Hello again and welcome to another edition of The Stumbler. With the basketball Bucks humming on all cylinders, I thought it might be nice to peruse the Interwebs for a memorable bit of Buckeye basketball goodness.
The Item: A Mint Condition Scoonie
It didn’t take long for me to find this piece of work, a 2000 SP Top Prospects “Autographed” mint condition Scoonie Penn card.
The card’s image caught Scoonie doing what he did best: running the Buckeye offense with meticulous efficiency. In no year did he do that better than 1998-99, his first season as a member of the Scarlet and Gray.
The 5’11’’ guard out of Salem High School in Massachusetts played at Boston College from 1995-97 before following his coach, Jim O’Brien, to Ohio State.
The transfer forced Penn to sit out for the 1997-98 season, and the Buckeyes suffered without his services, going 8-22 with a 1-15 record in conference.
Little did anyone know, the 1998-99 season would write a far different story in the Buckeye history book*.
Now a junior, Penn and backcourt mate Michael Redd gelled early in the season and the Buckeyes roared out of the gate with six straight wins.
Over the next 15 contests, Scoonie and the gang would rack up a 9-6 record before going 7-1 to end the regular season (22-7 overall, 13-4 B1G). The one-year turnaround was impressive through any lens.
The Bucks were booted early in the B1G tourney, but hopes remained cautiously optimistic in Columbus for a respectable Big Dance run.
Respectable was an understatement.
The Bucks drew a four seed in the South Region and were slated to play 13 seed Murray State in the first round.
OSU made quick work of the Racers led by Redd, who notched 27 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
The Buckeyes advanced to play 12 seed Detroit, who upset 5 seed UCLA.
A similar fate wasn’t in the cards for the Buckeyes as they beat that other team up north by nearly 30.
That’s when the Scarlet and Gray would face their first real test of the tournament: 1 seed Auburn in the Sweet 16.
It was in this game that Penn and Redd showed the rest of the nation why they were two of the best players in the country. Both went off against the SEC foe as Penn tallied 26 points, 4 assists and 3 steals and Redd put together a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bucks led at half, 31-26, and held off the Tigers down the stretch. The game ended, 72-64, and OSU punched its ticket to face the St. John’s Red Storm in the Elite Eight.
Which brings us to…
The Clips: Chasing the Red Storm
Scoonie and the boys were riding high after their upset of Auburn, but the fight was far from over as they would have to get past 3 seed St. John’s to make the Final Four.
The Red Storm were a formidable opponent led by star guard/forward
Ron Artest Metta World Peace.
The Bucks led at the break, 41-33, but St. John’s came out swinging in the second half. Despite the counter-punch, a steady diet of Penn and Redd kept World Peace and company searching for answers, ultimately coalescing in this amazing sequence of events.
Apologies on the video size, but what you can’t see is the score and time: 75-74 with roughly 12 seconds left to play.
It’s only fitting Penn’s critical steal would fall right into Redd’s arms. The two were a dynamic duo all season long en route to the program’s first Final Four in 31 years.
Unfortunately the Bucks would fall to the eventual national champion UConn Huskies, but my oh my was it a sweet run for a basketball program that desperately needed a shot of success.
Let’s hope to see a little more of that tonight. Thanks for Stumbling in. Let’s do this again sometime.
*Wins vacated due to NCAA violations