Martinez calm over Mirallas miss

first_imgEverton manager Roberto Martinez insists there is no issue with Kevin Mirallas missing a penalty which should have been taken by Leighton Baines. Baines has missed just one of his 16 spot-kicks for the Toffees but allowed Mirallas to have the honour against West Brom and watched as the Belgium international hit the outside of the post a minute before half-time. It was arguably Everton’s only chance in the goalless draw and a perfect opportunity to end a run of eight matches without a win but Martinez refused to apportion any blame. “He is the number one penalty-taker but if it has been the other way around and Leighton says no, the issue would be why Kevin was not allowed take the penalty. “We are a team that is very together. I expect a few players to be able to take penalties and convert them. “If you play this game 10 times it would be nine wins for us and one draw for West Brom. That is the moment we are in.” The situation was compounded by MIrallas’ withdrawal at half-time but Martinez dismissed any conspiracy theories. “When he gets into half-time and the body temperature changes he felt his hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem,” he said. “He has been carrying a problem in that area and that is why he didn’t start against Manchester City and West Ham. “He felt 100 per cent today but at half-time he felt that hamstring was starting to give him a bit of a problem and he wasn’t 100 per cent to start the second half.” West Brom manager Tony Pulis made it three matches unbeaten since taking over earlier this month and they have yet to concede a goal under him. “It was a resilient performance, the lads worked really hard,” said the Baggies boss, who revealed he will speak to chairman Jeremy Peace about whether to make an improved £4million bid for Wigan forward Callum McManaman. “We had good shape at times. We have to be better on the ball and it doesn’t come overnight. The midfielders gave the ball away too cheaply at times and they are good players. “We need to get good passes off to get us up the pitch. It was a fantastic effort, showing good resilience and I am really pleased.” “Kevin took the first penalty against West Ham in the (FA Cup) penalty shoot-out last Tuesday,” said the manager. “Normally Leighton takes the penalties but we have a few players in the squad capable of taking them. “Kevin has the quality and personality as an international footballer and is well capable of scoring penalties. “Leighton was quite happy to let him take it because he felt confident and right in that moment. “There is no big issue in that. It became an issue because he couldn’t find the back of the net.” Team-mates Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku appeared to try to tell Mirallas to hand the ball over to Baines but he refused, prompting England assistant manager Gary Neville, summarising for Sky, to label his actions “despicable” for going against team orders. But Martinez said that did not indicate disharmony within the squad. “Not really. If Leighton Baines is the one who wants to take the penalty he will take it,” he added. Press Associationlast_img read more

Through the fire: Finally healthy, Johnson looks to prove himself in the NCAA Tournament

