When the players went home for a week off on Dec. 19, every one of them was given a DVD containing multiple clips of announcers from ESPN or Fox or wherever, blasting OSU and giving the Buckeyes no chance of beating LSU. Mark May of ESPN was featured prominently.
Supposedly (I have not seen the DVD), it's very compelling stuff....clip after clip after clip of people just destroying OSU. It's the kind of tape that is designed to get your blood boiling, and Tressel reportedly told his players to watch it every single day until the game.
The chip is alive and well. And it craves reinforcement.
Gators, we'll have a helping of what you had last December.
Well, it's the end of the year and we'd lose our publishing street cred if we didn't at least attempt to put together a list of top moments from 2007. We've given this a lot of thought, but no doubt you'll disagree with some points. That's what the comments are for, yo.
On to the goods.. but take a minute to appreciate all of the great moments of 2007.
11. Oden Taken #1 in the NBA Draft On June 28th, the Portland Trailblazers took the Buckeye center with the first overall pick in the NBA draft and the start of the Rip City Crush began.
Oden goes #1
Although Buckeye fans would have loved for him to have stuck around for another year, Oden became the first Buckeye ever taken at #1 and was part of the group to put Ohio State basketball back on the map for the first time in four decades.
Joining Oden as first round selections were Mike Conley Jr (#4) and Daequan Cook (#21) -- easily the highest number of Buckeyes taken in the first round of a draft that didn't involve a pigskin.
Granted, Oden's rookie season hasn't exactly gone as planned, but look for the old fart to drop some of those pounds he has recently put on and get back to doing what he does best next season -- dominate the glass.
10. The Return of Gordon Gee This may seem like an odd choice, but when news broke in early July that E. Gordon Gee was returning you just had to break out into a little dance.
White and nerdy
The school was having makeup sex with the guy that let Andy Geiger go off like a kid with a brand new set of Legos in his previous stint -- the guy understands the value of big-time athletics.
At the same time, he's a renowned academic with stops at Brown and Vanderbilt and will waste little time funneling scratch from the athletic department into the class and research sectors. This will continue the improvements the school has gained on the, well, school front (87% of freshman in 2006 had 24+ composite on the ACT or 1090+ on the SAT).
Best of all, Gee ended the disastrous reign of Karen Holbrook -- last seen discussing drunken orgies at an interview for a job she couldn't get. That's what happens when you let a Badger run the show.
9. Buckeye Soccer Makes a Run We're not the biggest footy fans in the world. In fact, we've never even published a soccer-related post. Yet we have to tip our caps to the run the men's soccer team busted out this winter.
After starting the season unranked, Coach John Bluem's squad reeled off a 15 game unbeaten streak before finally losing to Wake Forest in the NCAA championship game. The Demon Deacons, a 2 seed after having spent some of the season ranked #1 in the nation, scored two second half goals to come from behind for the 2-1 victory.
Yes, if you're counting, that's 3 championship game losses in '07 for the Buckeyes, but the soccer run certainly had what the other two did -- excitement and pride in spades.
Goalkeeper Casey Latchem, who set a school record with 14 shutouts, is on target:
â€œWe want to be able to prove ourselves. Yes, football in Ohio at Ohio State is the biggest thing. We just want to be on the same map as a great team and one that contributes to the stature of Ohio State University.â€
8. Robo's Catch A young Buckeye football team headed West to Seattle for their first test of the season. Amongst the chattering classes on ESPN, it was downright fashionable to predict a Husky upset. After all, Ohio State had looked awfully darn sluggish against Akron while Washington was coming off a good victory over Boise State, snapping the nation's longest winning streak.
Robo breaks it open
After giving up a late touchdown pass to head into halftime trailing 7-3, the Buckeyes were courting more trouble when Washington took the opening kickoff of the 2nd half and promptly drove down the field to set up a field goal. Chris put it best in his recap:
Locker led his offense to the Buckeye 19 yard line but the defense stiffened forcing three straight negative yardage plays and a blocked FG attempt giving OSU the ball at its own 29. After a first down run, Todd Boeckman hit Brian Robiskie in stride for a 68 yard TD pass to start the onslaught.
The Buckeyes would go on to score 30 straight 2nd half points on their way to a convincing 33-14 victory and the youngsters suddenly believed that they could be a very good team.
7. War in Chicago
After dispatching Michigan and Purdue in the opening rounds of the Big Ten Conference Tournament, the Buckeyes got their rubber-match with Wisky. To the winner went the tournament championship, with the Buckeyes looking to add to their regular season crown.
