Sparty Punks Bucks, End Home Win Streak at 39

By Chris Lauderback on February 11, 2012 at 8:18p
AP: T. GilliamPayne hurt OSU with 15 points on 6/6 from the floor

In an MMA fight disguised as a B1G basketball game, Ohio State couldn't overcome cold shooting and a lack of composure as Michigan State used decisive runs in each half to runaway from the Buckeyes 58-48 this afternoon in the Schott. 

Jared Sullinger played arguably his worst game as a Buckeye posting a triple double that read 17 points on 5/15 from the floor with 16 boards along with a carer high 10 turnovers. He failed to control his emotions resulting in continuous frustrated lunges at the basket leading to numerous empty possessions triggering breakouts at the other end of the floor. Even with the 16 rips, Sully was far from effective at the defensive end as Adreian Payne went for 15 points on 6/6 from the field. 

Deshaun Thomas and William Buford were even worse. Thomas was abused by Draymond Green (12 pts, 9 reb), particularly in the 1st half, and scored just eight points himself as he hoisted an array of poor shots making just 2/12 on the night. Buford posted his own 2/12 shooting night (4 pts) with three turnovers in a dreadfully freshman-like 36 minutes of basketball. 

Aaron Craft was the only Buckeye to show up scoring 15 points propped by 8/8 from the stripe with just one turnover in 40 minutes though Keith Appling scored 14 for Sparty in the head to head matchup. 

The Buckeyes shot 26% from the field as the Big Three combined to miss 30 of 39 shots (23%). Sparty hit just 40% on the night but it was more than enough as they hit seven more FG's than OSU and punished them in the paint posting a 30-12 edge. 

The 26% shooting effort was Ohio State's worst at home in 15 seasons. 

In their biggest hole of the night at 41-29 with 15:42 to play, Ohio State went on an 11-3 run capped by back to back buckets from Sully including a pretty twine-tickling 16 foot fadeaway jumper with 6:01 to play.

Thoughts of a comeback were brief however as Sparty closed the game on a 14-8 run to provide the final margin.

It was six minutes of suck to be sure as Ohio State shot 2/10 with three turnovers (Sully 2) while allowing Sparty to hit 3/3 from the field while sending them to the line 10 times - they made eight - to seal the deal. The run started with both Thomas and Buford on the pine. I'm sure some will disagree knowing how bad DT and WB were but when you consider the lack of punch from any reserve on the squad, I don't know how Thad can ever have any two of the Sully, Thomas, Buford, Craft combo on the bench. 

Ohio State made just 14 field goals on the night and shot 2/15 from distance. 

A spin move from Sullinger put OSU up 9-4 at 15:16 of the first half but MSU responded with an 18-5 run to take a 22-14 lead with 7:32 remaining. The Buckeyes went stone cold during the run missing seven straight shots over an eight minute stretch while Green abused Thomas for nine points. Sparty's success in the paint was the story early as Payne and Green recorded the green and white's first 15 points. 

The Bucks closed to 22-19 following a triple from Sully but continued poor interior defense and too much whining to the officials (yes, they were awful) helped MSU close with a 13-6 run to take a 35-25 lead ath intermission as OSU mustered two field goals over the final six minutes.

Sully's frustation was on full display in the opening 20 minutes and Payne took full advantage hitting 5/5 from the field while Sparty turned eight OSU turnovers - five by Sully - into 14 points. 

Ohio State shot 33% in the opening half (7/21) meaning they shot a bricktacular 7/32 in the 2nd (22%). 

While the cold shooting was tough to watch, the complete lack of composure and poor decision making for long stretches was even worse. Teams are allowed to have a bad outing but this felt like it was a level worse than that. 

The loss dropped OSU (21-4) into a tie for first place (9-3) in conference with six regular season games remaining.

Before I go, a quick word on Dan Dakich. I read lots of hate on twitter and in the comments about him and I just don't get it. No question it's a matter of taste when it comes to color commentary but I think he's just about as good as it gets these days. Sometimes I wonder if fans just don't like a guy telling the truth when the truth hurts. I won't say I agree with everything he says but he was on point numerous times today. 

He called out Valentine at least twice for unnecesary theatrics including that ridiculous sideline warning and even went so far as to say Rick Boyages (former OSU coach now in charge of B1G officials) should put a stop to it. He correctly called out Thomas for poor shots and even worse effort on the defensive end as Green tore him up during the 1st half run. He correctly asserted Sully needs to quit bringing the ball down below his waist as he collects himself to go back up, allowing guards to reach in and take the ball. For the haters, I must ask, who would you prefer instead? 



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FLAMikey's picture

Ohio State now = a team with a very good post player who struggles when bum rushed in the paint + a very good PG with limited offensive skills + a group who are are now infected with the Forrest Gump box of chocolates virus. This adds up to a very short run in March.

Bucksfan's picture

Everyone chillax.  It was an off night.

Seabass1974's picture

Ohio State looked like they were loaded with handicap kids tonight. I see an early bounce out in March.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

BuckeyeJim's picture

Sully was trying to win an Emmy tonight and WB was in his normal groove. Matta needs to mix it up. They couldn't look any worse.

andyr78's picture

Sully needs to quit crying and flopping on the ground.  It hurts the team on the defensive end.  Thomas needed to be taken out of the game, he can't guard anyone.  OSU just got hit in the mouth, now it's time to see how they respond.

Buckeyejason's picture

Flame me all you want..but Sully, and this team is overrated.