first_imgWith plenty of time to fume over that loss, Johnson now has a chance to go out with a bang. The next three weeks are probably the junior forward’s college swan song. After all, his name still glistens atop mock drafts everywhere. Johnson’s early ascension to the NBA has been a foregone conclusion. Players with his blend of size and athleticism are rare. With minutes to go against Georgetown, someone socked Johnson in the eye. He fouled out soon after. SU lost, 91-84. Thanks for coming. He struggled, but Syracuse kept winning. Other players stepped up. Sophomore Kris Joseph, the once-raw swingman Murphy credits Johnson for mentoring all of last year, stepped into a larger role. Andy Rautins got hot. Scoop Jardine revved up the fastbreak. And the Orange’s offense didn’t miss a beat. Currently, SU is scoring the sixth most points in the nation per game (81.5). Battered and weakened, Johnson pumped the brakes on offense. Those reckless, bat-out-of-hell alley-oops of November and December vanished. He focused on defense, stringing together 12 blocks in one four-game stretch. Now it looks like Wes Johnson is finally himself again, finally the guy that terrorized opponents in the fall. Last week against the Hoyas, Johnson dominated in stretches. Days after winning Big East Player of the Year honors, Johnson scored 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Hands in his face, he caught fire. ‘So not only could he not really jump as high, he couldn’t get any lift on his jump shot as well,’ Murphy said. ‘The combination of the hand and the heel being hurt didn’t help him at all.’ The hand injury is behind him. The tremors from that nasty wipeout against Providence have faded. No longer does Johnson hold up his hand for reporters like a museum artifact. And no longer is his body bruised up like a dated banana. It took a month, but Johnson is finally 100 percent. All hesitation is gone. He’s back to his old self at the best possible time. thdunne@syr.edu Some souvenir this is. All Wes Johnson has to remember from his first — and probably only — trip to the Big East tournament is a nasty gash on his left eyelid. No titles, no momentum, only bitterness. Published on March 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm Inevitably, the coming games are job interviews for Johnson. He has gracefully sidestepped the issue this season. Murphy said most guys with Johnson’s talent would be talking about the pros. NBA blinders have killed so many teams — think star-laden Connecticut losing to George Mason in 2006. So back at full strength for the first time in a month, Johnson is the alpha dog on a Syracuse team gunning for its second championship. Not Johnson. Johnson? He went to the ‘Melo Center and kept shooting. It’s been a rocky road back. ‘I’m still getting treatment on it, but its a 100 percent better than what it was,’ Johnson said. After games, Johnson never got into specifics. The soft-spoken forward promised he was healing. Nothing more. Johnson knew Syracuse couldn’t afford him to sit out. ‘It feels a lot better,’ Johnson said. ‘I’m still getting treatment on it but it’s a 100 percent better than what it was.’ ‘I’m just trying to go out there and win games,’ Johnson said. ‘Anything I can do to help the team win, I’m going to do that and try to further this tournament as much I can.’center_img Isn’t it his turn now? In reality, Johnson should have been in street clothes a couple weeks. Rob Murphy knows this. SU’s assistant coach said that most players would miss one or two games with this combination of injuries. His hip was bruised. His heel was bruised. His knee was tweaked. His confidence was stunted. And of course, his hand was a club. Save for the waning moments of that Georgetown game. Someone clocked Johnson in the eye. He knows it. Over three games this season, the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry was popped back in the microwave. Emotions got the best of someone on the Hoyas. The next day, Johnson investigated. He tweeted to Hoyas forward Austin Freeman, ‘yooo one of yall sucker punched me in the eye!!’ To which Freeman replied, ‘man lol Idk who did that.’ Facebook Twitter Google+ ‘I’ve been wanting to play so bad watching the Big East tournament, knowing we should have been playing,’ Johnson said. ‘The way we lost, I’m hurt. Very hurt.’ One week after a head-over-heels crash on an alley-oop attempt against the Friars, Johnson injured his hand in Syracuse’s win over Connecticut. His hand bloated to boxing-mitt capacity. He couldn’t even fist bump others in the locker room after the win. As a result, Johnson’s shot suffered. His aggression dulled down. Often, Johnson was half-decoy. In the eight regular-season games after the Providence crash, Johnson averaged only 12.9 points per game on 32 percent shooting — far from the 17.1 points per game, 55 percent shooting clip he was at. Comments ‘He has not mentioned the NBA to any teammate or any coaching staff member,’ Murphy said. ‘I believe that’s because he had a bad experience at Iowa State, went to a prep school before that and that wasn’t a great experience. So I think this year is the first time he has really enjoyed playing basketball in the last three or four years.’ The two laughed it off one ‘LOL’ at a time, never escalating to cyber fisticuffs. On Friday, a bigger tournament begins. Johnson saw what Turner did. Saw what Wall did. Over the next few days, the other two players pinned atop mock drafts hogged the spotlight. Scoring nearly 27 points a game, Evan Turner willed Ohio State to a Big Ten title. And on Selection Sunday, Kentucky’s John Wall single-handedly booted Mississippi State to the NIT. Standing in front of a long trophy case inside the ‘Melo Center, Johnson paused for a couple seconds and smiled. Upstaging other players isn’t his style. After his month-long sacrifice, you believe him. Finally healthy, he is firing away shots at a pitch machine’s rate. Before practice Tuesday, Johnson made 400 shots — 200 from the 3-point line and 200 from midrange. Add in group drills, scrimmages, and another practice at night, and Johnson hoisted 700 to 800 shots for the day. The bum hand is history. ‘He’s getting back to that form right now,’ Rautins said. ‘No better time to get him back than the Tournament.’ ‘Without him, we’d be down to six experienced players,’ Murphy said. ‘He just felt we couldn’t afford that, especially at that time when we’re fighting for a Big East title and fighting for a No. 1 seed. He didn’t want to let his team down.’ Game by game, Johnson watched the rest of the tournament unfold at a South Campus apartment with teammates. Those two days were painful. Added Jardine, ‘This is the time for national players of the year like Wesley Johnson. Those guys show why they’re mentioned. I think Wes will definitely come through for us.’ Which all added to the bitterness of that loss. Johnson wanted to keep playing. When he was whistled for his fifth foul — Syracuse trailing 87-81 with 15 seconds left — Johnson walked to the bench in disbelief. He lifted his jersey over his head for a second, gnawed on it and eventually slouched into a seat. With his NBA-ready wingspan elongated over two empty seats to his left and right, Johnson could only watch in disgust. Cold, unfinished-business anger cloaked his usually cheerful mug.last_img read more