In a hard fought battle, one in which Greg Oden was held to 0 first half points, the Badgers found themselves down only 5 with a little over eight minutes to go.
From their, the Buckeyes used a 23-11 run, powered by some of Mike Conley Jr's 18 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds, to put the Badgers away 66-49.
The Buckeyes would go on to win their first five games of the NCAA tournament, bringing their overall winning streak to a sick 22-straight games before falling to, who else, the Gators in the NCAA finals.
6. The Darkest Day in Wolverine History No, not technically a Buckeye moment, but damn if it didn't feel great. You have to understand that this team destroyed our formative years. John Harold Fucking Cooper. At least 10 of the most depressing Saturdays of our lives.
5. The Miracle in the Alamodome In a game for the ages, the Buckeyes overcame a 49-32 halftime deficit to nip Bruce Pearl's Volunteers by a whisker in the Sweet Sixteen.
The game was in doubt until the very end. After Conley hit the first of two free throws to give Ohio State a 1 point lead, Tennessee's Ramar Smith drove the length of the court only to be swatted away by Oden as time expired.
With Oden seeing limited action once again due to fouls, the team again proved that they were able to defeat top-notch competition without him. Senior Ron Lewis was huge with 25, Conley Jr had 17 points and 7 rebounds and the Buckeyes got strong bench help.
The win gave Matta his 2nd over Pearl on the year and propelled the Buckeyes into an Elite Eight matchup with Memphis.
4. The Dismantling of Penn State With bad weather looming, the Buckeyes were heading into Happy Valley. At the time, also known as the last place the Buckeyes had lost a regular season game. The Penn State students were fired up, piss balloons stocked and a 110,000-strong whiteout was ready for a monumental clash of great defenses.
A perfect night
Only thing is.. it didn't go down quite like that. Behind the flawless passing of Todd Boeckman and the bruising running of Beanie Wells, the Buckeye offense put up 200+ yards on each front on the way to a 37-17 blowout. For one night it all came together.
Pretorius hit a 50-yarder to start things off and Boeckman answered Penn State's opening scoring drive by tossing a touchdown to each of the Brians on the way to a 17-7 halftime lead. Things got as bad as 37-10 before a late kickoff return by the Nittany Lions made it look somewhat respectable. You may have also remembered this game for leading to the 72 hours of "Boeckman for Heisman" nonsense.
Perhaps what's most impressive is the fact that Penn State actually played pretty good themselves on the offensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes just played perfect.
3. Final Four Win over Georgetown Forty-five years is a long time.
Despite Greg Oden once again being limited due to fouls (three first half minutes), Mike Conley Jr continued to pad his draft stock by chipping in 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in the Buckeyes 67-60 win over a talented Georgetown squad to advance to the NCAA title.
The victory marked the first time since 1962 that the team had advanced to the final game and came against a pretty confident Hoya squad that had beaten down North Carolina to get to the Final Four.
Oden finished with 13, Butler with 10 and Harris with 9 points and 7 rebounds as the Buckeyes received consistent play thoughout the game to put away Georgetown.
All-everything Georgetown guard Jeff Green was held to 9 points on only 5 shots, which meant that despite a stone-cold 29% from behind the arc, Ohio State advanced to play Florida for the NCAA Championship.
1. The New King of Ann Arbor The elements were in place for the let-down.
The Buckeyes had just lost at home to Illinois, squashing any hope they might have had to avenge the embarrassment of Glendale, only 10 months earlier.
The Wolverines were losing their coach and their players rested, hoping to win one more home game for the man the all held in such high regard -- against the team that had been nemesis for the better part of the past 5 years.
Everything was in place, but someone forgot to clue Beanie in on the script.
On a cold and rainy day in which Boeckman looked as if he couldn't hit the broad side of Mark Mangino, Tressel turned the offense over to his stud tailback. The sophomore responded by rushing 39 times for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns to power the Buckeyes to a 14-3 victory and one final goodbye kiss for Lloyd. No Buckeye back had ever gone for as much against the Wolverines.
During a three hour span, Wells put his team back into the running for the national title, etched his name into school lore and into the hearts of Buckeye fans everywhere.
Week 16's Buckeye NFLer goes out to Mike Vrabel of the New England Patriots. Vrabel helped the Patriots take out the Miami Dolphins 28-7 in Foxboro this past weekend. This is Mike's 2nd Buckeye NFLer award this year.
Vrabel finished the day with 5 tackles (4 solo) and 2 sacks against Miami. So far in 2007, Vrabel has 74 tackles and has 12.5 sacks. Vrab's sack total ties him for 6th place in the NFL and is also a career high. These totals have helped Mike earn his first trip to Honolulu to play in this season's Pro Bowl. Congrats, Mike!
