Flawed Team Shows Flaws

By Chris Lauderback on February 18, 2012 at 11:32p
AP Photo: Carlos OsorioThomas was a boss with a 25/13 dub-dub

It's about as simple as that, really. 

Trey Burke dominated Aaron Craft in crunch time, William Buford added another No Call, No Show to his attendance ledger and Ohio State again showed no consistent offensive identity as Michigan beat the Buckeyes for the first time in seven tries, 56-51 tonight in Crisler Arena

Burke, "the pride of Columbus", according to the PA announcer scored 17 points while holding Craft to four points on 1/6 shooting with a couple turnovers against three assists. Joining Craft in offering nothing offensively, Buford missed nine of 12 shots on the way to six points. 

Deshaun Thomas kept Ohio State in the game pouring in 25 points (8/13 FG) and grabbing a career high 14 rebounds with Jared Sullinger throwing in 14 and eight. 

The Buckeyes never led dropping to 10-4 in the B1G, a half game back of Sparty. 

Though it never really looked like Ohio State would escape with the win, it wasn't until the two minute mark that things totally unraveled. 

After Sully cut the deficit to 52-49 with 2:00 left, Buford committed a foul away from the ball midway through the shot clock giving UM a fresh 35 with 1:44 left. Twenty-four seconds after that, Burke got a step on Craft and sliced down the lane for a tough lay in putting Michigan in front 54-49 with 1:20 to play.

Craft tried to come up with a drive of his own as he got to the rim with Burke on his hip and Jordan Morgan coming from helpside but no foul was called as Burke got him low and Morgan deflected the shot off Craft and out of bounds giving Michigan possession with 1:05 remaining. Could've been a foul but it's hard to expect on the road in this conference. 

Burke would miss the front end of a one and one on the ensuing possession but after two free throws from Craft cut the lead to 54-51 with :43 to play, Burke again blew by Craft off the bounce and hit a soft bank shot over Sullinger with 11.2 left to seal the deal. 

For a guy heralded as the best on ball defender in the country, Ohio State needed Craft to come up with a stop on Burke's two key drives. Their need for Craft to step up defensively is only magnified by what he isn't giving this team offensively. 

With Thomas scoring Ohio State's first 10 points of the 2nd half, Buford was busy triggering Michigan leakouts with ill-advised shots capitalized on by Morgan as he beat Sully down the floor. 

After Thomas splashed a triple pulling OSU to within 47-43, the Buckeyes came up with a stop but after Buford was fouled at the other end, he missed both free throws in what was a comedy of missed opportunities for the Buckeyes. 

The lack of a bench - most notably any scoring punch off the pine - was again a factor in defeat as Ravenel, Scott, Thompson and Williams combined to score zero points on 0/1 shooting in 21 minutes. 

The identity crisis on offense was front and center early as the Buckeyes put up their lowest output in a first half this season with 20 points to trail by five. 

Michigan scored the game's first six points and led 15-8 with 10:26 left in the half thanks to five OSU turnovers attributed to no flow against the zone other than Thomas finding openings from time to time at both elbows.

With Michigan effectively trapping Craft off ball screens, the offense resorted to jacking up threes, going 0/9 for the half. The Buckeyes actually shot a solid 10/17 inside the arc but gave up nine points off turnovers. After Craft picked up his 2nd foul with 4:04 left, the bench was exposed again as Scott struggled mightily to stay with Burke. 

Bottom line, this is a team that is taking on water.

Buford was absolutely awful again against a ranked team. Check out these numbers against the ranked conference squads this year:

  • 2/18 - #19 Michigan: 3/12 FG
  • 2/11 - #12 Michigan State: 2/12 FG
  • 2/4 - #20 Wisconsin: 4/15 FG
  • 1/29 - #22 Michigan: 5/13 FG
  • 1/15 - #8 Indiana: 5/12 FG
  • 12/31 - #15 Indiana: 3/7 FG
  • TOTAL: 22/71 = 31%

As we've said all along, this team will only go as far as Buford will take it which is beyond scary. Thomas and Sully are going to be there most nights but counting on Buford against legit competition looks like a suckers bet right now. Throw in the fact the PG and starting two guard struggle to contribute points along with a punchless bench and this team could be in trouble if they meet a rangy defensive team in the second round of the Dance. 

