Wow. This coaching staff is truly ridiculous at recruiting.
I'll take Christians first. Kirk and Wilkins, that is.
Kirk, by far, is the most dynamic player on offense in the country. He can be what Curtis Samuel was, but is also an immediate threat on kick/punt return and as a deep threat at receiver. OSU's defense will be fine, even with a brand new secondary. Against the best of the best, this OSU team needs someone who can be a threat over the top, or anytime he touches the ball. Kirk is that guy.
Wilkins is a dominant defensive lineman. You can line him up at end or tackle, and he's an elite pass rusher. OSU is stacked already on the d-line, but if you can put him on the same line as Lewis, Hubbard, Bosa, Jones, Holmes, et al, I just don't know how any college offense is going to operate against that front.
The only other players I see as substantial upgrades over what OSU has would be at OT. McGlinchey, Hyatt, and others would make an instant impact at either left or right tackle, and would solidify the o-line.
Burrow will be a RS Soph in 2017, and Haskins a RS Frosh. I was/am as big of a Dwayne Haskins fan as anyone, and when he decided to flip to the Buckeyes I was ecstatic. With that said, every time we've seen Burrow in action, he's been impressive. And he gets more and more impressive each time. Whether it is garbage time, the spring game, or hearing what his teammates say about him in practice, there is something special about Joe Burrow.
Now.. in 2018, who's to say Joe cannot put up big-time numbers and leave after starting just one year? Mitch Trubisky did it, and he couldn't beat out Marquise Williams, who was a good college QB but went undrafted. Sound familiar?
I think Joe Burrow is the guy for 2018, and I'm not so sure that means Dwayne Haskins transfers. If Burrow performs like I think he would as a starter and leaves early, Haskins would still have 1-2 years to start as well.
Believe it or not, but Thompson has developed greatly while at Ohio State. If he doesn't get the feedback he wants from the NBA, why would he not return and develop some more?
Many, myself included, have been critical of the overall lack of development in this program over the past 3-4 years. When the shoe is on the other foot, I think it is fair that we point out how much this staff has helped Trevor become a better player over the past 3 years. If not for his penchant for silly fouls, he would have/could have been a 2nd-team All Conference player, in my opinion.
"(Woodard) is the teammate of five-star cornerback target Anthony Cook, a presumed Ohio State lean, who is expected to attend the Spring Game next weekend."
Whoa - when did I miss this? Anthony Cook is an OSU lean?! That would be a HUGE get.
SKK, Yedlin is out with a thigh injury at the moment.
The more I think of it, the more I agree with you on the back line. Honestly, I think I'm too used to JK's philosophy of completely changing the team's identify from game to game. My one main concern would be keeping Omar in there due to his penchant for AWFUL giveaways in the back, but his size on set pieces are hard to replace.
I don't know if Dempsey starts due to lingering effects of his time off. I wonder what type of fitness level he has. If he does start, I'd say any concern whatsoever is gone, which would be tremendous for both him and the team. Agreed on Jozy as the lone striker, but in my lineup without Dempsey, there is really no replacement. You cannot put Wondo in there. Like I said, hopefully Clint is good and he's ready to play 90 once again.
Looking at this roster, it's amazing how many injuries there are at the moment. Wood, Johnson, Brooks, Yedlin, Morris. You have 4-5 main contributors who cannot go.
So with the injuries to Brooks/Lletget, Jermaine Jones now being available, and concerns (mine) over whether or not Dempsey can/should start again tonight, what are everyone's thoughts on the lineup choice against Panama?
I'm legitimately excited to see what Arena decides to do. Does he go more defensive, basically swapping out a creative attacker (Dempsey) for a midfield destroyer (Jones)? That would likely mean putting Altidore up top on an island again, which we know tends to not work. Does he move Pulisic out wide? What does he do in the back with Cameron a little nicked up and Brooks out?
Just a complete guess, but I think Bruce takes a more pragmatic approach at the start with a 4-5-1, and goes back to many of the experienced "old faithfuls":
D: Zusi, Cameron, Besler, Beasley
M: Bradley, Jones, Bedoya, Pulisic, Nagbe
Omar Gonzalez did not look great against Honduras, and I trust Cameron much more in the middle. That leaves the only right back choice to be Zusi, who is an experienced CONCACAF player. Same goes with Beasley over Villafana - Bruce trusts Beasley in a spot like this, but Villafana played well against Honduras. As far as the replacement for Brooks, it could be Ream, but Besler has been in these spots more often.
In the midfield, I see Jones and Bradley teaming up at CDM, with Pulisic above them to create. The CDM pairing hasn't always worked, but I think that was mostly due to Jurgen flip-flopping their roles - Bradley needs to stay put and allow Jermaine to bomb forward, like he loves to do. Bedoya can do the dirty work to slow down the Panama attack, while I see Pulisic and Nagbe as the creators in this formation. That leaves Altidore up top as the target man.
As the game progresses, especially if a goal is needed, I would be shocked if Dempsey does not make an appearance. He would likely replace Bedoya, shifting formationally back to a 4-4-2.
