Wednesday, March 28, 2007

2008 Recruiting class off to a hot start

This will likely be my last post for over a week. I am leaving on vacation early Saturday, and will be too busy with pre-vacation stuff as well as school tomorrow to post.

The 2008 Buckeye football recruiting class is already shaping up to be one of the top classes in Jim Tressel's tenure. Despite having only 13 scholarships to give out (that number may rise depending on early NFL entries, transfers, etc.), the Bucks have already gained five commitments, all of whom are regarded as some of the top prospects in the state of Ohio.

The commits:
Player rankings via Rivals

Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Dublin Coffman (#1 in state)
When this class officially signs on next February, Mike Adams will probably considered the "star" player in this class; the guy who is the most well-known and highly anticipated by the fans. He's considered by many to be not only one of the top linemen in the state, but the entire country as well. At an overwhelming 6'7" and 308 lbs, Adams has already drawn comparisons to the likes of former great OSU linemen Orlando Pace and Korey Stringer.

DeVoe Torrence, RB/LB, Massilon (#3 in state)
The younger brother of 2007 recruit DeVon Torrence, DeVoe brings a bit different style of play to the table than his speedster brother. However, despite being 215 lbs, DeVoe has been clocked in the 4.4 range in the 40 yard dash. As a junior, DeVoe had over 1,600 total yards, while tallying 17 touchdowns. Defensively he may have even been more dominant, with 127 tackles, six sacks, three recovered fumbles, and one interception. However, the Ohio State coaching staff recruited him primarily as a running back, promising that if he committed, they would not recruit another tailback in this class.

Jake Stoneburner, WR/TE, Dublin Coffman (#5 in state)
See below.

DeVier Posey, WR, Cincinnati LaSalle (#6 in state)
DeVier Posey is every bit as good a person as he is an athlete. And he's a great athlete, too. At 6'3" 190, Posey is a prototypical wide receiver that will be a perfect fit as a Buckeye. His 1,900+ all-purpose yardage gained him All-Ohio honors and a serious look from the coaching staff. His GPA, a perfect 4.0, is icing on the cake. We've seen what strong students (Krenzel, Gonzalez) capable of, especially in crunch time. His athleticism on top of those academics could make him a great one.

Ben Buchanan, P/K, Westerville Central (#15 in state)
It's sometimes odd for a kicker to receive a scholarship so early in the process, especially when scholarships are already so tight. Buchanan has spent plenty of time working with numerous kickers that you may remember, including a guy named Nugent. There's no denying the importance of a solid kicking game in Tressel's system, as Nugent, Huston, Groom, and Sander have all become celebrities despite small roles. Buchanan could easily be the next in line of great Buckeye specialists.

Other top players with offers that could commit:
OL Michael Brewster, Edgewater, Florida
OL J.B. Shugarts, Klein, Texas
OL Kyle Long, Charlottesville, Virginia
QB Terrell Pryor, Jeannette, Pennsylvania
WR Cordale Scott, Cleveland Glenville
LB Shayne Hale, Monroeville, Pennsylvania
LB Andrew Sweat, Washington, Pennsylvania

Exclusive Interview with a 2008 commit
Jake Stoneburner is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class. He's tall (6'6), big (223 lbs), and fast (4.53 forty). Essentially, his versatility makes him any coach's dream. There has been much debate as to whether Stoneburner will be used primarily as a tight end, or as a Roy Hall-type receiver that will create mismatches in the secondary. Jake recently took the time to discuss this and a few other things with me, the interview is posted below.

You're being recruited as a wide receiver, but most would consider you a tight end in the long run with your height/weight. Where do you expect to be lining up when you're playing on a consistent basis?

I think i will end up as a Flex TE, because I think that I can get up to about 240 in weight, but be able to keep my speed.

Pfef: What's the best part about being a Buckeye?

Jake: Best part of being a buckeye is getting to play at the shoe.

Pfef: Everything is bigger at the college level: The players, the fan base, the media exposure, and perhaps most importantly, the pressure, are just a few. How do you plan on handling the transition from High School to College?

