The Basketball Season Begins

Tomorrow night the Ohio State men’s basketball team plays its first game, against North Carolina A&T.  It will begin what is likely to be one of the most interesting Buckeye basketball seasons in many years.

Ohio State fans celebrate last year's Big Ten championship

Evan Turner, the junior stud who led Ohio State’s team last season, is gone to the NBA.  He leaves behind four experienced players — Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford — who were Iron Men in last year’s run to the Big Ten championship.  They will be joined by a number of highly touted freshmen.  (It is a Thad Matta-coached team, after all!)  The freshmen include Jared Sullinger, a 6′ 9″ forward who was a consensus high school All-American, Aaron Craft, a multi-dimensional point guard, guards Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and forwards Deshaun Thomas and J.D. Weatherspoon.  The task for Coach Matta and his staff will be to fit the talented pieces together and get the team ready for a schedule that includes games at Florida and Florida State and a Big Ten that features hard-nosed, veteran teams like perennial Final Four contestant Michigan State and Illinois.

Ohio State’s freshman class is impressive, but you win in the Big Ten with toughness and experience.  Ohio State’s four returning starters bring those qualities to the team.  Last year I was particularly impressed by David Lighty’s fearless ability to take the ball to the bucket and break down the defense; Ohio State fans will be hoping that he continues to do so this year and manages to avoid the injuries that have dogged him during his career.  William Buford and Jon Diebler also displayed real talent — Buford, as the silky scorer and able defender, and Diebler as the long-range gunner who threw many a three-point dagger at opponents.  Lauderdale was the dogged shot blocker on defense.

In prior years, Coach Matta has shown a great ability to blend new players into a strong rotation.  This year, he needs to identify a true point guard.  The Buckeyes will be hoping that freshman Aaron Craft can handle the ball at the point — an assignment that asks a lot of a youngster who is facing hostile Big Ten venues for the first time.  They also will be looking to Jared Sullinger to contribute scoring, ball-handling, and passing from the low post.  If Craft can get the ball past the half court line and Sullinger can suck the defense down low before feeding Lighty, Buford, and Diebler, Ohio State could have a season to remember.

Bless Our Veterans, Their Families, And Their Sacrifices


The American cemetery in Normandy

Veterans’ Day is the most important federal holiday we have, because of what it means and the enormous sacrifices it commemorates.  All Americans should be deeply and forever grateful to our veterans for their service and their willingness to fight so that our great nation can remain a beacon of freedom and tolerance in the world.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

In a little over a week, the first part of the final installment of the Harry Potter series will hit the theaters.  Called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, it will debut on November 19.  The second part will be released in July 2011.

I’m eager to see how succesfully the last Harry Potter book is brought to the big screen.  The books have been a world-wide phenomenon, of course, but the movie adaptations have been interesting in their own right.  How do you take an enormously successful series of books and bring those characters to the big screen? What parts of the plots will hit the cutting room floor?  Can the silver screen version capture the mood of the book?

In the case of the Harry Potter books, the last question is crucial, because the mood of the books grew increasingly dark as the series progressed.  In the earlier books we learn, usually in light-hearted, humorous fashion, about things like Quidditch, and newspapers where the photographs move, and how the world of wizards manages to co-exist with the world of humans.  In the later books we learn of how Voldemort unforgivably separated himself from the rest of the sorcerer’s world in his quest to become the most powerful wizard in the world, we discover that Dumbledore was possessed of his own foibles, we see Harry fighting with his dearest friends, and we witness death and destruction on a grand scale.

Only after Harry and his friends are plunged into despair can they experience the ultimate triumph over Voldemort and his minions.  Will the film, in deference to its youthful audience, shy away from realistically capturing the grimness that gives the ultimate resolution meaning?  (And how will it visualize the classic train station scene between Dumbledore and Harry and the wretched, sniveling creature there with them?)  These are the kinds of questions that make a movie told from a familiar story worth seeing.