LISTEN: Golden Point podcast episode 9 with Rob Lowe and Sam Tomkins

Sports statistician Rob Lowe and Catalans Dragons’ Sam Tomkins are the guests on the latest Golden Point podcast.

Rugby league fan Lowe, who in 1996 founded what would become Opta Sports with some university colleagues, was employed as Sky Sports‘ statistician for the first Super League game between Paris Saint-Germain and Sheffield Eagles.

He joins Marc Bazeley and Sky Sports rugby league expert Phil Clarke to discuss how the analysis of the sport has evolved since those early days.

The trio also look at the impact of the video referee, how the switch from winter to summer has effected the sport, whether more should be made of squad numbers and Super League’s record with expansion.

Plus, Catalans Dragons full-back Sam Tomkins speaks to Steve Owen to let us know how he’s coping in France during this period of lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Bruno Fernandes opponent describes what playing against Man Utd star is like

Craig Cathcart has opened up on what defending against Manchester United new boy Bruno Fernandes is like, admitting he's "quality".

Watford defender Cathcart came up against Fernandes recently, when the Red Devils ran out 3-0 winners over the Hornets at Vicarage Road.

Portugal international Fernandes opened the scoring on the day from the penalty spot after he was brought down in the box.

Fernandes then turned provider, setting up Anthony Martial to make it 2-0 before Mason Greenwood put the icing on the cake 15 minutes before the end.

Revealing what the Watford squad made of United's January signing, Cathcart told the Manchester Evening News: "I think we were all very impressed.

"The thing that impressed me most was that he always looks forward. He always gets the ball and his first thought is to pass forward and create chances, which maybe they [United] were missing before.

"He's brought that bit of quality and cutting edge to the final third and since he's come in their performances have been much better, from what I've seen."

Cathcart wasn't the only Watford player who spoke out about Fernandes from that game.

Goalkeeper Ben Foster, who gave away the penalty when he fouled the Portuguese, admitted he was surprised by his speed.


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Curtis Cup postponed until 2021, Amateur Championships delayed until August

The Curtis Cup has been postponed until next year, while the men’s and women’s Amateur Championship will now take place in August, the R&A have announced.

The 41st edition of the Curtis Cup, the biennial women’s amateur contest between Great Britain & Ireland and the United States, was originally scheduled to take place at Conwy in Wales from 12-14 June.

But the R&A and USGA have agreed to delay the competition until 2021, with the new dates being revealed at a later date, while both Amateur Championships have been delayed until the week commencing August 24.

An R&A statement read: “Following advice provided by the UK Government, health authorities and our own medical consultants in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have postponed the amateur championships and international match due to be played in June.

“We can confirm that:

  • The 41st Curtis Cup at Conwy, due to take place from 12-14 June, has been rescheduled to 2021 in agreement with the USGA. The revised dates will be advised in due course.
  • The Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire, due to take place from 15-20 June, and The Women’s Amateur Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie), due to take place from 23-27 June, are being rescheduled to week commencing 24 August 2020. These plans are dependent on the situation with the pandemic and we will continue to monitor it in the coming weeks.”

Duncan Weir, the R&A’s executive director for golf development and Amateur Championships, said: “We have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of the players and everyone involved in our events so it is the right course of action to take.

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Ranking 68 greatest players of March Madness expanded-bracket era

College basketball transformed into the widely followed sport that it is today — that we miss so dearly now — as a result of the expansion of the NCAA Tournament to 64 teams 35 years ago.

NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt, whose father Dave was among those on the committee that approved the change, said one reason it was such a wild success was the appeal of the players in the sport at that time — legendary names such as Ewing, Mullin and Bias.

BUILDING THE BRACKET: How the 1985 NCAA Tournament turned March into Madness

In honor of the anniversary, and to match with the tournament’s current field of 68 format, Sporting News endeavored to rank the 68 greatest players of the expanded bracket era, which began with the 1984-85 season and continues today. So Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Pete Maravich are not eligible. Some great players who are eligible still had to be excluded — but that’s how amazing the players who made it were.

The list isn’t about who became the best pro, nor is it a list of NBA all-time greats. And there was the issue of what to do with players whose careers began before expansion; in those cases, their full careers were considered.

