The Mailbox | Mauling of basketball Buckeyes deserves Big Ten review

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
"Help, officer, I want to report a mugging!" Some readers believed Michigan State took its physical game too far on Thursday against E.J. Liddell and Ohio State.

Editor: I have never in my life seen such a terrible, criminal, illegal officiating theft of a basketball game. Revolting. Sickening. 

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo clearly sent his players out to use every dirty trick in the books, and flagrantly foul Ohio State on every shot in the paint — and the referees just let it happen! To the very end. Izzo should be ashamed and embarrassed.

It was in the true Bob Huggins and Nolan Richardson tradition of fouling so much, officials just quit calling them. E.J. Liddell was getting held, mugged and fouled every time he shot the ball.

If you want to do the courageous thing, you will expose this travesty of a game. It’s an embarrassment to the Big Ten. It warrants a formal complaint to the Big Ten.

But of course, nothing will happen. When Chris Holtmann gets ejected with two technicals, that alone should say enough.

Will anyone have the guts to publicize this travesty?

John Mariotti, Powell

John: I’m assuming you watched the same physical game I did, though I admit that I not once thought to launch a congressional investigation. Ohio State got the worst of the calls, sure, but let’s just say Liddell dished out as much as he received. This is Big Ten basketball, just like it always has been. Brian Cardinal would laugh at your outrage.

Ray: As I watched the OSU basketball team lose against Michigan in the biggest game of the season, I can’t help but wonder why do their sports teams more times than not choke in big games or lose against clearly overmatched opponents.

For example, in bowl games against Southeastern Conference teams the football team is 2-11. This is not the 1960s or ’70s when OSU was the top dog and all they had to do is show up to win. That has not been the case consistently for some time.

I have to laugh when I hear OSU fans say they have the best football team or best athletic program in the country. Far from it. This year, for an unusual change, the Big Ten is the best basketball conference in the country. For football not so much.

What is it going to take for the football team to reach the Alabama class or the basketball team to be at the Villanova, Gonzaga, Michigan class? 

Mickey Geslak, Galena

Mickey: After all these years, I think I’ve finally figured you out. You’re the guy at the state fair who sits on the collapsible board inside the dunk tank and talks smack at passersby, trying to get them to pay money to throw balls at a target to send you into the water. Three tries for $5. High and dry.

rstein@dispatch.com

Ray: I think the better team won in the recent OSU-Michigan fracas. Coach Holtmann did a great job of trying to contain the Wolverines’ big man, but when the Bucks double-teamed, good ball movement provided open three-pointers. 

The one long-term factor which jumps out to me is that when a team has a big, strong post player, that team has a tremendous advantage. In today’s game, the guy who can shove the hardest, usually wins down in the paint and a 50 pounds and six inches can be the difference can win ball games. And, of course, the refs have a really difficult time determining a genuine foul. 

I recall several years ago asking a well-known college coach if he thought the game had gotten out of hand, regarding contact. He replied in the affirmative. How the game has changed. 

Don Denton, Westerville