Regardless of whether Rajon Rondo is out for two weeks or more than a month, Brad Stevens will be forced to improvise. That means more ball-handling duties for two newcomers -- Marcus Smart and Evan Turner. Read More. Written by Andrew Perna on Sep 29, 2014
Jared Sullinger reflected on his decision to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season.
“I wanted to make a statement that not everybody is using college basketball as a pit stop to go to the next level, that there’s more than money and endorsements," Sullinger said. “There are championships that you’ve got to win at every level. That’s what I pride myself on. I’ve won a championship all the way from elementary to now, and now I’m trying to look towards the bigger trophy in the national championship. I pride myself on winning. That’s why I came back."
Thad Matta believes Sullinger has made his mark at Ohio State.
“He’s going to be known as one of the all-time greatest players ever to wear the scarlet-and-gray," Matta said. “I think that’s something that is important to him. He’s won at the highest level."
Jared Sullinger has been bothered by foul trouble during the NCAA tournament.
Sullinger said unfamiliarity with the referees -- officials from different conferences are assigned to NCAA Tournament games -- can hinder a player early because of the uncertainty about how a game will be called.
“You have to adjust your game,” Sullinger said. “It can take away from your aggressiveness if you let it. You see referees you don’t know, and in the first four minutes you think, ‘Should I do this or that?’
“You start thinking and then you miss shots you shouldn’t miss or miss defensive assignments. You’ve got to stay focused and play aggressively.”
Deshaun Thomas is averaging a team-high 21.8 points per game during the NCAA tournament.
“When you’ve got a guy who’s averaging 22 a game for your team, going into the season you would think that’s for sure Jared Sullinger, and it’s not. It’s the guy who opens things up for Jared Sullinger,” KU coach Bill Self said of Thomas. “And that’s what makes me, you know, as worried as anything, is how do you give one guy all the attention where another guy’s getting 22 a game?”
Self has at times used a triangle-and-two defense to make non-shooters take shots, but Ohio State’s offensive weapons render that strategy untenable.
“We’re going to have to defend all five spots,” Self said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges, especially when they have a four-man who’s red-hot right now and can stretch it.”
Jared Sullinger insists he's healthy again after suffering through a sore back and plantar fasciitis earlier in the season.
"Sometimes you take a step back when you're trying to get healthy," Sullinger said. "With my back problems -- I had a back problem, but I don't have it [any] more. I had plantar fasciitis at the beginning of the year, but now everything is starting to disappear and I'm moving forward.
"It was bothering me, but with me getting healthier and me being able to elevate a little bit more, that's big time."
Sullinger is averaging 20 points, 9.9 rebounds and shooting 56.9 percent from the field and 83.6 percent from the foul line over his last nine games.
"At the end of the day [Thad Matta] told me this team goes as I go and just play my game," Sullinger said on Feb. 28, the day before he scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a win over Northwestern. "As long as I play and show emotion and play with energy, this team should be where we were when we were beating teams by 15-plus points.”
Tony Parker will announce where he intends to go to college “on the 11th,” his father, Virgil, confirmed.
Parker, a 6-foot-8, 270 pound power forward, averaged 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks a game this season for Lithonia Miller Grove High School as the team captured its fourth-straight state title.
He is seriously considering UCLA, Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Memphis and Georgia.
Aaron Craft last week was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, joining Greg Oden and Ken Johnson as the only Ohio State players who have won the award.
"Growing up it's something I always enjoyed doing and took great pride in and it was something I could do well in any game regardless of how well offensively everyone else was doing," Craft said.
Thad Matta isn’t sure how Craft became a great defender.
"I don't think we've ever had the discussion of what did you do as a kid (to make yourself a great defender). To me he has a unique body. It's probably his Hawaiian ancestry that does it," Matta joked. "I don't know, but he's got a gift for it. He's got quick feet and great strength, and No. 1 he's got a great mind for it."
Craft, a pre-med student, is known to pore over scouting reports like a text book. During the regular season finale at Michigan State, which Ohio State won 72-70 to earn a share of the Big Ten championship, Keith Appling hit a 3-pointer on Craft who in turn had a message for the bench as he brought the ball up the court seconds later.
"He turns and mentions that was not in the scouting report," Matta said. "He knows. That's one of the beauties of having him out there."