Thad Matta is a successful coach. So successful, in fact, that I am having a hard time remembering the last time I thought "this game is a disaster" a mere 20 minutes – real time, not clock time – into a game. I don't know that it's ever happened.
The early January trip to Champaign was agonizing, but that was still a four-point game at the under-eight timeout.
In 2009, the Buckeyes were blown out by Wisconsin in their first league game without an injured Evan Turner – a game that saw Ohio State put up 18 second half points – but that game was tied at the under-eight and the margin was only nine at the half.
Even the 76-48 stomping Bob Huggins and his West Virginia Mountaineers put on the Buckeyes at Value City Arena in '08 was close early.
Those were all painful losses, but yesterday's 71-49 trucking by the Badgers was something else, altogether. It got ugly quick and stayed ugly.
Misery in Madison, let us recount the ways:
- Wisconsin took control of the game early with torturous 18-0 run that lasted more than 7 minutes, putting them up 24-6 just 11 minutes into the game.
- The Badgers tied their best opening period in Big Ten play with 39 first half points (which is roughly equivalent to 80 first half points from a team with a great offense, like Michigan).
- Ohio State finished with a season-low 49 points for a game.
- Wisconsin shot a season-high 52.7% from the field.
- Meanwhile, Ohio State shot less than 38% from the field and just 3 for 12 from downtown for the game.
- Deshaun Thomas got his points (18), but shot just 8-17 from the field and attempted just one free throw.
- Amir Williams: 9 minutes, 4 fouls and 0 points, rebounds, or blocks.
- Amedeo Della Valle led the Buckeyes with 2 blocks and 2 assists. Just let that sink in for a minute.
This wasn't just a stomping. As one friend said, "That was an ass kicking with a nut punch."
Aaron Craft spoke about the fact that guys weren't ready to go, saying, "We shouldn't have to jumpstart guys to get ready for games."
Deshaun Thomas echoed Craft, "Last year, we had heart and we fought with passion and trusted each other. This year, we don't know what guys are thinking or what they want."
I'm no psychologist, but this may be a team without a leader and I'm worried that if this team doesn't have a leader now, it won't have one before tournament season. With a remaining schedule that is looking tougher by the game, Ohio State needs to figure something out – and fast – or it may be facing an uncomfortable opening round of the NCAA Tournament in a 6/11 or 7/10 game.
I also tend to trend glass half full, and the NCAA Tournament is as wide-open as any I can remember this season, so who knows. After all, we now live in a world in which Kentucky is terrible and Miami is a top-three team.
Related: Here's a GIF of a vampire readying to suck you dry for denying his team a single free throw three weeks ago in Columbus:
CORE 6 CINCINNATI UPDATE. Core 6 Athletes, a prep development program in the Chicagoland area, held its first out-of-state event Sunday in Cincinnati and Eleven Warriors was there to cover it.
Standouts included linebacker Clifton Garrett, defensive end Malik McDowell and offensive tackle Jamarco Jones. All three hold Ohio State offers and did little to quiet the acclaim they're earning as they head into their senior seasons.
Clifton Garrett was the most impressive prospect out of everyone that I saw. He continues to put on a show whereever he goes to perform. Garrett has also gotten quicker and his parents informed me he now weighs 225 pounds. The parents of Garrett were also on his visit to Ohio State and it seemed like the Buckeye staff made quite the impression on the family.
Gerrett, a Joliet (IL) product, has offers from nearly every program in the Big Ten and Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
MARC LOVING SCORING. Ohio State class of 2013 hoops commit Marc Loving had a pretty big game for Toledo St. John's Friday night:
Loving scored a school-record 42 points, 23 of them at the free throw line, to lead St. John’s to a 78-60 win over Lima Senior.
The 6-foot, 8-inch senior hit three 3-pointers, had two slam dunks, connected on 23 of his 26 free throws and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Loving broke St. John's career scoring record in January and now has the school's single-game mark as well.
With Deshaun Thomas gone after this season coupled with the up and down development of LaQuinton Ross, Loving should have a chance to challenge for early minutes next season.
8:39 p.m.: Students are flooding out of their apartments and doors heading for Route 1. Several people started a small fire on the lawn of a Knox Box. Sirens can be heart over cheers of "Let's Go, Maryland!"
8:42 p.m.: A firetruck and several police cars are stationed at 4212 Knox Road behind South Campus Commons 1 and the small bonfire has been extinguished. In the road in front of 4219 Knox Road, an overturned trash can is smoking.
8:45 p.m.: University President Wallace Loh said there is a university-sponsored bonfire on Chapel Field to celebrate. Hundreds of students are congregating.
I'm not sure I've ever heard of a university starting an officially sanctioned fire to prevent students from setting their own, non-sanctioned fires, but there you have it.
Unfortunately the tactic didn't seem to help much as Maryland students partied into the night, lighting fires along the way. One student took things up a notch by lighting a roll of toilet paper and tossing it into a crowd. Andrew W.K. approves.
Maryland will soon be a Big Ten brother and it will be nice for Sparty to have some competition in the "fire and riots" event not listed as an official Director's Cup event. Don't get too smug, Buckeye fans.
Eleven Warriors' official stance on public victory celebrations: Property destruction and harming others is bad; Spontaneous parties in the streets, however, are awesome.
PUBLIC TELEVISION AT ITS BEST. WOSU recently announced the popular series Columbus Neighborhoods was put back in production with six more communities to be featured through 2015. Due next are: the South Side, Clintonville, Worthington, Bexley, The Tri-Villages (Upper Arlington, Marble Cliff and Grandview Heights) and a special episode focusing on Columbus' growing immigrant population.
If you missed any of the original six neighborhoods, they're all freely available online. Here's the University District episode, which is outstanding:
MISC. A most excellent way to get your tuition paid for you... Julian Newman: the country's best 4-foot-5 baller... Spotted: Ricky Stanzi... Smart phones have totally ruined this... The rise and fall of a meme... C'mon, Columbus. You're better than this.