Another Tuesday, another week, another month. Grab your coffee and let’s dive in.
Welcome to a special Ohio State men’s basketball edition. Now that, as far as we’re concerned, basketball season is on, it may be time for some reflection. This article is in two parts; first some commentary on the Ohio State – Wichita State game, then thoughts on the season in general.
Ohio State – Wichita State
Before I get too far into this, I want to acknowledge the beautifully conceived and executed game plan on the part of Gregg Marshall and his WSU team. They clearly identified OSU’s weaknesses and exploited them.
On to Part the First. I was in Ohio over Easter weekend getting some high quality family time, so I did not participate in the ingame live blog, which was probably good, all things considered. What follows are some comments/questions that arose around our television Saturday evening.
The 1st half was as big a clinker as I’ve seen this team have in some time. The offense seemed to me to be completely out of sorts and very passive, settling for jump shots. There seemed to be no ‘learning’ from the 2nd of the Arizona game where aggressive play created higher percentage FG opportunities. The 22 points in Saturday’s 1st half were “driven” by the 24% shooting, and a strange, awful appearance of ‘Bo Ball’. The Buckeyes were 2-10 from 3’s and only attempted 7 free throws. For 20 minutes, Ohio State managed to out-Wisconsin Wisconsin.
At this point, the game turned into Greek myth/tragedy, with the part of Sisyphus played by Ohio State. Six minutes into the game, OSU took the lead, held it for approximately one minute, and then was faced with a series of uphill climbs for the rest of the game. The Buckeyes just couldn’t get any scoring runs going. Since WSU did a good job of getting back on defense, OSU couldn’t get the breakaway baskets they needed and had to resort to a half-court offense, which frankly, isn’t the best.
In January I did a little piece on how I saw the basketball team, up to that point in the season. I harped on five issues, let’s revisit them to see what had changed in the last two and a half months. You may need to toggle between articles. Take your time.
1. This is not that good of a shooting team, particularly in key games
I didn’t think so then, I don’t think so now. Back then they were shooting 46.1%, good for 52nd nationally. The Buckeyes ended the season shooting 45.1%, good for 79th position.
2. This is an inconsistent team
I don’t believe this point has changed much either. Generally, OSU tended to start their games very slow, muddle through the first half’s, then play much more focused and with more energy in the second half.
3. This is a team with no legitimate post presence.
This became more obvious as the season progressed. The Buckeyes played their best ball when they went ‘small’. The formula that ‘Dr. Thad’ concocted was to start Amir Williams to win the opening tip then make substitutions at the first media time out.
4. This team is not fun to watch
They didn’t bore us to death, that’s for sure. This is one issue where I’ve changed my mind. As Thad settled on his starting lineup and substitution patterns, it seemed like the players began to gel as a true team. After the ‘Mauling in Madison’, I think the players stepped up to take responsibility for their actions and executing the game plan. And the results showed. If nothing else, this aspect can be taken as a huge win for the coaches and the players.
5. Coaching Impact
Just to be clear, this pertains to player development, not coaching strategies, etc. My bone of contention was that I had not seen significant, if any, improvement between sophomore and junior years of Craft, Smith Jr and Thomas. My position hasn’t changed on that. However, I saw significant improvement in sophomores Sam Thompson, LaQuinton Ross, and (at the very end of the season) a glimmer of hope this year Amir Williams. Now, if these three can show same improvements between their sophomore to junior year as they did this year, I’d say Thad & Staff have done a very good job.
Not really, no.
My brother and I were discussing this over Sunday morning coffee when he made the observation that ‘ maybe Ohio State overachieved this year.’ The team lost 32 points per game (Sullinger/Buford) and the returning three starters (Thomas/Craft/Smith Jr) contributed 31 ppg. Losing half of your starters’ offensive output provided some challenges of where to find it.
This team may also have been ‘victimized’ by expectations that were set too high. The Buckeyes started out ranked #4 in the country. Why & how eludes me; clearly people should have known that ‘Sully’ and ‘Buf’ had moved on..
Finally, I had commented several times/several places during the course of the season that it would not have surprised me if OSU would lose 10 games during the regular season, due in great part to the above five issues (silly me). The fact that this team came together to finish the season having won 12 of their last 14 games, with an 11 game win streak tossed in, speaks volumes to how the players and coaches figured it out. This speaks very well for all of them.
Well, here we are, at the second biggest shopping day of the holiday and fiscal season. It’s kind of sad, really- all those unwanted or mis- purchased gifts being dragged back to the mall, where “Good Will To Men” is certainly in short supply.
That being said… how hard is it to follow a list? And what part of “bullets” looks like “marbles”… grumble grumble grumble. Given what’s in the theaters beginning yesterday, you’ve got two choices for today’s soundtrack.
For today’s basketball roundtable, I share questions and answers with Eric and Gary of tBBC, and two guests: Eric invited a blog friend Jordan, and I invited liveblog regular CeMoBuckeye. Enjoy!
What were your favorite moments of the 2011-12 season and why?
Gary. My favorite moments of last year both happened on the road. First the victory on Madison. My distaste for Wisconsin runs beyond just football. Anytime you go in and knock off Bo Ryan in Madison always puts a smile on my face. Second was the victory at Michigan State. I respect Tom Izzo and his teams. They are always tough and always tough at home. Beating them in East Lansing, I believe, have them the confidence for their run in the postseason.
