Really Buckeyes!?!? REALLY!?!?!
After playing a near perfect half of basketball on Saturday night The Buckeyes came out and got punched in the face after half time and never really recovered. That’s not to say they didn’t have a chance to win the game down the stretch. They had more than their fair share of opportunities, but sloppy play combined with less than favorable matchups and foul trouble made it difficult for them to put any type of run together to fight off the Kansas attack.
So give credit where credit is due. Kansas could have very easily laid down and died in the second half of that game, but the didn’t. Led by Thomas Robinson they stormed back, put Ohio State up against the ropes, and then delivered the knock out blow. Their reward? A date tonight with Kentucky for the National Championship.
It should be a good game. Kansas has the fire power to compete with Kentucky and their 35 future first round draft picks. They key though will be putting together a better first half of basketball. Against both North Carolina and Ohio State, the Jayhawks struggled mightily only to turn it on late in the game with stifling defense and fast break opportunities. Kentucky is too good for that and if Kansas falls down by 11 the Wildcats will put their foot on their throats and go for the kill.
The title game also is a rematch between the two head coaches. John Calipari and Bill Self. Calipari is essentially the used car salesman of NCAA basketball, promising recruits big time minutes and a chance at boosting their NBA Draft stock all while being the ultimate “players coach.” It also makes him the most easily hated coach in all of college basketball as he has essentially AAU-itized by recruiting the top prospects each and every single year. The only reason he’s yet to win a title is because you can’t underestimate his ability to screw up a for sure national title.
As for Self, he comes in as the coach of the year and also one up on Calipari. As you may recall, it was Self who defeated Calipari and his Memphis Tigers in the National Title game back in 2008. While this years team may lack the overall talent of that 2008 team, Thomas Robinson is probably the best player from either team and could very well prove to be the difference maker tonight.
You know, kind of how Jared Sullinger was supposed to be only he was completely exposed as a fraud because he’s undersized, relies solely on positioning versus smaller opponents, and has a 4 inch vertical jump. I think Jeff Withey just blocked another one of his shots. Seriously, there’s no way Sullinger’s game translates well enough to the NBA.
Speaking of other disappointments for Ohio State, DeShaun Thomas had an awful game on Saturday thanks to foul trouble. Because Thomas was forced to sit on the bench for long stretches, especially in the second half, he was never able to find any type of rhythm or get into the flow of the game. If Sullinger wasn’t going to be dominant than it was going to have to be up to Thomas to pick up the slack and he just wasn’t;t able to.
And then there is William Buford, the fourth leading scorer in OSU history. The one benefit of Ohio State losing on Saturday? I never have to watch William Buford play another game for Ohio State ever again. Thank God. For all of his talent and ability, Buford had made a habit of coming up huge in January and microscopic in March. Good riddance.
So while Ohio State makes the long and depressing trip back North, Kentuck and Kansas will square off in what should have been Ohio State’s defining moment. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. Then again, maybe this is one of those steps every team has to take before they reach the mountain. Maybe Sullinger and Thomas come back for one more year. Maybe Thad Matta brings in a couple of killer recruits. Maybe Aaron Craft develops a more reliable outside shot.
Maybe… just maybe, Kansas can do the unthinkable and conquer the giant tonight.
That’s a lot of maybes