Wednesday, March 17, 1999

Redd's maturity sparking OSU

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Michael Redd would rather win than score. The 6-foot-6 sophomore is still Ohio State's go-to guy, but he gladly has shared the spotlight in the Buckeyes' storybook season with junior Scoonie Penn.

        The chemistry between the two is one of the main reasons the Buckeyes (25-8) find themselves in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, facing top-seeded Auburn at 9:55 p.m. Thursday in in the South Regional at Knoxville, Tenn.

        Last season, Redd was the first freshman to lead the Big Ten Conference in scoring (21.9 ppg). He also averaged 39.3 minutes a game and scored 33 percent of OSU's points.

        Still, the Buckeyes managed only an 8-22 record.

        “He just took it upon himself to try to carry this team,” said Penn, who was practicing with OSU but sitting out a year after transfering from Boston College. “He had a great season, but now I think he's much more mature as a player. He might be the best player I've ever played side by side with. I love playing with him.”

        “I think people had a misconception as to his game,” Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien said. “I probably caused a lot of that, because he played recklessly at times.

        “He got away with murder offensively. We kind of allowed him to have a green light. We wanted him to shoot the ball. We wanted him to score points. We didn't get on him if he didn't play defense. This year ... he's being held accountable a little bit more.”

        Which is fine with Redd, who is averaging 19.6 points.

        The Columbus native has been asked to rebound more and improve as a defensive player. He says he has become a better all-around player, in part because he is surrounded by more talent.

        Nobody at Ohio State has reached 1,000 career points more quickly since Jerry Lucas in the 1960s. But what Redd really craves is victories.

        That's why he has been willing to hand over the leadership responsibilities to Penn. Both realized quickly they would be good for each other on the court.

        Penn averages 16.7 points and was named Big Ten Player of the Year by the media. Redd, the league's 1998 Freshman of the Year, was second-team all-conference this season.

        With Penn around, opponents are not able to double- and triple-team Redd, which has allowed him to be more patient.

        “It still befuddles me that Michael Redd does not get more notoriety from this than he does, because I think (he) is having as good a season as a lot of players in America,” O'Brien said.