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Monday, November 7, 2011

Jordan an Enemy Among Players?-Ohio State Basketball - OSU and Indiana

10 Things We Learned from Beating Indiana

1. It’s tough to play with a hangover. It’s hard to call this game a trap game considering the Buckeyes have Purdue next week, but it was the perfect scenario for a letdown. If I were coaching Indiana, I would have done exactly what Kevin Wilson did. Come in aggressive, play up-tempo on offense and hope to catch the Buckeyes in a daze after last week’s big win. Ohio State exerted a lot of energy and emotion in that win over Wisconsin. It was at home, under the lights, on national television. It was a revenge game and it was one of the most exciting finishes in years. There was no way this week’s game could measure up. It was at noon against a 1-8 team that, on paper, posed very little threat. The Buckeyes played accordingly and Indiana did a great job of attacking them. They weren't afraid and they didn't play scared. Kudos to them.

2. Youth will be served. A team of veterans would have known better than to think they could sleepwalk through this game, but there are a lot of young kids playing important roles for the Buckeyes this year. They haven’t been in this situation before. They don’t know that it takes the same kind of effort and emotion to beat Indiana at noon as it does to beat Wisconsin at night. The coaches tried to reinforce that during the week, but it doesn’t really set in until these players experience it for themselves. A lot of guys thought they were just going to show up and run over the Hoosiers. A couple guys knew better. They carried the rest of the team to victory.

3. Braxton makes people look silly. When Terrelle Pryor got to Ohio State, all we heard about was how he made defenders take bad angles. He did do that early in his career, but only because he was so much faster than he looked. Eventually fewer and fewer people took bad angles on Pryor because they knew what to expect. He still ran away from people at times, but Braxton Miller just flat out makes them miss. He might not beat Pryor in a footrace from end zone to end zone, but his ability to accelerate is uncanny. If nothing is there, Miller pulls it down and gets to his top speed faster than anyone I’ve seen in a while. More importantly, he just needs a little bit of a juke step and defenders are falling all over themselves. And he is just starting to tap into his abilities.

4. This team is going to play to its strengths. Anyone who expected to see the Buckeyes come out passing today against Indiana, shame on you, and shame on us. It doesn’t matter that Indiana was among the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes just aren’t a good passing team right now, against anyone. A big part of that is Braxton, who is just learning the offense and how to pass the ball at this level. Another possibly even larger part of that is the fact that Ohio State just doesn’t have the receivers to sling the ball around right now. Miller is excellent at keeping plays alive and keeping his eyes downfield, but his guys just aren’t getting open. That means the Buckeyes are going to continue to do what they do best, which is run the ball and allow Braxton to make plays with his legs.

5. Carlos Hyde should be the No. 2 tailback. I realize that both of Hyde’s long runs have come because of great blocking, but that’s how most long runs happen. Offensive lines have to open holes, it’s the backs’ job to get through them. Hyde doesn’t just get through them. He explodes through and takes off, showing excellent speed for a back his size. Hyde topped 100 yards on the ground for the second-straight game in which he saw more than three carries, and this wasn't against Akron’s second-team defense. He went for 103 at Nebraska and then 105 Saturday against Indiana. His first five carries totaled only 11 yards, but his next five went for 31 yards in the third quarter. In the fourth, he went for 63 yards on five carries. That doesn’t make Hyde better than Herron, who ran for 141 yards. He’s not, but right now he gives them a better chance to move the ball than Jordan Hall. Maybe that is Ohio State’s fault for misusing Hall, but it seems like they might be best going with Herron and Hyde at tailback while using Hall on returns and to catch passes out the slot and backfield.

6. DeVier Posey can’t come back soon enough. It’s obvious by now that getting Boom Herron back was the biggest thing that could have happened to this team. Herron is a dynamic back, but the emotional lift he gave them was immeasurable. Posey’s won’t be quite as large, but his contribution on the field might be the one thing this offense is lacking. Right now, the Buckeyes don’t have playmakers at receiver. Corey Brown is fast, but he’s not 100 percent healthy and even when he is, he has yet to show he can consistently catch the football. Chris Fields made a big catch against Indiana, but it was his first in weeks. Devin Smith is a future star, but he’s still learning. Same with Evan Spencer. This team needs a guy who can lead. They need a guy who can draw attention from the defense and most importantly, they need a guy who can get open. Posey is not going to turn into A.J. Green all of a sudden, but he knows how to get open and he knows how to make big plays. That’s exactly what they need.

