- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - They were just questions asked of a tired coach after a loss.

Yet Thad Matta’s responses might reveal a lot about the 2013-14 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Asked why his team couldn’t build a lead against Dayton in a 60-59, second-round NCAA loss on Thursday, he said, “I wish I had the answer for you. I would have used it about a month ago.”

In the end, as was the case throughout the season, not even Matta knew what to make of his team.


The Buckeyes opened the season 15-0 and climbed to No. 3 in the nation. Yet over their last 20 games, they were 10-10, a season of promise ending in frustration.

When he was asked if he felt good when his team used a 10-0 run to take the lead in the second half, Matta all but threw up his hands.

“You know, you’re never comfortable,” he said.

So, Buckeyes fans, you’re not alone. This team didn’t seem comfortable once the calendar changed to 2014 and the opposition got better.

Now it figures to lose two and possibly three key players from a 25-10 season.

Aaron Craft, known for his hard work and defense but also an enigma on offense, is graduating. One of the dependable things about the Buckeyes was Craft would dive for loose balls, make a few steals - he set the Big Ten record with 337 - and guard opposing players like a cornerback playing bump-and-run.

Still smarting from the loss to an in-state rival, Craft declined to consider his Ohio State legacy.

“Sorry, I have zero thoughts on that right now,” he said. “I’m upset at the way that we played this game and the way that we didn’t take the opportunity and make the most of it. So that’s for you guys to decide and discuss, but right now, I can’t move past this game yet.”

The Buckeyes also graduate second-leading scorer Lenzelle Smith Jr. There was nothing certain about his game. He seemed to either score 15 points and play well at both ends or shrink into the background.

He wasn’t alone in that regard.

Swingman LaQuinton Ross, a 6-foot-8 junior, was the dependable scorer on the team. He said after the loss he’d take time to decide whether he’ll come back for his final year or test the waters in the NBA draft.

Story Continues →