Jake: I plan on handling the pressure by asking fellow teammates for help, asking my parents for help when I need it. Its going to be tough, but I'll have to stick through it because it will only get me ready for the NFL.

Do you expect to make an immediate impact on the field, or do you think you'll redshirt?

Jake: I think that I can make an immediate impact because they really don't have any players like me on their team.

Pfef: Tell us all a bit about Mike Adams. He's widely thought of as the top prospect in the state. What makes him such a great player?

Jake: Mike is one of my great friends and he is just a huge monster. He is very big, yet very agile for his size and really has unlimted potential.

Pfef: Of course, you still have one more season of high school before you don the Scarlet and Gray. With you, Adams, WR Trey Fairchild, and LB Steve Gardiner all having major D-I offers, the talent on the Coffman team is unquestionable. How realistic is a state championship for you guys?

Jake: The State Championship is our #1 goal. We all seem to think it is very achievable especially with what we have coming back from last year's team that made the regional finals.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Football is back!

That's right, folks. While the OSU basketball team is in the midst of a Final Four run, the football team is quietly preparing for the Spring Game set for later in April. The official spring depth chart has been released, and despite the fact that this very well may be a "rebuilding season," the very sight of a two-deep, much less some early previews from coach Tressel himself, makes me weak in the knees.

Initial Depth Chart overview:
note: This depth chart does not include any incoming freshmen

Boecking the trend
It makes sense to begin with the one area that will undoubtedly be the most heated topic of discussion to hit the Buckeye nation since last November: the Quarterback battle. Some of you may remember, but I took a brief look at all three of Boeckman, Schenhoft, and Henton shortly after the season ended. In short, I voiced that "my guy" in this race was the oft-overlooked Schoenhoft, while the general public would vouch for Henton due to his Troy Smith-like talents, and the coaching staff would almost unquestionably give Boeckman the first shot at quarterback because he has been with the team the longest. Well, as the depth chart unsurprisingly reveals, the man at quarterback is none other than Mr. Boeckman, followed by Robbie Schoenhoft. The depth chart does not venture any further than that, but it can be assumed that Henton is third in the pecking order and Joe Bauserman, a 2004 recruit that opted for professional baseball but is now walking-on, is buried at the end of the bench.

The real Block-O
The offensive line has three familiar names taking up starting roles: junior Alex Boone (LT), junior Steve Rehring (LG), and senior Kirk Barton (RT). It is especially important to note that two of the returning starters will be on the left side of the line, the side that has the responsibility of protecting the quarterback's blind side. The less an inexperienced quarterback gets sacked, the more confidence he will have, so the importance of the overpowering talent of Boone and Rehring on the left cannot be emphasized enough (whether or not Boone can learn to pass block consistently is a matter for another time, as of now I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt). One of the two new guys penciled in to start is center Jim Cordle, a man who for a couple years now has been referred to as an "heir apparent" to Nick Mangold, but a mix of injuries, inexperience, and being buried in the depth chart has postponed his chance to truly prove himself until now. The new right guard, junior Ben Person, is thought of very highly by Jim Tressel. In fact, Tressel admits that Person was pushing former Buckeye T.J. Downing extremely hard for the right guard position towards the end of last season.

No Small Task
Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez accounted for roughly 54% of all receiving yards by Buckeyes last season. Now that both of them are on to bigger and better things (although nothing is better than being a Buckeye, right?), it is up to three underclassmen to help fill that offensive void. Those three are Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline, and...Ray Small? Of course, Robiskie and Hartline come as a surprise to nobody, as Robiskie went from a relatively unknown to a guy scoring touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Michigan in less than a season, and Hartline's "100% effort, 100% of the time" attitude didn't go unnoticed from fans and coaches alike. However, Ray Small is currently listed as the starter at flanker over the likes of the more experienced and long-time-waiting-for-their-chance players Albert Dukes and Devon Lyons. True, Small was a top receiver prospect, posting consecutive 4.38 40 times and drawing comparisons to another ex-Glenville Tarblooder speedster, but he played very sparingly last season as a freshman, and was much more raw a receiver than Ginn was as a freshman (and Ginn was pretty raw, too). He must have done quite a bit this off-season to jump over more experienced players at the same position, something Tressel rarely does.

