August 26, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Andrew Bynum’s new home in Cleveland

While We’re Waiting is the daily morning link roundup that WFNY has been serving up for breakfast for the last several years. We hope you enjoy the following recent collection of yummy and nutritious Cleveland sports-related articles. Anything else to add? Email us at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNYBanner www

Is another change of scenery enough for the All-Star center to turn his career around? “Andrew Bynum smiled and spoke confidently. That’s probably more than Bynum did last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, and for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s a pretty good start.” [Sam Amico/FOX Sports Ohio] [Read more...]

NBA News: Ohio States DeShaun Thomas to enter NBA Draft

Ohio State forward DeShaun Thomas has decided to forego his senior season and enter the NBA Draft this summer.

Thomas is a 6-foot-7-inch wing who averaged 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Buckeyes in 2012-13, playing an integral role on a team which made it to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite 8.

Regarding Thomas’ future, WFNY’s Kirk Lammers projected the following:

Thomas certainly has his limitations, including his ball handling, his defensive motor, and his lack of true power forward size. Those aren’t going away, and they’ll likely keep him a second round pick whether he stays or goes. I see Thomas having success at the NBA level as a microwave-type bench player who can rattle off 10 points in the blink of an eye.

Currently, Thomas is ranked by ESPN’s Chad Ford as the 48th prospect overall, ranging anywhere from the second round to potentially being undrafted. Thomas is versatile, strong, athletic and can undoubtedly score. Questions loom surrounding his work ethic as well as his occasional bout of poor shot selection and indifference on the defensive end of the floor. Draft Express has Thomas ranked 52nd, citing a lack of foot speed for a three, size and length for a four at the NBA level.

As others have pointed out, pure basketball motivations aren’t all that are in play here. As the Mansfield Journal wrote, As the father to a one-year-old son, Thomas may be choosing a paycheck rather than delaying money for another year.

[Related: Buckeye Basketball 12-Pack: Closing Thoughts]

Buckeye Basketball 12-Pack: Closing Thoughts

Thad MattaIt was an up and down season for Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes. The team ended their season last Saturday night with a 29-8 record and a loss to Wichita State in the Elite Eight 70-66 after trailing by as many as 20 points in the game. Prior to that, the Buckeyes were on a 11-game winning streak that included wins over Michigan State (twice), Wisconsin, Indiana, and lethal offenses in Iowa State and Arizona in the NCAA tournament. In many respects this team overachieved, yet their hot streak, easy tournament draw, and wide open West bracket left falling short of the Final Four a clear disappointment. Here, I’ll cover some of my lasting thoughts from another season of Buckeye basketball. [Read more...]

Power Outage Sends Bucks Home Instead Of On To Atlanta

amirblankstareEleven minutes. With 11 minutes to go in their season, the Ohio State Buckeyes woke up out of a coma and started playing. Down 20, they made a valiant comeback effort, closing it to as little as 3 points with 2:48 remaining. However, their disgraceful first half play which included 24% shooting plus a couple of missed defensive rebounds late were too much to overcome as the ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers stunned the Bucks 70-66 to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta. The loss ends OSU’s season, and it leaves the team and its fans asking what went wrong on the Staples Center floor for a majority of the game. [Read more...]

LaQuintessential! Ross Sends Bucks To Elite 8 on Second Straight GW Shot

rossgwzonaTwo straight games. Two shot clocks turned off with a tie game and the ball in the Buckeyes’ hands. Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats weren’t going to give Aaron Craft another clean look at a game-winning jumpshot, and Deshaun Thomas had a defender glued on him in the corner. Without calling a timeout, Thad Matta called a Craft-LaQuinton Ross pick and roll from the sideline. When both defenders collapsed on Craft, the Buckeye point made the right read once again, kicking it to Ross, who buried a NBA-range three ball to give the Buckeyes the lead with two seconds remaining and eventually the win.

It capped off a 14-point second half for Ross, and the sophomore who got a late start  as a freshman and next to nothing in terms of playing time last year saved his team for the second straight game. The Buckeyes won 76-73, and they’re going to their second straight Elite 8 after the win in Los Angeles last night. For the second straight game, however, they faced plenty of adversity.

[Read more...]

