Book Review: Don’t put me in, coach

The name Mark Titus might not ring a bell to anybody but an avid Ohio State fan, but it should. Titus was a four year walk-on for the Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team, and decided to chronicle his time in Columbus while riding the pine pony for four straight years.

Don’t Put Me In, Coach tells the story of Titus’s “Incredible journey from the end of the bench to the end of the bench” in true comedic fashion. The humor in Titus’s writing meshes with the rolling-on-the-floor-hysterical stories he tells as he relives his time as a Buckeye.

As your read the book, Titus takes you on a journey beginning with him meeting Greg Oden, Mike Conley and his other AAU teammates through his career at Ohio State and ends with his emotional senior day.

Mark “The Shark” Titus celebrates senior night with the Buckeye faithful

From the endless ripping of “The State Up North” (The University of Michigan) to his countless stories of trying to (and successfully) getting under teammate Evan “The Villain” Turner’s skin, Titus shows the ins-and-outs of a major Ohio State program from the end of the bench. From “the best seat in the house” Titus chronicles his life and interactions he had with teammates and coaches while wearing the scarlet and grey.

Titus shares his emotions in the book, talking about how much it meant to play with longtime friends Conley and Oden in a National Championship, not to mention the support he received three years later from the Ohio State student body on his senior night.

The best part of the book, shockingly, might not even be one of the chapters. Believe it or not, I laughed the hardest at some of the captions to the pictures section of the book. Titus went as far as describing himself as “an enormous vagina” in the eyes of his father on his senior night. You won’t see that in any other book, that’s for sure!

On a serious note, Titus showed what it’s like to be a jokester-slash-benchwarmer on a major Division I team. He provides good basketball insight on some big games, while making a mockery of the entire thing at the same time.

I could go off and quote passages, and tell you the specific jokes, but that would spoil a truly interesting and hilarious read. So instead, I’m going to say go pick up a copy. Whether you love or hate Ohio State, you’re guaranteed to love Don’t Put Me In, Coach (If you’re into funny books about sports that poke fun at now-popular sports figures and their Nerf guns).

Outlook on 2013-2014 basketball season

As an adamant fan of the Buckeyes, I’m still extremely upset at the loss to Wichita State. In order to cope with this loss and utter depression, I decided to stop grieving and look ahead to the next season.

First things first, let’s talk Deshaun Thomas. Thomas has decided to forego his senior year and make the jump to the NBA Draft. Buckeye fans everywhere will say that this is such a huge blow to the team and that losing Thomas is a detrimental loss. My opinion? So what?

Yes, Thomas was the B1G Ten’s leading scorer, and yes he was consistent in the half court offense and able to knock down threes. That will be missed, you’re right. Let’s not forget about Thomas’s many, MANY, downsides.

Let’s discuss his lack of interest on defense. Ohio State was consistently one of the best defensive teams in the country this year, led by Aaron Craft, one of the best defenders in the country.

Let’s also discuss his horrific, horrendous, horrible (insert another word that starts with ‘Horr’ here) shot selection. Thomas took down right ignorant shots in his time as a Buckeye. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for “take shots to make shots” and ” the only way out of a shooting slump is to keep shooting,” but there comes a time when you have to realize you’re just struggling.

You might respond to that with, “well if Thomas isn’t scoring who will? It sure isn’t Aaron Craft!” My response to that, you’re damn right it won’t be Aaron Craft.

LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott came into their own in their sophomore years, and I honestly can’t wait to see what they can do next year with more practice and experience. Were they a bit streaky? Yes. Inconsistent? Hell yes. Will they improve and be leaders on an experienced team next year? Double hell yes.

Next on the list is the low post, the only area I’m worried about for Ohio State. Losing Evan Ravenel will be a bigger deal than most people think. Now, Amir Williams will have to find a time machine and figure out how to perform like he did when he was a McDonald’s All-American, because he sure as hell isn’t playing like one these days.

Williams missed easy shots from the paint, committed stupid fouls, and got beat on the low block way more often than he should have. If the Buckeye’s are going to be successful, he’s going to need to step up and play like Buckeye fans everywhere had originally hoped.

All in all, I’m confident in the Buckeye’s next year. Coach Thad Matta recruits like a mad man, and will get the right players to fill the right positions. With Ross and Scott returning, alongside team leader Craft, it’ll be a good year to be a Buckeye in 2013.

Movie Review: Miracle

In American sports, we love to see the underdogs emerge victorious. But this time, in the 1980 Olympic Games, America was the underdog.

Gavin O’Connor’s Miracle depicts the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and their unexpected victory over the Soviet Union, a seemingly unbeatable force to be reckoned with. Nobody could beat the soviets, nobody could even come close to competing with them.

However, amongst the growing Cold War tension and struggle, somehow, someway, coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) was able to lead his team of underdogs to the top of the podium.

Coach Brooks is the lead role of the film, as he should be. This man was able to successfully dethrone the kings of international hockey with a team chalk full of college kids who had their minds set on settling old rivalries. Coach Brooks brought the team together, as one, to represent the United States of America, and the boys didn’t disappoint.