The Bottom Line on the Defensive Line
The area that was hardest hit by graduation this offseason was by far the defensive line. Three starters (Quinn Pitcock, Jay Richardson, David Patterson), as well as the most reliable backup (Joel Penton) all completely exhausted their eligibility last season, leaving junior Vernon Gholston the old man of the line. Lawrence Wilson, a man who most thought would emerge as a premier defender last season, will finally get his chance to be a full-time player, and not a guy that spelled Gholston a year ago. In limited time, Wilson has drawn comparison to Ohio State's last great pass rusher and current NFL Pro Bowler Will Smith. Backing up Gholston and Wilson at the ends will be Dublin Coffman-native Alex Barrow and the highly-touted Robert Rose. If Rose and Wilson are ever in the game at the same time, it will probably be in short yardage sets, as both are now well over 275 lbs. and could be used interchangeably as a DT or DE. The DT position will probably be the biggest question mark this season for the Buckeyes, with Doug Worthington (a converted DE), and Todd Denlinger being penciled in as starters, while the mammoth Nader Abdallah and the unproved RS-Fr Dexter Larimore are both in the two-deep.

Linebacker U. is back
There really aren't any surprises at Linebacker, but the depth at the position is once again beginning to look quite scary (for the opponents, that is). Laurinaitis will be on preseason All-American teams in no time, and if Marcus Freeman can continue where he left off in the championship, he'll be in contention for All-Big 10 honors. Ross Homan really shouldn't be considered a "backup" because he'd be starting at a ton of other major colleges around the country. Larry Grant and Curtis Terry very well may go back and forth between 1 and 2 and the strong side linebacker spot all season, and I have no problem with that, because all it means is that their competition would be making each other a better player. Even though just about all of the same names are back from last year's good (but not as great as made out to be) group, the extra year of experience should help escalate this group from good to great.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday roundup: It's Georgetown

As some of you may have heard by now, Ohio State is heading to Atlanta to take on Georgetown in the Final Four. Ohio State took care of Memphis on Saturday, led by great offensive performances from all of the usual suspects in Ron Lewis (22 points, six rebounds), Greg Oden (17 points, nine rebounds), and Mike Conley Jr. (19 points). Oddly enough, it was Conley, and not Ron Lewis who was named the MVP of the South regional, which comes as a shock to me considering Ron Lewis has arguably been the entire tournament's most outstanding player ever since the comeback against Xavier began late in the second half. He's been about as close to a complete player as it gets this entire tournament, averaging 21.75 points per game (only one game under 22 points), while at the same time being one of the team's best man defenders. This all goes without mentioning his clutch performances against Xavier and Tennessee, in which he was the catalyst for the comeback in both games.

However, lets not dwell on what didn't happen, and instead look ahead to what could happen. It was known that the final four opponent would be a rematch of some sort when Georgetown went up against North Carolina, whether it was a rematch of last year's second round tournament debacle against Georgetown or one of the season's most exciting regular season games when North Carolina topped Ohio State by 9 in Chapel Hill remained to be seen. The showdown between UNC and Georgetown looked like it was going to be a classic, until overtime rolled around and it seemed like North Carolina just got tired of trying. The Tar Heels only made one basket in the extra session en route to a 96-84 loss.

So there it is. Ohio State vs Georgetown. For the second straight year. This time, for a shot at a championship. Last season, Georgetown walked up and down Ohio State, winning by a score of 70-52. As I mentioned before, Roy Hibbert was the dominant force in the game, scoring 20 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, both of which were game highs. However, there should be no reason to believe that this version of the game will not be as one sided -- if even the same result -- as last season's. There will be a total of six people starting this Saturday's game that did not start last season's. Of those six, four will be lacing it up for the Buckeyes, and it's not a stretch to say that three of them (Conley, Lewis, Oden) are our three best players, and each of whom will have quite large weekly paychecks come next year.

