This weekend – Super Secret Scrimmage: Buckeyes at Bobcats

I’m looking forward to Ohio State’s scrimmage this Saturday (?) in Athens, Ohio inside Ohio University’s Convocation Center.

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(The inside of Ohio U’s Convocation Center, much as how it will appear this weekend, without players & coaches, anyway)

You might be wondering why? Only essential personnel are able to witness the event. The media can’t report on the outcome. No stats or a final score are released. So why?

All those things are true and I’m still buzzed. First off, after these type of games conclude, all over the college basketball stratosphere it means live exhibitions and the season is not far behind.

After Saturday, when I assume this scrimmage takes place, there are just eight days until the Walsh Cavaliers visit the friendly confines of The Schottenstein Center for a televised 4 P.M. Sunday afternoon game.

Also, yeah, stats or information about this scrimmage remain hidden but at least a few details of it will somehow find their way to the public.

I remember in Jared Sullinger’s freshman season, it became known he was dominant against a Baylor team that was full of talent.

Another example were notes that D’Angelo Russell, who played well last night for the Los Angeles Lakers in a home win over the Houston Rockets, scored at will on West Virginia.

So there are always a few gems that surface after scrimmages finish.

As I recall, while watching Russell’s efforts against West Virginia, was when Thad Matta knew D’Angelo’s ability and on court IQ had advanced beyond expectations, marking a possible one and done 2014-2015 season for DRuss.


How good is Ohio University?

I’ll use bullet points to signal Ohio University will give Ohio State all it can handle.

  • Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook (All stats below can be found in the Blue Ribbon CY) forecasts the Bobcats to finish 2nd in the Mid-American East Division behind Akron.
  • Antonio Campbell, 6’9 250 lbs, the reigning MAC-POY (2015-2016) returns. (17.1 ppg – 10.2 rpg – 1.8 bpg)

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  • Jaaron Simmons, who according to Blue Ribbon is the MAC’s best point guard, returns. (15.5 ppg – 7.9 apg – 3.5 rpg) Simmons finished 3rd nationally in assists per game.

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  • All but one player returns for a Bobcat team who won 23 games and lost 12, overall in 2015-2016. Ohio U. finished 2nd in the MAC with an 11-7 record.
  • Other parts of the puzzle are former MSU forward, 6’7 Kenny Kaminski (12.6 ppg from Medina, Ohio), Jordan Dartis 9.8 ppg (Newark, Ohio), who hit .479 of his 3-pt shots last season (MAC leader).
  • Bobcat competitors for the last starting spot are swing Gavin Block. Freshman guard, Rodney Culver (Pickerington Central HS), Khari Harley and Mike Laster.
  • The Bobcats inside reserves are 6’9 Doug Taylor, (Northland HS), 6’10 shot blocker Wally Mompremier, and Ohio U.’s highly thought of 6’8 freshman recruit, Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio)

Ohio University’s Head Coach Saul Phillips cites, in the Blue Ribbon CY, defense as the area where his Bobcat team must improve to win the MAC.

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How much improvement Ohio State will or will not show from this past season to the beginning of the 2016-2017 will either, starting with this scrimmage, buoy or deflate Thad Matta, his staff and the Buckeye team. The hoped for transformation starts Saturday (or Sunday?) in Athens.

These questions need answers:

  • To what degree will Ohio State’s returning players display an understanding of how to work together well as a team?
  • Who’s going to lead the Buckeyes this season?
  • How much space has PG JaQuan Lyle journeyed towards harnessing the mental side of directing his teammates during situations where his composure under pressure will be tested?
  • Thad Matta’s offense has always worked best when supported by a strong presence around the basket, so just how many minutes per game of smart, aggressive, effective play can Trevor Thompson provide?
  • Can Dave Bell contribute positives in this, the season Thad Matta had asked him to prepare to start doing so?
  • In Marc Loving, Kam Williams, Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, Thad Matta has talented players who have the ability to score and perform other necessary tasks to win games in the Big 10. Can all four have consistent, potent seasons putting the ball in the basket and will they show progress in other phases of the game?
  • What level of quality will newcomer CJ Jackson, and freshmen Micah Potter, Derek Funderburk and Andre Wesson rise to?
  • Most importantly, what level of defense will Ohio State roll onto the floor each game this season? (As I see it, without a great defense, the far reaches of potential for the Buckeyes to have a superlative season will be inaccessible)

Like I said, I’m looking forward to Ohio State’s Super Secret Scrimmage.

Go Buckeyes! images

Agonis Club Men’s Hoops Tip-Off notes/observations/report by Bob Cody – Part 1 of 3

By Bob Cody

Part 1 of 3


Presenting the 2016-17 Agonis Club Men’s Hoops Tip-Off!
The OSU basketball night, began with an OSU football story, and some Cleveland baseball. The Indians were in the midst of their potential pennant winning game and ticket to the World Series, and as it turned out, their excellent pitching and defense and timely hitting won the game and the ALCS from the 1st inning on.

As I got out of my car in the south parking lot at the Schott, I could hear the Buckeye football team practicing, with whistles blowing, and Urban barking out instructions to the team.

THEN, with the sound system cranked to the max, they played that Penn State “Zombie Nation” version with the We-Are-Penn-State.” It was somewhat surreal. Giving the youngsters a taste of what it will sound like if their fans are pumped on Saturday, ala Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Beginning at 5, the practice was opened to the attendees, and I took a seat at the top of the folding chairs lower section.

Almost instantly, you could see, hear and feel the presence of Chris Jent coaching on the floor.

Thad was pretty active moving around during the practice, belying the false narrative from some that Thad is slipping physically and will retire soon for health reasons.

Greg Paulus was the 2nd most active assistant on the floor, with Coach Dickerson handling the big guys.

