BY: CHUCK HILSTON
The day is April 3rd, 2007. It doesn’t appear tobe all that different from any typical day. In fact, for the area, about tenminutes to the north of downtown Columbus, along the banks of the OlentangyRiver, it seems quite nice. There is no precipitation, and the temperatureisn’t obnoxiously hot, just a perfect spring day on which a college student canwear shorts and flip flops, and play some Ultimate Frisbee. However, somethingabout this day just doesn’t feel right to the untrained eye. People seem tohave somewhat of a depressed look about them considering these circumstances.
Whatthis person might not know however, is that last night, a majority of them hadbeen very hyped up. Their Buckeyes, after several early round scares, hadmanaged to make it all the way to the National Championship game behind theinside dominance of Greg Oden, the crafty offense of Mike Conley, and theelectric shooting of Ron Lewis. In most years, this probably would’ve meant acelebration, as they probably would’ve won it all. However, they ended up runninginto an unstoppable Florida Gatorsteam which had an incredible shooting night and which had rubbed salt in thewounds of their foe which had suffered having been run off the field in thefootball title game several months earlier. Still though, Buckeye fansshould’ve been incredibly proud of what had transpired, as making the titlegame is a tremendous accomplishment. However, for many this ended up being toomuch to handle.
Tounderstand this, you first have to understand their basketball history. OhioState has undoubtedly been one of the top ten teams in college basketball athaving a consistently winning product on the field, reaching 11 Final Fours.However, when push came to shove, they just haven’t been able to seal the deal.Back to back championship game losses to in state rival Cincinnati seemed toset the tone for the rest of the next half century. It seems to always be atheme of so close, yet so far away. Standouts including Clark Kellogg, JimJackson, Michael Redd, Scoonie Penn, the aforementioned ’07team and even this current group with Buford, Sullinger and Craft have haddreams of cutting down the nets, yet, it just hasn’t happened.
Thisgroup, while they have achieved much throughout this year is setting the bar atchampionship-or-bust. However, it would be completely unfair to be disappointedif they fall short. They have already blown up any expectations a majority ofpeople had for them before the tourney. However, unfortunately, many will stilllook at this season as a disappointment should they not be able to first beat Kansas, then beat a Kentucky team that is the best collegebasketball has seen in several years. As a former Ohio Resident and lifetimefan, I for one, am definitely happy with all this team has accomplished regardlessof what happens in the next two games. However, it sure would be nice to winone and cut down the nets, and party, just like Jerry Lucas, JohnHavlicek and Bob Knight did in 1960.