Of course, it would be incredibly naive of me to assume that Ohio State has improved dramatically since last season's meeting, while also denying Georgetown any credit whatsoever. There's an excellent reason why Georgetown is in the Final Four, and it's because of that frontcourt. Last season, Roy Hibbert was a "project" player with tremendous upside that he showed off in that second round game. This season, he is an established force in the paint and is one of the premier centers in the nation. Also joining Hibbert down low is Big East POY Jeff Green, the dynamic 6-9 player that can do a bit of everything. Green, as you may remember, was the guy who hit the controversial travel-shot with 2.5 seconds left in the Sweet 16 game against Vanderbilt. Also part of that frontcourt is the always dangerous DaJuan Summers, who despite averaging only around 9 ppg, is quite capable of exploding for 20, as he exhibited against North Carolina. And we're going to hear his name and see his dad about as much as we did with Laura Quinn in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, so I might as well mention another formidable forward, Patrick Ewing Jr.

One player that isn't a member of the Hoya frontcourt but will be just as important in determining the outcome of the game is point guard Jessie Sapp. In just one year's time, Sapp has more than doubled his minutes played, more than tripled his point output, and more than quintupled his assists per game, all the while improving his assist:turnover ratio from 1.05:1 a season ago to 1.85 this year. Although none of his statistics are stellar by any means, his improvements from year 1 to 2 and his increasingly smart play makes him just as key a member of the Hoya team as anyone else I've mentioned.

Friday, March 23, 2007



At halftime, I was ready to come here and make a post expressing my sheer disappointment in how a team with so much talent and potential could just not show up.

Needless to say, I'm glad I bit my lip.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thank you, Ron Lewis

My original plan for today was that, after Ohio State would easily handle Xavier, I would make a post along the lines of Who should take the last shot for the Buckeyes? where I would analyze all of the likely candidates that coach Matta could trust to take one final shot. I had also planned on naming Jamar Butler as the person who I would give the ball to if I were coach.

That's why I don't coach.

And things don't always go according to plan, either.

I always expected today to happen. I just didn't expect it to happen today. I knew that somewhere along the line, Ohio State's knack for playing down to the level of their competition would result in the Buckeyes trying to pull out an improbable miracle. The end result of this hypothetical run, of course, would be a Buckeye missing a shot, most likely a three pointer, in the final seconds. The city of Columbus would go into a state of depression, while the rest of America would rejoice at the arrival of the tournament's first "Cinderella." After all, it is March, the tournament isn't the same without upsets, and a #1 seed is going to have to lose eventually. Can't you just smell it in the air?

Well, for about 39 minutes and 51 seconds in basketball time, it appeared that that was going to happen. Then, when it seemed all hope was lost, Justin Cage's free throw rolled off the rim, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ron Lewis entered the game as a good, but not great player with an effective three point shot and the athleticism that allows him to drive to the hoop at will. He left as a never to be forgotten component of Buckeye basketball history. And it wasn't just because of that one shot, either. His performance that entire game epitomized what every Buckeye athlete should be about: Whether you're destined to be great like Greg Oden, or will bounce around from bench to bench in the NBA like Lewis very well may do, you're all part of one team, with one goal, and if you don't do everything in your power to achieve that goal, then you're no more of a help than the man across you. When it seemed like everyone else on the roster had given up, Lewis was the one guy who refused to quit. He was the one guy who gave his all. He was the one guy who fought for the win like there was no tomorrow. And when push came to shove, he was the one guy who put his team over the top. Will he be remembered as a legend like Fred Taylor, Jim Jackson, and Michael Redd? Of course not. But regardless of how the rest of this post-season plays out, he will be remembered as a guy that gave 100% effort 100% of the time. Everyone on the team can learn something from Lewis' performance today, especially the youngsters on the team. Because this time next season, Conley & Co. won't have guys like Lewis to clean up their messes.

