A Lesson In Trying

By Johnny Ginter on March 14, 2014 at 10:30a

"If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough" is probably more of the more accurate old timey kind of sayings that I can think of. Especially since if you're dumb but not tough, things tend to get exponentially worse for a person in the long run.

Ohio State has been especially dumb in this basketball season. Dumb in turnovers, dumb in shot selection, dumb in fouls, dumb in free throws, and they've occasionally gotten away with it because they've played tough defense and gutted out a few wins (and almost-wins) in the process.

Not yesterday afternoon.

Thad might be a tad mad

The Buckeyes were lethargic against a crappy Purdue team that came into the game losing six games in a row, and 11 of their last 13. Not exactly a squad on the rise, but since this is the same Ohio State team that managed to lose to Penn State twice this season, you'd hope that the Buckeyes would take their first round opponent a little more seriously.

During the game, Ohio State was predictably terrible from beyond the arc, going 1 for 14 and shooting a ridiculously bad 36% from the field overall. This is Thad Matta's worst three point shooting Ohio State team ever, which leads you to wonder why they keep jacking them up until you remember that they have no real inside presence offensively.

Part of that is simply personnel, but when you have 20 offensive rebounds in a game to go along with 10 blocked shots and nine steals, you'd hope that the intensity that you're supposedly kicking up a notch amounts to more than a three point win over a team that's had two of those in the last two months.

This interview from ESPN with Lenzelle Smith kind of summed things up:

"I'm not happy with the way we played today. We didn't come to play basketball. We didn't have the energy, the intensity, or the juice that we needed to win at this time of year. Luckily I think that we kind of got by today, but that's the name of the game ..."

All of this is a completely accurate summary from probably the best interviewee on the team, but you almost want to see the senior a little more angry. "Getting by" in March is one of the greatest sins that a basketball team can commit, and if Ohio State wants to make any noise at all, they're going to have to change their attitude. Quickly.

To make a further point, one thing that I've noticed is that sports fans, particularly Midwest sports fans, can abide a lot. Imperfections actually make players and teams more endearing, because then we can trick ourselves into thinking that elite level athletes are "like us" in more than just the sense that they're carbon based lifeforms that breathe oxygen and require water to survive.

But one thing that we really, really, REALLY hate is laziness. If you're bad at something, cool. Be bad, try to get better. But if the sum total of your abilities isn't reflective of the product that you're showing us, God help you if you're playing on your home court/field/arena/whatever, because you will get the booing of a lifetime with nothing to succor you but your massive talent, fame, and/or fortune.

Ohio State plays the Nebraska Cornhuskers today at 2 pm. They are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, having won 11 of their last 14 games and coming off an upset of Wisconsin where they took apart the Badgers in the second half and had two players who scored 26 points.

The Cornhuskers are playing for a potential NCAA berth, and if they're lucky, a shot at a Big Ten tourney championship, which would've been absolutely unthinkable at the beginning of the season. They are motivated and have all the momentum in the world on their side.

Ohio State, despite the talent disparity (maybe?) and the better tournament chances, appear to have neither motivation nor momentum. If they can wake up and get it back, the other teams in the Big Ten need to be on notice for the rest of the weekend. If not, it's time to look at what a loss in the second round will do to our NCAA seeding.


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Breakawayspeed's picture

So....your not enjoying this "up & down" season?

Nashville Buckeye's picture

All year, I have watched too many games where the effort just didn't seem to be there. 

Yesterday, I think everyone can agree that we played like crap, but the EFFORT was there.  Everyone has off nights and maybe this team doesn't have a go-to scorer or a pure shooter, but a lot of times effort is what can propel a team to greatness.  No team can play well every night, but every player on the team can give max effort.  In the end, that's all you can ask for our of these guys.

Let's keep it rolling vs Nebraska today.  Go Bucks!


Horvath22's picture

Fundamentals are lacking.

arthur dent's picture

Looking forward to the game this afternoon. Which station will it be on, ESPN or the BigTen Network like yesterday?

ibuck's picture

If only OSU's off-nights were infrequent, or rare. Instead it's the on-nights that are rare. In shooting, that is.

I think this team has too many players who are willing to let their teammate do it, at least on offense. And this season succeeds several other seasons where they let someone else do it on offense, where that someone is Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, or LaQuinton Ross.

And it seems this also shows up in rebounding, getting back in transition defense, or helping out on defense. 

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Nutinpa's picture

Talent disparity?  Yes, you were right to qualify it with a "maybe"....because that is what it is.  With regard to this year's B-Ball team, it is hard to assume this team has a talent advantage when not a single starter was a 1st Team all B1G performer......  (Aaron Craft's D player of the year and Academic AA duly noted and appreciated).  

Considering this team really has nobody opposing coaches need to game plan around, possible exception of Q.. it is hard to fathom a "talent disparity" against Nebraska or just about anybody else (2 losses to Penn State are a reminder) when you look this team's lack of a legit scoring threat from the perimeter or inside the paint. 


CGroverL's picture

I agree totally with the article as well as the comment about "effort". These guys as a team have no shooting range, cannot make free throws, and have scoring lapses that last 4+ minutes quite often. They keep the score low and outplay their opponents by playing defense. These guys are the college version of those New York Knick teams led by Pat Ewing and Charles Oakley. We are all a bit disappointed but we all need to realize that the Buckeyes played a regular season that made them a lock for the tourney...and once in the tourney, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

The only real complaint I have with this squad is that I believe this was the year to have a 9 man rotation of players as Matta keeps with his 7 man TOPS rotation year after year. This was a year to try hard to get the bench involved. After all, the starters aren't exactly the caliber of starters we have seen in the past. Go Buckeyes...Beat Nebraska!

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



Seattle Linga's picture

Johnny - nice article - So glad they played well after being down by 18 in the 2nd half.