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By Matt McCoy
To hear former Buckeye Tony White, with Sportsrappup.com's Jeff Rapp on Basketball Bucksline on 3-4-13 click HERE
With the Buckeyes heading to their showdown at Indiana Tuesday, 610 WTVN Bucksline Monday night was largely spent talking about the showdown with the Hoosiers. When the two teams met in Columbus last month, Indiana dominated in an 81-68 victory. Stars Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford each finished with more than 20 points. In fact the three of them combined to outscore the Buckeyes. So how do the Buckeyes turn the tables?
"The way to beat Indiana is to come out and hit them in the mouth once...and then hit them in the mouth again so they know the first time was no accident," 610 WTVN basketball analyst Tony White said. "Indiana is so talented, but they are more of an ACC team than they are a Big Ten team. They are not a physical, banging type of a team. They can have trouble with teams that bang them and play physical and play really good defense. You hit them right in the mouth from a team mentality perspective on the defensive end and rebounding the basketball and you show them that they are in for an absolute dogfight."
A week ago, Indiana lost at Minnesota using Tony's rough-and-tumble formula, out rebounding the Hoosiers 38-25. The problem for Ohio State is, they don't have a Trevor Mbakwe, the Gophers physical rebounding machine who came up big with 21 points and 12 rebounds and physically beat Hoosier star Cody Zeller.
"The key to this game from Ohio State's perspective might be Evan Ravenel," Tony said. "He's got to come out tough because Amir Williams is too young to understand this. Evan Ravenel has the body, the mindset and the experience to come out...and set the right tone."
The Buckeyes head to Bloomington as an 8-point underdog. The game is on ESPN at 9 p.m.
It's Thomas Time
It's hard to imagine that Ohio State can win at Indiana, or make a serious run in the NCAA tournament without Deshaun Thomas at his best. The Big Ten's leading scorer is still putting up points...but he's also putting up a lot of shots. He shot only 38 percent from the floor in February and just 21 percent from 3-point range. Thomas' struggles were another of our Bucksline topics Monday.
"When he gets into bad streaks like this he presses and he takes bad shots and he forces and he trys to get more shots, as if instead of taking four shots, eight shots would be better," Tony White said. "It's leading to this self-fulfilling prophecy. He's not making more shots because he's taking more bad shots....for Ohio State to advance (far) in the NCAA tournament, Deshaun Thomas has to figure this out."
A year ago, after the Buckeyes Final Four run, Thomas toyed with the idea of declaring for the NBA draft but chose to return for his junior year. The assumption among many in Buckeye Nation has been that Thomas will head to the pros after this year.
"Let's all start recognizing what I think is becoming an obvious truth. This kid needs to stay around for his senior year because he's not ready to play in the NBA. He's just not," Tony said. "If his goal is to play in the NBA, he needs another year. If his goal is to go overseas and play somewhere and make some money, he can go do that right now but if he wants to play in the NBA, he needs another year to develop his game."
Tony has said before that Thomas' NBA future is questionable because of his lack of perimeter skills, such as ball handing or an ability to take a defender off the dribble, but the areas of development for Thomas, according to Tony, also includes shooting.
"Look how many shots he has to take to get his points," Tony said. "Deshaun Thomas is not a guy that scores in adversity very well. When things are going well, he scores very well, but when things are going against him he doesn't buckle down and will the ball into the hoop...He's more of a streak shooter than a good shooter."
The blowhards on ESPN's First Take actually had a segment Friday in which Thad Matta was taken to task for the nose-to-nose chewing out he gave Evan Ravenel at Northwestern Thursday.
As you probably remember, Ravenel nearly picked up a technical foul when he slammed the ball to the floor and shouted at an official after he believed he had been fouled on a missed lay-up. Aaron Craft, among others tried to calm the Buckeyes fifth-year senior down but could not. Matta tried to get Ravenel's attention from the bench but was either ignored or was not heard. That's when Ravenel was pulled from the game and got his tounge lashing.
It was a noteworthy incident--as Matta's face turned about three different shades of red--but certainly was nothing I would call excessive....but--the First Takers felt otherwise. On Bucksline, Tony White reacted to what he believes is a concocted controversy by the four-letter network.
"Coaches yell at players...that's what they do. When players do stupid things, like Evan Ravenel did... he's lucky he didn't get a technical foul and hurt his team... coaches have to get in the face of their players and set them straight and that's all Thad Matta did," Tony said. "It's ridiculous to suggest that he did anything wrong or that he is somehow some goon for having yelled at one of his players. I'd love to invite the three wise men on this show back to the late 1980's and let them experience a little Gary Williams. They think that was abusive? That doesn't even rank in the top 100 of Gary Williams rants."
For the record, the ESPN First Take segment last Friday included only two wise men--Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith (who somewhat defended Matta) and one wise woman in ESPN columnist Jemele Hill.