Ohio State shot 39% on the night including 3/16 from distance while Michigan shot a more economical 47% from the floor. Nine offensive boards combined from Sully and Thomas helped OSU lead 12-4 in second chance points but Michigan's 17-6 edge in points off turnovers was even more impactful. 

At this point, the Buckeyes (22-5) need a shot of confidence and a visit from Illinois on Tuesday night comes at just the right time. The Illini are a shell of the team that beat OSU back in early January having lost 8 of 9 since Brandon Paul went off including five straight. 



Comments Show All Comments

thaPriNcE614's picture

Im starting to hate matta more and more everytime i watch this team play, shannon scott is just rusting away on the bench, buford just keeps sucking when he needs to step up, aaron craft got embarrassed by trey burke, and the whole team just lacks confidence, they're not hungry and i think matta is too blame for 100% if this teams problems

khdenn's picture

You're right.  I long for the pre-Matta days...they were awesome.

dbit's picture

When Scott was in there, he got torched by Burke

Normal Buck's picture

It was like he had concrete in his shoes.

Statutoryglory's picture

Scott seems to be the most offensively limited guard we have.  He even bricked 2 free throws.  Give me Laquinton Ross.  Maybe playing him 10min a game will get Buford angry again.

tampa buckeye's picture

Im not sure why we dont play a line up of Ross, Spoon, Sully, Craft and Buford more often.  For that matter throw Amir in there more often.  He is the only big that can block or alter a shot.

 Craft will continue to get beat when the refs call it tight and the "Help d" and I use "Help" lightly never rotates in time to stop an easy lay-up.  

Bottom line is this team can't shoot the ball in the basket and its not even worth getting pissed off about anymore.  Could Ross do any worse?  

RedStorm45's picture

You can't have a starting lineup without D.T. (unless you're just referring to a lineup in general)  Spoon is limited offensively outside of 4 feet and plays about as much defense as Thomas - probably why he hasn't played as much.

tampa buckeye's picture

This isn't my starting line up.  I'm thinking Ross gives you a shooter and Spoon is just a gifted player that needs to see the floor to develop. 

RedStorm45's picture

Gotcha.  I'd love to see Sully get 5-6 minutes at the 4 (preferable with AW at center).  But teams can double whenever they want because there's no 3 point shooter.  That was what was so great last year with Diebs - he could actually feed the post quickly, and then if he just spot up in the corner, his man couldn't double down to Sully.  Easy bucket.

TLB's picture

Team is disappointing.

Nobody can shoot outside.

yeah the refs were bad but hit a couple shots.  if the 3's aren't falling, step in and that a 15 footer.


thaPriNcE614's picture

dont even bring up the refs, they had NOTHING to do with the loss tonight.

TLB's picture

like I said, hit some shots and its a win

OSUNeedles's picture

They had something to do with how aggravating it was to watch the game. This was in the same class as the Purdue football game this year where when we got the extra point blocked & didn't go to overtime, my thought was 'good... We didnt deserve to win that piece of crap anyway.'

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

The refs had nothing to do with the loss like Matta is 100% to blame.....

BuddhaBuck's picture

Ohio State just got another charging foul called against them.

Don't text while driving.

TLB's picture

One more thing....

Am I the only one that noticed the SEC graphic as they put up the halftime stats right at the beginning of the 2nd half?

miller2234's picture

Yes I saw the graphic and I'm sure it was just an honest mistake by a huge television network.... Sarcasm .. I mean that's like cbs flashing a B1G logo during a football game. How deliberate and incompetent that network is is astounding. I am boycotting all games on ESPN and listening to Paul keels from now on.


VestedInterest's picture

I'm a little baffled why we don't foul down 3 with 42 ticks left, got to go with the odds and hope for the best there. They get nothing then we have 7-10 seconds to hit a three which we hadn't done all game worth a shit. Frustrating to say the least.

RedStorm45's picture

Well D.T. was 3-6 from downtown.  And craft could have had 2 or 3 five second calls on Burke, but the officiating crew doesn't know how to count that high.  Should have been a turnover with about 20 seconds to go.  Of course, #44 would have just taken it for a layup with deshaun open on the wing for 3.

Leanenaud's picture

Plain and simple, Buford needs to suck less. Buckeyes win if he can pull out a mediocre performance.

funky123's picture

Can't play WB for 40 minutes when he is not doing anything. Matta can't shoot the ball for these guys but he can try using some of his bench. These guys are good players but not too sure about Scott anymore.

