Monday Skull Session

By Jason Priestas on February 18, 2013 at 6:00a

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.

BROTHERS IN FLAMES. Maryland's upset of No. 2 Duke Saturday prompted Terps fan to do what they enjoy most: set things on fire.

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.

Wait... What?

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.


Comments Show All Comments

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Every team has a bad day, and I don't want to make yesterday more than it was (however, having a close friend that went to Madison makes these performances especially annoying). A couple of thoughts.
1) Why do we run high ball screen so much? Wisconsin goes under the screen, and our guards can't shoot from the outside or finish at the basket. I'm not sure I remember a big scoring on a roll either. The pick and pop with Thomas is okay, but good lord the pick and roll drives me nuts with this team.
2) What happened to Ravenel? I understand starting and giving Amir more minutes. His potential is there, no matter how annoyed fans get (he was awful yesterday). But Ravenel gave us solid minutes and effort earlier in the year. Now he just looks selfish on offense.
3) I have always thought this is a pressing team. Craft and Scott are phenomenal on the ball defenders, and Smith, Thompson and Q are all better in an up and down game. If we get caught in a half court game with a good team, we struggle. 
4) I love watching Craft play defense. He is fantastic. That said, at what point do we say, stop shooting? 
5) Wisconsin plays Jackson and Burst together. How do we not post up Smith or Thompson one time? Burst guarding Smith inside, really? Come on man.
6) Does Wisconsin recruit annoying guys intentionally? Something about their players just drives me nuts. 

Baroclinicity's picture

There seems to be a huge difference between Craft-the-complimentary-scorer from his first 2 seasons and Craft-we-need-you-to-score of this season.  He doesn't seem to thrive with that particular burden.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

tampa buckeye's picture

Here is the problem in a nutshell...
Craft can't shoot
Scott can't shoot and when he does drive he can't finish in traffic.
Ross doesn't look to score.  Often drives into the double team and turns it over
No Ball screens for Ross doesn't help.
Amir should be doing something he likes with his life because clearly he doesn't like basketball.
Thad refuses to press and play full court basketball when he has by far the most athletic team in the big ten.  
Thad should have never ran off JD Weatherspoon.  

RedStorm45's picture

Thanks for the insight on Thad "running off" JD.  Ever think Spoon had a change of heart?  Oh, and by the way...all he could do was dunk.  Cool.  I'll take Slam.

tampa buckeye's picture

he could score in the paint.  take another look at him.

RedStorm45's picture

Slam can score in the paint.  DeShaun can score in the paint.  I fail to see what he brought to the table that we aren't currently getting out of the 3/4 spots right now.

tampa buckeye's picture

Scoring? Toughness? Rebounding? Kid is going to be a beast in the MAC next year. 

faux_maestro's picture

Kid is going to be a beast in the MAC next year. 

All you need to know. Dude, it's the MAC, not B1G.

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

tampa buckeye's picture

Slam can score in the paint but he's not going to over power anybody.  He is a 2 guard that can't drive and finish in traffic.  This team is loaded with guys that can't finish.  Only Thomas and Craft can finish after contact.  Fair enough?

tampa buckeye's picture
clearly says thad thought it'd be best if he didn't stick around.  also you should probably be wondering why Walter Olfutt got ran off too.  He was lights out for OhioU in the tourny last year.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I don't think anybody is saying Weatherspoon was not a decent player (or Offutt), but to say Matta ran them off is silly. Matta was honest with them about playing time and what he saw for them in the future if they remained at OSU. I don't see why that is a problem. 