Some practice notes I scribbled down while watching and keeping up with the Tribe’s game (please excuse the clichés and the repetitious characterizations!):

  • Tate: full go, no limitations after surgeries.
  • Nice no-look pass from Lyle.
  • Wesson, nice drive down the lane and turn-around off the glass.
  • Lyle, much improved as a point, good no-look passing.
  • We have more height with Funderburk and Potter.
  • CJ Jackson great over the top feed to Potter underneath from top of the key.
  • Wesson makes ill advised pass, but then follows on the next possession with a strong drive down the lane and finish.
  • Jimmy Jent did not see any action.
  • Joey Lane is all over the place.
  • Bell digging in the paint.
  • Now full court, nice pass by Kam, nice outside touch and shoot by Trevor.
  • Nice steal of pass by Potter.
  • CJ (Jackson) has good hops!
  • Chris Jent coaching all the time during the up and down the floor.
  • Potter has loads of potential inside and outside.
  • Nice alley-oop and finish: Loving to Funderburk.
  • CJ very quick on the break.
  • Loving defense much improved.
  • Nice work and ball movement by Lyle and Tate.
  • CJ has good guard instincts.
  • Funderburk is fearless, not afraid to mix it up underneath.
  • Tate is the unquestioned vocal leader of this team.
  • Loving, more quiet, but playing really smart on both ends.
  • Loving shot so smooth!
  • Nice break led by Funderburk with Kam finishing.
  • Nice drive down the paint by Loving then the dish to CJ: swish!
  • Nice steal and finish by Lyle.
  • Lyle nails his free throws.
  • Nice drive and layup by Lyle.
  • CJ for 3 as the clock expires: swish!
  • Sweet move and reverse layup by Loving.
  • Funderburk really hustles and scraps at both ends!
  • Another sweet drive and finish down the lane by Loving.
  • Great feed by CJ to Loving for the dunk.
  • Tate is strong!
  • Feed from Loving to Potter: swish!
  • Smooth 3 by Lyle.
  • Excellent perimeter passing by CJ – Kam – Loving.
  • Great feed by Lyle to Trevor.

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Agonis Club Men’s Hoops Tip-Off notes/observations/report by Bob Cody – Part 2 of 3

By Bob Cody

Part 2 of 3


Thad Addresses the Crowd
In his talk to the attendees after practice, Thad described the practice as having a lot of grabbing and pushing, but he was OK with that, since that is what happens in the Big 10 where the refs let them play on.

He believes this team is cohesive, the main thing they’ve worked on is “character.” That the team has to do the right thing both on the court, and off the court. The court game doesn’t define the player, it’s their approach to the game that defines them; their approach to life, their approach to school.

Thad thinks that this will be a ”fun group to watch this year.” They will be able to “spread the wealth a little bit and do a lot of different things” and that will be very beneficial to this group.

Asked who will start, he says at this point, he doesn’t know. He said they graded out the team last week and that 3 of the starters from last year wouldn’t have started if the season began then. But we have 4 weeks before the first game with Navy and he sees things coming together.

He said these kids try to do everything real well, but “we don’t want that. We want them to be guys we can count on,” he doesn’t want to use the term “specialist,” but if you’re a rebounder, get the 8 you’re supposed to get, and get 3 more you’re not supposed to get; if you’re a shooter, you’ve got to shoot 45% from the 3; percentages are what matters and we chart that out during every practice; assist to turnover ratio is huge as is taking care of the basketball. Shot selection.

Thad added “We’ve been going hard and have had 3 days of long and tedious practices, and will get the day off on Thursday, and that they need the time off ; yesterday they did a lot of scrimmaging with officials and they got worn out which is good.” Keita developed a shin problem, but he should be OK there (he was held out of this practice).
On the coaching responsibilities, Chris Jent is handling the offense, but they switch around to different areas; an “all hands on deck” approach. Chris does offense mostly, Greg gets the defense going, Dave is sort of in between with both. Thad loves the new staff, and is happy for the opportunities for the guys he lost (Boals and Diebler).
The team got to watch the Cavs shoot around the day before, then Thad then got “thrown out” of the Washington shoot around. A security person told him he had to leave, and Thad told him he could kiss him you-know-where.

He said LeBron treats this place like home, to which Thad said “Wow!”
—–

After practice, we all went to the practice gym for eats and talks by MC Ronnie Stokes, and a few words from Chris Jent.

The crowd at the tip-off was down from other years, but it was still a great event all the way around.

The auction for the 4 tickets for any game, behind the bench, netted $2100 from the winner, and $2000 from the runnerup. All in support of the program, as is the fee to attend the event and silent auction.

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Agonis Club Men’s Hoops Tip-Off notes/observations/report by Bob Cody – Part 3 of 3

By Bob Cody

Part 3 of 3


Now, my one hour practice evaluations of what I saw.

0 – Micah Potter: this kid is going to see the floor often this season, he will get bigger and stronger throughout his career at OSU. Can do it inside or outside. Potential starter with his size and versatility.

1 – Jae’Sean Tate: our warrior and leader. He now has more team mates he can trust and rely on, but still capable and willing to carry the team if the situation warrants it. As we saw at the end of last year, we need to keep his healthy.

2 – Marc Loving: I expect Marc to play at a higher level and turn in his best season as a Buckeye. You will hear announcers gush about him this year with things like “you know he is a former Mr. Basketball in Ohio.”

3 – CJ Jackson: Can play the point or shoot. He will be a great guy to bring in off the bench to spell or play alongside with Lyle, depending on the matchups.

4 – Derek Funderburk: You will be impressed by his size, hustle and athleticism. Potential All Big 10 player. The future for him looks very bright, and he will definitely contribute this year.

10 – David Bell: He is definitely a bench player, but able to fill in adequately and give Trevor, Potter or Funderburk a blow, depending on matchups and the situation. A valuable role player that every team needs.

13 – JaQuan Lyle: Vastly improved ball handler from last year and a definite starter and on-the-floor type general. He refrains from trying to do it all, and appears to have grown as a player from his play of last season.

