\R Tokyo, Jul 28 (AP) Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics insist construction delays at two key venues will have no impact on preparations for the games, including test events.The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced last month construction of the Olympic Aquatics Center and the Sea Forest Waterway will be delayed by two months.This led to media reports organizers would have to reshuffle test event schedules.”A recent media report is causing confusion about Tokyo 2020’s test event schedule,” said Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya.”Despite the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s announcement last month that construction of the Olympic Aquatics Center and the Sea Forest Waterway will be delayed by two months, both the TMG and Tokyo 2020 can confirm that the construction schedule will have no impact on Games preparations or running test events.”Takaya said the Sea Forest Waterway, which will host rowing, will be completed in May 2019, allowing for the test event to be carried out in August as currently scheduled.The Olympic Aquatics Center, which hosts swimming and diving, is due for completion in February 2020.Tokyo 2020, the TMG and the sports federation are working toward organizing the test events for aquatics in April or later, ensuring no impact to the preparations for the Games-time operations.”Overall, Tokyo 2020 is right on track to deliver the Games in two years’ time,” Takaya said.”Our recent report to the IOC Executive Board was well received, and the IOC recognized that Tokyo’s venue preparations are being carried out with an emphasis on project management and quality.”advertisementThe 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24 to Aug. 9. (AP) RUPRUP
When Jorge Costa took over as head coach at Mumbai City FC at the start of the season, it was a no-brainer for Senegalese footballer Modou Sougou to put pen on the paper.The pair successfully won the Romanian Liga 1 with CFR Cluj in the 2011-12 season which interestingly was also their first year with the club. The duo was also together at Academica in Portugal.And it was this long association with the Portuguese manager which became a major influence in Sougou’s decision to join the Islanders.In the Indian Super League where the foreign signings usually come with tons of experience and association with European football clubs in the past, Sougou is no stranger to the ‘big player’ tag.Also read – ISL 2018-19 Fixtures and Match Timings: Full schedule of Indian Super League 2018A former Marseille winger, the 33-year-old has a fierce pace to break that can change the rhythm of the game any minute. Sougou’s experience from the French league doubled by Costa’s strategy to build the team around him could prove to be vital for the Mumbai side.Islander @papesougou has his set on his debut #HeroISL Season #BoleTohMCFC #TheIslanders pic.twitter.com/Utiqlo4flzMumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) September 19, 2018″If there is one thing I’ve learnt in football, it’s that you can never predict the future, in the game or in your career. Now, I am here in Mumbai and I must say that I am very happy. And I hope I can give some good performances on the pitch once the ISL season begins,” Sougou told Mail Today.advertisement”Even at 33, and soon 34, I feel fit, I feel confident and my motivation is high. As a footballer, I always step out on the pitch to win. And I want to help my teammates and try to win, here in Mumbai. But the most important thing is to enjoy your time on the pitch and make the most of them. For us, this is our vocation. We are blessed to be in the pink of health and that we can do what we love,” added the Senegalese, who showed the glimpse of his talent with a four-goal show against Thailand’s Lampang FC in pre-season.Speaking on coach Costa, Sougou, who has also played for Sheffield Wednesday in England, said the coach brings positivity to the league that has served many legendary players in the past.Also read – Indian Super League: Kerala Blasters beat ATK in season five opener”I spent my whole career in Europe. But the reason that pushed me to come to India was the opportunity to work again with coach Jorge Costa. I can’t say much about Indian football yet. There were some famous players who played for this team, like Anelka, Forlan, Piquionne. We hear good things about this club in Europe. If you ask me about the ISL or the other teams in the ISL, I can probably answer that question better in a few months time,” he explained.Ahead of their first match against Jamshedpur FC next Tuesday, Sougou said the team has to quickly adapt to the five-month long season, considering they have a relatively new team.”The fact that we have a fairly new team, it won’t be an easy task. Given how the league is, short and quick, we have to adapt quickly, start well and try not to fall behind in the early stages. But we are confident and we believe in ourselves,” he concluded.