RedStorm45's picture

Offutt wasn't going to be playing ahead of Buford, Diebler, Lighty, etc. for a few years.  It wasn't his talent it was the fact that the guys ahead of him were just really, really good and he might have seen 10-12 minutes a game until last year.

tampa buckeye's picture

Do you think that maybe Matta isn't the best judge of talent?  He did miss on Burke.  Looks like he is missing the boat on Amedeo too.  That kid can play.  You have to have some guys that can score.  What kind of coach puts in Craft, Scott and Thompson in at the same time?  that right there is the problem.
Not trying to be negative about Thad, I like the guy but if it hasn't worked all year maybe its time to switch it up.  

btalbert25's picture

A lot of people missed on Burke, he was a 3 star, and the 26th best PG in America according to Rivals.  Plus, we had Craft and a much higher PG recruit in Scott.  Look at his offer list, the best offers he had were Michigan, Butler, and UC. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

Burke was actually committed to Penn State and de-committed when UM offered. 

btalbert25's picture

His offer list was crap is what I'm getting at.  He had the likes of Nebraska, WKU, and St Joes on there too. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

I get what you were trying to say, just wanted to point out that Burke considered PSU his best offer until UM. 
The whole Burke thing reminds me of Chris Lofton not being offered by Tubby Smith to play at Kentucky, despite being a Kentucky Mr. Basketball out of Maysville. Lofton went to Tennessee and ended up being quite good there and was a thorn in Tubby's side in games played between UK & UT.

tampa buckeye's picture

Just shows you that the people doing the rankings sometimes have no clue.  We have had many 3 star footballers that went pro. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

True. But in football I would argue there's more room for error in recruiting. 

buckeyedude's picture

Amir should be doing something he likes with his life because clearly he doesn't like basketball.

That made me laugh. Even though I think it may be a bit harsh.
I knew before the season started that Sully was going to be a bitch to replace. I really haven't been surprised at all, personally, at what has happened to this team since Sully, WBuford, Lighty and Diebler left. That was probably 80% of the scoring right there, and the other 19% was DT.
Why anyone would be surprised at the that lack of scorers beyond Thomas is beyond me. Saw it coming.



Baroclinicity's picture

Maybe this is either rock bottom or the wake up call needed for this hoops team.
I've said this a couple times already this season, however.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

puff daddy's picture

if's its not rock bottom--then its off to the NIT


throttlefinger's picture

This team is lacking on-court leadership. No one who knows how to make that bucket or assist that wins the game, puts out a fire or starts a rally. In other words, brings the team together and make them play stronger as a unit. They lack serious chemistry.
I like Craft's tenacity on the defensive end but has proven to be a liability. Baroclinicity's point is right on. He's not a dependable scorer. He's a complimentary scorer. More important, he hasn't created easy baskets for others like he did last couple years. He's part of the weave or rotation that does very little to fool defenses. 
Craft's minutes should be cut down by 1/3 to bring in other scorers. If this was last year's team, no reason for that. But we need scorers. Ross and Della Valle need more minutes. Reducing Smith and Thompson's is a necessary evil as well. As it stands, we only have one scorer on the floor. And he's more Pippen than Jordan (that is, more All-Star than All-Star who can carry his team).
Regardless, Matta needs to make adjustments. 

3cent's picture

I don't think craft is even a complimentary scorer.

tennbuckeye19's picture

he only is if he's scoring.

throttlefinger's picture

Yeah, I was trying to be positive. 
This team appears to be a Rubik's Cube that Matta can't solve. Could any coach do a better job?

tennbuckeye19's picture

Unfortunately I think you're right, and at this point in the season, they are who they are. A coach can only do so much if he doesn't have guys willing (and able) to step up both in game and execute and to step up and take leadership roles. 

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Always good to see Toledo St. John's mentioned!
Looking forward to Marc Loving being a Buckeye.

buckeyedude's picture

Amen brotha Big dump! Loving is tearing up his opponents. At 6'8" and can score at will, think Irving Johnson.



Lincoln's picture

I can't blame Thad. I just can't, I can remember our team before Thad. But since I am human, I have to blame someone right? So i'll blame Chris Jent, I wish I had some firm reason, but I think he is just bad luck. The Cavs offense was tough to watch sometime when he was coaching and now that has carried on to the Buckeyes.

lamplighter's picture

My take? - I blame John Cooper.

buckeyedude's picture

I blame the meteor that blew up over Russia. Big distraction!



tampa buckeye's picture

Don't blame Thad? Fine keep the scarlet tinted glasses on forever.
Who is running the team? Who makes millions of dollars a year and is one of the highest paid coaches in america?  I don't feel bad one bit talking shit about Thad.  The guy can recruit but that is about it.  