14 – Joey Lane: The quintessential valuable practice player who goes non-stop whenever he was on the practice floor, which was always. No question why Thad values him as a member of this team. He makes his teammates better.

15 – Kam Williams: This year I expect Kam to take his game up a notch on both ends. I expect him to emerge as our deadly shooting threat whenever the team hits a cold spell. A great teammate and possible starter.

23 – Jimmy Jent: He did not play at all during the scrimmage. I expect he is a lot like Joey Lane, but lacking the knowledge of the system. But I love his genes, and you can see his Dad when you look at him in the eyes!

24 – Andre Wesson: Andre was all over the place during practice. All hustle, always trying to help out his teammates. He may be green now, but his build, hustle and instincts will put him on the floor this season.

32 – Trevor Thompson: Will likely start at the 5 again, and I expect him to take his game up a level this season. He has a better supporting cast to help him develop this season. He gives Thad a lot of options to work with in the big man rotation and matchups that different teams present us throughout the season.

33-Keita Bates Diop: As mentioned before, KBD didn’t play because of a minor shin issue. Regardless, I expect him to be a starter and to take his game up a level or two. We’ve all seen what he can do, he is a potential All Big 10 player if he plays up to his capabilities. Thad mentioned that KBD had done some missionary work this past summer, and that it had changed him into being an even better person.

Final summation: I agree with Thad that this team will be a lot of fun to watch this year. These guys play like they really like and trust each other, on and off the court (you could see that in the autograph line).

I think all 4 newcomers will see significant floor time and contributions this season. These guys on this team will be overlooked (face it, non-Buckeye fans love to downgrade us whenever possible), but could definitely be a contender in a very competitive Big 10 this season with our experience and added depth.

I expect this team to make the NCAA tournament this year.

How far we go will depend on how much we blend and mesh together during the season.

The beginning of the conference race will be very tough, with 3 out of 4 on the road. But we have a very good preseason schedule to prepare us for the long conference slog.

This team will happily make you forget about all the fits, stops and starts from last season. I hope you will become as pumped as I am for the season to start!
Game on!
GO BUCKS!

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Marc Loving should provide the Buckeyes a senior season of excellence

Short and sweet.

After posting ZEROS across the board in 16 minutes for the Buckeyes last season in a game played at Rutgers, Marc Loving turned into an aggressive,  consistent, impressive performer in the last 9 games of the 2015-2016 season. Nine games is a full quarter of the season and does represent a strong ‘trend’.

Here’s a look at his stats during that run:

(The nine begin after the Rutgers contest)

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The image is a little murky but I think still visible.

  • The FGs attempted # is actually wrong…Marc converted 50/95 FGs at a 52% accuracy percentage.
  • Marc made 18/43 three point attempts at a 43% clip.
  • He was 56/72 from the FT line at a 78 percent
  • Averaged 5.5 rebounds per game
  • Averaged 18.2 points per game

Impressive is that Marc Loving, who fans have labeled non-aggressive & uncaring, got to the free throw line, on average, eight times a game during his finishing streak of excellence in the 2015-2016 season.

That is not accomplished unless a will to mix it up is present. Tom Izzo didn’t ask his team to provide Loving 10 FT attempts on February 23rd. Loving had to earn his way there. Marc, by the way, made all 10 shots.

I noticed how much more aggressive Marc was during these games. Although his stats did fluctuate a little, Loving’s effort and results were consistently good.

I have confidence this level of effort and outcomes are what Buckeye fans will appreciate from Marc Loving’s final season in Columbus.

Coach Matta will enjoy being able to count on Marc Loving every game this season. It’s what senior players regularly provide for their team.

Here’s wishing you a great season, Marc Loving.

Go Buckeyes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big 10 Media Day – Minnesota

Minnesota Head Coach, Richard Pitino

Dave Revsine – Have to focus a little bit on last year in order to move past it. How do you wipe the slate clean with some guys who had some tough experiences on the court? They lost a lot of games. (Richard Pitino) “I had two meetings before our 1st official practice. One was w/the returners. The 2nd one was w/the newcomers. I talked to the returners I said guys you know and I know this is a totally different team and it’s a team we believe to be very good. But we are going to sit here today and say how did we grow from last year’s team. How have I grown as a coach? How has the staff grown as well? You players are the same as you were last season, makin g the same mistakes and not learning then that wasn’t valuable to us. I think they go that. Then I told them the newcomers, we have 6 guys, all 6 of you, you need to make an impact. Three of you were transfers. One of you is a 5th year transfer and was a very good player for a very good team. Then two sat out. Davonte got injured. Then our freshman class, Eric Curry, Amir Coffey, Michale Hurt, and Brady Rudrud, you guys are the only one who have an excuse moving forward because you’re young. I think the guys get that and they’re really excited to play.”

(Revsine) – What’s your biggest challenge as you try to fit those pieces together because in talking to you last season before games, you said we’re going to be totally different next season. We’ve got a ton of talent in the pipeline. So what’s the challenge when you get that talent of figuring out really quickly how to fit those pieces together? (Pitino) “I don’t look at last year was young and they got to grow into this year. I do feel this is a totally different team. Because the young guys will play, the transfers will play. Reggie Lynch legitimately will play major minutes. Akeem Springs will play major minutes. Then obviously the freshmen as well. So I think it’s getting them to gel by getting the returners to have an influence on the new guys. You can do that in the Big 10 whatever it is you want to win. Important for the experienced guys to have a great voice in this team and I think they’ve had that so far. “

Jon Crispin – You told me I like these kids. They’re good kids. The identity is something you are feeling confident about. What is it about this team that you have so much confidence in? (Pitino) “We have really good pieces back. I think Nate Mason is one of the most under appreciated guards in the Big 10. Nobody talks about him. Which is okay, I like that as a coach. But nobody talks about him. He had an eight game stretch there he was one of the best players on the court. Jordan Murphy is another player that nobody is talking about. He was an all freshman player and he almost had no idea what he was doing. Cause he’s a freshman. So w/those two guys back they’re a great core. DuPree McBrayer was someone. He was terrific. He was probably the best (????). Reggie Lynch was a good player in a good conference. Amir Coffey is one of the best freshman out there. So that’s a lot of pieces and we got to do our job and put them together but the depth is there. We took a hit w/Davonte and the talent is there, so we’re excited.”