Poison nuts's picture

I'd say more extremely inconsistent than overrated...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

DefendYoungstown's picture

The above statement is true.™

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

ekeith21's picture

Id have to agree. Sully is a chubby fat kid who has the athletic ability to play in the MAC

William's picture

Except he's one of the best players in the country, and is a leading candidate for the B1G player of the year. Yeah he's totally of MAC level ability....

JakeBuckeye's picture

Idiotic statement. I'm not calling you an idiot, but I think something has you blinded.

Tanner's picture

My problem with Dakich isn't that he's too critical, it's that his analysis is too limited. He makes the same points over and over again.

johnblairgobucks's picture

I enjoy a game called by Bill Raftery or Gus Johnson better than the likes of Douche-itch or Vitalle.  I'ld rather be entertained by the call, then listen to a know-it all talk loudly for 2 hrs.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I enjoy Raftery too. Gus isn't really in the convo since he's a play by play guy but I like him too.

tampa buckeye's picture

Im glad they lost this game. They needed this ass whoopin before the tourney. Sully needs to kick the ball out when the double comes. He forced it all night. Everyone but craft would be benched to start the next game if I was coaching.
Someone needs to teach matta a new offense because it doesnt work. Four guys watching one guy dribble is not a good plan.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

I agree with your notion that losing this game could be just the thing this team needs.  However, your blaming Matta for the loss ignores the many open shots missed, Sully whining when he should be playing, Thomas consistently losing his man on the defensive end, and Buford disappearing (again!).  This loss is squarely on the shoulders of the players, who, to a man, admitted after the game that they ignored the game plan and took shots out of rotation.  Matta is a coach who gets little credit for his in-game skills, but I think he does a great job in every phase of his responsibilities.  Hopefully, we will see no more of "four guys watching one guy dribble".  It makes for an ugly game and an uglier result.  

Rather_Be_Golfing's picture

Wrong.  Very wrong.  I have watched Matta's teams (live) and he gets outcoached in 'Big' games.  He doesn't make in-game adjustments, EVER.  There was a point last night (about 9 minutes left), we had a chance for a clear fast break, but couldn't.  Why???  Because we were flat out gassed.  And he didn't even use 1 of his 5 time outs to even rest 3 guys that played 40 minutes.  

I am so sick of it.  Izzo started showing his hand less than 2 minutes into the game with his substitution pattern.  And running his offense through Green, who we had no answer for.  Except for the good 3 minutes Evan played in the 2nd half.  Why Shannon Scott, Spoon, Williams, or even Sibert could come in for a couple minutes to spell the leaders.

Sully was frustrated clearly.  He needed about 3 minutes to 'Watch' the game and calm down.  Again, coaching.  That is coaching 101 when a guy has lost it a little bit to sit em down.  Remember, Kentucky last year, WB needed to sit for a few.  

But no, he just lets the kids try to work through it.  Hell of a recruiter.  The best in the nation.  But unless your name is 'Tark', talent alone will not win a title.  Not in this era.  You have to 'Coach' a little in a game.  Preparation only takes you too far.

I hope we respond from this.  But I am afraid when we get against a few teams (top 6) that can throw big bodies against us, we are open and exposed.  As long as a team can hit a few 3's (since we cannot), we can be challenged.  We are still a tough out in the tournament and think we will make a run, but we have to get some sets for Willie.  The guy can shoot, our only threat.  

But when Sully is bad, Willie is bad, and Thomas off, we have no chance against a good team.

Sorry this is a long-winded.  Just very frustrated from last night.  It was a great atmosphere.  The place was rocking.

Go Bucks.



buckeyedude's picture

It didn't help when anyone he kicked it out to, kept throwing up bricks. What horrible play. Officiating was piss poor also. Seemed very one sided.



TheMinnesotaBuckeye's picture

The only good thing to come out of tonight's game was Dan Dakich calling out Ted Valentine. I've never heard a TV guy speak the truth like that regarding look-at-me officials like Valentine.

Dakich is very good.

He's straight, no chaser, even when you don't want him to be.

WC Buckeye's picture

Since it's Sunday - AMEN.


The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

miller2234's picture

I think Matta is doing the best job he can at this point.  We are young, relatively inexperienced, and not deep enough with no true leaders.  We have good talent on the bench but they haven't adjusted to the college game and are either a liability on defense or offense.  MSU was a matchup nightmare for this team, experienced, great (big) inside play who could hold Sully, and capable guard play.  Who else could we have put on Green?  DT has the size he's just not a good enough defender to guard him.  You can't put Thompson on him, ravenel is too slow, amir is too slow, weatherspoon too small.  I do think we should try some different defensive sets.  I think our guys are getting worn down against physical teams playing man 40 minutes.  I also would have inserted Shannon Scott or someone to try to provide a spark on O.

The dismal shooting performance is why we lost the game but the bigger issue is the consistency with this team.  A senior leader should never follow up a career high in points with a 4 point dud in the biggest game of the season.  We are too inconsistent and do not have enough scoring threats to be in the same breath as Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse or Missouri IMO.  Yes we blew Duke out but it was early in the season and we were on fire.  Plus they are a finesse team.. any team that has come with attitude and size this season has taken it to us.  Buford is lost on another planet, Thomas just struggles against good defensive teams, smith isn't good enough, and Sullinger has become too soft with the ball.    I love the guy but Sully has to mature a little bit.  I know he gets nothing called for him but what does he expect at this point?  nothing's changing so adjust - you can't barge the lane, do the same spin moves into traffic, or put the ball on the deck around guards who can swipe the ball.  Yes he gets beat to death but man up stop whining and complaining to officials and adjust your game.  I think his complaining is hurting him as well.  refs notice when a player does that and probably makes them reluctant to call fouls.  but yes they are god awful