BrewstersMillions's picture

Two final fours, a title game apperance, multiple Sweet 16's and Big Ten titles-a streak of 20 wins that's how long now? I'm sorry what exactly can't he do?

Lincoln's picture

This. Look no further than North Carolina and Kentucky to see other coaches having down years.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Roy Williams supposedly has said before, half-jokingly, that it's a good thing he's been blessed to have extremely talented teams to coach over the years because it masks the fact that he's an average at best coach. 
As for Kentucky, their team this year is a sign that talent alone is not the end all when it comes to winning. 

BrewstersMillions's picture

For the record, I'm not saying Thad is without fault either. This team has no secondary scorer and does make awful decisions-that can fall on coaching-but I'm taking offense to the idea that 'all he can do is recruit' which implies he can't coach-that's flat wrong.
Also-Thad Matta is the reason OSU Buckets fans have high expectations. I find it fascinating that he is getting so much flak for not living up (this year) to the expectations he is solely responsible for creating. That doesn't earn him a lifetime pass but it earns him plenty of slack from me this season.

tampa buckeye's picture

Anyone could have taken that Oden, Conley and Cook team to the final.  They almost got beat by XU so im not sure if that was more lucky then good coaching.  

btalbert25's picture

Ohio State basketball since the late 60's hasn't been good.  They've been to 3 final fours since 68, and 1 doesn't count because it go vacated.  So, since 68, Thad has made the team worth watching again.  We can say anyone could coach that Oden team to a title game, but someone had to amass that talent, so Thad still gets credit.  
This team lost one of the best players in America and a senior who was an all Big 10 player.  I can't see how people expected them to be a top 5, number 1 seed caliber team this season 

tampa buckeye's picture

Top 5 because you have the best on ball defender in the nation.  Secondly, you have the best scorer in the nation.  They played Duke tough at the beginning of the year remember AT Duke.  You generally should get better from the beginning of the year to the end.  This team has gotten worse.  It starts at the top and If you give Thad credit for final fours you have to give him credit when things like yesterday happen.

btalbert25's picture

Thomas isn't the best scorer in America.  He averages a lot of points, but he also jacks a lot of shots.  Craft is a great defender, but he's been horrible on offense this year.  His defense is basically a push when you think of the poor shots and turnovers he has made all year.  He's a big reason we lost that Duke game and quite honestly THE reason we lost the 2nd Michigan game. 

tampa buckeye's picture

Thomas leads the big ten in scoring right?  Is the big ten the best conference is basketball?  See thats my logic I swear I don't make things up here.  

btalbert25's picture

  He's shooting below 50% from the field and is lower than 40% from the 3 point line.  He scores alot because he's the only person on the team capable of scoring. I don't, however think he's the best offensive player in America. 

3cent's picture

Finally a craft realists on this board.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Tampa, That's just weak man. Total cop out.

btalbert25's picture

Thad is a terrific coach.  He's the one who made Butler a household name.  He took Xavier to the elite 8 and Xavier had NEVER been there in the school's history, and he's taken the Buckeyes to 2 Final Fours.  The success he's had at Ohio State is exactly why people are complaining about him now. Ohio State isn't exactly a blue blood in college basketball.  

iball's picture

We are who I thought we were...wait. What?

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Unky Buck's picture

Andrew WK AND the Aqua Teen Hunger Force approve of Maryland's partying because when it's time to get a party going, it's time to party hard!

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Denny's picture

UMD doesn't know what they're doing when it comes to 'rioting'. As an alumnus of both OSU and UMD, trust me on this one. Loh's diversionary-fire tactic ws clever, tho. 


