BBN Hoops Microscope – Lenzelle Smith Jr. vs. Purdue

Written February 9th, 2012 by Eric

The newly-formed Buckeye Bloggers Network put their heads together again!  This time we will be looking at the impact that each starter and the bench had on the game against Purdue on Tuesday night.  The other blogs joining us in this venture are: The Buckeye Blog, Our Honor Defend, Buckeye House Call, OSU Silver Bullet, and Men of the Scarlet and Gray.

Lenzelle Smith and Robbie Hummel fight for a rebound.

Lenzelle Smith has had quite a sophomore campaign for the Buckeyes.  It was apparent early in the season that he had not fully realized his role on the team, as he struggled to score and to really gel in the framework of the starters.  His recent games in Big Ten play have been a positive indication that he is understanding better what he needs to bring to this team.

What has made Smith a starter from day one has been his defensive intensity.  While he is not the best defender on the court – how could he be, he plays next to Aaron Craft – he is certainly one of the better defenders on the team.  Guards have typically struggled when playing the Buckeyes, and that has as much to do with Smith’s play as with Craft’s.

Smith has taken his successes on the defensive end and used them to grow on the offensive side.  For a long time this season the running joke was that Smith’s over-under in scoring was five points, and that he would play like he was desperate to break it.  Rare would be the game that he actually succeeded, it seemed.

And then Indiana happened – twice.

First, it was a quiet 12 point outpouring at Indiana, Smith’s first double digit scoring game.  But it was the second matchup in Columbus that really set the stage.  Lenzelle Smith dropped 28 points, hauled in 7 rebounds, and picked up an assist and a steal in 34 minutes of play.  It was the sign of life people were waiting for in order to believe that Smith was finally understanding where he needed to be.

While the 28 points has not been repeated (the closest was 17 against Michigan), Smith has indeed figured out what he has to do in order for this team to be successful.  That skill was on display against Purdue Tuesday night.

Lenzelle Smith

GP

MIN

PPG

RPG

APG

SPG

TPG

FGM/A

FG%

FTM/A

FT%

3PM/A

3P%

Season

24

23.1

6.3

4.7

2

1.1

1.1

52-105

0.495

27-49

0.551

19-42

0.452

vs. Purdue

1

26

7

5

2

0

1

2-6

0.333

1-2

0.5

2-4

0.5

Unfortunately, Smith opened up the game quite poorly.  A horrendous entry pass to the lane 10 seconds into the game led to a turnover – his only one of the game – and a wasted possession in a game where every possession mattered.  While everyone was quick to pile on Lenzelle for the mistake, he was about to make up for it in a big way.

A scant two minutes after his initial mistake, Purdue was still struggling to get their offense going.  Down 4-0 Kelsey Barlow missed his second shot of the game, which was quickly scooped up by William Buford.  On the other end of the court, Lenzelle Smith found himself open for the first three of the game.  That shot was an early dagger for the Boilermakers, and Matt Painter was forced to call a quick timeout to get his player’s heads back in the game.

It’s possible, heck it’s probable, that Lenzelle Smith’s shot woke up the Boilers in this game.  After the tough defeat at the hands of Hoosiers in West Lafayette, and only getting one opportunity to play the Buckeyes, Matt Painter probably tore into his team to get them to play better.  They gave him that and more, working hard to close the gap, and eventually found themselves down only one at 26-25.

Unfortunately for the Boilers, Lenzelle Smith worked his magic again and found his second three pointer of the game.  That would be the last shot he’d make from the floor in the contest but it came at a critical time.  Purdue followed that up with a miss allowing Aaron Craft to drop a triple on the other end, forcing Matt Painter into yet another timeout.

Lenzelle Smith did not contribute much in the second half.  Despite his early success shooting the ball he was simply unable to make his shots fall in the final 20 minutes.  He missed on a three pointer with the game tied, and also failed to drop a pair of close range shots with the Buckeyes down two – misses that eventually allowed Purdue to take a four point lead.  Despite that, Lenzelle picked up several key defensive rebounds while Jared Sullinger was struggling to stay in position against Purdue’s screening tactics.

The biggest worry, however, has to be the defensive struggles against the Purdue guards during the game.  Smith struggled to keep up with the swift dribble drives of Kelsey Barlow and Lewis Jackson.  Worse yet, D.J. Byrd had one of his best shooting nights of the season from beyond the arc.  Against the Buckeyes he hit 7-9 from three – three more attempts than his previous high all season.  The only game this season that saw Byrd shoot better was at Minnesota where he shot 83.3% (5-6).

Lenzelle Smith Jr. has obviously become a solid contributor for this basketball team.  While he is occasionally making critical shots, he is putting himself on the box score by attacking the basket on both ends of the court.  By grabbing rebounds and playing generally strong defense he is making himself a key role player for the Buckeyes.

The rest of the articles in this series can be found here:
Our Honor Defend – Aaron Craft
The Buckeye Blog – William Buford
OSU Silver Bullet – Deshuan Thomas
Buckeye House Call – Jared Sullinger
Men of the Scarlet and Gray – Coaches

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