Seasons: Four (1985-89)
Final Fours: One (1989)
NCAA titles: One (1989)
Career points: 2,442

Seasons: Four (2010-14)
Final Fours: Two (2011, 2014)
NCAA titles: Two (2011, 2014)
Career points: 1,959

Seasons: Four (2013-17)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,885

Seasons: Four (1995-99)
Final Fours: One (1998)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,618

Seasons: Four (2012-16)
Final Fours: One (2016)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,291

Seasons: Four (1993-97)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,542

Seasons: Four (2011-15)
Final Fours: Two (2014, 2015)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,458

Seasons: Three (2001-04)
Final Fours: One (2004)
NCAA titles: (2004)
Career points: 1,426

Seasons: 3 (2003-06)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,867

Seasons: Two (2007-09)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,278

Seasons: Three (1993-96)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,922

Seasons: Two (1992-94)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 878

Seasons: Three (1982-85)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,716

Seasons: Four (1985-89)
Final Fours: One (1986)
NCAA titles: One (1986)
Career points: 2,143

Seasons: Two (1994-96)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,539

Seasons: Two (1991-93)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,319

Seasons: Two (1989-1991)
Final Fours: One (1990)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,497

Seasons: Four (1986-90)
Final Fours: One (1987)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,143

Seasons: Four (1988-1992)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,001

Seasons: Four
Final Fours: Three (1990, 1991, 1992)
NCAA titles: Two (1991, 1992)
Career points: 1,924

Seasons: Four (1991-95)
Final Fours: One (1995)
NCAA titles: One (1995)
Career points: 1,815

Seasons: Four (1985-89)
Final Fours: Three (1986, 1988, 1989)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,155

Seasons: Three (1989-1992)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,785

Legacy: Jackson was one of the most coveted recruits in Ohio State history and delivered on expectations, scoring 16.1 points as a freshman, advancing to 22.4 as a senior and playing for three teams that reached the NCAA Tournament. He was a 50 percent career shooter who also delivered four assists and just under six rebounds per game. The Buckeyes won consecutive Big Ten titles in his final two years.

Seasons: Two (1988-90)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,854

Legacy: There was no more beautiful offensive player than the man formerly known as Chris Jackson. He had not only every shot from every angle, but also a complete understanding of how to use the board, how to create space against a defender and how to occasionally move far enough from the goal that no defender would expect him to make the shot. (But he did).

Seasons: Four (1985-86, USC); (1988-90, Loyola Marymount)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,723

Legacy: Gathers was a vital, dynamic force of nature whom college opponents couldn’t stop, whether they came from the West Coast Conference or the Big 12. He died of a heart ailment after collapsing in a conference tournament game at the end of his senior season in 1990, and his teammates honored him with a remarkable run to the Elite Eight.

Seasons: Four (1989-1993)
Final Fours: One (1992)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,613

Legacy: Cheaney, in much the same way Steve Alford had been, was ideal for Bob Knight’s offensive system. Cheaney could catch, pass and, most of all, shoot. The ability to drive the ball from the wing to the goal was not essential in Knight’s motion attack — movement to create distance from defenders was. Cheaney’s size, strength and high release point made him a chore to defend, and his senior season in 1993 was so impressive that he beat out such greats as Penny Hardaway, Bobby Hurley and Chris Webber for player of the year.

Seasons: Three (1990-93)
Final Fours: One (1993)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,843

Legacy: No player did more to lift Kentucky basketball from the ashes of its late-80s NCAA infractions case than Mashburn, who arrived as a slightly underrated recruit and helped the Wildcats advance to the Elite Eight in 1992 — and the glorious regional final game against Duke — and the Final Four a year later. Mashburn’s ball-handling and shooting skill, as well as his strength inside, made him a player two decades ahead of his time: someone who could play as the lone big man while pulling opposing bigs away from the lane.

Seasons: Two (1991-93)
Final Fours: Two (1992, 1993)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,218

Legacy: The impossible combination of length, strength and dynamism contained in Webber made him an almost-unfair asset to the Wolverines during his two college seasons. He blocked shots, passed effectively, rebounded and scored. He even made almost one 3-pointer a game as a sophomore. The Fab Five’s detractors are fond of saying the group “never won anything” because they failed to claim a Big Ten title or NCAA championship. But isn’t the game to reach — the Final Four — worth something? Webber and his mates got two of those. That’s a lot.

Seasons: Four (1996-2000)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,279

Legacy: Martin was an important contributor as a defender and rebounder for three excellent Cincinnati teams from 1997-1999, but when he played for the United States team at the World University Games, he discovered he’d underrated his own talents. He was the best player on the squad, which meant he might be the best in the nation. Turned out, he was. His senior season ranks with the most dominant of any recent player, but it ended prematurely when he fractured his leg in a Conference USA Tournament game.

