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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tiger Woods and the Honda Classic - Buckeye Small arrested on drug charge - Sullinger helps Ohio State avoid upset

Sullinger helps Ohio State avoid upset

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Jared Sullinger knew the pass was coming to him. And why not after he had powered and muscled his way through Northwestern defenders all game?
Teammate Aaron Craft delivered the ball right where Sullinger wanted it. He turned and banked in the game-winner with 3.1 seconds left Wednesday night as No. 10 Ohio State recovered after squandering a 13-point lead to beat Northwestern 75-73.
"Craft threw a perfect pass to me and led me right to the angle of the backboard. He let me turn over my left shoulder and finish with my right hook. The bread and butter," said Sullinger, who had 22 points and 18 rebounds.
"Craft told me he was going to throw it to me. No ifs, ands or buts about it, he said. He threw it to me and I made the shot."
Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio tied the game on a 3-pointer with 7.7 seconds to go as the Wildcats went on a late 8-0 run.
But after a timeout, Craft did as promised and got the ball to Sullinger.
"It was just get the ball to Jared and let him make a play. That's how we drew it up and I'm glad we were able to execute," Craft said.
After Sullinger's basket, Northwestern's John Shurna came down court and threw up a long desperation shot that hit the rim at the buzzer.
"Disappointment. Kind of a tough way to go out," said Shurna, the leading scorer in Northwestern history who finished with 22 points in his regular-season home finale at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Shurna's shot that could have won the game looked on target but as Northwestern has found out most of this season in its quest for a first-ever NCAA tournament bid, close isn't good enough.
"Thought it had a chance," Shurna said. "Put it up there and hope for the best. ... That's all you can do."
Ohio State (24-6, 12-5), which had lost three of five, still has a chance to tie for the Big Ten title if it can win at No. 5 Michigan State in Sunday's regular season finale. The Spartans already have at least a share of the championship, despite losing to Indiana on Tuesday night.
"It's pretty cool," Sullinger said.
Deshaun Thomas added 19 points and 10 rebounds and Craft scored 14 points with four 3-pointers for the Buckeyes, who outrebounded Northwestern 44-18, including 20-6 on the offensive boards.
"They killed us on the second shot," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.
"My games flows with it. I haven't been rebounding as well as I did last year," Sullinger said, somewhat amazed at the discrepancy on the boards.
"We kind of played off the mismatches. Never been a part of something like that," he added. "We were determined."
Drew Crawford scored 23 points for the Wildcats (17-12, 7-10), who have one regular-season game left, at Iowa.
"It's very tough. Every close loss is tough," Crawford said. "We're a resilient bunch We'll be ready to go Saturday."
Ohio State had beaten the Wildcats 87-54 in the league opener in late December, but this one was certainly more competitive - just not on the boards.
The Buckeyes led 73-65 with about three minutes left before Northwestern rallied as Dave Sobolweski hit a 3-pointer and Reggie Cobb made two free throws. Cobb later came up with a steal and called a timeout, setting up Marcotullio's game-tying 3-pointer.
The Buckeyes hit their first six field goal attempts and dominated the rebounding 22-5 in the first half with Sullinger and Thomas controlling the inside.
Sullinger had 13 points and eight rebounds and Thomas had 12 points and five rebounds as Ohio State shot 59 percent from the field. The Wildcats, who play three guards and two forwards, had no one to match up with the Buckeyes' inside duo.
Ohio State led 39-29 at halftime.

