B1G Tournament Game 1 (Purdue) Semi-live Blog

Our basketball coverage has been a little light lately (totally my fault) but we love Buckeye Basketball just as much as anyone, so I’m hoping to live-blog as much of the B1G Tournament as I can, starting with today’s game against Purdue.

After a quick start from Purdue, Ohio State’s defense tightened up and they converted a couple transition buckets to pull even.

Ohio State 11 Purdue 9

With five minutes left in the first half, Ohio State and Purdue have gone back and forth with neither team able to pull away. Both teams have made a couple mini runs but no one has been able to sustain any momentum.

Ohio State 21 Purdue 19

And as soon as I say no one can pull away, Lenzelle Smith Jr. hits a three pointer and Sam Thompson connects on a nice little floater on the baseline.

Ohio State 26 Purdue 19

Of course, as soon as I update with that, the Boilermakers go on a mini run to pull themselves right back up alongside Ohio State. LaQuniton Ross’ jumper keeps the lead to three at the half, Ohio State 30 Purdue 27.

Purdue maintains their hot shooting with nine points to OSU’s four early, Ohio State 34 Purdue 36.

Meanwhile, Ross is starting to have another March renaissance as he carries Ohio State on his shoulder.

After Purdue went up 3, Ohio State’s defense and Aaron Craft specifically, decided to clamp things down while Ross makes an awkward running hook to put the Buckeyes up, 45-44

I’m just going to throw this Twitter worthy statement as the Buckeyes go up 3: March Craft > Nov-Feb Craft. The same thing can be said about LaQuinton Ross.

Ohio State 54 Purdue 51

Aaron Craft doing Aaron Craft things.

It’s not supposed to be like this, but 2013-14 has just not been Ohio State’s basketball season. With less than 90 seconds left against Purdue, Ohio State clings to a one-point lead. Let’s see if the Buckeyes can hold on.

Buckeyes hold on to that one point lead, finishing off Purdue’s upset bid. The Buckeyes are going to have to shoot better from the free throw line and behind the three point line if they want to run with the hot Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Ohio State 63 Purdue 61

Minnesota vs. Ohio State, Take 2

OSU LogoMinnesota at Ohio State
Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Feb. 22nd, 2014 at 6:00PM ET (BTN)

The first time these two teams met this season, Minnesota came in unranked with a 13-4 record. Ohio State was 15-2, ranked #11 but had just came off two losses to Michigan State and Iowa.

Minnesota would go on to upset the Buckeyes, handing Ohio State its third loss that was just he beginning of a slide that had people wondering if Ohio State was even a tournament team.

Since that game in January, Ohio State has won six of the next nine games while Minnesota would only find success in three of their next nine (even though one of those wins was a solid victory over Wisconsin). Divergent paths, indeed. Minnesota is now the team in need of another signature win to bolster any kind of tournament resume they can. Ohio State twice in one season would be quite the feather in their cap.

Not much has changed from the preview that Chris K did earlier. Minnesota is still going to rely on Andre and Austin Hollins to lead the way against Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross of the Buckeyes.

Look for Ross to have a big game after his ejection in Ohio State’s victory over Northwestern. Thad Matta (and I’m sure Ross as well) wasn’t proud of the outburst and I’m sure has been riding Ross. This is a chance to LaQuinton to show he’s moved on and is able to concentrate on getting his game right.

Game tips off at 6 on Big Ten Network

My Buckeye Bucket List

Let’s get this over with quickly: we’re all gonna die. It’s not a pleasant thing to dwell on, but it’s going to happen eventually. Everyday you wake up, you break your personal record of how many days you’ve been alive. But even that record isn’t meant to be broken forever. So while we’re still breathing, let’s talk about what kind of things we’d like to experience as a fan of the Ohio State University.

Let’s talk about our Buckeye Bucket Lists.bucket list

I’ll start by sharing mine. This list is my personal Bucket List for what I’d like to experience as a Buckeye fan. Some of these things have already been accomplished, so they’ve been crossed off the list. But they’re here for completeness sake. Here is what I want to see and do in the next 40+ years I have left on this planet.

You’ll notice the absence of meeting a current (or former) Buckeye on my list. I’m not sure why that is. There are plenty of guys that played for the Buckeyes that I would love to meet in person (a certain biceped gentleman comes to mind, as well as a particularly righteous stiff arm) but I don’t know what the outcome of that meeting is. What would I say? How would I react? Would I go full-Troy Barnes-meeting-Levar Burton? Or would there be a lot of uncomfortable silences and staring at the ground? How inappropriate would it be to ask Vernon to feel his biceps? This is uncharted territory here, people. To avoid such unpleasantries, I’m not going to include “Meeting So-and-so” on my list.

