Home » Sports » Basketball » Winter sports recap: Laczynski wins gold, women’s basketball first in Big Ten, four Buckeyes go pro

Winter sports recap: Laczynski wins gold, women’s basketball first in Big Ten, four Buckeyes go pro

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Laczynski skates against a Finnish defender in the 2016 USA evaluation camp. Credit: Courtesy of USA Hockey

While students were away from campus and taking a break from classes post-Fall Semester, there were still several teams in competition during the break. The featured event was the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Glendale, Arizona, where the No. 3 Ohio State football team took on No. 2 Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

In the end, 2016 delivered one more punch to the gut of Buckeye Nation before the clock struck midnight as the Buckeyes were embarrassed 31-0. Thus, prompting a change in direction on offense with the hiring of a quarterbacks coach and the expected hiring of former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson for OSU’s offensive coordinator in 2017, first reported by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports.

Spring Semester has begun, so here’s a recap of news across OSU athletics.

Tanner Laczynski wins gold

Before break, OSU men’s hockey freshman forward Tanner Laczynski was invited to tryout for the United States hockey junior team ahead of the World Junior Championships in Canada. Laczynski made the team and contributed to a 7-0 record and a gold medal in the games.

Team USA beat Team Canada 5-4 in a shootout in the gold medal match after falling behind twice by two goals at 2-0 and 4-2. Laczynski played in all seven games and scored a goal against Slovakia in the preliminary round.

While Laczynski was away from the team, No. 11 OSU lost to Miami (Ohio) at home, then split a series with No. 2 Penn State, winning the first, 3-0, and losing the second, 4-2. The Buckeyes are now ranked No. 10 in the country.

OSU hosts Arizona State for two games this weekend.

Five Buckeyes declare for NFL draft

Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan, redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker, redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown and junior H-back Curtis Samuel all announced their intentions to forgo their remaining eligibility to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

OSU starting quarterback redshirt junior J.T. Barrett is returning to the Buckeyes, along with defensive ends Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore has yet to announce his intentions to return to or depart from the program.

Men’s volleyball begins title defense

The top-ranked OSU men’s volleyball team began its season this past weekend, raising the 2016 national championship banner at St. John Arena. OSU faced off against the University of Southern California Trojans and the UCLA Bruins.

In the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge, OSU beat USC and No. 2 UCLA 3-1. Junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen led the Buckeyes with 28 kills, hitting .340. The reigning National Player of the Year also had 11 digs and three blocks. Senior opposite hitter Miles Johnson had 27 kills in two games.

OSU hosts George Mason on Tuesday.

Men’s basketball sliding fast

Following a 13-point loss to then-No. 2 UCLA, the OSU men’s basketball team won two nonconference games against Youngstown State and UNC Asheville. On New Year’s Day the OSU men’s basketball team started Big Ten play at Illinois, needing victories to put itself in the NCAA tournament picture. Coach Thad Matta’s team lost in Champaign, Illinois, then dropped a close game to then-No. 20 Purdue, 76-75 at home. On Sunday night, the Buckeyes lost by 10 at Minnesota, beginning 0-3 in Big Ten play.

OSU is now 10-6 with no signature wins and will be going forward without junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, who is one of the most versatile players on the team. Bates-Diop averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in over 23 minutes this season. He is undergoing a season-ending surgery this week on a stress fracture to his shin.

Next up for OSU is a showdown in Madison, Wisconsin at the 18th-ranked Badgers. The Buckeyes then return home for a Sunday game against Michigan State.

Wrestling

The No. 4 Ohio State wrestling team improved to 6-0 and 2-0 in conference with a win against No. 17 Wisconsin on Jan. 6. Bo Jordan, Myles Martin, Nathan Tomasello, Kollin Moore, Micah Jordan and Luke Pletcher all won their matches in a 23-15 team victory.

OSU hits the mat next on Sunday at Illinois.

Women’s basketball

The No. 11 OSU women’s basketball team slugged through a tough nonconference schedule, which featured games at No. 1 Connecticut, a neutral-site game against No. 2 Baylor and home games against No. 14 Miami (FL) and No. 5 South Carolina. Since classes broke, OSU has earned a 4-0 Big Ten record and sits alone in first place.

Last time out, junior guard Kelsey Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 26 points in a 96-87 win over Michigan. The National Player of the Year candidate ranks sixth in the NCAA averaging 23 points per game. Mitchell currently ranks fourth all-time in career scoring at OSU with 2,110 points. Jantel Lavender is the all-time leader with 2,818 points.

OSU plays at Michigan State on Tuesday.

Women’s hockey

After ending the first half of the season with two consecutive blowout losses to No. 1 Wisconsin, the Buckeyes regrouped for two wins against Penn State on Jan. 6 and 7. OSU outscored the Nittany Lions 11-0 over the two games.

Six different players scored for OSU in its 6-0 victory on Saturday to improve the Scarlet and Gray to 10-10-2 in 2016-17. Under the direction of first-year coach Nadine Muzerall, the OSU defense has improved to No. 4 in penalty kill and No. 13 overall.

OSU next plays Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday at the OSU Ice Rink.

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