First-year assistant coach Jeff Boals will provide “In the Huddle” updates periodically throughout the 2009-10 season. The No. 9/12 Buckeyes take on No. 11/11 Michigan State at noon Sunday on CBS. The race for the Big Ten Championship is on.
And down the stretch they come!
It is amazing that there are only four regular season games left on our schedule! It seems like yesterday that we were finishing up our Canada trip in August and talking about our goals are for the upcoming season.
February is a player’s month. It is the grind in college basketball. Conference championship races, tournament seedings and bracketology are in full swing. As a player, you realize that the ending is near. A lot of teams are banged up, some have had injuries, and some have been fortunate to have stayed healthy. Coming down the stretch of a conference regular season, teams are jockeying for the championship and for seeding (whether it be for your conference tournament or for the NCAA tournament).
Everyone is scoreboard watching to see what everyone else is doing. The tougher teams physically and mentally always rise up at the end. Everyone gets up for the beginning of the season and the end of the season. That is easy! But, it is the teams that fight through the February dog days that end up on top. Conference tournaments add a new lease on life for a lot of teams to qualify for the NCAA Tournament as an automatic qualifier. Almost everywhere in the country coaches will tell their teams that everyone is 0-0 come Conference Tournaments.
Right now we are 4-1 in the month of February, (losing to No. 4 ranked Purdue 60-57 on Wednesday), with a record of 20-7 overall and 10-4 in the Big Ten. We now face a tough Michigan State team in East Lansing this Sunday at noon on CBS (a game that has major implications on seedings and standings). Prior to our loss to Purdue we had won nine straight Big Ten games (4 on the road and 5 at home). After starting out the Big Ten season minus Evan Turner and with 4 of our first 5 on the road, our guys have persevered and have us ranked near the top of the Big Ten standings.
There has been a lot of talk about Evan Turner for the National Player of the Year. I could not agree more with everyone. While we have a balanced effort and many weapons and guys who can score, Evan makes a lot of it happen. The great thing about Evan is; he is all about winning. No individual statistic matters to him. If he scores 32 points and we win, he is happy. If he scores 10 points and we win, he is happy. He doesn’t get caught up in statistics all he wants is the W. However, his stats speak for themselves and if you don’t count the 7 minute game against Eastern Michigan where he got hurt, he is averaging: 20.25 ppg, 9.65 rebounds and 6 assists a game!! Unmatched in the country.
Coach Matta has been great for our team keeping them in the moment and focused on the game we are about to play. He is great at getting our guys’ minds right and thinking about the task at hand. It is easy to get distracted with all the national exposure and national rankings and to lose focus on what the immediate goals are. We need some help to win the Big Ten Regular season Championship, but we have to do our part on Sunday.
Go Bucks! O-H-I-O