Buckeye hoops had a bad week. The Paterno’s just won’t stop. I don’t feel that same about college basketball as I used to. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
For the first time in 121 games, dating back to 2010, the Buckeye basketball team lost back-to-back games. The first was last Tuesday’s overtime road loss to TTUN in Ann Arbor (covered last week) followed by Sunday’s 81-68 loss at Value City Arena to number one ranked Indiana. It’s easy to say that the TTUN loss was more heartbreaking. Meanwhile, the loss to the Hoosiers at home was far more devastating.
We’ve been discussing how the Buckeyes have been in a constant search for a number two scoring threat to compliment Deshaun Thomas. While that search has been ongoing, the Buckeye defense has been a stalwart to keep them in close games and a source for momentum when a big play is needed. Most teams look for a big three pointer to change momentum or a high flying dunk, the Buckeyes look to lock down on defense and get a quick score off a turnover. While not the completely unconventional path to a momentum burst, it is certainly the road less traveled.
Momentum matters aside, the Buckeye defense has been really good this season and the teams greatest strength. That was until they ran into a team with multiple scoring threats along with size and athleticism. In other words, they finally met up with a team that has the “total package”. Unfortunately the strength of the Buckeyes success let them down.
“You’re not going to win many games where you have three guys score 20 against you,” Aaron Craft.
Certainly there’s no shame in losing to Indiana when they are ranked number one and on top of the Big Ten. But when your strength is defense and you allow all of their stars to go off on you, without really slowing them down at any point in the game, that’s a serious issue. Is it schematic and a result of poor coaching or were the Buckeyes just simply out manned? As is the case in most disappointing losses, I’m sure there is plenty of blame to go around and enough for all parties to be involved.
“This league is, like…wow,” Buckeye head coach Thad Matta. “The theme is when you get knocked down, you have to get back up again.”
Thad went “Chumbawamba”. Let’s see how they respond. The Buckeyes will next be in action on Thursday night at The Schottenstein Center against Nerdwestern.
I am really having a problem engaging in college basketball. I used to absolutely love it, but the last few years it has seemed as though the regular season is nothing more than a formality that we have to just get though until the tournaments start and things actually matter.
I know there are hoops junkies out there that will watch Duquesne play South Florida on a Wednesday night and absolutely love it. I don’t begrudge them or think there’s anything wrong with it. I listen to Metallica way more than any sane human being probably should (that’s not true actually, cause there really is no maximum limit to listening to Metallica, it should just be a constant soundtrack. Anyways…) and I’m sure there are people who would say “switch it up, try something else”, but the fact is that I like what I like and those people like what they like. What I don’t like is what college basketball’s regular season has become and it is the reason I am very cautious of how big the NCAA’s football tournament gets after it starts in 2014.
The conference tournaments and the size of the NCAA tournament have, in my opinion as a casual fan, essentially rendered the regular season of college basketball as one big jockey for seeding. Sure, there is some intrigue if you’re a fan of a 14-10 team heading into the final stretch realizing that they need to win 2-3 more games and at least one in their conference tournament to have a shot at getting an invite to the big dance. Luckily, Ohio State isn’t in that position often, rarely actually being more accurate. But the truth is most teams aren’t. So when your regular season comes down to watching average teams try and win one game in their conference tournament to make it to the NCAA, then your regular season is essentially irrelevant in my humble opinion.
We all have watched closely some big games, two in the just this last week. We stayed up late on a work night to see the overtime thriller in Ann Arbor. We planned our Sunday around the matchup with Indiana. We love our Buckeyes on synthetic grass or hardwood. But the truth of the matter is that I wasn’t even upset over the loss to Indiana on Sunday. I looked at it and said “well, they get to play them again and of course there are still two tournaments to play…”
I can also honestly say that I have no idea what they can do to fix it and get casual fans to reengage in regular season college basketball. You could take the NCAA tournament back down to 32 teams and put the focus back on the conferences, maybe taking a max three teams from each BCS conference. Or, maybe just open it up to like 125 teams and have home games. At least if the games are all elimination style, it makes them more interesting. I’m spit-balling because I don’t know the answer. All I do know is right now I don’t watch regular season college basketball unless it’s Ohio State. That never used to be the case.
I sincerely hope they figure something out to make these games matter. And telling me that they affect a team’s RPI or are a “quality win/loss” when the selection committee is determining who makes the tourney isn’t going to do it.
Go away, Paterno’s
On Sunday morning the Paterno family released the findings of their own private investigation into the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal as it pertains to the late Joe Paterno. Since Sunday, Jay Paterno (Joe’s son and a former PSU coach) has been on any and every television network that will have him to discuss the findings in the report. It’s a great story of a son and his brother (Scott Paterno) fighting to preserve the great legacy of their late father. Only it’s not.
The Paterno report does a great job explaining and proving that Joe Paterno was no more to blame than former Athletic Director Tim Curly and school vice president Gary Schultz. And it is correct in that finding: Joe Paterno did exactly what he had to do to cover his own backside. He sent the information to the athletic director and left it in the hands of his superiors, or what most people with common sense would call the absolute bare minimum or only what is absolutely required. Certainly not what we would expect from a man with such perceived high morals and integrity who allegedly ruled over the PSU campus as a fatherly dictator.
