Aug. 1, 2003
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Quick Facts 2003-04 Roster 2003-04 SeasonOutlook Coach O’Brien’s Bio Player Bios Final2002-03 Statistics
Experience Joins Buckeye Lineup in 2003-04
The Ohio State men’s basketball roster will have a revamped look but will be stacked with experience nonetheless in 2003-04.
A casual glance down the bench a year ago often found more players in casual dress than in uniform for the Buckeyes. That will change for Jim O’Brien, Ohio State head coach for the last six seasons, in 2003-04.
Only one of the team’s top four offensive players returns from the 2002-03 campaign, though scoring is not expected to be a problem this season, as it was a year ago. Senior Velimir Radinovic, a 7-foot center, is the top returning scorer with 9.3 points a game. He was third behind departed guards Brent Darby (18.3 ppg.) and Sean Connolly (11.8 ppg.) last year. The top retuning backcourt player in O’Brien’s three-guard offense is 6-8 redshirt sophomore Matt Sylvester, who was sixth in team scoring with 5.7 points a game last year. Despite the apparent lack of offense returning, the Buckeyes look to be much more effective putting points on the board with the addition of two experienced guards, the return of a couple players from injury, a third guard becoming eligible after satisfying academic requirements and the addition of a McDonald’s All-America forward from the high school ranks.
Injuries were a factor in Ohio State’s struggles offensively in 2002-03. Point guard Brandon Fuss Cheatham, a 6-1 junior, was lost early in the season to a left knee injury that hampered his progress the entire season. He is expected back healthy this year. Another key player, center/forward Terence Dials, was lost for the season a year ago with a lower back injury after just six games. Several other players — Shun Jenkins, Radinovic and Connolly — missed key games with a variety of ailments.
Dials, a 6-9 sophomore center, received a medical redshirt and will have three years of eligibility remaining. His scoring touch and rebounding were sorely missed a year ago. His return to health to assist Radinovic and Jenkins inside will be a much-welcomed asset this season. Dials set an Ohio State freshman record by connecting on 62 percent of his shots (86-138) two seasons ago.
Excited as they are to have Dials and Fuss-Cheatham outside the training room and available for action, the Ohio State coaches are equally interested in the additions of transfers Tony Stockman and J.J. Sullinger to the backcourt mix this year.
The guard duo sat out the 2002-03 season at Ohio State following transfers from Clemson (Stockman) and Arkansas (Sullinger). Both practiced with the Buckeyes but could not play in games. The pair brings three years of starting experience to Ohio State with seasoned abilities on both ends of the court.
Stockman, who has two years of eligibility at Ohio State, is a 3-point threat from just about anywhere outside the bonus arc. His quickness, ability to penetrate and find the open man along with his high energy level will fit well with the up-tempo abilities Sullinger brings to Ohio State. A year working together on the practice squad, where they often orchestrated winning efforts against the starters last season, should make the transition to game action much easier.
A Columbus native, Sullinger is a lifelong Buckeye fan who spent one year at Arkansas before returning to his beloved Ohio State to finish his collegiate career. He will have three years of collegiate eligibility with the Buckeyes. He brings an intense defensive presence and the ability to slash and finish within the structured offense or on the break.
Another talented guard who was on the Ohio State campus a year ago but unable to play is sophomore Ricardo Billings. He was unable to practice or play with the Buckeyes last season while he satisfied academic requirements for eligibility this season. He comes in as a sophomore with three years to play. A prolific high school scorer in Michigan, Billings, at 6 feet 3 inches, used his year away from the game to bulk up his already stout frame. He is expected to provide O’Brien with scoring, toughness and a defensive presence.
The only new scholarship player is freshman Ivan Harris, a 6-8 forward who was selected to play in the annual McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Game over the summer. A native of Springfield, Ohio, who played his senior year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., Harris is expected to add depth inside while giving the Buckeyes a sizeable outside scoring threat, helping to extend opposing defenses.
Though there is reason for excitement surrounding the newcomers, the cupboard of returning players is anything but bare.
Radinovic is poised for a break-out senior season. His strength and experience within the Ohio State system along with his ability to convert free throw attempts (90-122, .738 as a junior) give the Buckeyes balance and stability on the interior. Jenkins, a punishing defender and rebounder, has a year under his belt and should benefit from Dials’ return.
The Buckeyes also benefit from two additional interior players in junior Matt Marinchick, a 6-10 center, and sophomore Charles Bass, a 6-9 center/forward.
