Katie Witham, Ohio State reporter for the Big Ten Network, discusses OSU potential with fellow Buckeye expert Paul M. Banks
For part two of this interview click here
(PMB) The Buckeyes have been placed into my regional each of the past 3 weekends, so after spending so much quality time with Thad Matta lately, (this following a season covering two Big Ten teams: Illinois and Northwestern) I sort of feel like I’ve earned my Master’s in OSU b-ball, and I may be a doctoral candidate if they reach Indy. I imagine, due to your work with the Big Ten Network, you’re maybe in the same place?
(KW) Definitely! But we’re being paid to watch and talk about sports so can we really complain?! I consider myself extremely fortunate to be doing what I’m doing. Ohio State is known for their excellence in all of their athletic programs and Thad Matta is one of most amiable and genuine coaches I have ever had the chance to interview.
(PMB) Agreed. We do have a dream job. Everyone knows all about Evan Turner; how great he is. You think he’ll win the Naismith and Wooden awards? Conversely, what flaws do you see in his game? Since OSU has no real options at point guard (P.J. Hill doesn’t get many minutes), Turner has had to set up the offense all year, and he’s made more than his share of turnovers. I’m actually getting tired of coaches and announcers making the “he almost had a quadruple double if you count the TOs” joke every time he gets close a triple double, or close to it. He’s appeared a bit rattled lately. Illinois got into his head with trash talk during the conference tournament, and UCSB seemed to fluster him by getting physical in their double teams.
(KW) Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment and no one deserved it more than Evan Turner this season. He’s the type of player that is blessed with natural ability, but also works hard in developing it. I think if he keeps at it, he wins the Naismith and Wooden. If he has a weakness, it’s being too overconfident at times. He’s a damn good player. There’s no doubt about that…but there’s a difference in playing like a good player and playing like you know you’re a good player.
(PMB) A player of Turner’s stature needs a good nickname, so far I’ve heard “His Royal Smoothness,” “the Velociraptor” and as Mark Titus of Club Trillion calls him, “The Villain”. Heard any good ET nicknames? Care for any of these?
(KW) Actually, I haven’t heard any. I like “His Royal Smoothness” though because he does make it look so easy.
(PMB) Let’s move on to the great players overshadowed by Turner: William “Slinky” Buford– arguably college basketball’s best second banana and the guy you’re interviewing in the introductory picture, David Lighty, and Dallas Lauderdale. (Readers: click on the highlighted names to read feature interviews on each player)
All of them have potential NBA skill sets and talents. And we can’t forget Jon Diebler, a deadly spot up shooter who gives this team another viable weapon.
(KW) I know Diebler’s our 3’s man, but William Buford is shooting 43% from beyond the arc just in the last 2 games, and for me, Buford seems to come up with the big bucket right as Ohio State needs a swift kick in their butt. That’s huge as a teammate.
David Lighty, the Buckeye’s unsung hero. This guy can play and unfortunately is so overlooked most of the time because Evan Turner is that good. Defensively, he’s my man and such a critical part of what holds this team together.
And the work ethic and just downright fight that Jon Diebler possess…The kid been battling a mean case of the flu throughout the NCAA’s, even had an IV (or two) before the Georgia Tech game and still knocks down four 3-pointers in the 2nd half to keep OSU in the lead! That’s impressive.
(PMB) Yep, Lauderdale led the Big Ten in blocks this season, and Lighty always does a great job disrupting passing opponents passing lanes with his long arms. Just how far do you think this team of four guards and one center (who only play 6, or at most 7 guys in a game) can go? Their bracket certainly seems to breaking their way and they’ve looked really good when considering how uncharacteristically poor Turner has shot in the tourney so far. I think they’ll take the Midwest Regional this weekend.
(KW) I genuinely think they could go all the way. I know all we’ve been talking about in the media lately is OSU’s lack of depth but you know as well as I do that’s more or less media hype. There’s a funny thing that happens sometimes in sports…when you’re on a team that has a group of players with a lot of ability and click together…anything can happen. I think the biggest thing for the Buckeyes is coming out and playing an entire 40 minutes at the level they are capable of. If Ohio State plays to their opponent’s level, they won’t make it much further.