Heading to Rutgers at Ohio State this weekend

I’ll miss writing about the start of media day & basketball practice for Ohio State’s mens and women’s teams but I’ll be back Monday to jump in with both feet on those subjects.

I get to attend the Rutgers at Ohio State football game Saturday and if you’re up in 29D, row 9 (My family is sitting in almost the entire row) stop in and say hello.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Hope you enjoy the start of college basketball. Hope the Buckeyes get the win against Rutgers and that no one gets hurt on either side.

Thank you to those who have been reading my blog. This is harder than it looks. I’m learning.

Go Buckeyes!

—-Hang on Sloopy—

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Introducing Buckeye freshman Andre Wesson \ 4-4 in a series

Ohio State freshman forward Andre Wesson holds, just by his presence on the team, emotional value for fans.

Buckeye fans are pleased, also, with the fact Micah Potter and Derek Funderburk have roots in Ohio, too, because both are excellent players in their own right.

But Ohio State’s slow developing recruitment of Andre, that ended in a positive flush of energy, became a symbol of the direction fans wanted to see the Buckeye program headed after a season where the team did not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a long while.

One theme which has been active amongst Ohio State fans for as long as I remember is the idea Ohio kids and players they’ve watched grow and mature should play for Ohio State.

That feeling lived within Andre Wesson’s recruitment. That’s why there was such an outpouring of emotion when signed to play for the Buckeyes.

 

There were other factors involved:

  • Andre’s dad, Keith, played at Ohio State in the 1980s.
  • Andre’s brother, Kaleb, has been committed to the Buckeyes since 2015.
  • Andre is a graduate of a Columbus area high school, Westerville South, and helped lead the Wildcats to a Ohio Division 1 state basketball championship last March.
  • The skill level and quality of Andre’s on court efforts continued to ascend during the past year’s high school season.
  • Ohio State noticed and offered Andre and, in April, in simple, but dramatic fashion announced he had chosen to sign a national letter of intent to play for Thad Matta and Ohio State, and, also, to team up with his younger brother, Kaleb, in the seasons to come.

When he chose the Buckeyes it was a signal of business being done in a manner most Ohio State fans would choose to try to accomplish if they were the head coach.

Richmond and Butler, both excellent universities, were there at the end competing to persuade Andre to join their programs.

I have no idea how close Andre came to choosing somewhere else other than his hometown school.

In digging a little today I even discovered Andre’s dad, Keith, almost chose to attend the University of Wisconsin instead of Ohio State.

http://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/04/21/Sports-Briefs/1835388213200/

UPI ARCHIVES April 21, 1982     MILWAUKEE — Blue-chip center Keith Wesson from Ohio has changed his mind…decided not to sign with the University of Wisconsin…school’s ‘monkeying around’ in coach selection…

‘It’s not going to happen,’ said Wesson’s coach at Niles McKinley high school, Jerry Banaszak. ‘…Wisconsin was No. 1… If they had not been…playing games, they would have had Keith Wesson.’

If there’s one thing I’ve observed in 55 years on this earth its that this world is based on a crazy formula that insures no one can truly calculate outcomes.

  • I may walk out my front door this afternoon and never return.
  • California may experience the earthquake that, a seismic event arrival rumored for many years, drops a huge shelf of land into the Pacific Ocean.
  • Buckeye and Wolverine fans might, all of a sudden, get all chummy and everything, hold hands and sing “Kum-ba-ya” on the 50 yard line of Ohio Stadium after this season’s game.

You never know but I’m just glad Andre Wesson ended up choosing to attend Ohio State.

—–  —–  —–  ——

My first view of Andre as a player was at The Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina a few summers ago. I knew Keith and Stephanie Wesson had two boys in their family who were good ball players. I had heard Kaleb was listed on Ohio State’s map of players they were recruiting so I went to watch him play.

I sat in on an All-Ohio Red pool game. However, I was viewing the next age group up instead of Kaleb’s team.

I didn’t know that, though. I just knew there was a Wesson on the floor. He was smooth with the ball, hustled, defended, and rebounded. He shot and made a three pointer that nestled inside the rim and he canned another jump shot, also. I was impressed.

I began to think I wasn’t watching Kaleb play because (although Andre was a big kid) whoever this was, was a perimeter player and I knew Kaleb was a post. So, before the game was over, I realized this was Andre, thought he had talent, and began thinking he might one day be recruited by Ohio State, too.

—–  ——  ——  —–

One of the first signs Andre was destined to receive offers from other quality programs alongside George Mason, Southern Illinois, Toledo, Richmond and Akron, was when Westerville South competed in the City of Palms tournament in Fort Meyers, Florida last December.

Westerville South was matched up against a Missouri school, Father Tolton, with big time 6’10 Michael Porter being one it’s players. Andre was asked to guard Porter and helped cause Porter to miss 13-17 shots from the field in a contest the Wildcats won 80-66.

This article defines where Andre was in his recruitment process at the time:

http://www.hoopseen.com/news/general/201512/andre-wesson-boosts-stock

…some guys fly under the radar for one reason or another. Whether it is because of physical development, not being seen enough, or just having the light turn on, it is never too late in stamping oneself as a commodity recruit.

Summary of how Andre was viewed coming out of The City of Palms tournament:

http://www.hoopseen.com/news/general/201512/city-of-palms-freshman-shines-on-star-studded-day

With a younger brother already committed to Ohio State, this Wesson sibling is a lot more versatile and can do a little bit of everything.


Wesson has the body to make it at the next level and after finishing with 25 points, the senior forward should become an even more recruited prospect this winter.

Andre Wesson calls Ohio State home:

http://www.hoopseen.com/news/player/201604/andre-wesson-calls-ohio-state-home

This remind anyone of Ron Lewis? Great description of Andre’s on court versatility is inside the link…

…on the hard line drive finish at the tin.