The Patriots are now 15-0. Only the N.Y. Giants stand in their way to a perfect regular season. After the Giants, there are a handful of other playoff-bound teams in the NFL who could possibly end the Pats' quest for a perfect 2007. But so far, the Pats are keeping the Korbel on ice for Nick Buoniconti, Bob Griese, and pals.
Being a passionate fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers (who could possibly face the Pats in the playoffs), I want to be a hater of the Pats. But because of Vrabel, I can't possibly hate on the Pats...at least totally hate on the Pats(cough...jealous...cough). Buckeye Nation should be proud of Mike's accomplishments.
Pryor Earns Top State Honors
In a not so shocking announcement, All-World QB Terrelle Pryor was named Pennsylvania's Class AA Player of the Year after leading his Jeannette squad to 16-0 record and a state title. The 3 time all-state selection accounted for 58 TD's this season bringing his career total to 125 touchdowns. Sick.
Still no word on where he plans to play next season, but at least Buckeye recruit (and early arrival) OL Michael Brewster will get one last crack at persuading Pryor to commit to Columbus. Brewster has long been lobbying undecided blue chippers to join the Buckeyes impressive 2008 incoming class and DeathRattleSports claims Brewster is rooming with Pryor at the upcoming US Army All-American Game. Godspeed, Brewster. Godspeed.
Crater Preparing To Lead Matta's Offense In 2008
Mlive.com caught up with Buckeye signee Noopy Crater producing an excellent piece on Matta's next true point guard. At Matta's (and others) behest, Crater left his hometown of Flint and Southwestern Academy after his junior season in search of a more challenging scene, both academically and on the court, in addition to providing him an environment with no drugs and gun play.
Enter Brewster Academy, a basketball factory in the middle of New Hampshire. Crater is now reaping the benefits of a structured schedule, college prep classes, and the opportunity of playing with and against fellow D-1 recruits in a league that offers a 36 game schedule, before playoffs.
Crater has responded favorably to the increased competition leading Brewster to an 11-1 record averaging 8.5 assists and 9.0 points. He's turning heads with his basketball IQ and ability to find the open man. For icing on the cake, he's also growing tired of his lame nickname "Noopy". Thank God. (HT: Bob Baptist)
Sick Of The Buckeyes?
That's what Matt Tullis of the Columbus Dispatch wants to know. He's looking to interview folks who just can't stand what's been going on in Buckeye land the last six years. I would like to give him benefit of the doubt by assuming he was assigned this piece by his editor, but I can't because if my editor assigned me a story like that, I'd take a dump on his desk on my way to the unemployment line. So, who wants to call this guy and pretend they hate OSU? Wil? Hal3?
The basketball Buckeyes ended a painful 2 game losing streak against the Gators posting a 62-49 blowout victory yesterday in front of a bloodthirsty 19,000+ in The Schott.
As expected, the fanbase had revenge on its mind following the bad memories created last January and April. While I personally don't understand how revenge was exacted, the crowd was at its passionate best in what was a very meaningful game for Matta's young but maturing squad.
It didn't look good early as Florida exploited the baseline, aka the soft spot of the Buckeye zone, for some easy buckets while the Buckeyes were busy missing 8 of their first 9 shots creating a 9-2 deficit at the 14:35 mark. Then, for the second straight game, David Lighty stepped up in the first half to help jump start the Buckeye offense.
Lighty worked a nice give and go with Matt Terwilliger leading to an old fashioned 3 point play before hitting a jumper on the next possesion to cut the lead to 9-7. His inspired play served as the launching point of a 30-13 Buckeye blitzkrieg turning the 9-2 deficit into a 32-22 halftime lead.
Lighty scored all 11 of his points (4/6 FG) in the first half while Jamar Butler and Jon Diebler offered support bagging two threes apiece. Butler's 2nd three of the half gave the Bucks a 32-19 lead with :39 to go but Kosta Koufos once again showed his softness letting Nick Calethes strip him of a rebound and record a put back off a Jai Lucas free throw attempt with :05 left shrinking the lead to 10 at intermission.
Koufos' mistake aside, the Buckeye D was relentless in the opening stanza forcing Florida into 1/10 shooting from downtown while holding the Gators to just 1 FG in the last 9 minutes. The second half proved more of the same as OSU limited Florida to 3/13 from behind the arc with constant pressure on the Florida guards. Unable to generate offense, Florida couldn't cut the lead to under 10 points.