Okay, that's enough gushing for one day. Now, it's time to get down to the somewhat "objective" part of this post. Ohio State's performance today was, obviously, far from ideal. The Greg Oden that we all came to know and love during the latter part of the Big Ten Tournament and then in the CCSU game was completely non-existent. The dynamite post moves, the thunderous dunks, the intensity on the boards, all of these things were noticeably absent from Oden's repertoire today. He shot just 41.7% from the field, a number which is pretty abysmal coming from the guy that led the entire Big Ten conference in field goal percentage during the regular season (61.4% in case you were wondering). He did, however, finish with 14 points and 12 boards, and did not play in the overtime due to fouling out. His supporting cast outside of Lewis was not much better. Mike Conley played the role of The Invisible Man in the second half, with the exception of one key steal off of an inbounds pass. He did clean up his act in overtime however, when it seemed like he just decided he was tired of playing bad, scoring 11 points in the extra session. Jamar Butler's impact on the game didn't stretch much past his 13 points, Ivan Harris didn't record a single point, and the Buckeyes didn't get a single bench point until Daequan Cook hit a three pointer in Overtime.

It seems like I say this after every game, but the Buckeyes were lucky today. There's no two ways around it. If they put up another performance like this one in the tournament, you can bet that there will be another team cutting down the nets.

Game Notes:
  • Greg Oden, what in heaven's name were you thinking with that last foul? Of course he had to foul there, he had no other choice, but the way he did it (shoving the guy to the ground) was far too violent, and he was lucky to not be called for a flagrant foul in that situation. Please, just wrap your gigantic arms around him the next time you're in that sitation.
  • Why did Matta not put in Hunter and/or Terwilliger after Oden fouled out? Without any of those three guys in the game, the biggest guy on the court was Daequan Cook, who was ineffective enough as it was. Ron Lewis took the jump ball at the start of the Overtime, also. I know that neither Hunter nor Terwilliger are the best offensive performers, but they're good enough to exploit mismatches.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bring on the Blue Devils

No, not those Blue Devils. The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, of course!

Just one complaint
The NCAA Tournament Brackets were released this evening, and after Ohio State's thumping of Wisconsin earlier today, it came as a surprise to no one that the Buckeyes were named a #1 seed. However, the Buckeyes missed out on the overall #1 seed to Florida. I do not understand how a team that backed in to their conference tournament, going on a streak in which they lost 3 of 4 to the likes of Vanderbilt (6 seed), Tennessee (5 seed), and LSU (sitting at home); none of which were close games in the least bit. Ohio State's only losses this season came at Florida (1 seed, injured Oden), at North Carolina (1 seed, no Oden), and at Wisconsin (2 seed, have beaten them twice since). This goes without mentioning that Ohio State also has the nation's top RPI, and Florida wasn't even ranked in the top 5 at season's end in either of the two major polls. I suppose I will give the selection committee the benefit of the doubt here, however. In all likelihood, they gave Florida the overall top spot, because the Big 10 Championship game today finished so late, and it would have been too late to reshuffle everything at the last minute.

Bracket Forcasting
But instead of getting wrapped up in what didn't happen, lets look at what could happen. When I filled out my bracket, I couldn't help but think that the Buckeyes seem to have the easiest route to the final four of all the top seeds. Central Connecticut should, by all rights, hardly be a blip on the Bucks' radars (but, of course, they aren't to be overlooked). The Buckeye's likely second round opponents, BYU and Xavier, are both teams that can be handled. We squeaked past Tennessee earlier in the season, but it is also worth noting that we are playing much, much better than at that time. The bottom half of this regional, however, does have some potential for terror. Memphis is a team that, despite their strength of schedule, is very capable of making it all the way to the Final Four. Teams that just benefit from easy schedules don't win 30 games two seasons in a row like Memphis has, they are definitely legit. Texas A&M plays some of the best defense in not just the Big 12, but in the entire country. They also sport college's version of Gilbert Arenas in Acie Law. Every time he throws up a shot, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, it has a chance to go in, especially in crunch time. Louisville is an energetic young team with a great coach in Rick Pitino, and Nevada has a Naismith award candidate in Nick Fazekas.

