No one wants to be the person who sends four No. 1 seeds into their bracket’s Final Four. If you need help making some creative picks, Neil Paine offers suggestions for sleepers in the 2019 men’s NCAA Tournament in the video above.Read more: Our 2019 March Madness predictions.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar1970-8923.4.216+5.0-0.3-.022-0.7 Michael Jordan1985-9828.8.275+7.5-0.2-.019-0.6 Karl Malone1986-0424.4.214+5.1-3.2-.075-2.8 Michael Jordan1985-9828.8.275+7.5-0.2-.019-0.6 Michael Jordan is always a popular comparison point for King James when it comes to playoff heroics. Jordan did retain more of his output in the playoffs than LeBron has over his career, but MJ is also the exception here — like he is in most basketball-related things. Contemporary stars Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have all experienced far bigger drop-offs in the playoffs than James, as did legends of yesteryear such as Karl Malone and (gasp!) Larry Bird.5I was shocked to see how much Bird’s production dropped during the playoffs over his career, given that he won three championships. All told, James’s regular-season-to-playoffs dip is roughly the same as Tim Duncan’s — pretty good company.James’s ability to maintain his output in the playoffs is even more impressive when you consider that his regular-season numbers are really, really good. It’s easier to display postseason improvement when you are starting with a lower bar. The players who raised their production the most during the playoffs — think Pistons legend Isiah Thomas or ex-Warrior Baron Davis6Amazingly, Davis had the biggest leap in SPM between the regular season and playoffs of any player since 1963! — tend to be moderately good, but not great, regular-season performers. Among players who retained as much of their regular-season selves in the playoffs as James, only Jordan played at a higher level during the regular season: PLAYERPLAYOFF YRSPERWS/48SPM*PERWS/48SPM* Charles Barkley1985-9924.3.216+5.1-0.1-.024-1.0 Stephen Curry2013-1726.7.259+6.5-4.1-.074-2.9 David Robinson1990-0325.5.245+6.4-2.4-.047-1.8 Kawhi Leonard2012-1720.2.203+4.3+1.4+.012+0.5 Who maintains their skills in the postseason? (1963-2017) Chris Paul2008-1726.7.272+6.8-0.5-.054-2.0 Best regular-season statistics, among players who declined as little in the playoffs as LeBron James Hakeem Olajuwon1985-0224.4.184+4.5+1.2+.003+0.1 Dirk Nowitzki2001-1624.4.224+5.1-0.7-.037-1.4 Magic Johnson1980-9623.9.222+5.1-1.0-.014-0.6 PLAYERPLAYOFF YRSPERWS/48SPM*PERWS/48SPM* LeBron James2006-1728.6.258+6.9-0.9-.021-0.8 Average qualifier17.3.144+1.8-1.1-.028-1.1 Tim Duncan1998-1624.4.210+5.3-0.1-.018-0.8 REGULAR SEASONCHANGE IN PLAYOFFS * SPM, or Statistical Plus/Minus, is a mixture of PER and WS/48 that weights each according to how well it correlates with ESPN’s Real/Plus Minus. It is scaled to represent a player’s net points above average per 100 possessions. Data is throughSunday’s games.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Larry Bird1980-9224.1.212+5.1-2.8-.040-1.7 Rick Barry1967-8021.6.167+3.0+0.1-.013-0.5 Bill Russell1963-6917.6.179+3.3+0.6-.021-0.4 Wilt Chamberlain1964-7323.9.239+5.8-1.9-.044-1.5 LeBron James2006-1728.6.258+6.9-0.9-.021-0.8 Bob Lanier1974-8420.1.179+3.3+0.8-.002-0.1 Kevin Durant2010-1727.1.253+6.4-3.6-.077-3.0 Shaquille O’Neal1994-1127.4.219+5.8-1.3-.035-1.4 Walt Frazier1968-7520.0.203+3.9-0.1-.010-0.3 LeBron James’s postseason legend continues to grow with each passing year. In recent campaigns, the Cleveland Cavaliers star has even appeared to flip a switch in the playoffs and instantly perform at a higher level. Certainly he did last season, elevating his production markedly from the regular season,1His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) jumped from 27.5 during the regular season to 30.0 in the playoffs, and his Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) from 0.241 to 0.274. and he has shown signs of a boost so far this postseason as well.Playoff LeBron — the destiny-fueled superhero sent to the postseason to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy — is mostly an optical illusion to basketball fans. Over the course of James’s career, he’s pretty much played the same in the playoffs as we’d expect from his regular-season stats. But because James is so good, just maintaining his remarkable regular-season numbers is by itself a feat — and something that many other stars (past and present) have been incapable of doing.To compare a player’s regular season and playoff production, I gathered advanced stats — including Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Win Shares per 48 minutes (WS/48) and a composite “statistical plus/minus” (SPM) that blends the other two metrics together2The resulting metric is adjusted for team and weighted so as to best align with ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, and is also