Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Another setback for Ohio State

Dials latest lost to injury for Bucks

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Pretty soon the Ohio State team picture won't require a wide-angle lens.

Center Terence Dials was officially ruled out for the remainder of the season Tuesday. Point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham won't practice with the team anymore, although he will dress and can play a minute or two here and there. Center Velimir Radinovic is starting to practice again, but swingman Sean Connolly is sore.

Ohio State's team meetings should be held at a triage unit.

"I don't think any of us are enjoying this at all," coach Jim O'Brien said of the pall cast over the team by the staggering series of injuries. "This is not a lot of fun."

Dials, a sophomore, has a stress fracture in his back and has missed most of the season. O'Brien announced earlier Tuesday that Dials will seek a redshirt season.

"I have to look at the bright side. I'll have three years," Dials said. "But seeing the team struggle is hard. It's sad."

O'Brien said Dials could have returned this season and might have helped the team, but that probably would have cost him a season of eligibility. Dials, a sophomore, is now at the threshold for getting a medical redshirt that would give him three more seasons.

"You can't be so selfish about this," O'Brien said. "Are we going to have him playing in five games maybe to lose 30 in a full year? Clearly, for Terence's career and his betterment, the redshirt thing is the right thing to do for him."

Fuss-Cheatham is still hobbled by a knee injury that is likely to require more surgery after the season. He is wearing a heavy brace and won't see any more playing time unless extraordinary circumstances warrant it; he will participate in warmups and shooting drills, but little else.

Radinovic suffered a compound dislocation of the pinky finger on his left hand that became infected and caused him to miss two games last week, including an ugly 76-57 loss at Illinois Sunday that was over after the Buckeyes fell behind 17-1.

Connolly is having problems with a sprained left ankle that kept him out of the debacle at Illinois and has limited his practice this week. It is unknown if he will be able to play much if when the Buckeyes (11-10, 4-6 Big Ten) play at Penn State (5-14, 0-8) tonight.

Forget winning a championship or making a postseason tournament. The pared-down roster has caused the Buckeyes to reassess their goals.

"For us to feel good about this season, our goal is to at least finish .500 or above .500 in the league," forward Zach Williams said. "That's definitely a goal that we think is realistic, and it's something that we have our sights set on."

Leading scorer and playmaker Brent Darby has been piling up 35 to 40 minutes a game because the Buckeyes are so thin on the perimeter. He believes making the NCAA Tournament is still an option for Ohio State.

"It's tough at times, but these are the cards we were dealt," he said. "In my first three years here, we didn't have any injuries. Now we've got all kinds of them."

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