Gene Smith doesn’t mind the notion of Ohio State being known as more than just a football powerhouse. In an interview with The Lantern on March 12, the OSU athletic director said there’s no reason the Buckeyes, known perhaps most for its storied program on the gridiron, can’t be touted as a basketball school, too. Smith weighed in on the men’s basketball team, the Big Ten and more. Big Reasons behind B1G Success In the final Associated Press top 25 poll of the regular season, Big Ten basketball found itself with four teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and OSU) in the top 10. Such success has carried over into the NCAA Tournament, too, as those same four squads find themselves making up a quarter of the Sweet 16. What’s behind the conference’s ascent into arguably the most-dominant league in the nation? “Well,” Smith said, “I think it’s stability.” That stability, he said, starts with coaching. “I think when you look at the coaches that we have now, a lot of good ones – and hopefully we can maintain that stability – and that says a lot about the institutions. All of us have always been committed to basketball, putting the resources in place,” he said. “We have great fans and creating the atmosphere of the games. So think all of us have tried to do that.” Such resources, inevitably, include money. OSU men’s basketball coach Thad Matta makes $3.2 million annually, according to his new contract. MSU coach Tom Izzo makes almost $3.6 million annually, Indiana coach Tom Crean’s salary is $2.24 million and Michigan coach John Beilein makes almost $2.23 million a year, according to a USA TODAY salary database. Some of it, though, is consistency in player personnel across the league, Smith said. “I think this particular year – if I remember right – there were only two underclassmen that left last year. Jared (Sullinger) and the big guy from Illinois (former Illini center Meyers Leonard),” he said. “Everybody else came back and so that’s kind of an unusual year for us. Typically, there’s more than that in the underclassmen. “So there’s some stability in that – those guys returning. You know, (Michigan sophomore guard) Trey Burke returning was huge. And (OSU junior forward) Deshaun (Thomas) returning. To me, it’s stability in that as well.” Nor does it hurt, Smith said, that some of the Big Ten’s venues are “unreal.” “Here, at Ohio State with the changes we made – whatever year we brought the students down (at the Schottenstein Center) – it was a huge change for us. And other places already had some of that in place,” he said. “But when you go to those arenas, even Northwestern, when you go to that arena – which is a small arena – they get going. “I think basketball in this league is taking a step up for a number of reasons.” Not Just a Football School Smith said when he first came to Columbus in 2005, he sat down and talked with Matta about his “vision, his long-range plan” and how the OSU men’s basketball coach could turn the Buckeyes into a “national-championship type of program.” Since Matta’s arrival in 2004, OSU has come close to reaching the sport’s pinnacle but has not quite attained it. Under Matta’s direction, the Buckeyes have reached the Sweet 16 five times, the Elite 8 twice, the Final Four twice and the national title game once. In the Big Ten, Matta has captured five Big Ten championships and four Big Ten Tournament titles. That kind of resume, arguably, reads like that of a school known for its prowess on the hardwood. But at a school like OSU, football seems to reign over all other sports – including basketball. Smith said that shouldn’t be the case. “You know, there’s no reason that, in Columbus – population north of 1.3 million, everything included – we can’t be a school that’s dominant in basketball and football and other sports as well,” he said. “The numbers are there, the population is there, the interest is there. I think when you look back over it, last year we averaged around 15,000 (people per home basketball game).” And with the Schottenstein Center’s capacity of nearly 20,000, the average attendance for an OSU basketball game is an “oversell” compared to other venues, he said. “We’re one of the bigger arenas. Most (arenas) are 15,000 (seats) or less. So that 15,000 average is demonstration of the interest in this community for basketball,” Smith said. “If you have that, and you bring your recruits into that environment then you can build it. “There’s no reason not to strive for conference and national championships in basketball and be recognized as a school that does that. Football’s always going to be the king, we know that for a lot of reasons … it’s embedded in our culture for years and years.” The difference in breaking down that inevitable fact? Smith said it’s Matta. Matta and March Madness In what once seemed like a season come undone after a 22-point loss to Wisconsin, Matta and the Buckeyes have rattled off 10-straight wins en route to a Big Ten Tournament championship, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and, most recently, its fourth-consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16. Smith called Matta’s most-recent coaching job “marvelous.” “To watch them emerge and develop over time and get to a point where they’re really playing well together is huge,” Smith said. In particular, he pointed to the shellacking in Madison as the season’s crux and turning point. “The Wisconsin game up there, we did not play well together,” he said. “They solved that problem.” OSU will face Arizona Thursday at 7:47 p.m. at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A win would mark back-to-back showings in the Elite 8 for the Buckeyes.