Assuming the point does not end on an ace or double-fault, serving players essentially have two choices: serve and move forward or serve and stay at the baseline. Since the 2000s, players who prefer to remain mainly at the baseline have taken over tennis, despite the unshakably consistent success rates for serve-and-volley over the years. But the difference between the strategies has been stark at this year’s U.S. Open: Through the quarterfinals, women have won just 48 percent of points at the baseline — 28 percentage points less than the share of points won on serve-and-volley.All sports go through trends. As the games change, different approaches fall in and out of vogue. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year on the strength of the RPO — run/pass option — in which backup quarterback Nick Foles had the option of handing off or passing. But the play wasn’t new. The option has been around in college football since the 1960s. But it’s taken a backseat as more teams have gone to pro-style offenses.This happens all the time in sports: What’s old becomes new again. Tennis is no different. Strategies experience revivals.Women in tennis have been relegating themselves mostly to the baseline. But perhaps Williams’s use of the serve-and-volley Thursday will spark a new trend. Women at this year’s U.S. Open have displayed incredible athleticism and shrewd strategy. We’ve seen blistering serves and masterful groundstrokes in the nearly two weeks of play. But we’ve been missing a powerful, ancient weapon: the serve-and-volley. The tactic is all but extinct from women’s tennis, despite still being incredibly effective.Through the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows, on points in which women followed their serve by rushing to the net for a volley, they won a remarkable 76 percent of the time, according to U.S. Open data from IBM. But confoundingly, the strategy was deployed only 84 times — less than 1 percent of all points played.Serena Williams, for her part, flashed the potential of the serve-and-volley in her semifinal win Thursday over Anastasija Sevastova. Williams came to the net five times immediately after serving, taking four of those points.After the match, Williams said she usually approaches the net “only to shake hands,” but she wanted to try something different against Sevastova. It was a reminder of just how potent the tactic can be.The serve-and-volley appears to be used more on the men’s side of late. At this year’s U.S. Open, men served and volleyed 488 times through the quarterfinals, for just less than 3 percent of all points played. Though they couldn’t quite equal the gaudy success rate of the women, they still did very well with the tactic, winning 66 percent of the time. No matter who’s doing it, statistically, the serve-and-volley is an effective way to win points.Why this play is underutilized has long been a topic of discussion in tennis. Some have chalked up the change in tactics to advanced racquets and strings that improve passing shots, while others have blamed slower courts at Wimbledon and this year’s U.S. Open.1Theoretically, slower courts allow players more time to tee off on returns, blowing by net rushers. But there’s no doubt that women have been giving serve-and-volley the cold shoulder.During the late 1970s and ’80s, Martina Navratilova dominated the sport using an attacking serve-and-volley style with monsterous success, propelling her to 18 Grand Slam Championships. Even in the 1990s, serve-and-volley was still in a heyday in the women’s game. To illustrate, look at Wimbledon. It’s a place where serve-and-volley has historically been a favorite tactic because of the ability of the server to dominate on grass, where the ball bounces are low. Returners must put loft on their shots to ensure they clear the net. That’s a feast for a volleyer.Wimbledon first released serve-and-volley data in 1997, and it included tournament totals for the first time in 2002. Jana Novotna served and volleyed her way to the final that year, losing to Martina Hingis. For the tournament, Novotna employed the serve-and-volley 339 times, winning 213 of those points. In the final against Hingis, she used it 76 times — almost as often as the entire women’s field through five rounds at this year’s U.S. Open. It’s an astounding drop of a tactic and a big shift in the way women play tennis.Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that releases historical data, but we can look at its last 17 tournaments to track the decline of serve-and-volley as a strategy in the women’s game:
From the moment they dealt for elite scorer Liz Cambage, the Las Vegas Aces became perhaps the WNBA’s most compelling team — not necessarily the best team, but certainly one with enough upside to make that claim by year’s end.1Particularly with a handful of clubs missing their stars as the league prepares for its homestretch.Headlined by three All-Stars — Cambage, A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride — the Aces’ top-five offense understandably gets a ton of attention. Yet because of that firepower, the Las Vegas defense, one of the WNBA’s worst a year ago, has been overlooked. But the Aces’ defense has made an about-face, becoming one of the more rugged units en route to putting up league-best numbers this season.Vegas is almost 1.5 points per 100 possessions better on D than the next closest team, and have managed to be stingy on that end despite playing at the second-fastest pace in the league. Opposing teams take, on average, almost 16 seconds per possession to get off shot against the Aces, the longest average in the WNBA. And once the shots actually go up, the most likely outcome is a miss (Vegas has the best effective field goal percentage defense) and an Aces’ rebound (they also have the best defensive-rebounding percentage).Aces coach Bill Laimbeer told me before a recent game that he challenged a pair of returning wing players, McBride and former No. 1 overall