Bucks bounce back
Penn, Redd lead Ohio State into the Final Four
Posted: Sunday March 21, 1999 04:17 PM
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Despite all of his individual success, guard Michael Redd remembers his miserable freshman season at Ohio State. It was just last year.
Now, after Redd got some help in the backcourt, the Buckeyes are going to the Final Four.
"We suffered so much last year. The hurt ... we were crying after every game, wondering when will it get better," said Redd, who was unable to take solace in leading the Buckeyes in scoring, rebounding and steals in his first season.
But things got better in a hurry after Scoonie Penn, a transfer who followed coach Jim O'Brien from Boston College, joined Redd in the backcourt this season.
In one of the biggest turnarounds ever, Ohio State (27-8) has gone from the bottom of the Big Ten standings a year ago (8-22, 1-15 Big Ten) and five straight losing seasons to the pinnacle of college basketball.
The Buckeyes beat St. John's 77-74 in the NCAA South Regional final Saturday night, never trailing after Redd's fast-break dunk that provided the game's first points.
"For this season to happen like it has, it feels so wonderful for us to be on the top instead of being on the bottom for so long," said Redd, who grew up in Columbus near the Ohio State campus.
Only Wisconsin, which won only five games the season before winning the 1941 NCAA title, won fewer games the year before going to the Final Four.
Redd and Penn, who had to sit out last season because of transfer rules, have scored 154 of Ohio State's 296 points in four NCAA Tournament games. The duo also has combined for 31 assists and only 13 turnovers.
"Their guards were as good if not better than advertised," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "Scoonie Penn and Redd had good games and carried their team on their backs."
Redd and Penn combined for 42 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists against St. John's (28-9), which fell short after a furious rally in the final two minutes.
Penn, the only new starter this season for Ohio State, was the South Regional MVP. He scored 22 points with eight rebounds and eight assists against St. John's, after a 26-point performance in a 72-64 semifinal victory over top-seeded Auburn.
The Red Storm were down only 76-74 with possession of the ball and a timeout with 12.5 seconds left. The plan was for Erick Barkley to drive to the basket or attempt to draw a foul, but the freshman guard made a crucial mistake while making a move around Penn.
"There was no one between me and the basket ... I just lost the ball," said Barkley, whose only turnover in 37 minutes came at the most critical moment of the game.
The loose ball wound up in the hands of Redd, who dribbled down the court before being fouled with just seven-tenths of a second remaining.The Buckeyes play Connecticut in the Final Four next Saturday at St. Petersburg, Fla.
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