Rob's Buckeye Basketball Note and Quotebook
By Rob Ogden
A day after what senior Lenzelle Smith Jr. called the worst loss of his career, the 12 members of Ohio State's basketball team sat down to talk.
No coaches, just players.
"We finally had a sit-down meeting between the team," junior guard Shannon Scott said. "Everybody got to talk about what was going wrong with us and just figure out where we all stood with each other."
For the team that lost its fifth Big Ten game in is past six tires, it was a chance to reflect as well as look forward.
The meeting was the second of its kind this season. Sam Thompson said the team had a players-only meeting following the loss at Nebraska, as well.
But this time, Scott said, they sat down and really let everything sink in.
"We know we're not an NCAA Tournament team right now," he said. "We're just playing bad ball. Us meeting right now is a great thing for us."
After Wednesday's 71-70 home loss to Penn State, Smith called into question the team's camaraderie, as well as its toughness, character and leadership.
Despite that, though, Scott said the team is sticking together.
"We all feel like brothers," he said. "We don't fight with each other or talk badly about each other or nothing like that. We all feel like we're one big family.
"Some of the fans might not be on our side right now, but if we all stick together, we'll be alright."
Coach Thad Matta said he was glad that the meeting took place.
"You hope it helps solve things," he said. "Obviously we had to take yesterday off so we weren't around the team, per NCAA rules, but anytime a group of guys sit down and take ownership, I love to see that."
Is Unbalanced Unfair?
Ohio State is 11-11 against Wisconsin during Matta's tenure as head coach.
During the course of Matta's nine seasons, home court has been a huge factor in determining the outcome of the games.
Since 2004-05, The Buckeyes are 6-3 against the Badgers in games played in Columbus and just 1-8 in games played in Madison.
This season, the only scheduled game between the schools is in Madison. Somehow, the Badgers also managed to avoid traveling to Michigan State, as well. It's the nature of an unbalanced Big Ten schedule, but Matta said it can be a bit unfair at times.
"I think it does play out unfairly, to be honest with you," he said. "I don't know if there's a way that you can really combat it. It's just kind of the luck of the draw. I've never really payed a lot of attention to it. Whoever they tell us we've gotta play and where we've gotta play, we're gonna do it. But with the addition of a couple teams next year, does that change things? I'm not exactly sure.
"We got to look at it as it is what it is and we got to make it work as best we can."
In 2007-08, the Buckeyes faced Wisconsin only in Columbus, and lost to the Badgers 58-53.
Saturday, they'll try to return the favor.
B1G the SEC of Basketball?
Through the first month of conference play, the Big Ten has been about as unpredictable as can be.
Ohio State, which began the month ranked No. 3 in the country, has already lost to Nebraska and Penn State.
Wisconsin lost by 9 points on its home floor to Northwestern on Wednesday, and the Cornhuskers beat Indiana a day later.
Michigan is 8-0 without preseason All-American Mitch McGary and Illinois can't beat anybody.
Asked Friday if he was surprised by the drama, Matta answered swiftly.
"Nothing surprises me anymore," the 10-year Ohio State coach said. "With where we are today, if you had asked me before the season, are we gonna lose five out of six, I would have said no, but I don't think we're gonna win all six."
With as deep as the league appears to be from top to bottom, the comparison was made to the SEC in football. Matta didn't hesitate to agree.
"You could say that again," he said. "No question about that."
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