COLUMBUS, Ohio — As a matter of dedication and habit, the first thing I do every morning is check my email to make sure that nobody wants anything from me. So you can imagine my dismay when I woke up Thursday morning to find an assignment from my editor asking me to come up with an All-Big Ten team made up of non-Buckeye Ohio basketball players.
Picking an All-Big Ten Team From Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois
By Tony Gerdeman
If there's one thing I hate more than doing stuff, it's being asked to do stuff. That's why, as a matter of childish poutery, I'm going to add even more, unnecessary commas, to this piece than I normally would.
A funny thing happened on the way to this begrudging work, however, as I came up with a pretty good team. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't catch the part about "non-Buckeye" (which is why I need an editor), so when I came up with my All-Ohio All-Big Ten team, it had one rosy-cheeked Buckeye on it.
So without further babblery, here is my All-Ohio All-Big Ten team.
G - Aaron Craft (Ohio State)
G - Traevon Jackson (Wisconsin)
G - Caris Levert (Michigan)
F - Aaron White (Iowa)
C - Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
Sixth Man - Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)
After compiling this team of Buckeyes by Birth, I began thinking about just how good this team could be. The front court combination of Adreian Payne and Aaron White is as good as you'll find in the nation. The high-low possibilities are endless.
I will admit, however, that the backcourt might have some ball confusion with Traevon Jackson and Aaron Craft both used to being in control. However, they are both veterans and unselfish, so I think they'd be able to figure it out. Their shooting would be an issue, but I think there'd be enough around them to make up for it.
That then got me wondering if any other state in the Big Ten region could match what Ohio could put on the floor. So I took a look at the three other states in the footprint who produce enough talent to be worth mentioning, namely Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.
Granted, not being from Ohio, the other teams wouldn't be as educated or as good at Euchre. And obviously the Indiana team would be at a disadvantage because none of the pretend games between these four teams would take place on a rim attached to a barn wall out in the middle of nowhere.
What Illinois and Michigan would lack in basic grammar and mathematical skills, they would make up for in knife work and theft skills.
While each state would have different life skills, the basketball skills of all four are pretty even, and I'm not sure that Ohio would come out on top.
Let's take a look at Michigan's lineup.
G - Keith Appling (Michigan State)
G - Derrick Walton Jr. (Michigan)
G - Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)
F - Jon Horford (Michigan)
C - Jordan Morgan (Michigan)
Sixth Man - Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
I really like Michigan's three-guard look, but the front court would have issues. I like Ohio's lineup better, as Craft would lock up Keith Appling, and Roy Devyn Marble wouldn't be able to provide enough scoring to keep up with Ohio's front court.
What about Illinois? There have certainly been years when nobody could touch the Land of Lincolners (get a better state nickname, idiots), but does that hold true this year? I don't think so.
Here's what I got.
G - Tracy Abrams (Illinois)
G - Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)
G - Drew Crawford (Northwestern)
F - Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
C - Nnanna Egwu (Illinois)
Sixth Man - Lenzelle Smith Jr. (Ohio State)
There is certainly some promise in this lineup, as Drew Crawford and Frank Kaminsky can go off on anybody. However, I just think there's too many Illini players on here to be a threat.
That leaves us with the hated "state over there [points to the left]", aka Indiana. I shouldn't even speak the name of the SOT[PTTL], but I did see the Harlem Globetrotters in Fort Wayne one time, so the state isn't all bad.
The state of Indiana is well known for their basketball history, though some of that comes from Hollywood movies. Makes me wonder why "Field of Dreams" didn't have the same type of impact on Iowa baseball lore. But I digress. (I don't know if it's okay to end a sentence right there, but I'll leave that up to my editor who requested this piece, or something like it.)
Let's take a look at what the Indiana lineup looks like.
G - Yogi Ferrell (Indiana)
G - Gary Harris (Michigan State)
F - Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)
F - Branden Dawson (Michigan State)
C - Mitch McGary (Michigan)
Sixth Man - A.J. Hammons (Purdue)
This team might have the most future NBA talent, but they all have the tendency to go quiet for long stretches. Branden Dawson is on the team for his defense, as everybody else around him should be able to score enough to win on most days.
Also, as you can see, Mitch McGary is healthy in my pretend world of basketball. That being said, A.J. Hammons deserves some mention on this team because he's actually playing.
I do think this team would give Ohio everything it could handle, but it would require Glenn Robinson to be invested in the game. Going against a teammate like Caris Levert, however, would likely guarantee that.
The winner would also depend on which McGary we'd be seeing. Would it be the one who nearly left for the NBA a year ago, or the banged up version we see today.
In the end, however, I think I'm still going with the All-Ohio All-Big Ten team over any other version of an All-State team. In fact, I am 1,000 percent confident that they are the best of the four teams presented above.
(It's always easy to proclaim your confidence when there's never going to be any chance of being proven wrong.)
In conclusion, this excercise proves definitively that the state of Ohio is better at basketball than any other state in the Big Ten footprint. Also football. And astronauting. And plane inventing. And draining giant swamps.
But other than that, things are all pretty even.
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