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Survival and Extinction

Turner_Big10_Champs

Should he stay, or go?  April 12th and we find out.  (image: Eleven Warriors)

One of the channels that I spend a fair amount of time watching outside sports is the Discovery Channel  – and one of the shows that I have been sucked into is Life, even to the point that wife even watches it with me.  One of the things about it that has been so amazing is how much survival plays into the everyday ongoings for basically all living things out there.  Much of this is analogous to the NCAA Basketball Tournament – it is not necessarily who looks the best on paper, who has the bigger stars, who has more history, tradition, a tougher conference or anything – only the fact that on that given game night the teams are playing to survive and advance – they do not want their tournament life to end.  It is all about survival – and in the end of the winner take all system – only one will survive.  For the others it is extinction – and unfortunately those among the extinct this year were both the men’s and women’s Buckeye teams.
Before I get into the demise of both teams I first want to say that the whole tournament is awesome, you have to think at some point we will have at least a plus one or plus two setup for football after the bowl season.  Aside from the fact that is the most legitimate way to determine a national champ it does provide for some crazy drama too anytime a Cinderella is making a run.  I mean when that little Frodo looking guy from Northern Iowa bombed that three to seal the upset it was enough to make me chub up.  You have to wonder what it would be like for something like that to happen in football – it would be like when App State upset TSUN combined with Boise State doing the statue of liberty to take down the Sooners on steroids.  What is even more insane is that even though they shoot down the idea of a playoff in football they are thinking about expanding the big dance to 96 teams!  Fing nuts.
As for the teams the last games of both are disappointing for different reasons.  With the ladies it is just another year where a Foster team has not lived up to the potential.  It is becoming pretty standard to have a really strong Lady Buck team with incredible individuals garnering national praise basically all season long, that rolls through a season and ends up Big Ten champs – only to seemingly lose all momentum in the tournament and eventually fall apart in the second round getting knocked out by a lower seed and what appears to be a weaker team.  It is getting to the point where Foster is taking heat from the Buckeye Nation about it – which is understandable – considering that we are talking about a team that ends up with single digit losses but is out in the Sweet Sixteen.  He consistently has players that end up first team Big Ten and even All American like Jantel Lavender did this year – so why are these teams not able to seal the deal?  It is weird because even the players end up saying things like they got out worked, or that they didn’t play like themselves – strange that you would think by the end of the season they would know how to prepare and also know that they were playing for survival – so how do you get outworked?  The only reason that I can see giving them somewhat of a reprieve this year is that Mississippi State was beaten pretty badly by the Lady Bucks before so the matchup became a payback opportunity for Miss State.  And payback is a……well you know.

For the men it is a disappointing end in a completely different way.  This team really did not have the same type of season.  I for one did not see this team being as good as they were this year – I did not see a conference championship on the horizon in December even before Turner went down.   After he went down I really wasn’t sure what to expect – but they held serve and the Villian ended up being back way sooner than I thought he would be and his level of play really did not drop off much at all.  Then there was the questionable rotation of Matta only playing six players for the entire season that ended up working most of the time.  So really this season could be looked at as somewhat of a surprise – but the way it ended can only be described as disappointing because the Vols were a good team yes, but the Buckeyes really should have won that game.  Granted Chism and the other Tennessee bigs were going to have their way with Lauderdale and Madsen – that was no surprise – but the fact that late in the game there was no semblance of organized offense whatsoever is inexcusable.  Too many times our answer to a thunderous dunk was to run down the floor and launch a three with over 15 seconds on the shot clock.  It didn’t help to have Lighty in foul trouble most of the game and that Diebler picked the Sweet Sixteen to disappear offensively.  But where was Matta?  I really like the guy but have got to question why a timeout wasn’t called and some plays drawn up to stop the bleeding.  Instead we were left with hoping that Turner could save the day but unfortunately the Villian could not be the hero this time.
Overall it was a good season – with Turner ending up an All American and as of today the Player of the Year (not even close getting 54 of 65 votes) – it is tough to imagine him coming back.  But we really won’t know for sure until April 12th when he says he will announce.  We can also take comfort in knowing that three of the final four teams we played this year (Butler, Sparty, WVU) – some pretty good company if you think about it.  Then there is the fact that we have Sullinger coming in next season, along with fellow McDonalds All American DeShaun Thomas – it makes for a good looking team poised to make a run next year.  As always – hope for the Buckeyes always springs eternal.
In the meantime we can all focus on football which started practice yesterday while enjoying some brew truly for the Scarlet and Gray at Heart – Oval Brewing Company.  (I have to get some of this stuff).