7. Antonio Underwood has a future. When J.B. Shugarts left the game with a sprained right knee, Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman had a number of options. Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell have both started games at right tackle. Jack Mewhort can play there too, but he didn’t hesitate to put Antonio Underwood in the game. The freshman out of Shaker Heights has been the backup right tackle all fall, but this was about more than that. Bollman and his staff wanted to get a look at Underwood. They wanted to see if he could play. They put him out there and their eyes were glued to him, and guess what, he did pretty good. Hyde’s big run came over the right side of the line, but more importantly, Bollman said he really liked Underwood’s pass blocking. That’s rare for young linemen, but it’s huge news for the Buckeyes. They have a lot of future guards on the roster, but not many tackles outside of Norwell.

8. John Simon does too, in the NFL. It is almost a crime that it took seven things we learned before we got to John Simon. He should have been No. 1 and each of his limbs should have been numbers 2-4. That’s how dominant this guy is right now. The junior out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney had another monster game Saturday. He had a career-high 10 tackles against Indiana, including eight solos. He also had three tackles for loss and a sack which add to his team-lead in both categories. He is the single most dominant force on this team, and it’s scary to think where they might be without him. Also some love for Big Hank, who had another fine game with seven tackles.

9. Travis Howard is all or nothing. It’s easy to see why the coaches are high on Howard: he’s a playmaker. He’s also a frustrating player to watch at times. He seems hesitant to play up near the line of scrimmage and gives more cushion than a Levines Department Store. He also comes up with big interceptions. He had one against Illinois and then another huge one Saturday. With the Buckeyes nursing a 27-20 lead in the fourth, Howard stepped in front of a Tre Roberson pass. It was a big play for the Buckeyes, who scored the game-clinching touchdown off that pick. It still doesn’t make you forget about some of the other questionable plays he has made, but at least you can see why they want him out there.

10. Drew Basil has found his stride. It seems like every week we end up talking about Ben Buchanan, but this week it seems only right to focus on Drew Basil. The sophomore kicker had a rough start to the season, missing his first two kicks. They got him some better looks to get his confidence up, and voilá. Suddenly Basil is automatic. He has nailed 12 in a row, including a 47-yarder, and is finally getting a chance to show off his big leg. He’s also been much better with his distance and hang time on kickoffs, although he had a couple bad ones Saturday. He let one go out of bounds to start the game because he jammed his foot/ankle, and didn't seem to have his usual distance and hang time after that. As long as he's OK, Basil should only continue to improve his kickoffs.

10 Things We Learned from the Bucks Exibition Game with Walsh

1. Everything we heard about Sullinger is true. One of the main things to watch for in this game was how the “new” Jared Sullinger would look compared to the one we saw last year. The 2010 version was pretty good at dominating inside, but the 2011 version has added a lot more to the arsenal. Maybe Sullinger was just showing off for the fans, but he looked perfectly comfortable pulling up for shots from 15 feet away from the basket. He also knocked down one of his two threes, but the biggest thing we saw was a more mobile version. He got to more loose balls, he got up and down the court better and he even had a pretty athletic looking swat on defense.

2. Aaron Craft is still Aaron Craft. Thad Matta has talked about building a statue of David Lighty in front of the Schottenstein Center, but he might need to start casting a dye for Aaron Craft to stand right along side it. Craft is a tenacious defender who never takes a play off. If Lighty was the glue guy or the heart and soul of last year’s team, that title goes to Craft this year. He was the only guy out there diving on the floor for loose balls in an exhibition game. Matta even had Craft come down during practice to show the big guys how he wants them to body up in the paint. He wasn’t sure Craft could do it in a game, but said he would “die trying.”

3. The big three are going to play a lot of minutes. There is more depth on this roster than any Matta has had since at least the 2006-07 team, but most of it is young. The Buckeyes could feasibly rotate 9-10 guys every night if they wanted to keep fresh bodies on the floor, but that is easier to think about before the ball is in play. Once the game goes live, Matta has a very difficult time taking his best players off the floor, especially when his other options are young guys. There is no reason Matta can’t use more of his depth this year, but it won’t come at the expense of Sullinger, Craft and William Buford; not in big games. Those three are going to stay on the floor until their legs fall off. As Matta always says, they recruit guys to play 40 minutes.

