting manner.Born on 25 May, 1899 at Churulia village in Burdwan district of West Bengal in India, Nazrul through his fiery poems had inspired people to fight against injustice and repression of the colonial rule.The government and different socio-cultural and political organisations have taken elaborate programmes to observe the day, according to UNB.The birth anniversary of the poet will also be celebrated at Trishal in Mymensingh, Daulatpur in Cumilla and Chattogram with due respect by the local administrations.Different educational institutions across the country as well as all the Bangladeshi embassies abroad will also observe the day.President Abdul Hamid will inaugurate a two-day national programme on the occasion in Trishal at 3:00pm.The cultural affairs ministry and its associate organisations will pay tributes to the poet placing wreaths at his grave by the Central Mosque of Dhaka University.Besides, Dhaka University is organising a daylong programme to celebrate the 119th birth anniversary of the national poet.Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy will arrange a discussion and cultural programme at 11:00am.Nazrul Institute will arrange a cultural programme on 27 May on its premises.Newspapers will publish special supplements and Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar will broadcast various programmes on the occasion.Meanwhile, president Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages on the eve of the day, praying for eternal peace of the poet’s departed soul.
UK public broadcaster the BBC has launched a new sports application for connected TVs. It allows viewers to access interactive and enhanced coverage of a host of sporting events.The first event covered will be Formula 1 motor racing with the app providing access to live streams, on-demand video and other additional content around races the BBC is covering including a ‘driver tracker’ that shows where each car is on the race circuit.Separately, the BBC has added live and sporting events to its international iPlayer service. The University boat race is one of the first sporting events that has been made available on the catch-up service.
Roku is increasing its lead in the battle for supremacy between streaming media player providers in the US, according to research by Parks Associates.According to the research group’s Reinventing CE: Transforming Devices to Service Platforms, 37% of streaming media device owners in US broadband homes owned and use a Roku device as of the end of the first quarter, up from a third a year earlier.Of the other major players in the market, Amazon Fire TV significantly increased its share of the installed base over the same period, growing its share from 16% to 24%, overtaking Google’s Chromecast, which now holds an 18% share of the overall installed base. Apple was the main loser, with the Apple TV device’s share falling to 15%.The Parks Associates report also found that 45% of US broadband homes now own a smart TV and that nearly one half of all US broadband homes own a game console.Parks Associates also estimated that 15.6 million smart speakers with personal digital assistants were sold in the US last year.“Roku emerged early as a U.S. market leader for streaming media players, and the company has held firmly to that position. Higher-priced devices, such as the Apple TV, have not been able to keep up with low-priced and readily available Roku devices, which can be found at Walmart for as low as $29.99,” said Glenn Hower, senior analyst, Parks Associates.“One-third of U.S. broadband households own a streaming media player. The growth of the U.S. OTT market provided consumers with unprecedented ease of access to video content. These streaming media devices make for quick and easy access to the top OTT libraries.”