—-  —–  ——  ——  ——

Thad Matta often talks about the value he places on versatile players. Andre fits that bill in the 2016 class and so does Derek Funderburk. Those two long, athletic players should help the Buckeyes give opponents defensive fits in the future.

——  ——  ——  ——  ——

Andre’s 2015-2016 season is described as one where he proved just how good he had become.

Ohio State scouts Andre at practice…

http://www.elevenwarriors.com/ohio-state-basketball-recruiting/2016/02/67749/ohio-state-basketball-recruiting-notebook-staff-scouts-numerous-prospects

“[Ohio State] said I’ve been more aggressive lately,” Andre told NY2LASports.com. “They said I’m starting to play my game better.”

——  ——  ——

Thad Matta is photographed at Westerville South watching the Wildcats and Andre play.

——  ——  ——

——  ——-  ——  ——

Thad Matta told Andre if the Wildcats won the state championship a scholarship offer would be extended to him.

(A story I’ve heard but couldn’t find a link to but the one below here mentions the sequence)

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2016/03/andre_wesson_2016_wing_gets_bu.html

The grand day arrived:

http://buckeyextra.dispatch.com/content/stories/2016/04/14/0413-wesson-choice.html

“I wanted to be part of the program because I know what it’s like to play at Ohio State,” Andre said. “I know what it means to be a Buckeye and I want to play for Ohio State and take them to the next level and win a national championship there.”

Sounds good to me. How about you?

Players want to be loved. Fans do, too.

—–  —–  ——  —–

Watch —Andre Wesson is a BUCKEYE [Senior Season Mixtape]

From 270 Hoops–> http://www.270hoops.com

“LET’S GOOOOOOOO”

 

Introducing Buckeye 1st year sophomore, CJ Jackson \ 3-4 in a series

3rd in a series introducing Ohio State’s freshman class.

—>Next up—>Andre Wesson

—–  —–  —–  —–  ——  ——  ——

Okay, I admit my mistake, CJ Jackson is not a member of Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class. He signed with Ohio State after playing for Eastern Florida State Junior College last season and earning 2nd team Junior College All-American status. He starts the 2016-2017 season as a fellow member of the Ohio State sophomore class with JaQuan Lyle and Joey Lane. But CJ is new to the Buckeyes.

Writing about CJ Jackson is going to be a different experience for me beyond what it was like to do the same for Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter. I knew those players pretty well, already. Both are from Ohio and I followed their experiences as players.

Jackson is a player who entered the Buckeye picture last spring. Ohio State needed a quality guard and he was available.

CJ’s path to Ohio State has taken a few turns. He attended Olympic High School here in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live, and graduated in 2014.

In this article:

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2016/04/cj_jackson_the_details_of_his.html

Cleveland.com sports writer Bill Landis writes…

Jackson was the age of a high school junior when he graduated from Olympic High School in Charlotte, N.C., in 2014.

 

So, because of his youth, CJ then spent a year at Montverde Prep before committing to play for George Mason:

http://mvasports.com/2015/02/04/mva-prep-teams-cj-jackson-commits-to-george-mason-university/

Jackson was:

C.J. is known his peers and coaches as a calm and focused player with a penchant for high scoring.

An example of CJs scoring ability notes Jackson scored 39 pts/6 for 10 on threes/made all 9 FTs in a 96-87 win in a game in Florida’s City of Palms Classic.

—-  —–  —–

After signing with George Mason to play for head coach Paul Hewitt, whose Georgia Tech team played UConn in the 2004 NCAA Championship game, the Patriot program fired Hewitt in March 2015 and CJ chose to go to spend the 2015-2016 season playing at Eastern Florida State.

CJ Jackson Eastern Florida State bio:

http://www.easternflorida.edu/athletics/basketball-mens/roster/cj-jackson.cfm

CJs listed favorite quote at EFSU:

Favorite quote: “Eat or be eaten.”

—–  ——  ——  ——

According to Verbal Commits – CJ Jackson had offers from Gardner Webb, North Carolina Central, Connecticut, Missouri, George Mason, New Mexico, Auburn and Ohio State.

http://www.verbalcommits.com/players/c-j-jackson

Hoopseen.com states it spoke with CJ Jackson about offers from UConn, Missouri, Ohio State California, UNLV, Virginia Tech, and Seton Hall:

http://www.hoopseen.com/news/player/201604/schools-chase-after-cj-jackson

Before signing with Ohio State this is what Jackson had to say about what he was looking for in a college and its basketball progam:

understanding of what he is looking for in his future destination. “I want a good coaching staff with where I will get better and a winning program,” the Eastern Florida standout said.

That place turned out to be Ohio State.

In the Bill Landis/Cleveland.com article linked above Landis writes CJ Jackson took to both Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and assistant Dave Dickerson right away upon meeting them.

——  ——  ——  ——

What can Buckeye hoop fans potentially expect to see when Jackson is on court wearing the Scarlet & Gray?

(Information gleaned from some of the articles linked above and otherwise at included links)

  • Jackson put up numbers of 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists at Eastern Florida State College.
  • Made beyond three, 3-point shots a game at EFSU
  • Is a good rebounder and can get other players shots while handling the ball.

