April 23, 2014

Dual Point Payoff: Craft and Scott Lead The Way, Stun Indiana

craftiuThroughout this season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have had their trials and tribulations on the offensive end of the floor. At times, playing both junior point guard Aaron Craft and sophomore point guard Shannon Scott simultaneously — while ideal on the defensive end — has damaged Ohio State’s halfcourt offensive attack due to a lack of outside shooting from those two.

Tuesday night, on the biggest of Big Ten stages and most hostile of environments, the Buckeyes snagged the signature road win that had narrowly escaped them in both Ann Arbor and East Lansing, pulling away late from the No. 2-ranked Indiana Hoosiers in a 67-58 victory. Craft finished with 15 points and four assists; Scott added eight points and three assists of his own. The two split the team’s eight steals between them, and those led to 16 points off turnovers which gave Ohio State the lift it needed from its supporting cast.

The best part of this one: Their contributions were far from the only key rise-to-the-occasion performances. While Deshaun Thomas’s 18 points led the team (thought he was just 6-of-17 shooting), Sam Thompson added nine first half points and two blocks while Evan Ravenel delivered at both ends, scoring eight points, nabbing six boards, and taking two key charges. I had mentioned the need for two players to rise to the occasion and deliver out of character performances, and the Buckeyes got that and then some. Much like his surprise showing in the must win Michigan State game last year in East Lansing, Ravenel was incredibly clutch, finding himself in the right place for taking the charges by moving his feet and putting in three offensive putbacks by running the floor.

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Buckeyes, Wolverines Can Work Together To Create 4-Way Big Ten Title Split

Victor Oladipo, Lenzelle SmithOhio State and Michigan, the most fierce of rivals. The stark contrast of scarlet and gray on maize and blue has had some epic ramifications on the gridiron for the last century. However, with the resurgence of both basketball programs, these two enemies can work together toward a common goal, another split of the Big Ten title, repeating as regular season conference champions. To do it, however, they’ll need to do something that has only happened four times so far this season, beat the Indiana Hoosiers. For the Buckeyes, that means going into Assembly Hall and coming away victorious. That’s something only the Wisconsin Badgers have accomplished this season.

Last season, by virtue of beating the Michigan State Spartans in the Breslin Center, the Buckeyes captured a share of the Big Ten crown, joining Michigan State who had locked up the share prior to the game. They also brought Michigan along for the ride and a 3-way tie. The Big Ten Network clips of the Wolverines cheering and celebrating for a Buckeye win remain some of the stranger television I’ve seen. If the Buckeyes are able to pull off the unthinkable on Tuesday, the tables will be turned with Michigan poised to carry themselves and Ohio State to a regular season title piece along with Indiana and potentially the winner of this week’s Wisconsin-Michigan State tilt. It would be the first four-way split of the Big Ten title on the books (Ohio State vacated its share of a 4-way split in 2002) since 1926 when Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, and Iowa did it.

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2013 NBA Draft: Second tier fits for the Cavaliers

victor oladipoThe Cavaliers have been a much improved team over the past two months. And while that’s fantastic news and great for the long-term development of this franchise, it presents an intriguing new scenario for 2013 NBA Draft analysis.

With the team’s current 15-16 run since Dec. 22, Cleveland now sits at No. 5 in the NBA Draft order (up from No. 7 on Wednesday night). That’s inching closer to what many fans expected in the offseason, but not necessarily what they thought just two months ago.

Last time I looked at the draft class on Jan. 6, I featured the top five guys contending for the top spot. There has been plenty of shake-ups since that point. But ultimately, with the Cavs trending toward the middle of the lottery, I thought it would be most helpful to now feature a group of “second tier” players. [Read more...]

Hoosier Best Big Ten Team? IU Confirms It’s Not Ohio State

Victor Oladipo, Lenzelle SmithIt started with a Tyler Griffey slip and open layup in Champaign. With that bucket, capping off a late Illini surge, the Hoosiers dropped their second conference game and continued the streak of #1 being knocked off for several weeks straight.

