July 30, 2014

The Diff: Making sense of Dion Waiters’ present and future

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I shared some stats after the Browns’ depressing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. This week, I’m talking at length about Dion Waiters.

The Diff

Dion Waiters is the most polarizing player on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He supersedes the tweener rookie with a 2.3 PER, the former All-Star coping with his battered present state, the current All-Star perhaps struggling to lead the charge and all the other enigmatic players on this disappointing 4-10 squad. In just 17 short months since the 2012 draft, the soon-to-be 22-year-old Waiters continues to be a target of negative commentary. David Thorpe of ESPN and Scouts Inc. is the latest to do so. [Read more...]

NBA Rookie Rankings: Lillard vs. Kidd and Payton, Waiters can’t finish

dion waitersWith the Cavaliers having two rookies playing prominent minutes, WFNY thought it would beneficial to see how the fresh meat around the league is faring in comparison with the Cavalier rookies. Each week, we’ll have NBA rookie power rankings where we’ll rack and stack the freshman class of the NBA. The rankings will be weighted with the most recent games carrying the most importance, but the whole body of work will be taken into account. Great beards and great celebrations may also play a large factor.

1. Damian Lillard (Last Week: 1)

The mid season rookie of the year had another strong week, averaging just over 21 points and 7 assists in 3 games, including a win against Indiana that snapped the Blazers’ 6 game losing streak. Lillard has received praise from the media, coaches, and even LeBron, but now we can add future hall of famer, Gary Payton to that list.

In an interview with Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk, Payton gave his endorsement of Lillard for Rookie of the Year. “I like Damian Lillard because he’s from Oakland, California, and he’s a phenomenal basketball player,” Payton said. “He should be the rookie of the year, he’s playing very well right now for Portland and I love his game.” [Read more...]

Jared Sullinger comes home with stories to tell

20130122-115034.jpgAs he comes back to Ohio for the first time since leaving Thad Matta and his teammates at The Ohio State University, Jared Sullinger speaks of the few wake-up calls he has had during his young career as a power forward in the NBA.

It was not much into his Sullinger’s season when teammate and future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett was digging his broad and boney left shoulder in the chest of the rookie. Attempting to gain position against a player who is more of a house than a habitant, Garnett jabbed and jabbed until Sullinger’s body gave an inch. It would be at this point when the 6-foot-11-inch veteran would take a step back and effortlessly sink a jump shot over the extended arm of his would-be defender. As the ball splashed through the net, Garnett, with his trademark scowl, barked at his first-year teammate.

“Welcome to the NBA, rookie.”

[Read more...]

WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2012: #10 Buckeyes March To Final Four in New Orleans

2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one.

10. The Ohio State Buckeyes Reach the Final Four

I’ll always remember the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes as an immensely talented team that had all the tools to go the distance and nearly did so. Your tenth biggest story of the year is Thad Matta leading the Buckeyes to their second Final Four under him and the 11th in school history. The Buckeyes got there by capturing a number two seed after a 25-6 regular season that included a share of the Big Ten regular season title with Michigan and Michigan State. They also reached the Big Ten Championship game, falling to Michigan State in their third matchup of the season 68-64 after having beaten them in East Lansing just seven days prior to claim their share of the conference crown.

The Buckeyes dispatched of 15th seeded Loyola Maryland in the tourney opener with relative ease 78-59. Deshaun Thomas led the team in scoring with a career-high 31 points, the start of what would be a magical tournament for both Deshaun and the Bucks.

The next day, I had this to say:
[Read more...]

Report: Former Buckeye William Buford to work out for Chicago Bulls

From Bob Baptist-

Buford was ranked 51st by Draft Express, but was not one of 60 players to hear their name called on draft night. Meanwhile, former teammate Jared Sullinger was introduced as a Boston Celtic today. Sullinger will wear number 7 for the Celtics and Danny Ainge said Sully will play some center as well as power forward for the Celtics.