Seasons: Four (1984-88)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 3,008

Legacy: Playing without a 3-point line for half his career, Hawkins still managed to become one of 10 players ever to hit the 3,000-point mark. His Braves teams excelled in Missouri Valley Conference play, including a 32-3 record in 1985-86 that was rewarded with only a No. 7 seed by the selection committee.

Seasons: Three (1996-99)
Final Fours: (One) 1999
NCAA titles: (One) 1999
Career points: 2,036

Legacy: Predecessor Ray Allen was more glamorous, but Hamilton efficiently elevated UConn to the preeminent Big East power — and the one program capable of challenging Duke’s extraordinary 1998-99 squad. Hamilton wasn’t a high-flying dunker or long-range bomber: He shot right from where the 3-point line was, or inside if necessary. He liked playing where the defense was, because he could get just far enough away to get his shots off — and just near enough to draw fouls. He attempted 505 free throws over three years and converted 83 percent. And he scored 20 or more points in all six 1999 NCAA Tournament games, including 27 in the final.

Seasons: Three (1993-96)
Final Fours: One (1996)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,387

Legacy: Camby was the player who transformed UMass from the Atlantic 10 team challenging all the big boys on the block to a national power as big as any in college hoops. He arrived with a ton of raw ability and gradually refined his game to the point where he was the unanimous player of the year for the 1995-96 season.

Seasons: Four
Final Fours: One (1986)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,556

Legacy: Dawkins was one of the foundational pieces of the four-decade Coach K dynasty. Entering along with David Henderson, Mark Alarie and Jay Bilas, he helped Mike Krzyzewski turn around the Blue Devils and launch them forward with three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances that culminated with an appearance in the 1986 championship game. Dawkins was a dynamic scoring guard who averaged at least 18.1 points in all four college seasons and earned the Naismith Award as senior.

Seasons: One (2018-19)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 746

Legacy: How much higher would Zion have ranked with three more victories? Would he have been ahead of Carmelo Anthony? Ahead of Anthony Davis? Surely no college freshman ever has been quite the sensation Williamson was. His flying blocks and vicious dunks were must-view affairs. His boundless enthusiasm for his team was alluring as well. Williamson missed five games and still swept the major player of the year awards — he was that far ahead of the class.

Seasons: Three (1992-95)
Final Fours: Two (1994, 1995)
NCAA titles: One (1995)
Career points: 1,728

Legacy: Williamson was one of the last players of his kind: a game-changing low-post scorer, even though he stood barely 6-6. He wasn’t as dynamic as Charles Barkley, but he had better moves inside. And, more importantly, Williamson was the most important piece in Arkansas’ back-to-back Final Four teams and its one NCAA title.

Seasons: Two (2001-03)
Final Fours: One (2003)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,281

Legacy: A 22-point performance in a tight regional semifinal victory over Pitt helped deliver Marquette to the Elite Eight against Kentucky, and there Wade unleashed the full extent of every talent he had flashed the prior two years. Wade’s 29-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double against the Wildcats ranks with the greatest individual performances of the era. That got Marquette to its first Final Four since 1977.

Seasons: (2002-03)
Final Fours: One (2003)
NCAA titles: One (2003)
Career points: 778

Legacy: Here’s a trivia question we love around here: What’s the only outlet to name Carmelo Anthony first-team All-America for a freshman season in which he averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds? Do we need to say the answer? Anthony was such a versatile performer for his size, he could have been an all-conference-level player at every position on the floor. He was the primary force behind Syracuse’s one NCAA championship, averaging just over 20 points and just under 10 rebounds in the Orange’s six victories.

Seasons: Four (1998-2002)
Final Fours: Two (2001, 2002)
NCAA titles: One (2002)
Career points: 2,269

Legacy: There are Maryland players who earned greater honors (such as national player of the year Joe Smith) and left campus with bigger reputations (Len Bias) and who clearly possessed more talent (Steve Francis). But it was Dixon who delivered what Maryland coveted most: a national title. And though he was surrounded by excellent players, it was Dixon who broke free from Dane Fife’s demonic defense in the second half of the 2002 title game against Indiana and finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He wound up as the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. No other Terp can say that.