scaled to represent points above/below per 100 possessions. You can read about it more in this story I wrote about Chris Paul’s incredible career stats. — for all NBA and ABA players since 1963.3For accounting purposes, that was the first season for which we know exactly how many minutes a player split between teams if he switched teams mid-season. Then I tracked how much each player improved or declined when he reached the playoffs.4Specifically, I took a career average for each player, weighted in accordance with how many regular-season and playoff minutes he logged each season.The vast majority of NBA players play worse in the postseason, which makes sense given that the playoffs contain the league’s most difficult opponents. The typical player tends to see his PER drop by 1.1 points, his WS/48 by 0.028 points and his SPM by 1.1 points during the playoffs. James is not immune to this dynamic, but he’s managed to resist the drag of the playoffs more than most. Here are the best regular-season players in my sample, along with how their stats changed in the playoffs (through Sunday’s games): Jerry West1963-7423.5.226+5.0-0.3-.025-0.8 * SPM, or Statistical Plus/Minus, is a mixture of PER and WS/48 that weights each according to how well it correlates with ESPN’s Real/Plus Minus. It is scaled to represent a player’s net points above average per 100 possessions. Data is throughSunday’s games.Source: Basketball-Reference.com REGULAR SEASONCHANGE IN PLAYOFFS Magic Johnson1980-9623.9.222+5.1-1.0-.014-0.6 So, no, James isn’t Hakeem Olajuwon, who somehow managed to play better in the postseason than he did in the regular season. (Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs is adding to his own legend in that department as we speak.) But James’s regular-season numbers are also better than Hakeem’s, or Magic Johnson’s, or basically everyone else in NBA history. Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, you can pretty much expect the same LeBron. He’s great all the time.Check out our NBA playoff predictions.
OSU freshman forward Mason Jobst (26) during a game against Michigan on March 6 at Nationwide Arena. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s hockey team (12-17-3, 7-8-3) is preparing to face off against the Michigan State Spartans (10-21-3, 6-11-1) in its final regular-season series before the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes have momentum on their side, as they head to East Lansing, Michigan, on a five-game unbeaten run.The Buckeyes are coming off a home-and-home sweep of archrival Michigan, a series in which they scored 13 goals over the two games. They have scored at least four goals in each contest amid their five-game unbeaten streak. The Spartans have also been on a decent run of late. They’ve lost just one of their last five matches. Their last game was a 5-0 rout of first-place Minnesota.“I think the one thing we’re going to take from the series is we know they’re a good hockey team. We’ve got to be playing our best hockey to beat them. I say that every week,” said OSU coach Steve Rohlik. “That’s what it takes here with the parity across the board.“They’ve beaten the Michigans, they’ve beaten the Minnesotas. They’ve beaten everybody in our league. So our preparation is for Friday, and we’ll take it one game at a time.”The last time these two squads met in January, they split the series at the Schottenstein Center. The Spartans were victorious in the first encounter, 4-2, on Jan. 29, while the Buckeyes won the next day, 2-1.Junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey said he believes that a fresh mindset has changed his team since the last outing between the two sides.“I think we’re just a little more confident. We’ve been scoring some goals. They’re going to play tough defensively,” Schilkey said. “The goal is to do what we can to just play our game, and we’re just a little more confident, I think.”Junior forward David Gust said he hopes OSU can score more goals this time around against a stingy Spartan defense.“They kind of trap you in the neutral zone. We were talking about it today that they kind of set four guys back,” Gust said. “They just play a little trap, which is tough to get around sometimes.”More Big Ten stars on displayOne contributor to OSU’s recent success is the production of Schilkey. The Michigan native was named the Big Ten’s first star for the second week in a row. It is the third consecutive week he has been named one of the three stars, and the fourth time this season.Yet the Buckeyes’ top scorer this season deflected personal praises, instead giving credit to his linemates for his current high production.