Sports Today: At least Reds have some better problems to face this winter

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 10:02 AM

The Reds' Adam Duvall, left, celebrates a home run with Scooter Gennett, center, and Eugenio Suarez in teh first inning against the Brewers on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds' Adam Duvall, left, celebrates a home run with Scooter Gennett, center, and Eugenio Suarez in teh first inning against the Brewers on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff(HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

Major League Baseball’s postseason starts Tuesday night. 

The Cincinnati Reds will not be part of it, as you’re probably aware. 

After three consecutive 90-plus-loss seasons, what do the Reds have to do to earn some October baseball in the future? 

The Hall of Farmer Hal McCoy laid out the offseason tasks for the Reds pretty well, and we’ve got all winter to debate what they should do. 

The good news is they have more knowns than they did this time a year ago, and many of their questions that remain have potentially exciting answers. 

Case in point: The outfield. 

I like Scott Schebler, but I’d trade him to make room for Jesse Winker to play every day along with Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall. That would also make more room for a utility guy who can play the infield or outfield and will need at-bats (more on this later). 

RELATED: 7 ways Joey Votto’s season really was a work of art

I haven’t looked at the potential market, but I’d try to re-sign Zack Cozart if I can do it without breaking the bank. Will be interesting to see what he gets offered from elsewhere. 

Bringing him back would of course create other questions, like where to play Jose Peraza. After he took a step back this season and with the emergence of Scooter Gennett, I would tell Peraza the team still thinks he has a bright future but he should be happy as a utility player until he proves he is more than that. 

That worked out for Gennett in 2017 — at Peraza’s expense — and it made the team better in the long run. 

The presence of Gennett and Peraza makes moving an outfielder much more sensible, but that’s just the beginning. 

We’ll have time to dive deeper into this as the hot stove cranks up. 

Got suggestions for how what the Reds should do to move the team closer to contention? I want to hear ‘em! Email me at marcus.hartman@coxinc.com or find me on Twitter or Facebook… 

How about the Bengals? 

That whipping of Cleveland was nice, but now that the season is back on, there is more to worry about. 

First up: The Buffalo Bills. 

They present a chance for a promising defense to continue to build on a great start to the season. 

Jay Morrison notes coordinator Paul Guenther made a habit of heavily rotating in the first month of the season, good news for the plethora of talented but unproven young players on the roster. 

READ MORE: Bengals find success with deep rotation

One thing this team has done a great job of for a long time now is keep an eye on the future. 

The advantage of continuity is being able to groom players, though it doesn’t always work out like you want it. 

Take the offensive line for example… 

No, take them please! 

So, yeah, keeping an eye on the future has not always worked out in present, but overall it’s been an effective strategy… 

College basketball season is one day closer to starting than it was yesterday, but recruiting never stops. 

David Jablonski reports Flyers coach Anthony Grant and his staff a sophomore point guard from Northwest Ohio named Zeb Jackson. 

Grant has already signed point guard Jaylen Crutcher from the 2017 class while getting a verbal commitment from four-star lead guard Dwayne Cohill for 2018. 

Think this is a position the guy who used to coach Russell Westbrook values? 

MORE: 2019 class could be big one for UD

Also of note: The Flyers reportedly are trying to get in the mix for Anfernee Simons, a 2018 recruit who decommitted from soon-to-be-NCAA-sanctions-ravaged Louisville. Simmons, of Orlando, Fla., is the 12th-ranked recruit in the nation… 

Lastly we check in on Ohio State. 

Today’s print story on the Buckeye offense made me realize the offense has gotten better even as the competition has arguably improved (to some extent at least).

Rutgers, a 56-point loser at home to the Buckeyes, certainly has the most talented defense out of the trio of Army, UNLV and the Scarlet Knights. 

SPORTS TODAY: Hartman on Bengals, Browns, Buckeyes

Anyway, it also occurred to me we’ve been asking the wrong question when it comes to some of the new stuff Ohio State has done with screen passes and RPOs and whatnot: Will they work against better defenses? 