This team is a matchup problem and cold shooting from a second round exit let alone sweet 16.  I hope I'm wrong because we have the talent to get to New Orleans but unless Buford and the rest (excluding Craft) become more consistent I'm afraid we are in for another disappointing March. 

on a side note - agree on Dan Dakich is the best announcer on TV from great analysis and calling out Hightower and Valentine and I'm done watching games on ESecPn after that "broadcast" today.  Rather listen to Paul Keels.


tampa buckeye's picture

Green only had 12 so its not like he killed us. Matta is a shitty coach why can't you homers admit it?  Izzo has had next to no nba talent yet they make final fours and have won 6 out of 8 vs OHIO state at home.  I like how he recruits but that is as far as it goes for me.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I don't think he's shitty - he's probably the best we'll ever do going forward - but I am so sick of not calling timeout to stop runs and its hard to argue the lack of 2nd half adjustments.

Huth's picture

Was thinking the same thing v Purdue. High-ball screen killing us why not go to a press or zone anything to give a diff look. I know Matta hates zone and I respect that but throw some junk looks now and again to change momentum.

Jim Ob was the master of switching D to keep the opponent off balance.

William's picture

Tampa since you know so much about the coaching profession, why not offer your talents to OSU? The man is an amazing recruiter, and a good coach, yes his lack of using timeouts as well as his limited rotation may be baffling, but he has taken this program to greater heights than it's been in the past 4 decades. Besides, who are we going to get to come here to coach if we fire Matta?

tampa buckeye's picture

Not just any coach can win 20 plus games a year with this talent.  Great job coach Matta.

argyle182021's picture

'Shitty' is a bit of a hyperbole.  Matta has never won less than 20 games as a head coach.  His career win percentage is around 77%.

For Comparison

Coach K: 78%

Dean Smith: 77%

Bob Knight: 71%

Bill Self: 74%

Roy Williams: 80%

Billy Donovan: 71%

Jim Calhoun: 70%

Jim Boeheim: 75%

John Wooden: 80%

Tom Izzo: 71%

John Calipari: 76%

Gene Keady: 66%

Bob Huggins: 71%

Rick Pitino: 73%

Denny Crum: 70%

Lute Olson: 74%

Adolph Rupp: 82%

Here's how he squares off against former OSU coaches:


                           Conf Rec Overall 
Tippy Dye 1947-50   27-21   53-34
Floyd Stahl 1951-58  51-65   84-92
Fred Taylor 1959-76  158-102 297-158
Eldon Miller 1977-86  96-84  174-120
Gary Williams 1987-89 24-30 59-41
Randy Ayers 1990-97  64-80  124-108
Jim O’Brien 1998-04   20-36* 51-57*
Thad Matta 2005-      55-29  121-46


Poison nuts's picture

Thanks for the post Argyle. I still have faith (although shaken a bit right now) in this team although they are young and inconsistent. Nice to see that some of our fanbase won't throw out the "Matta Sucks" or "Fire That Loser" bombs after a loss or poor performance. Thad Matta has brought Buckeye basketball about a million miles forward from where it was...Winning NC's ain't easy. Not by a long shot. Thinking you got all the answers while commenting from behind a computer is easy and that's why no pays you to do it. But hey - everyone has a right to voice their opinion. Even if negative, shitty and fair weathered.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

tampa buckeye's picture

I wish our team could be more like coach Matta.

Poison nuts's picture

Sorry Tampa - I am unable to have a digital arguement with you today or ever.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

DowntheSideline12's picture

He definitely posts a great winning percentage, however I sometimes wonder about his ability to make in game adjustments. Recruiting and general gameplan Thad seems to excel at, but if things aren't working in the game you have to adjust. We always seem to keep plugging away.

Greg Jennings "I put my team on my back"

JakeBuckeye's picture

Our basketball program is not our football program. We don't have an Urban Meyer ceiling coach-wise. Matta is a very good, not great coach and he is our coaching ceiling right now.

Corey Carpenter's picture

Tampa, if you had it your way, PJ Hill would be coaching this team.

tampa buckeye's picture

Laugh all you want but I know more about the game of basketball then everyone on this site put together.  

Matta is not a good coach bottom line.  You don't think there was a reason Izzo kept his rotation fresh the entire game?  They wore out Ohio State's short rotation.  You have to get some mins from your bench or you can't win in march when you play back to back games.  

Also to the poster above I would love to coach this team.  They are loaded with talent.  You would see a more exciting brand of basketball then what matta is offering thats for sure.  


GABuckeye's picture

"Laugh all you want but I know more about the game of basketball then everyone on this site put together."

Get over yourself tool...  this site doesn't need people like you.

tampa buckeye's picture

Matta for coach of the year.  Sully POY all the way go bucks!:)

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Tampa, you, sir, are a douche nozzle.

Scott's picture

Class of 2008

William's picture

Next you'll be telling us you know more about the power spread than Meyer, or that you were the one that developed the air raid with Mike Leach, or was it you that really helped Chip Kelly install the zone-read? You obviously know more about the game of basketball than a guy who has won everywhere he has gone...

GABuckeye's picture

And he was the guy who assassinated JFK!!

JakeBuckeye's picture


Sir, you are one of a kind. Never change.

tampa buckeye's picture

great game. better coach.

miller2234's picture

the reason i pointed out green was bcuz someone said Matta should've taken dt off of him.  but we have no one else with the size and quickness that couldve guarded him.  he's just a mismatch for us.


miller2234's picture

i pointed out green because someone had said matta should've taken dt off of green but we have no one else with the size and quickness to guard him.  MSU was a matchup problem all around.