“I think we’re just feeding of each other. Definitely not a one-man thing at all,” Schilkey said. “When the points start going in, it’s all three of us. So it’s been nice.”In last Friday’s victory at Ann Arbor, Schilkey grabbed an assist. He built on that in Sunday’s match, scoring two goals, including the game winner, and notching an assist. Schilkey has collected 14 points over the last six games, leading the NCAA in points per game (2.33) over the last three weeks.Despite the accolades, Schilkey said he doesn’t think too often about the recognition and would much rather think about the team’s success as a whole.“It’s cool to be recognized and things like that, but it’s cooler to get a sweep over Michigan,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to, and that’s what makes it fun.”Michigan State also has a Big Ten star of its own to thank for its recent success: senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who collected the conference’s second star on Tuesday.“They (have) a good goalie, Hildebrand,” Gust said. “He was Big Ten Player of the Year last year, I think. So they’ve got a good guy in between the pipes.”Hildebrand leads the conference with 542 saves this season. His 13th career shutout in the 5-0 victory over the Golden Gophers gave him the third most in program history.Big Ten tournament loomsAs the rankings stand, the Buckeyes and the Spartans will meet again in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in St. Paul, Minnesota. OSU sits fourth in the conference standings, while Michigan State is right below in fifth. Regardless of how the weekend finishes, the two teams will be tabbed to meet again on March 17 at the Xcel Energy Center for the first round.“These are big games. Three straight. Obviously, it’s kind of to set the tone, and they know that too,” Schilkey said. “It’s some tough games with them, so we’re getting ready for that.”Gust reinforced that positive results in this series can key going into the tournament matchup.“These two big games are crucial to get confidence, and if we can squeak out some wins and carry that into the Big Ten tournament, that’d be awesome,” Gust said.For Rohlik, he isn’t getting too ahead of himself, as he said he just wants to emphasize the games currently at hand.“We know we play them in the Big Ten tournament. But our focus is what we just talked about is the game on Friday, to be honest with you. Just keep getting better and keep playing some good hockey,” Rohlik said. “We know we’re playing a very good hockey team that’s capable of beating anybody, so we’ve got to be prepared for Friday night.”Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.
OSU junior Anna Kirk (47) during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorIt was rally time for the Buckeyes this weekend. The Ohio State softball team (29-12-1, 11-5-1) came back from a Friday loss to take the final two games in its home series with Purdue (26-22, 7-10), thanks to a late four-run inning in Sunday’s game.Sunday’s finale broke a Buckeye Field attendance record when 1,627 fans filled the stands to support their Buckeyes. OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she was thrilled at the mood the crowd set for her team.“It was so fun, and they were spontaneously starting cheers,” Schoenly said. “It was just great softball energy.”Sophomores Ashley Goodwin and Taylor White threatened the Boilermakers’ defense throughout the weekend. Goodwin, who spent the weekend at first base, went 6-for-9, while White went 4-for-4 with two RBIs on Sunday.Junior Shelby Hursh pitched 12 innings and struck out 14 while earning the save in Saturday afternoon’s contest, and Purdue senior Lilly Fecho was a difficult opponent for the Buckeyes throughout the three games.“She’s one of the best in the country,” Schoenly said of Fecho. “But I think it shows that when you see the same kid for three days, you can hit them.”Game 1The Buckeyes dropped the weekend opener in a windy 3-0 matchup on Friday. For the Boilermakers, a two-run homer with two outs made the difference, helping them secure their lead early on in the first inning.Only three OSU batters had hits throughout the seven innings, as the lineup was thwarted by Fecho. The left-hander, who boasted a 1.97 ERA entering Friday’s game, struck out five in the shutout to nab her 17th win of the season.In the circle for OSU, Hursh continued to be the team’s go-to pitcher, striking out five of her own and only walking one. Hursh threw five innings before freshman Morgan Ray took over on the mound to keep the Boilermakers at three runs.After Purdue freshman Lauren Stewart’s quick home run, the Buckeyes left two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the opening inning. Again in the second, two OSU runners were left stranded after Goodwin’s outfield single.Neither team brought a run across the plate in the second, third or fourth innings, but Purdue lengthened its lead in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly from freshman Emily Kenny. Still, the Buckeyes remained uninspired and went down in order in the fifth and sixth innings, giving them a chance to rally in the bottom of the final inning.Junior Anna Kirk and Goodwin produced consecutive singles in the seventh inning but were left stranded at second and third to cut OSU’s hopes at another weekend sweep short.Game 2The sun was out on Saturday as OSU routed Purdue in the Big Ten Saturday contest with a close 3-2 outcome.White remained at the center of controversy in multiple calls throughout the game, including a close tag after she stole third in the third inning and a shallow fly ball, which was caught by senior Mary Gooding but called a dropped ball, in the following inning.