It’s been a great season of football so far and not too surprisingly basketball has snuck up on us. We have done our best to try and get everybody’s input on the upcoming season from around the blogosphere including a nice two-parter with people from around the B1G that can be read here and here. We also spoke with fellow Buckeye Bloggers about the Buckeyes and that can be read here.
We finish up our pre-season of roundtable with an in-house brand. Look forward to starting the season off soon but let’s first get everyone’s opinions.
Who is the Key returner other than Craft or Thomas?
WVa. The bottom line for this team will be defense this season and the key returner to make that happen will be Shannon Scott. As much as he may contribute offensively is up to him, the defensive side of the ball comes easy for him and when Coach Matta decides to put the clamps down it will be Scott and Craft doing that. Scott showed some nice flashes of this and what he can bring offensively so when teams double down on Thomas, look out!
Eric. There are a number of names that could go here. There are two roles of need on this team: “Scoring” and “Paint play”. That means that for each there are a couple of answers.
Scoring: One of the three – LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, Lenzelle Smith. All three will be looked for their scoring output this season. We don’t know whether it will be Ross or Thompson starting in place of William Buford at the three, but they will definitely sub in and out for each other. Lenzelle Smith will very likely maintain his role at the 2 spot in the backcourt. He’ll need to hit some critical buckets for us this season.
Paint play: Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel. Ravenel will bring much-needed experience to the center position, while Williams will bring some serious defensive ability and hopefully some offensive talent. It will be fascinating to see how these two play together.
Mali. I’m excited to see LaQuinton Ross… came in with a TON of upside, will Matta be able to develop it in ways that help the team long-term.
Joe L. Zelle’ – I look for Smith to pick up where he left off in the tourney last year playing good D rebounding from his guard spot knocking down the open 3′s and finding a way to get to the rack and score.
How much hurt will losing Sullinger and Buford cause the team?
WVa. The consistent pounding the ball inside to Sully is gone and will cause some hurt to start the season and may cause us games against Duke and Kansas. Buford was the team Patriarch and led them in spite of struggling at times. All of that being said, I believe that this team will excel because of the hurt it causes. This group of players will likely get up and down the court well and may even compete with the effectiveness of an Evan Turner led squad from a few years ago. Tempo, tempo, tempo and some shooting should make them relatively difficult to defend.
Eric. Not as much as people might expect. We have good talent that got a chance to learn from Sullinger during the course of last year, and they will work some magic of their own. We may lose a game or two from not having Sully’s dominance in the paint, but even that might be solved in other ways.
Losing Buford won’t hurt much either. He was a hot and cold shooter that might be replaced by Thompson and Ross fairly competently. We’ll have to wait and see if they have the maturity and smooth shooting skills, but they should be able to be very effective scorers in place of Buford.
Mali. I actually think that Sully’s transition to the NBA might be a good thing a chance to become a team, and not be able to lean on one guy in clutch situations. Buford’s loss, though, might be more significant, since he was a “glue” guy for the team.
Joe L. I think what it will do is force us to to play a different style. Losing their ability to score is going to hurt and their rebounding abilities. But we should be more athletic and allow us to get out and run a little more.
Who will come off the bench and be a huge contributor this year, and will this be a shallow bench as has been?
WVa. This team has the potential to be just a 7/8 player team, but I see more to them than that. With the off season work everyone has put in and the emergence of a walk on who earned his scholly in Rogers, we may see the bench cleared at times. To that end, the one player coming off the bench that will be a huge contributor this season will be Shannon Scott. Staring line-up set pretty much, Scott will get the most minutes off the bench much like Craft did for Lauderdale.
Eric. No, this won’t be as shallow of a bench as we’ve seen in years past. There are 11 players on this team, and 9 or 10 of them should be regular contributors. Obviously things may shallow down a bit in Big Ten play and leading into the NCAA tournament, but that’s typical for most teams.
As for huge contributors off the bench, whichever of LQ Ross and Sam Thompson ends up not starting will make a huge impact. Shannon Scott will have a solid year off the bench. And I’m hearing that Trey McDonald had a tremendous offseason and should see some significant playing time for this team. We’ll see if that bears out.
WVa. The games with TTUN this season will be huge. Believing the conference could come down to those match-ups prior to the tourney, I think they will play a huge part in the development of this team. Duke and Kansas are superstar match-ups and there will be revenge on the minds of alot of the players.
Eric. There are several. Duke and Kansas are both huge games in the preseason that will tell us what this team can do. But it’s the game at Indiana that could be the most critical. If Ohio State is a very good team, the conference race could very well come down to that game – the second to last game of the regular season. That game also comes at the end of a rough stretch against Michigan State at home and Northwestern on the road (where they always seem to take us down to the wire).
The conference as a whole is the best there is, period. This year may be the one that another title winner emerges in Indiana and they could put four into the Elite 8 as well. The B1G/ACC Challenge could go a long way to settle the arguement as to who is the best, and it should be the B1G.
Eric. I see this team ending up around 14-4 in the conference, with losses at Michigan State, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, and at Indiana. The Buckeyes are tough to beat at home under Thad Matta, and it should bear out this year as well, but they’ll end up in some fights on the road.
The conference as a whole I expect will end up going Indiana’s way. Unless someone finds a fool-proof way to stop Cody Zeller, this conference is almost certainly theirs to lose this season.
Mali. The Conference might just be the best and deepest in the nation… and because of that, might be a real challenge for Ohio State.
Joe L. I will say we finish in top 3. The conference will be much improved over years past.
Do you see the team making the final four? If not what is your prediction for the season and why?
WVa. With the right things happening and a really good placement in the brackets I could see them making it. If they get the roads to the final four they have had the past two seasons you can forget it. I do believe they are an Elite 8 team and should play well down the stretch.
This Buckeye team will have to do a lot of proving itself on the court. I am not as sold as some that they have the talent to win it all, but they have the potential simply because they do have the best PG in the nation and Thomas will have an opportunity to steal the POTY award from Zeller. We shall see as the season is upon us.
Eric. This team could potentially be a final four team. They have the talent, and the backcourt experience of Craft, Smith, and Scott, along with the general deep-run tournament experience of last year. They also have pretty good scoring talent and solid front court defense. The big question is whether or not they can get the inside outside game going consistently, and if enough pieces play well on a game-to-game basis – even if the pieces change from game to game. If they get that, they could make a run in the tournament.
I still think it’s a little early to be talking Final Four runs, though. For now I’ll simply predict that this team will make the tournament. Ask me again on Selection Sunday what I think of their chances to make the final weekend.
Mali. Unfortunately, no. I’d love a Great 8 appearance, but I think that this will be seen as a “rebuilding” year for Ohio State. Of course “rebuilding” in Columbus means a 25 win season or so, right?
Joe L. I will say sweet 16 at this point. Obviously that could change but I think with the talent and how it should come together that is attainable.