(Crispin) Jordan did a lot of his work last season around the basket. He’s physically strong and finished well. Are you going to move him around a little more because he is a very versatile player? He’s still young. (Pitino) “I told him don’t be tempted to move away from the bread and butter down low. Become great at it. You were good at it last season become elite at it. He’s done that. He hasn’t really ventured away from the basket too much. It’ll be a different dynamic for us. Joey King was just a pick and pop threat. Well now it’s going to be more of a pick and roll go to the block threat. Get your work done there. I think with him and Reggie we’ve got a pretty formidable, if they’re healthy, front court.”

(Crispin) What do you do to rely on locker room leadership? (Pitino) “We lost a lot of close games. Don’t think people quite grasp that. even last season was difficult. Do think we’re closer than people may think we are. What I’ve got to do is pick their confidence back up. There’s only so many speeches you can give. There’s only so many things you can say. They got to start winning. When you win it breeds more confidence. Akeem Springs, who beat us, he’s given our team a lot of confidence on how you react in order to be that. You can’t let last season to return and take away their fear. Have to understand it’s a new team. It’s a new season. Be as confident as you possibly can. “

(Crispin) Do you feel good this is a Richard Pitino team? You’ve been building. You have guys who fit your style, fit your system. Is this the type of team you’ve been hoping to see? (Pitino) ” Was always very concerned with year three. When I came there we didn’t have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. It was a difficult time to recruit a freshman, asenior high school class. I always thought we were going to have hit reset in year three. By year four we’ve really turned the corner. I think we have the team to do that this year.”

(Revsine) You were talking about Amir a little bit there. I’m interested in getting a bit more of a sense for him as a player. There’s a lot of pressure on him. No doubt. His dad, we know what a great player he was, in the league. He’s a legacy. He’s a local guy. He’s from the area. People are going to be focused on him. What kind of a realistic time frame for him to come in and really be an impact guy for you? (Pitino) “Today. Right away. He’s going to be that. He’s one of the most talented freshmen in our conference. Throughout the country. I’d like to see him score more. He’s a phenomenal passer. I’ll huddle up the offense. I’ll draw up a play. I keep looking at him, what position do you play? Because he’s so tall and he’s got so much versatility. He’s going to be a major part of it. It’s important for us to recruit our home state. We felt like we got the two best players in the state in Coffey and Hurt. But Amir has been better than I anticipated. It’s early. He hasn’t played under duress in the season just yet. But I’m very, very excited about him. I think he’s got a pretty good  rep and I think it’s deservedly so.”

(Revsine) You touched on Reggie Lynch and the role he’s expected to play. He has been banged up in pre-season. What’s the timetable for him? (Pitino) “Probably a couple weeks or so. He was practicing. He’s a difference maker because we can throw it into him. He’s ready. Bakare and Gas were just not ready to play those minutes last season. It was challenging for them. Where Reggie played in a good conference for a good team. They went to the NIT. Illinois State, in a good conference. That’s something to be proud of and he was an all-conference player. We’re really, really excited about him. He’s kind of that anchor. he can block shots. He can score in the post. He really completes the team and what we are trying to do.”

Listening to Minnesota coach Richard Pitino has a nature that causes me to think he has a ton of energy on and off the court. That’s likely why he overspent his private jet travel budget over his 1st three years at Minnesota. Bet he doesn’t sleep much, either.

Anyone else think, also, he can light a player up in practice if need be? But, likeable enough he appears.

Pitino gives the impression he’s confident his team will spring a surprise on the conference in 2016-2017. I’ll be interested in whether his team can play at a high level, with great intensity, on defense. As I recall, a pressure defense at Florida International, that harvested a large number of steals, is what brought attention to his coaching skills and thereby, fostered his hiring by the Gophers to lead their school’s mens basketball program.

I’m buying the hope he and his players have. I think the Gophers will make a strong push to draw themselves into the middle pack of conference teams trying to earn an NCAA bid.


Minnesota players, Nate Mason & Jordan Murphy

(Revsine) I want to ask both of you guys the same question. How do you wipe the slate clean? (Nate Mason) “Last season was very difficult. Just coming in every day and working hard. Playing together and building that team bond. Come in and know what our focus is.” (Jordan Murphy) “I think it’s already behind us. Was a really good growing experience. We will be very overlooked this season. Think it’s a motivation. Above everything, just motivating our guys to do better. We look back on last season. We don’t want to be in that same boat again.”

(Revsine) What was coach Pitino’s message to you about the veterans moving on? (Murphy) “Time to mature and grow up. Time to start growing as a person and a player and get our business handled. Improve from last season. Play way, way better. On the upperclassmen to show the young guys what it is like to play in the Big 10 just like the four freshmen we have coming in.” (Mason) “Involvement more so as a person and a player. More of a leader. We have to lead this team. Being there for the team. Taking on that leadership role.”

Jon Crispin – “You could barely go 5 on 5 in practice last season because of injuries. How much has the competition in practice changed. You play different positions. How much has it helped? (Mason) “The competition in practice, everyone’s competitive. We look forward to practice. Coaches look forward to it. It’s fun to see how much talent we got and how good we can be. Helps to focus and keep working hard.” (Murphy) “It’s super competitive in practice. The fact we have so many post men this season. So many smart and good post men, skilled. All of us can make a move and try to be stronger. Stuff like that.”