America should learn from Cuban education

first_imgIn the aftermath of a historic election, the debate about how much power the federal government should be given, particularly in terms of education, will always be present in the United States. With a communist political system, Cuba’s government maintains complete authority and control over social and political issues. While the United States would never transition to such an authoritarian system of government, and I’m not suggesting this as such, it could learn from Cuba’s educational system. Specifically, Cuba’s high accountability standards, continual professional development for teachers, high access rates for all genders and races, among others, could be replicated if the United States wanted to have a high quality education system.At the World Conference on Education for All in 1990, scholars gathered to develop consensus on what factors should be associated with a high-quality and highly effective educational system. These factors range from the institutional organization of a country’s educational system, such as supportive policies and sufficient funding and material resources, to school-based factors like clear goals and highly effective teachers. The Cuban government independently included several of these factors when creating their educational system, which helps account for their high achieving students.Multiple studies have illustrated the high correlation between a pupil’s test scores and his or her socioeconomic background. Cuba breaks out of that mold as one of the countries in which, despite students’ relatively low social standing, students generally perform very well and have higher test scores than their low income would predict. Moreover, Cuban students outperform those in other Latin American countries with similarly low levels of wealth and receive the same high quality education that only wealthy, upper-class students would receive in other Latin American countries. So what is so unique about the Cuban education system that creates such high-achieving students? The communist system of government that encourages high-quality teaching with well-defined goals to ensure that  schools focus on student performance. One of the biggest takeaways from studying the Cuban education system is the positive impact that low income inequality can have on a country’s system of education. While poverty does exist in Cuba, even the very poor have access to food, shelter, healthcare and education. Additionally, by enforcing child labor laws, providing free healthcare to all and guaranteeing adult employment, Cuba works to ensure that low-income students are able to attend schools and do not have to work or go hungry. While a communist government affords few individual liberties, through large governmental oversight, the Cuban government assures that low-income students are given the same educational opportunities as higher income students. Additionally, Cuba’s system of measuring teacher performance helps assure that teachers continue to improve their craft with a reliable feedback and monitoring system. The United States largely keeps teachers accountable through monitoring student test scores, which results in educators focusing on teaching students content to pass exams more than developing critical thinking skills. In contrast, teachers in Cuba are presented with a portfolio of lessons and a video example of another teacher giving a lesson. This not only allows for greater collaboration among teachers, which would help all of the teachers improve, but would provide feedback for teachers with low pedagogical skill. Cuba is able to ensure such a high quality educational system because it requires families and teachers to conform to state-sponsored standards for students’ learning and has the unique governmental structure in place to guarantee conformity and control. One of the ways to achieve such collective interests, in which everyone is concerned with granting all students a high quality education, is that the state has to be much more of a guarantor of quality education for all. In other words, much like Cuba, the United States needs to take public responsibility for the success of its students. By tackling debilitating issues like poverty and income inequality, which both negatively impact a child’s educational attainment, and setting high standards for teachers through developing effective performance measures, the United States can move toward guaranteeing all students a high quality education.Julia Lawler is a senior majoring  in history and social science education. Her column, “Get Schooled,” runs Fridays.last_img read more