Seasons: Four (1986-1990)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 3,217

Legacy: Because his La Salle teams played in the Metro Atlantic, they never were taken quite as seriously as they should have been. They got only one first-place AP vote each week while their winning streak grew from 14 to 17 and eventually to 21 games. They never climbed higher than 11th and, with a 29-1 record, got only a No. 4 NCAA seed. But Simmons was viewed as legit, and received the Naismith Award. He averaged 28.4 points as a junior and 26.5 as a senior. At least that didn’t get overlooked.

Seasons: Two (1996-98)
NCAA titles: One (1997)
Career points: 1,061

Legacy: There are a lot of similarities to the college careers of Bibby and Isiah Thomas: two seasons each, one improbable NCAA title, one year as consensus All-American, relatively modest scoring stats but always the ability to burn the opposition in the biggest games. The truth is, Bibby actually won more. His teams were 55-14 to Thomas’ 47-17, and Bibby’s Wildcats reached the Elite Eight in the year they did not win the title.

Seasons: One (2011-12)
Final Fours: One (2012)
NCAA titles: One (2012)
Career points: 567

Legacy: He was around only a year, but few players ever used the college experience so deftly. Already an elite defender when he arrived — with an almost-unprecedented ability to guard the rim but also to disarm opposing pick-and-roll plays — Davis rapidly grew through the course of the season as an offensive player, adding new elements to his game and increasing his confidence. He attempted double-figure shots only four times in 14 games before Jan. 1 of his single college season; he did it 12 times in the final 26 games. He blocked an almost-inhuman 186 shots, including six in the title-game win over Kansas.

Seasons: Three (2008-11)
Final Fours: Two (2009, 2011)
NCAA titles: One (2011)
Career points: 1,783

Legacy: Kemba was not a one-hit wonder. It’s just that one huge smash — the 11-game winning streak that resulted in the 2011 Big East Tournament and NCAA title — was so hard to approach, like asking Harper Lee to top “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Walker was a significant factor on a Final Four team and a load-carrying superstar for the last of Jim Calhoun’s three champions.

Seasons: Four (2002-06)
Final Fours: One (2004)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,769

Legacy: Redick was a tireless performer who averaged better than 37 minutes per game as a junior and senior and scored a career’s worth of points (1,685) in those two years alone. His total of 457 3-pointers made ranks third all-time and he ranks among the top 20 in scoring, as well. He converted at least 95 3s in each of his four college seasons.

Seasons: Three (2015-18)
Final Fours: Two (2016, 2018)
NCAA titles: Two (2016, 2018)
Career points: 1,667

Legacy: Named the Sporting News Player of the Decade for the 2010s, Brunson started for two NCAA champion teams and played the point guard position with a consistency of performance that few others have managed. He excelled at scoring on post-ups against guards unaccustomed to defending along the baseline and converted an astonishing — for a guard — 58.7 percent of his career 2-point attempts.

Seasons: One (2006-07)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 903

Legacy: Durant was the first gift the NBA Draft age limit presented to college basketball, along with Ohio State center Greg Oden. He might otherwise have entered the draft directly out of high school, but playing at Texas allowed him to demonstrate his array of overwhelming offensive talents. He was lethal from close to the goal, 3-point range and the foul line, where he attempted 256 free throws and converted 81.6 percent.

Seasons: Four (1997-2001)
Final Fours: Two (1999, 2001)
NCAA titles: One (2001)
Career points: 1,984

Legacy: Battier was one of the great winners of the modern era, earning consensus player of the year honors as a senior in 2001, playing in two NCAA championship games and finishing with a record of 131-15, which included a 16-3 mark in NCAA Tournament games.

Seasons: Four (2010-14)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 3,150

Legacy: McDermott was supposed to enroll at Northern Iowa, until his father became head coach at Creighton; UNI generously allowed him out of his commitment, and McDermott became one of the great scorers in college basketball history. His 3-point accuracy of 45.8 percent would rank seventh all-time in Division I if his 274 career 3s weren’t 15 short of the qualifying standard.

Seasons: Four (1996-2000)
Final Fours: Two (1999, 2000)
NCAA titles: One (2000)
Career points: 1,541

Legacy: It’s hard to describe how commanding Cleaves’ presence was as a point guard, or to compare him to a player who’s performed in college or the NBA since. When the ball was in his hands, he owned the game. He averaged 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals for his career. He was a scorer when he needed to be, a creator more than that, but above all a leader and a winner. Coach Tom Izzo will tell you he was the most important recruit during his time as head coach.

