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Men's Basketball
Hoops Week in Review
By Tony Gerdeman

This edition of the Hoops Week in Review is dedicated to all of the AAU coaches out there who aren’t afraid to tell kids that they’re better than they actually are, because today’s youth just doesn’t think enough of itself anymore.

Recapping the Buckeyes’ Week

On the court, it was okay for a game, and then awful for a game. On Monday, the Buckeyes beat UNC-Asheville 83-59 and then on Saturday they were drubbed at home by West Virginia, 76-48.

Game One

The Buckeyes brought both B.J. Mullens and Dallas Lauderdale off the bench in their 83-59 win over UNC-Asheville, and they contributed 30 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Together, they were 13-17 from the field. The Buckeyes also got a nice contribution from freshman point guard Anthony Crater, who played just one minute less than starting point guard Jeremie Simmons did.

Game Two

The Buckeyes could do nothing right against West Virginia, losing 76-48 on their home court. The starting wing players for the Buckeyes (Evan Turner, Jon Diebler, and William Buford) combined to go 10-38 from the field, and just 1-13 from three. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers managed to shoot 60% from two-point land, and had they gone better than 4-20 from behind the three-point line, this game could have been much, much worse.

Buckeye of the Week

Not so much.

Additional Buckeye Thoughts

Anthony Crater’s sudden transfer leaves a hole bigger than any (other) crater could. (Get it?) It’s not the production that the team will miss this year, it’s the body. It’s the minutes that he provided that allowed Jeremie Simmons to get a rest. And it also eliminates the two point guard look that Thad Matta has talked about using since David Lighty’s injury. But more than anything, Crater’s transfer continues an undesirable trend of Matta having to scout and scour the junior colleges and AAU circuits looking for a point guard that won’t be a waste of a scholarship. Matta arrived at Ohio State with Jamar Butler committed. Since that time he has signed Sylvester Mayes in 2005, Mike Conley in 2006, P.J. Hill in 2007 and Anthony Crater in 2008. And all but Hill decided they didn’t want to see what a second season would be like. And right now, it’s not just that there’s nobody on the radar for 2009, there’s not even any radar!

For the second time with a top flight freshman point guard--somebody that has been looked upon to be the future--the Buckeyes have to go scrambling for a quick fix. It hasn’t been the centers leaving Ohio State that has hurt this program, it’s the point guards. After all, in Matta’s five seasons, his centers have been Terrence Dials, Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos and now B.J. Mullens and Dallas Lauderdale. He could do a lot worse. But the Buckeyes just haven’t been able to build the team and infuse the cohesion that an experienced point guard provides. It was impossible to overcome the loss of Mike Conley and the Buckeyes only had a three-year starter in Jamar Butler taking his job back. You could make the argument that Crater leaving is an even bigger blow because the Buckeyes have no such back-up plan. There isn’t a highly-rated point guard in the pipeline until 2010 and don’t expect one to magically appear next year. Of course, if you want to be an optimist, you can claim that Crater wasn’t going to beat out Simmons next year either. But then we’re back to putting our hopes in a freshman point guard in 2010 and hoping he doesn’t get beat out by whichever junior college guard Matta brings in…and then transfers.

Big Ten Week in Review

Minnesota 2-0 last week: wins over Southeastern Louisiana (80-71) and High Point (82-56); 12-0 on the season.

Illinois 2-0 last week: wins over Missouri (75-59) and Eastern Michigan (62-53); 12-1 on the season.

Ohio State 1-1 last week: a win over UNC-Asheville (83-59) and a loss to West Virginia (76-48); 9-1 on the season.

Penn State 1-0 last week: a win over Sacred Heart (73-65); 11-2 on the season.

Purdue 2-0 last week: wins over IPFW (70-55) and Valpo (59-45); 11-2 on the season.

Michigan 1-0 last week: a win over Florida Gulf Coast (76-59); 9-2 on the season.

Michigan State 1-0 last week: a win over Oakland (82-66); 9-2 on the season.

Northwestern 1-0 last week: a win over SMU (66-55); 8-2 on the season.

Iowa 1-0 last week: a win over Western Illinois (58-43); 10-3 on the season.

Wisconsin 0-1 last week: a loss to Texas (74-69); 9-3 on the season.

Indiana 0-2 last week: losses to Northeastern (55-42) and Lipscomb (74-69); 5-7 on the season.