Craft’s Game-Winner, Late Heroics Save Bucks From Cyclone Upset

craftgwiowastateTwo turnovers. Two missed free throws at the front end of 1-and-1s. Four missed free throws total in the second half. A layup that had too much spin on it and spun out.

These are all things that happened to Aaron Craft late in this ballgame. The Twitter crowd was out with its pitchforks and lit torches, ready to strike the Buckeyes’ junior point guard. What was a 13-point lead with six minutes remaining became a 2-point deficit with two minutes to go following a 17-2 flash twister from Iowa State. But, Craft made play after play down the stretch, and the goat horns drawn in pencil were erased by a controversial charge taken, a gritty and-one bucket inside, and the game-winner with 0.5 seconds remaining as Craft waved off Deshaun Thomas and sunk the shot himself to lead his Buckeyes to a 4th straight Sweet 16 in a 78-75 thriller in Dayton. [Read more...]

Slammin’ Sammy: Buckeyes Crush Iona’s Will In Tourney Opener

thompsonslamiona“I think they haven’t played against the style of play like we play. I think they play a lot of teams that like to slow it up, and they can really get into them. Because we pressure so much and we go against it every day in practice, I don’t think it’s something we’ll have a problem with.

Those were the words of Iona guard Lamont “Momo” Jones this week prior to last night’s game. The transfer from Arizona had an air of confidence about him heading into this 15-2 matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. There’s no doubt that two wins by 15 seeds in last year’s tournament (as well as one yesterday during this game) aided that confidence. It’s a fair argument that Ohio State has only faced a few teams that like to play an up tempo pace. However, that air of confidence was squeezed out of Jones and Iona’s third highest-scoring offense by Aaron Craft and company. Forty minutes later, Jones made just 3-of-14 shots for 9 points and the Buckeyes forced 19 turnovers, scored 29 points off those turnovers, and scored 34 points via the fastbreak as they obliterated the Gaels early in the second half and cruised to a 95-70 victory in their NCAA Tournament opener. [Read more...]

O So Beautiful: Wisconsin’s Ugly Pace, But OSU’s Big Ten Tourney Title

bucksbigtenchamp

It started four weeks to the day in a hostile Madison environment. The Buckeyes were absolutely smoked by 22, getting their doors blown off from the outset in a 24-6 hole and decimating their Big Ten regular season title hopes (or so we thought). Thad Matta said to his team after that game, “It was embarrassing and we’re not going to let this go. We’re going to beat this drum until you guys realize this can never happen again.” Since then, Ohio State has turned the corner. They’re one of the hottest teams in the country, and after wins against Nebraska and Michigan State, they capped off their weekend with a third win in three days, capturing Matta’s fourth Big Ten Tournament Championship and third in four years as they beat Wisconsin at their own slow-paced game with a 50-43 win.

[Read more...]

Deja Craft: Buckeyes To Play In Fifth Straight B1G Championship

craftmsufallingFlashback to February 24th. The Buckeyes were trailing by six points at the half to the Michigan State Spartans in The Schott. Deshaun Thomas was struggling (1-for-8 shooting), and the Buckeyes needed another scorer to step up their game. Enter Aaron Craft, who scored 17 of his career high 21 points in the second half as he carved up the Spartan defense with patient but effective dribble penetration off the high ball screen. The Buckeyes would go on to win that game by a 68-60 count.

History does repeat itself sometimes. The Buckeyes trailed at the half once again (by one this time). Deshaun Thomas was off with his shot (4-for-13 shooting), and the Buckeyes needed a second scorer to help Thomas. Aaron Craft answered the bell once again in heroic fashion. Eighteen of Craft’s 20 points came in the back-and-forth second half, and the Buckeyes weathered an incredible seven minute field goal drought in the final seven and a half minutes of the game to hold on for a 61-58 victory and advance to the Big Ten Championship Game tomorrow afternoon in Chicago. [Read more...]

Buckeyes take care of Illini, but no Big Ten title share

thomasdriveillinoisA Trey Burke missed layup, a Jordan Morgan tap-back that spun around and rolled off, and a loose ball scamper that killed the clock. Following the miss of two front ends of 1-and-1 free throw trips and the split of a pair before that, the Indiana Hoosiers were able to use a 6-0 run in the final 52 seconds with all points coming from Cody Zeller to stun Michigan in Ann Arbor 72-71, Michigan’s first home loss of the season.