AcrossTheField11's picture

William Buford = very very poor man's Larry Hughes minus perimeter defense.

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

VestedInterest's picture

I really hate to see Willy B play so poorly and leave himself open for so much criticism because he is a great Buckeye, couldn't ask for a nicer guy, but dayum Willy.

Poison nuts's picture

%100 agreed.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

WildMan Leather and Lace's picture

Agreed.  This team goes as Buford goes and he has shown without a shadow of a doubt that he cannot be relied upon.  Throw in absolutely NO GAURD PLAY and you have a team that is anemic offensively.  I love Matta but if he is serious about making a run at the title he needs to make a change.  Don't know if I'am crazy but am I the only person asking WHERE THE FUCK IS ROSS??!!!  KID CAN SHOOT!!!

zbd's picture

Buford has lost all of his basketball IQ. Craft always looks to complain the the refs. Matta is coaching his worst year in the league. The team has no spark or desire.  Early exit in the tournament.

DefendYoungstown's picture

These guys have entitlement issues, they think they are owed something. Sullinger should have left for the NBA last year, this year has really shown how weak he is. The guy has seconds of greatness but has regressed IMO. Not sure what is going on but somebody needs to tell these guys that they "aren't" that good.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

MrMoneypenny's picture

I about lost it when the camera showed Thad demonstrating the proper shooting technique to Buford on the sideline.

Christ, what a mess.

biggy84's picture

Craft is very overrated. He can't score, which gives the opposing defense the ability to double others. He is routinely overmatched every time he plays a better than average PG. His decision making and court awareness leaves a lot to be desired. He is by no means a starting PG on a championship contender.

DT and Sully are the only scoring threats this team has on a consistent basis. Buford is not a leader and plays as if he was pepper sprayed and drunk in any game where the competition is actually competitive.

RedStorm45's picture

I've never seen a PG with such a poor ability to finish at the rim.  

Did anyone think there should have been a TEN second (let alone a FIVE second) call on Burke's drive when we were down 3 at the end? I mean Craft was all over him for 15 seconds, Burke's just dribbling through his legs going nowhere...WTF was that? Do these officials know the rulebook or can they not count? That's about my only officials beef - I could touch on the 5-0 charge calls but whatever, our guards don't jump stop in the lane.  ever.

Jelly's picture

We have talked about it all season, but where is the leader on this team? The guy who will put the team on his back and carry them forward? WB isn't the man, who is? Good teams find that person and ride them at the end of the season.

BTW-Sully needs another big man to step up to the plate and give some effort. The dude can't be hammered and held all night long without some wear and tear. He seemed frustrated, winded and worn out through the game on both ends of the court. Thankfully, he didn't keep on forcing up shots, but the passes out to the perimeter didn't produce anything. Williiams, Ravenel, and others need to step up to the plate.

Also, we better find a way to score on zone defenses that pack it in on Sully or it is going to be an early exit int he tourney. Liked sneaking Thomas into the crease at the elbow for a shot (worked well in the first half).

Finally, La Liga and Duke called, they want their flops back. My 10 year old could knock Jordan Morgan over tonight. That was pathetic.




The Jelly

RedStorm45's picture

You're not going to get it.  Rav is limited offensively (and a foul machine all around).  Williams is still a work-in-progress and has had issues catching the ball early in the season at least.  He's more of a defensive guy anyway.  Sully and Thomas can combine for 40-45, but there is no consistent scorer anywhere else, let alone another big man.

dbit's picture

Felt like Amir Williams played well in the few minutes he was in.  Couple altered/blocked shots, a board or two, and should've gone to the free throw line. 


I really like Smith Jr and Thompson, but they give you the exact same thing.  Above average defense with nothing on offense.  We NEED offense right now.  I hate to say this because I will probably regret it, but give Sibert a shot to get in there and knock down somes 3's.  Or hell, throw Ross out there and let him figure things out.  Better now than during the tourney.


I sort of liken this to Fickell during football season, hesitant to make big changes to his starters, despite their poor performances.  Maybe its time, Thad.