I watched this game:

 

Here’s a few skills I noticed CJ Jackson is blessed with:

  • His reputed shooting ability is legitimate. He made four 3-point shots in this game. One was from right of center and five feet beyond the 3-point line. A couple other of Jackson’s 3-point makes were around 3-feet beyond the line. CJ shoots the ball high and has a quick release.
  • Played both the PG & 2-guard spots in this game.
  • With ball in hand on the dribble his feet are quick and he can go backward with the ball just as fast as he can forward. This allows Jackson to get separation on his shot. An impressive ability.
  • Can shoot on the move or as a spot up shooter. Without ball slides his feet to open up passing lanes to ball handler.
  • CJ has requisite ball handling skill, though in this game a number of his perimeter passes were slow to get to his teammates. Just needs to dial in his concentration.
  • Appeared to understand his role as a PG. Unselfish. Passed the ball a lot within the offense. Took shots for himself as they became available.
  • Was a center field type of defender with his team in man-to-man defense.

I liked what I saw. Welcome to Ohio State, CJ Jackson!

 

Introducing Buckeye freshman Micah Potter \ 2-4 in a series

1st in a series introducing Ohio State’s freshman class.

—>Next up—>C. J. Jackson

—– —– —— —–

Elegant is a word I like to use when I notice a basketball player with a shot that’s beautiful in appearance, and accurate hitting the mark.

Buckeye freshman Micah Potter has just such a shot. The basketball leaves his hand and flows in a sweet arc to the basket and through the rim. It’s simple and effective and if the average fan is not careful it’s all they’ll give  Potter credit for.

 

But if you notice, Micah Potter does a few other things well, too, rebounding being one of them, and if he can start off the 2016-2017 Ohio State season contributing efficient perimeter points, a little bit of defense, and rebounding, it seems possible he’ll earn regular minutes.

I’ve been waiting forever on Ohio State to have a stretch four player with great size. When Jim O’Brien came to Ohio State he had a reputation of allowing his bigs to shoot from deep. During his time as Buckeye head coach I remember George Reese being able to shoot well from outside but he stood just 6’7.

Matt Sylvester, Othello Hunter and Ivan Harris also were bigger players who had some ability to shoot the three well. They had their moments.

DeShaun Thomas could string together a number of made deep shots in a row, but again his height equaled 6’6 or 6’7. Yes, Thomas was a power forward but I’ve been looking for a player with great size, Potter is 6’9, to play that position and bury threes and maybe, with Micah in Columbus, Ohio State has found him.

(Note to self – Take your own advice and remember Potter has other above average skills)

An introduction to Micah Potter:

Dispatch Ohio State basketball beat writer Adam Jardy labels Micah Potter “mammoth” in this article.

Here are the reasons why Micah Potter transferred out of Mentor High School before his senior high school year to attend Montverde Academy:

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2015/07/micah_potter_montverde_2017_re.html

“The players they have there, the way they’ll prepare me for Ohio State is something that no one else could do,” Potter told Northeast Ohio Media Group last week.

 

The way back machine wabac-cartoon

provides a picture of how Micah Potter ended up at Ohio State. Syracuse freshman, and former Gahanna Lincoln star, Matt Moyer actually helped the Buckeyes cause in this area.

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2015/05/micah_potter_matthew_moyer_ohi.html

“It’s a very funny coincidence,” Moyer told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

According to the Verbal Commits site, Potter held offers from 12 other universities before choosing Ohio State.

http://www.verbalcommits.com/players/micah-potter

Iowa, Lehigh, Miami (OH), Kent State, Toledo, Davidson, Boston U., NC State, Clemson, Buffalo, Akron and West Virginia.

As well, it was mentioned somewhere Wisconsin held interest in attaining Potter’s services. Micah does seem like a perfect fit for that offensive system.

 

Read what CBS basketball writer Jon Rothstein has heard about Micah Potter’s possible role this season for the Buckeyes:

http://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/observations-george-washington-an-unknown-commodity-after-coach-is-fired/

I’m hearing more and more that Ohio State freshman big man Micah Potter is going…

(Go read the articles, please…I’m trying to make friends, not enemies, of the various hoop writers…you’ll like what you read in this one if you are a fan of jumbo size stretch fours/post players…you’ll find it in the This and That section at the bottom)

11 Warriors Tim Shoemaker aptly delineates Micah Potter’s skill set in this article written back in January:

http://www.elevenwarriors.com/ohio-state-basketball-recruiting/2016/01/66709/a-look-at-2016-ohio-state-commit-micah-potters-20-point-performance-at

Shoemaker takes his reader through Micah Potter’s ability to score inside and outside the lane, and the vision he has passing the basketball. Included is an excellent collection of videos of Micah Potter to help illustrate.

I watched the entire game to try and break down some of the 6-foot-10, three-star big man’s game.

 

Introducing Buckeye freshman Derek Funderburk / 1-4 in a series

1st in a series introducing Ohio State’s freshman class.

—>Next up—>Micah Potter

—–  —–  ——  —–

I’ve been looking forward to watching Derek Funderburk hoop in an Ohio State uniform for a long time. I get that way about players 6’9/’6’10 who have the athleticism and skills Funderburk has.

Heel on the free throw line dunk:

I’ve watched a lot of video of Funderburk over the years. Believe me, he has a lot of raw basketball skill and plays with a high level of energy. Derek, also, seems equally equipped to excel on offense and defense but since I haven’t seen him play an entire game yet I can only guess what his impact will be this season.

But I’ll tell you I feel Derek is one of those players Thad Matta is going to enjoy having on his team. I can’t wait to see him in the Scarlet and Gray!

Below you’ll find a few items which provide insight into what…

….Buckeye Derek Funderburk is all about.

—–  —–  ——  —–  —–  —–

Derek Funderburk

Extensive summary of Funderburk can be found below at this link:

http://inthegymrange.com/high-school-basketball-player-profile-derek-funderburk-thursday-8-25-2016

CHOSE OHIO STATE OVER: INDIANA, IOWA, PENN STATE, XAVIER, AMONG OTHERS

His defense is ahead of his offense at this stage in his development.

