We will have continuing coverage of the Buckeyes exciting win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers later today. For now, we continue the preseason look at the 2012 Buckeye Basketball team.
After being one of several new faces for the Buckeyes last year, Ravenel now takes on a role as the lone senior on the team. On the court, he expects to have a much expanded presence in the absence of Jared Sullinger down in the paint. Considering his experience and talent, Ravenel will look to be a solid, though perhaps not flashy, component of the Ohio State inside game.
Hometown: Tampa, FL
High School: Brandon HS
Position: Forward (4/5)
High School Awards:
- Tampa Tribute All-Hillsborough County second-team honors (2008).
- Tampa All-City honors (2008).
- Class 5A All-State honorable mention from the Florida Sports Writers Association (2008).
Evan Ravenel transferred to Ohio State from Boston College where he played his first two seasons in the ACC under head coach Al Skinner. His transfer was influenced when Boston College fired Skinner after 13 seasons. Not wanting to stick around for Steve Donahue’s new regime, Ravenel went looking for a new place to call home. While the Buckeyes had never directly recruited Evan out of High School, OSU assistant Dave Dickerson did recruit him while Dickerson was the head coach at Tulane. Matta happily gave Ravenel a scholarship offer, and Ravenel joined the Buckeyes before the 2010-2011 season.
Ohio State and Kansas met for the second time this year, this time on the neutral court of the Superdome in New Orleans. Both teams played tough basketball, but the Buckeyes were unable to maintain their nine point halftime lead, falling to the Jayhawks for the second time 64-62. William Buford’s game high 19 points were not enough to lift the Bucks over Kansas’s Thomas Robinson, who matched Buford with 19. Travis Releford scored a critical 15 for the Jayhawks, including four free throws at the end to seal the game.
Neither team started the game with their heads quite in the right place offensively for the first few possessions. While Kansas did score a quick duece on their first possession, they spent their next seven possessions taking atrocious shots. That was matched by the Buckeyes on the other end of the court early. Only when Lenzelle Smith dropped a three pointer did the Buckeyes settle down and start making better decisions with the basketball, leading to a 7-0 run through about four minutes of play.
Kansas attempted to make early adjustments to try to counter the little OSU run. By moving the ball better, the Jayhawks were able to find better looks at the basket and began to make their looks again. Not surprisingly, Thad Matta reinspired the defense on the subsequent timeout. The pep-talk seemed to work, giving the Buckeyes the necessary intensity to make offense difficult for the Jayhawks.
Much to Buckeye fan’s relief “good” Buford made an appearance in this one. As has been apparent all season, Buford’s shooting is strongly dependent on his early game shots. If he makes good decisions early, like he did today, his shooting is generally strong all game long. If instead his decisions are poor early, his shooting struggles throughout. However, one thing Buford never seems to struggle with is assisting his teammates, playing good defense, and tough rebounding. It was critical, though, that his shots started falling early, allowing him to build his shooting confidence early.
The Ohio State Buckeyes and Syracuse Orange met in Boston this evening to decide who would represent the East Region in the Final Four. After a tight, hard-fought battle, the Buckeyes succeeded in picking up the 77-70 victory over the 1-seeded Syracuse Orange. Every single Buckeye contributed a key piece to this tough victory, but Jared Sullinger led all scorers with 19 points and 7 rebounds. He was followed closely by Lenzelle Smith’s 18 points, most scored in the 2nd half with the game coming down to the wire. On Syracuse’s side of the ball Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine combined for 29 points and a pair of rebounds.
Both teams started off hot attacking the paint with extreme aggression. That may have been a surprise to many who suspected the Buckeyes were going to have to use the long ball to attack the Syracuse 2-3 zone. However, as the Bucks had demonstrated against Cincinnati, they had learned well the methods of handling the 2-3 under the basket. Those lessons were proven valuable again as OSU was able to misdirect, and pass around, the Syracuse zone.
Unfortunately, Jared Sullinger was forced to sit with 13 minutes with two quick fouls. His second foul seemed to be a bit ticky-tack, but with the game being an intense back-and-forth affair, it was understandable that the refs were playing things conservatively. Thankfully, the Buckeyes have been forced on many occasions this season to play without him, which has been to the benefit of Ravenel’s development. He certainly put those skills on display tonight, demonstrating that he could handle the quality interior presence of the Orange.
With OSU’s best big sitting on the bench Syracuse seemed to press their attack into the paint even more. By doing so, they were able to force Evan Ravenel into a quick pair of fouls of his own. Matta, of course, responded by bringing Amir Williams into the game. Ultimately, the move hurt the Buckeyes. While Amir Williams is a very talented player, he is by no means close to a polished product. It was clear from his play on offense that he doesn’t understand as well as Ravenel and Sullinger how to attack the 2-3, nor does he move around nearly as effectively in the paint as the other bigs.
The Syracuse Orange, under Jim Boeheim since the beginning of time, have had a surprisingly difficult path to the Elite Eight this year. The Orange have struggled against all three of their opponents (at least at times), but have managed to scrape out victories in each game, often in the last seconds.
First up was the 16-seeded Bulldogs of UNC-Asheville. Coming into the tournament Ken Pomeroy excitedly told everyone that this might be the year for the fabled 16/1 upset. We very nearly got it from the Bulldogs, as they carried a lead against the Orange for much of the game, until a back and forth affair (with some questionable rules interpretation issues) ended up in Syracuse’s favor 72-65.
The Orange followed that win with a more lopsided victory over the Kansas State Wildcats. Despite the 75-59 final score, the Wildcats had the game within one at the half and even led briefly early in the second. Syracuse, however, had the legs to overpower the underdog Wildcats through the second half, and slowly ran away with the game to end their first weekend of play.