Big Ten Notes

Sorry, this didn’t really fit in with my Crater rant above, but it definitely warrants a mention. The Buckeyes had three assists in their loss to West Virginia last week. Performances like that won’t even beat Indiana. You should never look at a box score and see the assist leaders listed as “3 tied with 1”. And now with the loss of one of the few players who were inclined to pass the ball to teammates in scoring positions, something is going to have to happen. And it might be painful for a while.

Last week against Florida Gulf Coast, Michigan forward DeShawn Sims scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. He also dished out three assists all by himself! In that game, the Wolverines took 42 three-point shots and 22 two-point shots. If being a Buckeye fan has taught me nothing else, it’s that eventually you will start dying by the three.

In perhaps the worst week in Indiana basketball history--or at least since they purposely hired Kelvin Sampson--the Hoosiers lost at home to both Northeastern and Lipscomb. For emphasis’ sake, Northeastern has lost to Boston University and South Florida this season. Similarly, Lipscomb has lost to Samford and Jacksonville. It’s a great time to be a Hoosier basher. However, I have this feeling in the back of my mind that the freshmen on this team are going to be a lot like the freshmen on Rick Pitino’s first couple of Kentucky teams. Guys who look like walk-ons for a season or two, but by the time they’re seniors, they’re providing consistency and leadership to the talented freshmen who now complement them. It’s just a good thing that Duke will have another Christian Laettner-type to ruin the Hoosiers’ hopes in 2012--assuming they can somehow find some big white dude that can shoot and stuff.

Game of the Week

Marquette 68 - North Carolina State 65. The Wolfpack built a pair of seven-point leads in the first half on the back of 16 first-half points from forward Brandon Costner. Marquette finally took the lead on a three-pointer by Wesley Matthews with 8:44 to play in the second half. That lead was then built up to six points thanks to consecutive threes from point guard Dominic James. North Carolina State then tied the game up on consecutive threes of their own. In the end, however, it was a three-pointer from James with 0.4 seconds remaining that won the game for Marquette. A nearly perfect performance by Costner was wasted, as he finished 8-9 from the floor, including 5-5 from three.

Team of the Week

West Virginia. Do we really need to talk about why? I know I don’t.

Player of the Week

Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson. It may have only been Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic, but Patterson was unstoppable in the Wildcats’ two wins last week. (And given the inexplicable losses in Billy Gillespie’s rocky tenure, no win should be assumed or scoffed at.) For the week, Patterson averaged 30 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.5 blocks per game. He was 27-33 from the field (82%) and 6-6 from the free throw line. They were Patterson’s seventh and eighth double-doubles of the season.

Some Things Without a Category

Four days after losing at Savannah State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi guard Kevin Palmer scored 31 points in an 80-79 win at Georgia in overtime. Palmer’s sixth three-pointer of the night won the game at the buzzer in overtime. He wasn’t just an offensive force, however, as he also seven steals. The loss was Georgia’s first at home.

Earlier when I mentioned that Buckeye fans should be thankful that West Virginia didn’t shoot better than they did, I would use Mountaineer guard Alex Ruoff as my case in point. Against the Buckeyes, Ruoff scored 17 points, but could only manage to shoot 6-15 from the field, and just 2-8 from three-point territory. Four days earlier against Radford, Ruoff scored 38 points on 12-19 shooting, including 9-14 from three. The Buckeyes were very fortunate to only lose by 28 points. Which is bothersome.

In case you missed it, Portland State won at Gonzaga 77-70 last Tuesday. These early season losses for Gonzaga mean that they finally won’t be overseeded in the NCAA Tournament and get upset right away by some upstart or underachiever. Instead, they’ll be matched up against a higher-seeded team like they used to be. (But they still won’t get back to the Sweet Sixteen any time soon.)

In Summation…I had an AAU coach tell me that I could be another Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley…And then I put some change in his cup and he asked me if I had “seen the size of that chicken“…The Buckeyes made West Virginia look like an SEC team…Now that he’s gone, do you think Thad Matta would mind if we went back to calling Anthony Crater, “Noopy”?…Or does he maybe have a new name for him now?…Hoosier next win going to come against?…(Puns at Indiana’s expense will always be welcome here)…Almost as welcome as visiting teams in Bloomington…Seriously, that place is like a bed and breakfast now…During the second half, the Hoosiers have somebody go into the visitor’s locker room and place a mint in everybody’s locker…North Carolina State wasted Costner’s best performance since “Message In A Bottle”…And a word to those of you who continue to take Gonzaga deep into your bracket year after year--Thank You!

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