RedStorm45's picture

The ship has sailed on #44.  Sibert's shooting 28% this year...so...yeah.  At this point though, I think Sully and D.T. might be our best 3 point shooters...sad.

dbit's picture

This game showed that we have no one that can beat his man off the dribble and take it to the hole.  Craft can, but he needs a clean look or its blocked.  Smith Jr, Thompson, Buford just swing it around the arc, no one willing to take his man to basket.  Its kind of like when folks say you need to play hard on the defensive end to get your offensive game going.  Well, these guys need to take it to the basket, get fouled, take free throws, to get more confidence for their outside game.

Jdadams01's picture

Bottom line is, Craft is not getting it done offensively as a point guard. Team's have figured him out on that end. He isn't scoring or setting anyone up, so he's basically only in for defense and he got beat when we needed a stop at the end. Twice. I love the guy, but an offense will not be dynamic without good offensive pg play. He's dead weight there.

Honestly, how many of us would not trade him for Burke?

evantosu30's picture

Is it just me or is dt becoming your favorite player to watch? dude seriously hustles for offensive boards like a mad man.. sully needs to stop being such a kid/baby out there.. buford.. im at a loss of words for him. We all know what he can do offensively but his bad moments are becoming way to frequent. I definitely would not trade craft for burke. His defensive ability makes him way to valuable. I wish he didn't miss so many bunnies but the havoc he creates other point guards is such an asset. We are in quite the funk right now. Its painful to watch to be honest because we have all seen what they can do.. alas duke. Matta needs to inspire these kids. Whoever said earlier that it looks like they think they are better than they really are hit it right on the head. Come back down to reality and stop playing like a bunch of whiney girls.

evantosu30's picture

Smith Jr.. good athlete but he just doesn't do much. Other than one game the guy just kind of fades to the background. What about having Williams start in his spot. We have noone who can block shots and he would be someone for kraft to throw it up to for a dun or easy bucket. i know that puts Sullinger against a four but teams are already taking him out of the lane on defense. just a thought

RedStorm45's picture

If you start AW is Buford your 2 and Thomas your 3?? And Sully the 4? You can't just pick a center and have him start for your shooting guard.  Thomas would get torched on defense at the 3...wait, he already is at the 4 so whata does it matter.

evantosu30's picture

I think Williams and sully down low together would create big problems for defenses. sully has been working on his faceup game so him not always being down low could be something that would benefit him. Amir would almost for sure at least score more points than smith but also would alter more shots and get more rebounds. Burke scored a couple times on kraft at the end but that was after he should have had a fifteen second call. Amir down low would have made those good but kinda lucky drives way harder. Kid is an all American and needs to be given a more prominent role

RedStorm45's picture

AW is overrated and was more a product of his high school system than anything.  Very unpolished, had issues catching the ball early in the season.  I don't see a lot of hustle or intensity from him when he's out there, kind of non-chalant about things.  However, Williams>Ravenel and I don't think it's close.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Another "the sky is falling" comment section. Buford was horrible. There were a few bad shots, but there were also good ones that just wouldn't fall.

I don't get why Williams doesn't get more playing time.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

OSUbonobo23's picture

I can't wait to see us win the next game, and then how everyone is back on the bandwagon. Look at every team ahead of tOSU in the polls, they all have flaws. Look at the last few national championship winners, never perfect. Stop bitching about everything so much. We can all see we have some flaws, but it's hardly end of the world stuff. The last few years, we'ver rarely lost when we've played well. Most of our losses come on horrendous shooting nights or games like Indiana where the refs have money on the game, it's a matter of timing when we have the bad games. 

That being said, I'm not sure what is wrong with Buford in big games, but either way, he's a great kid that tries hard.

I put the The, in The Ohio State Univeristy.

RedStorm45's picture

You do realize first place was on the line the last 2 weekends...and we put together our 2 worst performances of the year...just saying...

evantosu30's picture

I don't think its the end of the world by no means.. Doesn't change the fact that they are struggling as a whole and its either a funk they will snap out of or its something more. Maybe a change is needed but maybe not. I just think some tweaking maybe to the starting lineup aka smith Jr could benefit us more come tourney time.. just an opinion

baddogmaine's picture

It's interesting to read the commentary here. While we were winning or taking "good" losses 11W was laregely uncritical and the readers were calling me crazy for saying that the Buckeyes were too easy to guard with only three scorers on the floor, one of them Buford. Now that 11W has declared the team flawed, a word I'd been using for weeks, the readers follow the lead. This doesn't mean anything significant - nothing said in a sports blog will change anything, therefore everything is insignificant, but it is a good demonstration of an unwillingness to think critically.