So here are some of the things on my Buckeye Bucket List:

Witness Michigan get WHOOPED in the ‘Shoe: I’ve already done this and it was AMAZING. It was a couple weeks after the ill-fated loss to Michigan State, but the 1998 OSU/UM match-up will forever live in my memory banks as the time I witnessed a more talented, better in every facet of the game Ohio State team dismantle Michigan instead of inexplicably crap the bed and lose to a worse team. This victory solidified an already die-hard mania within my soul. Sacrifice, pain and ecstasy were all emotions I experienced. For reference sake, the week leading up to this game, I was in a TREMENDOUS amount of pain. I could barely walk, but I made the trek from my apartment in Grandview to the Horseshoe, screamed my guts out for three hours and sat for another hour after the game, basking in the joy of beating Michigan (also, I really didn’t want to walk home). A week later I was in the emergency room, prepping for emergency surgery on my backside. But nothing, not even the most painful abscess in the history of abscesses, could keep me away from witnessing this game.

Tailgate for the Michigan Game: These two probably could have been grouped together, because I tailgated at the Michigan Game in the same year. I had never really tailgated before this season. 1998 was the first season my wife and I got season tickets but we lived within walking distance, so we never had a reason to tailgate. But for the Michigan game we were invited to tailgate with my wife’s boss and it was amazing. I have never been around a more raucous, insane group of people this energized at 8 o’clock in the morning. Even through the haze of pain, I was able to enjoy every minute of that beautiful Saturday in November.

Graduate from The Ohio State University: I wanted to do this item on my list so bad, I did it twice. Once, in 2000 with my Bachelors in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and again in 2003 with my Masters in Electrical Engineering. Even though we weren’t able to make it to many games in 2002, being on campus during that magical season was amazing. My six-plus years on campus were some of the greatest times of my life. Ones I will cherish, and even if I’m never able to accomplish any of these other goals, I will feel like my life as a Buckeye is complete.

Tour the Woody Hayes Athletic Center: This is also probably within the every-day Joe’s grasp. I’ve never really looked in to what I need to do to tour the WHAC, but it’s something that I hope to be able to do one day. To see the trophies, to see where the magic happens, to maybe glimpse a current or former Buckeye and shake their hand and thank them for their dedication and for the joy they provide, it would be awesome.

Own an Official (preferably autographed) Jersey: I’m not a huge memorabilia guy, but I have collected baseball and football cards since I was a wee lad. I’m also not a jersey-wearer. I prefer t-shirts as my game-day attire. But I’d love to find an autographed jersey that I could hang on the wall of my home office (or in my man cave, whenever I get one of those), next to my collection of SP Authentic autographed cards of various Buckeyes. It would make a perfect centerpiece to my Buckeye card collection and more importantly, would make Jeremiah insanely jealous.

Have Field Passes for a game: This, of course, was why I started this blog (not really, but sort of). I have been on the field in the Horseshoe before, but never during a game. It doesn’t even have to be the Michigan game. But there are certain body parts I am willing to part with if it meant an opportunity to be on the field when the band is playing, the stadium is rocking and the team comes running on to the field. My wife and I joke all the time about how we feel the Holy Spirit in the stadium as the band plays “Carmen Ohio”. I can only imagine that feeling amplified to the nth degree as you’re standing on the field. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Go to the Rose Bowl: I want to go to a bowl game that the Buckeyes are playing in. But if I’m being picky, I don’t want to go to any old bowl game. I had a chance to go to this year’s Orange Bowl but passed. Not because I didn’t want to go. I would have loved to have gone to Florida and cheered on Ohio State. But I want my first experience to be special, and to be pure. I want to attend the Granddaddy of them all, I want to see the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. And if I’m having my way, I want it to be against a traditional Rose Bowl opponent, like USC or Stanford. Good, old-fashioned Big Ten/Pac Ten matchups.

Go to an OSU NCAA Tournament Game: This is another experience that should be within my grasp. Tournament games are being played within a three-hour drive every year, and there’s always a good chance that Ohio State will be playing in one of those arenas. I want to see a group of Buckeye Ballers I’ve watched and rooted for all year and support them in their tournament run. Of course, I’d also love to be watching them in a game that is a little more meaningful…

Attend a Final Four that includes the Buckeyes: If you’re new around these parts, you might not have known, but I actually had a chance to go to the 2011 Final Four in Houston if the Buckeyes had made it, courtesy of Buick. If I could have crossed this particular item off my Bucket List, I think I could have been happy not crossing anything else off the list. This would have been enough.