That’s not really the point of running those plays. 

The goal is not to dink and dunk Penn State to death with horizontal passes. 

It is to discourage the Nittany Lions from utilizing some of the defensive tactics that have given the Buckeyes problems over the past couple of years — strategies first proven effective by the Nittany Lions back in 2014, as a matter of fact. 

MORE COVERAGE: Four takeaways from college football on Saturday

Maryland is better overall than any of the teams Ohio State played the last three weeks, but not on defense. 

Despite hiring a defensive-minded coach in D.J. Durkin, the Terrapins are 113th in defensive S&P-plus and 53rd on the offensive side despite having to use three different quarterbacks already. 

But hey, like I said yesterday: Maybe it’s time for someone to push the OSU defense a little anyway. 

UPDATE: Columbus Crew SC owner explains interest in moving to Austin

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:12 AM


            The Columbus Crew and Ola Kamara, slipping the ball past Orlando City keeper Joe Bendik, are likely to move to Austin if they cannot get a new stadium in Ohio. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)
            Jacob Langston
The Columbus Crew and Ola Kamara, slipping the ball past Orlando City keeper Joe Bendik, are likely to move to Austin if they cannot get a new stadium in Ohio. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel)(Jacob Langston)

The Major League Soccer team in Columbus, Ohio, announced Tuesday morning it is exploring a move to Austin, along with continuing to pursue a possible stadium solution in Columbus.

Precourt Sports Ventures, owner of the Columbus Crew SC since 2013, will have a news conference in Columbus at 11 a.m. to discus the announcement and issued a statement that read:

“Despite our investments and efforts, the current course is not sustainable,” Anthony Precourt, chief executive officer of Precourt Sports Ventures and chairman of Columbus Crew SC, said. “This Club has ambition to be a standard bearer in MLS, therefore we have no choice but to expand and explore all of our options.

“This includes a possible move to Austin, which is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports franchise. Soccer is the world’s game, and with Austin’s growing presence as an international city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit.”

Precourt said a relocation to Austin is not possible without a stadium plan in the ATX.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber supports the Crew SC in this possible move to Austin.

“As attendance League-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus’ situation is particularly concerning,” Garber said. “Despite PSV’s significant investments and improvements on and off the field, Columbus Crew SC is near the bottom of the League in all business metrics and the Club’s stadium is no longer competitive with other venues across MLS.

“The League is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location.”

Columbus Crew SC was the first charter granted in Major League Soccer in 1996. Crew officials have recognized its growing disparity in attendance and corporate support compared to its MLS peers and other midsize markets, such as Kansas City, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City.

Columbus wants a downtown stadium, whether it is in the capital city of Ohio or Texas.

“The stadium site itself is of paramount importance and we recognize that private funding will be key in any stadium solution,” Precourt said.

Precourt, a Northern Californian with few ties to the Ohio capital city, has visited Austin several times in recent years and been in conversation with Austin leaders, multiple sources told the American-Statesman. SI.com’s Grant Wahl was the first to report the intention late Monday.

“He wants to move to Austin,” a Columbus business leader said. “He may mention Cincinnati and Phoenix, but it’s Austin he really wants.”

An MLS source agreed that while Austin is being used for leverage, the first option is to move to Austin, the largest in the country without a major league sports team.

“I hear they are striking up a deal with Texas to use Myers Stadium for a few years while a new stadium gets built,” the MLS source said.

University of Texas athletic director Mike Perrin indicated his school would be interested in such an arrangement. Myers Stadium has a capacity of 20,000 — in the ballpark for MLS — and alcohol sales are allowed.

“We are aware of MLS interest in Austin and have no opposition to exploring possible collaborative opportunities,” Perrin told the Statesman.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler shot down reports by other news outlets that there would be bond elections coming for a new stadium.