The Buckeye's offense is in a state of some dessparation, when viewed from the perspective of long range goals. A team with the players and patience to pack the inside essentially shuts us down. Thomas will get his, but otherwise? There are times that Sully should be shooting despite the double abd triple teams, but far too many of his shots now are forced. If he is surrounded other Buckeyes are open and it is hs job to kick the ball out, not feel (righly or wrongly) that there is no reason to kick it out since no one out there can do anything. His job is to play smart, not become a shot hog.

And Lenzelle and other Buckeyes - you know why you were open outside so you could drive? Becuse your guy is inside helping inside. When you drive you are moving away from where you are open to where the defense is waiting. Five charges is selfish baketball.

This does not mean that the Buckeyes are done for the year. In the Big Ten not every team can do what MSU and SCum did. Northwestern and Illinois cannot. Purdue probably will try to generate a track meet again and it probably will not work. But Jordan Taylor is a point guard who can do what Trey Burke did - look for Ryn to spread the floor, really spread the floor, letting Taylor isolate on Craft and see if OSU still fails to provide help defense when Craft gets beaten (which even the best defender will a few times by a strong guard). In addition to these teams still on our schedule in the B1G Indiana could be a problem if they have a reliable point guard by then - they have the other pieces. It now loks almost certain that we will not win the B1G tournament.

We are already off the one-line for the Big Dance. Whether we enter as a 2 or a 3 will depend on how mny losses we take before then. Where we are seeded does matter. Our first game will be against a 14 or 15. A loss here is not likely. But next we will face a 6 or 7, likely a mid-major that can play better than it has been given credit for. In the third round we will almost certainly be an underdog. If we lose as a 3 to a 2 we will not be underperforming against our seed, but when just recently we were arguing that we should be the #1 seed overall this will be another early exit.

This is likely if things continue as they are - we really are too easy to stop. I see only three ways of making things end differently.

1) Hope. Specifcally hope that Buford improves. It could happen. It is very unlikely to happen in six straight games against increasingly difficult competition. And it isn't coaching.

2) The shots that are going to be oipen are the 8-10 foot jumpers that Lighty (and Buford) used to make. Those are the shots Smith - and Scott and Ravanel and Craft and - yes - Buford need to take and make. Matta need not change his game planning just his practice routine. Priority #1 should be having these guys pratice mid-range jumpers with hands in their faces till they drop of exhaustion. Realistically? it's not clear that Matta wants his team to hit those jumpers, and it's not clear that these guys can learn to hit them in the time left. That leaves

3) As unglorious is it was to watch the team that won 33-31 won. Digest that concept. Given our lack of scoring the way to maximize what we have is to slooooow the tempo. Right now we pass the ball till it reaches a "scorer" who shoots, however early in the shot lock, essentially creating turnovers giving the other team extra possessions. Change the idea of who gets to shoot and when. Pass until Sully is actually open or Thomas has a shot he can hit, otherwise keep passing. Getting half a dozen shot clock violations is not appreciably worse than having Sully and Buford going a combined 9 of 26 (with Craft contributing 1 of 6). If we run this and run this then first, we will stop getting shot clock violations as we get beter at it and second, defenses will break down and Buford and even Smith and Craft will get shots with less pressure on them. If you play an offensive game plan that only needs 55-60 points to win you can ge by with Thomas and Sully getting 15 each and hoping to get 25 from everyone else combined.

With all due respect to Seth Davis who knows infinitely more about basketball than I do lack of depth does matter, and it matters BIG for OSU this year. Last year was not as big a problem because our five mainstays contributed essentially everything a team needed, and was experienced to play different styles. This year's team does not have that. Depth is important not just when a player is injured or in foul trouble. It mattered last year when Buford could not be subbed even for three minutes against KY to get some calming and coaching and so was left in to shoot us down. Same thing happened last night. But depth also provides flexibility. Imagine Thomas trying to play defense against Missouri - the best way to play the Tigers is to match their quickness. We can't do it, we don't have the guards. If we are getting crushed on the glass we would need to get bigger. Last year we could bring in Lauderdale. This year? At end of game, nursing a small lead, you need good ball hadlers and good free throw shooters. What five Buckeyes do you want on the floor? We simply do not have the players to make in-game adjustments, or even pre-game adjustments in a fast-tempo mode. The best chance we have to maximize what our only five players can give us is to slow the tempo.

