Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s basketball team might be sitting atop the national rankings, but the players aren’t the only ones enjoying perfection.
The basketball team’s managers also have an undefeated record in OSU’s intramural basketball program, most recently beating the team called White Men Can’t Jump, 51-37, on Monday. But don’t be too quick to give them all the credit.
“Coaching” is the reason for the intramural team’s success, said senior guard Jon Diebler, which comes as no surprise considering Diebler and his Buckeye teammates make up the coaching staff.
It all started last year.
“We kind of just decided one day at practice. You know, we’re always playing in the gym, so we were like, ‘We might as well throw together a team just to play,'” said Michael Flowers, a fourth-year in history, who is one of the managers playing for the intramural team.
They call their squad Team Management, and it wasn’t long before the managers tried to get the players in on the action.
“I guess it started just joking around. We said (to the players), ‘We’re at all your games; you should come to ours,'” said Chris Barrale, a manager and fourth-year in operations management. “It just kind of progressed where they’re coming in and like pretending to coach and yelling at us. You know, they get on our backs like we would get on their backs during a game. It’s all in good fun.”
Last year, 2010 Naismith College Player of the Year Evan Turner headed up the coaching staff, but his early entry into the NBA draft left a vacancy at the head coaching position.
“Evan was the head coach last year, and then (senior center) Dallas (Lauderdale) kind of took over the reins for him this season,” said Tim Daniels, a manager and third-year in operations management.
But Turner hasn’t forgotten about the team.
“(Turner) sent us some shoes and shirts from Li-Ning, which sponsors him. He sent each of us a different pair of shoes and a shooting shirt,” Daniels said. “It was his idea; we didn’t even ask him. He’s just like, ‘I’m sponsoring your intramural team this year.’ I was like, ‘No argument from me.'”
Current players continue to show their support, too.
Along with Lauderdale and Diebler, freshman forward Jared Sullinger, fifth-year senior forward David Lighty, freshman point guard Aaron Craft and senior guard Eddie Days have been there to support the guys who are always helping them out.
“It’s awesome to go see our managers go and play intramurals,” Diebler said. “They do a lot for us. They’re a really great group of guys … just coming in early rebounding for us and doing stuff like that. … I know we like going and watching and coaching them up.”
But the managers said there isn’t much coaching going on.
“(The players) always talk about putting in a play for us, but they never do. Maybe that’s in the future,” Daniels said. “We do our own substitutions for the most part, unless a player is yelling to get somebody out, which is usually a joke.”
Lighty hollers at the guys to pick up their game.
“I get the defense together, yell out who they’re guarding and let them know they’re not playing hard enough,” Lighty said.
For the most part, the players are just there for support and fun. At halftime of their game Jan. 31, Diebler and Sullinger gave a quick shooting lesson with Sullinger throwing in some pre-shot dance moves.
It might seem to be a lot of fun, but make no mistake about it: Team Management wants to win. So far the team has won all of its games by more than 13 points.
“We want to win every game,” Flowers said. “That’s the reason for playing.”
Sounds like another team we know.
Team Management’s next game is against Off Constantly at 7:20 p.m. Feb. 14 at the RPAC.