Thursday Skull Session

By Chris Lauderback on March 22, 2012 at 6:00a

Merry Madness, everyone! All you have to do is get through your work day and as a reward, you can watch your beloved Buckeyes make a bid for a berth in the Elite Eight.

As icing on the cake, Ohio State's first appearance in the Elite Eight since 2007 would come at the expense of the hated UC Bearcats. 

For years, I mostly hated the Bearcats because my Dad told me to as he was an avid fan of the Lucas and Havlicek bunch that lost to UC in the national title game two straight years. 

Thankfully, since then I've been able to experience other events that allowed me to build my own personal connection to the hate and with that, I  feel it's my civic duty to make sure the rest of you born after those losses in the early 60's realize just exactly why you hate the basketball Bearcats.

HATE LESSON 1: THE DAMON FLINT SAGA. Mr. Basketball in Ohio for the year 1992, Damon Flint was a smooth shooting lefty wing from Cincy Woodward. The kid committed to Ohio State but soon after, someone tipped off the NCAA that an OSU assistant coach had given Flint money for lunch and a gym bag, indirectly, through a Woodward assistant coach while Flint was on his official visit in Columbus. 

Oh, looky there. The Woodward assistant coach strongly believed to have accompanied Flint on his trip to C-Bus? None other than little Mick Cronin. 

And wouldn't you know it, soon after Flint distanced himself from the fiasco brewing in Columbus and committed to the Bearcats, who would Huggins hire straight out the high school ranks to be his new video coordinator? Yep, little Micky Cronin. 

Draw your own conclusions who helped turned in the Buckeyes and parlayed it into a sweet new gig in Division I hoops. 

HATE LESSON 2: TAKE YOUR LOSS LIKE A MAN. With the lingering hatred and the very real notion that Ohio State simply avoided Cincinnati largely because they had nothing to gain coupled with Andy Geiger's disdain for Bob Huggins' flashy, drunken style, the Buckeyes and Bearcats would go 44 years before they finally met again on the hardwood, this time in Indianapolis at the John Wooden Classic in December 2006. 

The Oden/Conley led Buckeyes took the Bearcats behind the woodshed racing out to a 42-14 halftime lead before coasting to a 72-50 victory. Butthurt over the dismantling, Cronin and his star shooting guard Deonta Vaughn conducted a presser for the ages. This singular event, covered in the infancy of 11W, remains a key moment that hooked me into covering OSU hoops ever since. I present you with an appetizer: 

Cronin probably tearing up as he talks about OSU avoiding the Bearcats until they were down:

"I'm not going to beat a dead horse," Cronin said. "From everything that's been said the last few days, it's pretty clear they're not interested in it. They caught us when we were down. I got a contract after coach (Bob) Huggins got fired and it was obvious we were going to be in a depleted state. "I left it in my AD's hands to make overtures, but I'm not going to beat a dead horse with it. Cincinnati basketball has had great tradition and it's been quite successful since 1962, so if they don't want to play us. Why would they elect to schedule the game at this point?" Cronin said. "I know coach (Tony) Yates, coach (Ed) Badger and coach Huggins made overtures for years. I made mine. If they don't want to play us, fine."

Cronin, following a back rub from Vaughn, continues on how the meanie schedule was mean since UC had already faced Xavier earlier in the week:

"I think to schedule these two games in the same week, where Ohio State didn't play all week and was laying in wait for us, was a disadvantage. Today we did not show the intensity that we've shown for the most part all year. I think our kids were emotionally drained from Wednesday night."

Not to be outdone, Vaughn rocked the mic to explain his take on the proper excuse and how Oden (14 pts, 11 reb, 5 blk in 27 min) had little to do with the outcome:

"Being a different facility we really weren't too familiar with the rims," Vaughn said. "We practiced (at Canseco), but we had to go from the practice court to the main court. We weren't familiar with how the court is or how the balls are. We play with a different ball and to us the ball seemed a little smaller that the balls we play with. I don't think he (Oden) made a difference at all."

Those damn rims in Conseco Fieldhouse. And why are the Bearcats playing with such big balls?

"Dammit, Ed, even you make Valentine look competent"

THE SWEET 16 OF ALL TIME. Last night, CBS Sports finished up their series ranking the top 16 college basketball teams of all time. The series was well done featuring a round table of experts summarizing the exploits of the Sweet 16 while including snippets from players and some pretty sweet highlights. I flirted with leaving this thing out of the Skully due to the blogosphere's universal hatred of slideshows not involving Halle Berry, Brittany Daniels as she dismounts that horse in Joe Dirt, or bacon but it is a solid look at some of the best squads in NCAA history. 

It's a little shiesty that Ohio State's 1960 national championship squad was only ranked 14th considering it featured five NBA players (Lucas, Havlicek, Siegfried, Roberts, Nowell) and won the title over Cal in what basically amounted to a road game in San Francisco but it's hard to argue with the Final Four:

4. 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels - Featured Jordan, Sleepy Sam and Worthy and beat a damn good Georgetown team to win it all. 

3. 1973 UCLA Bruins - In the championship game win over Houston and Elvin Hayes, Bill Walton went 21/22 from the floor for 44 points. 

2. 1968 UCLA Bruins - The Lew Alcindor led Bruins went 29-1 and won the championship game by 23 points over UNC. 

1. 1976 Indiana Hoosiers - Robert Montgomery Knight. 32-0. Perfection. Buckner, May and Benson. 

Other than the Buckeye slight, I'd probably have the '92 Dookies and '90 Runnin' Rebels a little higher but looks like a pretty legit list to me. 

SPEAKING OF KNIGHT SPEAKING. GASP! Bobby Knight finally uttered the phrase "Kentucky" when talking tourney on Mike and Mike this morning. When I first heard of this I assumed he simply said "screw Kentucky" but alas all he did was attempt to breakdown the UK / IU tilt.

I wish I knew why this was newsworthy - there's even audio and video - and I'm ashamed to even include it but I figured I would use it as a lead in to Titus having some choice words in response to a mailbag question about whether you should root for your childhood team or your alma mater:

As a lifelong Indiana fan who holds a degree from Ohio State, I often find myself in your position. And while there are few things that have mattered to me more in my life than Indiana basketball, when the Buckeyes play the Hoosiers, I want nothing more than for Tom Crean and his repulsive haircut to suck a fat one.

SMORGAS-BORED. I hear a girl dunked in a tourney game...UNC's Kendall Marshall is in a removable splint...Tark the Shark is improving from a mild heart attack...This Cincy writer will likely annoy you...Tom Couch was good enough to get love from Maker's Mark?...An Anthony Davis influenced UK logo.


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