Celtics

OSU coaches killed in plane crash

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OSU coaches killed in plane crash

From Comcast SportsNet

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP)Oklahoma State University womens basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed when the single-engine plane they were riding in during a recruiting trip crashed in steep terrain in central Arkansas, the university confirmed Friday morning.

The university said the pair died in the crash around 7 p.m. Thursday night in the Winona Wildlife Management Area near Perryville, about 45 miles west of Little Rock. The planes pilot and another passenger also died in the crash, but their names were not immediately released. OSU said they were not affiliated with the university.

There were no survivors, the university statement said.

The crash is the second major tragedy for the sports program in about a decade. In January 2001, 10 men affiliated with the universitys mens basketball team died in a Colorado plane crash, prompting the university to require that planes used by the schools sports team undergo safety checks before travel. It wasnt immediately clear if the same policy applied to travel by coaches or administrators.

Oklahoma State canceled its womens college basketball home games set for Saturday and Sunday. The schools second-ranked college football team plays Friday night at Iowa State.

University president Burns Hargis credited Budke with elevating the team in a tough program. Serna, he said, set a good example for the players.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims. Kurt was an exemplary leader and a man of character who had a profound impact on his student-athletes, Hargis said. Miranda was an up-and-coming coach and an outstanding role model for our young ladies.

OSU hired Budke from Louisiana Tech seven years ago and the coach compiled a 112-83 record at the school. This years team was 1-0 after defeating Rice on Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators, and that it could take nine months to determine the cause of the crash.

FAA records showed that the plane was built in 1964 and registered to Olin Branstetter of Ponca City, Okla. A telephone message left on an answering machine at a number for Branstetter wasnt immediately returned Friday morning.

The plane that crashed in 2001, a Beechcraft King Air 200, had been donated by a school booster.

On Jan. 27, 2001, one of three planes carrying players and others connected to the OSU mens basketball team crashed in a field 40 miles east of Denver as the Cowboys returned from a game at Colorado. The crash occurred about 35 minutes after the plane took off in light snow.

An NTSB report cited a power loss aboard the plane and said the pilot suffered disorientation while flying the plane manually with still-available instruments.

After that crash, the university began requiring a firm to check out the condition of any plane used by a school sports team. It wasnt immediately known if that policy also applied to planes that carry only coaches or other school employees, or if the plane the womens coaches were traveling in had undergone an independent check.

Thursday night, the weather near the crash site was clear with temperatures in the upper 30s to mid-40s.

Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

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Celtics-Hawks preview: C' defense looks to keep up historic pace

As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league. 

It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it. 

Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect. 

But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams. 

And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.

Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ. 

That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).

Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season. 

Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33. 

All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories. 

“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”

And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever. 

“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years. 

Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).

And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well. 

Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th). 

When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th). 

Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).

“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”