Buckeye Chuck's picture

Re the Dakich thing, ripping announcers is what fans tend to do when they need to take out their frustrations but don't want to criticize the players. I grew up listening to my dad blame several OSU Rose Bowl losses on Curt Gowdy.

I know Matta is thought of as a great recruiter, but from here it looks like the Buckeyes are a team that's too physically undersized to compete with MSU, but makes up for it by the fact that no one can hit an outside shot. It's hard to see how this amounts to a well-recruited team.

The irony is that point guard has been the weak link on several of Matta's teams, but now that we finally have an acceptable one, we've lost several other puzzle pieces.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Buford was missing -- again.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Dakich is a great commentator.  Some people tend to have problems with people who say things that most people wouldn't have the balls to say, or think they probably shouldn't say because it's not proper, or it sounds like whining.  I didn't agree with every thing he said, but people have their opinions, and I'm about to give mine.

I think the officiating was fucking garbage.  Absolute fucking garbage.  And you can say the team should've been more composed, particularly Sully, and maybe they should've been, but the officiating was unacceptable tonight.  This was a big game, and I expect better from the Big Ten, the NCAA, or whoever is in charge of assigning officials.  Ted Valentine showed clear bias against Ohio State tonight (accurately pointed out by Dan Dakich).  I understand allowing a physical game, but there is a reason why excessive contact is illegal.  A foul is a foul.  There is a reason why fouls are called.  It doesn't matter if Sully was flopping around or not, he still was hacked all to hell and it should've been called more.  If you expect any team to be able to overcome the kind of hacking that our guys had to without fouls being called, then there's no point in ever calling fouls in basketball games.  No point.  If you're supposed to overcome that, then why even bother calling fouls at all?  Let's just turn it into rugby where you have to dribble a basketball and put it in a basketball hoop.  We didn't react favorably, but come on, wouldn't you be frustrated?  Were you not frustrated with the officiating tonight, at least at some level?

Some of you might want to criticize the team more than they should be because you're projecting your frustration with the officials on the team.  I certainly understand that, as in this society, complaining about officials is treated like whining and making excuses.  But the officials tonight were a factor, and it was more than just lack of composure by our guys.  They should never be a factor.  But they set a tone where because of their incompetent officiating, due to their irrational fear of or love for Tom Izzo or irrational hatred of OSU, the players got frustrated and it affected their shooting.  Should you be a little bit more composed?  Yes.  I look at it like a fan, though.  I don't have to focus on making shots and plays and playing the game the right way.  I can sit there and be pissed about the officiating, and it won't make a difference in the outcome.  The players do have to stay focussed, and they didn't do that well enough.  I just shudder at how the officiating will be up there.  Izzo always seems to have the refs in his back pocket.

There's stuff that obviously needs worked on, but with normal shooting (AVERAGE shooting, not great shooting like we had vs. Purdue) or better officiating, this game is a win.  You have your games when you shoot like shit, especially when you're tired of horrid officiating.  Somebody better rip into these guys.  Thad will do it.  Ted Valentine has no business reffing games more important than a pick-up game at the local Y. 

Class of 2010.

throttlefinger's picture

Completely agree on Valentine and Dakich. The former is really not interested into calling a fair game just one-=]\




throttlefinger's picture

Completely agree on Valentine and Dakich. The former is really not interested into calling a fair game just one where he gets some air time. Don't agree with Dakich on some stuff but he seems very no nonsense and not trying to over dramatize what's going on the court. Thought he gave MSU too much credit for their D when it was just the Bucks shooting like Wexner was being held hostage and had to shoot below 25% to be let go.

They'll rebound. But they need to watch the Duke and FL game to get that intensity on both sides of the ball back. Bad spacing on O, lazy help D and playing with zero composure. Young team, true. But should have enough to take on an attack like MSU's, especially at home.

Abe Froman's picture

Ditto. Darkish was right and he surely knows defense. Valentine is absolutely the worst official in the big ten and he gets it validated by his antics on the court. He doesn't suck quietly, he sucks and lets people know about it.

The team can't been a good team when you shoot as poorly as they did. Buford has to get his mind right and figure fit out. I would rather see a freshman shooting threes, which is what this team lacks (consistent outside shooting).

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

Real simple. Substitute more. If the guys are cold, bring 'em to the bench for 2-3 minutes. Tired legs will bite us in MARCH. C'mon Thad.

Brutus's picture

Cue the seven thirteen paragraph diatribe from Baddogmaine in 3...2...1...

Chris Lauderback's picture

I'm troubled that sparty compeletely took us out of our flow - at home - by sheer physicality. This team needs more toughness even more than it needs a complimentary wing that can stretch the D.

BuckeyeMike74's picture

This doesn't give me much faith for a deep Tournament run...  

Others have said it.  Little-Game Willy was non-existant.  Again.  And it seemed as if we ran the same gameplan the entire game.  I have to look to Matta for a) not having this team ready and b) not making any real adjustments to try to get some points on the board.  

A disgusting loss.  I'm thinking we are pretender as oppoesed to a contender after watching these last 2 games...


WildMan Leather and Lace's picture

Yeah, Agree with a lot of the comments here.  Its hard to be a good team when you have absolutley no offensive gaurd play.  Craft and Smith are great defenders but thier lack of offensive talent is a huge hole on this team.  But the biggest heel on this team is Buford.  I don't think he's just in a funk and will snap  out of it. Unfortunetly I think this is what he is.  Inconsistent and dosent show up in big games.  He blended in well behind Lighty and Diebler but I think hes been exposed.  His poor performance cost us the game last year against Kentucky and will likely be the reason for another early exit this year.  As for Dakich I think he does a great job.  And as for Matta I got two words...Stop it.  He's one of the best coaches in the country and I love the man.   

