Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Buckeye Basketball Blahs

I was under the knife the same day the Bucks lost a genuine thriller to Siena Friday night. As I said weeks ago -- OSU was a 1 win max team this year and they proved me wrong. They didn't get out of the 1st round. Not a big deal, really. Even with a win over Siena Louisville would have likely crushed OSU.

I have to admit, I'm sorta down on college basketball.

I blame Greg Oden.

OK that's not fair (or accurate).

OSU has always been a top tier big 10 basketball program but not an elite nationwide program. Unlike football, where OSU is in the argument with the top 5 programs in the country, in basketball, OSU isn't in the discussion.

That was until Matta signed the ridiculous class with Oden, Conley, Cook, Lighty, and Hunter.

That class is as gaudy as it gets.

So that class comes in and joins a team with college standouts Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler and 3 point specialist Ivan Harris, gets to the title game and loses to a great Florida team. A really great season full of improbable finishes (Xavier, Tenn., etc.)

The problem? It was over.

Oden, Conley, and Cook all left after the Freshman season, Lewis and Harris graduated, and Lighty, Hunter and Butler were all that was left. (Sorry Twigs)

The next year? Matta signs the #1 center prospect, again, in Kosta Koufos. Koufos is the Euro-style big man -- he would rather shoot a 3 than post up on the block. Still, he wins MVP of the NIT, stays one year, and goes in Round 1 of the draft.

That's 4 1st round picks in 2 years -- all freshman.

This year? OSU gets back in the tourney, has a strong season and we have, again, the #1 Center recruit in BJ Mullens. Mullens is NOWHERE NEAR as developed as Oden or Koufos but word is -- he's gone.

He will be drafted in round 1 on pure potential: 7 footer who is athletic. It matters not that Mullens would vanish for long stretches and his best game, stats wise, was vs. North Carolina-Asheville where he dropped 19 points and 9 boards.

Mullens might be great, but he is comically raw and has no basketball IQ -- he only started playing in the 8th grade and it shows. So instead of watching him develop at OSU, he'll get drafted, sit the bench or go to the D League. So, if you are keeping score, that is 3 years in a row where OSU loses its FRESHMAN center to the 1st round of the draft. Has that ever happened in the history of mankind? Oh, and in 2011 we have another top rated center in Jared Sullinger...

Understand, I don't blame these guys at all for leaving -- turning down 1st round NBA money...hell I couldn't do that. But as a FAN, it makes it incredibly hard to give a shit.

In football you know you get to watch these guys for at least 3 years. You are allowed to get attached...to care. In basketball? Hell just think about it.

Think about whatever team you root for. Now imagine losing 5 freshman in 3 years. All blue chippers. All pivotal parts of the program. All gone. I know kids leave every year and teams lose players every year but 5 in 3 is just brutal, especially when they stayed on campus for just one season.

Think about this:

Ohio State could have, in theory, this season started Oden at Center, Koufos at PF, Conley at PG, Evan Turner at SF, and Cook at SG. Mullens, Lighty, Buford (Big 10 Fr of the year) and Dielber coming off the bench.

And NONE of those players would be seniors. ZERO.

It all comes down to this shot.

If Lewis misses this, maybe Conley stays (he said as much) and Oden said he was truly 50/50 about leaving, and losing Conley played a huge role. You are free to believe that or not. ;)