Ohio State welcomed the Walsh Cavaliers into the comfortable confines of the Schott for an exhibition matchup to prepare for the season. Walsh played an excellent ballgame and kept up with the Buckeyes through the majority, finally falling 83-71. The difference in the game was a 17-3 run over the last 5 minutes of the first half for the Buckeyes that was led by the lineup of Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, DeShaun Thomas, and Trey McDonald. DeShaun Thomas led all scorers with 25 points on 9-17 shooting. He was followed by LaQuinton Ross with 13 and Evan Ravenel’s 11 for the double digit scorers for OSU. Walsh was led by Kenny Kornowski and Jeff Copeland with 12 a piece.
The Buckeyes played as many as 9 different lineups during the course of this one as Matta examined the different looks available to him on the bench. Ultimately, we got to see every single scholarship player on the court for decent minutes, but it may not be too early to make guesses as to how this team might play out in the future. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Matta play 8 deep this year with Amedeo Della Valle and Trey McDonald riding the bench for the majority of the season.
Give the Cavaliers a lot of credit. They’ve been a solid team in the NAIA for the last few years, but this year they have what could be a special team. They have a number of good shooters, and their center will help them win more than a few games. Ultimately, their offensive balance, along with excellent coaching from Jeff Young, may be enough to give them a deep run in the postseason this year in the NAIA.
1. Thomas brought his A-game. It took him a few minutes to get warmed up, but once he did he was tough to stop on the offensive end. He fought for a few rebounds, got a few putbacks, and picked up 3 and-one’s, managing to drain them all. His three point shooting was as cold as ice, only 1-4 in the first half, but otherwise it was a good performance from someone who needs to step up big.
2. Sam Thompson is a force on offense and defense. He seems to have progressed from being a nice change of pace off the bench to a solid performer that can give you quality minutes on both sides of the ball. At the break, he even had more steals than Aaron Craft (2 to 1).
3. Defensive communication is solid. Even ADV was communicating well on defense, and he’s only a freshman. The Buckeyes are playing man-to-man and doing a pretty good job controlling the inside of the arc.
4. Bucks look pretty good on the fast break. The team has great speed up and down the court, and they look hard to stop when they get going. Lots of great teamwork and vision moving the ball around for the easy score.
5. The Buckeyes can attack the basket with authority. There’s no question what Thompson and Thomas can do with the basketball. Both players proved they could dribble drive and score without the defense being able to do much to stop it. That definitely improved the Buckeye’s looks from the outside late in the first half, and began to loosen up the Walsh defense down low.
6. The Buckeyes are a much improved shot blocking team this year. Walsh is not a particularly big team, but the Buckeyes were above and beyond amazing in the shot blocking. Better yet, it was more than just Amir Williams getting in on the act, though he was certainly the primary contributor. If the Buckeyes pick up half this many blocks each game (they had 13 today) they’ll be tough to drive on during the season.
1. LQ Ross needs to clean up his game a bit. His early passes were shaky, and his first three pointer was a questionable decision. He’s young still, but it seems like he’s still hesitant in his decision making.
2. The three point defense is still a work in progress. The Buckeyes have struggled season in and season out with their perimeter defense. That has still not changed, and Walsh took advantage of it
3. Rebounding. At the half, Amir Williams had 4 blocks but absolutely no rebounds. This is something that needs to get changed in a hurry or the Buckeyes are going to struggle with better teams. That’s especially true if they don’t start getting second chance looks after their crummy three point shots. Things improved in the second half, but that still needs to be more consistent during the season. By the end, the Buckeyes broke even with the Cavaliers at 33 on the glass.
4. Inside offense lacking severely. Until the Buckeyes decided to start driving the lane, the interior offense was paltry for the Bucks. This could be as simple as a tactical decision to try to see how the team shoots from the outside, but it could just as easily be a problem with positioning by the interior players.
5. The team seemed not to completely click. There was a distinct lack of energy except for the end of the first half. It showed itself on defense, as the team lazed itself through most of the second half and allowed Walsh to hang around. It also showed itself on offense as the team struggled to hit shots and didn’t have a player to pick-up the energy. A lot of that is due to the rotations used in this game, but it would still be nice to see them come together during the course of the game.
The Buckeyes will next play the Marquette Golden Eagles in the Carrier Classic in Charleston South Carolina on Friday, November 9th at 7pm EST. You’ll be able to see that game on NBC.