“Taylor has been just awesome on the bases, and I wanted her out there causing the havoc she has been,” Schoenly said.In another odd play, junior Lena Springer’s outing in the circle was cut short after she took a sharp line drive to her left wrist.Springer started the game with a six-pitch first inning to shut the first three Purdue batters down. After senior Cammi Prantl kept the first inning alive with an outfield single, freshman Emily Clark stepped up to the plate and sent a ball to right center off the glove of sophomore Maya Hughes to put the Buckeyes on the board first.In the top of the third, miscommunication between sophomore Becca Gavin and Kirk on a bunt left the first two batters for the Boilermakers on base. A sliding catch by Prantl to grab a shallow pop in left field halted the runners, but a single through the gap by junior Kristen Hoppman tied the game at one. Kenny’s line drive drove in another unearned run to send Purdue on top.White got aboard in the bottom of the inning on a single, and redshirt junior Alex Bayne was hit by a pitch. White stole third and was deemed safe, a call that was contested by Purdue coach Kim Schuette. The umpires defended their call, and White stole home minutes later to tie the game back up.Schoenly decided to move batters around this weekend, in a strategy that worked around each batter’s strengths. White led off for the Buckeyes, while redshirt senior shortstop Maddy McIntyre filled in the fifth spot where she could bring more runs in.“They did exactly what they were put in their spots to do, and it all played out the way we wanted it to,” she said.Goodwin led off the Buckeyes’ fourth inning with a solo blast to center field, which prompted Fecho to relieve sophomore Gina Snyder on the mound. This single run was all OSU could manage in the inning, and Hursh took over in the top of the fifth to try and finish the Boilermakers.Gavin zipped a throw to Kirk in the top of the sixth to catch Stewart stealing from second to leave the Buckeyes ahead as “Hang On Sloopy” played over the loudspeakers. In the bottom of the inning, Goodwin recorded her third hit of the day, but Purdue’s offense turned a double play on Kirk’s bunt to clear the bases.Hursh finished off her Saturday outing in the seventh inning with two more strikeouts and earned the save, while Duvall took home the win.Game 3To the delight of a packed stadium, the Buckeyes rallied late in the seventh to score four runs and take the series win by way of a 5-4 victory. McIntyre provided the game-ending hit with a single to right.In the top of the fourth inning, Purdue grabbed an early lead thanks to a pair of two-out walks and a passed ball to bring runners into scoring position. Stewart then stepped up to the plate and sent a long ball off the left-field wall to push the Boilermakers ahead by two.Clark hit a ball that slammed off the top of the center field wall in the bottom of the fourth to record a leadoff triple, but she was left stranded after the three following batters all grounded out.In the following inning, Gavin led off with a big hit of her own, and pinch hitter Bri Betschel brought her to third base on a sacrifice bunt. White continued the hit streak with an RBI single, but two flyouts to center field left OSU still trailing.The Boilermakers lengthened their lead in the top of the sixth when Kenny hit a solo home run with two outs. Hursh continued to struggle to get the last out, and Stewart’s RBI triple sent her back to the bullpen with six strikeouts on the day. Freshman Morgan Ray stepped into the circle to record the third out and leave Stewart stranded.Kirk leapt to catch a high line drive by Purdue freshman Lexi Huffman to take the Buckeyes into the bottom of the seventh. Gavin and Betschel both got aboard on no-out errors, and White bounced a single through the gap to record her second RBI of the day. Bayne stepped up and hit a line drive down the third base line to bring in Betschel.Fecho walked Clark, which brought up McIntyre, who roped a walk-off single to right field to give OSU the weekend win in exciting fashion.Coming upThe Buckeyes are next scheduled to head to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers in another conference series next weekend. The first game of the series is slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday.