Seasons: Four (1981-85)
Final Fours: One (1985)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,408

Legacy: His lack of professional success has caused Lee’s star to fade over time — except in Memphis, where he is revered as an all-time great. As a collegian, Lee stood toe-to-toe with Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon — in the space of five days — and scored a combined 41 points and grabbed 23 rebounds on 54 percent shooting.

Seasons: Four (1983-87)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,669

Legacy: Robinson blossomed from 6-7 wing to dynamic 7-1 center during his first two years at Navy, but instead of ducking out and transferring to a basketball power after two years — and avoiding his service commitment and getting to NBA riches earlier — he completed his education at the academy and took the Midshipmen to three straight NCAA Tournaments. That included an astonishing Elite Eight run in 1986.

Seasons: Four (1985-89)
Final Fours: One (1988)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,555

Legacy: Elliott was the first great player of Lute Olson’s Arizona revival, and was the foundation of their great Final Four team in 1988. The 3-point line arrived in his sophomore season and he made nearly 43 percent of his career attempts. He was a national player of the year as a senior.

Seasons: Three (1995-98)
Final Fours: Two (1997, 1998)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,974

Legacy: Jamison was not the prize recruit in his Carolina class, though he was the better college player between himself and Vince Carter. Together, they took the Tar Heels to consecutive Final Fours. Jamison became the consensus player of the year as a junior, using his ability to elevate and score over defenders in the post to average 22.2 points.

Seasons: Four (1982-86)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,146

Legacy: Bias built his game over the course of his four seasons with the Terps, and by the time he was a senior was one of the best players in the nation. But Maryland was part of a stacked ACC that season; the Terps finished under .500 in a brutal ACC season but still got a No. 5 seed, and Bias continued his rampage with 31 points in a first-round victory — and 26 in defeat.

Seasons: Three (1989-1992)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,941

Legacy: There is a statue of O’Neal outside the Maravich Assembly Center that demonstrates how important he was. (He is, of course, depicted throwing down a two-handed slam). For reasons that remain hard to explain, he never played on a team that was seeded better than No. 5 in the NCAAs, nor advanced to the Sweet 16, but his career averages of 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.6 blocks are evidence of his excellence.

Seasons: Two (1992-94)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 1,706

Legacy: The man they called “Big Dog” produced what could be considered the best single season of the era, a 30.3-point tour de force that left analysts searching for answers to “the best since when” questions and carried the Boilermakers to the Elite Eight in 1994.

Seasons: Three (1982-85)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,661

Legacy: His astonishing freshman-year performance (24.5 points per game) and his enduring popularity as a performer led the United States Basketball Writers Association to name its freshman of the year award after Tisdale.

Seasons: Four (1993-97)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,117

Legacy: Duncan’s late introduction to the game meant arriving in college with much to learn, but he still averaged 9.6 points and 9.8 rebounds as a freshman — and he still wound up with career averages of 16.5 points and 12.3 rebounds. What kept him from reaching the Final Four? It might have been as simple as the poor luck to be grouped in his junior season in a region with 1996 Kentucky, the best team of this era. The Deacons lost to those Wildcats in the Elite Eight.

Seasons: Three (1999-2002)
Final Fours: One (2001)
NCAA titles: One (2001)
Career points: 2,079

Legacy: When Williams was a junior, with a championship ring already earned, Sporting News wanted to do a story about how a team prepared to defend him. We almost never got declined for those kinds of stories, but four schools rejected our request before Wake Forest and the late, great Skip Prosser agreed. That’s how much Williams frightened opponents. He was an elite shooting guard (19.3 ppg. career) and elite point guard (6.0 apg.) in the same person.

Seasons: Four (2000-04)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,094

Legacy: Nelson was a consummate point guard who invigorated a Saint Joseph’s program that had gone 13-16 the year before he arrived. With Jameer at the controls, the Hawks won three Atlantic 10 regular-season titles, averaged 25 wins, compiled a perfect 27-0 regular season record in 2003-04 and reached the Elite Eight that season, losing on a late jumpshot by Oklahoma State’s John Lucas III.

Seasons: Four (1983-87)
Final Fours: (One) 1987
NCAA titles: (One) 1987
Career points: 2,438

Legacy: Alford got the opportunity to play with the 3-point line for a single season. And this is how good he was in that department: He shot 53 percent from long range, and that was on six attempts per game. Alford’s sophomore- and junior-year teams did not delivery IU’s customary success (an NIT and a massive NCAA first-round upset loss against Cleveland State), but in his senior year they won the Big Ten championship, earned a No. 1 seed, outlasted UNLV in a beautiful semifinal and then escaped Syracuse in a classic title game. Alford hit seven 3-pointers in the championship.

