West Ham striker Diafra Sakho facing three months out after thigh injury surgery

first_img The Senegal international, who has scored five goals this season, will undergo surgery on Saturday. Sakho suffered the injury as he attempted to shoot during the second half of West Ham’s 1-1 draw with West Brom last Sunday. West Ham striker Diafra Sakho has been ruled out for three months with a thigh injury. Andy Carroll, who recently recovered from an ankle operation, is likely to start in Sakho’s absence when West Ham travel to Manchester United on Saturday. Sakho joins fellow attackers Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia on the sidelines with injuries beginning to bite at Upton Park. “It’s a big blow,” said manager Slaven Bilic. “Those three injuries happened to three key players, especially in the offensive part of our game. “Of course Carroll is important. It’s him and (Nikica) Jelavic and (Michail) Antonio. “With the three of them it’s a massive blow, but it’s a good chance for some of the other guys to step in and show their class.” Bilic is hopeful that Ecuador forward Valencia will be available in a couple of weeks after an ankle injury, but French playmaker Payet is set to be sidelined until February. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Blue Devils potent offense overwhelms Badgers

first_imgIt is very rare for an opposing team to leave the Kohl Center victorious. It’s even more rare for an opposing team to shoot a high percentage en route to a victory at the Kohl Center.But Wednesday night, the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils did just that on their way to a 80-70 victory over No. 2 Wisconsin as part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge.Duke’s sharp shooting lasted for all 40 minutes of the game, and no matter what the Badgers did defensively, there seemed to be no stopping any of the Duke players from getting the ball in the basket.In the first half, Duke shot an impressive 15-25 (60 percent) overall from the field and 5-9 (55.6 percent) from behind the arc. With that shooting performance, Duke headed into the locker room with a 35-32 advantage despite not shooting a single free throw for the entire first 20 minutes.“Our offensive efficiency was incredible tonight,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We had a lot of different lineups out there, but our kids were ready and they never backed down. They showed great composure.”Duke’s hot start was headed by their starting backcourt consisting of freshman guard Tyus Jones and senior guard Quinn Cook. The tandem combined for 16 points on 6-9 (66.7 percent) shooting from the field and 4-6 (66.7 percent) from three-point range.“We took good shots overall and we’ve stressed taking good shots,” Krzyzewski said. “We are very patient, and we had a couple run outs [to the basket].”After a team shoots as well as Duke did in the first half, it’s rare that kind of a shooting performance will carry into the second half.However, the Blue Devils not only continued to find the bottom of the net in the second half, but they were finding even more success shooting the ball than the team did in the first half.In the final 20 minutes, Duke shot a seemingly improbable 15-21 (71.4 percent) from the field and 2-3 (66.7 percent) from three-point territory. This brought its shooting totals for the game to 30-46 (65.2 percent) from the field overall and 7-12 (58.3 percent) from behind the arc.“We can only control what we can control,” senior guard Traevon Jackson said. “Some shots that they got, they were just too comfortable, and we have to do a better job of making adjustments on the fly. Credit to them though, they hit some really tough shots.”Once again, it was Jones that led the Duke charge to the final buzzer. He built on his eight-point first half with an even better 14-point second half.Jones started the half by scoring six of Duke’s first eight points, and from there, there was no stopping the freshman on his way to a 22-point performance behind 7-11 (63.6 percent) shooting.It was Jackson who found himself guarding Jones for most of the game, and no matter what he or the rest of the Badgers did defensively, there was no getting in Jones’s way.“Good players are going make plays in big moments like that, and [Jones] played a heck of a game,” Jackson said.Jackson did all he could to keep Wisconsin in the game, as he scored a career-high 25 points on 7-12 (58.3 percent) shooting with 17 of his 25 coming in the second half, but it seemed that for every shot Jackson made, Duke made one right back. It got to the point where Duke’s accuracy, in the end, was too much for the Badgers to overcome.It wasn’t as if Wisconsin was giving the Blue Devils easy looks, either. Badger defenders contested most of the shots Duke took and the players had to work for nearly each and every one of their looks at the basket.The ball just seemed to roll in Duke’s favor whenever one of those tough shots went up.“I would say they hit some tough shots, but they have good enough players where they can do that at times,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “To have as many do it in the same night, that’s just not fair.”On a night where Duke was shooting as if it was in the team’s own practice gym, it’s sometimes better to accept it for what it is rather than searching for excuses.The Blue Devils put on a shooting clinic in the Kohl Center, and there didn’t seem to be anything Ryan, Jackson or anyone else could do about it.“I don’t care what anybody says,” Ryan said. “They were lights out.”last_img read more