I start with this because it meant everything and nothing in regards to the Ohio State game yesterday. The Buckeyes began the day with a shot at a share of the Big Ten regular season title. They took care of their business earlier in the day. OSU used a balanced attack, led by Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft on offense and Shannon Scott and Craft on defense as they pulled away from Illinois in the second half, winning 68-55. It was an ugly game for most of the way, but the Buckeyes really put the defensive clamps down for stretches, and it was an enjoyable game from that respect, slowing a tournament team with a lot of guard play. With the Michigan loss, Indiana claimed the Big Ten title all for themselves with a 14-4 conference record with Ohio State coming up one game short at 13-5 along with Michigan State. Michigan by virtue of their loss will have to play in day one of the Big Ten tournament against Penn State, while Wisconsin takes the final bye. In the fallout, Ohio State comes up just short of securing a fourth straight conference regular season title, which would have been the first such feat since Michigan State (1998-2001).

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Carlos Hyde, Replacement Level, and Buckeye Basketball Awards

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.

WFNYBanner www

Leading off, Michael Citro at Eleven Warriors has a nice write-up on Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde, who is looking for a huge senior year, “All the skeptics who thought a power running back couldn’t thrive in an Urban Meyer offense were proven completely wrong last season, as Carlos Hyde rumbled for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 185 carries. That’s an average of 5.2 yards per carry against defenses that were mostly designed to stop running plays and ignore passing plays. And power backs don’t get much more powerful than Carlos Hyde.” [Eleven Warriors] [Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

Buckeyes Force 24 Turnovers, Whack The Gophers

thomasminnyThis year’s Buckeye team was always going to have an offense that trailed the defense. The defense has been on an elite level among the college ranks for the last couple years, and they showed exactly why last night. The 18th-ranked Ohio State’s defense forced 24 turnovers and held Minnesota to under 30% shooting as they allowed just nine points in a stretch of 15 minutes in the second half, as they creamed Minnesota in The Schott by a 71-45 count.

Sometimes, officials make it clear from the beginning what pace they want to set for a given game. Last night’s crew certainly did that. They wanted the most boring, slow-paced, foul-ridden game imaginable. Thirteen fouls were called in the first seven minutes of this game (7 on Ohio State). The rest of the first half was a slow-paced back-and-forth filled with turnovers, fouls, and missed shots. Deshaun Thomas and Minnesota’s wide load Maurice Walker were the halftime scoring leaders with 7 points, while Sam Thompson added 6 points. The most (only?) memorable play of the first half came after a Minnesota bucket with eight seconds left. Quickly, the Bucks got the ball out of bounds and up the court to Craft who raced over halfcourt, firing a contested 30+ foot heave that connected and gave OSU a 6-point halftime lead. [Read more...]

Buckeye Six Pack: Badger Beatdown Forces A Shift In Expectations

traevoncraftDue to a family illness, I was unable to do my usual recap for the Wisconsin game on Sunday afternoon (at least I picked a good one to skip). With that in mind and another tough matchup on the docket tonight with Minnesota visiting The Schott, I’m going to dig into some numbers and thoughts about the Buckeyes as we are just a few weeks away from the conference tournament.

1. I’ve given up on the Buckeyes winning the Big Ten regular season title (or any sort of share of it). I know, it may be obvious at this point, but I really did think with a win in Madison, it was possible. With five conference losses, the Bucks would have a lot of scoreboard watching to do, and even in the cut-throat conference that the Big Ten is, there’s no way Indiana (2 losses), Michigan State (3), Michigan (4), and Wisconsin (4) are going to lose enough of the required games left for there to be a five-loss champ. After watching the Indiana-Michigan State game last night, I’m very sure that those two versatile, deep, physical teams are just a level above the Buckeyes and the rest in the conference. No one can throw out three legit weapons like Zeller, Oladipo, and Watford. [Read more...]

Northwestern Shoots The Lights Out, Thomas Carries Buckeyes To Victory

thompsonrimnwIf there’s one thing that Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody’s teams are known for from a Buckeye perspective, it’s forcing the Buckeyes into some uncomfortable contests. Tonight was no different as the Buckeyes were in very real danger of losing three straight games for the first time in almost four years. But Deshaun Thomas played with a determination late, and the Bucks used a 12-0 run to pull away in the final minute from Northwestern 69-59 in a game that was tied at 57 with three to go.