Looking to rebound from a lackluster first half (5 pts, 2/7 FG), Koufos finally got in gear with 12 second half points. The big fella did his damage from the perimeter showing off his smooth stroke hitting jumpers from the top of the key while toughening up defensively on his way to a game high 10 rebounds. I know it seems like I'm hating on the guy, but he better become more willing and able to bang down low or he will continue to fade in and out of games once the conference season begins. As Billy Donovan noted, none of the "big shots" were hit by Koufos, they were hit by the experienced guys like Butler, Lightly, Othello Hunter and Matt Terwilliger.
And how 'bout Terwilliger yesterday? He officially earned his last name back (for now) with a rugged 7 point, 5 rebound, 2 assist and 1 block performance that I still can't believe happened. To his credit, he stepped up defensively in the first half due to Hunter's foul trouble and he scored 5 straight points in the second half including a 3 pointer pushing OSU's lead back to 13 at the 12:59 mark. Terwilliger's effort combined with those of Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale combined to give OSU 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
As for the rest of the starters, Butler shot just 4/12 but again ran the show effectively with 13 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds to support Koufos' double double (17, 12) and Lighty's noted 11 points to go along with 4 assists and 3 boards. Hunter played just 15 minutes due to foul trouble and was a non-factor with 2 points and 2 boards. Freshman Evan Turner (4pt, 4 reb) also saw limited action due to foul trouble and Diebler's effectiveness.
Defensively, the Buckeyes held Florida to just 17% from deep (4/23) as the swarming 3-2 matchup zone combined with the 3/4 court trapping press to take the legs out form under the Gator shooters in addition to forcing 13 turnovers. OSU also won the battle on the boards (34-33).
The victory pushed OSU's win streak to 4 with one game to go before the Big Ten opener. It's been a little rocky, but the 9-3 non-conference record looks pretty good considering the amount of talent turnover from April to now. What do you think..You satisfied with where this team's at?
The Vest was attempting to honor the two Academic All-Americans from last year's squad with a little ride on the private jet and some sweet seats. This occurred nearly 90 days after the guys had played their last game with the university, they had already signed with agents and were no longer considered student athletes at the school.
Sounds reasonable to me.
The NCAA thinks different. This is just another case of the byzantine irregularities that make up the organization's governing rules and ultimately shouldn't amount to much, but opposing fans will certainly have some fun.
Don't you just love the pre-bowl drama that seems to come around every year or so. Things could be worse, I guess.
â€œHeâ€™s a great guy. Heâ€™s really a good, humble human being. You can tell why heâ€™s successful, because heâ€™s so down to earth and you can tell he works hard. Heâ€™s a great talent and I know weâ€™ll have our hands full with him.â€
â€œHeâ€™s a great guy. Heâ€™s real humble, and heâ€™s an awesome player. I admire his game. He comes out and plays hard and heâ€™s very humble about the way he approaches it. I just really enjoy his company. We had a lot of time to talk.â€
Opponent: These definitely are not the same two teams that met in early April to decide the National Title. One starter, Jamar Butler, returns and only 16 of 159 points scored will be participating in this rematch.
Florida is even younger than Ohio State with a roster of no seniors, 7 freshmen, 3 sophomores and 2 juniors. However, Billy Dee has decided to take a different approach in nonconference competition, playing only one significant team, in losing to Florida St.
The Gators come into Columbus averaging 82.6 points per game and only give up 58.8, holding the opposition to 40.4 percent from the field. With all the cupcakes Florida has played this year, it is not a surprise they are shooting almost 52 percent from the floor and over 40 percent from behind the arc.
Florida runs with 9 different players and should bring another trapping defense against Ohio State. It is going to be interesting to see how Florida responds to stiffer competition. Georgia Southern gave them a run for their money last week, squandering a 13 point lead before losing by 3.
Key Players:Nick Calathes (#33 6'6" Fr.) leads this team in scoring (15.8), minutes (31.8) and assists (3.0). Nick is Florida's gunner, shooting from anywhere and attempting 30 more shots than any other teammate, despite having the 2nd worst shooting percentage at 44 percent. He could have a big day if he can slice and shoot through Ohio State's zone.
Marreese Spieghts (#34 6'10" So.) is the only returning Gator who played any time last season against the Buckeyes. Marreese is a big dude and leads the team in rebounding (7.4), FG percentage (64.2) and blocks (19/season). He is going to push Koufos around all day and might have a big game.