Sevilla manager Vincenzo Montella expects his side to deliver a strong performance against Bayern Munich and has challenged his players to take the visitors out of their comfort zoneAfter knocking out Manchester United in the previous knockout stage, Sevilla will play host to Bayern Munich for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash.The match will mark the first time in 60 years that Sevilla have progressed to this stage of the competition with Montella expecting his side to rise to the challenge against a team with the caliber of Bayern.“We always work looking to improve. I always expect the team to do so, regardless of the level of the opponent. Whoever it is, my conviction is always the same.” said Montella, according to the club website.The former AC Milan manager acknowledges that Bayern are accustomed to scoring a high number of goals with the Bundesliga leaders having defeated Besiktas 8-1 on aggregate in their previous knockout round. But Montella challenged his players to make Bayern do things they are not used to.“Bayern are accustomed to scoring a lot of goals, to having the ball. We have to do the same so we make them do things they’re not used to”.Report: Bayern are held by Leipzig George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Bayern Munich was held to another draw, this time by RB Leipzig.Bayern Munich finds themselves in the unfamiliar position of sitting third in the…Montella was unconcerned about Saturday’s fixtures having a bearing on the match: “I’m not worried about it. Your head is what moves your legs and the team is motivated. Maybe Mercado’s and Navas’ fitness worry me a bit but it’s something we’ll evaluate tomorrow”.A notable absence for Sevilla will be midfielder Ever Banega, who is suspended for the first leg.“He won’t play and he’s a player with very clear qualities. It’s something we can’t change and I’m convinced that the player who replaces him will do well.”Montella also reserved special praise for forward Luis Muriel, who has recently begun to reproduce the sort of performances that led Sevilla to paying €20 to sign him from Sampdoria last summer.“He’s grown a lot in these years and it’s true he needs to improve in the opposition’s box but he has huge potential.” said the Italian.On Saturday, Sevilla lost a two goal advantage to settle for a 2-2 draw against La Liga leaders Barcelona after the brilliance of substitute Lionel Messi denied Montella’s side all three poiints.
The new Roma signing spoke after the 3-3 draw between his team and Atalanta on Monday’s Lega Serie A fixtureFor newly signed Javier Pastore, the differences between the Italian Serie A and the French Ligue 1 are big.His Roma team fought back to be able to tie 3-3 against Atalante on Monday’s fixture.But for the former Paris Saint-Germain, this was a very crazy match.“It was a good goal, Cengiz Under gave me a smart cross and the finish went well. Fortunately, we were able to equalize eventually,” Pastore told Sky Sports Italia as reported by Football Italia on Monday night.Karsdorp reveals he had too much stress at Roma Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 The Dutch defender has been with the Gialorrossi since 2017, but he has not enjoyed his time in the Italian Lega Serie A.“I think after our goal, we got a bit too relaxed and allowed them to have the ball, but that is something we shouldn’t do.”“We came out for the second half with more intensity and managed to get it back on track. We could even have won it at the end,” he said.“My position is up to the coach, I came here happy to play wide midfield, but well aware that I had often played in a trident attack before.”“It’s certainly harder in Serie A than Ligue 1, the first two games have been such a struggle!” Pastore concluded.
