Kicking Some Badger Butt

It was very satisfying, indeed, to watch Ohio State crush Wisconsin today, 93-65.  The blow-out win was a fitting send-off to David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale, who will go down as one of the best — and certainly most beloved — senior classes in Ohio State hoops history.  It also was nice to see the Buckeyes “deal with it,” to use Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s deathless phrase.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta has molded together a really wonderful team.  It is staggering that the Buckeyes scored 93 points on the Badgers, who are one of the best defensive teams in the country.  Before today, Wisconsin had allowed only one team to score even 70 points.  But today, the Buckeyes beat the Badgers inside and beat the Badgers outside.  Jon Diebler led Ohio State in raining threes, as the Buckeyes shot a stunning 14 out of 15 from behind the arc.  Jared Sullinger, Dallas Lauderdale, and David Lighty also put up a lot of points in the paint, and the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Badgers as well.  Finally, Aaron Craft played a virtually flawless offensive floor game, dishing out 6 assists while having zero turnovers.  If Ohio State executes like that on the offensive end in the rest of its games this season, it will be a very hard team for anyone to beat.

On the defensive end, the Buckeyes shut down Jordan Taylor, who had torched the Buckeyes in Madison, and also took the Badgers’ excellent forward, Jon Leuer, out of his game.  The Buckeyes can play a suffocating man-to-man, as they did today, and their offensive efficiency also puts pressure on the opposing team’s offense.  When Ohio State is scoring on virtually every trip down the court, and often with a three, the temptation for the other team to come down and try to score quickly is difficult to resist — and often quick shots are bad shots.

The Buckeyes now need to put this very satisfying win behind them.  They move on to the Big Ten Tournament as the number one seed.  That tournament doesn’t mean much, except as a vehicle to cement an overall no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Buckeyes need to avoid injury, stay sharp, and let some of their back-ups play — and then they need to get ready for The Big Dance.


Bon Voyage!

This afternoon Richard is leaving on a grand tour of Europe and its close neighbors.  He will be traveling for 4 1/2 months.

The intrepid traveler

Richard’s journey will begin in Istanbul when he lands there tomorrow.  The plan is to move from Istanbul to Greece and the Greek islands and then travel along the southern rim of Europe during March and early April, moving north as spring arrives and the warm weather appears. His return flight, four months hence, will depart from St. Petersburg, Russia.  He’ll have the opportunity, at least, to visit pretty much everywhere in Europe during the intervening months.

Richard has made all the arrangements himself.  He is carrying only a backpack as luggage, and he has made some careful judgments about what to take.  Kindle and iPod, yes.  Books and cell phone, no.  Light weight, fast-drying towel and light walking shoes, yes.  Bulky clothing likely to be worn only once, no.  Toothbrush and toothpaste, yes.  Every other form of personal care item that can be bought if necessary, no.

I am excited for Richard — and, candidly, a bit envious — as he leaves on what should be a great adventure.  He has promised that he will keep us up to date on his travels through postings to the family blog.

The Easton Shooting

It was a busy Saturday night at the upscale Easton Town Center on the weekend before Valentine’s Day.  The place was crowded with shoppers.  A dispute among young people apparently started in the Easton Apple Store and spilled outside.  And then, a few blocks away, the dispute culminated in bloodshed when a 15-year-old boy was shot and critically wounded.

The wounded boy’s 16-year-old brother was charged with the crime, and when the wounded boy died his brother was charged with murder.  The stories of what actually happened aren’t clear or necessarily consistent.  Apparently the boys were with a group that encountered another group.  There was an argument.  When the argument started to escalate, the shooter pulled his gun and fired.  One news reports quotes his father as saying the boy intended “to shoot in the air to get the tension away from them,” but someone hit his arm and he fired into the crowd instead.  Now, the defense attorney says he has witnesses who say another juvenile also drew a gun and fired.

This is an unnerving story, and not just because I’ve been in the Easton Apple Store on many occasions and have walked past the area where the shooting occurred on a busy weekend night.  The story strikes a deeper chord because two fundamental questions are presented.  First, how did the 16-year-old get a loaded gun, and did he just carry it around with him as a matter of course?  (And if there was another juvenile shooter, as the defense attorney claims, how many kids walking around shopping areas these days are armed to the teeth?)  And second, why would this 16-year-old think that firing a gun into the air was an appropriate way “to get the tension away from them”?

We have laws that would not permit a 16-year-old to have and carry a gun, but this boy (and perhaps others) had one, anyway.  And he used it in a way that shows an appalling casualness about the potentially lethal consequences of firing a handgun.  He will be tried, and the jury will render a verdict on whether he committed murder.  But will we ever learn the deeper back stories that really caused this incident?