THE VIEW FROM THE HEDGES
Res ThaSequel is a new contributor to the Old Columbus Town. He is the author of The Dimitrious Stanley Story and still wears his 1999 Final Four gear without irony or fear of reprisals. You hear me, NCAA?
There is a simple answer to the question of if this year's installment of OSU Men's basketball was a disappointment.
The answer: yes.
While the squad undeniably lost a lot (I even find myself missing D-Cook's erratic play), they should have not been this bad. Two of the Thad Five returning was better than none, and Kosta Koufos was (is?) allegedly a lottery pick. Add in the steady play of Jamar Butler, the face of the basketball renaissance in Buckeye Town, and you have a team that looks intimidating--not Jennifer Aniston second season of Friends intimidating[ly hot]--more like a Courtney Cox.
The season started well enough (notwithstanding a loss to Findlay in preseason) where OSU beat the teams they should and played up to the likes of UNC and Butler. Then the team found out that Purdue is good, Iowa is tough on the road, and they lost to Minnesota for good measure. OSU got its groove back the last part of the season in defeating Purdue and MSU, but it was not enough.
There are simple reasons for Ohio State's bball downfall.
First, everyone except for Butler and Turner (and perhaps Kosta--he dominated at times) underachieved this season, and thus so did the team. For the first time in Matta's tenure, the team did not play up to its potential. In Matta's first couple years his squad's scrapped and made up for a lack of talent and Matt-fucking-Sylvester. Then came last year, where the team fought the best team this side of '92 Duke in the Finals. These teams played hard, whereas this year's squad did not have the same fight. Lighty and Hunter were supposed to be big and at times flashed brilliance (O-Hunt is still learning the game--its only his fifth year of playing organized ball) but then absolutely disappeared. Their paltry season averages (8.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg for Lighty and 9.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg for Hunter) partly tell the story, but the fact that Hunter went for 15 and 12 against Michigan the first time, and then 6 and 3 in the inglorious rematch are more revealing. They were as inconsistent as David Letterman or Michigan State football every year--you never know if its going to be really good or fucking awful.
Second, although I mentioned reasons earlier why OSU had good prospects for this season, the team did not blossom as Buckeye fans would have hoped. They were freshmen who played like freshmen. Diebler, who I want to call "The Faucet" because he can get hot or cold so quickly (mainly cold), never got that comfortable this year. Kosta progressed and regressed. He plays like a small forward trapped in a center's body. Turner, by far the team's most improved player, really came alive as a defender and scorer yet at times marred his game with bad passes and TOs. Main point, these guys are new to the NCAA game and Cbus, as usual, was expecting a lot.
Third, the deficiencies that have plagued Matta's teams hit this team hard. Namely, the team likes treys and not boards. Yes, I am glad that Kosta has a great shot. However, when you have four guys on the perimeter ready to jack it up at all times (including Terwiliger?!?!) that means rebounds are going to be in short supply. In 2005-06, the team took threes because it was three undersized guys and Matt-fucking-Sylvester, who will forever suck in my mind despite his big shots against Illinois and LSU, and Dials. They were a short bunch with only one real good post player. Now they have depth and good size and . . . still jacking up the threes. [Actually after watching the likes of Drake, who could have easily beaten Western 'Tucky if Kyle Korver's brother and co. drove to the hoop/went for easier points instead of jacking it from halfcourt every time, I think this is more a problem with college bball in general. Plenty of teams play ball like my friend does on NBA Live: launch threes regardless of the score.] Nevertheless, this hurt Ohio State. How else do you explain 7' Kosta and 6'9" Hunter and the rest getting out-rebounded by smaller teams?
But the sun has not set on OSU bball yet. Yes, they did not make the Dance but they are young and hopefully this can motivate them for next year (when B.J. Mullens comes to town). However, this year's squad still has a chance to please. And only an elusive National [Invitational Tournament] Championship will do.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
THE VIEW FROM THE HEDGES