Derby Classic Top Performers – Derek Funderburk

Hit the link below for the entire summary of Derek at this link. I promise you’ll like what you read:

2016 Derby Classic Top Performers

The Cleveland product was super bouncy off the court, ran the floor better than any big in the game…

Find out why Derek Funderburk transferred from Cleveland St. Ignatius to Hargrave Military:

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2015/08/st_edward_basketball_standout.html

A big reason Funderburk decided to transfer was to help prepare him for his college career at Ohio State by playing against some of the best players in the country.

Reasons why Derek Funderburk can make early contributions for Ohio State:

http://www.scout.com/college/basketball/recruiting/story/1556825

Funderburk should be able to contribute early — at least a little — to the Buckeyes’ program based on his athleticism and sheer energy.

 

News from Derek Funderburk’s commitment to Ohio State. What he sees for himself as a player on down the line:

http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2015/04/ohio_state_derek_funderburk_st.html

I’ll play center in high school, as far as where I want to be in the NBA, it’s a 3 or a stretch 4.”

Derek Funderburk – Results from the 2015 Akron Regional Final, a 50-42 St. Edward win over Lima Senior and Xavier Simpson:

http://highschoolsports.cleveland.com/news/article/2998741460551782231/inside-st-edward-boys-basketballs-50-42-win-against-lima-senior-in-division-i-akron-regional-final-videos/

Who stood out for St. Edward

Funderburk: He was effective from the floor, scoring 10 points and blocking five shots in 31 minutes.

News about Derek Funderburk from a few of his experiences at Hargrave Academy:

http://www.phenomhoopreport.com/news_article/show/552814-phenom-hoops-open-gym-tour-hargrave-military-va

When the game opens up, Funderburk is at his best.

Derek Funderburk – February 14, 2016 Hargrave Military game results versus King College:

http://www.godanriver.com/sports/mccoy-s-hot-hand-leads-hargrave-pg-in–/article_8865c7a8-d364-11e5-b88d-4ba770fb43ba.html

 

Funderburk pushed Hargrave’s lead to 15-6 just five minutes into the game with three dunks, two off alley-oops from Cameron…

Funderburk scored 16 points on the afternoon, pulled down two rebounds and added two assists.

 

Leadership can come from unexpected directions. Where will the Buckeyes find it?

In OUT FROM THE DARKNESS, the story (September 26, 2016) of 7’1 Robert Swift, a 18-year old 2004 #12 NBA lottery pick out of high school by the Seattle Supersonics, appears. It’s an article that details his extreme struggles in life and his attempt to return to the NBA.

At the top of the 3rd page, Swift describes what is was like, in his 1st NBA season, to play against one:

…of his idols. The first time he guards Tim Duncan, Swift pushes up on him in the block, trying to impress him.

“Nah, nah, don’t do that,” Duncan says.

Swift is surprised. Duncan never talks to opponents. And yet…

“The ball is going to swing to the other side, get position,” Duncan continues.

The ball swings. Swift follows orders, shuffling his feet across the lane, staying behind Duncan.

“No, further up,” Duncan says. Swift takes a half-step.

“No, a little higher, don’t let me duck in on you.”

Swift complies.

“All right, now come back,” Duncan says, moving across the lane. “The ball’s about to be swung back, but it’s not coming to me this time so don’t worry about it. But now you know how to play it.”

With that, Duncan plays hard the rest of the game, but the moment sticks with Swift. He hopes to be that kind of veteran some day.

In his 2nd NBA season, Swift’s injures a knee ACL in pre-season, misses the entire season and begins a spiraling downward journey where he gets injured again, has a child, begins to pay child support, plays for a team in Japan called the Tokyo Apache, the Apache disband, and he begins using methamphetamine, coke and heroin.

It gets worse from there but Swift does begin to change and is working hard at a dream of once again playing in the NBA.

Leadership is an important aspect of playing team sports well. Thad Matta has talked a lot about it this past off season.

I went back through Thad Matta’s interview with CBS writer Jon Rothstein and pulled items out to reflect what he wants his team to look like from a leadership aspect.

Matta wants his team to be humble and respect opponents and to acquire character. He wants his team to understand they are going to be held accountable. Thad wants to teach his players to create their own luck, accept their roles, play through adversity, be adaptable and to unite together. Last of all he wants them to take great pride in representing Ohio State.

My 1st impression when reading Robert Swift’s first interaction with Tim Duncan was one of being astounded by the effort Duncan took in game to explain a defensive technique to an opponent. Someone Tim had not met before. That his instruction was with a kid who should have been getting ready to play in his 1st college season at USC is even more astounding.

Why would Duncan care?

Tim Duncan showed leadership as a grown, mature man through the action he took and the words he spoke to Swift.

What was going through Tim’s mind at the time?

There was something present in that moment that took over and provided Tim Duncan a pathway to make a memorable choice. That incredible choice is likely not the first or the last one Duncan has made on behalf of the good of another person.

What did Duncan hope to accomplish?

Here’s the important idea within Tim Duncan’s action: His choice reflects a resolve to stand outside of his own circumstances to value an individual over his own livelihood that demands he destroy opponents on court instead of teaching them how to play.

Leadership can come from unexpected directions.

There are veteran players on Ohio State’s mens team I think are well suited to do the work to draw the 2016-2017 team together as a unit. While those players may provide all the leadership the Buckeyes need, real leadership isn’t something one just talks about. It has to be applied and sometimes requires one to stand alone upon his own convictions.

I wish the best for Robert Swift. If you get a chance, read the article written by Chris Ballard.

I will think of Tim Duncan in an entirely different manner after reading this article.

I leave you with two items I wonder about. Among Ohio State’s juniors and seniors, its lone sophomore, four freshman, and two walk-ons, who’s going to lead and from what direction?