Eric. The best moment had to be the win over Wisconsin in the Kohl Center. Nothing gives me a warmer or fuzzier feeling than beating the socks off the damn red and white scum from Madison. Close second would be a tie between the Syracuse win, which was a fantastic piece of basketball against an excellent opponent, and the Buford gut shot win at MSU to help clear up his own last second game worries.
Jordan. First, beating Florida and Duke at home in the same month; second, beating a highly touted Syracuse team in Boston to go to our eleventh* Final Four; third, two fifteen seed upsets in one hour in the NCAA Tournament; forth, beating Wisconsin at Wisconsin for the first time in a decade; fifth, beating Cincinnati in the sweet sixteen to exorcize the Bearcat tournament demons of fifty years ago.
CeMoBuckeye. How the team came together at the end of the season and made an incredible run to the final four.
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, it does indeed say “basketball” up there. While everyone is overloading from the celebration of Coach Meyers first game as the head coach of THE Ohio State university and a W against Miami of Ohio, we thought we’d introduce you to a Tuesday fixture of basketball with tBBC. Myself, Eric, and Gary Russell are going to do our best to keep you updated on the basketball Buckeyes with news as it is ready and a roundtable or maybe even a chat on Tuesday’s with some people in the know.
Who’s the one carryover from last season who needs to have a big off season and why?
Eric – In terms of needing a big off-season, there’s only one obvious answer – Amir Williams. Matta teams tend to under perform when he doesn’t have a top notch guy in the paint to focus the attention on. Amir Williams was supposed to be a huge get for the Buckeyes when we recruited him, but the few times we saw him last season he looked stiff and immobile on offense – though his defense was pretty good. He absolutely needs to have worked on his offense in a big way, both in moving without the ball and in getting a hip into the defender when posting up.
One other key to his offense – he needs to be able to pass back out of the paint. Buckeye fans got very spoiled with Sullinger and his ability to feed guys outside the arc after attracting the entire defense. This offense will work a lot better if Williams can come even half-way towards replicating that trait.
I’m going to give a #2 answer as well, because I can. Lenzelle Smith Jr. needs to have a big off-season. He did a laudable job last season, especially towards the end. He needs to carry that momentum into this season and be a significant scoring option for this team.
Salutations from our nation’s 48th state, where I currently find myself vacating on the same road that I live by several hours to the west. Yup, this is as close to Rich Rod as I’ll ever get… probably for the best. Knowing that we were headed this way the wife let me plan our trip around two sacred OSU sites, although she did boycott one of my musical selections for the journey. Ah, well… at least she let me watch the 2002 game on the BTN this evening.
This “update” seems to be merely a reflection of Coach Meyer’s decisions regarding Klein’s actions, and there may not be any more to read into it. Again, Urban stated at the end of spring practice that the chart would be set- fall camp was about preparation and not position battles.
A bit of a damper on the July 4th celebration, as Andy Griffith passed away on Tuesday. Since he represented a slice of America for so many folks, it only makes sense that he’d leave us this close to America’s birthday.
I’m headed south on vacation with the family and just wanted to try something new before I disappear for a couple of weeks. There’s a lot going on in the sports world with the Olympic trials and the NBA draft just recently concluding. I’ve got some things to cover but I promise I will be quick!
How about we start with my rant first so I can get it out of the way? The recent news coming out of State College, PA has me mesmerized. Not so much that the info has come to light as much as how their fans are responding. I spent the better part of the day reading about fans who are taking this personally. They think the world is out to get PSU. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I tweeted in response to a friend that most of the people defending the University lack the basic human quality of compassion for these victims. Plain and simple, that is what all of the fuss is about.
I want you to imagine for just a brief moment that you are one of the victims and they are telling you that those involved didn’t believe you deserved to be protected. Not to mention the fact they are now basically saying the victims didn’t deserve justice. That is what all of the information is doing to these victims, and those who defend the university that covered it up lack any compassion for anything human.
With the 21st pick in this evenings’ NBA draft, former Buckeye Jared Sullinger was informed that he would be headed to one of the most legendary franchises in basketball when he was drafted by the Eastern Conference’s Boston Celtics.
The two year star at Ohio State saw the end of a challenging week with the phone call from Danny Ainge; a certain lottery pick after his first season in Columbus, a second season with the Buckeyes resulted in concerns regarding his health- particularly his back. Sullinger missed several games this past season with hamstring and back injuries, and numerous scouts raised concerns about his resilience over a longer season.
However, several medical professionals and the Sullinger Camp were adamant that his durability would not be an issue- and GMs noted that he would be a steal in the second half of the first round. Jared is the 7th first round pick in six years for Ohio State.
Jared’s work ethic has never been questioned, nor has his heart. I believed going into the draft that whoever ended up selecting him would get a greater player than his draft status and statistics would indicate- he is the ultimate team player, and will thrive under another quality coach. Sullinger joins a team with some aging leadership; it will be interesting to see if he can contribute minutes to rest the veterans while learning the ropes and awaiting his time to shine. The sky is certainly the limit.
Video by WBNS-TV’s Dom Tiberi
In a press release tonight, the University had reflections from Coach Matta and an overview of Jared’s career at Ohio State. Read More