WildMan Leather and Lace's picture

Although I will say it does frustrate me that Matta dosent go to the bench to try and get a spark.  This team is poor at the 3-point shot.  Why not put in Ross? The guy is supposed to be lethal from behind the arc.  I know he's a freshman and had a late start but Jesus look at Kentucky.  They seem to be doing well. 

JakeBuckeye's picture

Our fanbase truly is a 100% football fanbase, and you can tell that by the reactions we have to basketball losses. Holy shit, relax. One loss nearly means absolutely nothing. This isn't the BCS.

Neilwoodgables's picture

ALot of people keep saying this but I am all ears if you would like to discuss how the Purdue and MSU games should be reaffirming that this is a top 5 team and not a pretender.


When your supposed best player flops around the court like a rag doll and whines every time he misses than you have problems.   Again please tell me what I am missing here.

I Hate Michigan.



GABuckeye's picture

Craft - one of the most underrated players in college basketball, yet he doesn't take more control of the game.  Outstanding defender and penetrator, yet he doesn't penetrate enough.  He still needs to work on his shooting, which may help solve the penetration problem when defenders sag.

Lenzelle Smith Jr - aside from the ONE game this year in which he went off, he is only a defender.  He's absent on the offensive end just like Buford was last night.

Buford - a faucet.  Hot and cold.  You can turn him on and off very quickly, but good defender.

Deshaun - a faucet part II.  He's not as bad of a defender as last night.  Last night was just a matchup problem for him in the first half.

Sully - very good player who needs to get tougher.  Last night was solely because he is soft.

Bench - none of them play, so why discuss them.  I don't have a problem with 5 guys playing all game.  These are young kids who have enough energy to do that.  Plus they get 4 TV timeouts in addition to the timeouts they already get.  They get plenty of rest.

Bottom line - these guys just need to be tougher.  What happened to the team that demolished Duke earlier this season? 

Poison nuts's picture

agree with this^^^

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

baddogmaine's picture

I expect that the themes among 11W readers will be 1) Sully got mugged, the refs stopped us from playing, and 2) it was just a fluke. These have basically been the themes every time we've struggled. Those comments were not helpful then, they're not helpful now, because they excuse Matta for allowing some serious problems that we have not seen the last of. In the last two games Purdue and MSU have given game plans on how to beat the Buckeyes, and unless and until Matta fixes them we are a team with a gaudy record waiting to go home early.

The problem yesterday was the problem I have been harping on for weeks, incurring the wrath of uncritical fans who think I'm just a hater. I was not responsible for Ohio State scoring just 48 points on 26% shooting - our offense was responsible for that. I will say it again - having two guys on the floor who are not scoring threats makes us easy to guard, having no bench is a high-risk plan..

Let's start with the perimeter. Smith's contribution for the full game can be summed up by what happened at 5:18 of the second half with MSU up 46-40. Smith was wide open in the wing, not a Spartan within ten feet of him, and he missed. He missed because he is not used to taking shots in tense game situations, and when you have never been a scorer and have not been told that you should become one you are not likely to connect. MSU didn't need to guard him, and didn't.

Thomas got tired and frustrated having to play defense and you could see him thinking: I'm as good as Green. He reverted to 2010-2011 form, jacking shots as soon as the ball hit his hand. After a while MSU knew that Thomas was not going to hurt them as long as they tired him out on defense.

And Buford was Buford. The only game in a long time he has played well was Purdue, when everyone on the floor was scoring because no one was playing defense. He has been an assassin only in the minds of commentators who continue to refer to him as a scorer, ignoring that he needs a lot of shots to get his points, and a lot of missed shots is turnovers by another name.

It is also becoming clear that no matter how fit our guys are if they have to play defense for 35 minutes against a constant rotation of fresh legs they are going to get tired. We got 22 minutes off the bench in a very physical game. I'd like to see our subs score and I think they need to, but we needed subs who could let our scorers rest, and we didn't have them. We still played defense yesterday but fatigue causes frustration and missed shots on offense. We scored 48 points because we couldn't hit layups or open jumpers. Anyone who thinks fatigue was not a factor needs to find another explanation. MSU got 66 minutes off its bench and shot 40%, which beat us by 16%. I refuse to believe that our bench production isn't important.

Craft hit two early shots, and then disappeared. If he could shoot he would start taking shots when everyone else is missing and at least give the foes something to think about. As it was, MSU only had to cut off his driving lanes and wait for him to give the ball up to someone who would take a quick shot, meaning that once Craft dished he didn't need to be guarded either.

What all this means is that it was easy for MSU to double and triple team Sullinger. There was always one person, often two ready to collapse. In a disciplined offense the center kicks it out to the open guy or at least to the point guard who could start a sequence that would punish the defense for being out of position. What Sullinger did was continually try to fight through the double and triple teams, resulting in bad forced shots and having the ball stripped. It was playground basketball we have not seen from him before (that likely did immense damage to his "player of the year" campaign).

And through it all Matta let it happen. He had no one he could bring in from the bench to provide a spark. He had no one he could bring in from the bench with even moderate offensive game that would at least get MSU tired having to play defense. And he never settled our starters to remind them to play disciplined offense. It was a pick-up team of show-offs versus an organized team of athletes.

I expect that our inability to defend high ball screens will get addressed, though if not Michigan has the players to capitalize (though their coach does not like to run so though they could play Purdue ball they might not). If we meet IN in the B1G they could also play it. In the Dance what Purdue did is a model for a less talented team to try to outscore us. It could work if we don't learn defense in the next month.

