“Those Knicks teams — the ’69-’70 team, the ’72-73 team — when you talk to basketball purists about the greatest teams they’ve ever seen, that little era always comes up,” a radio voice intones early in Michael Rapaport’s “When The Garden Was Eden,” a “30 for 30” film debuting on ESPN Tuesday. “That’s the way you’re supposed to play basketball.”Speaking as a card-carrying basketball purist (or at least a basketball history nut), he’s right — particularly on that last point. The Knicks of that era rank highly among the all-time great NBA teams, but not at the very top. Instead, where they really stand out is in how they won.The 1969-70 New York Knicks, who won the first of the franchise’s only two championships, consistently rank among the most dominant regular-season teams in NBA history, especially relative to the spread of talent in the league at that time. After adjusting for strength of schedule, their per-game point differential was +8.4 (17th all-time); it also outpaced the second-place Milwaukee Bucks that year by 4.2 points per game, the sixth-biggest gap ever between the league leader and runner-up. That was a big part of why the Knicks’ schedule-adjusted scoring margin was 2.4 standard deviations better than the average team’s in 1969-70 — the second-best such mark ever.The 1969-70 Knicks struggled on the road in the playoffs and were taken the distance twice in the span of three series. But the team’s playoff run — which saw New York outlast the Baltimore Bullets (led by future Knick Earl Monroe), overpower a rookie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his Milwaukee Bucks, and survive the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game NBA Finals classic — also ranks among the 50 or so best ever, after taking into account whom they had to beat.And the 1972-73 Knicks did even better in the postseason after adjusting for their road to the championship. When I listed the most dominating playoff performances ever back in 2010, that team ranked 11th all-time. With the exception of the 2014 San Antonio Spurs, it’s unlikely that it has been supplanted by more recent champions. En route to the title, New York beat the Baltimore Bullets (+2.9 schedule-adjusted PPG differential) in five games, the Boston Celtics (+7.4) in seven, and the Los Angeles Lakers (an NBA-best +8.2) in five — just about the toughest path any team has ever gone through to win an NBA championship.But bottom-line results are only half the equation when aficionados rave about the Knicks of the early 1970s. Perhaps an even bigger factor is how the team achieved its success, with a reputation for playing one the most unselfish, pass-friendly styles in basketball history.This isn’t gauzy, New York-media-baked myth-making. Among historical NBA champions, the 1972-73 Knicks rank 14th in assist percentage (the ratio of made baskets that were assisted) relative to league average. And, more importantly, they had the most balanced distribution of shot attempts among their starting five players of any championship team ever. During the 1973 playoffs, their leading scorer (the incomparable Walt Frazier) took 20.8 percent of the team’s shots when on the floor, while the fifth-ranked shooter among its starters (Bill Bradley) took 18.7 percent. By comparison, the 1992 Chicago Bulls’ leader — Michael Jordan — took 37 percent of that team’s shots when on the floor, while Bill Cartwright took 11 percent. (Coincidentally, that Bulls team was coached by early-’70s Knicks forward Phil Jackson.)My research shows that most NBA champs are more like Michael and the Jordanaires than Frazier, Bradley, Earl Monroe, Dave DeBusschere and Willis Reed. Historically, teams with an uneven distribution of the offensive workload — particularly with regard to the difference between their top two scoring options and the rest of the starting five — tend to win championships at a much higher rate than teams that spread their shots around more equally.That they bucked this trend is probably the lasting legacy of the Red Holzman-coached Knicks. In a sport dominated by singular scorers like Jordan (usually with good reason), New York showed that there’s also a place for unselfish, collectivist basketball in the circle of NBA champions. And as my colleagues Ben Morris and Rafe Bartholomew have noted, the San Antonio Spurs (winners of the 2014 NBA championship) have carried the torch for this phenomenon in recent years.With the 2014-15 NBA season tipping off next week, the Knicks are unlikely to add a third championship banner to Madison Square Garden’s rafters. But Rapaport’s film will recall fond memories of a time when basketball-crazed New York City was the center of the sport’s universe.