Witness a Football Championship Firsthand: This, of course, is Mecca. This is the dream of millions of fans and has only been experienced by thousands. Watching the 2002 National Championship with co-bloggers Jeremiah and Trevor will be a lifelong memory that I will cherish and never forget. Being able to see it in person? I’m pretty sure death would hold no pallor over that occasion.

I’d like to add that including my best friends in any of these Bucket List items would be great, but what would make it perfect would be able to experience one of these with my Dad. It was his love for the Buckeyes that made me the fan I was. I distinctly remember being at a family friend’s house watching Ohio State dismantle BYU in the 1982 Holiday Bowl. I don’t remember who played for either team (it was actually a Steve Young-led BYU team). I don’t even remember the final score (Ohio State rolled BYU, 47-17). What I do remember was everyone rooting for BYU except my dad. There, in that living room, as half a dozen grown men cheered on the Cougars, my dad was there, loving every minute of Ohio State crushing BYU, hooting and hollering after every score. I was caught up in it and I couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t born in Ohio, but I was born a Buckeye on that fateful December day.

So that’s my bucket list. It’s pretty all-inclusive. Heck, I’ve already started working on it. But I’d love to hear what’s on your Buckeye Bucket List. What’s the one thing you’d like to see? To witness? To be a part of? Or who you’d love to meet, if that’s your cup of tea?

Ohio State Men’s Basketball Back in the AP Poll

basketball_iconOhio State, sporting an uncharacteristic like record of 19-5 has made its way back in to the AP Poll, clocking in at #22 (they also moved up from #25 to #20 in the Coaches’ Poll).

After three straight wins (over Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue), Ohio State seems to be on a little mini-run heading into the game against Michigan, a showdown of two previous conference front-runners. Ohio State has showed steady improvement while Michigan is struggling to find an answer to when teams stifle Nik Stauskas’ prolific offense.

The B1G still boasts five teams in the Coaches’ Poll. You can see the rest of the rankings over at ESPN.

Ohio State Finishes Off Wisconsin, 59-58

OSU LogoDesperate times call for desperate measures. Desperation like Aaron Craft shooting a three after playing almost 30 minutes without a field goal.

Desperation like playing extended minutes for Trey McDonald.

And yet, there was no desperation. This was the most complete game Ohio State has played all year.

The first half between the Badgers and Buckeyes was a fairly tightly contested battle with both teams playing fairly well although outside shots were not dropping for the team.

Fan favorite Sideshow Bob Jr. had a good first half, hitting threes (and missing them) keeping Ohio State close during a back-and-forth battle. He may have gotten a little greedy with a heat check that didn’t draw iron, but you have to love the heart and confidence.

The Buckeyes came out red-hot in the second half, starting off 6-6 and actually clawed to a lead about five minutes in. Then, looking to push the lead, Shannon Scott’s drive was swallowed up and Wisconsin went on a run. Freshman Nigel Hayes caught fire and Ohio State couldn’t match up with him on defense. Wisconsin extended their lead to seven, and things looked like they were slipping away.

Aaron Craft would impose his will on this game, hitting a three pointer after barely being involved with the offense to that point and his defense became even more suffocating than it had before.

The game was almost taken away as the officiating, which was uneven in the first half become very lopsided the second, favoring Wisconsin. The touch foul on Shannon Scott, where he literally JUST TOUCHED Trey Jackson could have been the difference.

In the end, it was Craft on Jackson, and we know how that ends. (Poorly for whoever Craft is guarding).

This game is a huge collective sigh of relief for the Buckeye faithful. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a huge improvement over the past six game. Everyone played hard (even Amir, who was involved in a lot of clutch plays, including free throws) and confidence is starting to bloom again. Bench players played a large part in the first half with Trey McDonald and Amadeo Della Valle playing well and Marc Loving getting involved in the second.

The Buckeyes don’t have much time to breathe, but they should enjoy this victory. A win against Bo Ryan in Madison is not easy to come by.

Wisconsin Basketball Preview

OSU LogoOhio State vs. Wisconsin
The Kohl Center, Madison WI
Feb. 1st, 2014 at 12:00 PM ET (ESPN)

Well, it certainly wasn’t supposed to be like this.

If you’ve been on Twitter in the past month, you’ve seen some variation of the tweet that lumped Ohio State with Wisconsin (and some other teams) that started off the season undefeated and then collectively had lost a number of games in a row.