OSU was not able to get off to a good start as inconsistent third-starter pitcher Dean Wolosiansky (3-4) gave up seven earned runs in just more than three innings of work. Four two-out runs on six singles in the fourth helped the Buckeyes tie the game at 5-5. One of those runs came off the bat of steady-hitting left fielder Zach Hurley. Hurley went 3-5 Sunday and added three RBIs, bringing his totals to eight hits and four RBIs on the series. However, the teams did not remain even for long as the Spartans responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Michigan State added four runs in the fifth inning and two insurance runs in the seventh and Ohio State never threatened again. Hot hitting continued but seven runs on 14 hits weren’t enough for the Buckeyes to finish the series sweep against Michigan State Sunday in East Lansing as the Spartans won 14-7. The game marks the first time OSU has allowed double digit runs to a Big Ten foe. The 14 runs are the second-most the team has given up this season, having allowed 17 to Marshall on March 13. Despite the loss, Ohio State was able to take two of three from Michigan State in an important early season series as the teams entered the weekend in a tie for the Big Ten lead. Ohio State now boasts a 6-3 conference record and remains in first place. Friday saw Buckeye ace Alex Wimmers improve to 8-0 on the season as Ohio State took the first game of the series 10-1. The second meeting proved to be more dramatic as Ohio State needed two runs in the ninth inning to earn a come-from-behind win 4-3. The team gets a break from the conference schedule as they welcome Akron to Bill Davis Stadium Wednesday at 6:35 p.m.
This week, junior midfielder Aisling Coyle was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after scoring five goals in two games against Robert Morris University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Indiana University. Coyle leads the Buckeyes’ field hockey team with 14 goals, scoring in 10 of 11 games. Coyle has faced much adversity since her arrival at Ohio State in 2007 from Glasgow, Scotland. “Freshman year was pretty hard because I had to take almost a year (off). I tore my ACL, so I redshirted,” Coyle said. Coyle came back in the spring of 2008, shortly after finding out she had compartment syndrome, a compression of nerves and muscles, commonly in the lower leg. “It was weird not playing (field) hockey for a year,” Coyle said. “I’ve been playing since I was 7 and never missed that much time,” Coyle rebounded from her injuries and earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and First-Team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore in 2009. OSU field hockey coach Anne Wilkinson said Coyle’s experience is what makes her a special player. “She has played internationally at a lot of different levels,” Wilkinson said. Another important trait Coyle brings to the team is her leadership skills. This season, Coyle’s teammates voted her team captain for the second year in a row. “She’s really stepping up; she’s a real strong leader for us,” Wilkinson said after the team’s win over Robert Morris. OSU is 9-3 and holds a 1-1 Big Ten record. Coyle said she believes the team can finish strong. “Winning both the regular season and tournament for the Big Ten is not unrealistic for us. Hopefully from there, we can get a good seed in the NCAA Tournament, make a run to the final four and take it one game at a time after that,” Coyle said. The Buckeyes play at home at 3 p.m. Thursday against Miami (Ohio).
