"It's really different, just getting my legs under me. I feel a lot more comfortable with the pace of the game. Obviously it's a lot faster than AAU ball or high school. I think I'm getting where I need to be."
In early December Mickey Mitchell had to be wondering if he was even going to see the floor for Ohio State, as he was ineligible for the first 10 games of the year while waiting for the NCAA Eligibility Center to clear him to play. Just a couple months later, Mitchell has made the most of his season after he was finally cleared. The freshman from Texas is usually the third player of the bench for Ohio State, eating up minutes for Thad Matta's team as the starters get some rest. Even though his numbers might not show it, Mitchell gives the Buckeyes a tremendous boost of the bench with his energy on the court.
Mitchell may have been at a disadvantage because he wasn't able to play in the first 10 games of the season, but he is making up for lost time. The most memorable play for the freshman so far this year came a week ago late in overtime against Illinois, where his hustle to get a loose ball, and the following layup helped Ohio State to clinch a tough road win against the Fighting Illini. Mitchell brings the Buckeyes some versatility since he has the skills to play "point-forward". Now that Mitchell is starting to get his legs under him, hopefully even more strong play off the bench will help Ohio State during the stretch run of the Big Ten schedule.
"With 14 wins and a couple of lopsided losses, the Buckeyes chances of getting to the tournament are pretty bleak. There's not getting around that. They're teetering on the edge, and a slight breeze might knock them off completely."
Ohio State could have bolstered their chances of earning an NCAA Tournament bid with a win over Maryland on Sunday, but the Buckeyes fell to the Terrapins 66-61. Now tonight's game in Madison against Wisconsin has the feeling of a "must-win" contest if Ohio State even wants to keep their slim tournament hopes on life support. The Buckeyes will now have to be almost perfect the rest of the way, but their schedule in the near future is very manageable. Following tonight's game against Wisconsin, Ohio State will take on Northwestern, Rutgers, Michigan, and Nebraska, which are all winnable games for the Buckeyes.
Should Ohio State be able to get through those games with at most just one loss, it'll at least put them into position near the end of the year to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. The bad news for the Buckeyes is that is where some of their toughest games of the year lie. In their last three regular season games, Ohio State plays Michigan State twice and Iowa in between those games with the Spartans. If Ohio State can get at least one win in those games, it will go a long way. Even with that, the Buckeyes will likely need a couple wins in the Big Ten Tournament, as well as some help along the way. While it's not impossible for Ohio State to make the NCAA Tournament, they'll just have to take it one game at a time.
"I'm responsible for it, and it's a lot of guilt. I play the game hard, but I've never played the game to physically hurt somebody in that matter. I contemplated so many different things, whether I even wanted to play football."
Carolina Panthers safety Kurt Coleman is just a few days away from playing in Super Bowl 50, but an accident during Ohio State's spring practices nearly 10 years ago had him thinking about whether he even wanted to play football. Coleman was just 17 years old in April 2006, and had enrolled early at Ohio State to be able to participate in spring practices. During the scrimmage, redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Tyson Gentry from behind. While at first it didn't look like a tackle that was out of the ordinary, it was obvious just a few seconds later that something was very wrong.
The tackle left Gentry permanently paralyzed below the waist after his fourth cervical vertebra was fractured. Coleman was filled with guilt after, as it took him two weeks to find the courage to go to the hospital and visit Gentry. While Coleman was struggling with whether he even wanted to play football, Gentry told Coleman that it wasn't his fault, which greatly helped Coleman. What happened on that day nearly 10 years ago has brought Coleman and Gentry closer together, and during Gentry's senior speech in 2008 he thanked Coleman for what happened since it made him who he was and is. The two have become good friends, with Gentry and his wife even choosing Cole as the middle name for the son they are expecting in March. Not only is Coleman looking forward to the Super Bowl on Sunday, but he is already planning family vacations with Gentry in the future.
"I think the team is pretty self-aware and knows what championship lacrosse looks like. The motivator every day is to try and get better than you were the day before."
After nearly making the Final Four last year, Ohio State's men's lacrosse team will look to start off the season strong this year, when they open up the regular season on Saturday at Furman. Last year Ohio State lost their season opener to Detroit, but quickly rebounded and won seven of their next eight games. This is just the third-year for Furman's lacrosse program, with the Paladins following up a 1-12 inaugural season with a 4-9 record in 2015.
The Buckeyes will be hoping to start off the season strong since they know they have back-to-back games with Denver and Notre Dame, who are currently the top-two teams in the country, in the middle of the season. The matchup against Denver will have some extra importance, since the Pioneers prevented the Buckeyes from reaching the Final Four last year. Following Saturday's game match against Furman, Ohio State will return home and try to avoid another early season loss to Detroit, who beat them in the season opener last season.
STICK TO SPORTS
- A new brewery & kitchen will open in Italian Village next Thursday.
- Ohio State to lend their support to the Flint water crisis.
- Bad news for those hopeful for a sequel to 'The Big Lebowski'.
- All hail this robot designed to annoy telemarketers.
- Read this if you've paid with your credit or debit card at Wendy's in the last month.