It's a valid concern and something many are using to try and pump the brakes on the Pulisic hype-train... but Christian has already done things at levels Freddy Adu never even came close to touching. Adu was an international youth tournament sensation, but he never showed an ability to do things at the club level that Pulisic has already shown. And that was in the MLS, as opposed to the Bundesliga.
Pulisic trains with international stars at Dortmund. He is challenged every day, and must fight and claw for his spot every day in practice. Even with all the praises being heaped upon him, at Dortmund he must still perform otherwise find himself on the bench or relegated to reserve games. As long as he stays in an environment like this, I see nothing that will slow down his development.
That through ball to Dempsey was absolutely world-class. For anyone who has ever played soccer at a (relatively) high level, you know how difficult it is to get that pass to Dempsey's foot, let alone putting it perfectly in his path in a place that completely unlocks the defense.
In other words, no one on earth could have placed it with that pace any better than Pulisic did. And it is not an anomaly either - he does these things weekly for Dortmund against the highest level competition.
Just my opinion, but I think Horvath has the potential to be Howard's replacement. Depending on how Guzan performs over the next year or so, he may be the fill-in top choice keeper for a year or so after Howard formally retires from international play (similar to what we saw during Howard's break last year ). But Horvath is getting the most top-level experience of any US goalkeeper currently.
Can't rule Steffen out, though. Hopefully both stay healthy and continue to perform well so the US has multiple choices in goal.
Completely agree, and I think this is where Bruce Arena will show the most improvement over Jurgen Klinsmann - he will put players in their most natural positions and allow them to succeed rather than mixing and matching guys to fit a system he wants to employ.
Fabian Johnson, Nagbe, Pulisic, Bradley, Cameron, Brooks, Wood, Altidore - all can be very good international players when they are allowed to play where they are most comfortable, and when they are surrounded by other players who are in their natural positions. Jurgen, far too often, would build a team around an idea or a need (Bradley as a #10, Jozy as a lone target, Fabian Johnson as a LB) and it led to multiply players being out of position and uncomfortable. Throw in the fact no one knew their specific role or team tactics, and it turned into an utter mess.
You can be sure Bruce will NEVER trot out a team that is disorganized. Pairing that fact with some really good talent on this team, and the USMNT can make noise if given the opportunity.
Your first two mentions are the things I've noticed can really hamper this team. They have just as much talent as ND (or almost anyone else in the country) and play a fun, free-wheeling style. The problem is knowing when and when not to take an unnecessary risk with the ball, and what is a "good" shot.
Kelsey Mitchell will need to be the conductor for this team to get where they want to go, and much of that depends on her shot selection. It's hard to discourage her from shooting every time she gets the ball because of how hot she can get, but making good decisions on when to hoist three's or getting the ball down low to the post/driving to the basket in the end will determine the outcome. Hoping for a Lady Bucks victory tonight!
Your list here is much more realistic than Brad Stevens, mentioned earlier.
Wojo, Chris Holtmann, Chris Collins, Chris Mack (who I don't see leaving his alma mater), Will Wade, Pat Kelsey.. all could be potential candidates. Wade and Kelsey would be based more the young up-and-comer type of hire.
Archie will likely be gone. Very possible that Gregg Marshall will as well. Many high profile jobs are coming open so OSU will have their hands full competing to get the best man for the job.
Brad Stevens will not come back from the NBA to coach at Ohio State. That is about as big of a pipe dream as there is.
IF Stevens comes back to college (which he won't) it will be to coach at Indiana, or for a job at Duke, Kansas, UNC, or Kentucky.
I think it is laughable that one could think Buckeye fans would "love to see him fail." Yes, you are going to have your outliers and crazies in every crowd, but I would not consider those true Buckeye fans.
Do you know how many Buckeye fans became Cowboy fans this year, just because of Zeke? Do you know how many little Buckeye fans have new Ezekiel Elliott Cowboy jerseys? Buckeye fans LOVE to see former players succeed, and HATE to see them fail.
The sad thing is I have to turn off the TV now for my kids when news of Zeke comes up on ESPN...
Makes you wonder...
Remember how everyone "loved" how Stacy stood up for Zeke publicly after the domestic assault allegations? Remember how his iron-fisted denial of wrongdoing by his son was taken as a strong indication the allegations were all a fabrication?
I'm not saying.. I'm just saying. As a Buckeye fan I've been plenty guilty of seeing "the good" in a current/former Buckeye when their actions or supposed indiscretions may not have warranted it. However, there comes a point where one's character is tied to their actions. Zeke is 21, and has a lot of living and learning to do, but he's hurting himself and many of those around him by his childish antics. At some point he, and his inner circle, will have to come to terms with that.
In all due respect, Thad Matta is coming back next year. Is Tim supposed to write an article calling for Thad's job? Of course not - instead he's written his ideas for what ails this team/program and what likely needs to change in order to turn this thing around.
Your point (that these are things Thad likely will not do and next season will be as bad or worse than this season) just goes to show that, barring an otherwise unforeseen chain of events, this is probably the last season of Thad Matta's reign at Ohio State.