Tiger Woods and the Honda Classic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- And to think, he used to be asked about slumps, when Tiger Woods had gone a mere handful of tournaments without winning.
Or wayward drives, when he was capturing more tournaments in a year than most won in a career. Even the occasional poor putting round, when Woods buried more clutch putts than anyone since Jack Nicklaus, would occasionally be the subject of consternation.
Woods would answer those questions through gritted teeth and forced smiles, knowing nobody else in the game endured the same kind of scrutiny.
Now it must be a relief to get questions about why he can't get an important putt to drop.
Woods doesn't like those either, but it beats queries (pretty rare now) about the scandal that derailed his career, and more recently swing coaches, injuries and caddies.
Now it's a book that is about to be released by his former coach, Hank Haney, who taught Woods for six years in which the former No. 1 golfer in the world won six major championships and 31 PGA Tour titles while also piling up a slew of top-10 finishes.
Woods made it clear in January soon after the book's publication date was announced that he was less than thrilled with the idea. He described it as "disappointing'' and felt Haney was "unprofessional.'' He also said he wouldn't read the book, nor would he discuss it.
But his agent, Mark Steinberg, didn't just crack open the door to further questions. He blew it open with a statement blasting Haney, especially for his reference to Woods' fondness for the Navy SEALs.
Haney wrote in his book, which was excerpted by GolfDigest, that he was concerned about the type of training Woods was doing and how it would affect his surgically repaired knee and his overall golf game. And he suggested that Woods seriously considered giving up his top spot in the game for life in the military.
Given Woods' previously stated stance about the book, questions about it during Wednesday's news conference at the Honda Classic were unlikely -- until Steinberg's statement that at the very least suggested Haney was off base.
Everybody gets the idea that Woods feels a trust was breached, that a coach he confided in over several years might reveal proprietary secrets or even off-the-cuff conversations.
But the reaction from his agent this week suggested that perhaps the record needed to be set straight. Asked where his disappointment level is now that some excerpts have been released, Woods would not bite.
"It's still the same. Nothing has changed in that regard at all,'' he said.
A later follow-up question on the same subject: "Well, I've already talked about it, so sorry.''
Then things got a bit testy when a question was asked specifically about the Navy SEALs comments. "I've already commented on everything,'' Woods said. Pressed, Woods said: "I've already commented on the book.''
The exchange ended testily as Woods told the questioner, "You're a beauty,'' and added, "Have a nice day.''
Safe to say, Nicklaus had few media sessions, if any, like that over the years.
There were no injuries that disrupted his major championship career, as Nicklaus never missed one from 1962 through the 1998 U.S. Open. Woods has now missed four majors due to injury. There was no personal crisis for Nicklaus as there was for Woods, who most certainly suffered with his game when he returned to golf at the Masters in 2010.
Nicklaus, undoubtedly, had his share of media scrutiny -- few can remember a time he didn't talk to the assembled masses after a tournament round -- but it is fair to say he'd have it tougher today.
"It's part of who I am and what I've accomplished,'' Woods said in regards to a question about the frequent analysis of all aspects of his game. "I think it would have been probably similar if Jack was in my generation. Didn't quite have the media scrutiny that they do now. And it's just a different deal, and I know that a lot of players don't get the same analysis with their games that I do. But it's been like that since I turned pro.''
Nicklaus, now 72, many times has acknowledged that he did not have it as difficult as Woods when it comes to such analysis.
"I've said the hardest thing he's got to overcome is you guys [the media],'' Nicklaus said. "Being in the limelight, being continually asked questions, totally being put on the spot, under pressure, under a microscope. ... And that's all right, but that's what he's got to live with. I never had to live with that.
"The attention was always different. There was a little bit of focus, but not the focus that's given today to this. And the level of importance that you guys put on it.''
Nicklaus said that ... in 1998, when Woods had six PGA Tour titles, including one major.
Now he has 71 and 14, although his last official victory came some 28 months ago.
Hence, the quest to learn the nuances of his game, and when it will yield that elusive first official victory since 2009.
A majority of Wednesday's media session concerned topics other than the book, including Woods' first visit to the Honda Classic as a pro, the work he's put in on his golf swing, the struggles he had putting recently, his confidence, the Masters, his goals, the pursuit of Nicklaus' major record of 18 titles.
Of course, it is stuff about Haney's book that will garner the short-term headlines, and it is impossible to tell if Woods views any of this as a distraction.
He's had his share of distractions, including the return from injuries that kept him out for four months, the questions about work with new swing coach Sean Foley, the drama surrounding his former caddie, Steve Williams, not once, but twice, and now the Haney book.
Perhaps that is why the mood was decidedly different when a question came about the Masters. Woods managed to tie for fourth there two years ago in his first tournament back after his self-imposed break. Last year, despite the growing pains of swing changes, he tied for fourth again after briefly sharing the lead during the final round.
"I'm excited,'' he said. "I'm excited to have a full schedule leading into it, and on top of that being healthy enough to prepare. Very pleased at some of the progress I've made, and it's getting better each and every week, which is good.
"That's what we want to have happen, and ultimately try and peak four times a year, and that's what I'm trying to do.''

Buckeye Small arrested on drug charge

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Authorities say former Ohio State football player Ray Small has been charged with drug possession in southern Ohio after a traffic stop.
The State Highway Patrol says Small was a passenger in a vehicle stopped for allegedly speeding on Route 33 on Sunday.
Meigs County Court officials in Pomeroy say the 24-year-old from Columbus was charged with possession of the narcotic oxycodone. He's accused of having more than 200 oxycodone pills.
Small was released pending a March 15 hearing. His attorney did not immediately return calls Tuesday seeking comment.
The former wide receiver was one of several players involved in a football memorabilia scandal at Ohio State. Small told the school's student newspaper last year that he sold championship rings and other memorabilia for cash and got car deals.

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