2011 Ohio State Basketball
Scarlet & Grey See Silver Lining in Season Ending
The Ohio State Men’s Basketball team rolled through the regular season, Big Ten conference tournament, and with blowout wins in their first two NCAA tournament games, it looked as though the Buckeyes were cruising towards the Final Four.
That was until they ran into the streaking Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky’s stud freshman, Brandon Knight hit his second game-winner of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, draining a mid-range jumper with 5.4 seconds remaining to lift fourth-seeded Wildcats to a 62-60 victory over top-seeded Ohio State in a seesaw thriller in the East Regional semifinals. The loss ended the Buckeyes storybook season which saw them compile a 34-3 record.
Despite the loss, a distraught Buckeye nation received some positive, silver-lining news.
Following the game, Ohio State freshman phenom, Jared Sullinger, promised he will return for his sophomore season.
"I'm going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year," Sullinger said. "Winning is that important to me. I don't like losing. This is not what I came here to do. This is not what I came here for, to sit here and see my seniors crying. I came here to win a national championship, to see them celebrate. I wanted to tears of joy with these guys."
Sullinger continued, "I'm a man of my word,” "I won't change my mind for nobody. This is what I want. This is where I'm happy. I'm happy being an Ohio State Buckeye and playing for coach Matta."
Head coach Thad Matta was not surprised by that promise in the shadow of the Buckeyes' loss.
"He told me from Day One he'd be back for two years," Matta said. "He said, 'Draw me up a contract, whatever you want me to do, I'll sign it.' With him, his freshman year was as good as I've ever seen a freshman have. I think all the things he learned this year, with a great off-season, I have no doubt he'll be the best player in college basketball."
Sullinger is projected as a top-five pick in the draft. Junior William Buford, who has a chance to be a first-round pick, said he also would return next year as a senior.
"From the way it just ended, I don't want it to end. I'll be back. I want to get better so when I do go to the next level, I can make an impact, not just be another player," Buford said.
It is uncertain if these promises will hold true, but if they do, the Buckeyes will once again be poised to make a run at a championship next season.
Leaving due to graduation are senior leaders, David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale.
Regardless of those departures, with Sullinger and Buford planning on staying in Columbus, and standout freshmen Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas also expected to return, the Bucks will have four out of their seven-man rotation back. Compile that with another solid recruiting class coming in, and we are sure to see the Buckeyes at the top again next season.
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!