Agree with Ohio's Praise - and the crazy thing is Matta has not had more elite PG recruits beating down his door for their chance to run his team.
Mike Conley - #4 overall pick
Evan Turner - #2 overall pick
D'Angelo Russell - #2 overall pick
I've written this before on this site, but if you are an elite high school PG, Matta's system is built for you to be a star. He puts the ball in his star guard's hands and allows him to go do his thing. Other than Kentucky lately, there is not another offensive system in college that allows a PG to showcase himself better than Thad Matta's system.
The issue is not just attendance. Yes, overall attendance at OSU games fares pretty well nationally. Or at least it did up until this past season. However, how often does the crowd give the players a jolt of energy? How often do you even see a majority of fans stand up in their seats to applaud or to get loud for a big defensive possession? Compare that to Wisconsin, MSU, Purdue, Indiana, or (yikes) Nebraska..
Another thing, (and this just reinforces my thoughts on fans who expect OSU to compete for a national title and on the same level as the football program every year are unrealistic) is the attendance at non-conference games against pushover teams. I'm not absolving the athletic department here, because the prices for those games are outrageous, but why are there less than 10,000 fans at OSU's home opener? Why does the Schott barely break 11K against Wisconsin? If it was football, every game would be packed, especially conference games. There was ONE game this season where the Schott was packed and the crowd was buzzing.. against MSU. OSU played their best basketball to date in that game.
I'm with you - this team is brutal to watch. There were times I wanted to turn my head so I didn't have to see the same mistakes game after game. But, if the fans want OSU basketball to be equivalent to OSU football and expect the same results, they need to give the basketball team the same support.
Those three players were not really national-level recruits. LeVert was a very late bloomer who was an Ohio U commit until Michigan threw a late offer. Burke blew up very late in the game, but OSU already had Shannon Scott signed and AC on the roster. Otherwise he was PSU bound. Xavier, of the 3, was probably the most highly sought after recruit. It does baffle me why Thad didn't go after him, since for years he produced as one of the better players nationally at PG for his age in AAU and camp settings. The issue with him was he was still 5'8 or something as a sophomore in HS, and OSU already had diminutive AJ Harris lined up to be on the team.
The entire situation is sad, considering where this program was 5 years ago, and in all honesty, I think all sides and interested parties have failed:
1) Coaching Staff: Development has been poor, in-game adjustments are non-existent, recruiting has fallen off sharply, and on we go...
2) Players: Consistency, attention to detail, effort and intensity, enthusiasm.. where is it? It has not been seen, consistently, within this program in years.
3) Strength & Conditioning: Even back when OSU was sending players to the NBA, the body fat % was consistently higher in Buckeye players at the combine compared to other top programs, and that included players who I would consider relatively "thin" like DT, Ross, etc. This team gets pushed around, is not as quick as their opponent, and generally just not as explosive as other teams.
4) Athletic Department: I'm talking about the home venue. Value City Arena is not a premium place to watch a game, and the atmosphere is awful. Part of that is based on the department's disregard for pricing of basketball games, and placement of fans with seating. Who wants to pay $35 per person to watch the Buckeyes play UNC-Asheville in late December, and sit up in the top section? It's ridiculous.
5) The Fans: Yes, even the fans have failed. The support of this program is so fickle - the home attendance this season was atrocious. Everyone wants to point at the OSU brand as the reason for why this team/program should be a top 15-20 team every season, yet the attendance completely fails to correlate. And not just the attendance, but the fan involvement and energy created while at the game. There is no home court advantage. And yes, much of this is chicken or the egg - which comes first? You have seating that is too expensive, a team that is not producing, and fans that don't get involved or loud unless something really good happens.
I don't know the answer, and since the program remains the same for another year, maybe the first step is Gene Smith realizing a good crowd can help provide the team a little extra pep in their step. Maybe Thad finally shakes up his coaching staff this offseason, seeing that all of these assistants will be out of a job after one more season like this. Maybe Tate/KBD/Thompson (if he stays) take on an increased leadership role and this team bands together like we haven't seen in a few years. Either way, something has to change because the personnel is not changing for next year.
Will Funderburk help this team next season? Has he made progress or impressed this season behind the scenes? He seems like a dynamic athlete that can help on both ends of the court, but if he didn't get time this season on this team...
From whatever sources you may have, what is the team dynamic/culture really like on this basketball team? There is no energy, little enthusiasm, and a lot of sniping at each other on the court. Players/coaches talk a good game about the team getting along, being close, etc., but evidence on the court shows otherwise.
Were last year's transfers really the "problem," or is there more to the story that has overlapped from year to year?
Sadly, I have come to agree with your opinion. The Ohio State basketball culture that was so prevalent during Thad Matta's first 8-9 years saw its last dying breath with the graduation of Aaron Craft. The class of 2010 was so good and filled with great players/leaders. From that point on, all that made up the Buckeye basketball "way" has slowly evaporated.
It started with an under-performing 2011 class, and from that point on a combination of huge misses, bad attitudes, several decent supporting players, and one 5-star player that ended up being "too good" too quickly.
There is no "OSU basketball culture" to even pass down, because no one left has personal experience to share.