The bigger problem is the problem that has been waiting to happen for some time. In 2010-2011 we had four guys who could score and a point guard who could get them the ball. This year we have at most three guys who can score, one of whom has been in a slump all year and one of whom is still fundamentally selfish, which works when he hits but is trouble when he doesn't. And we have no one to bring in off the bench to change things.

Fans have been defending our offense, saying the points are there, don't worry. Our offense has been predicated on other teams playing poor defense and other teams' offenses turning the ball over, giving us a lot of extra possessions. Our outside shooting has been bad all year, and Sullinger has been neutralized by double teams and capable big guys on the other side (Harrellson last year, Zeller, Leonard, Payne yesterday) If we go into March playing offense the same way we are now we will not win more than two games.

If Matta wants to change the script he has to change the offense. We have the rest of the year to do what he refused to do before - make Smith, bench players, even Craft offensive weapons that the opponent has to pay attention to. This likely will cost us games between now and the Dance, hurting our seeding and making our path harder, but as we saw last year a low-ish seeded team playing together can move on (both CT and Butler)  and a high seeded team with a glaring weakness can exit early (OSU). We OSU fans refused to criticize Tressell for not giving back-up QBs game experience, for not paying attention to the offensive line deficiencies, and those caught up with us this year.  It is fair to criticize Matta for not developing a bench and for trying to run an up-tempo offense without everyone contributing. It is true, of course, that we won't know what will happen in March until it does. But  it is not crazy to say that what happened in the last two games exposed serious flaws, and that no matter how many games and B1G titles Matta has won it is his job to fix them. Because of the style of play in the B1G we likely can complete the season with a nice record. But we will not be ready for what will come at us from teams outside the B1G. This isn't so much about *quality* of teams - the B1G might be the best conference, it is about matchups. We are built to win in the B1G, I don't think in our present form we can make a run in March. We're too easy to defend, we are too likely to get tired.

buki4life's picture

I realize the game itself was bad enough with the way the Buckeyes played, but it was only made worse by having to watch ESPiN's horrible signal.  Are you kidding me?  The whole game they couldn't get their signal straightened out.  I would have been better off listening to the game on the radio instead of thinking everyone was pausing my DVR during every third shot.  

WC Buckeye's picture

I kept thinking "Did someone steal parts out of the fucking third-string truck you bastards sent?". I think it had to have been ESecPN's way of digging at the B1G Network.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

FLAMikey's picture

Did Jim Bollman sneak into the locker room and diagram some plays for the Buckeyes before the game?

Buckeye06's picture

That was UGLY

I don't expect another night where almost everyone is off, although Sully is playing too soft for my liking and probably should have kept some of that weight.

And how quickly people forget that teams who win the tourney are talented, but get hot.  This team can be as hot as anyone (see Duke/Indiana at home).  These "early exit" wizards need to see what UConn looked like in February last year and tell me OSU isn't in a better position

baddogmaine's picture

We are not in a better position. If anything we are the opposite of U Conn last year - they knew they needed to get better and did, we think all is fine and have not been getting better. U Conn continued to grow. Lamb in particular turned into a player. And though Walker was the go-to guy the Huskies played team offense - and had a Kemba to turn to when nothing else was working well enough. And they had a bench. None of those describes Ohio State right now. And the Buckeyes are not noticably better than we were when we beat Duke - that's not growth. Our win at Madison was nice - but it was the Badgers' fourth home loss this season, including Iowa. We crushed IN in the rematch - but lost the first one, and though I think the Hoosiers are better than their record they are not serious contenders. Who have we beaten since Duke and FL? Of course we want to play tapes of CT, but to play like CT did in March we need to play like CT did at the end of February. We're not, and so far it's not clear that our coach is going to fix that.. Our clock is running.

BuckeyeChris's picture

At some point Matta runs the risk of becoming the new Earle Bruce. Wins a lot, but doesn't make a serious run at the title. It's nice to have a top 3 recruiting class every year, I guess, but I have said this for a while (since the Oden season)... give me 4 3 star guys who are going to struggle as froshies an sophs, but make a serious run (together, as a team) their Jr and Sr years. Think...the 1991-1992 squad (I believe it was....). I felt like I knew Jamal Brown, Mark Baker and Chris Jent. Did you feel like you knew Kosta Koufos? BJ...err...uh... Byron Mullens?  

It's hard, as a fan, to become emotionally attached to these teams. The last time I was REALLY in to OSU hoops was the Scoonie/Redd team. 

Am I the only one who is having trouble embracing this current era? 


WC Buckeye's picture

More like the new Eldon Miller, but good point. Let's all understand how many schools have won the N.C. in the last 30 years and then decide how relevant we were in the dialogue before Thad came along. I also would probe the thought that we haven't made serious runs at the title since he came here - NC game, final fours, rounds of eight, sweet sixteens. I have been watching this team since the early 70's and can tell you that the talent's just about always been there, but it's only been in the last 10 years where we all go "holy shit, this really could be the year" - EVERY YEAR. Patience, Buckeyes.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

BuckeyeChris's picture

That's a good point, and I didn't mean to completely diss the 2007 title game squad, but hopefully you all see my bigger point. Give me, frankly, the way scUM is doing it right now. That team is going to be a bee-yach in 2013, while we'll be hoping our talented, but young, team can come together by March. 