The only other Gator in double digits is Chandler Parsons (#25 6'9" Fr.), who is giving Billy 10.6 off the bench. Parson seems to spend most of his time outside, taking almost half of his shots from there (42 of 87). The good news for Thad's boys is he only shoots 33 percent from long range and may chip in with only a few caroms and assists.
Walter Hodge (#15 6'0" Jr.), Jai Lucas (#5 5'11" Fr.) and Dan Werner (#21 6'7" So.) will round out the starting lineup for the Gators. Hodge is another returning reserve player from a year ago and come in scoring 9.8 per game and is second on the team in assists (33), minutes (29.6) and steals (20). Hodge will also take more than half of his shots from behind the arc.
Lucas is the son of former NBA star John Lucas and was one of the most heralded point guards coming out of high school last year. He comes in scoring 9.4 a game and is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 3land. Werner chips in with 7.7 per game and leads the team in boards at 7.5 a game.
Other key reserves will be Adam Allen (#14 6'8" Fr.), Alex Tyus (#23 6'8" Fr.) and Jonathan Mitchell (#0 6'7" So.), who come in scoring 15 points and grabbing over 6 rebounds a game.
Notes: This is Florida's first trip outside their state for a game this season... The Gators are beating their non-competitive opponents by 23.8 points a game... Billy Donovan is 272-104 in his 12th season as coach.
Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State continued their hot shooting in a win over Cleveland St. on Tuesday. Thad's team has now won 3 straight after their brutal stretch of early games. I think this is one of those games where the early competition Ohio State faced is going to help pull out a victory, but of course the Buckeyes must continue their torrid pace.
Ohio State connected on 61 percent of their shots this week (65-106) and 60 percent from downtown (22-37). That extra practice time over the past two weeks has really helped this young team and some players are starting to get more comfortable within the system.
The Buckeyes have raised their season average to 69 points a game and are creeping up on 50 percent shooting, sitting at 46 percent. While Ohio State is not playing the man to man defense I love, this zone has been extremely effective in holding teams to low shooting percentages. Opponents are shooting only 37 percent from the floor and 28 percent from behind the arc, Texas A&M is the only team to make more than half their shots against Ohio State.
One area of continued struggle is rebounding. Ohio State is barely outrebounding their opposition by .5 a game, which has lead to the other teams taking 41 more shots than the Buckeyes this year. Florida's height is scary and their ability to gain the rebounding edge could be detrimental to Ohio State's home effort.
Key Players: Ohio State placed five players in double figures against Cleveland State for only the second time this year, giving a rare glimpse at the balanced scoring potential this team has. All five of those players have managed to average double figures over the last two. As Chris mentioned, David Lighty and John Diebler finally made the team bus and helped pace the Buckeyes to victory. However, I am a bit hesitant to get really excited about their play, until I see the follow up performance against a stiffer test.
D-Light's effort pushed him up to the 10 point a game mark again and he has made 5 of his last 6 threes. He also dished out a career high 8 assists in his home town Tuesday and now ranks second on the team at 3 per game, to go along with 4.4 boards per contest.
Threebler raised his season shooting averages after his 6 of 7 effort against the Vikings. He is now connecting on an astounding 25.5 percent from 3country and 28 percent overall. The young gun from Sandusky hopefully has regained his shooting touch, spending extra time in the gym these past two weeks, relearning how to jump straight up and down on his shot.
The fade-a-way bug must have traveled south with the two freshmen from northern Ohio, as Kosta Koufos continues to lack strength on the interior. "Fade-a-way-K.K." needs to start wearing Grateful Dead tied-eyed tshirts and continually hum the great song "Not Fade Away" in order to get the proper mentality. Don't get me wrong, Koufos is going to be great, but he can not continue to jump back every time he shoots or goes for a board. He has attempted only 2.8 free throws a game, but still leads the team in scoring (15.8) and shooting (53.7 percent).
Othello Hunter has played well lately, combing for 27 points and 11 boards over the last two. I have said all year this guy is key to Ohio State's success, as the Wiggler is not going to contribute anything inside this year. Hunter has to continue his inside presence until Dallas Lauderdale gets more comfortable.
Everyone knows it is going to take an all out team effort to pull off this victory. Florida has tremendous size and if Ohio State gives up offensive rebounds at the pace they have all year, then it is going to lead to another Gator victory and I am tired of seeing those. Evan Turner needs to keep turnovers down and Jamar Butler has to control this team. It is going to be a great college hoops game and hopefully the atmosphere at the Schott will follow suit.
Notes: Ohio State leads the all-time series 5-4... The game is on CBS, with hometown hero Clark Kellog doing color commentary... The game is sold out and Ohio State's next game is Dec. 29th.
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