March 27, 2010
Seniors go out early
ST. LOUIS - Kyle Madsen sat alone in the corner of the locker room after Ohio State's 76-73 loss to Tennessee on Friday evening with towel around his neck, basketball shoes off, and his head down.
He let out a big sigh.
It wasn't the way he envisioned his evening would play out.
"I have a ton of feelings circling through my head tonight," Madsen said less than an hour after the game concluded. "To have it end so quickly is really weird."
Madsen didn't realize that his offensive board he grabbed on Ohio State's final possession would be the last rebound he would grab as a Buckeye.
Just merely seconds later, after a failed attempt at tying the gamy from Evan Turner, Madsen didn't let it sink in that it would be the final time walking off the basketball court with an Ohio State jersey resting on his back.
"It is a very weird feeling," Madsen said softly. "You don't come into (the game) thinking this is going to be it. That's not what you're thinking. You don't believe it until the very end until you walk off and then you just try and take one last look around because this is it for me."
He isn't the only one.
Along with Madsen, Jeremie Simmons, P.J. Hill, Mark Titus, and Danny Peters played their final game as a Buckeye.
Despite the fact that Madsen is the only one who got consistent playing time of all the aforementioned players, Simmons was able to contribute in a big way against the Volunteers.
With junior David Lighty picking up two quick fouls in the first half, Simmons was called off the bench for the remainder of the first half in place of perhaps Ohio State's best defender.
He didn't disappoint in what would turn out to be his final game as a Buckeye.
Simmons went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first half for Ohio State, knocking down clutch bombs from long range to keep the Buckeyes in the game in spite of some otherwise shaky interior defense. His nine points were the most he scored since the Buckeyes' loss at Butler Dec. 12 of last year.
"We had a great year, but it didn't end the way we wanted it to," Simmons said. "My career could have went a little better, but I had a great opportunity and I am going to get a good degree and I think it is a great way to leave (Ohio State)."
Simmons, who showed signs of some big things in the non-conference schedule, dealt with an unspecified nerve injury to his eye-lid and his playing time down the stretch of the regular season came sparingly.
In his final game at Ohio State, though, he came up big for his team.
"I was just trying to knock down shots and help out my team, but I could have helped out my a little more," Simmons said. "It is good and bad, you know, good making shot but with a loss it all cancels out. If we would have won (against Tennessee), it would have been a lot better."
Hill didn't get into the game in his final contest as a Buckeye, but he said he will always look back fondly at his time with the Buckeyes.
Regulated to the bench backing up perhaps the best player in the country in point guard Evan Turner, Hill's playing time also came sparingly. That was quite the adjustment for Hill, who started quite a bit in his junior season with the Buckeyes.
"Obviously I am never satisfied with whatever I do because I always want to get better," Hill said. "I gave my all whenever I got a chance and maybe I could have helped more, but I agree with coach. I came to play for him and I believe his system, but it is on to the next thing. I am going to be successful in life because I have a good work ethic and good character."
All of the seniors shared the same sentiment when the game was over in the locker room. Despite the fact that it is over, it hasn't quite hit any of them that there is no more games remaining on their schedule during their remaining time with the Buckeyes.
"It hasn't really hit me yet because I keep feeling there is another round," Hill said. "But when I get back to Columbus and there is no practice, then I will feel like it is finally over."
Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.
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