2012 NBA Draft: Buckeye Jared Sullinger goes 21st to Boston Celtics

Jared Sullinger seemed to be paying a steep price for having some injuries as a sophomore. The Buckeyes star fell so far in a year that he wasn’t even invited to the draft because he wasn’t expected to go in the top 15.

Well Sullinger did end up outside of the top 15 as the Boston Celtics took the 6’9″ OSU star with the 21st pick in the draft. Buckeyes fans will certainly wish Sully well, but those that are also Cavs fans won’t wish him too well now that he will don the Celtic green.

[Related: Sullinger not invited to the NBA Draft]

OSU’s Jared Sullinger Not Invited to NBA Draft Green Room

This is not hyperbole right now. I’m not sure Ohio State has had a player with higher character than Jared Sullinger since Thad Matta took over. First round draft picks rarely need sympathy, nor to be hyped up, and it’s tough to feel bad for a guy who is about to be very rich playing the game he loves.

Never the less, things keep going bad for Sullinger. The latest comes from ESPN’s Andy Katz who reported that the NBA did not invite Sullinger to the NBA Draft Green Room. The distinct priviledge, normally reserved for the top 10-15 prospects, was once an inevitability for Sullinger. However, after the crushing blow of having doctors red flag him for his back issues, Sullinger’s stock has been in a free fall.

Surely being in the green room, while not the most important thing in the world, was a long time dream of Sullinger’s. Now that dream will never be realized, as he will be stuck on the outside looking in. Sullinger, who made the decision to return for his sophomore year rather than face an NBA lockout, was a likely top 5 pick last year. The decision to come back likely cost Sullinger at least 10 draft slots and millions of dollars over the lifetime of his rookie contract. Hopefully the experience and lessons learned from the extra year of seasoning will allow Sullinger to eventually make up the difference. Because, really, this could not have happened to a nicer guy who deserves it less.

Draft Express scouting video on Sullinger

While Jared Sullinger is in the news, this would be as good a time as any to post his Draft Express scouting video-

 [Related: Cavaliers to bring in Sullinger, Melo for workouts]

Cavaliers to bring in Sullinger, Melo for workouts

The Cavaliers are expected to bring in Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger on Friday for a workout. No doubt all eyes will be on his red-flagged back. When Sullinger scheduled the workout with the Cavs, he was probably hoping the team might consider him with the fourth pick. That dream has sailed. Now, I’m sure he is hoping that he doesn’t fall to the Cavaliers at number twenty-four.

He shouldn’t. It would surprise this writer if he made it past the Rockets at 16 (their second selection), and I’d be STUNNED if he made it past the Celtics who own picks number 21 and 22.

In his chat yesterday at Cleveland.com, Terry Pluto was adamant that if Sullinger falls to 24, the Cavs shouldn’t hesitate to take a chance on him-

“That’s where you take chances- at 24. Not at 4.”

The Cavaliers are also looking to bring in Syracuse big man Fab Melo, who could also be in town on Friday. Melo was a popular choice for the Cavaliers at 24 on many mock drafts until recently. His stock seems to be on the rise.

Jared Sullinger “red flagged” by NBA doctors

Jared Sullinger spent some time injured this year for Ohio State. Now, if NBA doctors are correct, he might be dogged by injuries for a bit longer. Specifically, NBA doctors were concerned about an area of Sullinger’s back. According to Sullinger’s father in a conversation with ESPN’s Andy Katz, it isn’t that big of a deal.

“He had a bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight,” Satch Sullinger told ESPN.com senior college basketball writer Andy Katz in a phone call Monday afternoon. “It pulled on his hip flexor and he’s been taking care of it to loosen it. You can call it a red flag if you want. But it’s tight hamstring and tight quads. He’s been to doctors, he’s doing yoga and deep tissue massage. The flexibility is helping take the pressure off the area.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this means Jared Sullinger just came back onto the Cavs radar. As a former Buckeye I hope for the best for Sullinger, but if he must drop and the Cavs have any kind of chance on him later in the draft, it’d hard to be argue against the talented ‘tweener.

