Mark Znidar
Mark Znidar

Mark Znidar comes to Press Pros Magazine after 33 ½ years at The Columbus Dispatch. From 1996 until September 2018, he staffed high school sports, Ohio colleges that included the Mid-American Conference, Ohio State’s upcoming opponents in football and Ohio State baseball. In the previous three seasons he covered the Columbus Clippers triple-A baseball team. His other beats were Ohio State basketball (1985-88), Clippers (1985-86 and 1989-93), Cincinnati Bengals (1993-95) and NASCAR (1994-2008). He subbed on the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ohio State women’s basketball beats. In March 2017, Znidar was inducted into the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.  Znidar was born in Cleveland and raised in Richmond Heights. He graduated from Cleveland St. Joseph High School and the University of Dayton. He also worked for The Atlantic City Press, Lake County News-Herald and Baltimore News-American. He has a daughter, Amanda, son-in-law Josh and four grandchildren.

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The Buckeyes continue to make the most of their ‘probationary’ schedule, winning their fifth straight Friday night by 39 over Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Columbus – Somewhere out there, Joey Lane probably is keeping close track of Ohio State’s box scores and holding great envy for walk-ons Danny Hummer and Harrison Hookfin because they are doing a lot more than looking good in the lay-up line.

Lane, you see, might have been the most popular walk-on in recent team history with the “Nut House’’ student cheering section going, well, nuts whenever he approached the scorer’s table to check into blowouts.

For all the cult-like worship he enjoyed, Lane totaled a modest 38 minutes last season.

Veteran columnist Mark Znidar writes the Buckeyes for Press Pros Magazine.com.

With the Buckeyes whacking opponents on the knees this young season, Hummer already has played 21 minutes and Hoofkin 19. If this keeps up, those two are going to letter.

Thirteen players played at least five minutes, with center Kaleb Wesson getting 15 points and freshman guard D.J. Carton 13, as Ohio State ran over Purdue-Fort Wayne 85-46 before an announced crowd of 11,629 on Friday night at The Schott.

As is his style, coach Chris Holtmann roped off his 10th-ranked team with yellow caution tape.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go,’’ Holtmann said. “We’ve played all of our games at home, right? There’s a perspective required with this. It’s not going to remain like this.’’

The Buckeyes (5-0) figure to have cupcake-type games against Kent State and Morgan State before the calendar changes to December and North Carolina, Minnesota, Kentucky and West Virginia come up.

That’s when Hummer and Hookfin will go back to having the best seats in the house and not have to shower afterward.

The impressive part to the victory is that Holtmann lost players left and right to illness and injury during the week.

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Sophomore guard Duane Washington played despite running a temperature.

“Day by day,’’ he said of his condition. “We’re grinding. We love life. Whether we’ve got the snuffles (sic) or whatever, we’re going to come every day and attack it.’’

Carton sat out practice on Wednesday because of the flu and junior guard C.J. Walker didn’t go Thursday after banging up a hip in practice.

Justin Ahrens continued to progress from a back injury with a trio of three-pointers against Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Purdue-Fort Wayne comes from the obscure Summit League and is 2-21 against Big Ten teams.

If the Mastodons sound familiar, Ohio State took them apart 107-61 last November.

Last night’s game was thought of so lightly by television that it was relegated to Big Ten Plus.

This game could have been really ugly had the Buckeyes not come out with a great sense of purpose and, for the most part, maintained their RPM until the end.

Here are some excellent numbers: Ohio State had 20 assists on 31 baskets, had 31 points off turnovers, 32 points in the paint and 40 points from the bench.

Mastodons coach Jon Coffman was impressed with what he saw. His team had 19 turnovers, shot 31.5 percent and got into a deep hole by missing 13 of its first 15 shots.

“I’ll start out by saying how impressed I am with the discipline that Chris is able to get his team to play with,’’ Coffman said. “That’s the newcomers as well. He has been able to take the space that we create (for three-point shooters) and really shrink it. He has his guys playing a 40-minute game defensively, and they are so disciplined.’’

Coffman said Holtmann has done well getting the players to follow the plan.

“It’s really good coaching,’’ he said. “You can tell your guys to jump to the ball and get to the midline. You can tell them to close out with great urgency. Coaching is getting them to do that. Everything is covered.’’

How detailed is Holtmann’s defense?

Coffman said the Buckeyes have not played the same ball-screen defense all season.

Washington said the players almost brainwash one another with regard to playing hard all the time.

Bowlerstore.com, in Versailles, Ohio, is a proud sponsor of Buckeyes basketball on Press Pros Magazine.com.

“In basketball there are runs when one team will make a run and then the other team will make a run, and it’s consistently putting it into each other’s brains to play the right way the whole game,’’ he said. “It’s the same approach every single day. We’re all serious right now and we’re going to keep that the rest of the season. In practice we’ve been locked in on the details and working on the little things, and I think that’s one reason why we’re playing the way we are.’’

Freshman forward E.J. Liddell said, “Every time we get a great stop that creates offense.’’

Fans got an excuse to leave early when the Buckeyes got two treys from Wesson on their first two possessions of the second half and Walker kept up the heat with a three-pointer, driving lay-up and another three to make it 56-29.

“I think Ohio State can grow into a special team,’’ Coffman said.

It was a sidelight, but important news for those from Versailles in that sophomore forward Justin Ahrens played almost eight minutes and hit three triples, two of them from the left baseline.

Ahrens sat out a lot of preseason practice and was limited other times because of two ruptured discs in his back from weight lifting.

“It’s day to day with him,’’ Holtmann said. “He has got to continue to practice and practice harder and practice with the right approach. I’m on him about that. I think he will. I love Justin. He has a great attitude, but he has to continue to fight through this injury and the recovery from it and the setback from it with a degree of toughness that’s required. I think when he does that he’ll continue to see the dividends.’’

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