Hey, You… Come Down Off Of That Ledge

Written January 23rd, 2014 by Jeff

The last two weeks have not been easy, if you’re a fan of Ohio State basketball. That’s an understatement. No player on this Buckeye squad has experienced a four-game losing streak in their college careers, so this is new territory for everybody on the floor.

It’s Gonna’ Be OK

In fact, it’s new for the fans as well. We’re used to success in shootyhoops, so this rough patch leaves us all with a feeling of helplessness. The problem is that a number of us are going to extremes in our various versions of distress. If you know anybody that has been spouting any of the following statements, please smack ‘em upside the head and send them this article.

(By the way, these are all comments I have read online regarding the Bucks)

“Thad Matta needs to be fired”

No, Thad Matta is not getting fired over this. Seriously, you’re throwing the guy overboard over four straight losses? How many times has he led us to 20+ wins? How many straight trips to the Sweet Sixteen does he need?  You want to fire him because of the past two weeks?  Do you secretly work for the Cleveland Browns front office?

“There goes our NCAA bid”

No, we are not eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. For crying out loud, it’s four losses. We’re 15-4 and we have a minimum of 13 games before the dance begins. By all means, it’s no cakewalk to get through the Big Ten, but it’s also not a failed season already. 22 wins in the toughest league gets you an invite to the NCAAs. Granted, I don’t want to go 7-6 down the stretch to get there, but it would be enough.

 “Bench the entire team, start over again next year”

Nobody is claiming this team is perfect and cannot be tinkered with, but perhaps you’re overreacting a bit? You’d rather start Trey McDonald, Jake Lorbach and three other guys I can’t think of instead of working on the issues the current rotation has?

Yes, Amir Williams seems to have disappeared in the paint and LaQuinton Ross can’t find his shooting touch on a consistent basis, and there are times when it seems like nobody wants to shoot the ball, but why are you tossing them on the scrap heap so easily?

“Worst team ever.”

Yeah, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Perhaps you’re spoiled by success and unable to recall darker days, but that’s a pretty steep declaration.

Let’s take a look at the four losses, shall we?

  • Michigan State - we were a buzzer-beating layup away from victory in one of the toughest environments in the NCAA. Give some credit, they nearly toppled the #3 team in the nation on their home court.
  • Iowa - With under three minutes to play, we were within two points. Iowa pulled away late, and let’s keep in mind that they are currently the 10th-ranked team in the nation.
  • Minnesota - We trailed by four points with just under 4:30 to play, and Minnesota stepped on the gas. Minnesota isn’t ranked, but they should be. They’re 14-5, and four of their five losses are to teams that are ranked.
  • Nebraska - Granted, there’s no excuse for that loss. But they were within 2 points at the 2-minute mark before the Huskers went on a free-throw run that teams named Nebraska are not supposed to have. They shot 15-18 from the line in two minutes, but still…that’s a loss that should not have happened.

Translation – these were not blowout defeats. There appears to be a struggle to close out games, and there hasn’t been any of that magic we saw vs. Notre Dame. But worst ever? Come on, man.

Let these guys figure out their issues and work on them. Trust me, nobody on the team is satisfied with what they’re doing right now. Now more than ever, they need your support, not your petty trash-talk.

Could be worse – it could be early March. There’s six weeks for them to work out their problems before it gets desperate.

I’ve loved Ohio State sports since I was a child. The scarlet and gray is family to me – and trust me, if my daughter brought home failing grades, I wouldn’t disown her and decide to try next year with a different kid. And I’d never cast aside my beloved Buckeyes, either.

13 Comments

  1. ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 9:57 am

    My reaction to these comments:
    “Fire Thad Matta.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no, seriously, you’re not allowed near sharp objects anymore.
    “There goes our NCAA bid.” ….possible, but it’s early yet. Give the kids a chance. (That said, it’s good to start lowering your expectations now – it’ll help later).
    “Bench the entire team.” I’m not certain a response is possible to this level of stupidity.
    “Worst team ever.” Did you ever watch the Buckeyes of the mid 90′s and early 2000′s? Go back and look at some of those records and get back to me. Make sure to skip ’99-’00.

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  2. wildman1056No Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I was one of those who said “Hello, NIT.” The other three comments above are ridiculous. However, I stand by what I said. I can take the Michigan State loss. Apparently, Minnesota and Iowa are better than initially thought. After all, Minnesota just beat Wisconsin who was supposed to be pretty good.