Of course, I’m sure some of you will still want to steer clear anyway.

[Related: Sources: Cavaliers Have Drummond Ranked Higher Than Barnes?]

 

Deshaun Thomas Announces Return to Ohio State Basketball Team

The Ohio State University formally announced today that forward Deshaun Thomas will return next year for his junior season for the men’s basketball team. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 starter, blossomed in February and March for the Buckeyes on the team’s path to the Final Four. He is expected to be a key offensive option for head coach Thad Matta next year after sophomore forward Jared Sullinger announced his departure for the NBA earlier this week.

Thomas averaged 15.9 points on 52 percent shooting with 5.4 rebounds in starting all 39 games this past season. He averaged 19.2 and 7.4 during the final 13 games of the season. However, he struggled with just 9 points and 4 rebounds in OSU’s national semifinal loss to Kansas on March 31, his first single-digit scoring game since a Feb. 11 loss to Michigan State.

Senior guard William Buford is the other notable departure from this year’s team. Also returning next season will be two other starters, guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. The Buckeyes are expected to begin the season ranked in the top 25, but likely not in the top 5.

Source: [Ohio State athletics]

Sullinger Departs Ohio State, But Not Without Accomplishing Plenty

You could see it in Jared Sullinger’s eyes the instant Aaron Craft committed the lane violation and the clock soon after expired in the Superdome, his Buckeye career was over. Sullinger announced yesterday that he was leaving Columbus and heading for the NBA Draft. A likely top five pick last season, Sullinger returned for another shot at a Final Four following the Buckeyes’ premature exit in the Sweet 16 last season. Sully was rewarded for his commitment to the university, and he leaves as one of the most well-liked and polarizing figures of Ohio State basketball in recent memory.

I can still recall being on the Schottenstein Center floor as a student following Ohio State’s victory over Illinois to clinch the Big Ten regular season championship in 2o10. As the Evan Turner-led Buckeyes gathered to cut down the nets, a high school senior named Jared Sullinger watched from a row behind the OSU bench. Already, fans were well aware of who Sullinger was. Chants of “Sully, Sully” were heard, and there was a buzz about just how good that team could be the next season with the big guy leading the way. Could he do what Greg Oden had done earlier in Matta’s tenure and lead his team to The Final Four? The 6’9″ big man went about it a much different way than the towering 7-footer Oden, but he carved his own path to postseason success. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting … Tribe Opening Day, Expected Value of Tanking, Post-Hollins Struggles

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.

The DiaTribe features its annual player/song matches to get folks psyched for today’s opener: “[T]o lighten the mood before Game #1 – the annual suggestion of music to accompany each Indians’ player to the plate or to the mound. After an off-season of conjecture, a Spring Training of dissection, and before a season of heavy lifting, this little exercise in frivolity always serves to break up the tension and perhaps provide a little bit of “firing up” to those in need.” [Paul Cousineau/The DiaTribe]

[Read more...]

Jared Sullinger turning pro after sophomore season

After a move the surprised a few people in returning to Ohio State for his sophomore season, Jared Sullinger has decided to make himself available in the NBA draft.

Sullinger and Buckeyes coach Thad Matta are expected to appear at a news conference at 2:15 p.m. ET Wednesday at Value City Arena, on the Ohio State campus.

Short of winning the whole thing, it is hard to argue with Sullinger’s resumé for the NBA. Sullinger nearly averaged a double double in back-to-back years for Ohio State while playing over 30 minutes per game.

What remains to be seen is what path Sullinger’s NBA career will take as a 6’9″ power forward who seems somewhat undersized at times. When WFNY has discussed the topic, scenarios from LSU’s Glen Davis, to Duke’s Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer have all come up as potential NBA ceilings. There is little doubt though that Sullinger probably would have gone higher in last year’s draft than he will in the upcoming one, but we’ll see.