“I don’t know what it would be you would be putting on a ballot,” he told the Statesman. “You could put something on a ballot if there was going to be a bond election to finance a stadium, but nothing like that is in the works.”

Earlier in the evening, Adler told KVUE that Austin would make an excellent MLS market.

“Exciting news because Major League Soccer would be a huge success in Austin, and the Crew would find tons of fan support,” he said. “There is a lot of benefit that being in Austin would give a team, too, though not public funding of a stadium.”

A Columbus business source told the Statesman that his understanding was that the Crew were exploring options near Zilker Park or along the downtown riverfront.

Earlier this year Major League Soccer registered “Austin FC” and “Austin Athletic” as trademarks. MLS executive vice president Dan Courtemanche told the Statesman that Austin would not be considered for one of the four remaining expansion slots but did not respond to a question about relocation.

An Austin soccer source said he was told MLS Commissioner Don Garber sent a letter to owners explaining the potential Columbus move. Garber has previously praised Austin as having the right vibe and demographics for his league.

The Crew had an affiliation with the Austin Aztex of the United Soccer League for one year, 2015, before the Aztex were suspended amid a sea of debt. The Aztex reported an average home attendance of 3,227 playing in high school football stadiums.

Circuit of the Americas chairman Bobby Epstein announced this summer he is bringing USL pro soccer back to Austin in 2019, and they will play in a new 5,000-seat stadium at the race track.

Epstein is not involved with Precourt’s group and said he will take a wait-and-see approach about the Crew’s possible move to Austin.

Columbus is near the bottom of MLS in attendance and franchise worth. Columbus’ home average of 15,439 fans ranks 20th of 22 teams, ahead of only Colorado and Dallas. The Crew SC is worth $123 million, according to Forbes Magazine, ranking 21st.

Mapfre Stadium, capacity 22,555, is the original purpose-built stadium in MLS and also the oldest, opening in 1999, and is showing signs of wear and tear.

The timing of the reports is curious. The Crew, the 2008 MLS Cup champions, qualified for the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed. The playoff start next week.

Staff writers Kirk Bohls and Katie Hall contributed to this story.

Wisconsin’s Brad Davison will be fan favorite — and someone opposing fans will love to hate

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

MADISON, Wis. — To watch freshman Brad Davison for 5 minutes in 3-on-3 drills is to understand why Wisconsin fans soon will fall in love with his style of play. It’s also why opposing fan bases are likely to grow sick of Davison well before his Badgers career is finished.

Davison is a tightly wound ball of kinetic energy. One play, he’ll dive out of bounds for a loose ball with little regard for his body. The next, he’ll fall on his back under the basket after stepping in front of a big man to take a charge. All the while, he will clap and implore teammates for their best effort as if a Final Four berth depended on it.

He possesses the type of fiery demeanor teammates can appreciate, even if they’d rather not be matched up with him on the court.

“He’s not always the most-liked person on the team,” Badgers forward Alex Illikainen said. “But that’s the guy you want on your team.”

Davison, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound guard from Maple Grove, Minn., quickly has established himself as someone who will play a significant role for Wisconsin this season. He can handle the backup point guard spot behind sophomore D’Mitrik Trice or slide over to off-guard and play alongside Trice. He is a physical defender and a solid outside scorer, and he already has proved capable of withstanding the rigors required of a college basketball player.

“He is not your typical freshman, physically or mentally,” Badgers coach Greg Gard said. “Probably mentally more so than anything else, just what he talks about, how he sees things, his leadership ability.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Davison has drawn early comparisons to former Badgers guards Josh Gasser and Zak Showalter, who built their reputations on toughness and timely scoring. Each player routinely accepted the challenge of defending the other team’s best guard. Davison might not be on that level yet defensively, but it certainly won’t be because he didn’t put forth the effort.

