Summer League Buckeyes React To O'Brien Firing

Reporters had a chance to discuss Jim O'Brien's firing with several members of the OSU men's basketball program Tuesday night at the McDonald's Summer League at Thomas Worthington. Among those surveyed were incoming freshman Jamar Butler and sophomore Ivan Harris.

Tuesday night marked the opening evening of action at the McDonald's Summer League at Thomas Worthington High School.

No fewer than seven current Ohio State players and two incoming freshmen were on display as the league opened play. Reporters had a chance to discuss the past week's turn of events, including the firing of head coach Jim O'Brien.

Here were some of the notable comments from these players on Tuesday night:

* Brandon Fuss-Cheatham -- Fuss-Cheatham will be a senior for the Buckeyes this fall.

"It was a shock," Fuss-Cheatham said. "I was doing some homework and a friend called and said it was on the ticker on ESPN there was a press conference for Coach O'Brien. Then, the coaches called and said what happened. It came out of nowhere. I didn't know anything about it. I don't think anybody knew anything about it. The last couple days around here have been sad days because you don't know what to expect.

"Coach O'Brien was a great guy and all of us love him. It is definitely a shocker to us. He is definitely one of the best guys I‘ve ever known. He‘s always had my back. He has a great heart. Whatever happened happened. I know he cared for every player he came in contact with. I‘m sad to see him go."

Fuss-Cheatham, who plays for A&E Inc. in the summer league, talked about the transition period.

"We don't know at this point," he said. "We're in limbo. We're just out there."

Fuss-Cheatham was asked about whether he could play for Bob Knight, who is rumored to be among the front runners for the job.

"That's a good question," he said. "Honestly, yes. I would have no choice and I think it would be a learning experience for all of us. You hear stories about him, good and bad. But I know he is a great coach."

Fuss-Cheatham talked about the team's 6 a.m. workouts during spring quarter.

"The first two weeks were the toughest time," he said. "Getting up at 5:30 isn't the best thing in the world. But after the first two weeks, you were on the same schedule and just got up early. I think it was a good thing and it brought our team a lot closer."

* Matt Marinchick -- Marinchick, playing for EA Sports at the MSL, did not mince words about his coach's undoing.

"It's a big shock," he said. "It sucks, really. He's a great coach and a great guy, in general, on and off the court. I‘ve been around him four years and everything I‘ve seen with him has been up front, upright, honest and good."

Marinchick put a plug in for interim head coach Rick Boyages to have a chance to take over the team.

"I love Rick Boyages," he said. "As a coach, he has a great basketball mind. Terence (Dials) and I have workouts with him on big man moves."

Marinchick debunked rumors that he would not return for his fifth year with the Buckeyes.

"I definitely want to come back and play another year," he said. "A lot of it has to do that you want to go out on a good note. I think we have a lot of opportunity this year. Hopefully we can make it happen.

"Hopefully I can prove to the coach coming in that I can play and I can get in there. This summer, I am going over to Italy to play in the Big Ten foreign tour. That will give me some extra playing time. We leave Aug. 6."

* Tony Stockman -- Stockman will also be a senior this year.

"(The firing) was a big surprise," he said. "We thought everything was in order. We thought this upcoming season would go a certain way. Now, we have no idea what's going on. We don't know what system the new coach will have or who the assistants will be.

"You just try to become the best player you can become and get ready for him and try to impress the new coach. Hopefully we will fit into his system the way he wants us to."

Stockman also discussed the possibility of playing for Knight.

"I don't know how he coaches," he said. "You just hear rumors and stuff. I know he's a great coach. It would not be a disappointment. It would be very exciting because he's a great coach."

Stockman confirmed that the early morning workouts may have helped them cope during this trying week.

"I think that helped us get through this tough time," he said. "That helped us come together as a team."

* Matt Terwilliger -- The Troy, Ohio, product confirmed that he still plans to enroll at Ohio State, beginning with a part-time class load next week for summer quarter.

"It's been confusing, trying to figure out who my coach is going to be," he said. "Then, I've just tried to get myself ready for the year.

"I loved Coach O'Brien. He's been like a second dad to me. That was one of the things about Ohio State, though. When I was looking at my last three schools, I made sure that I chose the school for more than just one thing because you never know what will happen."

Terwilliger said O'Brien contacted him after his firing.

"I talked to him and he basically explained there would be a lot of stuff going on," he said. "He cleared it up for me and just said, `I want you to hear from me what really happened.'

"At practice yesterday, I talked to Coach Boyages about what was going on. I was just trying to get my classes scheduled and get everything finalized."

* Jamar Butler -- When news of O'Brien's firing broke last week, Butler told reporters he wanted to weigh his options.

But on Tuesday night, the Ohio Mr. Basketball award winner from Lima Shawnee confirmed he plans to enroll at OSU next week as well.

"It's been kind of crazy," Butler said. "You hear that your college coach has been fired and you don't know what kind of situation you're coming into.

"I'm still going to come to Ohio State. I'm just going to play the way the new coach wants me to play. O'Brien had it set for me what he wanted me to do. As long as it is a good coach, it doesn't matter to me who it is.

"I never said I wasn't going to come here. I knew I was coming to Ohio State no matter what happened."

Butler said it doesn't make sense that O'Brien lost his job for breaking an NCAA rule.

"It was very shocking," he said. "I can't think of any rule he broke with me or any other recruits I have been around. It's a shock.

"He called me to discuss it with me. That made it a lot easier for me to deal with the situation. He told me to hang in there and play my game and everything would work out."

Butler, who plays with Terwilliger and Stockman on DSW Shoe Warehouse, talked about what he is working on this summer.

"I think this league will do a lot for me," said Butler, who had 11 points in his MSL debut. "I think it will help me get ready for the Big Ten."

* Ivan Harris -- Harris, who plays for Columbus Christian Center at the MSL, was the only OSU player who sounded noncommittal about playing for the Buckeyes this year.

"It's been a roller coaster ride," Harris said. "Basically, right now, I'm just waiting to see who the new coach is coming in. I want to see what the situation, see who's coming in and go from there.

"I was very shocked. Right now, it is very frustrating. OB is one of the reasons I came to Ohio State. We're trying to stick together and stay as a team."

Harris talked about what he is working on this summer.

"I'm just trying to get stronger, work on my ball handling and be more aggressive," he said. "I see a good opportunity for me to start this year. I know there aren't any guarantees. I know I have to work hard."


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