Seasons: Three (2006-09)
Final Fours: None
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,635

Legacy: Had Curry chosen to play his senior year at Davidson and produced a season like either his sophomore or junior years, he might have been in position to replace Pete Maravich as the NCAA’s career scoring leader. Of course, the Pistol put up his numbers in three years — but even at that, no one has really come close. Curry’s career tournament scoring average of 31.6 would rank fourth all-time if he’d qualified for the list by playing one more game. That one, though, was on the NCAA selection committee that left out the Wildcats after they went 27-8 and 18-2 in the Southern Conference in 2008-09.

Seasons: Four (1989-1993)
Final Fours: Three (1990, 1991, 1992)
NCAA titles: Two (1991, 1992)
Career points: 1,731

Legacy: It’s easy to lose track of Hurley’s greatness since he played with players who achieved more professionally, but all one needs to do to understand how much he mattered is to watch games like the 1992 Elite Eight win over Kentucky, or the 1991 Final Four win over UNLV. Hurley is the NCAA’s career assists leader; he never averaged fewer than 7.4 per game over his four seasons. Even coach Mike Krzyzewski called Hurley’s late 3-pointer in the UNLV game the biggest shot in Duke basketball history – which means it was bigger than Laettner’s basket the following year to advance the Devils to their fifth consecutive Final Four.

Seasons: Four (1981-85)
Final Fours: One (1985)
NCAA titles: None
Career points: 2,440

Legacy: Mullin was the most complete offensive player of the era. He was a brilliant ball-handler, an elite jump-shooter and, most of all, an extraordinary passer. He could have averaged 25 points a game given his skill, but he never attempted even 15 shots per game for a season, instead producing averages of four assists or better as a junior and senior. The Red Storm lost narrow NCAA Tournament heartbreakers in each of his first three seasons — by a combined six points — before Mullin went for 25 points against N.C. State in the victory that at last put them in the Final Four.

Seasons: Two (1989-1991)
Final Fours: Two (1990, 1991)
NCAA titles: One (1991)
Career points: 1,617

Legacy: Johnson was a matchup nightmare for college opponents, few of whom could cope with his combination of strength, dynamism and skill. Johnson and his gifted teammates found their rhythm midway through the 1989-90 season and won 15 of their final 16 games before the tournament, then won six in a row — including a championship-game record 30-point blowout against Duke. Only two teams since 1976 have carried perfect records into the Final Four, and Johnson’s Rebels were the first of those, riding his 22.7 points and 10.9 rebounds to 34 consecutive wins.

Seasons: Four (2005-09)
Final Fours: 2008, 2009
NCAA titles: 2009
Career points: 2,872

Legacy: Hansbrough was a four-time Sporting News first-team All-American, the first to earn that designation from one of the four contributors to the NCAA’s official consensus squad. He was the consensus national player of the year as a junior, then as senior was the focal point of a Tar Heels squad that overwhelmed its NCAA Tournament opposition by an average of 20 points. He averaged 17.5 points in that tournament run.

Seasons: Four (1981-85)
Final Fours: Three (1982, 1984, 1985)
NCAA titles: One (19840
Career points: 2,184

Legacy: Ewing was one of the greatest winning forces in the history of college basketball. He was such an overwhelming defender he dominated the 1982 NCAA Tournament even though he twice scored in single digits. He finished with a career record of 16-3 in tournament games and appeared in three finals.

Seasons: Four (1984-88)
Final Fours: Two (1986, 1988)
NCAA titles: One (1988)
Career points: 2,951

Legacy: Manning’s performance in the 1988 tournament, particularly the national championship victory over Oklahoma, ranks with the greatest ever. He averaged 27.2 points and 9.3 rebounds during the tournament. It was his willingness to take as many shots as necessary to elevate the team known as “Danny and the Miracles” to the championship that made the difference for Kansas following a somewhat indifferent regular season. Manning also was a major contributor as a manager on the 2006 Kansas team that lost in the national semifinal.

Seasons: Four (1988-92)
Final Fours: Four (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)
NCAA titles: Two (1991, 1992)
Career points: 2,460

Legacy: Laettner played in more Final Four games than many great players have NCAA Tournament games. He is one of only a few players to appear in four Final Fours, and played in 23 of a possible 24 NCAA Tournament games — a record that will be extremely difficult to break. He twice hit game-winning, buzzer-beating shots to get Duke to the Final Four, made the game-clinching free throws in Duke’s 1991 upset of undefeated UNLV, was named most outstanding player at the 1991 Final Four and was the consensus college player of the year in 1992.