Then-redshirt-junior Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) throws the ball during a game against OSU Nov. 3, 2012, at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 52-22.Credit: Lantern file photoWhile the No. 3-ranked Ohio State football team (9-0, 5-0) has won 21 consecutive games since the start of last season, Illinois (3-6, 0-5) has lost five in a row.Despite the teams moving in opposite directions, Illinois senior linebacker Jonathan Brown said he isn’t going to let OSU walk out of Champaign, Ill., unchallenged.“If you’re not going out there to compete, you’re not going out there to win a game, then there’s no reason to step on the field,” Brown told The Lantern Monday. “It’s what we do every week. We step on the field to compete, and that’s what we’re going to do this weekend.”Competing to win has left the Illini short of actually winning any games since their conference play began this season. The team goes into Saturday’s game needing to win its final three games against OSU, Purdue and Northwestern to become bowl eligible.“We definitely want to get to a bowl game, and get our first Big Ten win, so in order to do that, we got to win three games straight,” redshirt-senior wide receiver Steve Hull said Monday. “The first one is Ohio State, and we just got to prepare and attack this week to go out there and get a win.”OSU ranks fifth nationally with 48.2 average points scored per game and eighth nationally with 17.0 average points allowed per game. Illinois, by contrast, ranks 62nd nationally with 29.7 points scored per game and 105th nationally with 34.7 average points allowed per game.Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said Monday his team has to step up its game Saturday.“(The matchup’s) not in our favor, so we got to play above and beyond really what we’ve played so far this year,” Cubit said.The expectation that OSU should win, however, does not have to determine the outcome, Hull said.“On paper, I’m sure that everybody’s saying we’re going to be destroyed and going to get our butts whooped, but that’s why we play the game on Saturday,” Hull said.While the win-loss records might show that OSU’s season is going one way and Illinois’ is going the other, Brown does not see it that way.“I wouldn’t say that we’re going in two opposite directions,” Brown said. “They’re progressing as a team. We’re progressing as a team. It’s fun to get out there and compete against another great opponent.”Although the Illini haven’t won a Big Ten game since Tim Beckman’s coaching tenure began, Beckman said his team has improved this season after winning just two games in 2012.“We’re a better football team than we were last year at this time,” Beckman said in Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “I think offensively, what we’ve done in a matter of a year has been unbelievable … Defensively, we’ve lost some players (from last season), there’s no question about that, and some very good players that are playing on Sunday. These players that we’re playing with now have to continue to mature.”Both the offense and defense are looking to improve upon their performances in last year’s 52-22 loss to OSU at Ohio Stadium. The Fighting Illini only mustered 170 yards of offense in that game, while giving up 567 yards to OSU.“If you compare (the Illinois offense) to last year, there’s huge strides, but I don’t compare it to last year, because I wasn’t here,” said Cubit, who is in his first season at Illinois. “We just got to keep on improving and getting ourselves better. It’s going to be real difficult this week, because of the opponent, but that’s college football, you got to go out and play.”One player who is expected to play better than he did last year is redshirt-senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who threw for only 96 passing yards in last year’s game.So far this season, Scheelhaase has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 2,420 yards and 15 touchdowns — all improvements from his 60.6 completion percentage, 1,361 passing yards and four touchdowns last season — while he has thrown the same number of interceptions, eight, as last year.“He’s improved tremendously,” Cubit said. “He’s really run the system (well) … How he’s handled it and how he’s adapted to it and been a leader out there, that’s been great.”OSU sophomore linebacker Josh Perry also noticed Scheelhaase’s improvement this season.“He’s more of a quarterback than he was last year or the year before,” Perry said Monday. “He’s looking more when he scrambles to throw the ball than take off and run.”OSU coach Urban Meyer said his No. 1 concern for Saturday’s game is “getting to the quarterback.”“(Scheelhaase is) a guy that keeps plays alive even when they break down … that’s what causes problems for defense,” Meyer said during a Monday press conference. “I think we got to pressure him.”As for the offense’s opposition, Beckman said the OSU defense, even considering their success in holding the Illini to just one offensive touchdown last season, is “very, very improved.”“Their front four are playing outstanding,” Beckman said. “Linebackers are very aggressive in making plays, and you see a secondary that also is playing very aggressive.”On the other side of the ball, Illinois will once again be trying to find a way to slow down OSU junior quarterback Braxton Miller, who leads the Buckeyes this season with 1,726 yards of total offense, and senior running back Carlos Hyde, who leads OSU with 701 rushing yards.“We got to tackle in open space,” Beckman said. “We’ve got to leverage the football and be in the proper fit and not overdo what we think’s necessary to make a play because that, in the end, bites you. We just have to play our brand of football and if that’s putting pressure on (Miller) or containing him, I think that’s the game all defenses have to play against something like that offense, you got to try to keep them off track.”Meyer said the Illinois defense, which ranks 116th in the FBS with 482.7 average yards allowed per game, is a difficult unit to characterize, but one he expects to bring pressure Saturday.“It’s all over the place,” Meyer said. “They have good players but they’re just, it’s hard to get a beat on who they are and what they’re trying to do. They’re a very heavy blitz team and I think they’ll blitz us a lot.”OSU is looking to retain possession of Illibuck, the carved wooden turtle that serves as a trophy for the winner of the two teams’ annual rivalry game, as it has since the Buckeyes last fell to the Illini in 2007. But although Brown acknowledged OSU has “some of the top players in the country,” he said his team has no plans to back down.“We’re not going to have any fear going into this game,” Brown said. “We’re going to be ready to play. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing.”Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for noon at Illinois’ Memorial Stadium.