However, it appears that the road to the Final Four will be much easier than a team like Florida, which will potentially have to play Arizona, Maryland/Butler, and Wisconsin/Oregon. Maybe losing the overall #1 seed was a blessing in disguise.

Most likely 12 over 5 upset
Every season, it seems, at least one 12 seed upsets a 5 seed. This year, I like Illinois over Virginia Tech. No team out of the ACC really impresses me this season, and allegiances to the Big 10 were the deciding factors. Watch out for Arkansas against USC, though. If the Trojans play in that game like they did in the Pac 10 championship, then I have no trouble seeing the Razorbacks win it.

3 potential Cinderellas
#12 Illinois - I have them in the Sweet 16 of my bracket, beating Va Tech and So Illinois.
#6 Louisville - I don't know if a 6 seed counts as a Cinderella, but I forecast them to upset a worn-down A&M team, as well as Memphis in reaching the Elite 8.
#11 Winthrop - Honestly, I think they'll lose to Notre Dame in the first round, but they seem to be the sexy pick this year.

2 Final Four match-ups
Kansas over Oregon
Ohio State over Georgetown

1 National Champion
Ohio State over Kansas, of course

By the way, it turns out that I actually liked the uniforms OSU was sporting this weekend. I hope they make a permanent comeback sometime soon.

Someone tell Billy Packer...

...that Jamar Butler is only a junior.

That game, especially the second half, was unquestionably the best basketball this team has played all season. The importance of entering the NCAAs with strong momentum is undeniable. Remember how bad Ohio State played in the Big Ten championship game last season, and how that sluggish play continued in the tournament?

Bracket analysis and other tournament-related stuff coming later.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oden, Buckeyes top Purdue, to face Wisconsin again

Sorry I couldn't talk about Friday's game against Michigan. Thanks to the wonderful world of noon tip-offs during the week, I was only able to catch a few minutes of the game. When I go on my March Madness posting spree (because, as most everyone will agree, there's no better time of the year), I'll do my best to preview and recap the weekday games, but unfortunately school will always be a priority, so who knows just how in-depth I will be able to get.

Of course, this will have zero effect on weekend games, such as today's. The OSU-Purdue game today pretty much mirrored the teams' two previous encounters during the season: Purdue would keep it close, Oden would overwhelm the undersized Boilermakers, and the Buckeyes would pull away in the end.

The star of the game, unquestionably, was Greg Oden, who is seemingly becoming a more complete big man with each game. Oden was the Buckeye's leading scorer with 17 points, as well as an almost jaw-dropping 19 rebounds, 9 of which were offensive. He also had four blocks, two assists, and perhaps most importantly, only one turnover. Watching Oden in these past two games, I can safely say that he is playing better than at any other time this season, especially on the offensive end. I don't know if his right wrist just healed dramatically from last weekend, or if he has finally adjusted to the collegiate competition, but this is a completely different Greg Oden than the one that would struggle to catch the ball, miss easy shots, and be limited to the most basic of post moves. Something has definitely "clicked" in his game. Now, when Oden backs down defenders, it seems like he is doing it with much more awareness with regards to his position on court as well as the defender's position. Instead of just forcing up ill-advised shots, he is exploiting the defense and making the smart play.