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Football legend’s grandson found dead aged 21

The grandson of Celtic legend Billy McNeill has been found dead, his family has confirmed.

Matthew McCombe vanished on March 14 while on holiday in Amsterdam, Holland to celebrate his 21st birthday.

Matthew's heartbroken mum Paula took to Facebook on Wednesday morning to confirm the tragic news that her son's body had been found.

Paula wrote: "It is with great sadness that we are announcing our son Matthew McCombe's body was found this morning.

"Matthew was much loved by all and our hearts are broken.

"We would like to thank everyone who has helped in the search for Matthew and for the love, compassion and kindness that has been extended to us since our arrival in Amsterdam.

"As a family we would kindly ask for our privacy to be respected in these sad times."

Matthew's dad Charlie made a television appeal in Holland for information on his son's whereabouts just last weekend.

On Dutch TV, Charlie said: "For some reason, we don't know why he left the hotel room at 6.15am. I had a text at 1.36am. I'd asked him earlier, 'How was it?', and he text back saying, 'Class night'."


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Projecting the 2020 NFL draft’s top running backs: Are there any first-rounders?

Two years ago, Saquon Barkley was universally considered the best running back prospect to enter the NFL draft in years. Football Outsiders’ metric for projecting the likelihood of success fur running backs, “BackCAST” agreed: It gave Barkley the second-highest projection of all time.

This year, no prospect has come close to matching the hype of Barkley. BackCAST, however, thinks there is one prospect who should be similarly hyped. In fact, BackCAST rates this prospect more highly than Barkley, or anyone else for that matter, as he has the highest BackCAST projection ever.

BackCAST projects NFL running back success based on statistics that have correlated with success in the past. Historically, a college running back who has a good size-speed combination, gained a high average yards per carry, and represented a large percentage of his college team’s running attack is more likely to succeed at the NFL level.

BackCAST considers these factors and projects the degree to which the running back will exceed the NFL production of an “average” drafted running back during his first five years. For example, a running back with a +50% BackCAST is projected to gain 50% more yards than the “average” drafted running back. BackCAST also projects whether each running back is likely to be heavily involved in the receiving game or is more of a “ground-and-pound” back.

What follows are some of the most notable BackCAST projections for the running back prospects available in the 2020 NFL draft.

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Rodrygo claims Pele helped convince him to make Real Madrid move

‘I visited Pele’s house and he gave me his blessing:’ Rodrygo claims Brazil legend helped convince him to make Real Madrid move

  • Rodrygo made £40m move from boyhood club Santos to Real Madrid last year
  • Forward admits Santos and Brazil legend Pele gave him blessing to leave
  • 19-year-old has had a mixed first year at the Bernabeu under Zinedine Zidane

Rodrygo claims Pele gave him full approval to join Real Madrid after visiting the Brazil legend at his home.

The Madrid starlet moved to the Bernabeu in the summer in a deal worth £40million (€45million) from Santos where he had come through the ranks.

Likewise Pele also became a star at Santos where he spent the whole of his major career, scoring 619 goals in 638 appearances between 1956 and 1974.

Rodrygo states Brazil legend Pele gave him his blessing for a move to Real Madrid last summer

Rodrygo admits his 79-year-old compatriot is one of the biggest influences in his career along with another Santos legend Nemyar, but that he also has an appreciation for Cristiano Ronaldo and Robinho.

‘Cristiano and Neymar are sources of inspiration for me, I am a big fan of them, he told DAZN.

‘Pele, Neymar and Robinho mean a lot to me and also to my favourite team, which is Santos. Neymar is the player I followed the most but I had the chance to meet all three of them.

Rodrygo joined Madrid from Santos, where Pele spent his major career between 1956 and 1974

‘Before I completed my signing for Real Madrid I visited Pele’s house and he gave me his blessing,’ 

Rodrygo started the season in good from for Zinedine Zidane’s side, with the 19-year-old netting a hat-trick in a 6-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray.

However his first-team minutes have dried up since the turn of the year, and he has started to feature more in the reserve Castilla side.

Despite a bright start, Rodrygo has been on the fringes of the Madrid squad in recent times

Despite this, the forward praises Zidane over the way he has handled his early days at Madrid.

‘I have a very good relationship with Zidane,’ he added. ‘He knew when the time was right for me to step on the pitch in order to get me ready.