Calling me crazy will make you feel good for a few minutes but will offer no long-term satisfaction. Tell me in basketball terms why I'm wrong.


Is it Saturday Yet's picture

TLDR -- really wish you could hit your points quicker because you have good ones

Chris Lauderback's picture

Don't know if I've used the word flawed before or not but I think we've talked about issues with defending the three, Craft/Smith not giving the team enough, the lack of any punch off the bench, Buford's no shows in big games, the team playing selfish and not have mental toughness etc on many occasions. Love your points, as usual though. 


baddogmaine's picture

Chris - Dial this back to the second Nebraska game. Everyone was basking in the euphoria of an easy win. I was one of the very few who asked then what Matta's rotation did for our long term health. Most readers attacked me for never being happy with anything, and I don't recall anyone from 11W suggesting that I might have made a worthwhile point. It's pretty easy to see now what happens when you are an incomplete team with no substitutes, but I suggest that 11W will be even better than it is now if it looks critically at even the wins. Because often the wins say as much about the future as do the losses.


Joe Beale's picture

BDM, I have agreed with you all season about how the coach should use his bench more. Truth be told, I've been on Matta for this ever since his 2nd season, when he refused to sub for Matt Sylvester despite the fact that Sly was only about 50% due to his back problems. The fact is that Matta simply does not like to play his bench, although he's played it more this season than I've ever seen him do before. It's a problem, but I don't think it's the fatal flaw of the team.

When I compare last season with this one, most of the players have actually improved their shooting percentage from last season, with the one big exception of Buford. Craft is shooting 48% this year vs. 46% last season, Sully is at 55% vs 54%, Thomas 52% vs 48%. Smith is shooting 46.2%, which is comparable to Lighty's 46.8% from a year ago. The big difference is that OSU has been absolutely wretched from beyond the arc this season, and Buford especially bad. Thomas and Craft are basically shooting the way they did last year from distance, but Buford is down from 44% to 36%. And of course, the team has no 3-point threat comparable to Diebler. In fact, the only Buckeye who is over 40% from distance is Sullinger. Compare this with a team like Duke, where the foursome of Curry, Rivers, Dawkins, and Kelly collectively shoot around 40% from distance and you can see the disadvantage that OSU has given themselves.  

All of this begs the question: why is Buford having such a bad season compared to last year? And why is it that guys who can make other kinds of shots cannot make 3-pointers? It's understandable that someone like Sibert who rarely sees the floor might shoot a low percentage just because he's out of practice. But what about the other guys? My theory is that they simply are not moving the ball around enough and as a result the shots they're getting are usually under duress. The offense lately hasn't had much of a flow to it, and I'm wondering if the MSU loss has gotten into their heads a bit. But in general the impotence beyond the arc has been a problem this whole season and the coach needs to do something to address it. If this is not fixed, other teams will simply pack it in the middle and dare OSU to beat them from outside.  

baddogmaine's picture

Buford performed reasonably well for the most part this year against weaker teams. He has struggled against better teams. The quick answer is that Buford does better against weaker defenses. Strong defense is not just hand right in the face. Strong defense is bumping guys off their routes, making them work harder, hedging, ec. The better the competition the more disruption Buford is facing, and it is throwing him off his game. Last year defenses had to play pick-your-poison and Buford likely had an easier time of it. Our problem is that the competition is not going to get easier as the year gets more meaningful.

The numbers for Craft and Smith don't mean that much because Craft does not shoot much (and while comparing this year's numbers with last year's says something I'd like to see how his numbers this year against "good" teams compare with his numbers against "weak" teams), and Smith shot even less last year when it matters than he does this year. It's just not fair to compare Smith's 46% with Lighty's because while a low percentage of a high number of shots is a large number of "turnovers" a reasonable percentage applied to a low number of shots as opposed to a high number of shots is points off the scoreboard. Defenses had to guard Lighty because his 46% could beat them - they can ignore Smith because his 46% probably won't matter. And Sullinger's numbers may be up slightly over the year they are dippoing fast as teams figure out how to defend him and he forces rather than distributes.