(Crispin) What’s the identity of your team, being a Richard Pitino coached team. What does that mean to you? (Mason) “Being able to get stops on defense. Last we showed a little bit of that offense. This season we want to  show we can be a good team. That we can get stops on defense. Our priority is definitely defense.”

(Crispin) You had so much strength around the rim for a freshman last season. How is your game going to evolve this season? (Murphy) “Expand my game more. Take it outside just like I do around the rim. Making straight line drives. There’s no aspect of my game that doesn’t need improving. I’m not satisfied with where I’m at. Everything I need to improve on.”

(Crispin) What wil make you guys competitive this season? (Mason) “What we’ve been through as a team. We’ve had two bad seasons. In practice we’ve been fighting. Every day is a fight. We come to practice work, man. Everyone’s on the same page. “

(Crispin) How have off the court, on the court challenges helped your level of accountability to make this team good? (Murphy) “Taught me to be more perseverant. Adversity really helps me just know when I’m in a tough time I’ve been through worse. I can make it through the tough times of last season I can make it through the grind of this season. We have high aspirations. We know we can be really good and if we just play up to our potential then we’ll be fine.”

(Revsine) Who are the new guys to the program who will right away jump off the page and make a difference? (Murphy) “The guys in my book are Eric Curry, Amir Coffey, Reggie Lynch, and Akeem Springs. All four bring a lot to the table on both ends. Amir, Eric, and Akeem are all excellent passers and Reggie is a load in the post.”

Junior Nate Mason’s PG assist #s are better than a 2-1 assist/turnover ratio. Soph Jordan Murphy, 6’6-240 lbs, went for nearly 12 ppg and 8 rebounds each game last season.  These two skilled veterans hope to lead. There are a number of newcomers who may have an impact. Minnesota hasn’t faired well lately in conference so this is a big season for Richard Pitino’s program. Intriguing drama.

 

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Upcoming stories at ghostofstjohnarena.com

  • A writeup on the latest Ohio State commit, Hargrave Military PG, Braxton Beverly, will soon be up. A guest writer has taken on that job and I’m sure he’ll provide an excellent piece.
  • Senior Marc Loving’s experience and talent can go a long way enabling the 2016-2017 Ohio State team to exceed expectations. I’ve been thinking about this story since the end of last season after Loving finished with eight strong games in a row. Marc has his doubters in Buckeye Nation but if he can to rise up and provide quality efforts for his team the entire season, it’ll be huge. I’ll write about what that may look like. That’s on its way.
  • As information comes in about practices and personnel, ghostofstjohnarena.com will start to provide opinions on what those reports may mean. The idea is to have fun with it, of course. The promise of the upcoming season is killing me at this point having to wait to have games to view and see the Buckeyes on court. I’m no expert but I live for Ohio State basketball.
  • Finally, as the season nears, I’ll figure out how to make this site more interactive. One of my ideas is an offer, to anyone who would like, to fans to write about Ohio State and/or Big 10 hoops. I don’t care which team you root for. Just be passionate and respectful to a certain degree and you can write and publish a hoops story at this site.

That’s it for now.

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Big 10 Media Day – Iowa

Iowa  HC Fran McCaffery…

  • Dave Revsine – What are the challenges of coaching this team this season? (McCaffery) – “Everything ran smoothly last season. This season is different. We do have great character, hard workers, a deeper team, a bigger and longer team, more athletic. We don’t experience. A lot of the leadership will fall on Peter Jok.”
  • (Revsine) – Graduated Hawkeye PG Mike Gesell, is gone, give us a sense of the PG start and how that’s going to go?  (McCaffery) “He also had Anthony Clements, too. We essentially started two PGs. 6’7 Christian Williams, a big PG, with a 6’11 wingspan, who played some last season, presents some great options for us defensively. Not a great scorer but can score. Jordan Bohannon, Iowa’s Mr. Basketball, smaller, but tough, smart and can really make shots. They are a great combination.”
  • Jon Crispin – You’ve talked size and depth but you do lack experience. Do you have to rely on a little more structure than you may have last season? (McCaffery) “Tough question. We’re still playing fast and you have to make sure aren’t taking bad shots. Not turning the ball over. That’s not a good recipe. We do have Nicholas Baer and Dom Uhl, we do have a core of other people who can step in but taking care of the basketball and being consistently capable of scoring the ball and executing our offense, especially on the road, and especially early, with the difficult schedule we have.”
  • (Crispin) Last season you had your core. We saw what you lost in the four starters that you lose heading into this season. Thought out here physically, using four guys, you hit a wall. Will you try to balance things out more this season? (McCaffery) – “So much of the scoring responsibility fell on Jared and Pete last season. Now we have more weapons. A lot of them are not proven. A guy like (6’9 freshman)Tyler Cook. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a double figure scorer. He’s that good. He can impact the game both on the glass and in transition, at half court. He’s smart. Big. Strong. But we have to put him to the test and that’s when we’ll know exactly what we have in terms of what he can do and how early can he do it. He’s going to have a chance.”
  • (Crispin) From a patience standpoint, what does it take from you in terms of being patient, almost nurturing them but pushing them, as you siad you need to do. Especially when you want to play fast paced basketball? (McCaffery) “It’s a fine line. You have to hold them accountable. Have to be on them every day. But it can’t be negative. Got to be positive. We got bring them along. We have to encourage. We got to watch film. We have teaching, a teaching atmosphere. A positive one at that. When that’s done these guys will start to progress rapidly.”
  • (Crispin) Without leadership there’s also a sense of leadership that’s also lost. Who does that come from with this group? (McCaffery) “Well, is starts with Pete. He could lead this league in scoring. We’re going to go to him. He’s got the green light, as he did last season. But he’ll be doing more things with the ball, in ball screen action. So it starts there and then it’s Uhl and Baer, and Tyler Cook, it’s the PG position. We have some other players that can score the ball. Isaiah Moss, Maishe Dailey, Brady Ellingson. These guys, Brady’s been around, he’s a third year player. So we have some weapons there and Ahmad Wagner, who really is taking it to another level. Cordell Pemsell, Ryan Kriener. It’s rare you would have a young team and have 13 guys and still have 13 guys I’m expecting to play. You and I both know you can’t play 13.”
  • (Crispin) Who’s benefitted the most from having to go against Mike Gesell, Jared Uthoff last season? We saw what happened to Frank Kaminsky.  Who from your team has benefitted the most from having to go against them? (McCaffery) “Christian Williams, and Nicholas Baer, and Dom Uhl. Dom Uhl, in particular, played a lot in each of the last two seasons. Nicholas just last season. But those guys went hard at them every day in practice and they both can score the ball.”
  • (Revsine) Guess us a sense for Dale Jones? A player who you lost very early last season. You said that was a guy who really could’ve helped us. Understand just how important he could be? (McCaffery) “He’s a big X-factor for us. As long as he’s healthy he’s going to be a good player. 6’8, 235. He can score. He’l come out firing. He’s going to be aggressive defensively. But a lot of shooting forwards don’t rebound. Dale Jones rebounds. So once he really trusts himself which you’ve seen at times. Other times he still feels like he’s dragging that leg. ACL surgery takes time. But he’s also a guy who’s a junior college All-American and as you said last season when we struggling up front, especially down the stretch, he was the guys we had recruited, and expected, to be the one who would step up and he’ll get you 25. He could do that. So I’m really excited for him  and I’m proud of him and how he’s developed through this rehabilitation process. Don’t count out him yet.”
  • (Revsine) Thanks a lot, coach.

