Iloka backs Steelers’ Mitchell, defends Smith-Schuster hit

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 3:57 PM

Iloka says NFL made right decision

Finally, something the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers can agree on.

One day after having his suspension overturned by the NFL and saying “they made the right decision,” Bengals safety George Iloka concurred with comments made by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell on Wednesday.

“I personally think, like Mike said, if you start suspended guys for that, the league is going to turn into a brand of football in which, if you’re worried about losing viewers, you’ll lose a lot more,” Iloka said. “Fines. Understandable. Repeat offenders. Understandable. Plays away from the ball, off ball incidents, post-whistle kind of things. OK, all right. Those might warrant suspensions if deemed unreasonable.

“But on-ball kind of plays, which are football plays, to suspend for that is going to set a bad precedent to where guys are just going to pull up and give away things,” Iloka added. “I’m not a betting man, but I can guarantee you next if will be Vegas complaining, talking about they’re throwing these games and things like that.”

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Iloka pointed to the play where William Jackson stopped short of hitting Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell because he appeared to be heading out of bounds, only to watch him to stay in bounds and score a 35-yard touchdown.

“That, to me, I would turn off football to see plays like that,” he said. “(Jackson)told you legit, ‘I was scared of getting a personal foul.’”

Iloka said the hit he originally was suspended for is a football play and took exception to the suggestion it was in response to the hit JuJu Smith-Schuster delivered against Vontaze Burfict, resulting in the Bengals linebacker leaving the field strapped to a backboard on a cart.

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The Smith-Schuster hit, which Iloka defended, also drew a one-game suspension that will be served Sunday after the rookie receiver’s appeal was denied.

“I heard people say it was for retaliation,” Iloka said. “No. Not the case. There’s just 3 minutes and some change left and they’re going for a tie. He throws the ball into a tight window and I tried to make a play. Whether it be a random team like the Detroit Lions, the Steelers, the Browns, anybody, just take away my name, take away the receiver, take away the team names, that’s what you want each player to do in that situation.

“You expect the quarterback to throw into a tight window,” he continued. “You expect the receiver to go up for the catch. And you expect the safety to try to draw the ball free. Period. Just take away the names. It’s not that deep. It was a football play. Just like JuJu’s was a football play. It’s just obviously like they said and a lot of people said, no one agrees with him standing over someone that’s hurt. But football plays are football plays, and this game is violent. We know that.”

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Mitchell defended Iloka on Twitter after the suspension was announced, saying he’s not a dirty player. Iloka and Mitchell work out together in the offseason and talk at times during the season.

Iloka said he didn’t think Mitchell was defending him so much as he was sticking up for the game they play and love.

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“He obviously understands the position we’re in week in and week out,” Iloka said. “I think he’s just speaking for the future of the game. I’m going to be in that position five more times this next game, and the game after that. That’s the position we’re in as safeties. Quarterbacks are going to throw into tight windows and you’ll be in that situation a lot. It feels like what am I supposed to do? What would you want your safety on your team to do? Just concede us a touchdown?

“That’s not how anybody should want the game to be,” he added. “Not a fan, not a coach and not a player. Period. I think that’s what (Mitchell) sees. He’s like man, if you’re suspended after football plays, what are we doing? We’re not playing football anymore. It’s just flag football. If you want a flag, go to your local college intramural league, not what we’re doing here.”

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Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell era ends with blowout loss to Central Michigan

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 8:58 PM

Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, right, dribbles the basketball while defended by Maryland guard Kaila Charles during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the Big Ten conference tournament, Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Indianapolis. Ohio State won 79-69. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)
R Brent Smith/AP
Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, right, dribbles the basketball while defended by Maryland guard Kaila Charles during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the Big Ten conference tournament, Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Indianapolis. Ohio State won 79-69. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)(R Brent Smith/AP)

Central Michigan looked far from an 11 seed Monday night. 

The Chippewas crushed third-seeded Ohio State 95-78 at St. John Arena to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. 

That brought an end to the brilliant career of Ohio State point guard Kelsey Mitchell. 

She scored 28 points to finish with 3,402 for her career. 

That is No. 1 at Ohio State and in Big Ten annals while trailing only Washington’s Kelsey Plum on the NCAA’s all-time list (3,527). Mitchell passed Jackie Stiles of Missouri State to move into second place with a breakaway layup in the fourth quarter. 

The three-time Big Ten Player of the Year also holds the NCAA record for 3-pointers with 497. 

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Ohio State led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, but the Chippewas scored the last four points of the stanza to close within 15-9. 

CMU hung around despite missing 13 of 16 shots in the first quarter.  

Ohio State was 6 for 16 but committed four turnovers, but that was spectacular compared to a disastrous second quarter for the Buckeyes. 

They missed 11 of 13 shots from the field and committed six turnovers against an aggressive CMU defense and while being outscored 25-6. 

The Chippewas used a 20-1 run that started late in the first quarter to open up a 25-16. 

Mitchell halted that by rattling home a jumper from the elbow with 3:12 on the clock. 

She had a chance to make it a three-point game with 2:18 left but missed a free throw. 

Then the Buckeyes gave up three consecutive 3-pointers, two wide-open looks for Cassie Breen and one a fadeaway by Presley Hudson off the dribble. 

That plunged the Buckeyes into a 34-21 hole from which they never recovered.

Ohio State shot 27.6 percent in the first half and committed 10 turnovers. 

