With the onslaught of negativity surrounding the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, Buckeyes fans finally have something to look forward to: Basketball season. The men's basketball team had their media day yesterday, and the players gave fans a little ray of light as they conversed with the media and goofed around in that childish way that they have. But don't take that goofing around too seriously, the players are all business on the court.
This year, the team will be led by big man Jared Sullinger. Sullinger said at the end of the season that he would return to Ohio State, and unlike some people who will remain unnamed, he held to his word and will be back in scarlet and gray this season. His return boosts the Buckeyes, but they will still be a young team this year. Former Buckeyes David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale and Jon Diebler all graduated and are now playing basketball overseas. They each brought something different to the court, but their leadership is what will be missed the most.
Enter Jared Sullinger. He began to take over the team last season, and now it's his and his alone. William Buford is the sole senior on the team and there are just two juniors in Evan Ravenel and Alex Rogers, neither of whom have seen much playing time. That leaves six sophomores and four freshman. It would have been five freshman, but La'Quinton Ross was declared academically ineligible. Sullinger is the big man on campus this year, quite literally even after he lost 20 pounds this off-season.
While it's likely that Sullinger, Buford and Aaron Craft will start, don't be surprised if there are a few freshman in the mix early. Sam Thompson, Amir Williams, Shannon Scott and Trey McDonald all have incredible upside and will likely make an impact early.
When Ohio State opens their season on November 6, head coach Thad Matta will be the new face of the school. The face of Ohio State used to be Jim Tressel, but he's no longer in the picture and Luke Fickell's face sure doesn't bring confidence to Buckeye fans. Thad Matta has been around for eight years and has quietly been as successful as Jim Tressel was. Matta has never complained about that though, and he almost seems indifferent to what may be ahead for him:
“I don’t sense it,” he said. “It’s probably one of those deals where I’m the last man standing. I say that jokingly, but it’s year eight here, and we’ve had a pretty good run of what we’ve set out to do.” (buckeyextra.com)
Well said, Matta. You have had a pretty good run. 185 wins and 56 losses in seven years for a 76.8 overall winning percentage. He's led the team to an 85-35 Big Ten record, winning 70.8% of those games.
Buckeyes hoops fans have a lot to look forward to this season. The men's basketball team will look to be the school's saving grace as the football team continues to self-implode. The Buckeyes will have their first game on November 6 against Walsh in it's first of nine straight home games. Watching these young players have fun at media day bodes well for watching them have fun on the court while simultaneously beating their opponent.
Is this season going to be like last season? Will the Buckeyes go 34-3? Probably not. But it's going to be fun watching them try.
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