The Paterno Report points out indiscretions in the Freeh Report (Penn State’s own independent investigation sanctioned by its board of trustees and subsequently used by the NCAA to enforce sanctions on the football program) and it certainly does a fantastic job riling up the alumni that support Paterno who want to sue anyone they can to try and get Joe his good name back. It’s hard hitting stuff. For example: It questions when “the coach” is named in emails asking about “Jerry”, do we know for sure that said coach is really Joe Paterno and that Jerry is really Jerry Sandusky? It continues trying to raise questions about Joe Paterno’s involvement, questions that are so ludicrous it makes you wonder if they considered asking “But did you actually see the ship land on the moon and Armstrong make the walk?”
Now, to the disgusting…
After reading both reports we know this much as absolute fact based on grand jury testimony cited in both reports: In 1998 Curley sent an e-mail to Schultz with the subject “Jerry” and noted “the coach” was anxious to know where things stood. We know that assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno he saw something in the Lasch Building showers and that Paterno said that he couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that it could be sodomy. We know that Paterno reported the matter to Curley and Schultz and that Curley declined to report Sandusky after a meeting with Paterno.
We also know, after many pages of documents and common use of our own brains that Joe Paterno did as little as possible to keep a known sexual predator off his campus and put him in jail. We know that the weight of Joe Paterno being Joe Paterno would have been too much for any local law enforcement agency to handle if he had pushed the issue with police or even the FBI. And if he didn’t like the results from local law enforcement, he would have found anyone he liked in the media willing to listen and publicize his story about how he wants a child molester off his campus and in jail. Yet he did none of these things. In other words, in every instance and every situation involving the football program, Joe Paterno ruled with an iron fist and was the long arm of the law… except for this one.
So, Jay and Scott Paterno, what is it that ultimately you were looking to achieve with the Paterno Report?
Here’s the big secret that nobody (except yours truly) is cynical enough to say: The Paterno Report is nothing more than a defense to be used in civil courts when the cases for the victims are heard. When Schultz and Curley are on trial, the Paterno family will be certain to introduce the Paterno Report as evidence that their father did what was absolutely required of him, no more and no less. Therefore, he cannot be held as the primary person responsible for not putting an end to Sandusky’s reign of terror, that burden will fall on the superiors that Joe reported to.
So, you ask again, what does the Paterno family gain from pointing out and bringing attention to the fact that their father was inept? Simply, it potentially lessens their family estate’s responsibility when payments are handed out to Sandusky’s victims. In the end, it’s about the almighty dollar disguised as a crusade to save a man’s legacy.
I realize that Jay and Scott Paterno on the surface mean well and want their dad to be remembered for the good that he did. I get that. And I don’t think their case is entirely financial-preservation driven. But the Paterno family knows their report is filled with nothing but conspiracy theories and speculation that try to cast a shadow of doubt on the Freeh Report. They aren’t possibly so naïve as to think their father did enough, especially when he himself in his last interview before passing away said “I wish I had done more.” People were beginning to forget Joe and move on, especially where it is most important: In the football locker room and offices. Why drudge all this back up and especially now, weeks before Curley’s trial is set to begin?
Jay, Scott, and Paterno supporters: If you want to preserve the man’s legacy, please, just go away.
Wrap it up
I spent eight years coaching youth football and four years coaching little league baseball. I held executive positions with the football organization, as high as being voted president for two and a half seasons. The Paterno issue resonates with me because I’ve seen firsthand the vulnerability of kids the age that Sandusky would prey on. I’ve seen how if you fire them up and fill them with encouragement and belief that they’re able to do things you never thought possible on the field. I’ve also seen how crushing it is to them when they fail. I’ve seen kids come to practices that were clearly being affected by divorce or some other problem stemming from their parents at home. I’ve coached and helped kids that didn’t have mothers or fathers and in some cases both. They are impressionable and building memories that they will fall back on, hopefully cherish and help them to build their character and morals to be productive members of society and just good people in general.
The Sandusky case, and the many others like it, as it does with most people makes me completely sick to my stomach. To prey on that vulnerability and weakness is nothing short of beastly, cruel and abhorrent. And to know that someone like Paterno, with all his power and good name, could essentially turn his head and not demand change and results is infuriating and sickening.
As a football coach, I reported to a member of our executive board that a player on my team (10 years old) was coming to practice with bruises on him that were not associated with anything we were doing on the field. When I asked the child about them, he didn’t want to talk and began to tear up. The members of our executive board put a call in to the local police department telling them what we, as a group, had found. We saw it through and continually followed up making sure that something had been done to investigate and/or correct the situation. From then on the boy was always smiling and his father, typically moody, seemed like a different person when we would see him at games or after practice. Clearly, whatever measures the police took, it made a positive impact. It may be the one thing in my life that I am most proud of myself for doing. For not standing by and assuming that it was none of my business or that it would be worked out on its own. We have a responsibility as educators, coaches, mentors and decent human beings to help those that cannot help themselves.
Joe Paterno had a similar obligation on a much larger scale and he failed. The most powerful man on campus let down the weakest. You don’t get to keep your good name and legacy when you make such a selfish and grievous error in judgment.
If you ask why I won’t drop the Paterno issue, there’s your answer.
Metallica track of the week
Last summer it was announced that Metallica was going to be filming a 3D motion picture for worldwide big screen release in the summer of 2013. Of course, that movie had to be filmed. Here is Wherever I May Roam from Edmonton, Canada during one of the three movie shoots! Very odd to see all the camera men on the stage with them!