Marinchick possesses a nice scoring touch around the basket and from 10-15 feet. Bass, the hero of the semifinal game against Michigan State in the 2003 Big Ten Tournament, is a lanky leaper with shot-blocking potential. His late free throw vs. the Spartans was the deciding margin in a 55-54 victory that helped send the Buckeyes to their second-consecutive appearance in the league postseason tournament title game.
Bass also was slowed by a nagging knee injury for the duration of his freshman campaign. Continued work in the weight room should benefit his performance for the remainder of his Buckeye career.
The Postseason Streak
Ohio State will be looking to qualify for postseason play for the sixth-consecutive season under head coach Jim O’Brien in 2003-04. The Buckeyes made four trips to the NCAA tournament from 1999-2002 before accepting a bid to play in the 2003 National Invitation Tournament a year ago. The current streak is the second longest in school history behind a 12-year stretch (1982-1993) in which Ohio State played in seven NCAA tournaments and made five NIT appearances.
O’Brien is tied with Eldon Miller for the most consecutive postseason appearances while coaching the Buckeyes. Miller took three teams to NCAA tournament play and two to the NIT from 1982-86.
The Buckeyes feature five left-handed players on the 2003-04 roster. Junior Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, sophomores J.J. Sullinger, Charles Bass and Ricardo Billings and freshman Ivan Harris are all southpaws.
Back to 20
The Buckeyes will be shooting for their fifth 20-win season in six years during the 2003-04 campaign. Ohio State won 20 or more games from 1999-2002 before winning 17 games a year ago. Ohio State has not enjoyed five 20-win seasons during a six-year stretch in the 104-year history of the program.
Boyages Back with Buckeyes
Rick Boyages has returned to the Ohio State sidelines after spending three seasons as the head coach at William and Mary. Boyages came to Ohio State with O’Brien in 1997 after serving as an assistant on O’Brien’s staff at Boston College. After the 1999-2000 season, Boyages left Columbus to take over at William and Mary, where he compiled a record of 35-52.
Ohio State will travel to the West Coast and then on to Hawaii early in the 2003-04 season. The Buckeyes will face San Francisco on their way to the Maui Invitational. Ohio State will be making its third trip to the Maui event with a 4-2 record in the tournament. The Buckeyes are 8-10 in Hawaii, which includes a 4-8 record in four appearances at the Rainbow Classic. Ohio State was last in Hawaii in 1997, O’Brien’s first year, at the Rainbow event. The Buckeyes also will travel to New Jersey for a return game against Seton Hall at the Meadowlands. Home games this season include a matchup against Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and a battle against Texas Tech in early January. Bob Knight returns to his alma mater as head coach of the Red Raiders.
Nationwide to Play Host to Buckeyes, Hokies
Ohio State will face Virginia Tech Dec. 6 at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus this season. The game will be a preview of the first and second rounds of the 2004 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which will be played at Nationwide March 19 and 21. Ohio State will serve as the host school for both the Virginia Tech game and the NCAA tournament games. The Buckeyes also will play host to the first and second rounds of the 2004 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. Those games will be played at St. John Arena March 20-23.
Seven Buckeyes Spend A Year in Residence
A total of seven student-athletes on the 2003-04 roster have spent a year on the Ohio State campus without playing in games for the Buckeyes. Sophomore Ricardo Billings sat out 2002-03 to satisfy academic requirements for eligibility this season. Sophomores Terence Dials (2002-03) and Matt Sylvester (2001-02) each sat out a season with back injuries but received medical redshirt seasons to retain four years of eligibility. Senior Shaun Smith (1999-00) did not play basketball his first season in Columbus before walking on with freshman eligibility for the 2000-01 campaign. Junior Matt Marinchick (2000-01) decided to redshirt his first year in Columbus to gain strength and experience. Finally, junior Tony Stockman and sophomore J.J. Sullinger both sat out the 2002-03 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules after leaving Clemson and Arkansas, respectively, following the 2001-02 season.
Ohio Product Spurns Scholarship Offers to Walk-On Buckeye Squad
Nick Dials, a 6-foot-1-inch point guard from New Haven, Ohio, turned down several Division I scholarship offers to walk-on with the Buckeyes in 2003-04. He averaged 27 points and 5.9 assists per game. He met with Ohio State head coach Jim O’Brien in April and was offered the chance to walk-on.
Dials made 86 percent of his free throws in high school.
He was first-team All-Ohio in Division II as a junior and senior. For his career, he averaged 22.2 points and 5.5 assists per game and helped Willard to an 85-14 record. Dials had 52 points and 11 assists in a high-school game as a senior.