The players are pushed to their absolute limit by Coach Brooks, who challenges the boys to be “uncommon men.” In order to beat the Soviets, the boys had to do the unthinkable, which is exactly what they did.

The turning point of the movie was the scene (shown above) with Mike Eruzione, the first player to realize they were a part of something more than themselves. It was from then on out that the players put their past aside, and started to work together as a team.

As previously mentioned, the movie is right around the time of the Cold War, so tensions were high between Americans and Soviets. However, O’Connor doesn’t overplay the historical or patriotic aspects of the film. Even though both aspects are clear and evident in some parts, Miracle is, first and foremost, a hockey movie.

In order to fully grasp the game scenes, you must follow hockey. The majority of the movie is watching the team come together, with very few extended game scenes (barring the Miracle on Ice game against the Soviets).

This might be rough for those who don’t follow hockey too well, but that’s what hockey’s all about: team chemistry and fast-paced, in-your-face-yet-graceful action.

Regardless of your thoughts about the sport, Miracle is a movie for anyone. The message behind the film outweighs any negative thoughts about hockey, and leads the viewer from start to finish. Is Miracle one of the best sports movies of all time? Probably not. But man is it great to see us “beat those commie bastards.”

No. 9 Wichita State bounce the Buckeyes, contend for National Title

Before this tournament, I had never heard of Wichita State. Before this tournament, I had no idea what a “shocker” really was.

Now I do.

The aptly named Shockers of no. 9 Wichita State upset no. 2 Ohio State in the Elite 8, punching their ticket to Atlanta for the Final Four. Some might say that a no. 9 seed making it to the Final Four is the definition of a “Cinderella Story.” The Shocker’s Head Coach Gregg Marshall disagrees.

““If you get to this point, you can win the whole thing,” Marshall said. “I think Cinderella just found one glass slipper. I don’t think she found four.”

The Shockers dominated the entire game, until a late second half push from the Buckeyes at least made the game interesting. The Buckeyes won their previous two games on improbable buzzer beaters, while Wichita State was busy “upsetting” their opponents by double digits. So in all reality, was it really a “shocking?” (Pun intended).

The Buckeyes only scored 6 points off of 12 Shocker turnovers, not to mention their dismal shooting. Ohio State had been shooting 50 percent from beyond 3 during the tournament. This game, however, they only shot a frustrating five for 25. The Buckeyes lived, and ultimately died by the 3-ball during the tournament, a fate that they were doomed to meet eventually.



West region analysis: A big test for the Buckeyes

It was a good weekend to be a fan of The Ohio State University. The Men’s Basketball team dominated the B1G Ten Tournament this weekend, culminating in a victory against Wisconsin today in the championship.

Ohio State has now won the conference tournament in three of the last four seasons, asserting their dominance in America’s toughest conference (arguably).

Today’s win pushed Ohio State all the way up to to be the no. 2 seed in the West region of the bracket. Some said the Buckeyes got lucky, seeing as their opening round games are going to be held in the friendly confines of Dayton, OH. What they aren’t looking at is the rocky road the Buckeyes will have to take to get to the Sweet 16 and further on in the tournament.

Barring a catastrophic performance against their opening round game against Iona College, the Buckeyes will go on to face the winner of no. 7 Notre Dame and no. 10 Iowa State. It’s assumed that the Fighting Irish will prevail against the Cyclones of Iowa State, no matter how hideous their uniforms are.

The Irish fell to Louisville, the now no. 1 overall seed in the national tournament, in the semi-finals of their conference tournament after stringing together some impressive wins early in the tournament. Though the Irish weren’t a powerhouse squad all season, their ability to rebound and get second-chance opportunities could be a struggle for the vertically-challenged Buckeyes.

Okay, so let’s say the Buckeye’s beat the Irish, most would expect the next opponent to be the University of New Mexico. No, that wasn’t a joke.

The Lobos had an impressive season, sweeping the Mountain West Tournament and regular season title for the second straight year. Being the no. 3 seed in the West Region, the Buckeye’s would presumably have quite the challenge in the Sweet 16.

In a perfect world, the Buckeyes would then advance to the Elite 8, where they would have to face (barring any major upsets) no. 1 seed Gonzaga. The Bulldogs this year have been compared to the Notre Dame Football team, seeing as they have a great record and reputation, but are also plagued with doubts about if they can win the big game.

People across the country were stunned to see the University of Miami (FL) get shafted for the no. 1 seed, including myself. The Hurricanes won the ACC Tournament, and had an impressive record and performances all season long. But hey, I’m not complaining.

The senior leadership and composure the Hurricanes have give them an advantage over a team like Ohio State. They played big games, and beat good teams. The same can’t really be said for Gonzaga.

But, then again, this is basically a “What If?” analysis. This year’s college basketball season was as predictable as Northern Virginia weather. One day the sun shines for a team, the next they find themselves stuck in the cold. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the tournament.

However, one thing is for sure. The Buckeyes are the hottest team in college hoops, and are going to ride out this momentum all the way through the tournament.

Leave it to Michigan

Leave it to Michigan to lose.

Leave it to Michigan to let down Ohio State fans the one time we’re cheering for the horrendous pairing that is the maize and blue.