As if the Ohio State football team needed more motivation after suffering its first loss of the 2010 season against Wisconsin, its next opponent is a Purdue team that stunned the Buckeyes last season. “I think a lot of guys have had this one circled for a while now,” junior left tackle Mike Adams said. “At Ohio State, we never like to lose games.” Last season, a Boilermaker team that held a 1-5 record entering the game upset the Buckeyes, 26-18. Entering the game, OSU was ranked No. 7 in the nation. In the defeat, the Buckeyes committed nine penalties for 65 yards, compared to Purdue’s one penalty for five yards. For the second time since 2004, OSU had lost to a team that didn’t reach a BCS bowl game. “We didn’t play as well as we could,” junior linebacker Andrew Sweat told the media after Tuesday’s practice. “They played really well.” Adams said the coaches have been using last year’s loss as a motivational tool in hopes of preventing a second straight defeat. “They’re definitely reminding us. We got some posters up all over the place,” Adams said. “It’s something that they’re obviously going to do, and you know, we need to be aware, and we can’t let that happen again.” Sweat agreed that last year’s loss to Purdue motivates the Buckeyes but said neither team is the same as it was a year ago. “You remember it, but that just gives you motivation to do better this year,” Sweat said. “Ultimately, it’s a new year, and you just have to go out and fight.” Aside from avenging their loss to the Boilermakers, sophomore fullback Zach Boren said the Buckeyes are also motivated not to feel the sting of a loss for the second straight week. “It’s one of the worst feelings,” Boren said. “You’re kind of just sitting there in disbelief. You’re just like, ‘Wow, like, that just happened.’” OSU coach Jim Tressel said last year’s loss adds extra motivation for this year’s match-up, but he hopes his team gives the same kind of attention to each opponent on a weekly basis. “What you hope you have full attention of is what you have to do to get better, more so than it being Purdue,” Tressel said. Tressel also said he’s aware of the kind of attention the Buckeyes receive on a weekly basis. “We told our guys countless times that there are 10 teams that want one thing for sure, and that’s for Ohio State not to be the Big Ten champions,” Tressel said. “Now let’s see how you can handle it.” This year will be OSU’s chance to knock Purdue down from atop the Big Ten standings, just as the Boilermakers did to the Buckeyes a year ago. Purdue is in a three-way tie for the conference lead, with Michigan State and Iowa also undefeated in Big Ten play. “We know they’re going to come in here and play hard. We went up there last year and they beat us, so we just got to go out there and get it done this week,” senior safety Jermale Hines said. “Any time somebody beats you, it goes towards motivation.”
Losing its fourth consecutive game, the No. 17 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team was unable to outscore the Loyola Greyhounds in the ECAC conference opener on Saturday. The Buckeyes had just come off a tough three-game road schedule, losing narrowly to No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 6 Virginia and unranked Albany. The Buckeyes struggled greatly with time of possession, as crucial turnovers and a nearly 2-to-1 ground ball advantage for the Greyhounds hindered OSU. “We’re not playing a championship brand of lacrosse right now,” OSU coach Nick Myers said after the game. “Credit Loyola — they’re a good team, but we didn’t play anywhere close to 60 minutes of Buckeye lacrosse today.” The Buckeyes were 8-for-25 in faceoffs, which also contributed to the their scant possessions. “Loyola is a team that is going to possess the ball,” Myers said. “When you don’t have the ball, your defense plays more than they want to, and ultimately that’s when breakdowns occur.” Leading the charge for the Greyhounds was senior midfielder Chris Palmer, who scored five goals. Fellow senior attackman Matt Langan also registered a hat trick. The Greyhounds set the tone early with a three-goal flurry in the first 12 minutes of the game. OSU rallied back in the second period to tie the game, 3-3, with Dominique Alexander scoring first. Alexander led the Buckeyes in scoring with two goals. Palmer was able to notch a goal near the end of the half to put the Greyhounds up, 4-3, at the break. The Greyhounds began strong in the third period with two goals. OSU freshman midfielder Michael Italiano responded quickly with a goal, but senior midfielder Mike Pires drew a two-minute nonreleasable penalty shortly after, which proved particularly damaging. The Greyhounds scored two quick goals while the Buckeyes were shorthanded, pushing Loyola up, 9-4. The Buckeyes were able to claw their way back into the game, bringing the score to 10-9 at the four-minute mark, but were unable to secure the win as the Greyhounds scored two final goals to put away the game. The Greyhounds star attackman Mike Sawyer was limited to one goal. Loyola managed to shut down the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, sophomore