The absence of a bench is not fatal only if the game production changes or what is needed in a game changes. Because if you can't change players and the point total your starters contribute is lower at the final bell than the other team's total you lose. And in March that is fatal. Last year we could reasonably expect our Big Five to outrscore the opponent. This year we can not expect that as long as we play the standard Matta offense.

Joe Beale's picture

The simple explanation for Buford only holds up in B1G play, but the danger signs were there long before the conference season. He had a pretty good game against #4 Duke, but very poor games against bad teams like Jackson State, Texas-Pan American, South Carolina, and Lamar. He also struggled against Iowa in conference play. I understand him having a 4/15 game at Wisconsin, but what accounts for all of these other struggles? Even in the first Nebraska game, when he shot 6/11 overall, he was 0/5 from 3P range. There's something deeper going on with Buford that defies easy explanations.

Yes, it's true that Craft doesn't shoot a lot, but he's shooting more this season than last. And also, the guys that shoot a lot (Sullinger and Thomas) are also shooting better this season. If you take Craft, Smith, Thomas, and Sullinger collectively, they are shooting a percentage that is comparable to what Sully, Thomas, Craft, and Lighty did collectively last season. The biggest difference is Buford's decline and the loss of Diebler.

baddogmaine's picture

If  it's mechanics for Buford Matta should have been on it. He definitely should not be playing Buford 35+ minutes a game every game if there is an identifiable problem. What are the other possible causes? Just a wild guess, but don't know what else it is, the absence of Diebler may wel be affecting Buford's mindset. He could hit from the outside while he knew that he did not need to, that was Jon's job; and the year before Turner was The Show; but this year he's not dealing well with the pressure of being "the guy." He may be a player who sets the world on fire when he doesn't feel pressure but cracks when he does. Some games he cracks worse than others.

Regardless, at this point I think the burdon is on Matta to change the team flow so that Buford does not feel like he has to contribute as much. To me the problem shifted some time ago from a player who was not performing well to a coach who seemed to not care. It's one of those possible ironies - the more Matta changes offensive strategy so that Buford (and others) do not need to score as much, the easier it may become for Buford to score.

themostbrian's picture

Brilliant. 100% Agreed.

RedStorm45's picture

2 points...1) No one wants to read the length of an ESPN article.  2) No one really cares that you "saw this coming" blah blah blah.  Can you get mad at the fans who were basking in a 22 point win over Duke? They see the potentially, but obviously no team is perfect and everyone is seeing that with this team over the last 2 months.

evantosu30's picture

Givin the direction this team is going seems like slowing down would definitely give us a better chance to win even though the thought of playing wiscy bball makes me cringe. It would save players from foul trouble (if we can figure out what a jump stop is) and save energy for our seven deep. Its just tough to acknowledge that this is the route we have to take after seeing what we did at duke and knowing what we are capable of.

imneverwrong's picture

The problem once again was Buford.  He is the key which many people have said all year long.  I can understand him having an off night here and there but the problem is that when he is off, he just keeps shooting and often times they are forced shots not in the flow of the offense.  He isn't a great defender so when he is off it hurts us all over the court and you can tell he is out of his game.

The past two losses have been frustrating all around for the Buckeyes.  Both games had bad officiating, but it was bad both ways in my eyes. Bodies flying around and all kinds of contact on plays with no calls and then touch fouls getting called at other times.  I guess it was consistent, but it was consistently bad and that officiating does change the game because the players have to change the way they play.


All in all I think the Buckeyes are still fine. This is a tough time of the year and they need to battle through it and grow as a team. They need to find the offensive flow again that they had earlier in the year and they can be a scary team once again come March.

baddogmaine's picture


The problem once again was Buford.

No,the problem is an offense that gives Buford a never-changing green light and 40 minutes of playing time. The Buford who moved up the ranks of OSU scoring leaders was a role player who benefitted from his teammates. That guy has not proven himself as a leader this year except in the minds of fans and commentators stuck in the past.  He hit the biggest shot of the game v. Wisconsin, but we needed that shot because before that he was something like 2-13 which is why we were still in trouble at the end.

