Friday, 28 August 2009

Ohio State Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes men's basketball team heads to Canada for exhibition games

Columbus- Ten days of practice with a roster that includes no clueless freshmen and the return of injured David Lighty, the glue of Ohio State's basketball team?

"It's almost like we're cheating," Lighty said Thursday.

And that tells you how far ahead the Buckeyes should be when normal basketball practice begins in September.

Right now, Ohio State is preparing for three exhibition games in Windsor, Ontario - two against the University of Windsor today and Saturday, and one against Western Ontario University on Monday. The trip is allowed under an NCAA rule that permits teams one international tour every four years, and for noted homebody Thad Matta, just over the bridge from Detroit was as foreign as that coach was willing to get. Ohio State's last trip was to Europe in 2001 under Jim O'Brien.

The timing of this jaunt is no coincidence. Incoming freshmen aren't allowed on these summer trips, so Matta chose a season when he has no freshmen. His entire roster is back, save for B.J. Mullens, who left early for the NBA. There are no new guys - just Lighty back from the season-ending foot injury he suffered last December; Nikola Kecman still on his way back from a torn ACL; and 7-footer Zisis Sarikopoulos joining the fray after sitting out the mandatory year following his transfer from Alabama-Birmingham.

"We usually have nametags to start practice the last few years." said Matta, who will have six freshmen in 2010. "It's amazing walking into the gym with no new faces. Everything that we tried to do, they had a great understanding and we didn't have to stop and explain."

And Lighty, Ohio State's best practice player and defender, is back after taking a redshirt season.

"I'm my old self again," the Villa Angela-St. Joseph grad said. "So I'm good."

The Buckeyes look good, too. And early in the season, which begins Nov. 9 against Alcorn State, they should be much, much better.

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