COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State basketball team is less than a week gone from having their disappointing season ended at the hands of the Dayton Flyers in the NCAA Tournament.
When 25-10 is a Disappointment, How Bad Can Things Really Be?
By Tony Gerdeman
It was never easy for the Buckeyes, who finished the season 25-10, and that didn't make them very easy to watch. For some fans, it seems the resentment grew as the season wore on.
Compared to what those inside the program and outside of it have come to expect, this was not an acceptable season by most measures. In fact, the disappointment in this team was at peak levels long before their season ended against the Flyers last Thursday.
But that's normal. Sometimes a program is going to have a down year, and if your program's "down year" involves them winning 25 games and making the NCAA Tournament, then how bad can things really be?
This week in Columbus one radio station has already asked if Thad Matta should be fired, and another had a poll asking if 2014 was the worst year ever in Ohio sports.
Now I'm not trying to rip on the folks at the radio stations, because I respect what they do, but they're only echoing what their listeners are talking about.
Is this the worst year ever in Ohio sports? I bet the Dayton Flyers don't think so. However, that didn't stop 27% of the voters from saying that, yes, this was the worst year ever.
A year where the Ohio State football team went 12-2 and the basketball team went 25-10, and some think this is the worst it's ever been?
Do people even remember the Buckeyes making the Tournament just four times in the 1990s?
If this is as bad as it gets, the Ohio State fanbase should never be as miserable as portions of it always seem to be.
I could tell you that things won't always be "this bad", but they won't always be this good either. Enjoy the good times, ache from the bad times, but make sure you know which is which.
Things are always darkest before the dawn, unless you're a spoiled fan, and then things are always just dark because your eyes are closed to all of the success going on around you.
But things got even worse for Thad Matta on Monday when 2015 shooting guard Luke Kennard verbally committed to Duke over the in-state Buckeyes.
Now, not only is Ohio State failing on the court, but they're failing off of it as well.
There's no doubt that losing Kennard hurts the future of the program, but I guess Matta and Buckeye fans will just have to settle for the five-star shooting guard (D'Angelo Russell) they'll have on the court next season instead.
If these are dark days, then bring on the night.
I'm not saying that everything was roses this year or that fans shouldn't be upset, but if you're a fan of a team that just won 25 games and lost out on a five-star guard to Duke, then that's not rock bottom, that's just life in the penthouse.
When you're competing with Duke or Kentucky or Kansas, you're going to lose recruits to those guys as well. But you're not going to lose them all, and Matta hasn't.
This has been a forgettable past few months for the Buckeyes, and it should be a forgivable one as well. And really, how much should you have to forgive a season like this one?
No team is consistently great and no team should be expected to be.
High expectations should absolutely be the norm at Ohio State, but so should an appreciation for the past results and accomplishments of Thad Matta.
When fans and media start asking if Matta should be fired, I think back to the way things were for Ohio State basketball before he arrived, and I wish they would too.
All coaches have forgettable seasons, but prior to Thad Matta arriving, Ohio State was a forgettable program.
The best a coach can do is build a program and hope that the foundation is stable enough to overcome the turbulence that goes on throughout the season. The Buckeyes didn't have that this year, but neither did Duke or Kansas or Syracuse.
There is no reason to be happy with what happened this season, but there's always reason to use reason.
There are a ton of schools that wish their dark days involved two dozen wins and an NCAA Tourney berth, and Ohio State is one of them.
The product may not always be acceptable, but that's only because of the heights that the Buckeyes have reached under Matta in his time at Ohio State.
If you can't be happy with the season, at least be happy with the standards that have made this season a disappointment.
And realize that things won't always be "this bad", but even if they are, it's still better than they've been for a very, very long time.
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