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Crew fans get more on your favorite team
By Matt McCoy
To listen to Buckeye players Lenzelle Smith and Sam Thompson candidly discuss their embarrassment following Sunday's 71-49 loss to Wisconsin, click HERE:
There are losses and then there are potential season changing losses. One way or another, Sunday's 22-point thrashing at Wisconsin may be the latter.
"We are embarrassed. We not only embarrassed ourselves but we embarrassed our coaching staff our University, our school President and our fans. We embarrassed everybody," Guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. "We didn't answer the call. We didn't do anything that we're known to do."
Smith's comments were echoed by sophomore forward Sam Thompson.
"We were an embarrassment to Ohio State basketball," Thompson said. "To all the great teams that we've put on the floor over the years, all the great teams that have played at Ohio State...We never want to have a performance like that...so we have to correct that."
The Buckeyes hope to correct it starting with Wednesday's game versus Minnesota. The problem is, the Gophers, a top 25 team much of the season, are a little embarrassed themselves after being thumped at Iowa Sunday 72-51. One would assume the Gophers are looking to bounce back just as much as the Buckeyes.
"We're expecting a war," Thompson said. "They need a win...we need a win...I think that's going to show on the court."
Thompson confirmed that the Buckeye players have had team meetings following the Badger game. Sometimes those player only meetings are a bad sign but sometimes they work out.
A year ago, the Buckeye starters had a chat going into the final week of the regular season. They responded with road wins at Northwestern and at Michigan State to win a share of the Big Ten title and then eventually, make it all the way to the Final Four. We'll have to wait and see whether this meeting produces similar results.
Buckeyes At A Crossroads
When the Buckeyes lost at Michigan in overtime February 5, most fans came away feeling like the team had turned a corner and was headed in the right direction. What a difference two weeks make.
Internet message board comments, and Bucksline phone calls, e-mails and tweets after the Wisconin game are as negative as I can remember.
One e-mailer suggested Thad Matta should lose his job because he "only delivers when he brings in talented players. None of his players ever develop." Yeah right...that Evan Turner guy didn't get any better.
I think it's time for everyone to take a deep breath. Yes--Sunday was extremely alarming. All of the shortcomings of this Ohio State team were exposed. Their margin for error is paper thin and when the Buckeyes don't bring it defensively, they have no chance.
But in the big picture, the 2012-13 Buckeyes came into the season having lost a two-time All-American center in Jared Sullinger and the school's third all-time leading scorer in William Buford. If you had told me in October that on February 19, Ohio State would be 18-7 overall and 8-5 in the Big Ten, I'd have said that's about right.
On Bucksline Monday night, we talked about the state of the Buckeyes and former Buckeye captain and 610 WTVN's Tony White said he doesn't think the clunker at Wisconsin is overly surprising.
"Ohio State has to win the most difficult way possible...defensively," Tony said. "They're playing games where they have to be mentally focused and tough every single game and every single possession. If they're not, they lose because they don't have any margin for error and when you talk about the month of February and how tough it is to maintain your concentration, it's not incredibly surprising for Ohio State to have this low of a low."
So what happens now? Ohio State can change the mood completely by winning two home games this week. Minnesota is coming up Wednesday and then Sunday No. 4 Michigan State visits.
"This is a huge week. They could easily go 0-2 because Minnesota and Michigan State are two tough teams and Ohio State right now is not showing great toughness," Tony said. "They're going to have to change that mentality because if they don't come out and play tough against these teams, they'll get beat by both of them and that would be disastrous. You'd be talking about questioning whether Ohio State is an NCAA tournament team. If you go 0-2 this week that means you've gone 1-5 in your last six and you'd have to start wondering."
WTVN's and SportsRappUp.com's Jeff Rapp joined the show as well. His read on the Buckeyes recent struggles is that the starters counted on to develop to compliment Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft, have not progressed as much as expected.
"Those three in the starting line-up right now are hitting some sort of a wall," Jeff said. "I like Lenzelle Smith as a player...but I think he's in some sort of defensive slump. Amir Williams, you don't know what you're getting and Sam Thompson, I'm not seeing anywhere near a developed player at this point. Those guys have got to pick it up or they're going to have to be more cerebral at least and right now it's not happening."
If you want to hear Jeff, Tony and me on Bucksline, you can check it out, commercial free, by clicking HERE:
My latest Top 25 ballot
The Buckeyes fell to 18th in the latest AP and coaches polls. I have them three spots lower at No. 21.
I'm puzzled that Wisconsin, No. 19, is still lower in the overall poll than Ohio State. Both teams have 18 wins, Wisconsin is ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big 10 and just hammered OSU Sunday. In my mind, there's no way to justify the Buckeyes being ahead of the Badgers....but they are.
There are two teams I have ranked that are not in the overall AP top 25. Illinois has righted the ship and makes my ballot at No. 23 but the Illini are 29th according to voters. I also gave Akron a vote this week, but I'm in the minority. They only got 16 and are 32nd. Here's how I voted.
4) Michigan State
13) Kansas State
14) Oklahoma State
15) New Mexico
21) Ohio State
22) Colorado State