Central Michigan made 30.6 percent of its shots, had only five turnovers and enjoyed a 28-20 rebounding advantage. 

The Chippewas extended their lead in the third quarter with an out-of-this-world shooting performance. 

They made 11 of 16 field goals, including 7 of 8 from 3-point range to extend their lead to 67-46. 

The Buckeyes found some offense in the third, but not nearly enough. 

Ohio State was still outscored 33-25 in the stanza and never got closer than 13 in the fourth quarter. 

“I guess it just felt like everything was going in,” Hudson said of the second half. “We got a lot of open shots and even if we weren’t open we felt like we could make ‘em.” 

Hudson led Central Michigan with 28 points while Breen had 22. 

Stephanie Mavunga scored 16 points for Ohio State while fellow senior Linnae Harper added 14.

“They did a good job of capitalizing on everything we did wrong,” Mavunga said. “They never let up.” 

The Buckeyes had a seven-game winning streak in NCAA tournament games at St. John Arena snapped. 

Central Michigan ended up making 14 of 27 from 3-point range and won the battle of the boards 46-35. 

Ohio State was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round for the first time since 2015. 

The Buckeyes advanced to the Sweet 16 the past two seasons but haven’t been to the Elite Eight since 1993, when they made their only Final Four and lost in the national championship game to Texas Tech.  

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Bodine leaves Bengals for Bills

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 6:28 PM

            ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Russell Bodine #61 of the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Russell Bodine #61 of the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Russell Bodine will not return to the Cincinnati Bengals after signing with the Buffalo Bills on Monday.

Bodine started all 64 games at center after the Bengals traded up to draft him in the fourth round in 2015. The unrestricted free agent signed a two-year contract with the Bills.

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The only center on the Bengals roster is T.J. Johnson, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who has appeared in 45 games with five starts, all at guard.

The Bengals could look to add depth at the position by signing one of the veteran free agents available, but the 2018 starter could be a player they select in the 2018 draft next month.

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The Bengals own the 21st pick after trading back nine spots to obtain tackle Cordy Glenn from Buffalo.

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Dayton has two scholarships open as another player leaves

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 5:18 PM

Dayton’s Matej Svoboda looks to pass against Auburn on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Dayton’s Matej Svoboda looks to pass against Auburn on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Dayton Flyers freshman Matej Svoboda will leave the program after one season to return home to the Czech Republic, according to a source.

Svoboda’s departure means Dayton has two scholarships open for the 2018-19 season. Xeyrius Williams announced he was transferring earlier this month.

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Svoboda, a 6-foot-7 forward, will play professional basketball in his home country. He appeared in 28 games this past season for the Flyers, averaging 2.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. He shot 20 percent from 3-point range (9 of 45).

Svoboda was recruited by Archie Miller’s staff and committed to Dayton in February of 2017. He signed with Dayton in May despite not having met new coach Anthony Grant in person.

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Svoboda was one of five members of the 2017 freshman class and one of six Flyers to make their college debuts last season.

Like many of the Flyers, Svoboda’s minutes dipped and climbed throughout the season, but he found a role as a contributor off the bench late in the season. He never developed into a consistent scoring threat and didn’t score in four of his last five appearances. He missed his last six 3-pointers. He scored his season high of nine points in the fourth game of the season against Akron.

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Dayton’s 2018 holiday tournament shaping up to be a tough one

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:42 PM

Dayton players huddle before a game against Duquesne on Feb. 7 at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Dayton players huddle before a game against Duquesne on Feb. 7 at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Tickets are now on sale for the Battle 4 Atlantis, the November tournament in the Bahamas that will include the Dayton Flyers. On paper, it looks like one of the best in-season tournaments ever to have Dayton in the field.

Even if the Flyers are much improved from a 14-17 season, they might be the big underdog. The tournament features four teams from the 2018 NCAA tournament. It also includes three programs Dayton played in the NCAA tournament in 2014 and 2015. The top six conferences are represented: ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big East.

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The tournament takes place Nov. 21-23 on Paradise Island, Bahamas. Here’s a glance at the eight teams with 2018 RPI in parentheses:

1. Virginia (1): The Cavaliers ranked No. 1 in the RPI and received the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Of course, by now, everyone knows what happened next.

2. Middle Tennessee State (33): The Blue Raiders were snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee despite a 25-8 record. They also lost their coach, Kermit Davis, after 16 seasons. He’s now the head coach at Mississippi.

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3.  Butler (41): The Bulldogs finished 21-14, losing 76-73 to Purdue in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

4. Florida (46): The Gators beat St. Bonaventure 77-62 in the first round before losing 69-66 to Texas Tech on Saturday. Florida beat Dayton 62-52 in the Elite Eight in 2014.

5. Oklahoma (49): The Sooners finished 18-14. They lost 83-78 to Rhode Island in the first round. Oklahoma knocked Dayton out of the tournament in 2015, winning 72-66 in the second round in Columbus.

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6. Stanford (86): The Cardinal finished 19-15. They missed the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season. They played Dayton in their last NCAA tournament game, losing 82-72 in the Sweet 16 in 2014.

7. Wisconsin (113): The Badgers saw their streak of 19 straight NCAA tournament appearances end this year. They finished 15-18. It was their first losing season since 1997-98 (12-19).

8. Dayton (147): Dayton’s streak of four NCAA appearances ended this March. The Flyers lose one starter, Darrell Davis, and return leading scorer Josh Cunningham (15.4 points per game).

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