Eric He is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Wednesdays. The women’s water polo team won its fifth national championship in program history on Sunday, adding to the impressive — yet largely unnoticed — dynasty that is water polo at USC.When you think of dynasties in Trojan athletics, you immediately think of football — the Pete Carroll era, the success under John McKay and John Robinson — or maybe baseball and Rod Dedeaux’s 11 national championships in a 45-year tenure.But flying under the radar is water polo — a sport that barely registers on the casual USC fan’s radar — and Jovan Vavic, the head coach of both the men’s and women’s teams, who has amassed more national championships than any coach in USC history, but could walk straight down Trousdale and go unrecognized.His resume features 14 national championships (five women’s, nine men’s) and 22 Coach of the Year awards (12 National Coach of the Year honors and 10 MPSF Coach of the Year awards). His winning percentage is above .700 with both the men and the women’s teams. On the men’s side, he has appeared in 11 consecutive national championships, and from 2008 to 2013, his team won it all. Every year. Six years in a row.Vavic is essentially the John Wooden of water polo, and it’s no secret why. He demands the best from his players and never expects anything less. Observe him during a game and he is intimidating, to say the least, with his booming voice barking orders at his players and yelling at the referees.And he never stops coaching. In a game in late March, as the women’s water polo team was ahead by five goals against Cal in the season finale and a minute away from clinching a perfect 21-0 regular season, Vavic barked at his team to press or pressure the opponent. They didn’t, and he called a timeout to light up his players.“Why didn’t you press?” he yelled loud enough for everyone present at Uytengsu Aquatics Center to hear.Mind you, this was in the final minute of the final regular season game that was well out of reach for the opponent. It was the equivalent of a basketball coach telling his or her team to stage a full court press with a 20-point lead in the final 30 seconds. But that’s just the way Vavic is.“He just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing,” junior attacker Stephania Haralabidis said after the 11-6 win over Cal. “He’s a perfectionist. That’s good. If we have a 5-goal lead, we start relaxing.”And relaxation is not an option for Vavic, at least in the pool. Take a look at this excerpt from a feature on Vavic in Los Angeles Magazine:“This is, after all, the man who lines up players along the outdoor pool deck and laces into them as they stand shivering. Who kicked a container filled with medicine balls so hard, he broke a toe. Who angrily drew a circle on a whiteboard, explaining that it was the empty dessert plate of a player he then blasted for being too slow.”Vavic has a strong “tough love” approach that is demanding but has earned the respect of his players.“Him screaming at us makes us go like this,” Haralabidis said, throwing her hands in the air. “It helps a lot.”Two months later, Haralabidis would find out how much it helped. She scored the game-winning goal to win the national championship for USC, delivering a left-handed strike from the right side into the back of the net with six seconds remaining to give the Trojans an 8-7 win over Stanford and capping off a 26-0 season for the Women of Troy.Vavic is, in many ways, the perfect water polo coach. Water polo is not a sport for the weary, a fact that I was quickly introduced to when covering the men’s beat last season. The water might make it appear like a graceful, agile sport, but make no mistake: it is physical, fast-paced and demanding. Treading water for 32 minutes is hard enough without worrying about the holding, strangling and shoving — and that’s just what happens above the surface. I’ve heard of players purposely growing their toenails out, and let’s just say it’s not because they have regular pedicure appointments.A tough sport calls for a tough leader, and for more than two decades Vavic has continuously found the right formula to lead his teams to the top, year upon year. The championship win on Sunday — Vavic’s ninth in nine seasons — further cements his legacy as an all-time legendary coach in USC history.Amidst the coaching carousel that has embroiled the football team in recent seasons, it is refreshing to see that at least one program at USC has a coach with all the job security in the world, coaching two teams and delivering winners on a regular basis. Maybe it’s time for Trojan fans to start paying attention to him and his sport.