Senior guard Aaron Craft floats for a layup during a game against Purdue March 13 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. OSU won, 63-61.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorOn Pi Day — a day where Ohio State published a video highlighting Aaron Craft’s ability to recite the many digits of the mathematical constant pi — the senior guard received yet another recognition.A testament to his play this season, Craft was named one of six finalists for the 2014 Bob Cousy Award, an honor given to the top point guard in men’s college basketball.According to a press release, the field of six finalists was whittled down from a list of 47 players by the Cousy Award screening committee.Joining Craft, the five other finalists for the award are UCLA sophomore Kyle Anderson, Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis, Connecticut senior Shabazz Napier, North Carolina sophomore Marcus Paige and Wichita State sophomore Fred VanVleet.“It was a tough process to narrow down the list of already exceptional point guards to only six, but these six men deserve to be fighting for the award and recognized as some of the greatest point guards in college basketball,” said Ken Kaufman, chair of the Bob Cousy Award and former president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, echoed the sentiments of his colleague, and added that the most difficult decision lies ahead.“The Cousy Award screening committee took on the tough job of choosing from many talented point guards to determine this list of six players who represent the leadership skills that Bob Cousy exhibited,” Doleva said. “Each of these candidates has consistently proven that they are worthy of this prestigious award.”While the screening committee takes plenty of time to select each finalist, Craft said that he doesn’t waste a minute to think about individual accomplishments.“There’s plenty of time to think about that when I’m old and fat and can’t run up and down anymore,” Craft said, regarding his place as a finalist. “The things that are going to be remembered are the things we do as a team. That’s the biggest focus.”Previous winners include many current NBA point guards like former Texas Longhorn D.J. Augustin, former St. Joseph’s Owl Jameer Nelson and the winner of the 2013 Cousy Award, former Michigan Wolverine Trey Burke.According to the release, the winner of the 2014 Cousy Award is scheduled be announced during the Hall of Fame festivities at the 2014 Final Four in Dallas.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) carries the ball during a game against Penn State on Oct. 25 in State College, Pa. OSU won in double overtime, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorRedshirt-freshmen who enter spring camp as the third-string quarterback aren’t necessarily expected to lead their team to a double-overtime victory on the road.Especially not in the midst of their worst statistical game as a collegiate player, and certainly not while playing on a sprained MCL.But that’s what J.T. Barrett did for Ohio State during its 31-24 win against Penn State on Saturday.His coach, Urban Meyer, said Barrett’s overtime heroics — which included 32 rushing yards and both OSU touchdowns — are something he’ll likely remember forever.“I’ll probably never forget that look when I saw our offense taking the field against the white out of the student section, down by seven, against the defense that really kind of shut us down the second half … and take us in for a score,” Meyer said Monday.Just moments later, Meyer reiterated that — despite putting the offense on his back in the extra periods — Barrett wasn’t at his best against the Nittany Lions.“J.T. actually had just an OK game as far as some of the reads and some of the decisions he had to make,” he said.Barrett started the game off strong running the ball, but never got on a roll through the air and slowed down on the ground after the first 15 minutes. He had five carries for 45 yards in the first quarter, but finished the half with just one more yard on the ground and just 52 through the air.At that time, the Buckeyes still held a 17-0 lead, but a pair of second-half interceptions from Barrett — including one that Penn State returned for a touchdown — helped to allow the Nittany Lions back into the game.But even after putting up numbers nowhere near what Buckeye fans have become accustomed to in recent weeks, OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton said he learned everything he needed to know when he looked at Barrett before the team took the field in overtime.