Hoops Week in Review
By Tony Gerdeman
This week's edition of the Hoops Week in Review is dedicated to Tom Izzo. It wasn't fair of the Buckeyes to get his hopes up on Saturday night.
Recapping the Buckeyes' Week
It was a 2-0 week for the Buckeyes, but neither win came very easily. Going off of the performances from last week, I'll be surprised if the Buckeyes make it undefeated this week.
The Buckeyes defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 59-50 Wednesday night in Evanston. The game was close throughout, as Northwestern got off to a hot-shooting start and rode that wave throughout the entire game. Had the Buckeyes not had Ivan Harris on the court, they may not have left with a win. He finished with 18 points on 7-9 shooting, and pulled down seven rebounds. Greg Oden also played well, scoring seventeen points and grabbing seventeen rebounds.
How could one half of basketball answer so many questions, and the next half of basketball leave so many unanswered? I blame Drew Neitzel's twenty minutes from heck. The Buckeyes led 43-23 at the half. A half which saw Neitzel shoot 1-7 from the field. The second half saw Neitzel outscore the Buckeyes 24-23. But, in the end, Neitzel failed in his attempt to lead his team to victory. The Buckeyes held on for a 66-64 advantage as Michigan State missed a last-second three that would have given the Spartans the win. Greg Oden led the Buckeyes in scoring with nineteen points.
Buckeye of the Week
Greg Oden. For the week, Greg Oden averaged 18 points, 11.5 rebounds and two blocks per game. He also averaged twelve free-throw attempts per game. He took over at the end of the Northwestern game, and got down on the floor late in the Michigan State game. He's also staying out of foul trouble and staying out on the court. Last week, he played an average of 37.5 minutes per game. In the five games since he picked up four fouls against Wisconsin, he's only been called for nine personal fouls.
Additional Buckeye Thoughts
Last week, Ron Lewis was 3-15 from the field. Included in that morbid statistic is the 2-12 that he went from behind the three-point line. Why not drive? Why not pull up for medium range jumpers? Why not pass? Anymore, when the three goes up, it's like punting on third and four.
The White Out looked pretty good on television, and it tricked the crowd into thinking there was a reason to cheer, so they sounded pretty good too. My only problem with it is that it totally ruins the home-court advantage as far as the shooting background is concerned. The Buckeyes are used to the backgrounds and depth that Value City Arena provides. So why do you voluntarily surrender your biggest strength? It basically makes the game a neutral-site venue with a home crowd. I'll ignore the first-half shooting and say that the second-half shooting bears my theory out.
I thought I had seen it all. And then what do my eyeballs snap a photo of? They saw that Buckeye cowboy dude that wears the white cowboy hat sporting a white t-shirt with his very own cowboy likeness on it. Who wears a t-shirt of himself? Do you want people to stop you and say, "Hey, isn't that you on your shirt?" And then you say, "It sure is!" And then they say, "Why?" And then you say, "I'm Buckeye Cowboy Man!" And then they say, "Yeah, but WHY?" I shudder to think of what Buckeyeman is going to have to come up with to top this.
On Friday night, thanks to something called "Sportstime Ohio", I finally got to see Buckeye commitment Kosta Koufos play. Koufos is a 7'2" center/forward for Canton Glen Oak. At 7'2" or so, his offensive skills have everybody comparing him to Dirk Nowitzki, and for good reason. He puts the ball on the floor; he pulls up for jumpers; he runs the floor; he starts fast breaks; he finishes them; he has NBA range; he can face up anywhere on the offensive end and shoot consistently well; and he plays outstanding defense. And what we'll see from him next year probably has never before been seen in American college basketball. You don't believe me? Who was the last 7'2" college basketball player with these skills? Keep thinking--and no, it wasn't Brad Lohaus.
Big Ten Week in Review
Wisconsin 2-0 last week: wins over Michigan (71-58) and Iowa (57-46); 21-1 (7-0) on the season
Ohio State 2-0 last week: wins over Northwestern (59-50) and Michigan State (66-64); 18-3 (6-1) on the season
Indiana 1-1 last week: a loss to Illinois (51-43) and a win over Michigan 76-61; 15-5 (5-2) on the season
Michigan State 1-1 last week: a win over Minnesota (70-46) and a loss to Ohio State (66-64); 17-5 (4-3) on the season
Michigan 0-2 last week: losses to Wisconsin (71-58) and Indiana (76-61); 16-6 (4-3) on the season
Purdue 1-0 last week: a win over Illinois (64-47); 14-7 (3-4) on the season
Iowa 1-1 last week: a win over Penn State (79-63) and a loss to Wisconsin (57-46); 11-10 (3-4) on the season
Illinois 1-1 last week: a win over Indiana (51-43) and a loss to Purdue (64-47); 15-8 (3-5) on the season
Minnesota 1-1 last week: a loss to Michigan State (70-46) and a win over Penn State (65-60); 8-13 (2-5) on the season
Northwestern 0-1 last week: a loss to Ohio State (59-50); 11-9 (1-6) on the season
Penn State 0-2 last week: losses to Iowa (79-63) and Minnesota (65-60); 10-10 (1-6) on the season
Big Ten Notes
So I'm watching ESPN's Gameday and they do a story on the Fab Five's legacy. Give me a break. The Fab Five won as many Big Ten titles as me and my pug did, and that was before they were stripped of all of their wins and banners. The piece went on to say that their lasting legacy was one of fashion, style and shame. Which basically means that the Fab Five is right on par with the dude that invented stonewashed jeans. Congrats.