attackman Logan Schuss, who failed to score a goal for the first time in his entire collegiate career of 23 games. The loss starts the Buckeyes off at 0-1 in the early ECAC conference play, and brings them to an even 5-5 on the season. With the tough four-loss stretch, Myers said, his team simply will look to the future. “We have to keep working. We can’t focus on what’s been,” Myers said. “Right now we have the whole season in front of us, and this conference is wide open.” The Buckeyes will face Hobart at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers women’s basketball squad found a way to slow down the Ohio State fast-break attack Sunday. The Golden Gophers (12-11, 4-5 Big Ten) held the No. 9 Buckeyes (20-2, 7-2 Big Ten) to their third-lowest point total this season en route to their 76-65 win against OSU. Aside from the opening bucket, OSU played from behind the entire game. The deficit began early when the Buckeyes were down by 12 points with 7:41 in the first half, before closing the margin to six. With 30 seconds left in the half, Minnesota sophomore guard Sari Noga sank a 3-pointer to keep the lead, 34-28. The Buckeyes rallied in the second half, with back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Samantha Prahalis to cut the lead to four with 5:51 remaining in the game. It was the closest OSU would come to catching the Golden Gophers. The following possession saw Minnesota sophomore forward Kionna Kellogg answer with a 3-point ball to put the score at 66-59. Prahalis and junior guard Tayler Hill combined for 51 of the Buckeyes’ 65 points. Hill had 26 points, but was 3-of-11 from 3-point range, while Prahalis added 25 points and shot 4-of-9 from behind the arc. The Golden Gophers were lead by freshman guard Rachel Banham with 20 points. Banham was followed by senior guard Kiara Buford, who added 15. OSU shit 34.4 percent from the field Sunday, which makes Sunday’s loss the worst shooting performance for the Buckeyes this season. In its only other loss, OSU shot 36.8 percent against Michigan. While the defeat gives the Buckeyes two losses in conference play, they’re still one game behind No. 17 Purdue (18-4, 8-1) for the lead in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were defeated by Iowa, 59-42 on Saturday. The top two teams in the Big Ten will meet each other February 12 when Purdue travels to Columbus. Players and coaches were not available for comment following the game. OSU returns home Feb. 6 against the Wisconsin Badgers (7-13, 3-5 Big Ten). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Senior goalkeeper Rachel Middleman takes a free kick during a match against Illinios Sept. 20 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The teams tied, 1-1.Credit: Michele Theodore / Copy chiefComing off a 1-1 draw against Illinois in its last match, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is set to host undefeated Indiana.Thursday afternoon’s match will be the second Big Ten game for the Buckeyes this season. OSU players said they notice a change in play when it comes to conference games.“It’s just a whole different ball game. The girls are so physical, and so feisty, bigger actually, physically bigger than the other teams we play,” sophomore goalkeeper Jillian McVicker said.McVicker and senior Rachel Middleman have split time in goal almost evenly this season. In nine games this year, The Buckeyes have only allowed six goals between them. The 0.67 goals against average is good enough for third best in the conference, tied with Iowa.“I feel like we both compliment each other and the team really well,” McVicker said of the goalies splitting time.Freshman forward Nichelle Prince leads the Buckeye offense this year scoring five goals while recording four assists. The 14 points for the first-year Buckeye has her tied for 10th in the Big Ten.“She’s definitely a strong player up top, has amazing touch and super fast,” said freshman forward Lindsay Agnew of Prince. “Her presence on the field kind of calms people down, and any goal could happen any second.”Prince, originally from Ajax, Ontario, said she is still adjusting to her role with the Buckeyes.“It’s new coming into a new environment, but the players have been really open to helping us,” Prince said. “We have a decent start right now and a lot more games to do well.”On offense, the Buckeyes have been working hard to improve on their ability to finish.“We really focused on our final passes, because we have a lot of opportunities in games, but the final pass and the final shot are a little off sometimes. We’ve just been working on a lot of patterns to capitalize that,” McVicker said.Indiana is 8-0-1 on the season, and the Hoosiers have only allowed two goals so far. Those figures, however, have not changed the practices for the Buckeyes this week.