A.T.'s look at the Nike Elite game

We know the Buckeye basketball team won their first exhibition last night, 73-59. But who did what? How did the players look? A.T. Buckeye answers that today as he runs down the list and gives his thoughts on the players he saw.


Exhibition Number 1-  November 12, 2002

Everybody that got to see this exhibition likely came away with very little feel as to the direction of the 02-03 Buckeyes.  And no wonder--- it has been one month to the day since formal practices began, and by anybody's admission, this squad is still an unfinished product.

Tuesday night's 73-59 win over a motley assembly of pickup warriors (all with Division 1 credentials, mind you) did provide OSU fans with their first glimpse of a few of this year's new contributors.  Scoring punch came from predictable sources – Brent Darby led with 21 and Sean Connolly pitched in 10.  But what most Buckeye fanatics may be discussing this morning may be the play of Shun Jenkins, Matt Sylvester, Emonte Jernigan, and Charles Bass—since all are unknown quantities.

Here, particularly for you out of town Bucknuts, is a small sample of observations from this televised practice: 

BRENT DARBY >>>Solid.  20+ points and pretty much what everyone expected.  Aggressively seeking offensive opportunities and playing like a straight 2-man.  Darby will draw opponents' best (and oftentimes bigger) defenders this year, so it will be interesting to see if this sort of effort stays consistent when it counts.

SEAN CONNOLLY >>>Like Darby, Connolly showed he was ready to contribute more by seeking out offensive opportunities.  Many times, he attacked the basket—something we are unaccustomed to seeing in his repertoire.  Another guy we will need maximum effort from game in and game out.  10 points and 6 boards for all those keeping score.

BRANDON FUSS-CHEATHAM >>> Anyone that saw last year's BFC and compared him to this year's will freely admit there is something different here.  Last night's BFC seemed a lot more confident and attacked the hoop with abandon.  He got in the lane at will and even showed pull-up ability rather than the floaters he was prone to taking last year.  10+ feet out is still a question, but clearly a step in the right direction.  8 points, all scored at or within 10 feet of the hoop.

VELIMIR RADINOVIC >>>New and improved VR we had been hearing about all summer clearly was not on hand last night.  Vel has always been slower to gain momentum than most other Bucks, so we'll keep observing this to see if it is fluke or trend.

ZACH WILLIAMS >>>Was one of several Bucks still rounding into form.  Obviously trying out some new parts of his game and fumbled a lot of touches he will put away at the season's peak.  Zach has been there before—if he went 0-10 and fouled out in 5 minutes, there would still be nothing to worry about.  His usual warrior self on the boards—7 unofficially.

SHUN JENKINS >>> First glimpse of this power broker and plenty to get excited about.  Non-stop motor on the boards and plays with attitude around the low box area.  Nice one hand throw down off of the hi-lo action to cap off a pretty spirited debut.  Clearly we have the depth the compete with gusto at the 4 spot this year.

MATT SYLVESTER>>> An interesting look at one of the more talked about Bucks in the off-season.  Ahead of schedule in terms of rehab—which means he may be able to contribute more when the minutes count.  5 points, on garbage and hustle, but this is a guy OSU needs to work a sweat for awhile—and then bring the A game come Big 10 campaign. 

TERENCE DIALS >>> Was clearly looking to be more aggressive offensively, and it came mostly in the form of half-hooks.  Follow ups and putbacks are still his stock in trade, but look for him to be more of a scorer this year.  8 points—with one nice traditional three pointer on a turn to the middle.  And oh yes, a follow up thunderdunk for the young people.  (Did that backboard REALLY swing like a twig in the wind when big TD went strong, or was it a trick of the eyes?)

EMONTE JERNIGAN >>> Like Sylvester, this is a guy that needs to round into form and probably in more need of the pre-season than most.  Active hands knocked some balls away--- but most of his contributions will likely be offensive this year.  1 3-ball to his credit.  The jury will be out for some time it seems, but he will get minutes.

MATT MARINCHICK >>> Got some second half minutes and hit a 15 foot jumper at the top of the key.  Defensively, still some work to be done, but may have a mix of skills our other bigs do not.  Should be interesting to monitor his minutes throughout the season.

CHARLES BASS >>>  As skinny as advertised, but the tools seem to be there.  Arms that go forever and a nice motor around the cup--- even got a blocked shot.  Nice hoop attacking the glass, but realistically his real contributions will be further down the road.  Can't teach a 7 foot wingspan though—and it is all that if not more.


OVERALL TEAM >>>  What can you say- it's a public practice.  But for the lunatic fringe, it's good to see the Bucks in uniform for the first time.  The Nike squad was doing a little bit too much business down low against our vaunted frontline, but these are experienced Division I operators with plenty of experience to draw from.  It should be noted that Nike only had 6 available players--- and they were a lot more competitive than some of the foreign squads and Marathon Oils of years past.  Clearly, post defense, perimeter shooting (lack of), and sustained defensive intensity were still lacking.  But that's why exhibitions exist. 

The Globetrotters are next—equipped with recent NBA performers Todd Day, Cedric Ceballos, and Olden Polynice.  A step up from the Nike Elite—and hopefully the Bucks are ready for the challenge.

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