Another dramatic improvement I've noticed in Oden since his first game is in his rebounding. Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "But didn't Oden lead the Big Ten in rebounding this season?" Well, yes he did, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's been the dominant force on the boards that so many have expected him to be. Earlier in the season, you wouldn't see Oden go after every missed shot, and as a result, he would drop some easy boards, or an undersized guard would end up with the ball. That didn't exactly happen in today's game, as his career-high 19 rebounds should provide sufficient evidence. On one occasion, Oden tipped a ball in from what the announcer hyperbolized as "the other side of the paint." Of course, Oden wasn't that far away, but he was far away enough that no normal big man would be able to get his hand on the ball, much less tip it in for a basket. But Greg Oden did. Why? Well, because he's Greg Oden, and that's the kind of freakish physical characteristic that will make him the #1 pick in the NBA draft next season. He was the #1 recruit in the nation for the reason, and that's because he has the potential to do things that seven-footers just don't do. He very well may be playing the best basketball of his life right now, and if he keeps it up, this very well may be a March to remember.

For the conference tournament, Oden is averaging 19.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, and 4.0 BPG. If Ohio State can win tomorrow, there's no doubt who will be named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Other notes of interest:
  • Oden also had the play of the game, where he had a slam dunk-put back off of a missed shot. The dunk came over two Purdue defenders that were clearly in better position to get the board (see what I meant about doing things other basketball players don't do?). The play brought confirmation to the theory that one out of position Greg Oden is better than two prepared Purdue players.
  • To get off Greg Oden for a moment, I'll also give praise to others that deserve it:
  • Ron Lewis continues to have a great tournament, as he scored 13 today (in addition to the 16 he scored yesterday). His low FG% (.25), however, continues to add to those ever-present shot selection questions.
  • Ivan Harris continues to impress me more with each game. I used to not be a big fan of him, but he's been our most reliable 3-pt shooter for a while now.
  • Daequan Cook, on the other hand, can not shake his struggles. He played very well against Michigan, but he can't seem to put two-straight productive games together anymore, as he only managed a single point.
Not necessarily a game note, but the All-Conference teams and awards were announced earlier in the week. This may be one of the most impressive seasons awards-wise for the Buckeyes. Honors are listed below:

Thad Matta - Coach of the Year (As voted on by both the Media and Coaches)
Greg Oden
- First team All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media), All-Freshman team, Freshman of the Year (Coaches and Media), Defensive POY, All-Defensive team, Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree.
Mike Conley - First Team All-Big Ten (Media), Second Team All-Big Ten (Coaches), All-Freshman Team,
Daequan Cook - 6th Man of the Year, Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Media)
Jamar Butler - Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)
Ron Lewis - Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (Coaches and Media)

Note: The All-Freshman team, All-Defensive team, Defensive POY, and sixth man awards are all voted on by the coaches only.

Monday, March 05, 2007

These make the football jerseys seem logical

Via Deadspin: Ohio State, Florida, Syracuse, and Arizona will be sporting the "future" of college basketball uniforms during each team's respective conference tournament games. After viewing the picture below, I'm sure that you'll agree with me when you say "Future? These things better be a part of the past after this week!" These may be the only things that can compete with Oregon as far as uniform futility is concerned.

click to enlarge

I'm sure you were distracted by all the spandex...or whatever they're calling that, but those shorts, they could house Vern Troyer's extended family, and still have room for kitchen appliances.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Buckeyes close out season with win over Michigan

The Bucks just can't make it easy on the fans anymore, can they? For the third consecutive game, the Buckeyes were on the ropes, only to rally at the end to win it. This time it was the boys in blue that were looking to pull the upset. Michigan led by as much as eight points in the second half, and seemed to be on their way to pulling off the upset, before falling apart over the final 3:45. Ohio State finished the game on a 8-0 run to put the final score at 65-61.

Players of the game: Greg Oden and Ron Lewis each tallied 16 points over the course of the game. However, neither player really got it going at the same time. In the first half, Lewis had 12 points, and was really the reason Ohio State was in the game at halftime. Meanwhile, Oden scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, as he clearly struggled at both ends of the ball for the first 20 minutes. His performance in the second half, though, was absolutely dominating. Despite being in foul trouble for just about the entire half (he had three fouls at the 17:01 mark), his aforementioned offensive performance and defensive dominance were the difference in the game. Perhaps the best thing that Oden displayed, though, was that he shot his free throws right-handed, and shot them well (4-5 on the day). If he can be that effective of a free throw shooter, and prove he can get to the line on a consistent basis, then all of this talk of his offensive futilities should disappear rather quickly. Also, having that right hand should help increase his overall offensive abilities (not dropping as many passes, more to his offensive repertoire than that hook shot, etc.).