For Ohio State, it’s been a rough road after dismantling Nebraska on January 4th. Ohio State has lost five of its last six games, including laying a couple real stinkers against Nebraska and Penn State. Many point to the strength of the conference. This is true. The B1G, top-to-bottom, is a very talented conference. But, to quote the wise Boromir, “One does not simply lose to Nebraska AND Penn State.” Many reasons have been bandied about by fans — “this team is soft” or “lacks heart” or “doesn’t have a leader”. All of these hold water. This team’s problems are legion. And hopes that one game will “snap them out of it” have been dashed once again.

Wisconsin’s four game skid in its last five has Wisconsin fans asking the same question. “What happened?” Like Ohio State, they handily beat Northwestern only to lose to them a couple weeks later. That kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen. This has become Bizarro B1G land, where anyone can win and Ohio State and Wisconsin find themselves in a game that could land them in a three-way tie with Northwestern for fifth place in the conference.

Fifth. Place.

It’s a legitimate concern now of whether this Buckeye team is a tournament team. Losing in the manner they have recently suggests that they are not. They need a couple of “signature” wins to bolster their currently weak resume. They can start by showing up this afternoon at the Kohl Center against the hated clean-cut Bo Ryans.

You know what you’re getting with a Ryan-coached team. Good, patient ball movement, solid shooters and a couple white bread seven-footers that no one would give a chance but end up flourishing in Bo Ryan’s style of bore-you-to-death basketball. The Badgers are led by Sam Dekker, who, according to ESPN, has no hometown. This can only mean one thing — he was born in a test-tube in Bo Ryan’s underground lair, specifically developed to play the game “the right way” and to infuriate teams with more athletic, talented players. He’ll have you tearing your hair out by the ten minute mark of the first half.

At this point, you sort of know what you’re getting with the 2013-4 version of this Ohio State team. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott will play lock-down defense but will also play hot potato with the ball on the offensive end. LaQuinton Ross will play the majority of the game but play so unremarkable you’ll look at the box score and say, “how did he score 17?” Amir Williams will… You know what, it’s probably better I keep my opinions of what Amir Williams “does” to myself.

Lenzelle Smith and Marc Loving are the keys to this game, in my mind. If Lenzelle can find his range early, the Buckeyes will be in a position to compete. Marc Loving is the only player I see that is unafraid to take the ball to the rim that don’t make me cringe when they actually get the rack. Marc has the toolset but simply hasn’t had the time to get a handle on them against top competition. If Thad goes small against Wisconsin, Loving can get meaningful minutes this afternoon which will go a long way boosting his confidence and development.

The Kohl Center is not an easy place to play. Wisconsin, three game losing streak or not, is still a good team. I’m not sure the same could be said about these Buckeyes. But a win today will change a lot of people’s minds. And things don’t get any easier with a rematch with Iowa and the hated Wolverines on the upcoming schedule.

Buckeyes Lose Fourth Straight, 68-62 to Nebraska

OSU LogoThis team lacks a lot of things. A consistent scorer. A dominant presence around the basket. Consistent effort. Defenses can sit in a zone with no threat of an outside shot or a penetrating drive. There is no urgency in the minds of anyone on the court save Aaron Craft (and to an extent, Shannon Scott). There are more things wrong than there are right. Mentally, this team is broken and can’t look to a Sullinger or Thomas to help them weather the adversity.

It’s bad enough that this team lacks confidence. It’s exacerbated by the fact that opponents are now emboldened to play with confidence themselves. The conference’s big bad wolf has been exposed. It’s really granny in the wolf’s clothing.

For the fourth time in as many games, Ohio State found itself in a dogfight with a team that, on paper, it should be able to manhandle. It had, in fact, manhandled this team by thirty one points a few short weeks ago. That Buckeye team is not this Buckeye team.

But there they were, down nine points at the half. Once again, poor shooting, sloppy defense and the inability to put the ball in the basket had landed Ohio State in a situation they have become all too familiar with.

Ohio State came out small (subbing Sam Thompson for Amir Williams, sliding LaQuinton Ross down to the 5) in an effort to change things up. The defense came strongly out of the block at the beginning of the second half and was able to eventually take a lead.

But Ohio State couldn’t pull away. The game went back and forth but Ohio State went cold. Lenzelle couldn’t hit a three. Other than another Sam Thompson highlight ally-oop, the second half devolved into the slow moving first half that gave OSU so much trouble.