It was painful to watch, really. On their home court in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines fell apart late in their game from the free-throw line Sunday against Indiana, losing 72-71. Had Michigan won, Ohio State would have been able to win a share of the B1G Ten Title for the fourth consecutive year.

Instead, Indiana wins the title outright for the first time since 1993, locking themselves in for the no. 1 seed in the B1G Ten Tournament, March 14-17 (Thursday through Sunday).

The Buckeyes earned a 2 seed, winning the tie-breaker against Michigan State for earning a better record against the Hoosiers. The 2 seeds comes with a first round bye, so it could be worse. We could be Michigan, who lost a fourth place tie-breaker with Wisconsin, leaving them in the fifth seed overall.

The Buckeyes take on the winner of Thursday’s Purdue/Nebraska game on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.

Ohio State Coach Thad Matta’s pockets will be a little lighter after this season, as he lost $20,000 in contract incentives due to only coming in second in the conference. But don’t feel too bad for Coach Matta, he still has a $3.2 million salary, so there’s that!

Regardless of what happens in Chicago this weekend, the Buckeye’s will be heading to the big dance at the end of March for a chance to compete for the national championship. However, a fourth-straight B1G Ten Title would look really good to the selection committee when they start picking seeds.

Thanks for nothing, Michigan.

Bye and Share of B1G Ten Title on the Line in Buckeyes’ Final Week

Just like last year, the Buckeyes have the ability to earn a share of the B1G Ten Title. But it won’t be easy.

Ohio State needs to win Tuesday at Assembly Hall against Indiana and then again at home against Illinois next Sunday. But wait, there’s more!

The Buckeyes also need Indiana to lose their final game, not to mention at least one loss from Michigan State and Wisconsin. Simple enough, right?

Not so much. Tuesday night is Indiana’s senior night; as if Assembly Hall needs a reason to be more amped up.

Regardless of what happens, Ohio State will still finish in the top 5 of the best conference in college basketball this season. Currently ranked 16th overall, the Buckeyes are looking at, roughly, a 4 or even 5 seed in the national tournament (depending on how good or bad they play in the B1G Ten tournament).

Even though the Buckeyes don’t really control their own destiny, the way the team has played recently should keep fans positive about the upcoming post season.

Shannon Scott has earned a significant amount of playing time, and the team has greatly benefited, especially on the defensive end. Aaron Craft has compiled a 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the last 3 games, and has started to come into his own on the offensive end.

With Craft taking care of the basketball and Scott locking down opponents on defense, Ohio State is an increasingly better team than on most nights, making then a dangerous force to be reckoned with come tournament time.

Buckeye Honors

Even though it’s been a rough season for the Buckeyes, it’s still been one for the record books for the Junior duo of Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft. Both players played in their 100th career game as a Buckeye in last weeks’ victory against Northwestern.

In their 100 games on the court, the Buckeyes are a stellar 83-17 overall, with a 36-11 record in Big Ten play.

As far as individual success is concerned, both Craft and Thomas are making their way into the Big Ten and Ohio State record books, respectively.

Craft is currently 13 steals shy of moving to the Top 7 in all-time steals in Big Ten history. With 219 steals under his belt already, he is currently 8th behind Dee Brown (Illinois, 2003-2006).

With 6 more rebounds, Thomas will be the 24th player in Ohio State history to score 1,000 points and pull down 500 rebounds in a career as a Buckeye. With his 18 point performance last week against Wisconsin, Thomas also became the 18th player in Buckeye history to score 500 points in a season multiple times (2).


Aaron’s Expectations

At 13th in the country, with a 7-4 record in the B1G Ten, it’s clear to see that Ohio State is under-performing this season. Coming into the season, there was a lot of hype surrounding the return of Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas.

On Wednesday, Craft was interviewed with Head Coach Thad Matta about the focus of the rest of the season and the expectations for Ohio State basketball.



Really B1G Ten

If you had told me before the season that Ohio State, at this point, would be 17-6 and ranked 13th in the country, I’d have a heart attack from laughing so hard.

There’s no possible way this team could be a whopping 7-4 in the B1G Ten! With Aaron Craft’s lock-down defense and Deshaun Thomas’ knock-down shooting, the Buckeye’s should be the no. 1 team in the country!

But nobody, including me, saw what the B1G Ten conference was going to be like.

At this point, forget Ohio State. Had you told me that there would be five teams in the Top 25 (1 Indiana, 4 Michigan, 8 Michigan State, 13 Ohio State, 20 Wisconsin) with Minnesota, yes, MINNESOTA, getting votes to be in the Top 25, I would have…honestly…I don’t know what I would’ve done.

The conference has never, EVER been this good before! The Big East was this good in its prime (R.I.P.) and the ACC was amazing when North Carolina used to be a legitimate program (key words: used to). But the B1G Ten? Never.

This is what’s so great about college basketball. The fact that any team, no matter how big, or how well known, can go out and make a run and compete with anybody. Anytime. Anywhere.

It sucks that B1G Ten teams are going to continue to beat each other up, it really does. But, come tournament time, we’re all in for quite a treat.