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The 2016-17 Season’s conclusion for Thad Matta and the Ohio State University Men’s basketball was hardly anything any of us had perceived from the outset …. Though in hindsight did we honestly expect a Big Ten Trophy? The nativity that exists in my private realm is – Yes!

The Buckeyes ended the season by laying an egg. They certainly weren’t heading to the Big Dance unless they pulled a “couple” miracles in the Big Ten Tournament. They would “crap” out in their last two games with losses to Indiana and to Rutgers in the Tournament opener. That was their lone chance to at least journey to Madison Square Garden for redemption in the NIT. The CBI? Please? If that offering was made I am pleased they did not accept. But I, to be real, “I do not believe” that offer was made. Why should it have been? The Buckeyes deserved to stay home in March.

The Buckeyes finished the year 11th in the Big Ten Rankings. They ended the season with a 7-11 record within the conference, and 17-15 overall. It was a poor season. The loss to Rutgers only displayed there was no drive left in this team – regardless of what Marc Loving said following the loss to Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament opener (reference Ken’s article of the loss). Clearly, as I see it anyway, they were ready to get back to classes.
The Buckeyes have played in one of the two postseason tournaments for 10 straight years, with eight trips to the NCAA tournament and two appearances in the NIT. The only season the Buckeyes didn’t play in either of the two tournaments under coach Thad Matta was in 2004-05, when they were ineligible for postseason play.

Well, that streak has been wiped clean, hasn’t it? What deems this reality even more disheartening is that Ohio State had an opportunity of reaching the NCAA Tournament even after playing poorly the first two-thirds of the Big Ten schedule. But they … well, no words are surfacing here …

I had read “talk” that had the Buckeyes finished 4-2 in their last six games, while winning “at least” two games in the Tournament, they did “in fact” have a chance of being called for “The Dance”. Keep in mind the Big Ten this year did not appear to be one of the best leagues in the country, but they do have a feverish base, and plenty of cash to spend.

Well, to cry over it, only makes it even harder to grasp. So, let’s move on ….
The Buckeyes will only be losing Marc Loving, who arguably had a good year. As a Senior, he will be moving on … just not to the NBA. Look for him to land a spot somewhere overseas. I don’t think any other player on this squad has the gumption to relinquish time at the college level to move onto the professional level. Such a prospect would be – plain foolish.

Of the players that “should” return for the Buckeyes – their past season – in a nutshell breaks down like this:

Jae’Sean Tate in 31 games played 988 minutes, hit for 440 points (average of 14.1 ppg), 199 rebounds, 61 assists, 33 steals, and a shooting % of 54.2.

JaQuan Lyle in 30 games played 885 minutes, hit for 347 points (average of 11.06 ppg), 93 rebounds, 141 assists (average of 4.7 per game), 32 steals, and a shooting % of 46.9.

Trevor Thompson in 31 games played 713 minutes, hit for 332 points (average of 10.7 ppg), 282 rebounds (average of 9.09 per game), 13 assists, 12 steals, and a shooting % of 57.0.

Kam Williams in 31 games played 955 minutes, hit for 294 points (average of 9.4 ppg), 67 rebounds, 31 assists, 23 steals, and a shooting % of 39.2.

CJ Jackson in 31 games played 579 minutes, hit for 167 points (average of 5.4 ppg), 77 rebounds, 86 assists, 26 steals, and a shooting % of 39.1.

Micah Potter in 29 games played 407 minutes, hit for 121 points (average of 4.2), 90 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 steals, and a shooting % of 44.2.

Keita-Bates-Diop in 9 games (out due to injuries) played 210 minutes hit for 87 points (average of 9.6), 47 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, had a shooting % of 50.0.

Andre Wesson in 28 games played 326 minutes, hit for 66 points (average of 2.3 ppg), 35 rebounds, 9 assists, 6 steals, had a shooting % of 37.3.

David Bell in 14 games played 90 minutes, hit for 20 points (average of 1.4 ppg), 29 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, had a shooting % of 44.4.

Joey Lane in 4 games played 12 minutes, hit for 7 points (average of 1.75 ppg), 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 11 steals, had a shooting % of 40.0.

Jimmy Jent in 4 games played 10 minutes, hit for 3 points (average 0.75 ppg), 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, had a shooting % of 25.0.

On the recruitment level paradise, doesn’t appear to arriving. As per Scout Recruitment, only two players are shown: Braxton Beverly, PG, 5’10 (Not ranked) out of Chatham, VA. And Kaleb Wesson, C, 6’9”, Position ranking – 76 – out of Westerville, OH (Andre’s brother). I understand that other players are in the mix, and will eventually sign with the Buckeyes, but they won’t be top recruits that are undecided such as Mohamed Bamba, 6’11” C, out of PA; Brian Bowen, 6’7” PF, out of IN; or Lamine Diane, 6’7” SF, out of NV.

I know! I know! I can dream. I would love to see Bamba in Scarlet and Gray, even Bowen. Diane being from Nevada, most likely will remain West. Thad Matta is a good coach. He always does well with the talent he has. Somehow, this season did not pan out.

All season, at least since Keita Bates-Diop dropped out of the season with injuries, I have painted the season’s demise on his departure. Perhaps that was unfair to the rest of the team. I liked Bates-Diop’s style of play. As a Knicks fan (I know – who’d admit such a thing!) I see him in the style of Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason – with time. Perhaps, again, I am ahead of myself. Let’s just get Keita healthy and back on the court for an entire season.

I look for this off-season to be a long one for Thad, and his players. I hope the reflection sours their memories enough to strengthen their desires. I do look forward to the 2017-18 season, believe it or not. I have a hunch things will be better for the Ohio State University Men’s Basketball program. Thad simply will not tolerate back-to-back seasons like this one.

In the current tournament, I have (In case anyone is listening) Villanova, Maryland, Kansas, and North Carolina in the Final Four. Three, I know aren’t brave picks, but personally I don’t feel that Maryland is either. Look for the Maryland Squad to surprise …. But that’ll be it for the them, the Final Four … I see Villanova and UNC in the Final and Villanova repeating in a 78-74 thriller. But don’t count on my prediction – I haven’t hit the Lottery, Powerball, or Mega – EVER!