Party in the O-S-U. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
It has been a while since I have blogged anything which has felt weird and is funny considering the awesomeness level of the Buckeye hoops season. I mean we had a 24 game undefeated streak, witnessed the domination of Sullinger and the emergence of Craft, Diebler is a three away from breaking the Big Ten all time record for career threes, Buford, Lighty and Lauderdale have all been having great years, even Thomas has shown up and contributed in between his off target bombs, and who can ignore the entertainment value of stuff like this, this and of course this. This team is very well balanced in the seven players that actually play and look very much poised to make a run in the tournament.
Sure last weekend hurt with the collapse at the Kohl Center against Wisconsin to knock us out of the undefeated category and off the #1 ranking. But seriously going undefeated was incredibly unlikely (Indiana was last to do it 30 years ago) especially considering that we would be coming up against teams like Wisconsin, on the road in an arena where they win 98% of the time. Not an easy task and it took #11 Taylor turning into a flamethrower from being the arc to get them back in the game and a miracle three from the carrot top ginger dude to end it. And we only lost by 4. The worst thing about the entire process was all the video montage crap about being #1 in 1950 and Wisconsin knocking us off and in football being #1 until we came to Camp Randall. Seriously spare me – let’s talk about that shotgun formation pass against TCU and how awesome that worked. We will see them at the end of the season on March 6th and in the Big Ten tourney. You know Sully will be ready for them considering the fuel to the fire was added when Badger fans spit on him. Stay classy Grateful Red.
It felt good to see them get back to the winning ways with a the victory over Sparty at home on Tuesday, but it was far from as dominating as a performance as we have sometimes enjoyed this season. Granted Kalin Lucas definitely looked like he was back to form, the team played scrappy and Izzo has figured out the roll Craft with Sullinger’s man creates some easy buckets play that we need to figure out defensively – so it was no gimme game to begin with. But I can’t imagine any easier task awaits us as we head to West Lafayette to take on a Boilermaker team we completely embarrassed when they came to the Schott. One of the coolest parts about college hoops (as well as football) is the distinctive advantage playing at home brings to a team. So going to their house to play a team with payback on their mind will be more than a tough test.
I would love to give some in depth breakdown about how the matchups will play out but to be brutally honest hoops is not my game. Outside of E’Twuan Moore and JaJuan Johnson I really can’t tell you who the talent is on Purdue but that doesn’t mean that the #11 team in the country only has two players that can ball. For a point of reference other than Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer I really didn’t know anyone from Wisconsin – to be honest they all look like buzzcut clones anyway, except for carrot top that is. I really only have so much time to devote to college hoops and at the end of the day it really is about tournament time anyway.
I will say this much – if the Buckeye can go on the road and take down Purdue it will for sure mean that they are still red hot heading into the final three weeks of the season and beyond. I personally like the Buckeye’s this weekend – I don’t think Purdue has the number of bigs to bother Sullinger like the Badgers and Sparty did. There is also the stepping up of Buford in the past two games with 44 points which has me somewhat giddy that the veteran scorer is getting hot at a time that couldn’t be better.
In the long run the only thing that is somewhat concerning is the lack of bench experience. I have as much trouble debating Matta’s philosophy as I do debating Tressel’s play calling. I may not like it at times but of the most part it works. I did hear something the other night – I can remember where – but someone saying that the Buckeyes actually have more depth this year than last with Craft and Thomas getting regular minutes. The insane thing to me is that the remaining four guys on the bench (Eddie Days, Lenzelle Smith Jr, J.D. Weatherspoon, and Jordan Siebert) combined have not played for as many minutes as any of the seven that play. So past two deep on the bench are basically the best seats in the house to watch the game and a nice per diem check for road trips. The important thing is that no matter what show you are watching and whichever alleged expert you are listening to they are still talking about the Buckeyes when the speak of the top teams in the country. Are we #1? Who knows with #1 Kansas going down to Kansas State and #2 Texas falling today. A win at #11 Purdue could go a long way to proving we belong there as much as anyone.