4. Deshaun Thomas is a more refined player. The sophomore known as the “microwave” has never been shy about shooting the ball. He certainly wasn’t against Walsh. Thomas had four shots in his first seven minutes and finished with seven shots in 17 minutes. The difference is that only one of them was a forced shot that Matta would like to have back. Thomas seems to be much more settled in his role and he isn’t celebrating after every basket he makes. He is attacking the basket, and when he misses a shot, he is all over the offensive glass to clean it up. It will be interesting to see how he develops during his career at Ohio State, but he looks like a more refined version of the player we saw last year.

5. Jordan Sibert is a more confident shooter. The Buckeyes are going to need a lot of scoring from Thomas this year to help offset the losses of Jon Diebler and David Lighty, but the one thing that could help alleviate some of the pressure is clutch scoring off the bench. They got that Sunday from Jordan Sibert, who scored 15 points in 16 minutes off the bench by knocking down four his five attempts from behind the arc. Sibert has always been able to shoot the ball, but he looked nervous last year; unsure of himself. The guy wearing No. 2 out there against Walsh was neither. He took threes with confidence and they looked great coming off his hand. If he can give them that all year, Matta will be smiling all the way to the NCAA Tournament.

6. Lenzelle Smith fits with the starting lineup. Most people assume that the fifth starter—at least early in the year—will come down to whoever wins the battle between Sibert and Lenzelle Smith. That makes sense, but in reality, Sibert may fit better coming off the bench where he can provide a spark with his instant offense. Smith is a more complete player. He can defend, he can pass and he can rebound. He had eight of them at the shooting guard spot against Walsh. He also had three assists and six points, but most importantly he doesn’t need shots to be effective. Buford, Sullinger and Thomas are going to need a lot of touches in that starting lineup. It makes sense to put another defender out there who can pass the ball and help on the boards.

7. Ravenel is going to help this team more than Williams, at least early. A lot of people are anxiously awaiting to see Sullinger on the floor at the same time as freshman Amir Williams, but they may have to wait a while. Williams is a big kid and has talent. He can block shots and should develop into a scorer, but right now he is raw. He had one points, two rebounds and two blocks in 11 minutes against Walsh. Junior Evan Ravenel also played 11 minutes. He had four points and eight rebounds. He played physical, attacked the glass and brought a spark off the bench. He has played at this level before and seems capable of playing alongside Sullinger if they want to go with a big lineup. Right now it looks like Ravenel will be out there more than Williams to start the year.

8. Thompson could make an impact at both ends. Another guy who filled up the stat sheet Sunday was freshman Sam Thompson. The lanky 6-7 wing from Chicago started slowly, but quickly settled in against the Cavaliers. He is a tremendous athlete who can jump out of the gym, whether it be for a dunk or a block. He also does a great job disrupting passing lanes and showed off a little floater on the offensive end. He finished with nine points (4-of-4 shooting), five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and four steals. It will be interesting to see if he can crack the rotation this year. If not, he has a bright future ahead of him. Exactly the kind of player Matta loves.

9. Weatherspoon looks to have come a long way. Speaking of athletes, how about J.D. Weatherspoon? Sullinger’s former high school teammate has always been a big dunker, and he had a few of them against Walsh, but he looks to have really worked on his game in the off-season. He was 6-of-7 shooting Sunday with 13 points in 11 minutes, including a three. He also had some nice finesse baskets around the rim, but Matta said afterward that they aren’t usually going to be that easy. He is probably not in the rotation as of yet, but if he gets a few more chances to play like that, he might push for some PT.

10. Shannon Scott is the wild card. The one guy we still don’t know what to expect is Shannon Scott. The freshman point guard looked jittery to start the game, and he admitted that he was afterward. Even Matta said he had to say something to him at halftime to settle him down, and Scott was much better in the second half. It’s obvious the kid has talent at both ends of the floor. He can get to the basket and create off the dribble, but he didn’t show much Sunday. Just four points, two assists and five turnovers. He’s going to have a few of those this year because he is aggressive, but he could be the wild card for the Buckeyes if he can rein it in.

Ohio State is Number 4 on the top 16 Frontcourts
Aaron Craft, William Buford, Jordan Sibert, Lenzelle Smith Jr.
Craft is a tenacious, on-ball defender who made the Big Ten's All-Defensive Team (and was named the league's top sixth man) as a freshman. Buford, the team's best backcourt scorer and second-best NBA prospect after Jared Sullinger, passed on the draft to make another run at a national championship.

