Sports Today: National Signing Day gives way to big basketball night

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Sports Today: National Signing Day gives way to big basketball night

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Springfield's Leonard Taylor throws a pass against Xenia on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at Xenia. David Jablonski/Staff

Today is National Signing Day and a notable night for college basketball. 

As I write this, we’re still waiting to see how the winter weather will affect college announcements, but at last check three of the area’s best players were planning to make an announcement today. 

Stay tuned to find out what’s next for star running backs Tavion Thomas and Ra’veion Hargrove plus all-around Springfield athlete Leonard Taylor. 

Ohio State signed most of its class in December but is looking to add a couple of players today — offensive tackle is of particular interest and need… 

Ohio State basketball will take over the spotlight tonight as the 14th-ranked Buckeyes head to Purdue to take on the third-ranked Boilermakers. 

The game matches the top two contenders for Big Ten Player of the Year: Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State and Vincent Edwards of Purdue. 

Edwards, a Middletown graduate, and Bates-Diop are both seniors who figure to be under-drafted by NBA teams in June before going on to long, productive pro careers. 

This is the only meeting between the two teams, and a win for Purdue would certainly put them in the driver’s seat for a Big Ten championship as they would maintain a two-game lead over Michigan State, a winner last night and Purdue’s next opponent. 

Ohio State doesn’t have much to lose tonight if you ask me. 

A win would mean they have a chance to hang a banner this season, but they have already surpassed expectations. 

Even if the Buckeyes lose, they would have a three-game cushion in terms of staying in the top four, which is important for seeding in the conference tournament that is stupidly being held a week early in New York City… 

Meanwhile, Dayton is back home tonight to take on Duquesne at UD Arena. 

The Flyers’ loss in Pittsburgh to start Atlantic 10 play looked like a bad one at the time, but since then the Dukes have been having the better season. 

First-year coach Keith Dambrot’s team has already won five more games than last season despite dropping a pair of heart-breakers in the previous eight days. 

Exactly what’s ailing Dayton is hard to put a finger on. 

I mean, there are obvious statistical things to look at, but everything feels interconnected, doesn’t it? 

Overall, things just aren’t right. 

There’s plenty of talent there, but experience is lacking of course. 

Darrell Davis is a veteran but playing in a new role, and Josh Cunningham barely played the previous two seasons. 

Of course, they’ve also had 22 games to figure out how to play together but seem to be going in the other direction.

Their improvement in shooting percentage over the course of the season is definitely eye-opening. I thought this team would be athletic but struggle to makes shots. 

The lack of improvement on defense is kind of baffling. 

So are the fluctuations in the way coach Anthony Grant has substituted. 

It seemed like a lot of guys were on yo-yos in the first half of the season, and now the rotation has been severely curtailed. 

I can imagine that makes getting comfortable and building confidence hard. 

I’m sure it’s tough for any new coach to establish what he wants, never knowing just how youngsters are going to react to a given situation. 

That’s why they make the big bucks though. 

Perhaps short-term pain will yield long-term gain. 

The rest of the schedule isn’t a cakewalk. Finishing over .500 in the regular season could be a challenge… 

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