He helps me, gives me good advise and tells me where and how should I improve my game. He also tells me when I do something the right way.’




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Dani Ceballos speaks out over his future amid Arsenal uncertainty

Arsenal loanee Dani Ceballos has refused to commit his future to the club beyond June 30.

The Spaniard is due to return to Real Madrid this summer but the coronavirus outbreak means the Premier League is due to finish a lot later than planned.

Doubt exists over several loan deals and players who have contracts expiring at the end of June.

Ceballos has already tried to cut short his stay in north London before Mikel Arteta urged him to prove his worth at the Emirates.

But the 23-year-old has said he is in the dark over where he will be playing his football come July 1.

"I finish my contract on June 30. I would have to play for Arsenal, I don’t know how [it would work],’ he said in an interview with El Chiringuito.

"The relationship of the future would be irresponsible for me to speak about.

"The most important thing will be to be important for my new team. I came to Arsenal to be important and in less than a month it has disappeared [because of coronavirus]."

Ceballos was a standout in last summer's U21 European Championship and saw plenty of suitors line up for his signature.


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Dier swaps football boots for gardening gloves and a vegetable patch

Eric Dier swaps football boots for gardening gloves as he reveals he’s planted a vegetable patch with potatoes and courgettes to keep him busy during the coronavirus lockdown

  • Eric Dier has been keeping himself busy during the break from football 
  • The Spurs man revealed he has planted a vegetable patch in his garden 
  • He said he has enjoyed growing potatoes, courgettes and different herbs
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Tottenham’s Eric Dier has swapped the football pitch for a vegetable patch as he keeps himself busy during the coronavirus lockdown. 

The midfielder is keeping on top of his fitness with remote training sessions put on by coaching staff with football suspended until at least April 30.

But Dier has also been busy with a new hobby – gardening.

Eric Dier has taken up gardening and built a vegetable patch during the break from football

‘I’m very lucky, I’ve a bit of space, and I’ve been planting a vegetable garden,’ he told Spurs’ official website.

‘We’ve boarded up an area, put down some sheets to stop the weeds coming through and we’re just using wood to make the beds for the vegetables, fruit, whatever.

‘I don’t know what’s going in, to be honest. I’m a beginner! I guess it depends on the season. My favourites are courgettes, potatoes… in fact, I’ve loads of favourites, herbs as well.

‘Hopefully we’ll grow a few successfully and then be able to pick them and cook with them. That’s the dream! It’s been fun. I’d prefer to be playing football, but it has been fun.’

The England international has also set up a home gym but admitted he missed training alongside his team-mates.

‘I’ve a gym here, I’m training every day, running, in the gym, the coaches and staff at the Club are all in touch, so everyone will be keeping their fitness ticking over,’ he added.

‘Of course, I miss the game, miss the lads, but this is a very upsetting situation for everyone. It puts everything else into perspective. It’s just about everyone’s health.’

The midfielder said he was a beginner but courgettes and potatoes were among his favourites

Football has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the on-going coronavirus crisis

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 2021.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread

North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead in Amman from March 3-11.

The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.

The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.

The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.

China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off. 

The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.

A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’. 

The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.  

Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed. 





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From Mays to Trout: What lost career time means for the legacies of MLB greats

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

Willie Mays was still finding himself as a player when he departed the New York Giants in late May of 1952. There was no doubt he’d already displayed one of the best skill sets anyone had seen on a Major League Baseball field, but he was very much still in the process of converting his immense talent into immense production.

Mays turned 21 years old on May 6, 1952. On May 28, Mays went 0-for-4 at Ebbets Field, then left the Giants to serve in the army during the Korean War. He missed the rest of that season and all of 1953. When he returned in time for the 1954 campaign, he was fully formed as a ballplayer, at least in part because a good bit of his military service involved playing around 180 baseball games. During his return season of 1954, Mays hit .345 while winning his first batting title, clubbed 41 homers, won the National League’s MVP Award and led the Giants to a championship.

When baseball historians get into the what-if topic of players losing time to the worthy endeavor of serving their country, Mays isn’t typically the avatar of the subject. Usually, Ted Williams comes up first, or maybe Joe DiMaggio. Part of that may be because the scope of player involvement in World War II dwarfed that of Korea. Mays, of course, went on to play into the 1970s, finishing with 660 career homers, 3,283 hits and a place on the short list of best players in baseball history. But what if Mays had not been drafted? Could his stature somehow become even more than it already is?

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