With Ohio State trailing, Aaron Craft’s drive would result in a charge and the transformation was complete. There was nothing left. Nebraska would take a six point lead and never let it get any closer than that.

So here we are, in unfamilar territory. A four game losing streak. A real possibility of falling out of the top 25 (no matter how meaningless polls are, going from top five to out of the rankings means something). Nebraska was supposed to be the slumpbuster. Nebraska didn’t get the memo.

Let’s hope Illinois does.

Three Yards and a Cloud of Links

osuHelmetFootballThree Yards and a Cloud of Links is Men of the Scarlet and Gray’s semi-regular curated look at items that would interest Ohio State fans. These include news items, interesting blog posts and the occasional meme you’ve probably already seen. It’s all here and it’s all for you. Have a tip that should be included in the next TYAACOL? Drop us a line at motsag@gmail.com or through our Contact Page.

IT’s ALL COMING TOGETHER NOW: Urban Meyer’s new staff is assembled, and according to infamous Maryland High School coach Rick Houchens, one of Urban Meyer’s new coaches, Larry Johnson, Sr., is “going to haunt the Big Ten“. This is coming from a HS coach who saw the effectiveness of Johnson’s recruiting efforts in the Maryland/DC area.

We’ll have more on Larry Johnson’s hiring coming up from our resident Penn State agitator, YNBA. Needless to say, his take is going to be unlike anything you’ve seen thus far.

Urban also tapped ex-Bielema assistant, Chris Ash, as a new co-defensive coordinator to bolster the under-performing Buckeye defense. Our own Ronnie took a look at Chris Ash’s defensive philosophies and he likes what he sees, especially what the Buckeyes will do against the pass:

In Ash’s Tampa Cover 2 he likes to align his corners 5 yards off of the receivers and jam or re-route the #1 receiver on both sides of the field, and then release the receiver in to the next zone. So throw a small celebration Buckeye fans, it will be rare to see the corners lined up 7-10 yards off of the receiver any more.

Oh, and while we’re at it, Cody Hawkins, the son of Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, accepted an offer as a graduate assistant at Ohio State. Perhaps not quite as exciting as the other two hires, but good football minds attract and it looks like Meyer has attracted another one.

NO MORE TURNOVERS, PLZ: Don’t make Thad Matta angry, please. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Turnovers are definitely one thing. And they’re a bad thing. But as Ari Wasserman points out, the Buckeyes are still looking for a consistent scorer:

The Buckeyes are still looking for a player to find a certain aggressiveness, someone who knows the biggest shot of the game belongs to them.

Matta was quoted as saying, “I would say, your Jareds and your Deshauns, those guys had a knack for somehow, someway of finding way, via the free-throw line or getting inside the defense, to score. We did lack that down the stretch of, ‘Hey, let me make the play.’ ”

Luckily it’s January. Still plenty of time to figure this out and watch someone take the reins.

NOT EXACTLY SURE HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS: Ryan Shazier posted this picture to his Instagram, posing with [dry heave] well [coughing] you be the [retching]…

I can’t do this. Just look:

MISC SHTUFF: Speaking of Instagram

Ohio State Hires Chris Ash, Larry Johnson Sr. (per SI Report)

According to Pete Thamel at Sports Illustrated, Ohio State will hire current Arkansas defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, as a co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Also, Larry Johnson, Sr. looks to be part of the defensive staff, as well.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash has accepted a position as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach with the Buckeyes, according to a source. Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson has accepted the Buckeyes’ defensive line coach position, according to a source. SI.com reported Monday night that Johnson and the Buckeyes were close to a deal. Johnson accepted Tuesday morning. The deals are expected to be formally announced later this week.

Al Borges, Out at Michigan

b1g_iconKeeping one eye on the enemy is our job and even though Michigan State is becoming more of a menace than that other team up north, this is pretty big news:

While Michigan fans will tell you otherwise, Hoke is starting to feel his seat heat up. He’s had two “successful” seasons so far in his tenure, but last year’s 7-6 season was forgettable to most and unacceptable to Wolverine fans. One of the reasons they struggled this year was the inconsistency of the offense and the feeling the offensive parts either didn’t fit, weren’t being developed or simply not well coached. Michigan is capable of attracting top talent and this year’s offense was not at the level Michigan needs to be to remain relevant, both nationally and in the B1G.

So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing Al Borges let go, it’s not going to do Hoke any favors in the stabilization of his program going forward. First recruits have been decomitting and now he needs to find a replacement to helm his offense.

And this hire has to be a homerun.