If you believe in the Ewing Theory, how a team can somehow get better and much more successful once their best player vacates, look no further that last year’s Big Ten champion, and Big Ten Tournament Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Somehow the additions have outweighed the subtractions.
They lost (with apologies to LL Cool J, “All-World”) swingman Evan Turner, the individual who swept all the national college basketball player of the year awards, yet they’re still the class of the Big Ten and #1 in the nation thus far.
How did this happen? Look at their outstanding freshmen class, which is to blue chip prospects what illegitimate children are to Antonio Cromartie. It’s led by Jared Sullinger, the headliner of this class like Lebron James headlined the Cavaliers for many years.
Sullinger has developed into a front-runner for the national player of the year awards. Right now it’s between him, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, UConn’s Kemba Walker and Kansas’ Maurice Morris
By Paul M. Banks
Sullinger earns Big Ten Player of the Week honors for the fourth time and Freshman of the Week honors for the ninth time this season. (The award has unofficially been his since early November, and he’s the early front-runner for the Big Ten’s Silver Basketball award too) The 6-9 center averaged a double-double last week in wins against Iowa and No. 23/22 Illinois. He scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in Ohio State’s win over the Illini, finishing with averages of 20.0 points and 12.5 rebounds. The Columbus, Ohio, native also had three blocks against Illinois and played all 40 minutes in the game.
Sullinger made 13 free throws against the Illini, marking the second-highest single-game total by an Ohio State freshman. His double-double in the game marked his ninth this season, which is the second-highest total in the Big Ten this year.
The trip to Assembly Hall was the first real challenge for the Buckeyes during Sullinger’s time here. His first truly formidable Big Ten road opponent, and the eight point deficit with 12 minutes remaining was the largest margin that undefeated OSU has trailed at any point this year.
So what did Sullinger learn from overcoming the deficit to remain undefeated?
“Heart, pride and composure, we really showed those things. To be down 42-50 and then be able to turn that around on the road, and pride to play defense,” Sullinger said.
Sullinger was named to the Wooden award (Evan Turner won it last year) midseason top 30, after scoring 40 versus IUPUI and 32, with 19 rebounds against USC. His monstrous presence opens things up for everyone else in scarlet and grey.
“People are so consumed with him and that opens up avenues for others, good things can happen because he plays so unselfish. He will kick it out, he will a lot of different things, he’s very cerebral. He’s talking in timeouts and helping us make good decisions,” Coach Matta said about Sullinger.
And once Sullinger is one and done to the NBA (right now he looks like a top 5 pick, so you know he’s gone), ready to take his place is Amir Williams, the #2 rated center in the nation. Maybe next year, if OSU keeps winning (even with Sullinger gone to the NBA) we’ll be having this Ewing Theory discussion again in 2012.
Now if we could only get Sullinger to no longer do things like this, the horrible Miley Cyrus sing-a-long, we’d really be progressing as a society.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He doesn’t have a real nickname, but he is also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank