Game five of the Thad Five Era was another showcase of the teams young talent led by freshman Daequan Cook as the Bucks rolled to an 82-60 victory over the University of San Francisco in front of (supposedly) 14,592 fans last night in the Schott. The Bucks started off a little sluggish but peeled off a 14-2 run midway through the first half to take a commanding 45-29 lead at the break. The second half was more of the same as the Bucks controlled the boards (46-31) and played unselfish ball (20 assists on 32 FGs) triggering a 22-3 run that put the game on ice.
The youngsters all had outstanding games led by Daequan's 20 points in 21 minutes on 8-13 shooting from the field and 5 rebounds. The kid is Instant Offense and does it within the flow of the offense. His best play of the night was converting a one handed alley oop in traffic off a 25 foot pass from Jamar Butler during the aforementioned second half run that euthanized any chances for the Dons. Cook is now averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds while playing only 23 minutes per game off the bench. More impressive is that he is currently shooting 58% from the field and 45% from downtown to solidify his status as the best freshman on the team not named Greg Oden. Once he improves his free throw shooting (69%), my man-crush on him will be in full swing.
Not to be outdone, freshman Mike Conley played another stellar game at the point to the tune of 12 points, 9 assists, and 6 boards against just two turnovers in 35 minutes. Conley's emergence has allowed Butler to play off the ball which certainly makes the Bucks more dangerous. Last season, Butler wore down toward the end of season as he was the only guy who could consistently bring the ball up the floor. This year, that is not likely to happen and should allow Butler to be a more effective scorer down the stretch.
Freshman David Lighty was again a "glue-guy" that did whatever was needed by adding 8 points and 8 rebounds, 4 offensive, in 25 minutes. He also had two more blocked shots as he continues to surprise taller players with his vertical jump.
It is clear that Matta is working hard to define roles for the guys and they are listening. Even Ivan Harris, whom Matta has said cannot just stand outside the 3pt line all season, took 5 of his 8 shots inside the arc, had 5 rebounds, and actually shot 2 free throws. I think he only shot 5 all of last year as he was content to play lazy and launch threes.It is clear that Matta is working hard to define roles for the guys and they are listening. Even Ivan Harris, whom Matta has said cannot just stand outside the 3pt line all season, took 5 of his 8 shots inside the arc, had 5 rebounds, and actually shot 2 free throws. I think he only shot 5 all of last year as he was content to play lazy and launch threes.
The next victim for Ohio State comes to town Friday night in the form of Youngstown State. The game will be played off campus at Nationwide Arena as a test run for the site playing host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA tourney in March. I hope at least 10,000 of our so called Buckeye Basketball fans will be able to find their way inside but I have my doubts. Hey, at least the home of the Blue Jackets will see a 'W' for a change.