Buckeye FAIL in Ann Arbor; Thomas Nearly Outscores Rest of Team

Thad Matta made a mistake, plain and simple. There is absolutely no reason that Trey Burke, a Columbus kid who was Jared Sullinger’s high school teammate and best friend growing up, is not wearing Scarlet and Gray.

Trust me, I hope I eat my words on this one day, but I would trade Shannon Scott for Burke in a heartbeat. Hearing the Michigan point guard introduced as the “pride of Columbus” during pregame introductions literally made me gag. And then watching Burke lead the way in Michigan’s 56-53 victory Saturday, by burying the Buckeyes down the stretch with multiple clutch shots, officially made me sick.

I know Aaron Craft is the starting point guard, and not actually Scott, but it was because of Scott’s commitment that Matta decided not to pursue another point guard. This really isn’t a knock on Scott, who I think will develop into a productive player, but a comment on Burke’s overall ability. I just wish he could team up in the backcourt with Craft as a Buckeye (or at least was anything besides a damn Wolverine).

Burke’s 17 points and five assists were critical in Michigan’s ability to snap Ohio State’s six game winning streak over its hated rival. Tim Hardaway Jr. – the Maize and Blue’s version of good William Buford/bad William Buford – found his shooting stroke and added 13 points of his own, while Jordan Morgan recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

As for the Buckeyes, the box score was not pretty, unless your name is Deshaun Thomas. The final tally was the rest of Ohio State’s roster 26 points, Thomas 25 points. The Bucks shot a putrid 3-16 from three, including a 0-9 effort in the first half. At one point, Jay Bilas suggested on the broadcast that the next player to shoot a three before Sullinger touched the ball should lose his scholarship. Frankly, the Scarlet and Gray were lucky that the game was even close given their performance, and have Thomas, who recorded his first career double-double, to thank for preventing complete embarrassment. Heck, Sullinger even scored for Michigan before he scored for his own team, accidentally tapping a defensive rebound through the hoop.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Wolverine crowd brought serious energy, making for a raucous environment (despite the fact that the color Maize apparently turns into highlighter yellow come basketball season). Football coach Brady Hoke was courtside, although rumor has it he was only attending because he heard good things about the concession stands. Denard Robinson also made an appearance. Even though I am genetically programmed to hate whoever the Wolverine quarterback is, I do think it’s fairly cool that Robinson sits and cheers with his fellow students at the basketball games.

There really isn’t anything good to say about this game. The Bucks missed critical free throws, turned it over 13 times, and endured another appearance of bad Buford. What is most frustrating as a fan is to see the negative body language at times that this team displays when it is trailing. The constant whining to the officials and slumped shoulders comes across as a lack of mental toughness, and at no point in the second half was I confident in the possibility of Ohio State coming back to win the game.

While a Big Ten championship is certainly not impossible at this point, the loss to Michigan may have been a proverbial dagger to Ohio State’s hopes. The Buckeyes, who still have to take on Wisconsin and travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State, are now tied with Michigan and sit a game behind the Spartans in the loss column.

Again, there really isn’t positive to say about this game outside of Thomas’ play. Hopefully, some home cooking this week against the Illini and the Badgers will heal some of Ohio State’s recent woes.


  1. The ernball says

    Deeks, thanks for your ongoing insight and yes, Matta missed big on Burke. I asked it last year during the touney and will ask it again. Does Thad Matta keep getting a pass for not winning big games. He did well in getting the boys ready for Duke, but it keeps getting tougher to watch this talent not be able to run a basic offense (MSU and UM). 20 points in the first half?? Even Jay Bilas said so. Bilas isn’t the best, but seems to be more honest than most and isn’t afraid to point out things like fouls and time of possession. Run down and shoot a quick three and run back when you miss. This is our offense??? That was an ugly game by both teams, but very winnable. I believe Matta’s lack of coaching cannot go un-noticed anymore. Straighten me out before I loose faith in what should be a great outcome to this season.

    • says

      Have to give credit to Scott for that analysis Earn.

      I agree. This was an ugly game and play like this by either team won’t stand come tournament time. What is so frustrating is to watch this team completely fall apart down the stretch. These were the guys we were all looking to as the top team in the country. It’s a said state to think that the Duke win was the pinnacle of the season.

      I think the only thing that’s going to straighten any of us out is to see a big change in the next week two weeks. You would think that the MSU game would have been the wake up call they needed. Let’s hope that appeasing those weenies in the bright yellow shirts is the bitch slap they need.

      • The People's Buckeye says

        I think it’s too early to downgrade Matta’s coaching. Really, he’s built this program into what it is right now and we should all be grateful that we have him coaching the team, rather than O’Brien whose only recruiting tactics were to either bring in a kid from his last job or give Benjamins to a slavic import.

        Some accountability needs to be bestowed onto the players. They took enough open three point shots that night that they should have hit them with a successive rate with no excuses. Guys should WANT to play defense. You can motivate, but you can’t coach will. For the games against Michigan State and Michigan, there was just a total lack of will other than Sullinger and Craft (Thomas, arguably as well in the last game).

        • Ken says

          TPB, interesting last paragraph., the five sentences say a lot. I have noticed that the couple of times where Thad played 2nd team as a unit they seemed to play with a lot of energy and were a real fun-bunch to watch. These kids had the will to play at a high energy level. Granted, they weren’t scoring that well; but if you look at the MSU and UM games, our starters didn’t acquit themselves too well offfensively either.

          • The People's Buckeye says

            It’s why I appreciate guys like Ross. Yeah, you can sit there and say there’s this kid bitching about playing time on Twitter, but… THE KID ACTUALLY WANTS TO PLAY.

  2. buckizz says

    1st team or second team, it is predictable in each game lost, we get caught helping on defense, while the other team finds a wide open shot. 3!!!! Again and again. It happened with Wisconsin tonight. Wehowever, cannot create an open shot for anyone. Buford has to come off of a twenty foot pick to shoot a three point fade-away. Sullinger can’t let go of the ball even if he is backing down three defenders.(skip pass) The weave up top, is old and not effective, we are simply looking for a talent mismatch. I would just like to see someone drive the ball and create an open shot for Buford, Smith Jr., Thomas etc. It has become a very individualized offensive set. While Wisconsin, Mich., Mich St., Indiana, Illinois drove hard, kicked it out/around and exploit our paint defense, we refuse to get out and cover the 3. Most of the drives are not even an attempt to score but just draw down the help, dish….

  3. buckizz says

    BARELY BEAT NORTHWESTERN.. Why, see post above. We had tons of rebounds but they drained the threes. Why can’t we step out and cover the three? Up eight points with 2:40 to go and give up two open three pointers. (how predictable) But we stopped them from driving in the paint.(real important against Northwestern) Against a more equal rebounding team, it would be over. C’mon Matta less help, more man, get in their face and shut down the threes.