What are you excited about for the 2016-2017 Men and Women Ohio State basketball seasons?

Via stream of consciousness. I’m excited about:

  • Think this is going to be a BIG season for both the Ohio State men and women’s teams, but think the Buckeye women team is especially geared for success and a DEEEEEP run into the NCAA tournament. Men’s team, just play well and together. Rest of it will take care of itself.
  • Kelsey Mitchell. That’s all I need to type.
  • Kam Williams. Ditto.
  • 1st time the ball bounces on the floor at The Schottenstein Center in the regular season.
  • Newcomers with experience…Sierra Calhoun->That New York flair & Stephanie Mavunga ->blocked shots, rebounds, and points…Linnae Harper->Dynamic athleticism.
  • A veteran team for the 1st time in awhile.
  • How tightly bound the core members of the men’s team, Jae’Sean Tate, Keita Bates-Diop, Marc Loving, Trevor Thompson, Kam Williams, and JaQuan Lyle have become?
  • Navy & Providence are games the men’s team can use, right away, to show this season will have a different theme as compared to last season.
  • The women’s team gets South Carolina in Columbus early in their schedule. I attended last season’s game between the two school in Columbia. Buckeyes need to win that one on their home court this time.
  • Dave Bell -> My favorite Buckeye.
  • Buckeye freshman/1st year contributors. Derek Funderburk. Tori McCoy. CJ Jackson. Kiara Lewis. Micah Potter. Jensen Caretti. Andre Wesson. Who’s ready to step up?
  • Coach Matta getting excited and cutting loose, ala Evan Turner’s game winning shot vs UM in the BTT.
  • Joey Lane & Jimmy Jent. —>Suppose Jimmy plays like his dad did? Joey, we already know he’s big time.
  • Back at you—>What are you excited about?