“We usually just practice the same, and adjust a few things depending on the opponent,” Prince said.Senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy leads the Hoosiers in scoring with six goals. Indiana averages 2.33 goals a match, good for sixth best in the conference.The match is set to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Junior forward LaQuinton Ross (10) pushes toward the basket for a shot. OSU lost to Penn State, 71-70, in overtime Jan. 29 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorAn inability to put teams away, a lack of toughness or simply missing shots — no matter how you look at it, the Ohio State Buckeyes are no longer undefeated against Penn State with Thad Matta as their coach.Matta’s streak of 17 straight wins against the Nittany Lions came to an end Wednesday, after a jumper in the lane by Penn State redshirt-junior guard D.J. Newbill with 1.9 seconds left in overtime gave them the lead, 71-70. OSU senior guard Aaron Craft was unable to get a shot off at the buzzer and the Buckeyes suffered their fifth loss in six games.“We weren’t the tougher basketball team tonight,” Craft said after the loss. “That’s what it comes down to, 10-point lead with however much time we have left, and we just couldn’t do it.”Newbill carried Penn State down the stretch, scoring 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and overtime, including a 3-pointer that tied the game with 11 seconds left in regulation.“This was more than a winnable basketball game,” Matta said after the loss. “It’s one of those things that we’ve got to — we gotta be a tougher physically and tougher mentally basketball team.”The Buckeyes held the lead for the majority of the second half, but were unable to convert when it counted, failing on three attempts before the buzzer sounded in regulation to win.Senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. was at a loss for words following the game, but did say the loss “hurts the most out of every game” since he’s been a Buckeye.“This is embarrassing,” Smith Jr. said. “Every other team in our conference is laughing at us right now.”The Nittany Lions (11-10, 2-6), jumped out to an early 15-11 lead on OSU, aided by just 3-10 shooting by the Buckeyes in the game’s first eight minutes.OSU’s shooting percentage improved late in the half, as it used a 7-3 run to take a 35-31 lead into halftime.The Buckeyes (16-5, 3-5) would increase the lead to 11 after two free throws by junior forward LaQuinton Ross, but Penn State would not go away.OSU had multiple opportunities to extend the lead, but was unable to do it and Newbill hit big shots down the stretch to secure the win.Ross led OSU with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Smith Jr. added 15 points of his own in the loss.OSU’s last two losses come by a combined seven points to Nebraska Jan. 20 and Penn State. Both are teams that typically sit near the bottom of the Big Ten standings throughout the course of the season, so are OSU’s problems stemming from a lack of motivation against the traditionally weaker conference opponents?“I would hope not,” Matta said. “I would hope not. Yeah, I would hope not.”For Penn State — who has three conference losses by three points or less — a road win against OSU is “exciting,” Nittany Lion head coach Pat Chambers said.“I’m excited for the kids, for our players,” Chambers said after his team’s win. “It’s so hard, losing by a possession and the ball doesn’t bounce your way … I’m happy for them. They deserved to get one back, so to speak.”For whatever reason, OSU continues to struggle as it makes it way through the rugged Big Ten. The Buckeyes are just 1-5 since starting the season 15-0.“In this league, if you don’t come to play every night, you’re going to lose, as you see tonight,” Smith Jr. said, seemingly shaking off tears. “Top 25 teams at home don’t lose these games. And we lost.”Up next, OSU is set to travel to No. 14 Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3) to take on the Badgers at noon Saturday in Madison, Wis.
After Ohio State plays its last regular season game against Michigan in late November, Ohio Stadium will keep its gates open.For the first time in 25 years, Ohio Stadium is set to host the Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoffs and is set to bring in an estimated $4 million in visitor spending for Columbus, according to a Greater Columbus Sports Commission press release.The OHSAA state playoffs are set to begin Friday.From Dec. 4-6, high school teams from around the state and in all seven divisions will compete for a state title from the confines of Ohio Stadium.Game one is scheduled to take place Dec. 4. at 7:30 p.m. while the following two days will host three games each, with games starting at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.Single game tickets for each game can be purchased for $15 for club level seating, or $12 for general stadium seating. In addition, an all-session ticket can be purchased for $105 that gives the ticket holder access to the Huntington Club for each game, while an $84 all-session pass will simply give the ticket holder access to each game.For the last 24 years, the OHSAA state title games have been held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, and also at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, Ohio. Ohio Stadium last hosted the OHSAA title games in 1989.