pick Kelsey Plum, to push up farther on ball-handlers this season. Aside from forcing the action, doing so would tempt teams to either drive or throw the ball into the paint, where both Wilson and the 6-foot-8 Cambage combine for three blocks per contest. Indeed, teams have had limited success inside against the Aces this season, scoring a league-low .971 points per possession around the basket, according to Synergy Sports.On some level, Vegas’s almost-overnight shift into a top-tier defensive unit was by design. If the defense can keep opponents off the board for stretches, Laimbeer’s thinking went, it would allow more time for the Aces’ offensive pieces to jell, and for the team’s talent advantage to take over. “Defense is much easier than offense — it’s just hard work and structure,” Laimbeer said. “You simply put the structure in, and demand that the players work hard.”McBride said the team has bought into adopting a grittier, more prideful identity since last season. One example: If Las Vegas goes a couple possessions in a row without scoring — which often discourages players who thrive on their offense — coaches often shout from the sidelines, “If we don’t score, they don’t score,” to remind the Aces not to let off the pedal on the defensive end.“I think a lot of it comes from [Laimbeer],” McBride said of developing a far greater intensity on defense. “We embrace it, and I think we kind of like the idea of becoming the villains of the league.”While the Aces have been solid defensively all year,2That said, the team as a whole is in the midst of a two-game skid, and just fell to second place in the Western Conference with Sunday’s loss. untangling the offense has been more of a challenge. The Aces recently clinched their first playoff berth since 2014,3The last time the franchise made the playoffs, it was as the San Antonio Stars. The team was sold in 2017 and moved to Las Vegas prior to the 2018 season. but getting there has required pretty considerable sacrifices on offense from just about everyone on the roster. Earlier this month, we wrote that virtually every veteran on the team has gotten fewer shot attempts than she did last season, the price of playing on the lone WNBA team with three All-Stars. A decent comparison for this club is the first season of the LeBron-Wade-Bosh Miami Heat run. The offense — with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade taking turns holding the reins — wasn’t ideal at first. But the Heat’s defense was far better than expected, and helped lift the team to a Finals appearance during the trio’s first season together.In an effort to avoid those getting-to-know-you pitfalls,4Like figuring out who will handle the ball and when, where players’ sweet spots are on the court and how to avoid bumping into each other if there is considerable overlap with those two things. Las Vegas has been trying to push the ball when it can. Aside from the addition of Cambage, the quick-strike mentality also stems from trying to simplify things for rookie and No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young, who’s adjusting to playing the lead guard position full-time as Plum, the NCAA women’s all-time leading scorer, adjusts to playing off-ball more. (There’s a steep dropoff in true-shooting percentage from Cambage, Wilson and McBride to Young and Plum, highlighting how top-heavy the frontcourt is.)“When you have nights where the whole starting five is in double figures, you don’t have to worry about the offense,” Cambage said. “Clearly we’re doing something right. For us, it’s more about defense.”This isn’t to suggest that the Vegas defense doesn’t have some shortcomings. Some were on display in Minnesota on Sunday, when the Aces surrendered 98 points in a loss to the Lynx. Napheesa Collier slipped undetected behind the Aces’ D multiple times in the third quarter (Las Vegas ranks dead last out of 12 teams in defending cuts to the basket, per Synergy). And Minnesota took advantage of Vegas not getting back in transition, where the Aces rank just ninth. Put another way: The Aces get caught sleeping from time to time.But what makes the Aces intriguing is that, less than two weeks out from the playoffs, they’re still getting on the same page. Cambage joined the team eight days before the season started, giving her almost no opportunity to get acclimated, while Wilson recently missed a month with an injury. Young and Plum have had months to work off each other at this point, and even if the youth in the backcourt is a concern, it’s a safe bet that far more of the offense — particularly with 1-on-1 play, where the Aces rank best in the league, per Synergy — will go through Cambage and Wilson.Also important to remember: This is just Year One for this relatively young team. Cambage, who turned 28 last week, is the oldest core player on the team. McBride is 27. Plum is 25, as is Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Dearica Hamby. Wilson is 23. Young is still just 21.It could all come together quickly for this youthful club. But even if it takes beyond this season, the logic in tightening up the defense to buy more time for the already-solid offense was sound. Finishing at or near the top of the league on D in the first year together sets a new standard, and shows there’s no reason the Aces can’t be elite on both ends as long as this core stays together.
Dan Cohen AUTHOR Texas Rep. John Carter (R) is set to replace Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) atop the House Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee, following his selection Tuesday by the House Republican Steering Committee. Dent resigned from Congress earlier this month. The full GOP Conference still needs to ratify the selection but that is typically a formality, reported CQ. Carter’s district in central Texas includes a portion of Fort Hood; the eight-term congressman had chaired the Homeland Security spending panel. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Oki