Complete text of Thad Matta on the Jon Rothstein podcast

  • Rothstein – Interesting that Ohio State is an afterthought in the Big Ten. Can Ohio State, returning it’s top 6 scorers from last season get back to being vintage Ohio State? Ohio State has been a perennial contender for the Big 10 championship under Thad Matta.
  • Rothstein “You’re about to begin your 13th season as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, how fast has that gone?”
  • Matta – “You know it’s unbelieveable. It’s funny, Jon, as, was talking with Brad Stevens a couple weeks ago, he was out here in Columbus. I said, you know it’s funny when I first moved here, four days after my family moved here I put my daughter on a bus to go to kindergarten and she’s now a senior in high school and we were laughing, how many division 1 coaches can say that? And so it’s been an amazing run going on 13 years and it’s gone fast but it’s gone slow at the same time as you can imagine in coaching.”
  • Rothstein – “You know the biggest thing during those 13 years has been the consistency of your program and I was going over some notes here before we got started and there’s an amazing stat attached here you’ve never won less that 20 games in your college coaching career and obviously at Ohio State you’ve won a number of games. Two Final Four aapearances. You’ve been to nine NCAA Tournaments. What’s been the biggest key in your determination in sustaining that level of success?”
  • Matta – “First and foremost, I think we’ve been very blessed to have some great players in all three programs I’ve been in. Tremendous kids. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of the staffs that I’ve had and the universities, Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, those are three pretty good basketball jobs and I think the one thing that has been probably been the hardest is weathering the turnover, which a lot of coaches are starting to face now. Like I said it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of people involved in terms of achieving that milestone. Seems like it gets harder every year.”
  • Rothstein – “No, it definitely does and last year was obviously an interesting year for you and your program. You started off the year 4-5 and then you went 14-5 over your next 19 games. You were 18-10 before you lost Jae’Sean Tate to a season ending injury. What changed during that span were you really flipped things around?”
  • Matta – “I think, first and foremost, we grew up. I don’t the exact the 5th or 3rd youngest team in college basketball. We lost some games early in the season that kind of went against our core values in terms of being humble. Having humility and respect in terms of the opponent and those were the games that probably came back to haunt us. But it was more of a situation where we had to find ourselves in terms of maturity and respecting college basketball and once we did that I felt we were playing pretty good basketball down the stretch.”
  • Rothstein – “How much time did you spend in the off-season thinking about whether you might have been an NCAA tournament team if you had not lost Jae’Sean Tate with a couple games remaining against Michigan State?”
  • Matta – “I’ll be honest with you, in a lot of ways I tried to put last year behind me and I wanted to think forward. Injuries are going to happen and, obviously, losing Keita, as well, the last couple of games of year we definitely limped to the finish line. I was more excited once we got our roster settled and we knew who was going to be here going into this season. I think the biggest thing we had to do in the off-season was just mold our character. Mold, get back to the basics. As I told our players when they got here this summer I’m going back to 2004 when I built this program, in terms of how we are going to do things and if you want to transfer at the end of the year, which is an epidemic in college basketball, then you are going to have to tell the media that coach Matta asked me to do the right things every single day and I’ll win that one in the end with society because that’s what we are going to do here.”
  • Rothstein – “Where does that season as far the most difficult one you’ve had as a head coach?”
  • Matta – “It was definitely a challenge. I think that back in ’08 we were really, really young like we were this year and that one was a challenge because we were coming off the national championship game. We had some of the same issues. This one was a little bit tough because it seemed like as a staff we were dealing with more issues than basketball. That was one of the thing we addressed in the off-season. We have got to get back to coaching basketball. We have got to get back to accountability, in terms of what needs to be done.”
  • Rothstein – “You had mentioned you had four kids transfer in the spring. Why do you think right now, not just in your program, but in college basketball, kids will choose to leave their current post, instead of choose to cut their teeth where they’re at and develop where they are?”
  • Matta – “I’ll give you a funny stat, Jon. Of the top 50 greatest of all time NBA players, you’ve seen the list right? You know how many of them transferred in their college career?”
  • Rothstein – “Zero?”
  • Matta – “One. Larry Bird. You say he quit at Indiana and they went and got him at French Lick and they went and got him at Indiana State. I don’t know if he was a transfer but I say that from the standpoint of I talk to the players about this at the beginning of the year. Especially for the new guys there’s probably going to be more bad days than good days at the beginning. But those bad days are what make you better. Those bad days are what makes you tougher. I think kids, not only in our program, but they come in with one foot in and one foot out and they say, hey, if it doesn’t work I’ll go somewhere else. As opposed to the great players, the greatest players, none of them weren’t transferring. They just figured it out. They went back to their dorm rooms at night and said hey, I didn’t practice well today. Nobody’s fault but my own. I got back in and earn my right to play.”
  • Rothstein “No, no that’s obvious, no question, when kids stay in the same place they learn and do. Not just has the landscape of college basketball changed but we’re seeing more teams now from outside the Power 5 conferences have a chance to go far in the NCAA tournament. Your Ohio State team last year was the 1st team in the history of the Big Ten to have double figure conference wins and not make the NCAA tournament. You coached at Butler and you saw what that program became with the runs it went on in the NCAA tournament. How much has the sport changed in terms of how broad of a scope is the teams that can do damage?”
  • Matta – “That is quite amazing. Simply from the standpoint of you look at, there’s been a few exceptions, obviously, but that trend is basketball teams. Sometimes there’s a couple 5th year seniors on there. What they quote, unquote call mid-level, and those guys are able to make runs. I think the other thing you see in those programs, those guys have chips, they’re always the underdog. There’s always playing with and edge which is sometimes hard to get and with that said, I look at the climate of college basketball, right now, and I think it was a few years ago when VCU, Butler, UConn and Kentucky (Rothstein – as a 4 seed). You look at Butler, VCU and UConn were not in the tournament until the last week of the season. They got that momentum, they got that run going and those are the, sometimes it takes a little bit of luck. I go back four years ago we, I think, had the best team in college basketball, and we had a bad 20 minutes against Kentucky and they hit a last second shot on us and win the game. Sometimes you got to create your own luck and that’s one of those things we talk here at Ohio State with our players is let’s make our own breaks.”
  • Rothstein – “You when you mention that team with Jared Sullinger that played Kentucky in Newark and lost an epic Sweet 16 finish, from 2010 to 2013 Ohio State was no less than a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament, since then you’ve been no higher than a six. Why do you that is?”
  • Matta – “Well, there’s a been a couple things. You never forget, you always forget the top 5 picks, the top 1st round picks and we went a year where we lost DeShaun Thomas as a junior. He went as the 58th pick. The next year we lost, and Deshaun was 19 points and 8 rebounds and would’ve been a heck of player as a senior on a heck of a team. The next year we lost LaQuinton Ross, who was 17 points and 8 rebounds. He went undrafted. Those were the things you just didn’t see ’em coming and those are the ones that are hard to get back. I remember a few years ago we lost David Lighty. He broke his foot. Seven games in the season we were undefeated and everyone was like, it’s only 10 points, five rebounds. I’m like, you got to understand, the season’s over. That guy right there is the heart and soul of our team. David played here and I think won 137 games over the course of his career and people don’t see that and sometimes those guys get forgotten in the shuffle but I think it’s, not making any excuses, we’ve got to get back to where we are and I like this team this year and we’ve only got one senior and I love the guys we have in the program who came in new.”
  • Rothstein – “If you could have done something differently during that span to maybe keep things more afloat, maybe what would you have done.”
  • Matta – “In terms of, Jon…?”
  • Rothstein – “In terms of over the past four years if you could have done things differently to keep things at a different level what would you have done?”
  • Matta – “I wouldn’t have let D’Angelo Russell play so well as a freshman. I’ll be honest, we didn’t see that one coming, as he came in. I knew it early and but that one kind of set us back a little bit just in terms I think we thought we had him for two years. But, obviously, I couldn’t be happier for him for what he was able to do and what he did for our program and what’s he’s doing now. But I think that’s something that you analyze. Is it technical, is it something you’re doing off the court? I honestly believe this. I think sometimes now in college basketball I think the locker room is more important than the practice floor, in terms of, you know, what’s going on in there and those are things we have to do a great job in monitoring and making sure the climate’s always in a positive direction.”
  • Rothstein – “It’s interesting how you bring that up and you also bring up D’Angelo Russell and how well he played because you can debate, obviously, who brings more to a program. You have a guy who’s a one and done type talent and becomes and instant pro but he’s only in you program one year. Since you’ve coached both, who’s the better recruit? D’Angelo Russell, the one and done type talent, or, maybe, guys like David Lighty, Keita Bates-Diop, or Jae’Sean Tate? Guys that are going to be there for four years?”
  • Matta – “That’s the million dollar question. I don’t know if I have an answer. For me, a lot of the one and dones that I’ve had have just been the biggest delight that I coached. I loved coaching D’Angelo Russell because every day in practice, you just, you’re walking off the court, kind of like, wow, that was, he did some amazing things. I think those guys make you better coaches, as well. Now there’s a lot of validity in terms of having the guys who are in the program for three, four years and watching their maturity. Watching their growth. That is very gratifying as a coach in terms of seeing a player like Evan Turner from his freshman, to his sophomore, to the national player of the year as a junior and the number two draft pick. I think about that kid daily of where he was and where he ended up. So there’s such a fine line, Jon. But there’s one thing I will say, you get those one and dones, the biggest thing you have to do is make sure they have both feet in until the final horn. And when that happens then you’ve got a special player.”
  • Rothstein – “You’ve said several times you are going to get you program back to the way you did things when you arrived in Columbus in 2004. With that said, when you sit back and look into you crystal ball, what’s the biggest X-factor for your team next year in terms of which player to get Ohio State back to where you were when you first got things rolling?”
  • Matta – “I think the beauty of this year’s team is it is going to be a collective effort. I think this is going to be a role defined team. This group of guys has to learn to play through adversity. You’ve been covering us or a long time. It never quite goes the way you plan it does. The best teams can adjust when things don’t go right. They find a way to overcome it. Adaptability, that’s something I hope this team has learned from last year because a lot of times when things didn’t go exactly the way we wanted them to we weren’t able to recover. That’s what great teams do.”
  • Rothstein – “Who’s the newcomer who will have the biggest impact next season?”
  • Matta – “I’ll tell you what, up to this point, in workouts, summer skill work, that sort of thing, I’ve been very pleased with all of them. I think from all the guys looking at the situation and saying what do I have to do to get on the court? How do I make an impact and make this team better? That’s what you want early on in the season then they start to mature ad then they start to grow and they start to add things. But they’ve go to be able to zone in on a few things they can do and they do them well and they bring that to the table and then we throw more onto their plate. All the new guys, I’ve been very, very pleased with who they are as players and, most importantly, who they are as people.”
  • Rothstein – “You know, Thad, as we project what’s going to happen next year in the Big Ten, obviously, we all expect Wisconsin to have a great team and Michigan State had a great recruiting class. Indiana and Purdue return a lot of pieces but Ohio State is almost being associated with the word ‘sleeper.’ As someone who’s led this program to multiple Final Fours and national title game in 2007, what is it like for you to hear that type of word associated with your program?”
  • Matta – “I like that, from the standpoint of we’re still a young basketball team and if we are the sleeper that means our young guys woke up and got the job done, if that makes sense. I’ve always told every team I’ve ever had in the 12 years I’ve been in the Big 10, there’s always been one team that kind of shocked the Big 10. Is it us? I don’t know that but there’s always one team where things kind of click. They stay injury free, really unite and that’s something that I’m striving for with this group.”
  • Rothstein – “If you could deliver a message right now to the Buckeye fans, what’s the biggest reason why you believe Ohio State could be and will be vintage Ohio State next season?”
  • Matta – “Strictly from the standpoint of the things we tried to do in the off-season, obviously, we have intensified in terms of basketball and getting more specific with our players but we’ve really tried to sell the hard message of why each guy’s here in terms of representing Ohio State. That this place is so much bigger than all of us and we have a part to do and we have to great pride in that and with that said, that’s kind of been the message of what we’ve tried to get accomplished this summer.”
  • Rothstein – “Well Thad, it’s going to be a lot of fun to cover, appreciate a couple minutes. I know how busy you are. Look forward to keeping in touch throughout the pre-season.”
  • Matta – “Alright, Jon, thank you.”