That loss, paired with Ohio State’s loss in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night, made both teams incredibly hungry and desperate to keep pace heading into this top ten matchup in Columbus. The crowd was mighty, the atmosphere was intense, and Deshaun Thomas showed up in a big way, but Indiana’s three-man attack of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, and Christian Watford combined for 70 points as IU shot 53% on their way to a 81-68 victory in The Schott. [Read more...]

2013 NBA Draft: Five players emerging at the top

It’s become an annual tradition in Cleveland to begin talking quite early in all sports about the upcoming draft.

For the Browns in the NFL, I did my first 2013 NFL Draft outlook post back in mid-November, when the Browns were 2-7. They finished at 5-11 and will have the No. 6 pick in April’s draft.

For the Cavaliers in the NBA, who selected No. 1 and No. 4 in 2011, then No. 4 and No. 17 in 2012, they again should be in the top-end of the Lottery this coming June. After an offseason of hype and intrigue that many fans thought could lead to the team potentially competing for the final playoff spot, the Cavs got off to a very slow start.

After Saturday night’s loss to Houston, Cleveland has the second-worst record in the NBA at 8-27. That’s eerily similar to their 35-game starts in each of the past two seasons: 8-27 in 2010-11 and 13-22 in 2011-12. So even if the team finishes strong (as opposed to #tankstrong), it’s likely they’ll finish somewhere in the top 8. [Read more...]

The Sweet 16 and the NBA Draft: Florida, Kansas, Michigan State, Indiana

With the Sweet 16 upon us and the end of the NBA season rapidly approaching (didn’t it seem like this season last like a month?), this will be your (and NBA scouts for that matter) last few chances to see some of the top prospects play real competition. I have never been a “workout” guy. I go by what I see on the court.

With 16 teams left, I thought it would be a good time to take a look into who is left in terms of NBA prospects the Cavaliers could be interested in with four draft picks this June (two first rounders and two second rounders). If the season ended today, the Cavs would have the eighth worst record in the NBA. So unless they essentially end up losing out the rest of the way, they will be picking somewhere between sixth and ninth with their first selection.

The first part of this series, we looked at the #1 Kentucky Wildcats. We followed with the UNC Tar Heels and then Syracuse, Ohio State, Marquette, and Baylor This piece will focus on the rest of the field. 

Florida - A real target for the Cavs with their first pick is talented Freshman SG Bradley Beal (Draft Express #7). The former McDonald’s All-American from St. Louis was a member of the All-Freshman team in the SEC and would have won it if not for a guy named Anthony Davis. He can do it all. He shoots the three ball with precision, he has a nice mid-range J, and has no problem taking the ball strong to the hoop. He’s 6’4, 200 lbs, and plays with a confidence about him you can’t teach, yet he’s not cocky. By all accounts, Beal is a great kid and a solid teammate. He’s the type of two guard that could be a perfect pair with Kyrie Irving for years to come in Cleveland. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… More on Concussions, Saving Indiana and More on Trading Andy

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Very good piece on the future of football and concussions. Highly recommend reading the whole piece- “In recent years, it’s become clear that the severity of a concussion is only indirectly related to the physical force of the impact. Sometimes, players walk away from savage hits. And sometimes they are felled by incidental contact. While data compiled from the Head Impact Telemetry System, or HITS, captures the extreme physical forces at work during a football game — it’s not uncommon for a player to sustain hits equivalent to the impact of a 25 mph car crash — there is no clear threshold for injury. The mind remains a black box; nobody really understands why it breaks.

But we do know what happens once it’s broken. In the milliseconds after a concussion, there is a sudden release of neurotransmitters as billions of brain cells turn themselves on at the exact same time. This frenzy of activity leads to a surge of electricity, an unleashing of the charged ions contained within neurons. It’s as if the brain is pouring out its power.” [Lehrer/Grantland] [Read more...]