BucksfanXC's picture

As an MSU grad and participant in the 2005 "police-shoot-tear-gas-at-students" or as some call it a "riot," I am somewhat of an expert in the field. I would say that a organized fire was actually a pretty good idea. People cause the chaos when they are in large groups, and if you draw some attention away and control a large group of people, you can limit or control the possible riot. Well played Maryland, well played.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

buckeybowhunter's picture

I still have faith in Thad.  I think though he needs to shake things up a little bit, not because I think he has the wrong guys in there, but because he needs a leader to step up.  This team still has no identity.  We are not going to be the "Shooting" team.  The one thing we can do is defend.  We need to capitalize on that by switching up our lineup a bit.  Also our bigs have underperformed all year and it is time to go small in my opinion.  
I would start: Scott, Craft, Smith, Thompson, and Thomas.  I know that wouldn't work against a team like Indiana with Zeller in there, but against most teams it would.  Force teams to match up with us.  Press teams asses off.  We can get points in transition, but we are probably the worst half court offense I have seen during the thad era.  So, instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, play to these guys strengths.  Let's be the pain in the ass defensive team, who has 3 different presses and wears out opposing teams and gets 30 points off of steals/turnovers a game. 
*Also, once other request. Thad please find some shooters on the recruiting trail.  I love the athleticism too, but you have to have guys who can put the rock in the hole with consistency.

RedStorm45's picture

I'm not sure I'd call the defense a strength considering what Wisconsin just did.  And IU.  And Illinois.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Second round departure seems more and more eminent now...I tend to agree with your comment you made a while back Jason.  I'm not even sure they may win the first game if they get a 7th or 8th seed.  Guess we'll see where they get seeded...right now...if they play like that will be a first round exit for sure.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

That, in a nutshell, was some of the UGLIEST basketball I seen in a very long time!  If this doesn't wake somebody up, then welcome to the NIT is all I can say!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

okiebuck's picture

One of those games where you burn the tape. That 7-8 minute stretch in the first half when we couldn't buy a basket was brutal. It was like there was a lid on the basket; we had some good looks and both Craft and Scott blew by their man for easy lay ups but even those wouldn't fall. Game was basically over at that point; so I headed to the golf course instead of watching the second half.

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

rider1's picture

Another one that got away that would look pretty good in S&G. 

RedStorm45's picture

^Would have graduated last year unless he red-shirted at some point.

rider1's picture

Still playing.

QBYBuckeye's picture

This is a very poor shooting Buckeye team that can't rebound.  Wisconsin was just so much more disciplined and were able to break down the Ohio State Defense repeatedly.  Superior "athleticism" has not yet translated into a good team that makes good decisions. 

New York Buckeye

toad1204's picture

Yesterdays game is the magnificaiton of what has been covered up all season.  Without solid post play or outside shooting its ggetting the offense going is much much harder.  Finishing within three feet of the bucket helps too.  Was really hoping that this would be the year Craft shines, he just hasnt shown up on the other end.  Thought LS Jr would be able to provide scoring support but he too seems to get lost. 
Loving blowing up.... "Help is on the Way."  
Is there a such thing as a controled couch burn? 

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

BuckDavis's picture

RE: "Spotted: Ricky Stanzi"
Well-played, sir. Well-played.

Brutus's picture

Anyone know if Loving possesses that leadership intangible that Sullinger had when he came in as a freshman? That's what I'm worried about most next year.  This team will have all kinds of talent, which should be improved from this year, but our leadership situation isn't getting any better. Craft will be a leader next year, but he is now and he's clearly not enough.

3cent's picture

What helped Sullinger is the fact he had strong great seniors in lighty and Diebler, plus a junior  buford. Craft and smith jr. as the seniors, and all of these sophomores as the juniors aren't in that league.

acBuckeye's picture

I'll continue to say it until proven otherwise....... Amir is the softest big man I've ever seen in the Big Ten. He'd make a great European player. You knock into him one time, and he curls up into a cute, little ball.
Craft simply cannot be relied upon to score. This should mean more minutes for Ross at Slam's expense. Thompson just doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant more minutes than Ross. Ross turns it over more b/c the dude is just trying to make a play. Dumb sometimes? Yes, but he's the best scorer on the team not named Tank.

Bucksfan's picture
  • 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.

That's all you need to know, really.  I've been watching college basketball for a long, long time.  You shoot less than 40% from the field, you cannot expect to win that game.  It was a bad shooting day, and the other team played their best game.  It happens.  Now, this Buckeye team isn't having a marquee year, and when the conference is this good you have to be really good to stand out.  Still, it's the kind of game you can write off as a bad one and it's not necessarily an idictment of the season as a whole.