“There’s nothing like looking in a player’s eyes to find comfort as a football coach,” Drayton said Monday. “And I just so happened to see J.T. Barrett’s eyes in that moment. And I’ll tell you what, I got all the confidence that I needed that he was gonna at least at that moment give everything that he had to try to put us in a situation to win that ball game.”Drayton added that the look from Barrett makes him look forward to what he and the rest of the Buckeyes might be able to do down the road.“When you see that coming from some young football players right now, you can’t help but get really excited and anxious to see what the future holds for this football team,” he said.For all the confidence Drayton said he got from Barrett’s demeanor, he didn’t mention the injury the quarterback had sustained during the game’s first half.If he’d been asked before the game ended, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein said he wouldn’t have mentioned the injury either, but that’s because he didn’t know it existed.“After the game, I had no idea he hurt his knee,” Elflein said Monday.He added that the injury made Barrett’s performance all the more notable.“He was fighting through it the whole game, and that says a lot about him,” Elflein said. “What type of guy he is, and that was awesome.”Because of the injury, Meyer said he expects Barrett to be limited in practice this week, but made it clear that there would be no surgery and said the Wichita Falls, Texas, native will play in OSU’s next game.But without normal practice reps heading into a game, Barrett might need to find other ways to prepare. Drayton said he has no doubt the signal caller will do that just fine.“He’s a technician, he’s serious about his business and he’ll study every single thing he needs to be prepared on Saturday,” Drayton said.That Saturday game is set to pit the Buckeyes against Illinois at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.And before that kickoff — if all goes as it has this season — Elflein said Barrett will be the one getting the team ready before taking the field. He said the quarterback gives a pregame speech before every game, and used just one word to describe what those speeches are like.“Incredible,” Elflein said. “You don’t hear anything like that from anybody else, you can tell that it’s coming form deep within and he really means it.”
Former Ohio State Diving Club assistant coach Will Bohonyi pleads not guilty to all charges during his arraignment in the Franklin County Common Pleas court Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. Credit: Amanda Parrish | Assistant Campus EditorFormer Ohio State Diving Club assistant coach William Bohonyi was arraigned in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas where he pleaded not guilty to all charges.Bohonyi is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor that was part of the diving club during his time as a coach and is charged with three felony counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual pandering to minor.Bradley Koffel, Bohonyi’s attorney, told the court during arraignment that Bohonyi had done nothing wrong in pursuing a relationship with the young woman.“The consensual relationship he had with this young lady was lawful,” Koffel said.Bohonyi was accused of coercing a 16-year-old female athlete to engage in sex acts in July 2014, both on campus and during a competition in Maryland, in a lawsuit filed July 11 in Indianapolis federal district court. Bohonyi, the university’s diving club and USA Diving were named as defendants. Charges against Ohio State have since been dropped and Bohonyi was issued a warrant by the Franklin County court and, as his defense pointed out, he turned himself in within two hours.The prosecution, represented in court Wednesday by Franklin County assistant prosecutor Jennifer Rausch, argued that while the alleged victim was old enough for consent — the age of consent is 16 in Ohio — that the nature of their relationship is what made it illegal with Bohonyi serving as her coach.In interviews after the hearing, Koffel said Bohonyi did not have control over the alleged victim’s placement on teams or progress in the diving club and that under the Ohio statute would not count as her coach and thus the nature of the relationship would not be illegal.Bohonyi’s bond for a later appearance in court was set at $15,000 and was released on a $10,000 reporting recognizance bond. The judge also placed a stay-away order on Bohonyi from anyone involved with the case as well as an order for no unsupervised contact with minors.