Last night, however, was a much different story. The Wisconsin Badgers, a tough hard-nosed team out of the Big Ten (with whom I’m sure many of us are familiar) gave the Orange the fight of their life. While Syracuse did a good job of keeping the Badgers out of the paint, they were unable to stop Bo Ryan’s boys from dropping 42 points from beyond the arc on 51.9% three point shooting. Outside shooting is one fool-proof way of beating the Orange, and Wisconsin almost managed it. However, a general weakness in the paint on both ends of the court, something that Wisconsin has struggled with all season long, doomed the Badgers. They were unable to get a quality last second shot, and were totally ineffectual playing defense inside against Syracuse’s bigs.
For two straight seasons in 1961 and 1962 the Buckeyes and Bearcats squared off in the National Title game following Ohio State’s first and only National Championship. Both years the Bearcats got the better of the Buckeyes, winning their only two basketball national titles in the NCAA Tournament Era. This game marks the first time these two teams have met in the NCAA tournament since that game in 1962, a historical clash of titans occurring far earlier in the tournament than their lofty history would prefer.
The Cincinnati Bearcats have had a successful season this year, earning their second tournament bid in two years and working their way to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001. During the season the Bearcats have notched impressive victories over: Syracuse in the Big East Tournament, twice against Georgetown – once away, once in the Big East Tournament – and Marquette at home. While they have not been a particularly consistent team during the season, they performed well enough to catch the eye of the selection committee.
Cinci has not had a particularly easy path to the Sweet 16. While their first opponent was a very young 11th-seeded Texas squad, the Longhorns surged and nearly caught the overconfident Bearcats after scoring a pathetic 2 points in the first 10 minutes and 15 seconds of the game. Cincinnati found themselves in a dog fight over the last ten minutes of the game, after watching Texas slowly and inexorably climb back into the game, but were able to pull out the 65-59 victory to advance.
In the Round of 32 the Bearcats were paired up with a hot Florida State Seminoles team fresh off an ACC Tournament Championship win over UNC the week before. The Seminoles were clearly favored in the game, but the Bearcats were much better than many expected. Both teams clawed for the advantage throughout the game, never achieving more than a 5 point lead before the end of the game. In the end, the Bearcats had succeeded at gaining the upper-hand and earned the opportunity to face the second-seeded Buckeyes in Boston.
The Buckeyes have advanced to the Round of 32 for the third time in three years. This time around their opponent is the 7th seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, a team that has been to the dance many times in the last decade.
Coach Mark Few is one of the only coaches in the country to regularly put together 20 win seasons. Since he first joined Gonzaga in 1999, his first Head Coaching gig, his teams have not won fewer than 23 games in a season. He and Thad Matta are the only coaches with upwards of a decade of straight 20 win seasons, making this game a particularly interesting matchup of coaching minds.
Gonzaga has also never failed to make the NCAA Tournament while under Few, but have never advanced further than the Sweet 16. The last two seasons have seen the ‘Zags only win their first game in the tournament before being knocked out. That’s a streak the Buckeyes would obviously like to continue this season.
The Bulldogs are surprisingly led in scoring by a freshman this season. Guard Kevin Pangos (6-1, 180) out of Ontario, Canada, is averaging nearly 14 points per game and 3 rebounds. He shoots a cool 40.7% from beyond the arc in 32 minutes per game and will most likely be Aaron Craft’s defensive assignment. He’s more than a scorer, though, and is skilled at feeding his teammates in good positions to score. He’s also good at protecting the basketball, losing control less than twice per game.
The Buckeyes, playing their first weekend games in Pittsburgh, drew the 15-seeded Loyola Greyhounds out of Maryland. After a brief early battle, Ohio State slowly pulled away, eventually notching a 78-59 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Deshaun Thomas broke his career record in scoring with 31 points, and added 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and an assist to his double-double statline. Jared Sullinger also quietly put together a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds on the game, while William Buford notched 17 points. Erik Etherly, Loyola’s excellent junior forward, lead his team with 16 points and 6 rebounds.
As is typical with the NCAA Tournament, the crowd often roots for the underdog. This is particularly true in games that involve seeds with particularly rare upsets, such as the 15 versus 2 and 16 versus 1. That was no different today as the Buckeyes faced what sounded like a particularly hostile crowd hoping for a big upset. This was even despite the fact that the Buckeyes were only about 200 miles from home and likely drew a fair number of fans.
To the obvious delight of the crowd, the Greyhounds brought their “A” game from the get-go. They flat-out refused to back down from Sullinger in the paint and made his early shots difficult. The smaller squad from Loyola also attacked the rebounds, boxing out effectively down low and preventing OSU’s guards from rebounding as effectively as they usually do. Loyola was obviously happy to run a fast paced game and force the Buckeyes to keep up with them.
But the Buckeyes weren’t going to play Loyola’s game. OSU continued to get the ball to Sullinger and let their big guy make things happen. Sully obliged, scoring OSU’s first 6 points, including 3 from deep to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the game. Seeing their talented center have success allowed the Bucks to begin to relax and settle back into their style of play on the big stage.
Ohio State and Michigan State meet today at 3:30 PM EST on CBS for the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game! First seeded Michigan State defeated the Wisconsin Badgers to earn their way into the final game.
After the Buckeyes and Spartans play, we will continue to run the liveblog until and through the NCAA Selection Show! So stick around and share your thoughts about the bracket with us!
While you wait for the game, go check out our friends in the Buckeye Bloggers Network! the Buckeye Blog, OSU Silver Bullet, Buckeye House Call, Our Honor Defend, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Fox Sports Ohio also joins us as usual.