Weekend Weigh-In

By: T.J. Zuppe

Clock Strikes Midnight on Buckeyes’ Dance

Even the day after, it is tough to believe Ohio State’s loss to Kentucky in Newark, New Jersey was anything but a bad dream. Did the team really only shoot 33% from the field en route to a 62-60 loss to the Wildcats?

It was truly a case where first instinct is truly the best one. Before the tournament began, a possible match-up of Kentucky and Ohio State looked as if it could equal the end of the road for the Buckeyes.

At the same time, the Ohio State squad that we saw against George Mason was nowhere close to the same one that lost on Friday night.

Heading into that game, there was only one way OSU would lose: 33% was your answer. Despite freshman forward Jared Sullinger’s monster night (21 points – 16 rebounds), the truth looks pretty glaring regarding what made Ohio State unbeatable.

Look no further than the poor shooting.

Give an immense amount of credit to the Kentucky defense for being able to shut the Ohio State hot shooting down.

Sullinger Returning for Sophomore Season?

Following the game, Sullinger made some comments regarding what the future holds in the upcoming months.

“I’m going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year,” Sullinger said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Winning is that important to me. I don’t like losing. This is not what I came here to do.”

Hard to determine if Sullinger’s comments were from the head or the heart. Following such an emotional loss, one would almost expect him to want to return for redemption.

This does not take into account his NBA draft stock. Sullinger is clearly one of the most talented players in the country, but also could use a bit more polish before taking his talents to the next level.

He currently projects as a top 10 selection in the draft lottery.

Even if Sullinger does return for his second season in Columbus, Ohio State will be experiencing a makeover of sorts. Guards Jon Diebler and David Lighty will be departed, which also leaves a hole in an area the Buckeyes held a distinct advantage – senior leadership.

Can the youngsters learn from and build on the early exit?

Also up in the air will be guard William Buford’s status. Buford is a junior, but very well could return for his senior season. That decision could be based on his NBA draft stock, as well.

If Buford does return, that leaves a core of point guard Aaron Craft, Buford, Sullinger and forward DeShuan Thomas. A year of growth between them could make the Buckeyes deadly again next season.

Tribe Sets Rotation

As spring training is winding down, Indians manager Manny Acta has determined who will open the season in the Tribe rotation.

The staff will be anchored by opening day starter Fausto Carmona, followed by Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot. The other two candidates, Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff, were optioned to Class-AAA Columbus.

Acta set his starting-five based on some strategy as well, opting to place the young Carrasco between Carmona and Masterson, to give teams a different look, separating the two sinker-ballers.

Certainly Carmona’s season last year gives hope to Indians’ faithful about the new ace. However, a great big unknown surrounds the rest of the hurlers.

Carrasco should continue to grow this season, proving why the Indians acquired him from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal. Masterson’s second half has given a new faith to the organization, yet same cannot be said for myself.

For Masterson to succeed this year, the most important thing will be his control. His stuff has never been in question. Where it is going has been.

There is also Talbot, who pitched as well as any rookie hurler last year in the first half, then tailed off with injuries and poor pitching down the stretch. Will he be able to adjust back to the league, or is he destined to be nothing more than a fifth starter?

The one thing you can bank on is knowing these five will not be set in stone. Injuries and ineffectiveness will lead to Gomez and Huff back at the majors at some point. It is also not safe to rule out an appearance or two by prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz in the near future.

After all, who truly believed Tomlin and Gomez would make a splash last season?

Davis Becoming A True Leader

We can all certainly admit our doubts about guard Baron Davis. When the Cavaliers acquired him from the Clippers at the trade deadline, we were all focused on the possible lottery selection the team picked up.

Davis was simply an after thought.

However, after another clutch fourth quarter performance sporting the wine and gold, maybe the realization is he is more than we truly imagined. Need more proof about his impact? Look at what he did for the Cavs, in returning from back spasms.

There he was in the final frame against the Pistons, knocking down big shots and putting the team on his sore back.

And after the game, there was coach Byron Scott glowing about Davis’ on court performance, on top of what he has done with the youth of his squad in the locker room.

Truthfully, what Davis gives the team is someone with a pulse. Someone who is not afraid to take the final shots, an area that the Cavaliers had a glaring weakness in.

He is slowly, but surely proving me wrong. I will gladly eat those words.

*Photos courtesy of USA Today and Cleveland Plain Dealer*


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