Disappointing Performer: Daequan Cook went 0-5 from the field, including 0-2 from three point range. He finished the game with two points and three rebounds. This is the second game in a row that Cook has been nowhere to be found (2 pts on 1-6 shooting against Wisconsin). If Ohio State has any hopes of winning a National Championship, they are going to need much more steady production out of their 6th man. Outside of Oden, Cook is probably the most gifted player on this team, but you wouldn't know it by his stat line. His ability to spark a transition game adds a whole new facet to the Buckeye offense, which is something you don't see as much from a guy like Jamar Butler. He can score from anywhere on the court, and gives opposing defenses one more problem to worry about. If he's not productive, then who is going to take his place off the bench? Sure, Lighty may be our best defender, but his offensive presence is almost nonexistent. The importance of depth is only going to grow when the tournament rolls around and games are going to be much closer together than they have been during the season.

So, is a #1 seed a lock? Well, at this point, it would be hard to imagine Ohio State garnering anything other than a top seed, but with the current logjam at the top of the standings (OSU, Wisconsin, UCLA, UNC, Kansas, Texas A&M, and Florida all battling for 4 spots), it will most certainly come down to how Ohio State performs in the Big Ten tournament (PDF File). In my opinion, as long as Ohio State makes it to the semifinal game on Saturday, they should be perfectly fine. But, if the Buckeyes are to get upset by the winner of the Michigan/Minnesota game, and one of the teams that may currently be on the outside looking in (UNC, A&M, Florida) makes a serious run in one of their respective conference tournaments, then the Bucks may have to settle for a 2-seed for the second consecutive season.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Smith gets shafted

Troy Smith just can't seem to catch a break. While he's currently beginning the process of trying to prove every single NFL "expert" wrong, it appears that Smith is also currently falling up short in the video game industry as well. Of all people, Jared freakin' Zabransky was chosen as the coverboy for the game NCAA '08. Yes, this is the same Jared freakin' Zabransky (you might notice me say this a lot throughout the post. I'm using it to emphasize the point that JARED FREAKIN' ZABRANSKY is on the cover) that entered the 2005 season as the 'next Alex Smith,' only to fall flat on his face in the season opener and never be heard from again until this past Fiesta Bowl, where he led Boise State to one of the most unpredictable finishes in college football history, beating Oklahoma in overtime.

The funny thing about this is, though, is that Jared freakin' Zabransky would be nowhere to be found had it not been for those trick plays at the end of the Fiesta Bowl. Even if it was just as dramatic a victory, but without the hook and latter/WR pass/statue of liberty play, there's an excellent chance that Jared freakin' Zabransky simply fades off into glory, and no one hears the name again. What's even funnier, is that those incredible trick plays never would have happened had he not made an incredibly ill-advised throw in the final minutes of the game that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

Yes, three plays made everyone forget Jared freakin' Zabransky's fatal mistake. However, it has been nearly two months since the national championship, and Troy Smith is still hearing about how poor he played in that game. One guy established himself as not only the greatest quarterback in the history of his school, but also the greatest in the history of his conference. The other plays on a blue field. One guy garnered the largest margin of votes in Heisman trophy history, the other wasn't even the best player on his own team.

Now I don't know quite how the selection process works for deciding a video game cover, but if it all it came down to was the fact that EA Sports believed that Jared freakin' Zabransky was more marketable a player than Troy Smith is laughable. In fact, it's embarrassing on their part. It shows the lack of respect that just about everyone on this planet has for Troy Smith's football playing ability. The thing is, he's going to be a great quarterback in the NFL. I know it, the rest of Buckeye nation knows it. You know that "it" factor that everyone oogles over Tom Brady for having? Smith has it too, unquestionably.