Around The Oval

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Prahalis will lead OSU into the B1G Tourney

Ohio State operates the NCAA's second-largest athletic department. Eleven Warriors is committed to keeping you informed of what's happening with those sports that make Ohio State athletics more than just football and basketball. Around the Oval will be your bi-weekly update on these teams.

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, I'm so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside.

It's another installment of "Around The Oval" here at 11W, and it's been another crazy week of Buckeye athletics from the bi-polar men's basketball team on down. It seems that nothing is as easy as it was in November for any of the OSU sports teams, as B1G play has put a serious damper in what looked like it could be a special year for a number of the Buckeye programs.

There was a time earlier in this sports season that saw nine different Buckeye squads in the Top 10 of their respective sport, but the glory days of Buckeye domination across the winter sports landscape have all but gotten on the bus and headed out of town.

Not all of that glory has faded for the Buckeyes though, as yesterday it was announced that for the eighth straight season the Women's Basketball Big Ten Player of the Year Award will make its way to Columbus. This time Buckeye point guard Sammy Prahalis is carrying the hardware, following Jantel Lavendar (four-time winner) and Jessica Davenport (three-time winner) on this incredible OSU run. 

Prahalis leads the Big Ten in scoring at 22.5 per conference game and assists at 6.5 for the season, but it's the intangibles that she brings to the court each game that really define her. She is a dynamite free-throw shooter (can we please shave her head and call her a walk-on for the fellas as March comes around??), and is three assists away from becoming the conference's all-time leader in helpers, which she'll surely surpass in the Buckeyes first B1G tournament game against the winner of Illinois/TTUN. Unless, of course, she decides to drop another 42 point game on someone's head.

Sammy was joined on the All-Conference team by her backcourt cohort, Tayler Hill, a junior guard who is the best candidate to bring home the ninth straight player of the year award next February. Hill led the conference in scoring on the entire year (Prahalis' 22.5 was in conference games only, Sammy had 20.4 on the year), and was also named to the All-Defensive team. The All-Defensive team was headlined by another Buckeye, Amber Stokes, who was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

Ohio State's head women's coach, Jim Foster, has taken a lot of heat over the years as the Buckeyes, who have dominated the B1G in his tenure, have repeatedly come up short against the nation's elite. Many have questioned whether or not OSU should look elsewhere and try to find a coach who can do it "better" than Foster has; a debate that is both silly and insulting. 

Foster has made the Buckeyes into a perennial Big Ten champion, has the team performing among the nation's elite in the classroom and has produced 8 B1G PotY awards in his 10 years in Columbus. Will the Buckeyes ever win a national title? Who knows, but the point is produce winners on and off the court, and Foster has done that about as well as anyone could have hoped. 

Hey, HEY, hockey frown

One of the biggest perpetrators of misleading joy this year, the Buckeye men's hockey team saw their regular season finally come to a much needed end this past weekend in Oxford and Columbus against the in-state rival Miami Redhawks. 

The Buckeyes, who had peaked at #2 in the national polls this year after a blazing start that saw them sitting perched above the CCHA at 15-4-1 when the ball fell on 2011, sat at #17 when they made the trip to Miami for the first game in this home-and-home weekend soiree.

Heading into the weekend, the Buckeyes had won only 1 of their previous 11 skates, and saw their record slide to 15-11-5. Wins against the Redhawks could go a long way towards helping create some confidence with the CCHA Tournament starting this upcoming weekend. 

Unfortunately for Ohio State, that was not in the cards, and they fell to Miami Friday and Saturday night, 3-0 and 5-1 and saw their once very promising season to come a much needed conclusion.

Ohio State must now try to do the impossible and erase the last two months of hockey as they prepare for their second trip to Notre Dame this year, this time in play-off action.

Buckeye head coach Mark Osiecki put the mission simply:

It’s a new season -- wipe the slate clean.

Whether or not this team of youngsters has the mental toughness to do that will ultimately decide if the group from the season's first-half or second-half show up in South Bend. 

DEZSE NUTS again, but buckeyes get wrecked by georgia tech

After starting their season with two wins in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge last week in Florida, the Buckeye baseball team headed back south, where they would be taking on the 10th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a three-game series against one of the ACC's best. 

The Buckeyes, who got the best of UConn and Seton Hall last weekend would get a good early season test against one of the nation's best; and it didn't take long for the Jackets to remind the Buckeyes of that as the series got underway.

In the series opener, the Ramblin' Wreck put up nine runs in the second, third and fourth innings on their way to a 12-4 win to withstand a Buckeye record-tying power explosion by first-basemen Josh Dezse. Dezse hit three solo homeruns for the Buckeyes, matching the school record last accomplished by Chad Ehrnsberger in 1998 against Indiana. 

Besides the effort by Dezse, the Buckeyes struggled mightily to get much working in any facet of the game, as they were only able to muster six hits while the pitching staff surrendered 15 to along with 6 walks in the disappointing series opener.

Game two saw a better Buckeye team, mostly because emerging ace Brian King was on the bump giving Georgia Tech fits. King gave up three hits and one run in five innings and left the game with a 6-1 lead when he was replaced by Jaron Long. Long went the rest of the way, allowing four hits in four innings, picking up his first save of the year as Ohio State evened the series at one game a piece, winning 7-3

Sunday's rubber match would feel a lot more like Friday than Saturday, unfortunately for Ohio State. Once again GT got out of the box quickly, putting three on the board in the bottom-half of the first and third innings and taking a 7-1 lead before knocking out OSU starter Greg Greve in the fourth inning. A six-run fifth inning would push that advantage to 13-1, and obviously that would be enough to claim the victory and the series for Georgia Tech. A 13-4 final score would send the Buckeyes back to Columbus at 3-3 on the year.

Ohio State will be in Florida once more this upcoming weekend, where they will take on a TTUN, Western Michigan and Villanova in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte

Buckeye Bits

Sophomore tennis sensation Blaz Rola was named the Big Ten's Athlete of the Week after his impressive run at last week's ITA Indoors Championship.

The eighth-ranked men's volleyball team split their weekend trip to Illinois, dropping a meeting against Lewis 3-1, and rebounding with a sweep against Loyola-Chicago

Men's tennis continued their home dominance, winning their 136th and 137th straight in on the home-court, knocking off #7 Kentucky 4-0 and #17 North Carolina 6-1 over the weekend. 

Fifth-seeded women's hockey saw their season come to an end following consecutive one goal losses at Minnesota-Duluth this past weekend, 4-3 and 3-2. They finished their season 16-16-4.


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