Chris Jent. Bruce Almighty, Luke Skywalker or just a darn good hoops coach?

What do you think of Chris Jent being rehired by Thad Matta to serve as an Ohio State assistant men’s basketball coach? Don’t hesitate. Say out loud the first thought you have on the subject.

Did you say “The next Ohio State men’s head basketball coach”?

Did you say “Automatically the best assistant Thad Matta has”?

Did you say “Great hire by Thad Matta. Jent is going to help get this program rolling again”?

Ever since the rumors began to persist former Buckeye player and assistant coach, Chris Jent, was going to fill the slot vacated when Jeff Boals became the Stony Brook Sea Wolves new head coach, the conjecture about how much value he added to the Ohio State coaching staff and what it might mean for the program’s future has swirled without cease.

I’m just like the rest of you, I admit it’s fun to think about but also submit to you some of it gets a bit far out there.

How much of what we fans throw around is based in any reality that Jent or anyone else on Thad Matta’s staff might subscribe to?

My observations tell me there are three schools of thought about Jent rejoining Ohio State’s staff after leaving at the end of 2012-2013 season to spend a season as assistant with the Sacramento Kings and one as the head coach of Bakersfield Jam, an NBA-DL franchise.

A. Jent is a coaching God, or at least Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, who was given the job of doing God’s work for one week in the 2003 movie titled Bruce Almighty.

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I read the Buckeye hoops boards/forums and twitter and this one is popular. By some accounts Chris Jent is the one coach on staff who knows what he’s doing. There’s no need to read between the lines where most opinions fall here. It’s just a matter of time before Thad Matta retires and Jent takes over.

There’s no way Chris Jent goes to work each day, having established a great relationship with Thad Matta over the years, thinking everything he does is preparation for when he takes the program over.

B. The second strong opinion that comes through is although Thad Matta is the head coach and did a great thing in hiring Chris Jent to again join his staff as an assistant, any success Ohio State has can be credited to the former Buckeye.

Just how delusional are Buckeye sports fans? That’s a loaded question if there ever was one for Buckeye Nation to answer.

Is Jent Luke Skywalker?

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Ohio State’s teams haven’t performed recently the way Thad and members of his staff have wanted them to but one can’t really look down the line at how well Matta’s Ohio State teams have performed over the years and then seriously question his ability to coach.

Has Thad done it all by himself? No! Whatever you may think, coaches like Dave Dickerson, Greg Paulus and strength coach Dave Richardson are, by definition of being employed at Ohio State, as good as there is at what they do. Don’t tell me they are less than quality and expect me to believe you. You don’t stick around Ohio State as they have without it being plain to those it matters to you’ve added a wide range of positives to the Buckeye program you’re employed in.

They are human beings and I identify with the idea each of us have the ability over time to perform our daily duties at a higher level.

