Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 5:34 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Looks like Thad Matta doesn't come to this space all that often.
My suggestion to the Ohio State coach was that he shut down his star big man, Jared Sullinger, for the time being. Let him relax over the holidays and sit out tomorrow night against Lamar and later this week against Miami (Ohio).
However, Matta told the media this afternoon that Sullinger, who has battled back spasms and now a foot injury already this season, will play on Tuesday.
It makes no sense.
The last we saw Sullinger he was hobbling off the court on crutches, shortly after his team defeated South Carolina.
That was Saturday.
It was diagnosed officially as a bone bruise to his foot and I may be overreacting, but there's just no reason to risk throwing out there the guy who will ultimately determine whether you can make a deep run in March.
Let him sit back and listen to Christmas music. Just take it slow.
Evidently, Matta disagrees.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 6:01 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Jared Sullinger gave up late-night snacks and his favorite foods this past summer and shed about 25 pounds of baby fat in an effort to become more versatile and increase his stamina. He was primed for a huge season. Instead, he's caught the injury bug.
The once-rotund Ohio State sophomore big man, who entered the season as the frontrunner for National Player of the Year honors, missed last weekend's loss at Kansas with back spams and then suffered a bone bruise in his foot today. He's listed as day-to-day, but if I'm Thad Matta, I'm going to be extra cautious because the Buckeyes have no shot at going to the Final Four without Sully. None. Sullinger said via twitter that he's fine -- and will be "back at it tomorrow."
I'm no doctor, but I'd sit him for the next three games - all home contests - to make sure he gets right. Really right. Up next Tuesday is Lamar, then comes Miami (Ohio) followed by the Big Ten opener against Northwestern. Even if the Buckeyes happen to lose two of them, it's no big deal. Maybe they wind up being a No. 2 seed instead of a No. 1. It's not worth the risk.
All that truly matters is to have Sullinger's back and foot issues behind him when the ball drops in Times Square, signaling the 2012. The ideal approach to do that is to give him a couple weeks off. Sure, it could also cost Sullinger Player of the Year honors. But that's irrelevant in the bigger picture - which is having a chance to win a national title.
With a healthy Sullinger, Ohio State can compete with anyone in the country. They have a terrific point guard in Aaron Craft, a big-time scoring wing in William Buford - and Deshaun Thomas showed his offensive capabilities by exploding for 30 in Saturday's win at South Carolina. Matta understands this better than anyone -- dealing with injuries to star players. Greg Oden went through it in his time in Columbus and Evan Turner's back cost him significant time. Those guys were able to come back healthy when it mattered most.
Let's hope Sullinger is as fortunate.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:08 am
By Jeff Goodman
Aaron Craft makes no excuses. He didn't take chemistry as seriously as he should have.
He received a B-plus last fall.
It was the first time he had ever received anything of the non-A variety in school.
Craft has a 3.86 GPA and is looking to become the first Ohio State Academic All-American since way back in 1968 (Bill Hoskett).
Let's face it: There aren't many holes when it comes to Craft.
He's a big-time student who wants to major in pre-med, he's a terrific, unselfish point guard who is also a big-time defender and Thad Matta calls him the toughest kid he's ever coached.
"I think Coach was just being nice," Craft said of Matta's compliment.
But Ohio State video coordinator Greg Paulus, the former Duke point guard and Syracuse quarterback, also said Craft's work ethic is up there with anyone else he's seen.
"His commitment is up there with anyone I've ever played with," Paulus said.
Craft even recently - just for the heck of it - decided to observe the team doctor while he performed a shoulder scope and also an ACL surgery.
He said he was fine for the first half of the procedure, but then got woozy and had to leave the room as the doctor was pulling out a tendon.
"I got light-headed," Craft laughed. "I had to sit down and walk out of the room."
Then Craft returned to see the second tendon removed.
On the court, Craft knows he'll need to step up this season with the departure of Jon Diebler and David Lighty - especially in the leadership department. He also doesn't want defenders to go underneath screens, a sign of disrespecting his perimeter shot.
"Guys played off me," Craft admitted. "It'll help us as a team if they aren't able to do that this year."
Posted on: January 24, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: January 24, 2011 4:01 pm
We also have a couple of links to some longer videos that offer some insight into coaching at the mid-major level. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader has video of Fort Wayne coach Dane Fife after his team took a tough road swing through the Dakotas. AExtra has a nice look inside the coaching life of Boston University's Pat Chambers.
On our video today, we hear from legend-in-the-making Thad Matta, discussing his team's ascension to 20-0 on the season.