As the nation prepares for England’s first World Cup semi-final since Italia 90, England fans frantically hope that the anxiety of the Colombia game isn’t replicated and Southgate’s side win in 90 minutes.However, should England’s fate see them head to spot kicks tonight, we take a look at the challenges that are presented to a trader as they look to price the dreaded penalty shootout. SBC spoke to Head of Compilation at Abelson Info, Jeevan Jeyaratnam who revealed his belief that a shootout is far from a lottery, as well as looking at some of the key factors in pricing penalties. SBC: In general, how difficult is it to price which side will win a penalty shootout? Jeevan Jeyaratnam: A common misconception is that a penalty shootout is a “lottery” with both sides having an equal chance. This is not far from the truth, however, if we breakdown the mechanics it is more nuanced than that.There are a couple of approaches to pricing a penalty shootout, the first, a more accurate but laborious process, involves using player parameters to determine the likely more experienced, and therefore successful penalty takers in each team- a “penalty prowess” player/team parameter. Generally, the team with better players are going to be favourites for the match, this team would also be slightly more likely to win a penalty shootout. Therefore, pre-game shootout odds should reflect that superiority, albeit if the game has gone all the way to penalties there is far less variance between the two teams’ chances. Most firms won’t be going to the detail of analysing each player’s parameters. So, method two, derived from the match supremacy, allows us to use the 50-50 idea as a benchmark, before adding a small deviation to allow for the superiority of one side over another. If we look at bet365’s prices, at 90mins, prior to the England v Colombia shootout, we can see England were regarded as slight favourite to win a shootout (3.10 v 3.25). At the end of the extra-time period the prices had snapped to 1.90 v 1.90, but a closer look at the Asian Handicap prices shows England at 1.875 (53.33%) v 1.975 (50.63%) for Colombia. This is as we would expect to see given that England were judged to have the superior team at kick-off. It is small but significant difference. The reason for the variation in pricing what is essentially the same market is likely due to margin and odds ladders, and possibly different supplier feeds. The Asian prices were bet to 103.96% while the top of the page “To Win Shootout” prices were bet to 105.2%. Always shop around!SBC: In the Croatia versus Denmark game, we saw Modric miss a penalty in the game before stepping up to take one in the shootout, can in-play penalties have an impact on pricing for a shootout? JJ: Invariably the team’s regular penalty taker is an experienced and competent individual, able to handle the pressure situation that comes with a penalty. Bearing this in mind, we wouldn’t expect to see this affect a player taking another penalty in the shootout. Of course, if we were updating individual player parameters in real-time, there would be an additional data point for both taker and keeper, but honestly these would have little impact on the pricing.SBC: Additionally, in that shootout we saw dominant performances from Schmeichel and Subasic, how much can a strong keeper sway a sides’ odds before heading into a shootout? JJ: Of course, a better than average goalkeeper is a benefit, and if we were allocating player/team “penalty prowess” parameters, this would be reflected. It is fair to say that most firms/supplier feeds will set up their penalty shootout prices as such;As a starting point we know that 75% (1.33) of penalties are scored and 25% missed (4.00). That sample is going to be mainly comprised of experienced penalty takers. So, to score the 1st pen, 1.30 (76%), to miss, 3.40 (29.41%) is a likely offer. The same prices would probably be used for the 2nd pen. After that we’d likely see some degradation in the quality of the taker, the offer might look like this; to score 1.33 (75%), to miss, 3.25 (30.76%). The “to score” price would continue to fractionally slide the further the shootout went. SBC: For the Russia Spain game it was clear for long periods, Russia were playing for penalties, can the moral victory of getting to penalties increase a smaller teams’ odds of winning a shootout? JJ: Psychologically I’m not sure of the impact of this, it isn’t something we’d worry too much about from a compilation perspective. I’d actually argue the opposite, in that the smaller teams may feel they have already achieved their goal before embarking on the arduous task of winning a shootout.SBC: Can the body language of players have any impact at all on the odds for a penalty shootout?JJ: We all recall times when we’ve said, “he doesn’t fancy this, I think he looks like missing”, and when that hunch is confirmed, we remember it. What we don’t recall with such clarity is the times that the player goes on to prove us wrong and score. This is evidence of confirmation bias and really has no bearing on price. If a player has agreed to step up for a penalty then there’s every chance he feels confident enough to convert it. There is, of course, extra pressure on penalties that must be scored in order to avoid defeat, likewise, those whose success can mean victory. At a very detailed level this could affect pricing but realistically, with margins, it isn’t something firms should be worrying about at this time. 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9 Aug 2016 Andy leads the Captains’ final by one Leicestershire’s Andy Vernon holds the halfway lead in the England Golf Captains’ Final – after returning to the event for the first time since back surgery three years ago.Vernon, from Stapleford Park, scored 38 points in today’s first round on the Blue course at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Oxfordshire.He’s a point ahead of Martin Tate (Blackburn), while Alan Richardson (Scarborough North Cliff) and Chris Wise (Holtye) both scored 36 points.They’re among 60 players from all over the country who qualified for the 36-hole hole final through six regional events for members of the England Golf Captains’ programme.Their championship is being played as part of England Golf Week which brings over 500 competitors to Frilford Heath to take part in a series of finals during the five-day celebration of handicap golf.Vernon was Stapleford Park club captain in 2006 and is playing in his fourth final, but his first since 20011, when he finished runner-up. “I had back surgery three years ago so I haven’t played any of these until this year when I qualified at Collingtree Park,” he said.He played off five before his operations but is now a 10-handicapper and said: “This is one of my best rounds since I had surgery and the first time I have played under my handicap this year.”Chasing him is Martin Tate, who was Blackburn club captain in 2012 and is playing in his second final. The seven-handicapper had a great back nine, coming home with 23 points.Meanwhile Chris Wise, who was Holtye captain for two years between 2005/07, got off to a storming start with 22 points on his front nine. “Then I only scored five points in five holes before coming back again,” he said.Click here for full scoresClick here for more information on the England Golf Captains’ programme