WC Buckeye's picture

That's true, as well, and yes I do agree about TSUN's current approach. I think roster churn is a challenge for the top tier programs that have a lot of 1/done, 2/done talent, and while we haven't had that too much recently for a few reasons, we HAVE 1 SENIOR, right? Asking freshmen and sophomores anywhere to carry the leadership load is tough, a la what we're seeing when Buford is off his game, which has sadly been too often. As long as they're coming together in March and going to the dance that's all we can hope for, with the parity in CBB it starts to become a little bit of a crap shoot anymore unless you're a #1or #2 regional seed.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

yrro's picture

I'm not sure that's a fair criticism after last year. Awesome, senior-laden team with only one real NBA talent. Played good defense and amazing offense. All good, high-character guys. Missed out in the tournament thanks to an off night shooting and a last second shot from Kentucky's superstar. That sort of thing puts awesome teams out of the tournament every year.

The year before that we only had the best damn player in the country.

Aside from Sullinger, no one on this team is jumping to the NBA after this year. They're going to keep building, and learning. As a team this young, they're still one of the top ten teams in the country.

What's so fricking hard to like?

Jack Fu's picture

I said it before and I'll say it again: this team will go as far as Buford's jumpshooting takes us. In the volatile single elimination tournament, this team could win it all or they could lose in the second round. When the jumpers aren't falling the offense stagnates. When the jumpers aren't falling AND Sullinger is contained, like yesterday, the offense looks impotent. That's why, much as it kills me to say it, I have a hard time seeing OSU beating Kentucky, if they get that far - talentwise they're a lot like Michigan State but with a WAY better interior defender and more athleticism at every position.

Brutus's picture

I have a couple observations this morning:

1) We truly are the shitiest fan base in college sports. We are entitled, spoiled, and hyper reactive. I hate us too.

2) Matta needs to be fired immediately. He sucks. Who cares if he wins 20+ games per season and almost always has a top five recruiting class. He loses big games to good opponents every now and then, even at home, and he must be held accountable. Get rid of his sorry ass and assemble a new staff, preferably consisting of a couple dudes who may or may not be living in basements and spend a lot of time posting on this site.

3) This teams sucks. They've gone as far as they'll go. May as well stop watching the games. Sully: softest all american ever. Your antics embarrass me as a fan who sits at home watching games on tv. Buford: take your sixth-on-the-all-time-scoring-list and shove it up your ass. You scored all those points by luck. Craft: you're still the cutest player on the floor, but why can't you score. I'm tired of hearing everyone agree that you are one of the best defenders in the country. You want to impress me, score some points. And for the rest of the team, well, just learn to suck less. Go win me a championship, dammit.

tampa buckeye's picture

Blind homer of the year award goes to.....

yrro's picture

Yes, it's being a blind homer to think Thad doesn't suck, when all he's done is win 3 Big Ten Championships in a row. He's not perfect, but who do you want instead?

Top coaches in college basketball - take your pick on order, are Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, and Coach K.... none of those are coming here. Matta has as good of a win/loss record as any of them.

Saying "other coaches could do amazing things with the talent Thad gets" means jack, because they don't *get* that talent.

LABuckeye's picture

I don't remember having an account under the name of "Brutus". Did I sleep-walk to my computer and type that?

PharmBuck's picture

Not sure why Amir Williams stopped getting playing time. He was playing rather well and was another big body we desperately need (Ravenel is Dallas Lauderdale without the Thompson, Williams, and Ross should all be getting PT.

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again," said Meyer. "Do it a little harder next time."

Doug Funnie's picture

Although I was not happy with the on court performance yesterday, it is all about March.  In the past 10 years the eventual national champion has lost 5 games on average.  The Bucks this year have lost 4 games so far.  I am hoping the team can use this loss as a "motivational tool" to give them a good jolt.  Hopefully they can learn from the loss and they can grow. It really all boils down to getting hot at the right time. 

Past NCAA champions and record

2011 UConn (32-9)

2010 Duke (35-5)

2009 UNC (34-4)

2008 Kansas (37-3)

2007 Florida (35-5)

2006 Florida (33-6)

2005 UNC (33-4)

2004 UConn (33-6)

2003 Syracuse (30-5)

2002 Maryland (32-4)

baddogmaine's picture

 People seem to not understand that Matta's overall record is not the point. It's whether a team is built to make a run. We didn't lose last year because KY's superstar made a shot, as someone said. It was a low-scoring game and someone was going to make the last shot. We were better than KY last year and could have and should have won even though Harrellson neutralized Sullinger. We would have won last year even with Buford shooting 2 for 12 had Matta had anyone who could have stopped the bleeding at 2-12 or even 2-13 and maybe even 2-14 but Matta didn't have a single guy he could bring in off the bench even for a five minute coaching session and Buford's last two misses finished us off. We were not built last year to deal with an expected problem. We lost to what was forseeable, not to a Brandon Paul going nuts.

Look at the Buckeye women. Every year they go into the tournament as a 1 or 2 seed, and every year they are among the first 1 or 2 seed to lose. Does that mean Jim Foster is a lousy coach and should be fired? Of course not. It does mean that he is building teams that can beat the pre-conference cupcakes (and ocassional powerhouse) and B1G opponents but that isn't a squad that can play in March.

That has been something of a pattern under Matta. In 2005-6 we won the B1G and lost our second game n the Dance. 2006-7 was a great year. The next year we didn't make the Dance. OK, that can happen, we won the NIT. I'm happy. The next year we lost in the first round. (Sienna?????) In both 2009-10 and 2010-11 we won the B1G and lost our third game in the Dance. We were not losing to eventual winners, we were losing to teams no better than us who were better prepared to play us than we were them. (Sienna?????)