“I don’t want to slander Josh’s name by any means,” Badgers forward Ethan Happ said. “Josh had four years of proving that he was the toughest SOB out there. I think Brad is similar to that where it doesn’t matter the place or the time, he’s going to dive on the floor for the ball or take a charge. And those really swing the momentum of a game. That’s kind of what we want here at Wisconsin is just people that you love to play with and hate to play against.”

Wisconsin forward Aaron Moesch relayed a story Davison told him about his days as the starting quarterback for his high school football team, which illustrates how he approaches life as a basketball player. Davison accounted for 43 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing scores in leading his team to three state tournament appearances.

“He said he was a dual threat, so he’d throw and run,” Moesch said. “Whenever he ran, he never ran out of bounds. And his coaches got mad at him like, ‘Brad, get out of bounds. Come on, man.’ He’s like, ‘No, I’m lowering my head.’ That just goes to show his mentality on the court, which does remind you a lot of Zak and Josh.”

Gasser, who played at Wisconsin from 2010-15, was an instant force as a freshman. He scored 21 points in his college debut and recorded the first triple-double in program history that season. He went on to play in 148 games with 144 starts and become a three-time all-Big Ten defensive team selection. Showalter played in 129 games with 72 starts from 2012-17 and earned an all-league defensive team nod as a senior last season.

“Those are great basketball players but also great people, so it’s really an honor,” Davison said. “I’m thankful to be compared to those guys. They had really great careers here. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be compared to them, but I also want to make my own name for myself here.”

Gard said he understands why Davison’s name has been mentioned in the same sentence as that of Gasser and Showalter. But he also recognizes Davison has yet to play a college game and doesn’t want to heap too much pressure on him too soon.

“One thing about Josh is he never got rattled and he never got startled,” Gard said. “He never got off track for the most part. He kept a very stoic approach. Brad is probably a little more vocal than Josh at that same age. Brad may be a step ahead in terms of where Josh was at that age physically from amount of time in the weight room, how his body has developed.

“But I also am very cautious not to say that somebody has to step into somebody’s shoes. Brad Davison is his own person. He’ll grow in this program. He’ll have some ups and downs in this program.”

Badgers guard Brevin Pritzl noted that while Davison shares similarities with Gasser and Showalter, he is more of a scoring threat than those two players. Davison has the strength to score inside, possesses a strong mid-range game and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger from behind the arc. He set the program record at his high school with 168 made 3-pointers. As a senior, he was a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Basketball award when he averaged 24.4 points, 7.9 assists, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game.

Davison showcased his skills during Wisconsin’s five-game August exhibition tour of New Zealand and Australia. He averaged 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game. In Wisconsin’s tour finale, Davison scored a team-high 23 points.

His tenaciousness and ability to attack the rim is likely to make him one of the team’s more frequent free-throw shooters. He made 22 of his 30 attempts overseas (73.3 percent) and took at least 5 foul shots in four games.

“He makes winning plays,” Badgers assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said. “We saw that in Australia. In crunch time, there was a calmness to him like, ‘Oh he’s ready. He’s going to make the play we need, whatever it may be.’ That’s not necessarily the winning shot. It could be the inbounds pass or diving on the floor and keeping a loose ball alive. Stuff that maybe doesn’t show up in the stat sheet.”

Even during the team’s media day availability on Friday, Davison left his chair on the Kohl Center court to take jump shots on the other end. He is constantly working to improve and holds all the characteristics necessary to quickly make himself a fan favorite — even if it means becoming the player every opposing fan will love to hate.

“I think whenever you have an opportunity to get a leg up on your opponent, whether it’s being physical or being aggressive, you’ve got to take advantage of it offensively or defensively,” Davison said. “I love taking charges, diving on the floor. I take a lot of pride in those types of things. I would definitely say I try to be a defensive pest. I’m sure my teammates would back that up as well.”

