The Ohio State Buckeyes welcomed the Morgan State Golden Bears to Value City Arena to open the season. From the get-go the Bucks had no trouble with the Bears, eventually closing out a 89-50 victory. The Buckeyes were led in scoring by Lenzelle Smith Jr. who dropped 18 points and added 7 rebounds and 2 assists to his stat line. He was joined in double digits by Shannon Scott’s 16, LaQuiton Ross’s and Sam Thompson’s 14, and Marc Loving’s 10. LaQuiton Ross also added 11 rebounds for a double double on the day. Morgan State was led in scoring by Justin Black with 13, followed by Ian Chiles with 12, and Anthony Hubbard with 11.
The game started with two incredible surprises. The first was the starting lineup which was a three guard, two forward arrangement of Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams. The particular surprise is that Sam Thompson was replaced by LaQuinton Ross at the first dead ball less than a minute into the game. The second big surprise was the shooting of Shannon Scott who hit three of four three point attempts in the first four minutes of the game, including hitting his first three straight.
Given the talent on this team, and the distribution of scoring, it is possible that we will see a variable starting lineup during the season. During the exhibition, the Buckeyes started a 2 guard, 3 forward lineup. That could have been an experiment for a game that didn’t count, but it could be a sign that Matta will start players in reaction to the opponent’s strengths. Either way, it’s something worth paying attention to during the season.
The Buckeyes displayed the typically strong defense of Matta teams, but also displayed a nice tendency to distribute the basketball. On several occasions, players passed on an ok shot to provide a pass to a player with a better look. The Bucks also used the dribble drive to open up shooters on the arc, forcing Morgan State’s defense to collapse into the lane. Interestingly, this team seemed to favor the three point shot more than previous OSU teams, shooting roughly 50% of their shots beyond the arc. Considering the opponent, this is clearly a sign that this team is more of a shooting squad than an inside game.
After serving primarily subbing for Aaron Craft his freshman year, Scott’s court time doubled as he received additional court time alongside Craft. He’s a versatile and talented point-guard who has reportedly turned on the lights and become extremely aggressive defensively. His experience and defensive prowess should serve him well as a player that can fit into multiple roles in Thad Matta’s scheme.
Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
High School: Milton
Position: Guard (1)
High School Awards:
- McDonald’s All American (2011)
- Jordan Brand All American (2011)
- Georgia Mr. Basketball (2011)
- Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year (2011)
- First-Team All State (2010)
- First-Team All District (2010)
- Male Athlete of the Year, NeighborNewspapers.com (2010)
Shannon Scott is a 4 star point guard out of Alpharetta Georgia. He was ranked the #6 point guard in the country by Scout.com, and the 34th overall player by ESPNU. As a junior, he lead Milton to a state championship in Georgia while averaging 14 points, 7 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He also participated in the McDonald’s All-American game and picked up an incredible 5 steals in 12 minutes of playing time.
Senior Aaron Craft is in his final go-around in the Scarlet and Gray. I’m certain many fans outside of the Columbus area are thrilled with that news, which is a great testament to what Craft has accomplished while at Ohio State. He was a pleasant surprise his first season in Columbus. His second season was much less surprising, and it was particularly enjoyable for fans to watch his defensive dominance and occasional offensive brilliance at the point guard position. Last year was more of the same, and he stepped into more of a scoring role on occasion.
Last year this became Craft’s team. That will continue this season as he leads the Buckeyes into another challenging schedule. Aaron Craft’s leadership is more important than ever, and will be the key to where this team ends up at the end of the season.
Hometown: Findlay, Ohio
High School: Liberty Benton
Position: Guard (1)
High School Awards:
Continued thoughts and prayers to our friends in Cowboy and Sooner land… soundtrack should be obvious for today.
Simon’s contract has a total value of $2.545 million, including a $385,652 signing bonus. The deal includes base salaries of $405,000, $495,000, $585,000 and $675,000.
I couldn’t believe an entire basketball season had passed us by and I hadn’t yet written a Buckeye Basketball Breakdown. It just goes to show you what the final year of a graduate studies program can do to your soul…and your free time. But those are similar really.
Given how the NCAA Tournament wrapped up, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about what we saw this year from the Buckeyes, and what we might have to look forward to in the future.
I will be the first to admit that I was particularly worried about this team going into Big Ten play. Seeing the Buckeyes meltdown against Duke, struggle with Kansas at home, and generally perform lackadaisically in the first half of every game, I was quite pessimistic on the night of January 4th. I knew the team was growing, I could see their development, but I was extremely worried by what I had seen to that point.
And then the first Illinois game happened the very next day.
Surprisingly, my opinions of the team improved dramatically after that. They fought hard and picked up a pair of wins in that four game stretch, including a huge win against Michigan. They started to clue in to how to play proper basketball, but they were still missing something.
Basketball season is officially over. Depending on your perspective on how you look at the season’s overall content, this year was either a huge overachieving success or a flaming disaster. It’s Wednesday night, let’s rumble!
There really is no better word for the majority of Buckeye Nation’s overriding feeling on Saturday night after the final horn sounded. They were shocked, me included.
How could Wichita State seemingly blow the doors off of our beloved Buckeyes for the better part of 30 minutes and hang on to eliminate the West region’s number 2 seed? How could a Buckeye team that only two weeks ago in Chicago appeared to be finally hitting its stride look so terrible in a regional final with a trip to the Final Four on the line?