Ohio State is Number 3 on the Top 16 Frontcourts
Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Amir Williams, Trey McDonald
Opponents had a miserable time trying to stop Sullinger during his freshman year; he spent the whole offseason shedding body fat, which means he'll be far less likely to tire late in games. Beware: Thomas, who had limited minutes off the bench as a freshman, should assume a big scoring role.

BCS Standings
November 7th, 2011

1 LSU .9931 1 1 2848 .9906 1 1475 1.0000 1 2 1 2 2 1 1 .980
2 Oklahoma State .9447 3 2 2658 .9245 3 1359 .9214 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 .980
3 Alabama .8836 2 4 2505 .8713 4 1286 .8719 3 4 6 4 3 3 3 .900
4 Stanford .8749 4 3 2623 .9123 2 1378 .9342 7 5 3 6 10 8 8 .770
5 Boise State .8473 5 5 2422 .8424 5 1242 .8420 4 3 5 5 6 5 4 .850
6 Oklahoma .7978 6 7 2194 .7631 7 1141 .7736 4 6 4 3 4 6 5 .850
7 Oregon .7708 8 6 2258 .7854 6 1180 .8000 8 10 7 8 11 7 7 .720
8 Arkansas .7452 7 8 2071 .7203 8 1075 .7288 6 7 8 10 5 4 6 .780
9 Clemson .6435 11 9 1850 .6435 10 946 .6414 9 15 9 9 9 13 9 .640
10 Virginia Tech .5913 12 10 1785 .6209 9 955 .6475 14 13 12 12 15 21 14 .500
11 Houston .5510 13 11 1629 .5666 11 828 .5614 13 9 21 7 13 20 10 .520
12 Penn State .4838 16 12 1453 .5054 12 799 .5417 16 14 19 13 16 18 16 .400
13 South Carolina .4528 9 16 1110 .3861 15 618 .4190 12 11 13 14 12 12 12 .550
14 Kansas State .3808 14 18 855 .2974 22 328 .2224 10 12 10 15 7 9 11 .620
15 Georgia .3696 18 15 1114 .3875 16 572 .3878 17 16 0 18 19 15 18 .330
16 Texas .3664 21 20 739 .2570 20 339 .2298 11 8 23 11 8 11 13 .610
17 Michigan State .3372 17 13 1310 .4557 13 696 .4719 25 25 11 22 0 0 23 .080
18 Wisconsin .3046 20 14 1284 .4466 14 654 .4434 28 0 16 24 0 0 0 .020
19 Nebraska .2792 10 17 1050 .3652 17 530 .3593 22 22 17 19 0 0 0 .110
20 Auburn .2097 22 24 357 .1242 25 109 .0739 15 18 14 21 14 10 15 .430
21 Georgia Tech .2094 23 19 793 .2758 19 354 .2400 22 24 22 23 22 0 24 .110
22 Southern Miss .2039 25 23 449 .1562 23 301 .2041 18 17 25 16 20 25 17 .250
23 Cincinnati .1869 NR 22 596 .2073 18 386 .2617 24 23 0 20 24 0 22 .090
24 Michigan .1768 15 21 638 .2219 21 334 .2264 25 19 0 17 0 0 25 .080
25 Baylor .0708 NR NR 1 .0003 NR 3

Michael Jordan not making friends among current players
Most of today’s NBA players grew up idolizing Michael Jordan (or for an older generation that played against him, respecting him).
But Jordan’s stance as the leader of the hardline owners — even if he will not talk in negotiating sessions — led to some venom coming his way from players after the NBA’s labor negotiations blew up again Saturday night.
The players see the hardline owners as the problem and Jordan as the target. Wizards guard Nick Young tweeted this:
Then there is this conversation between Pacers All-Star Danny Granger and rookie Klay Thompson.
Granger: “Damn MJ. That’s how you feel?”
Thompson replies: “You think the 1996 MJ would pull this? Straight hypocrite bro.” (Note: Thompson has since deleted that tweet.)
Granger: “man straight hypocrite bro.. He should’ve been the 1st one behind us smh”
Calling Michael Jordan a hypocrite? That shows you how the rank and file players are viewing this thing. They may want to go back to work but don’t for a second think they do not believe they are getting screwed.

Bowl Projections
Dec. 30 Insight: Baylor (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten No. 4)

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