Debriefing With the Enemy: Buckeye Battle Cry
The guys over at The Buckeye Battle Cry jumped in their wayback machine and asked to do an old-fashioned exchange where we talk about each other’s programs and try to act like we don’t loathe one another. Actually, the BBC guys are a decent lot, for Buckeye loyalists anyway. We reserve the right to change that opinion if Darrell Hazell is actually just a mole sent in by OSU alums for their amusement. So for a primer before the two squads go at it in an hour or so, feel free to ratchet up your knowledge of who you’ll be seeing. If you’d like to see our answers to their questions, you can find them here. As for what we asked them and their pithy responses, here you go.
BS: Can D'Angelo Russell just go ahead and join an NBA team today? Is anyone even looking into this?
BBC: According to sources close to the situation, it looks like the only reason nobody has looked into this is because Skip Bayless believes D'Angelo isn't that good of basketball. You know those folks at the worldwide leader. They know more about sports then the whole world combined.
Did you know that Skip played in a High School basketball game once?
Anyways, the way that D'Angelo has dominated nearly every asset of the game over the last three weeks must have NBA GMs churning at the fact that they might be able to get their hands on D'Angelo Russell in the off-season.
Sorry Boilermaker Bros, he's still going to be around on Wednesday to torch the Mackey nets.
BS: Amir Williams' stats are somehow worse than they were last year. Is there some untapped potential there and it's only a matter of time before he has a break-out game, or is this just who he is as a basketball player?
BBC: The only thing submitting is Thad Matta to the fact that he really doesn't have a true center on this roster. Amir Williams have been given three and a half seasons to tap into some type of potential to be one of the top big men in the conference.
Like years before, this was supposed to be the season where everything came together. Instead, he's only accumulated 6 games where he's had more than five rebounds a contest.
Now, it's Jae'Sean Tate's turn to shine as an absolute terror on both sides of the floor. All that Ohio State fans have asked for is to do the dirty work down low that is needed in this conference to win games.
Simply put, he hasn't delivered.
Thad will have to use him because of the size match up with Purdue, but the ship has sailed on any belief that Williams can resurrect any type of consistent play that would warrant more playing time.
BS: I would be willing to give five years off the end of my life to be able to do once what Sam Thompson does every game. No, not brick a 3-pointer; dunk. Not a question, just wanted to get that out there. [Ed note: clearly, this was one of the younger BS guys who asked this. The old ones will trade no years.]
BBC: Wouldn't we all? I don't think I'd be willing (at my stage in life) to give up five years, but it would be a unique experience to be able to look down at the rim compared to looking up at the nylon. As the Fleetwood Mac album is titled, it's a "Mystery To Me" how he does it. BS: Are we wrong in thinking that Jae'Sean Tate will end the season as OSU's second-best player? What's been different for him in the last two games?
BBC: No, you are not wrong with that thinking. I think the difference for him lately is a) Coach Matta now has confidence in him, b) increased playing time and c) he's getting into a rhythm with his team mates. Personally, I love the way Tate plays the game; he reminds me of the way DeShaun Thomas played. Maybe a bit undersized for a front court player, but very active on the offensive boards.
BS: Everyone is talking about D'Angelo Russell, for obvious reasons. But...OSU had two other top 25 recruits come to Columbus in Jae'Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop. Like Mike said earlier, is Tate's recent run being overlooked because of Russell's brilliance? And has Bates-Diop been largely invisible during Big Ten season; why has his college transition been so rough?
BBC: The fact that Ohio State can't rebound or defend the post has really affected the minutes of KBD. After Thad Matta inserted Anthony Lee and Jae'Sean Tate into the starting lineup in early January, it forced Loving to the bench and pretty much ate up any committed time on the wing for Bates-Diop.
One thing that Matta and most coaches won't allow is for any player that struggles on perimeter defense to see a significant amount of playing time. Bates-Diop has struggled with that since the Buckeyes decommited from the 2-3 zone. He's only played more than 5 minutes once since B1G play started because of rotation changes and partially because he just hasn't found a role offensively.
BS: What is Thad Matta's favorite video game, and why is it Farmville?
BBC: Because he likes to Zynga all over the Big Ten, didn't you know that all ready? There is nothing like fresh crops and whipping the crap out of the competition. Nothing says breeding your own sheep like Thad Matta on a Sunday afternoon. Oh Wait... Sorry thought we were talking about Bo Ryan for a second.
You see, Matta is more like a Farmville 2 type of guy. You know, taking a nostalgic walk down the countryside.... It's probably fitting that he likes the game that gives you props for poppin' the crops. Matta was a standout 'Cornjerker' at Hoopeston-East Lynn High School in Hoopeston, Illinois.
BS: Marc Loving's shooting emergence (true shooting percentage of 65.8%) has been a point of dependability for Matta this year. After struggling from beyond the arc last year (26%), here the hell did this come from?
BBC: The drastic change has been Loving's willingness to wait for the catch and shoot opportunities from the wing and not settling for shots without ball rotation and reversal around the perimeter. The Toledo native tried to make thing happens a bit too much in his freshman campaign. Now, he is looking for shots and driving if he doesn't have the look initially. It also don't hurt getting dishes from the two best assisting guards in the country in D'angelo Russell and Shannon Scott.
BS: Does Zeke Elliott have a neck or nah?
BBC: No Boilermaker Bros. EZ E doesn't need no stinkin' neck. He's all shoulders. I thought you'd remember that. For goodness sake, your cheerleaders still do.
BS: Every year once Big Ten season rolls around, Thad Matta tends to lean extremely heavily on three or four starters through March. This year, Russell, Loving, Shannon Scott, and Sam Thompson are all averaging over 30 minutes per game during Big Ten play. Do you think Matta tightening his lineups to this extreme is a strength (as he knows the guys he can count on), or does it wear players down by Tourney time? Does it hurt player development?
BBC: As frustrating as it has been, it always seems to work itself out. No, the Buckeyes haven't brought back any national championships under his tenure, but he understands that if he wants any continuity he has to stick with his system.
Once Matta finds a rotation that works, he's always stuck with it.
As far as development, it actually has been better for players because they know that they will need to earn every minute that they play. It leads to great practice habits and development over the years. The Buckeyes have had more players drafted in the NBA over the last few years than any other program.
BS: For real, why won't OSU ship your boy Darrell Hazell a quarterback for 2015?
BBC: Oh wait a minute. I thought I read somewhere that Urban Meyer has decided to let Joe Bauserman play one more year in the B1G if cleared?
He's a can't miss talent. In fact, you can ask Fidel Castro. He's the true American that put silence to the Cuban Missile Crisis.