Hi everyone, welcome to your Thursday morning Skull Session courtesy of ElevenWarriors.com. I am your humble guide for this morning's venture, where we'll take a look at some of the things that are happening in the world of the Buckeyes and sports in general.
If you're looking for some form of sports to look forward to tonight on TV, may I recommend that you tune in to ESPN2 at 9pm for a glimpse at terrific 1970's basketball as #17 Indiana travels to #25 Wisconsin for a B1G match up of red and white, and I do mean white.
If you're not into watching dudes play hoops unless they are wearing scarlet and gray, remember that some of TV's best comedies are still on Thursday night on NBC. Even without "Community", the lineup is still solid with "30 Rock" returning; and "The Office" has had a solid season as well after losing nearly all its funny a year ago.
Of course, neither of those two shows can hold a candle to "Parks and Rec" as the current king of network television comedy. If you disagree with me, you're wrong.
BUCKEYES DO IT WITH 11 DUDES. Thad Matta's history of not using his bench "enough" has been well-documented throughout the last few seasons. Despite the success he's had, Buckeye fans (like myself) continue to clamor for more PT for the youngsters on his bench. Last night's 78-54 win against Penn State shut me up, for the time being anyway, and I hope it had the same effect on you.
The Buckeyes used nine of their 11 players in the first half on their way to a 20 point half-time lead against the Nittany Lions, including a bench high seven minutes for freshman freak-athlete Sam Thompson, and the reserves played well enough to deserve to stay in the rotation. In that first half, the bench played 19 minutes and was responsible for six points, two rebounds and one assist to go against one turnover (by freshman PG Shannon Scott). While those numbers may not jump off the page, they show a developing bench that is able to be involved at different points of the game without interrupting the flow on offense and while maintaining intensity on defense.
Against Nebraska last Saturday, it was Jordan Sibert and Shannon Scott, with 20 and 18 minutes respectively, who had the hot hand and Matta kept them on the floor. He seems to be aware of which guy is "in it" before every game starts as he disseminates minutes, last night, it was Thompson.
In the second half, the starters were on the floor just enough to extend the lead to "out of reach" and at that point, it was the bench who handled the majority of the minutes the rest of the way. Scott finished with 18 minutes, Thompson with an electric 17 (including another rim-rattling alley-oop) and both played very well in the time they received.
Perhaps no player "flashed" more than freshman Amir Williams, who finished his night with 2 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks in just under 8 minutes on the floor. Williams is a McDonald's All-American who could give the Buckeyes some very important minutes off the pine as the real meat of the B1G schedule comes around.
The Buckeyes will host Michigan on Sunday afternoon in a battle for first place in the conference. That game is the beginning of a brutal stretch for the Buckeyes that will put them up against Michigan twice, Wisconsin twice, and Michigan State twice in their final ten conference games.
I guess we'll see if the extra minutes the bench has received will turn into extra impact for them as the season gets tough.
NO REASON WE CARE ABOUT THIS STUFF, BUT WE DO. The dudes at Nike have once again gone out of their way to make uniforms lighter, more player friendly and uglier than we ever dreamed imaginable. Yesterday, the company that brought us this abomination unveiled their newest atrocities: the Nike Hyper Elite Platinum Elite Basketball Uniforms. Seven words, one concept: gray and light. Like the "Pro Combat" line that has been so prominently displayed throughout the college football landscape the last three seasons, these uniforms will be worn by select teams for one game a piece this year.
Unlike the Pro Combat unis, the Buckeyes are not one of the selected teams to wear this newest line, which is something that I for one am pretty thrilled about. I love the Buckeyes gray uniforms, and wish they would wear them a lot more. I don't feel "bad" about liking them, gray is a school color and as such should be featured in the team's uniforms.
However; Duke, UConn, North Carolina, Arizona, Syracuse and others that don't have gray even as a tertiary color wearing these uniforms is a bit much. The rest of the nation has already gotten on the "gray bandwagon" earlier in the year, and despite my protesting, it's apparently not something the players find appalling at all. In fact, it seems most of the kids they are targeted at, the recruits, like them. Look at this quote from North Carolina's Kendall Marshall.