It’s no mystery Fran McCaffery is an intense person on the sidelines and in the interview room after games. Bet he’s no blooming rose in practices, also, but you do get the sense he cares for his players and goes about his business teaching them the game from a tough love, but reasonable manner. 

McCaffery’s comments are positive. There seems to be a guarantee true frosh forward Tyler Cook is a dominant player and will be dependable in his role as an immediate play maker this season. My thought on that is that’s a lot for any young player to absorb and prosper. Guys like Jimmy Jackson, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, and Isaiah Thomas come in and dominate. 

So the question is, how good is Tyler Cook?


Iowa forwards, Peter Jok and Dale Jones.

  • Dave Revsine – Peter, I’m going to start with you. Your role’s different now. You’re the clear, go to guy. what does that do, mentality-wise, for you coming into the season? (Peter Jok) “I’m going to be he main focus of everybody else. But I feel like we have a good team. A few or couple guys are going to step up. I think we’re going to be good. “
  • (Revsine) What will see as a difference in this season’s Peter Jok if you look really closely? (Jok) “I’m going to be more loose this season. Coach is going to give me the offensive green light so I’m just going to play freely to where last season I had to play it, play a role, stay under that the last two seasons. This year coach is going to let me play my game so you’re going to see a lot of play maker, creating my own shots, coming off screens and all that. “
  • (Revsine) For you, Dale, you played six games and then you were lost for the year. What does this say about coach McCaffery’s confidence in you? I mean, you’re here? (Dale Jones) “Uh, I’m glad he has a lot of confidence in me. It gives me more confidence in myself to go out there and be great for my team. But the main focus is being patient right now. I’m taking my time. It’s been about 10 months in about a week and we don’t have another game for about a month so just taking my time and just trying to be ready for my team and be ready to compete all season.”
  • (Crispin) With new head coaches we ask this question, how is it that you handle all the pressure of all the other things? This media day is one of those other things that you have to do. You guys are looked upon for what star do for your team. How do you handle all the pressure? All the surrounding media? (Jok) “I don’t look at it as pressure. I look at it as a blessing to be where I’m at right now. I just try to stay focused on the main things. Coach Dillard has a thing called Make or Maintain the Main Things. I just try to focused on school and basketball. All the media and all the extra things that’s part of it. I just try to stay focused on what I’m supposed to stay focused on.”
  • (Crispin) Did you get confidence in the process you went through in the off-season, in terms of being evaluated and to see where you’re at at the next level. Did you gain confidence coming back to school knowing what the process would be ahead of you? (Jok) “Oh yeah. Talking to people that are already in the NBA what they think I need to work on to reach there. It was a motivation for me to come back and get to work on what I need to work on trying to get there. I got a lot of confidence going into this season. Coach has got a lot of confidence in me and so do the players. Looking forward to having a great season.”
  • (Crispin) Talk about the rehab process and how tough it was to sit out and how hard you had to work to get back. (Jones) “You have to stay tuned to what everybody is doing in practice. The rehab was coming in two hours before practice even starts. Doing all the work you have to do, your core, your footwork, and then you, also, got to tune in and go through the drills with some of the team when you are cleared and then get your conditioning back and feel back and so it’s almost like double work. Going through school, it is pretty tough but you have to try to stay organized and stay collected.”
  • (Crispin) I went through the transfer process. I had to redshirt. I felt like that year I sat out I learned more about basketball. I became a better although all I could do was practice. Did you get better this off-season? Did you learn more about the game and develop anything else on that mental side of the game that’s going to help you this season? (Jones) Yeah, I learned a lot. Just watching Pete here. Talking about how he prepares for the game and when we play against other teams the physical part or the skill part is like all mental. How your prepare for it. Some guys just don’t know how to prepare and always just try to prepare for each game and take a good routine and get myself ready.”
  • (Crispin) Is there anybody that the locker room really likes? Is there anyone we don’t really know about? (Jok) “We got a lot of guys. I’m happy for Dale to be back. He’s going to be an X-factor this season. The freshman class have come in and played great this summer. We’re looking for them to step up and not play like freshmen. We lost a lot of guys last season but they are coming in and I feel like they are going to fill in the shoes. I’d probably say Dale and Nick Baer are going to be our X-factors this season.”
  • (Crispin) Is there a little chip on your shoulder this season? (Jok) “Yes.”
  • (Revsine) You guys mentioned the freshmen. Give me a sense for Tyler Cook. What’s his skill set? (Jones) “Great. Can do everything with the ball. Dunking on anybody. Great athleticism. He’s trying to improve his jump shot, as well as Ahmad Wagner. We are going to have a lot of great players.”

