Buckeyes Open Exhibition Season Friday

OSU's 2003-04 men's basketball team will be unveiled Friday night at Value City Arena as the Buckeyes host the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Stars (8 p.m., WBNS-TV). We caught up with J.J. Sullinger and Velimir Radinovic Thursday to discuss the exhibition opener and the season ahead.

The 2003-04 edition of the Ohio State men's basketball team will be unveiled at 8 p.m. Friday night as the Buckeyes host the Coaches vs. Cancer All-Stars in their first exhibition game at Value City Arena.

The game will be televised in Columbus on WBNS-TV (Ch. 10). It was unclear whether any other ESPN-Plus affiliates across the state will pick the game up.

Two of OSU's new faces – shooting guard Tony Stockman and small forward J.J. Sullinger – will make their debuts. They will join point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, power forward Terence Dials and center Velimir Radinovic in the projected starting lineup, according to an OSU release.

The Coaches vs. Cancer team is 1-2 on its current college exhibition tour. The team defeated Iona 94-87 in its opener before falling to Northwestern 85-67 and Notre Dame 88-76. The likely starters for Coaches vs. Cancer are point guard Greedy Daniels (5-11, TCU), shooting guard Andy Toole (6-4, Penn), center D.J. Harrison (6-8, Colorado), forward Chris Crosby (6-7, Washington State) and forward Mike Campbell (6-6, Long Island University).

OSU will wrap up exhibition play next Thursday against the EA Sports East All-Stars. The regular season will begin Nov. 21 at San Francisco, a road trip as the Buckeyes head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.

We tracked down sophomore wing J.J. Sullinger and senior center Velimir Radinovic Thursday evening.


What type of team do you think the Buckeyes will be this year? A fast-break team? Inside team?

"I like to say we're going to run an execute. That's all the coaches have been installing in us. Run and execute. Run and execute. If the break's not there, back it up and call some offense and run some offense and just go play. That's the phrase going around that we're using: ‘Just go play.' We just keep using that phrase."

Is it safe to say that you guys are going to score a lot more on the break this season? That was a weakness last year.

"We'll have a lot more fast break buckets than a year ago. We'll have a lot more. I can't count the times we had fast breaks last year and they weren't many. We'll have a lot more fast break points and a lot more transition baskets, but we're still going to execute and when it's not there, run some offense."

Will you talk a little bit about the depth? It seems like you guys are at least nine deep.

"Oh, man, I think personally, we can go farther than nine deep. Now, what the coaches want to do, that's a different story. Down the line, we've got guys that can play. You can name just about anybody and anybody's doing well at practice. Anybody at any given time can be put in to play and can contribute too. So, our depth, that is going to be one of our biggest advantages come further down the road in the season because a lot of guys get tired and a lot of people get injured. Last year, we didn't really have the bodies to go down on the bench. A lot of people were either hurt, or weren't into it for some reason. This year, we've got guys that we can just plug in and there will be no dropoff."

With so many new faces on the team, how important is the exhibition game this Friday?

"It's real important. It's important for us to get out on the right foot and build some momentum for the regular season. We need to be playing good ball when the season opens, so exhibition games are big for us."


What is going to be different about you on the court this year?

"Hopefully, try to be more of a leader out there. Be a little more active; a little more aggressive. Try not to get cheap fouls and do whatever I can to help the team."

Last year, you couldn't be as aggressive. With the depth problems, you were probably told not to pick up any fouls early in the game.

"Yeah, I was told, but it didn't really stick. I tried, but it was tough, really, without anyone to come off the bench and play the five."

Last year, the offense revolved around you and Brent Darby. This year, there seems to be a lot more weapons. Is that accurate?

"Definitely. We have a lot more firepower and hopefully we're going to see everyone gel and get the chemistry together and see which team best fits out on the court. The coaches definitely have a lot of options because we have so many good players around this year."

Will there be enough balls to go around?

"Yeah, guys are going to have to put their egos aside. If someone is producing better than the other then we're going to have to be a team and step up and pat each other on the back and play hard every game and try and win."

Is getting a lot of double-doubles a personal goal of yours?

"I think it's a realistic goal, but I'm not going to concern myself with that. I'm just going to go out there and play hard. Try and play hard on defense, rebound the ball, do whatever I can. I just want to do well all-around and help us win."

What are some areas of your game that you wanted to improve on this offseason?

"Working on my strength and developing a go-to move in the post. I wanted to work on my free throw shooting and get my form a little better and get my percentage up a little. Also wanted to work on finishing around the basket and being a little tougher inside."

Without giving away all of your secrets, what are some of your go-to moves?

"The last few years, my go-to move was the hook and I just tried to just kind of polish that up a little bit. And I've got a counter to that: the turnaround jumper. It's not too much different than last year, but I'm just trying to do a better job of reading the defense and see what they give me."

How big is it for you to have Terence Dials back this year?

"It's big. It's nice to have a big body like that that you compete with everyday in practice and you get banged up and it's going to pay off in the long run. Having Terence in there this year will hopefully open up my game a little bit and allow me to do some more things. I'm not sure how much we'll be in there together, but it's definitely nice having him back."

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