[Related: Jayhawks end OSU's NCAA journey]

Jayhawks End OSU’s Final Four Journey

In the first half, the Buckeyes were in complete control and the Kansas Jayhawks had no answer for their shot-making and defensive ferocity. The problem? The Buckeyes’ momentum and edge stayed in the halftime locker room as the Jayhawks came back from 13 down to pull out a 64-62 victory to advance to the Championship Game Monday night against the Kentucky Wildcats in New Orleans. The Bucks shot just 24% in the second half and their dynamic post duo of Sullinger and Thomas shot a combined 8-for-33 from the field. The Buckeyes were offensively ineffective for the last half of the game, and because of it, Kansas seized the momentum and were able to make more plays late. Ohio State had this game won, and yet they’re going home. That’s the hardest part to swallow out of all of this.

This game could not have started any better for the Buckeyes. The slumping shooting guard, William Buford, hit his first shot, and you a had a feeling that he would be much more engaged in the game. The Buckeyes forced the Jayhawks into 9 first half turnovers, and they were able to convert in transition. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks had 0 transition points in the first half and shot just 37%. Deshaun Thomas covered Robinson and held him to 8 points. Jared Sullinger finished a few shots over the top of the shotblocker Jeff Withey. The Buckeyes were setting up for charges (Craft took two) and blocking shots (Sam Thompson had three). Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit some big shots, and the starting five each had 5 points or more at the break. In short, the Buckeyes looked unstoppable. [Read more...]

Final Four Thoughts: Buckeyes Must Remain True To Their Style Of Play

As fans get set for a fantastic pair of games tonight between Kentucky and Louisville and, of course, Ohio State and Kansas, I’d like to take a little time to talk about just how great it is that the Buckeyes are here and how truly unexpected it is given some of their shortcomings this season.

Many thought last season was the Bucks’ best shot at the Final Four and more. It didn’t happen, and the Buckeyes lost three big emotional leaders from that team in David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale. One player they didn’t lose was Jared Sullinger. With Sully, Buford, and Craft returning from that core group of the top six players, they needed more. The two players that have come the longest way are the other two starters, sophomores Deshaun Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr. Thomas gave last year’s team a dynamic boost in a few select games, and Smith Jr. was slowed by a wrist injury and was the ninth man in a 7 man rotation. Together, these two have helped the five-man unit gel much like last year’s group did. The chemistry, thought to be holding them back mid-season, has come on strong, and the Bucks play together as a team and complement each other as well as any team out there.

I touched on it earlier this week in my article with TD, but it is truly amazing how different the Buckeyes are since that matchup in Lawrence. Jordan Sibert played big minutes in that game, and he hasn’t hit the floor in meaningful action for weeks. Evan Ravenel had to play over 30 minutes in that game, and Amir Williams had to pick up the rest without Sullinger. Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott, two of the first bench options for Matta now, barely played in that showdown. That was also one of Craft’s first aggressive games on offense, and he has been much more consistent attacking on offense down the stretch. [Read more...]

Two Sides Of The Final Four: Breaking Down The Key Points Of Kansas vs. Ohio State

You’ve got two great teams. Two great coaches. Two First Team All-Americans. Two #2 Seeds. Kansas and Ohio State. A pair that met earlier in the season but aren’t even close to being the same teams they were on that December day in Lawrence. While we are on the theme of two, at WFNY you’ve got a pair of trained eyes on each side. Kirk (responses in red), an Ohio State grad, and TD (responses in blue), a Kansas grad. We will be taking a look at the keys to Saturday’s Final Four tilt from both sides.

What did the Buckeyes/Jayhawks learn from their first meeting? [Read more...]

Buckeyes Regroup, Craft and Sullinger Send Bucks to Elite 8

You wouldn’t know it by the halftime score or the final score, but the Buckeyes were fighting for their tournament lives for most of the second half. The Cincinnati Bearcats got hot shooting the basketball, and the Buckeyes relaxed with a big lead, turned the ball over repeatedly, and went offensively silent all at the same time, allowing UC to use a 27-8 run to give them a 4-point lead with 12 minutes to play. Thankfully, Aaron Craft and the entire defense turned up the effort. That fueled the offense, and Jared Sullinger and others hit some huge shots, propelling OSU into the Elite 8 with a 81-66 victory in Boston.