If that is good enough then let's keep bragging that our coach has a beter winning record than your coach, and watch VCU and Butler beat teams like us.

chitown buckeye's picture

Exactly, at some point people need to look at the trends of a Matta coached team. Not saying he should be fired by any means but he needs to change how he coaches, how he prepares for the tourney, etc... To draw comparisons to football it has really felt like cooper in the nineties. A huge amount of talent and nothing to show for it! I'm not asking for national titles in bball but I think it isn't to much to ask to get to a final four or two over the last four yrs. we have certainly had that kind of talent! If you even look at Odens final four run it was a last second three by Lewis to continue that season vs Xavier! No one fears OSU come tourney time and that to me is what needs to change.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Mike's picture

Thad Matta has won the Big Ten 4 times in 7 years including the last 2 B1G and B1G Tournament titles...yet some people want to get rid of him?  Matta has owned the Big Ten the past 2 years.  What coach would want to come to a school when winning consecutive conference championships gets you shown the door? 

I agree that his in-game plans and substitutions are frustrating as hell...and he getts out-coached every once in a while...but give him a break.  These types of losses suck, but in college bb you can afford them (UCONN lost 9 games last year and won the title). 

On the bright side, they are still in 1st and as far as I know they still control their own destiny.  The Big Ten is the toughest conference in's not gonna to be easy. The season is far from over.

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Could you please point out the people in this thread who have said the Buckeyes should fire Matta? Exaggeration is fine on some level, but it ought to have a passing connection with the facts.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

buckeyedude's picture

I think this team still misses a 7' to take some of the pressure off of Sully. Personally, I think he should stay for his junior year.



baddogmaine's picture

That's a good topic for speculation. In my opinion he is not playing better this year than last, and looking at who will be on the team next year he would likely be expected to carry a bigger load, which is not a formula for great success for a center. Ironocally, the only reason he would have to stay is if OSU got a true center and Sullinger could develop an outside game as a forward, which is probably where he'll have to play in the League. But that would be a big gamble for him because if it fails his draft stock could plummet. I think he goes pro this year while he's pretty much assured of being a lottery pick.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

We walked through the regular season last year and that didn't help in March. We are still in first in the best conference, so I don't think a few tough losses is a bad thing. Another silver lining is Sully and DT may realize they aren't ready for the NBA and come back next year. As for Matta, he has to recruit one and done talent. He would be stupid not to. The dark side of that is you end up relying freshman and sophs to win. No easy task. UK does it, but in a much weaker conference.

RBuck's picture

During the 2nd half last night I kept thinking put Williams in and have Sully move out to the top of the key and start jacking three's. Hell, why not, right now he's the best 3 shooter on the team, 8 for 12 in the B1G. Not really smart basketball but they didn't have anymore to lose last night.

Long live the southend.

DefendYoungstown's picture

So tired about everybody complaining about the refs, if you're that good of a team you can overcome that. Shooting 26% is not going to win you many games. Who cares about bball, this is a football site.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

Huth's picture

For those griping about the officials, get real. Check the foul shot stats. That is how the B1G should be called. We got out-toughed at home. Sweet16 is now a successful season in my opinion. I now realize how much Diebler and Lighty meant to this team. We left a championship on the table LY.

Bucks43201's picture

Never let Spike Lee visit an OSU practice again.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

William's picture

Has it ever occurred to any of you negative nellies that there are 5 freshmen and 6 sophomores on this team? Show me a national champ the past 5 years that had the same sort of roster as OSU..

TLB's picture

Totally agree on Dakich.  He's the best they have at the 4letter right now.  I know a lot of folks don't watch games that don't involve tOSU, but he's pretty consistant calling out bad officiating, coaching and poor play.

For those waiting on March, it's only 3 weeks away and this team's play is sliding backwards.  Big week ahead on the road against a Minny team that needs a big win for their resume, so they'll be ready, and in Ann Arbor, who hasn't lost at home this year.  Will lose both if they play like they did the 2 games this week.

thatlillefty's picture

very frustrating game but i still love this team.

only 3 weeks til we get to return the favor in East Lansing

gobucks5413's picture

the thing about sports, and especially basketball, is things are never as good as they seem and they are never as bad as they seem. We are not as good as we looked when we worked Duke, and we certainly arent as bad as we looked on Saturday....

relax folks, just hope that it reignites the fire a bit to finish up strong.

BuckeyeJim's picture

It makes us look like the bunch of brats that we are. How many colleges have great BB and FB like tOSU? We expect excellence all the time. There can never be an off night. I am one of those brats, but I know that I can never give up on the Buckeyes. It is in our DNA.

dubjayfootball90's picture

I wanna know how many times a game the commentators say "XXXX being harrassed by Craft"


Kid is a baller on defense

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Good grief - the idiotic comments on this post are ridiculous.  We certainly have our share of fair weather, know-nothing fans - complete with one moron's comment that Sully is a "chubby kid with MAC talent".  The team obviously had an off night - they happen. 

D. Anthony's picture

We have a top 10 coach that we don't even deserve . we rarely sell out games and we've had a lot of empty seats this year and even in the years we had the Thad 5, and number 1 rated teams for a good portion of the year. Thad's Achilles heel, is without a doubt, developing his bench and getting them the minutes they need in key situations throughout the season so they have confidence to step up in big games. It is frustrating, but blaming him or calling him out for this is like hating on Evan Turner when he was here for not having a better outside game or not wanting Shaq on your team in his prime because he shot free throws poorly. We're lucky to have Thad as long as possible. I just hope "he doesn't dismiss" us after reading some of the idiotic post I read here. I've been reading Eleven Warriors everyday for months now and I just decided to join today to speak my mind on this, so I guess the dumb posts were good for something. Glad to be here!

D. Anthony