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.