Salutations Eleven Dubangelenos and good Monday to you. While the suck of the fastest month of the year has all but come and gone, we're just one week from the Big Ten tournament and two from the beginning of that special time of the year. Of course I'm talking about South by Southwest! Or, really, more likely, March Madness. Yeah, let's just go with that.
The NCAA Tournament's second and third rounds (FORMERLY KNOWN AS OPENING WEEKEND *shakes fist at NCAA*) are basically the best 96 hours in sports now that the BCS bowl games are staggered to the point of near anticipation exhaustion. It also doesn't hurt that our very own Buckeyes are all but a virtual certainty to garner a one seed and a fairly charmed path to Houston in early April.
It's been said before and will be hammered home again and again until the good word has been procelytized from the mountain tops to every Buckeye everywhere that we are living in a golden age of Ohio State athletics. Having played in a national title game and been runner up is no sure thing the program will ever come near that standard ever again (just ask Georgia Tech). That being said, I couldn't be prouder to have the guys representing the university that we do and am getting pretty used to being spoiled rotten with the caliber of success both money sports have gotten accustomed to performing at of late. If you're even within a reasonable driving distance, you owe it to yourselfs to enjoy the getting while it's good. Thad Matta may not be going anywhere, but he (and Jim Tressel for that matter) won't be coaching forever.
And the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Goes to... Deshaun Thomas, for his truly black swan performance. Everyone's long since slept on ballerina was long thought to lack the passion necessary to dance the sultry alter ego of the shot friendly white swan part we'd long since grown accustomed to him embracing. But leave it to Thomas, if for but one late afternoon/early evening, he truly dug deep and delivered (near) perfection:
Sunday, he awoke, scoring 14 points in a stretch of 3:35 in the first half after scoring 13 in his previous seven games. Thomas finished with a game-high 22, two short of his career best.
"Every day in practice, coach has been like, 'We need you Deshaun, we need you, this team needs you,'" Thomas said. "So I just came in and kept my head on and worked hard in practice to help my team win ballgames, and today was one of them. I'm proud of myself and proud of my teammates."
Leave it to Coach Matta to figure out exactly which buttons to press in his long considered talented but never actualized from a performance standpoint. Whether you call him The Microwave (has Gus Johnson been reading my twitter?), Ivan Harris 2.0, The Tank, or "Deshaun... NOOOOOOO!", it had to be a welcome change of pace than the tears we'd long since grown accustomed to expecting to result from watching the freshman forward.
For best original score, the winner is... The OSU women's track and field team for putting together the cohesive, social effort necessary to network their way to the top of the podium with their first ever Big Tne Indoor Championships in West Lafayette. All-American Christina Manning led the way winning the conference championship in the 60m hurdles and finishing second in both the 60m and 200m dashes. Credit where credit's due to the men's team as well who finished fifth on the day. Cory Leslie continued to be fast as all get out crossing the finish line in 4:03:59 in the mile to finish fourth in the league. No word at the time of publication on whether the ethereal minimalism of Reznor & Ross scored their successful weekends or not.
And 2010's Best Supporting Actor Is.... Cameron Heyward, for his phenomenal career body of work and the gruleing physical transformation he underwent from his arrival on campus (sitting to my left in the M-W-F Summer segment of Music 252 no less) from 18 year old 4-star recruit to filthy DE/DT hybrid with the unique capacity to dominate from the interior of a 4-3 DL or reak havoc occupying space as a 3-4 DE. As Coach Tressel also said immediately following an absolute clinic of an evening against Arkansas, Cam Heyward is a "special football player but a special person first." D. Orlando Ledbetter's Atlanta Journal Constitution blurb on Cam (and other draft related happenings) are a testament to both that but also the bright future instore for Heyward:
"I want to leave a legacy of my own," said Heyward, who went to Atlanta's Whitfield Academy and Peachtree Ridge High School before attending Ohio State. "I don't want to live in [my father's] shadow."
"I don't know where I'm going to go, but I'm just approaching this with the best attitude," Heyward said. "If I go in the second round, it doesn't matter because it's been a great opportunity and not a lot of people say they can play in the NFL."
All Cam needs now is a gnarly beard a la Christian Bale and his phenomenal success at the next level will certainly be a sure thing. Cam will also have to shake off the inconvnenience of being sidelined post Tommy John surgery, an injury he suffered during that dominant performance against the Razorbacks. While it's to Heyward's credit he won't be getting graded on his four seam fastball, he's still hoping to put on a show for prospective scouts March 30th in Columbus (sans bench presisng which he won't be physically up to at that point in time).
And speaking of Ken Gordon's fine work, the previous article as well as his indispensible twitter account profiled the weekend that Ohio State at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Amongst revelations found there in: Ohio State's starting bookends at corner measured both at 5-11, Brandon Saine put on the jets with a 4.44 40 (amongst the best at the running back position), and wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher put up a 4.55, continuing to epitomize all the annoying white wide receiver stereotypes (sneaky fast y'all! Great route runner.)
And Best Adapted Gaullimaufry goes to... Michigan has to win Ohio if they want to ever win the Border War again. Speaking of Bale, do you like Huey Lewis & The News? Dogs be studying. SCIENCE! Was this what Kirk Douglas saw or what James Franco perceived Douglas saw? And lastly, while I dug Inception, not sure how the sequel is going to go over (BRRAAAAAAAHHHMM).