It starts with the Wildcats’ Princeton-like offense, which is deliberate, patient, and effective. For nearly the entire game, Northwestern ran a set that kept no players in the post for any extended period. Instead, it was essentially a four-across at the foul line from which they can use back cuts, reversals and flash-throughs, and high screens out beyond the three point arc to get clear looks from deep. The look is quite different, but the end game is almost identical to Wisconsin’s. Both three point heavy squads, the Badgers utilize sharp-shooting big men, while Northwestern’s prowess generally lies in their backcourt. The Wildcats weren’t just pulling up from three, however, they were shooting from NBA range and beyond with regularity. After a couple of backdoor plays for easy buckets, it was open season for the Wildcats who started launching from three. Northwestern’s trio of starting guards (Dave Sobolewski, Reggie Hearn, and Tre Demps) each added two treys in the first twenty minutes as the ‘Cats shot 50% in the first half and 6-of-14 from three. [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...]

Buckeyes can’t Craft a win up in Ann Arbor

burkemichcraftDon’t tell me that regular season games don’t matter in college basketball. If you were watching this game and you weren’t either standing, sitting on the edge of your seat, or in my case, alternating between calisthenics and falling to my knees in despair in my living room, then you don’t get college basketball. Sure, Ohio State and Michigan are both going to the tournament (probably as top four seeds), and there’s a decent chance one of them will come away with the Big Ten tourney title and both may grab a piece of the regular season championship, but don’t tell me there wasn’t plenty on the line in this one. Third-ranked Michigan’s pride, after a loss to Indiana and a loss to these Bucks last time, and three point shooting kicked in and overcame tenth-ranked Ohio State’s defensive prowess as we witnessed one of the signature games of the college basketball season, a 76-74 overtime thriller where Michigan pulled it out at home, in a classic of Aaron Craft give and take. [Read more...]

Smith Jr. Helps Bucks Survive Off Night In Lincoln

lenzelledrivenebNebraska is just 11-12 and 2-8 in the Big Ten conference this season. Still, if there’s one sentence that I’ve said in about every article since New Year’s, it’s that “winning on the road in the Big Ten isn’t easy”. The Buckeyes nearly fell into that trap with cold shooting and a lazy closeout as the Huskers got as close as five with just under three minutes remaining, but Lenzelle Smith Jr’s surprise 21 points proved to be enough to survive a 39% shooting clip in a 63-56 win in Lincoln.

The biggest knock against Nebraska is that lack of a takeover, star power player that demands the ball and overwhelming defensive attention, and that came in to play late. But, they’re a scrappy bunch, one that has hung with other good Big Ten teams. In a stretch of four straight games, they lost to Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Wisconsin by only a combined 40 points. They too held those opponents into the mid-sixties in points (except Wisconsin, who scored just 47, probably by their own doing more than Nebraska’s). [Read more...]

In slow-motion, Buckeyes deal with Badgers

thomaswisconsinOver the last seven years, the Buckeyes and Badgers have formed a nice little rivalry within the Big Ten Conference. Fueled by both teams’ success and a  little help from a vocal head coach, it’s consistently been one of the can’t-miss games when the Badgers come to town. Last night was no different as Wisconsin ran their slow jam offense to perfection in the first half, working the Buckeyes over with a barrage of big man threes. But, the pace quickened a bit in the second half, and the leading scorer in the conference took over as Deshaun Thomas led the 11th-ranked Bucks to a 58-49 win in The Schott.

Looking at the B1G slate, the Wisconsin games always scare me because of their staunch commitment to Bo Ryan’s slow, deliberate pace on both ends of the floor. Whatever the next greatest degree of slowness is beyond a snail’s pace, that was the speed of this game at the tip. There were five points TOTAL scored in the first seven minutes of the game: one three from Mike Bruesewitz and a layup from Thomas. When the scoring did take off a bit, it was Wisconsin’s three pointers from several guys after deliberate and repeated ball movement that was breaking the Buckeyes’ back at the end of the shot clocks. OSU was guilty of “overhelping” on dribble penetration as Matta put it and giving up the three point looks as a result.

[Read more...]