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Ohio State basketball is trying to push through tough times

Thad Matta’s had a couple of bad years, but the Buckeyes can get past it.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

“So how does Ohio State steer its way back toward smooth sailing?”

- Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State basketball is having another rough go at things during the 2016-17 season. As Jardy points out, Ohio State is going to finish the season with a losing Big Ten record for the first time in the Thad Matta era. It’s also looking like it will be heading for an NIT berth, and even that seems a little optimistic. At this point, Matta just wants to see improvement, as he told Jardy: "Play better. Play more consistent. Execute better. Just, keep grinding away, keep getting tougher, keep honing in on all the little things we have to do as a basketball team. That's where I know my focus is with these guys."

Former Ohio State player Clark Kellogg offered up a solution when it came to fixing the program. "The quickest solution is to elevate the talent and then, within that, you need one or two of those kinds of players that are going to be all-league performers," Kellogg said. "Then you have a little more room with the players that may be a little slower developing but can still help you.” The talent level certainly isn’t what it has been in past seasons, with last season being the first time since 1996 that Ohio State didn’t have a player voted as high as third-team all-Big Ten. Kellogg, like some, feel that Matta and company are working hard to fix it. “I know the coaching staff is doing everything that they can to get it turned around."

“I’ve always looked up to Zeke. Zeke is a great player. It kind of had an influence on me, but I felt like it was just about me.”

- J.K. Dobbins via Ben Axelrod, Land of 10

J.K. Dobbins is a name you are going to hear more and more of in Columbus as the years go on. He was the second-ranked all-purpose back in the 2017 class, and if history isn’t a good enough indicator, running backs typically do pretty dang well at Ohio State. While Urban Meyer and staff pitched Dobbins on the success of Ezekiel Elliott, Dobbins felt that the focus was still on him.

Dobbins sounds ready to work. “Just get in and play early, do some great things early,” Dobbins said. “Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it.” Mike Weber is coming off of one of the best seasons a freshman running back at Ohio State has ever had, but with a talent like Dobbins, there’s no reason he can’t get some burn if he proves his worth. “I just want to compete,” Dobbins told Axelrod.

“With the future of Nick Mangold uncertain, should we turn the offensive line over to another Ohio State star?”

- David Wyatt, Gang Green Nation

SB Nation’s New York Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, is raising the question of whether or not their team should draft Pat Elflein. Nick Mangold has been remarkable for the Jets during his career, but recent injuries have the team and their fans questioning how much longer he has in the green and white. As Wyatt mentions, “It's been a while since we've even had to consider the center position for the Jets, since being drafted in 2006 out of Ohio State, Nick Mangold has been the consistent reliable lineman performing year in and year out.” Which, he has.

The benefit of Elflein, is that he’s ready to go immediately, which is another point that Wyatt makes. “He has the intelligence, the balance, the power and the hands to be a starting center in this league for the next 10 years. There is never a guaranteed pick in the NFL, but personally...I'd say this is the safest pick in the draft.” That’s some high praise, as it’s pretty hard to tell who is going to be a “safe pick,” but we can say that Elflein was definitely good while in Columbus.