Fulham midfielder Jean Michael Seri has been awarded the Premier League’s Goal of the Month award for AugustThe Ivory Coast international turned down interest from Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in favour of a surprise move to the newly-promoted Fulham this summer for a fee in the region of £25m.Seri has since started all four of the Cottagers’ Premier League fixtures and has impressed with his quick adaption to English football.Now the Premier League have announced that Seri’s world-class hit against Burnley on August 26 has been voted as the Goal of the Month.The 27-year-old hit a clean long-range effort home to help Fulham secure their first win of the season.Vidic: “Ronaldo is the most professional footballer I’ve seen” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Nemanja Vidic opened up on how a 21-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo’s professionalism left him stunned at Manchester United.“It was the distance, the unexpected decision to shoot, but also the trajectory of the shot,” said former Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer on the league website.“The ball started off at an angle so far outside of the far post that the goalkeeper was always scrambling to make up ground.“Add the curl, the angle of the ball and the sheer ferocity of the strike; the minute the ball left his boot there was only one place it was going to go.”Seri is currently on international duty with the Ivory Coast.
After Paul Pogba’s unfortunate Tweet mishap, Gary Neville came after the Frenchman by labeling his action as complete ‘garbage’.The day for manager Jose Mourinho is not going well at all, Gary Neville has defended him from the sneakiest reaction which by far was Paul Pogba’s Tweet but he immediately deleted because of how controversial it was.Allegedly, this Tweet was already scheduled by Adidas for Pogba to upload and they immediately removed it as soon as the news about Mourinho’s sacking was announced.But Gary Neville is not buying it, he thinks the posting was deliberate from Pogba and he came strong after the Frenchman for it during his appearance on Sky Sports’ ‘The Debate’.“There is probably a high level of dislike there, but Jose Mourinho lost his job this morning and Paul Pogba and his people put that post out – don’t fall for this coincidence scheduled tweet nonsense, it’s garbage, absolute garbage,” said Neville on Sky Sports.“I think he would have liked to have gone public earlier on Jose, and how the club is at this moment in time.”“But on Jose’s side, I bet he thought when Paul Pogba won the World Cup in the summer he was coming back to an impossible situation where he thought this player is going to be out of control now.”Mourinho: “Lionel Messi made me a better coach” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho believes the experience of going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at Real Madrid made him a greater coach.“I do believe that dancing on the grave of the manager who has just been sacked is out of order. Paul Pogba, there is no doubt, has fallen out with the manager.”“He doesn’t believe in him, he doesn’t like him, he doesn’t think he’s a good coach probably, and vice-versa.”“Jose Mourinho doesn’t think Paul Pogba is as good a player as he thinks he is. There’s been a complete breakdown in the last six months between the pair of them, probably the last year,” he concluded.Gary Neville reacts to Paul Pogba’s tweet which was deleted, following Jose Mourinho’s departure #MUFC pic.twitter.com/VVhuSQPYtl— Manchester United (@MUFCScoop) December 18, 2018
Gonzalo Higuain dedicated his goal to Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso and pledged his future to the club after netting the winner in their recent encounterHiguain has been on a barren run since October 28 but masterminded the winner n a 2-1 result against SPAL that many believe would ensure the stay of Gattuso at the club.“It was an important goal and three fundamental points after all we’ve wasted before, but now we can have a rest with our families,” the striker told Football Italia.Just before the goal, Pipita had been booed by the San Siro fans for his sluggish performance and evident lack of confidence, increasing the speculation of an imminent Chelsea move.Higuain is glad of Juve return and reunited with Ronaldo George Patchias – September 12, 2019 Gonzalo Higuain is happy he returned to Juventus and has the opportunity to be reunited with Cristiano Ronaldo.The Argentine spent last season on loan…“It’s natural the fans expect more from me. I came to Milan because I was convinced by the project here and I want to continue like this.“Gattuso has always supported me and above all been honest. This goal is for him.”Milan had Suso sent off and he’ll, therefore, be suspended for the Italian Super Cup clash with Juventus.“Now we’ve got the Supercoppa, it’s the first trophy of the season and we want to win.”