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.
The 2013-2014 basketball season is nigh upon us. Like soon; in fact this Sunday, to be exact. After “scrimmaging” the Walsh University Cavaliers (winning 93-63), the #11 Buckeyes host the Morgan State University Bears this coming Saturday with a noon tip-off at The Schott. The pre-conference schedule starts; now it gets serious.
Here’s the scoop on Morgan State University.
School: Morgan State University
Location: Baltimore, MD
Student Population: 6,000
School Type: Public, co-ed
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)
Arena: Hill Field House
Head Coach: Todd Bozeman
It was like Christmas for Buckeye basketball fans, as the Buckeyes opened up the season in exhibition play with a 93-63 win over Walsh university. As many would expect in the first game of the season, many questions were answered and many still loom. Most importantly though, the Bucks took advantage of a true tune up game with a top notch D2 program from the GLIAC conference.
Head Coach Thad Matta went with what many expected to be the starting five this season to open up the game. The two seniors, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith started at guard, with Sam Thompson at the three, LaQuinton Ross at the four and Amir Williams at the 5.
Early and often, the defensive intensity was spectacular. The best defensive backcourt in the country lived up to it’s reputation. Shannon Scott came off the bench and got three or four blocks and a handful of steals in the first half to help set the tone. Aaron Craft was simply amazing at pushing defenders off to either Lenzelle Smith, Shannon Scott, or Sam Thompson to allow them to get the steal. Ohio State jumped ahead early in part to the 17 turnovers they were able to force in the first half and finished strong.
Craft led the way with 14 points and 5 assists. Smith finished 15 points and 8 boards, while Shannon Scott had a stat stuffing game — 9 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
In the post, Amir Williams showed what seems to be major improvement when it came to spacing and fronting the basket. On defense, he used his better positioning and pure athletic ability to block shots and grab some form rebounds The Motor City big man put together 10 rebounds — seven in the first half and added 8 points. Marc Loving showed early as well why he will be a solid option off the bench for coach Matta as a freshman. The Toledo native had some great offensive moves to the basket. His play will be key if the Bucks plan to play with any type of a larger lineup, where LaQuinton Ross can move to the small forward position. We also saw Loving in at power forward in the second half, paired with Ross at the 5. Loving added 9 rebounds, which was great to see from power forward position. He also dropped five points.
Ross, who might be the biggest x-factor of the season played extremely well on offense. Fans know about his range, but it was evident that he has improved his strength in the paint, with many solid drives to the basket. He made five trips to the charity stripe in the game. His offense is right where you hope for it to be to start the season. He tallied 15 points and really showed that he can take over games as needed.
Amedeo Della Valle showed his range from deep. Afroman drained three treys in the ballgame and finished with 14 points.
The only scholarship player not to see time on the floor was Kam Williams, the freshman guard.
Up next for the Buckeyes, a match-up with Morgan State on Saturday to open up the regular season. You can catch the game on the Big Ten Digital Network or Ohio State Radio Network.
After a freshman year that saw little to no action, LaQuinton Ross got an opportunity to shine last season with the departure of Jared Sullinger. He turned that opportunity into an promising performance while backing up Sam Thompson. He provided an explosive scoring threat fresh off the bench to replace Thompson’s explosive scoring threat, a nice gimmick to have late in conference play.
Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi
High School: Life Center Academy
Position: Forward (3/4)
As a four star recruit (by Scout.com), Ross was highly recruited out of high school, picking up offers from names such as Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Syracuse. He was the 16th ranked player at his position, three spots behind Sam Thompson, and the 53rd ranked player in the ESPNU 150.
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?
Like Janelle the week before, tBBC was representing loud and proud as Ohio State’s basketball team moved onward through the West Regional to Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
Starting Wednesday of last week, I was fortunate to get an “up close” look at the team as they prepared for and worked to earn a right to head to Atlanta for the championships. And while the weekend didn’t end with the Buckeye’s cutting down the nets, it was a memorable one for many reasons.
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.