"We definitely get excited about it. I think players care about the way they look," North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall said. "I know if I played football, Oregon would be in my top five no matter who I was."
Makes you wonder if the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer will ever really consider the idea of an alternate jersey in football.
DOMINATION NATION. Yes, for all intents and purposes, Ohio State has always been, and will always be a "football school." There are periodic bursts of success from the basketball program (like the run we're in now), but when people think "Ohio State sports", the first image you think is Woody Hayes, the Horseshoe, Script Ohio and the like.
However, it's not to say that as a school there is not a lot to be proud of, especially if you're involved in one of the other sports programs that wear the S&G today. As of yesterday, the Ohio State athletic department claimed a whopping ten programs that currently sit in the Top 10 in their respective sport's national rankings.
The Buckeye's find themselves third nationally in men's gymnastics and men's tennis, fourth in men's basketball, fifth in wrestling and men's fencing, sixth in women's fencing and men's hockey, eighth in men's swimming and ninth in women's hoops and men's volleyball.
The country may always view Ohio State as a football factory, but it's quite clear that there are many great student-athletes at Ohio State. It's a great time to be a Buckeye, and many of these athletes are getting recognition within the conference and across the nation for their efforts. Ohio State freshman grappler Hunter Stieber was named the B1G Wrestler of the Week for his role in helping the Buckeyes best Iowa for the first time in forever.
Tennis player Chase Buchanan, a senior for the Buckeyes gets some attention from USA Today as he and others look to revitalize American tennis.
Buckeyes are all over the place, man.
BIG EAST GETS MILITARISTIC. The Big East, the worst of all the automatic qualifiers for the BCS announced yesterday that it would be adding another mediocre football team to its collection of mediocre football teams. Navy will begin playing football as a member of the Big East in 2015, becoming the conference's
15th, 18th, 22nd, becoming a member of the conference, ok? I don't know how many teams there are now in whatever number of sports. It's all very confusing. What I DO know is that the Midshipmen will not play basketball in the conference, and that they will be ninth member of the conference that plays only one of the two "major" sports.
St. John's, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul, Marquette, Providence do not participate in the conference's football slate, and Notre Dame plays football and hockey outside of the Big East.
COACHES GETTING EXTENDED ALL OVER THE PLACE. Mediocrity is the word of the day, apparently, as more college coaches coming off of "average" years saw their contracts extended, giving them more chances at NCAA glory. A few days ago Texas extended the deal of Mack Brown an additional four years, a deal that could keep the sixty-year old Brown in Austin until 2020. The Horns are 13-12 in the last two seasons under Brown, and apparently that warranted a lengthy extension.
Yesterday Cincinnati extended the contract of their coach, Butch Jones after the Bearcats went 10-3 and won the Big East "title" in 2011. In his two years at the helm in the Queen City, Jones has led the Bearcats to a 14-11 record. His new contract runs through 2017 although let's be honest, he won't be there that long for one reason or another.
In non-head coaching news, Mike Stoops, who was fired from as the leader of the Arizona Wildcats mid-season, has finally landed on his feet. Stoops was rumored to be one of Urban Meyer's top choices to become Ohio State's new defensive coordinator, but after those rumors cooled it was only a matter of time until the inevitable happened and Stoops rejoined his brother Bob in Norman, Oklahoma, and that's what happened yesterday. Stoops signed a three-year, 1.8 million dollar deal to run the Sooners' defense, a move that was facilitated when the Sooners' former DC, Max Venables, left to become the DC at Clemson earlier this month.
QUICK SLANTS. Good-Counsel WR Stefon Diggs says he will visit Ohio State this weekend... Liam Neeson photoshop challenge.... For some reason this newest meme made me chuckle... I feel like this kid has a great future ahead of him, very sensitive and articulate... You have eight days to try and influence TV history.