Eastman Cos. President Peter Schofel is about to give his son the college preview of every high school senior’s envy — watching his alma mater, Ohio State University, play Sharlene Hunt’s Kansas University in the Final Four.
“My son is a basketball player himself, and before the tournament started, he was filling out his bracket, saying, ‘Dad, I just love this time of year,’ ” Schofel said. “He hasn’t picked a school yet, but I know Ohio State is on his list. Maybe the game will sway his decision for the fall.”
Though he booked the trip in December as a last father-son outing before his son leaves for college — long before he knew the Buckeyes would play in the tournament, let alone leave him representing the squad in NJBIZ Brackets — Schofel said he “feels beyond great” about joining his team and fellow alumni in New Orleans for the Final Four.
“Ohio State fans seem to like to travel quite a bit, but this game’s in the South, which is much closer to Kansas,” Schofel said. “The Superdome holds some 60,000 people for basketball, so it will be interesting to see the ratio of fans, compared to what it was with Syracuse at the (TD) Garden. Either way, it’s gonna be loud and wild.”
Before the Kansas matchup, the Buckeyes played what Schofel called “a little in-state touch-and-go” with United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO John Franklin’s University of Cincinnati in the Sweet 16. Then they blocked Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick’s Syracuse University from the basket for the upset in the East regional final.
“Even though they were missing a top guy, Syracuse was pretty strong competition,” Schofel said. “I can already tell the game with Kansas will be even tougher.”
Schofel said Ohio State’s defense has kept the team on course to the championship, and he hopes its “big guy” — forward Jared Sullinger — will stay out of foul trouble, since he faced it in the first half of the Syracuse game. Still, Schofel said the Buckeyes will do fine offensively if quick-footed point guard Aaron Craft plays well.
“We haven’t been shooting well from the outside, so defense is the key to winning,” Schofel said. “They’ll have to hold true against Kansas, and even if they go further than that, they should still pull out that defense. To Sharlene Hunt, I say, bring it on.”