(Revsine) You have an incredible personal story, having escaped from Sudan. You think about now you’re a pre-season all conference pick. All Big 10. You’re being talked about in NBA circles. You ever just kind of sit here and say, man? (Jok) “Sometimes I just sit there and thank the man above me. I’m a big believer in God and everything happens for a reason. My journey to get where I’m at right now was all God’s plan. It’s just a real blessing to be where I’m at.”

Peter Jok is one of my favorite Big 10 opponent talents to watch play. His offensive game starts with a silky jump shot. He was good last season. How much better is he now? He’s the man. There will be four new starters this season in place of the guys who have led the Hawkeyes in recent past. I think he’ll raise his game. McCaffery threw around idea he may lead the conference in scoring. Think Fran is hoping he leads the conference in scoring with plenty of help around him not because he has to take a large number of shots for Iowa to score.

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Big 10 Media Day – Wisconsin

Greg Gard – Host 2 of last season’s Final 4 – Return all 5 starters – Nigel Hayes Pre-Season POY, 3 players on pre-season All-Conference team. Difficult schedule.

  • Dave Revsine complimentary of the coaching job Greg Gard did last season. What is the makeup of your job now? (Gard) – “Final decision maker who makes tough calls. Surround w/great people. Staff, office people = terrific. Obviously have to have good players which is a key to our success. Manage time. Know when to say no and manage your day.”
  • (Crispin) Difference between interim coach/job is yours? (Gard) – “Approach to the process of preparing for season has to be the same as last season. Step by step and stick to that. Expectations are high – we’ve embrace that. Have to go through journey. Challenges we have to meet. Have to get better every day. Check the box. Make sure we’re doing every thing we can in October, November, December. Wherever that leads us down the stretch we’ll have to accept that. Can’t waste days, though.
  • (Crispin) Offense? – How much more complex will it be this season? (Gard)- “That’s the intent. We’ve become better players together. Starting to pick up more natural reads for more experienced teams now become more instinctual for them. That’s something that took them awhile last year. We spent some time on that in the off-season.
  • (Crispin) – Stars? – How do you pull the most out of your stars when your team has expectations beyond the Big 10?  (Gard) – “Our guys who have been to two Final Fours, combined with last season’s process to gain positive results, they understand what it takes to navigate ups and downs. Take care of every day along the way. Don’t waste any days. Focus from last season is the same focus needed for this season to discipline ourselves.
  • (Crispin) Last season you said you have to coach to your personnel. What is it about these players and Wisconsin (?) that allows you to coach to your personnel. (Gard) “Need good players. Culture at university and in athletic department & within our program. Younger guys feel that. We retreat to that a lot. Learn when they arrive what the process is, how we go about our business. Older guys are our greatest teachers. Best when you have a player coached team, guys in the locker room can pass on messages and lead the way. If have that, have chance to have a lot of success.
  • (Revsine) Final Four. Sweet 16. How to make jump from a Sweet 16 to a Final 4? Beside from the bracket working out? There’s unpredictability, clearly. (Gard) – “Go through process. Grow in season as preparation for what happens in the end run. Stay healthy. Play well. Get some breaks. Some Wisconsin teams have not had those things go their way. Injuries. Bad matchups. Make sure all things align. Have to be very talented. 1st goal try to win Big 10. Can do that then in position to do some things after that.
  • How about this, Greg Gard, the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, brings back 99.7 % of it’s scoring from last season.

There’s a certain professorial air about the Wisconsin head coach. Like Tim Miles, Greg Gard is an excellent communicator. He impresses me both for his intelligence and speaking ability, but he also has a sense of humor that peeked out a couple times. While I sensed the humor I also felt like here’s a person who can can just as easily boil a player down if he needs to as well as relate to his players.

Put all those together into a basket and add in perception he seems like a serious person that likely has no problems stating expectations and seeing they are met.


–Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, & Zach Showalter–

  • (Revsine) – To Hayes, what does it mean to be pre-season POY? (Hayes_ – “I really don’t like it. Not really a real award. Just adds another ring to the target on my back, being at Wisconsin. But, I guess, thank you.”
  • (Revsine) – Not a very convincing thank you. I understand, you want to earn that award at end of season? (Hayes) “That’s all that matters. Post-season awards.
  • (Revsine) – So, Bronson, I suppose you say the exact same thing about making the all-conference team? Or are you actually excited about it? (Koenig) “Pretty much same thing Nigel said.”
  • (Revsine) – So, then, let me ask this. You have your entire team back, everyone is picking you guys to win the league. What’s it like to be back in the same situation? Wasn’t like that a year ago. There were question marks. So, what’s it like this year, Zach?  (Showalter) “I think it’s more fun to be in this year, obviously. Wasn’t fun last year. We got off a little slow. Good for us to kind of see how Frank and Sam and these two really handled the spotlight. I think I learned from Frank and Nigel, you handle your business every day, you come to the court and your got to handle the Big 10 gauntlet. So we’re ready to go.
  • (Revsine) What do you take from those guys, just being around them? (Showalter) “How to have fun off the court but when we come to the court it’s going to be a battle every day. They push the other guy to make them better. You know when someone’s coming after you in practice that’s a good thing for your team. It’s going to make everyone better.”
  • (Revsine) Nigel, you talk about having a target on your back, you were the focus for every opponent. How did you adjust from being role player to the focal point? (Hayes) “Nice to have garnished enough respect to be in that position to be at top of the scouting report also think it’s more credit due to my teammates coming into their own made it easier to score than it was in the beginning. Guys weren’t confident, so it was easier to load up to my side or Bronson’s side.  As season progressed they all started to come into their own as players as that opened things up and as you saw we definitely progressed as the season went on.
  • (Revsine) What do you think was the key to giong from where you were at the beginning of the season to becoming a great success story when the season ended? (Koenig) “We were unaware of how good we could be. Players came into their roles. Sticking together through thick and thin. Playing together.”
  • (Revsine) What made you proudest about what happened last season? (Showalter) “I think how we came together as a group of guys. Coach Gard is always talking about best teams are player coached teams. I think us three got better as leaders as the season went on and hopefully we continue that and we’re ready to go.
  • (Revsine) What was the point when things, after you lost to Northwestern, and were 1-4, when things turned around? What happened? Nigel? (Hayes) “I kind of went off on the guys in the locker room. I mean to put it short. Called us out on our performance. We were embarrassing ourselves, families, the university, and think the biggest driving factor behind that was I told the guys do you want to be known as team that messes up the 17 tournament appearances in a row streak and no one wanted to be known for breaking that streak. Made us flip our season complete 180 and from there we only go better.
  • (Revsine) Besides your speech in the locker room how did you turn that from words into action? (Koenig) “We just told each other individually  we were going to do it every single day.”
  • (Revsine) Were you not doing it before? (Koenig) “Not to the best of our ability, no. We were just more selfless. Every single day in practice doing everything you can. Whether you were a sub, a role player, or a bench player or whatever, you know, drive this team forward. I think the game after Northwestern, actually, against Michigan State.”
  • (Revsine) Social Issues?  Native American issues for you, Bronson, for you, maybe people don’t now that you are a Native American. Nigel, some issues surrounding race. How can use your platform to raise awareness for issues? What is the challenge to the balancing act, there? (Hayes) “It’s on everyone when you see something wrong with the world you should want to be able to fix that and change it. Athletes, for some reason our voices hit more ears. Because of that the burden falls on us, whatever issues you have, black social issues, Native American issues, or Showy could be environmental issues if he wanted to be. We all have that responsibility to change things. That’s what I try to do, personally, to use my voice to promote change.” (Revsine) What about you? (Koenig) “As Nigel talked about it’s our responsibility to use our voice/platform to bring more awareness to social issues, like Nigel said, not a lot of people know I’m Native American. But not a lot of people know native Americans still exist, which is a sad thing in this country right now and everything that’s going on with Native Americans, I just want to do what I can for change.
  • (Revsine) Congratulations to both you guys for being involved and speaking up with your conscious.

Used to be players rarely talked about anything besides their games and making it to the NBA. I find it a breathe of fresh air young people feel inspired to be part of the world beyond sports and to attempt to be a positive force.

Otherwise, I admit, Wisconsin is going to have a great season and challenge to get to the Final Four again. I don’t see them as a National Championship team but they’ll be really good, just as the Badger program has been for many, many seasons in a row.

 

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Nebraska BT-Media Day HC Tim Miles & player

  • Miles – Lost a mass of humanity two seasons ago. Frosh couldn’t deal.
  • No mention of to Syracuse transfer Andrew White III
  • Control tempo defensively and be physical
  • (Crispin) – Pressure on Tai Webster. Miles says he’s become a very good power guard. Use inside offense to try and set up his outside shot. Great athlete.
  • Looking to JC transfer Evan Taylor, Anton Gill, top 40 recruit, transfer from Louisville, to help carry load in backcourt.
  • Jordy Tshimanga, 6’10, 285, a big physical being inside.
  • 6’8 freshman Isaiah Roby (Miles) “A professional player. He is long. He’s skilled and we really like him.”
  • 6’7 freshman Jeriah Horne (Miles) “…has got some real skill, too.”
  • Have to be a unit. Find ways to score.
  • Revsine “Tell me about Jordy Tshimanga?  I ran into coach Molinari and he was really raving about him. This is a legitimate force now we have in the middle. Something we haven’t had before. A close to 7-footer with a huge wing span.”
  • Miles – (Answer) “6’10. A 7’4 wing span. Jordy’s a powerful kid at heart but really had no core strength or anything like that. We built him up and he changed his body and he’s going to be terrific. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with. At beginning of the year, I had Tai Webster and Glyn Watson out there to draft teams. Tai’s 1st pick was Jordy and that says a lot. You find out a lot about your team in situations like that. I feel really good about him.”
  • Sophomore’s Michael Jacobsen, Glynn Watson, Jack McVeigh, and Ed Morrow all have ability to show improvement and become good players this season. Watson, possibly, can be all conference (I took this comment as meaning before Watson ended his senior season)
  • Opponent’s scored 71.3 & Nebraska 71.1 ppg in 21-Big 10 games last season. (8 Nebraska win 13 losses)

It’s great to listen to Tim Miles in a spot like this because he is forthcoming about his players in a way many coaches aren’t. Love those fresh looks. Is a gift of his, though, in way he sells his program. All these coaches have abilities in collections of different skills and attributes. Tim Miles deserves credit for his communication skills.


Tai Webster – only returning double figure scorer on Nebraska.

  • Carries leadership mantel this season.
  • Feels defense is key to having good season.
  • Defense sets tone for group and is where he’ll try to always lead his teammates from that position.
  • (Revsine) “Great summer qualifying for Olympics with New Zealand National Team. How does that experience translate to Big 10?” (Answer) “Still trying to figure that out.”

Been waiting on Webster to show his stuff since he was recruited. He should have a great season. Reminds me a bit of former Buckeye Brent Darby in that his solid chunk of body is a challenge to deal with at a ball handling slot.

(Will try and get these all done tomorrow. But here’s one for tonight, at least)

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