Ohio State football podcast: Buckeyes did all they can do, now await Penn State

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Get insight and reaction to Ohio State football on the Inside the Shoe podcast, brought to you by Land of 10. On the latest edition, Ryan Ginn joins Kyle Lamb discussing Ohio State’s 56-14 win against Nebraska and the readiness for the Buckeyes against Penn State.

Also discussed on the Tuesday show: the fall from grace of the Nebraska football program, Michigan’s offensive woes and the importance of the Buckeyes’ pass defense.

You can listen to the entire show in the embedded SoundCloud player below. You can subscribe to Inside the Shoe  on iTunes and  Google Play. It is available for direct  download here.

Every episode of Inside the Shoe can  be found here.

Other topics discussed on Inside the Shoe Tuesday include:

  • The Ohio State offensive transformation and whether the Buckeyes are ready to face a tough Penn State defense on Oct. 28.
  • How, despite the Buckeyes’ easier schedule, Ohio State’s dominance has been impressive the past five games relative to struggles by other top-10 teams this season.
  • The storied Nebraska football program and what it has become. The Buckeyes have outscored the Cornhuskers by 101 points in the last two meetings.
  • Whether the Huskers are likely to stick with coach Mike Riley beyond this season and the prime candidates to replace him if not.
  • Michigan’s offensive woes, including a struggling pair of quarterbacks and a dismal offensive line. The Wolverines are 11-point underdogs against Penn State on Saturday.
  • Ohio State’s pass defense against Nebraska and whether it is ready for action against Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.

Although the Buckeyes have a bye this week, the show most definitely will not slow down. Be sure to keep listening to the Inside the Shoe podcast as all three Ohio State assistant basketball coaches will join us to preview the Buckeyes’ basketball. Additional guests scheduled this week are NBC College Basketball Talk’s Rob Dauster to preview the Big Ten, as well as NBC College Football Talk’s Zach Barnett to survey the Buckeyes and national landscape at large.

If you enjoy the show, please rate, review and subscribe on iTunes.

 

Ohio State football podcast: Buckeyes did all they can do, now await Penn State

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 10:10 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Get insight and reaction to Ohio State football on the Inside the Shoe podcast, brought to you by Land of 10. On the latest edition, Ryan Ginn joins Kyle Lamb discussing Ohio State’s 56-14 win against Nebraska and the readiness for the Buckeyes against Penn State.

Also discussed on the Tuesday show: the fall from grace of the Nebraska football program, Michigan’s offensive woes and the importance of the Buckeyes’ pass defense.

You can listen to the entire show in the embedded SoundCloud player below. You can subscribe to Inside the Shoe  on iTunes and  Google Play. It is available for direct  download here.

Every episode of Inside the Shoe can  be found here.

Other topics discussed on Inside the Shoe Tuesday include:

  • The Ohio State offensive transformation and whether the Buckeyes are ready to face a tough Penn State defense on Oct. 28.
  • How, despite the Buckeyes’ easier schedule, Ohio State’s dominance has been impressive the past five games relative to struggles by other top-10 teams this season.
  • The storied Nebraska football program and what it has become. The Buckeyes have outscored the Cornhuskers by 101 points in the last two meetings.
  • Whether the Huskers are likely to stick with coach Mike Riley beyond this season and the prime candidates to replace him if not.
  • Michigan’s offensive woes, including a struggling pair of quarterbacks and a dismal offensive line. The Wolverines are 11-point underdogs against Penn State on Saturday.
  • Ohio State’s pass defense against Nebraska and whether it is ready for action against Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.

Although the Buckeyes have a bye this week, the show most definitely will not slow down. Be sure to keep listening to the Inside the Shoe podcast as all three Ohio State assistant basketball coaches will join us to preview the Buckeyes’ basketball. Additional guests scheduled this week are NBC College Basketball Talk’s Rob Dauster to preview the Big Ten, as well as NBC College Football Talk’s Zach Barnett to survey the Buckeyes and national landscape at large.

If you enjoy the show, please rate, review and subscribe on iTunes.