The Buckeyes built up a large first half lead, almost solely due to the work of Deshaun Thomas. The leading scorer in the tournament for the Bucks, Thomas posted 20 in the first on 8-of-12 shooting. The Bearcats primarily operated out of a 2-3 zone in the first half, and Deshaun absolutely thrived by finding ways to get the ball in the open gaps of that zone. Thomas added, “We’ve learned that teams are double teaming us and playing the right guy out of the double-team. He seen me flashing, now they double-teaming me, so now I see him flashing. So I think that’s way better. I think we’re here as a team, we keep moving the ball and then we play off each other.” Jared Sullinger was also very active on the boards, nearly posting a first-half double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds. The frontcourt display was enough to build a 12-point advantage at the break despite no points from Aaron Craft or William Buford. Thomas finished with a team-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

[Read more...]

Box Score: (2) Ohio State 81, (6) Cincinnati 66

Despite the final score, the Buckeyes got a real scare tonight. Ohio State used a 20-point first-half effort from Deshaun Thomas to build a 12-point halftime lead. UC came firing out of the second half gate and took a 4-point lead just before the midway point of the second half. It took a burst of Aaron Craft’s defense (6 steals) and Jared Sullinger’s offense (23 points, 13 in the second half) to right the ship and pull the team through for the 81-66 victory. Thomas led OSU in scoring with 26 points, while Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 15 of his own. Cincinnati was led by 18 from Cashmere Wright and 15 from Sean Kilpatrick. With the win, the Buckeyes advance to the Elite 8 for the 13th time, their 2nd under Matta. They face the #1 seed Syracuse and their 2-3 zone on Saturday night at 7:05 pm for the right to go to New Orleans for the Final Four.

 Cincinnati

Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
Y. Gates 29 3-7 0-0 1-1 0 5 0 1 2 1 3 7
C. Wright 34 6-12 4-6 2-2 1 4 3 3 0 0 5 18
D. Dixon 38 3-10 1-5 1-2 1 2 1 2 1 0 3 8
S. Kilpatrick 36 6-12 3-8 0-0 0 1 2 3 0 0 2 15
J. Parker 32 4-10 1-4 1-3 2 6 2 3 1 0 2 10
J. Jackson 20 4-5 0-0 0-0 3 6 0 4 0 4 5 8
J. Davis III 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C. Mbodj 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0
G. Guyn 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0
J. Sanders 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 26-56 9-23 5-8 7 26 8 18 5 5 21 66
Percentages .464 .391 .625 Team Rebounds: 3

 Ohio St.

Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
L. Smith, Jr. 35 6-7 3-4 0-0 0 5 2 0 2 0 1 15
D. Thomas 39 10-17 3-5 3-4 4 7 0 1 0 1 2 26
J. Sullinger 37 7-13 0-2 9-10 5 11 3 1 1 0 3 23
W. Buford 30 1-8 1-2 1-2 2 5 1 4 3 0 4 4
A. Craft 39 2-7 1-4 6-10 0 4 5 4 6 0 1 11
S. Scott 16 1-4 0-0 0-1 0 1 3 1 1 0 0 2
S. Thompson 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
E. Ravenel 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 27-56 8-17 19-27 11 33 14 11 13 1 11 81
Percentages .482 .471 .704 Team Rebounds: 2

Game Info

Technical Fouls:
None
Arena:
TD Garden, Boston, MA
Attendance:
18,796
Officials:
Jamie Luckie, Mike Eades, Michael Irving

 

The Sweet Sixteen and the NBA Draft: Cuse, OSU, Marquette, and Baylor

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.  This piece will focus on the prospects of Syracuse, Ohio State, Marquette, and Baylor. [Read more...]