‘We've Just Got to Keep Playing’: After 0–3 Big Ten Start, Ohio State Hoping Power of Positivity Can Spark Turnaround

By Tim Shoemaker on January 11, 2017 at 5:07 pm
Ohio State guard Kam Williams meets with the media.

There was a common phrase uttered Wednesday by Kam Williams when Ohio State’s redshirt junior shooting guard met with the media to preview his team’s upcoming game at Wisconsin. Six words were repeated that helped express Williams’ — and the Buckeyes’ — current state of mind.

“We’ve just got to keep playing.”

For the first time under Thad Matta, Ohio State is 0–3 to start the Big Ten season. With a matchup at No. 18 Wisconsin looming Thursday, an 0–4 start is certainly on the table.

Yet through all of the struggles, the Buckeyes are doing everything they possibly can to remain positive.

“There’s a lot of season left,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to keep playing, keep fighting and not lose belief in each other.”

This isn’t easy, of course. Players want to win. Coaches do, too. But Ohio State is in the middle of a somewhat downward spiral that has lasted more than just this season.

After missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008 last year, the Buckeyes were supposed to be improved this season with their core returning. The team may be actually be playing better on the floor, but the results certainly aren’t showing it.

So while it may seem like it’d be difficult for Ohio State to remain positive throughout it all, the Buckeyes actually say it’s the opposite.

“We know we haven’t been playing our best basketball so we’ve just got to keep fighting,” Williams said. “Having a positive mindset can contribute to a lot of things and not just on the basketball court but in life in general. I feel like when you have a positive mindset it opens your mind to new things.”

“So just keep having that positive attitude, keep attacking. … We know the code is eventually going to get cracked because as I said before, it’s not like we’re playing 40 minutes of bad basketball. We have bad stretches but we also have good stretches and just, unfortunately, the bad stretches are outweighing the good stretches.”

Ohio State has been in every game it’s played so far in the Big Ten, but the Buckeyes dug themselves in holes that were simply too big to overcome in all three of those contests.

If Ohio State can figure those out, the thinking is that a turnaround is possible.

“We’ve got [15] Big Ten games left, Matta said. “We’ve shown in all three Big Ten games, we’ve shown throughout the course of the early season, that we’ve played very solid basketball. Just some of the mental errors and things, we’ve got to get those corrected and we can’t make.”

The unfortunate thing for the Buckeyes is there isn't much margin for error anymore. Thursday’s matchup with the Badgers will be as tough a game as they play the rest of the season and things aren’t that much easier after that as Ohio State hosts Michigan State on Sunday.

Times are tough right now for the Buckeyes. They’re not winning. Fans are rightfully unhappy with the way the last few years have gone. Interest seems to be at an all-time low under Matta.

Through all of the struggles, though, Ohio State is still relying on the power of positivity to try and spark a turnaround.

“It’s not like we come back in the locker room and it’s like, ‘Damn, we suck,’” Williams said. “That’s not the mindset at all.”

Ohio State is just going to keep on playing.

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