    But Nebraska? Really? Nebraska? Sorry…if you can’t beat Nebraska, I have no reason to believe that a team can even go 7-6 from here out. Nebraska is as sure a win in basketball as Illinois is in football.

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Except that a few years ago (ok, fine, the 80′s were more than a few years ago, sorry folks), a win against Illinois was something the Buckeyes simply couldn’t get. I don’t recall how many times Earl Bruce beat the Illini (even having looked it up recently – it wasn’t many), but I *do* remember that being the game that my Dad would always end up swearing at the end of.

    These things ebb and flow. Nebraska was going to beat us eventually, just like Northwestern managed to end a 30 year skid against us in Football in 2004. It happens. It’s not a good signal for the remainder of the season, but hopefully it will be a wake-up call to a team that desperately needs it.

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    wildman1056No Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Still…Nebraska is bad RIGHT NOW and for the foreseeable future. I am therefore still skeptical that OSU can go 7-6 the rest of the season. And if they DO go 7-6, that will still give them a losing record in the Big Ten. Better win that lousy Big Ten tournament.

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Nebraska is a top 100 RPI team. That’s not bad. In fact, it won’t be considered a bad loss on our tournament resume. (i.e. the RPI won’t highlight the loss). ..at least so long as Nebraska doesn’t fold down the stretch.

    They are an improving team under a very good coach. Plus, we were on the road. As Northwestern has repeatedly demonstrated, winning on the road in the Big Ten is hard.

    I’m not forgiving the loss, merely pointing out that there are scant few teams in the Big Ten right now that would be considered an “easy out” on any given night. This conference is a much different animal than it used to be.

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    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    (#64 team in RPI, #78 team in KenPom ratings, to be exact).

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    wildman1056No Gravatar
    January 24th, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Nebraska’s loss to the juggernaut that is Penn State reinforces my thinking that Nebraska is still a lot closer to “really, really bad” than “a respectable team to be beaten by.” Sorry. I’m not buying all this statistical ranking stuff. Bad is bad.

    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2014 at 9:10 am

    It just reinforces my belief that there are no truly bad teams in this conference, and that on any given night any one could beat anyone else. (Ok, outside of Northwestern…probably)

    The fact that Michigan and MSU have gone unscathed thus far is an enigma that will clearly get resolved this weekend. But I suspect both teams will have their comeuppance soon.

    ErictBBCNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2014 at 9:26 am

    You also conveniently forget a number of facts to arrive at your assessment of Penn State and Nebraska being (sarcasm)Juggernauts(/sarcasm)
    1) Penn State had MSU on the ropes at the half of their game in Happy Valley. Yes MSU pulled it out in a big way in the second half, but for 20 minutes of play, MSU looked pathetic. They also took Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue to the wire in three close games (Don’t forget, that’s the same Indiana team that got the first win over Wisconsin this season.)
    2) Nebraska played CURRENTLY UNDEFEATED IN CONFERENCE PLAY scUM and fell 71-70 in Lincoln. This is the same Michigan team that a week later traveled to Madison and took out the Badgers, and handled the Hawkeyes at home.

    Considering the game was at Penn State, I’m not at all surprised by the result. Nebraska will win the turnaround game on the 20th of February, no problem.

    Wins and losses aren’t the only story in this conference. Even a close loss says a *lot* about the strength of the opponents. Yes, Nebraska and Penn State are losing far more than they win – but they’re giving as good as they get most nights out.

    The final point is this – yes, the Buckeyes are not playing the kind of basketball we all know they can play (even against Illinois they were imperfect). BUT, they are facing tough competition (regardless of your opinion of Nebraska’s quality as a program), “getting every team’s best” (as much of a cliche as that is), and having to learn grit one game at a time.

    By the way – when we play Penn State on Wednesday, don’t expect an easy game. Just to get that out of the way now. ;)

    wildman1056No Gravatar
    January 24th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I might expect Ohio State to lose badly to Penn State, since Penn State beat the Nebraska team that crushed Ohio State. And I was clearly sarcastic about Penn State being a juggernaut. I think Penn State is bad like Nebraska, and Ohio State has a demonstrated capacity to play down to the level of its opponent.

  3. KenNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Jeff, can you please move the trampoline a bit closer to the ledge; not sure if I can reach from there.. thanks. ;)

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    WVaBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    he would do it Ken . . ., but then once you jump, he’ll move the trampoline. His nickname “used” to be Lucy when he was a kid

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    KenNo Gravatar
    January 23rd, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    LOL
    Signed – Charlie Brown

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