Each coach has his strong points and the whole is stronger than the individual.

Any success Ohio State has this season will be due to how well the entire coaching staff works together to teach talented young men how to play the game of basketball at a high level as a team.

Those same kids are doing their best to make Buckeye fans like you and I proud of them on the court while earning an education in the classroom to serve them well later in life.

C. A third option gives Chris Jent credit for the unique experiences as a coach he brings to the Ohio State practice court each day and on the road as an evaluator of high school talent and as a recruiter of players who fit the descriptions Thad Matta and the rest of his staff have concerning who they would like to see wearing the Scarlet & Gray uniforms of Ohio State.

Chris Jent is a darn good coach.

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09 Mar 1985, Manhattan, New York City, New York State, USA --- Original caption: New York: Georgetown's Most Valuable Player, Patrick Ewing, holds his MVP trophy and victory net as he gives the #1 sign behind coach John Thompson after they Hoyas' beat St. John's Redmen 92-80 in the Big East final at Madison Square Garden. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Coll. Basketball: NCAA Finals. Portrait of Ohio St. players (L-R) Larry Siegfried, Jerry Lucas, Mel Nowell & John Havlicek victorious w. coach Fred Taylor (net around neck) after game vs NYU. (Photo by Jon Brenneis//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

You and I both know it. I don’t know any Buckeye fan who doesn’t want this season’s team to display excellence and win enough games to receive a bid to the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Jent’s presence on Ohio State’s staff provides the Buckeyes an extra quality ledge to stand on and work at attaining the highest goals for a college basketball team.

Don’t put undue pressure on Thad Matta or Chris Jent. Enjoy the players, the staff and maybe even the efforts of the Ohio State basketball managers.

Welcome back, Chris Jent. How about you hang around awhile this time?

: )  Go Buckeyes!

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A bit of background on Chris Jent’s basketball career

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(Photo taken from the Buckeye Sports Bulletin 20 Years Of Memories Issue)

To the joy of many, Ohio State assistant coach Chris Jent returns, this 2016-2017 season, to Columbus for the fourth time as a player or coach.

Twice as a player and twice as an assistant coach for the Buckeyes.

See below for a bit of history and a few comments about Chris’s journey back to Thad Matta’s coaching staff.

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Chris Jent, from Sparta, NJ played basketball for Ohio State from 1998-2002.

He averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds at Sparta High School and chose Ohio State over Villanova. He signed his LOI in November of 1987 and said beforehand:

“The school, the coaching staff the players, the players, I liked all of them.”

“Ohio State is just a different kind of school, a little bit better than the others,” he said. “The atmosphere is great.”

Easy to see Chris Jent was fond of Columbus and Ohio State right from the start.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19871106&id=WM5RAAAAIBAJ&sjid=620DAAAAIBAJ&pg=5471,1698344&hl=en

In 1993 Jent came back to Columbus after being traded to the CBA league Columbus Horizon team from the Rapid City (South Dakota) Thrillers.

Before that, he played in Spain for Joventut Badalona.

Jent then played three regular season games apiece for the Houston Rockets (1994) and the New York Knicks (1996-1997) and he earned an NBA championship ring with the Rockets when he appeared in 11 playoff contests with Houston.

NOTE – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Jent

Chris Jent appeared in more NBA playoff games than he did regular season contests. How many players can say that who have an NBA championship ring for their efforts?

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In 1995 Chris Jent played for Australia’s NBL North Melbourne Giants, Connecticut Pride of the CBA, and Italy’s Serapide Pozzuoli Napoli, who he also played for in 1997. (This is also where met former Buckeye Amadeo Della Valle’s father, Carlo)

In 1997, Jent played for the Atlantic City Seagulls (USBL), with 1997–1998 CFM Reggio Emilia (Italy) in 1997-1998, Termal Imola (Italy) in 1998-1999, Panionios (Greece) in 1999-2000 and CFM Reggio Emilia (Italy) in 2000-2001.

Jent’s coaching career has garnered him many different experiences. He’s been an assistant coach in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings.

Chris was the interim head coach for 18 games for the Orlando Magic at the end of the 2005 season and the NBDL Bakersfield Jam in 2015-2016.

Chris Jent previously served as an assistant for Thad Matta at Ohio State in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.

 

 

Most fans think Chris Jent is merely a shooting guru but he does not agree.

Read below what Jent had to say about that after spending five seasons as a Cleveland Cavaliers assistant. Just before he became an assistant at Ohio State in 2011:

Jent did quite a bit of shot-coaching for the Cavaliers, working especially close with James. But Jent handles other aspects of coaching, too.

“It’s funny,” Jent said. “Everyone says I was a shooting coach, and I’m not. That’s something that I teach. I do teach and address it in players that are willing to put the work in. ‘Bron was a guy that I changed his shot, and he felt as though he needed changing, so we attacked it. But I taught in a lot of different areas, a lot of defensive coaching. I kind of took over the defense the latter part of last year for Coach Scott. So I’m going to be teaching most likely both sides of the ball, and maybe focusing more on the offense at times with the Buckeyes.”

http://www.njherald.com/story/15070840/sparta-great-jent-returns-to-ohio-state#

 

Ohio State Men’s Basketball 2016-2017 Outlook

http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/graphics/pdf/m-baskbl/1617-prospectus.pdf

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(Photo from Ohio State Lantern
Wednesday, February 19, 1992)

What has to, for now, pass for college hoops information has arrived

Wish there was more out there but, for now, hoops CBB preview magazines like Lindy’s have to be acceptable as a source of energy while the Buckeyes get ready to start practice in:

Time moves too slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

This arrived at my house this past Saturday.

Go Buckeyes!

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