How Syracuse tries to steal signs, pick pitches from opponents

first_imgWhenever Syracuse head coach Shannon Doepking yells “sit” to the SU hitter while an opposing pitcher is in her windup, the Orange hitters know what to expect.“Sit” is a signal to hitters that a changeup is coming. Against North Carolina State last weekend, Doepking’s vantage point down the third baseline allowed her to notice small tendencies in the pitcher’s motion and grip. The simple three-letter word tipped off Orange hitters, and instead of anticipating a fastball, they sat back for a changeup, assistant coach Vanessa Shippy said.“The more you see it coming, the better our hitters will be,” Shippy said. “She (Doepking) called it almost every time and you can tell it gets in the pitcher’s head a little bit.”Syracuse (17-20, 6-6 Atlantic Coast) has stolen signs from opposing pitchers in at least two of its last three series, coaches said. It has also studied pitchers’ deliveries and grips out of their hand. When the Orange are able to identify a pitch based on in-game patterns, SU can rattle the pitcher and gain a tangible edge at the plate. In their last 10 games (eight wins), the Orange have averaged 7.1 runs per game, almost three runs more than the 4.36 they averaged in 2018.Two years ago, the NCAA allowed pitchers and defenders to wear wristbands as an attempt to prevent stealing signs. This season, the first under Doepking, Syracuse is paying for a service that maximizes the wristband strategy.Each week, pitching coach Miranda Kramer provides the weekly code for the SU pitching staff to wear on their wristbands. On each is a chart of numbers that randomly rotate each week to keep opponents off-guard. The numbers indicate pitch selection and location. The Orange’s corner infielders then adjust accordingly.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“A couple years ago, it got pretty common in softball where you started picking signs,” Doepking said. “You write down sequences, you can pick signs and the batters know what’s coming.”The wristband reads: “Never miss a sign.” It can hold up to 100 numbers at a time, and while it’s supposed to be an “unpickable” system to unlock, Doepking said that the Orange have stolen a few signs this season, including Boston College’s from March 22-24.While the Orange hitters are constantly trying to get an edge, the SU pitchers are aware of it, too. When Alexa Romero started pitching in middle school, she always gripped the ball outside of her glove, and until high school, she faced no issues. But in her sophomore year, a coach told her that she would need to better hide the ball in her glove to prevent opposing hitters and coaches from reading the ball and anticipating pitches.“No one ever really (hid the ball) where I was from,” Romero said of the change in pitching windup. “They thought it was difficult because you have to have the ball in your glove to get your grip, and that’s harder to do. You can’t really see my pitches.”Romero said she’s not a part of the pitch-tipping and sign-stealing operation when Syracuse is hitting, but she’ll often sit and watch the opposing pitcher, trying to read her. She’s enjoyed “predicting” pitches. Then, she’ll talk with Kramer, who also tracks pitches, to see if she was right or not.Each week in film review, the Orange study the opposing pitchers in slow motion. Some pitchers have slight indications that can only be seen in super slow motion, Shippy said. Footwork, ball grips and glove positioning can key a batter, Doepking said. Once each SU hitter has faced a pitcher once, they’ll recognize spins and tendencies, said senior Bryce Holmgren.But there’s a fine line. Holmgren will try to read whether or not the pitch will be higher in the zone or lower and if it’s going to be off-speed or not. But most importantly, with such little reaction time, she’s more focused on what she can control.“There’s a delicate balance between trying to read the ball and the spin out of the pitcher’s hand and trying not to overthink it,” Holmgren said. Comments Published on April 10, 2019 at 11:19 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more