Senior guard Shannon Scott (3) follows freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) down the court on a fast break during an exhibition game against Walsh on Nov. 9 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 77-37.Credit: Patrick Kalista / Lantern photographerLess than a week before its season opener, the No. 20 Ohio State men’s basketball team dispatched Walsh University, 77-37, behind the play of a pair of freshmen.Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell led the Buckeyes with a game-high 17 points while freshman forward Jae’Sean Tate added 10 points in the Sunday evening exhibition at the Schottenstein Center.Tate said making his first appearance in front of the Columbus crowd was something he’s dreamed of as a Pickerington, Ohio, native.“I’m from here, this was a dream come true,” he said after the game. “This was a good first game to get all the butterflies out and we are just ready to go and get this season rolling.”Russell and Tate each tallied eight rebounds, while Russell had six assists.OSU coach Thad Matta said Russell has shown throughout preseason practice that he has the ability to make an impact in a variety of ways.“That’s kinda what he’s done to this point,” Matta said after the game. “I think that he’s got a different pace about him, he sees things like a lot of freshmen don’t see them. And that’s good.”Russell said he came to OSU with a chip on his shoulder, and added he’s prepared to do anything the Buckeyes’ coaching staff asks of him this season.“Whatever coach needs me to do, I am going to do it,” he said after the game. “If he needs me to score, I’m gonna score. If he needs me to get everybody going, I am going to do it. Rebound, defend, I am going to do it.”Matta added that Tate can play bigger than his 6-foot, 4-inch frame would suggest.“Jae’Sean Tate plays big for his size, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.Senior forward Sam Thompson chipped in with 13 points in just 20 minutes of action.Russell and Tate were among five new faces for OSU coach Thad Matta, as three true freshmen, one redshirt-freshman and a redshirt-senior transfer took the floor for the Buckeyes. Russell started the game while Tate, freshman forward Keita Bates-Diop, redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams and Temple transfer forward Anthony Lee came off the bench.“It’s good for these guys to get through that,” Matta said of the young Buckeyes making their debuts. “I think from the standpoint of first time they’ve ever worn the jersey, I think they’ll be at a little bit more at ease as we move forward.”Because of an offensive rebound from senior center Amir Williams, OSU had two chances to score on its first possession of the game, but Thompson and senior guard Shannon Scott each missed three-pointers. From there, the Buckeyes shot seven of 13 from beyond the arc and added a buzzer-beating tip in by Tate to close out the first half with a 48-19 lead.Russell — a Louisville, Ky., native — finished the opening 20 minutes with 16 points on four-of-five shooting from three-point range.Through the first 10:11 of the second half, OSU opened up a 38-point advantage before closing out the game.But despite the 40-point win, Matta said the OSU offense could have run with a higher tempo at points in the second half.“I thought for the most part, that was the biggest thing,” he said. “We just stopped. We became very stagnant offensively there in the second half.”Behind Russell and Thompson, sophomore forward Marc Loving added 12 points and seven rebounds for OSU. Scott tied Russell for the game-high with six assists, while Thompson added three blocks. The 10 players to see the floor for the Buckeyes scored at least two points each.Tate said any player on the roster can make an impact offensively in any given game.“We just try to share the ball and get the win,” he said. “I think the team as a whole will carry the offense.”Junior guard Jesse Hardin Jr. had 10 points to lead Walsh.Sophomore center Trevor Thompson, senior forward Jake Lorbach and freshman center David Bell were the only players listed on the Buckeyes’ roster not to appear in the exhibition. Thompson has to sit out the season per NCAA transfer rules after coming to OSU from Virginia Tech. Lorbach is a senior walk on while Matta said Bell will likely redshirt this season. Neither Thompson nor Lorbach dressed for the game.OSU’s regular-season schedule is set to begin Friday against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell at the Schottenstein Center. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.“It’s the season now, practice this week, play a game,” Matta said. “It’s on us.”
OSU junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer (5) takes a swing past Nittany Lion blockers during a game against Penn State on Nov. 12. Credit: Jenna Leinasars | Assistant News DirectorThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team will enter the 2017 season ranked as the No. 21 team following the release of the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association Coaches Poll Wednesday.A season ago, the Buckeyes’ season ended in the NCAA regional semifinals to then-No. 3 Wisconsin — ranked No. 7 in the 2017 preseason poll — in five sets. They finished the season 22-13 overall and 10-10 in conference play.The Big Ten was the most represented conference, placing eight teams in the Top 25 including the aforementioned Ohio State and Wisconsin, as well as No. 4 Minnesota, No. 5 Nebraska, No. 6 Penn State, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 Michigan State and No. 25 Purdue.Ohio State will play Minnesota, Michigan and Purdue twice each, while matching up against each of the other five teams only once during the season. The team will also play host to five ranked teams during the season.Coach Geoff Carlston will return several of the team’s regulars from last season, including senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer and junior setter Taylor Hughes who were two of only three players to start in all 35 games and play in all 132 sets. Seven other players will come back for another year with the team. There is one transfer (junior middle blocker Jasmine Koonts) and five incoming freshmen joining the 2017 squad.The first matchup for the team will be on Aug. 25 at noon against University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.