I've seen people talking about Michigan being on the Bubble. They've got a ways to go yet, however. The Wolverines are currently 16-6 and their best wins this season have been against Illinois and Purdue. As it stands, it looks like their last game of the regular season may be the game that gets them in the discussion. They host the Buckeyes to end the season, and a win there could accelerate the talks. They would still need a decent showing in the Big Ten Tournament though.
An Open Letter to Tom Izzo
Dear Tom: Not everything is funny. When a ref blows a whistle and he dares call a foul against your beloved Spartans, there isn't a need for an incredulous guffaw. For instance, at one point in the Ohio State game, there was a scrum on the floor and several hands were on the basketball, yet somehow one of your players was able to get a timeout called. You didn't find that funny, you found it perfectly acceptable. However, late in the game, a similar situation occurred, however it was reversed. The Buckeyes got a timeout called and you must have thought that that was the funniest thing you had ever seen. Your laughter couldn't be contained. That wasn't the only incident, but you know this. You laugh like you get paid by the chuckle. Why can't you just yell at the refs like every other coach? Why do you always have to laugh like you're getting cheated by the officials? Granted, these are Big Ten refs, but still...grow up a bit. Signed, Tony.
Game of the Week
Boston College 85 - Florida State 82. The undermanned Eagles only played seven players against the Seminoles, and only got significant scoring out of three players. Jared Dudley (23 points), Tyrese Rice (26 points) and Sean Marshall (22 points) combined for 71 of the Eagles' 85 points. Rice scored sixteen of his points in the final fourteen minutes. The Noles were much more balanced, putting five scorers in double figures, led by Al Thornton's 22 points. The game ended when Sean Marshall took the inbounds pass, made a couple of dribbles and nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer. It was a key win for the Eagles, keeping them within a game of first place in the conference.
Team of the Week
The Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia went 2-0 at home in conference last week, defeating #25 Kentucky (78-69) and #22 LSU (57-54). The latter victory came on a Levi Stukes three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. Though Georgia is only 13-6, they have a much better shot at making the Tournament than a team like, say, Michigan. Michigan has scheduled nobody, and beaten nobody. Georgia had a much tougher non-conference schedule, and while they only beat a couple of them, their losses against good-to-great teams are probably viewed in higher regard than Michigan's wins over terrible teams.
Player of the Week
VMI Forward Reggie Williams. Williams averaged 34 points per game in three games last week, as "America's Team" went 2-1, scoring 107 points per game last week. (Their opponents averaged 104 points per game.) Williams went 40-61 from the field, including 8-20 from three.
Some Things Without a Category
After watching the end of the Clemson-Duke game, where the refs stole the game from Clemson because of clock issues, I've decided that the only time refs actually use math is in determining how many fouls certain Dukies have.
I'm going to go out on a big, sturdy limb and say that Oregon guard Aaron Brooks is going to blow up in the tournament and carry the Ducks pretty deep. He's the leader of a guard-heavy lineup with great ball movement and timely rebounding. Don't be surprised to see the Sweet 16 with a bunch of Pac 10 teams in it.
Speaking of the Pac 10, Stanford upset the #2 UCLA Bruins on Sunday. UCLA was up twelve at the half, but Stanford outscored the Bruins 50-31 in the second half to secure the 75-68 upset. Stanford is another team that is getting better by the game. Even though they're currently unranked, they are 6-3 in conference and only one game out of first place. They too have tourney aspirations, and until this win, things weren't looking very promising. This is the signature win that they needed to trump other bubble teams.
Stop teasing Tom Izzo, it's not nice...Drew Neitzel scored 24 points in the second half of the Buckeye game...Drew Neitzel needed 27...Ron Lewis hates the rim! Get away from the rim!...Greg Oden is Kosta Koufos without a crossover...Wearing a shirt with your face on it is only acceptable if you're missing...The Fab Five invented black socks and black shoes--regardless of what your memories of your grandpa are...Tom Izzo probably thinks SNL is funny too...Lastly, by my endorsement of the Oregon Ducks, I have virtually guaranteed them of their second-round departure.