When someone goes 2-13 in a game it is a player issue. When someone goes 3-12 for the (what is it?) 6th time in a year it is a coaching issue. You don't blame a 6'2" guy who can't defend the opposing center. In fact you don't even ask him to do it. And there is no point in blaming Buford for not being the smooth scorer he stopped being with our last game last March, if not before. Yes he has had good games, but Smith scored 29 once too and it doesn't make a lot more sense to expect Buford to score against good defenses than it does Smith. Buford does have skills, it is Matta's job to fit them into a game plan. Until Matta makes the necessary coaching adjustments every game in which Buford shoots under 40% AND takes more than 10 shots is Matta's fault.

BuckeyeChris's picture

It just seems to me that we don't run many, if any, set plays.  What I see is a team where one guy has the ball and 4 other guys are staring at him. It can't be hard to defend that. I have noticed this, and the fact that there are never penalties for rushed/poor shot selection.  

Is Norman Dale available?

All that said, a collective..."chillax" is in order. This team is very talented. They could just as well catch fire in March and make a run. Or, they could lose to Boston College (or the ilk) in the second round. 

SilverBullet33's picture

Damn the bandwagon just got roomy. I came here to complain but some of you are clearly only here for the good times.

buckeye defender's picture

i wonder if shannon scott's dad is still gonna complain about his playing time.

scarlet and gray every day...

LouGroza's picture

One thing that will change come tourney time is the fact that teams will not be given a free pass to beat the shit out of Sullinger the entire game. It will change the flow of the game. Consider the absolute mugging the B1G has allowed nightly on him. Still say Smith Jr. is a liability. The 29 points was once in a lifetime. His ball handling is terrible and his passes get flung seemingly without looking at times and are hard to handle. He plays D but thats it. If Matta will just sit Buford for 5 minutes it would help on off nights. Really like Amir Williams progress.

baddogmaine's picture

Don't count on Sully ruling the paint in March. He got totally neutralized last year by a guy who had never been much more than potential. Refs in the Dance are guys who reffed during the year, many from other power leagues where no blood is no foul. And everyone knows that Sullinger is a big guy who can handle it. Games are going to get called like Indiana 1 (hard breathing draws a whistle) and like last night where bodies that fall down are expected to get up. Sullinger will get mugged, often without being fouled. Our offense is not designed to create openings or mismatches for Sullinger - it essentially consists of passing until Sullinger gets himself between his primary defender and the ball and then feeding him. And because of the way our offense functions teams are finding it too easy to help on Sully as soon as he does get the ball. If our offense encourages  Sullinger to shoot whenever he gets the ball he is going to have too many games of shooting at or below 45% (which is really dreadful for a big guy) because he's shooting when he isn't in good position.

Based on what we are seeing this year Sullinger probably should have left last year. He is now being exposed as not big enough for center, possibly not mobile enough for forward in the League. And the recent bouts of selfishness will not help his perception as a team player. He's a great guy but he might not have the right package to hold a lottery position.

thatlillefty's picture

@LOUGROZA agree with all of your points... i don't normally complain about refs but it's been terrible this season. Sully should definitely get more looks from the line come tourney time

buckeye70's picture



The atmosphere in College Park will be crazy because at lease 40 % on the stadium will be Buckeye fans. Go Bucks

headina's picture

I was at the game and have never seen refs dictate a game like that. It was ridiculous to see them play grab ass with the players pre-game, and with brady joke when he was announced during a TV timeout. 7 charge calls vs. 0?


RBuck's picture

Are you saying that the refs were interacting with Hoke at halftime? If that's true, Delaney should look into this (and the officiating overall).

Long live the southend.

headina's picture

He was announced at a TV timeout. While he walked off the court he went to one of the refs, put his arm around him, had a chat, and patted him on the back/ass not sure which.


Statutoryglory's picture

Why does Buford continue to play 40 min every big game despite disappearing.  Why not give Laquinton Ross 5min a half to see what he can do.  The guy is clearly the best offensive player of our freshmen.  Our issue is offense, not defense.

thatlillefty's picture

"The guy is clearly the best offensive player of our freshmen."

what are you basing that on?

Buckeye Black's picture

This team is regressing when it should be peaking.  I hope we get another shot at those bums in the B1G tourney.

Northbrook's picture

At times early this year this team was a well oiled machine. I haven't seen any of that n quite a while. What happened? Why have they regressed?

Jdadams01's picture

Craft stopped getting to the rim and setting other guys up. That's honestly it. Look at Crafts assist and scoring totals. I don't think it's all Craft's fault as Matta seems to be hoping for players to get hot rather than running an offense (specifically Buford). But right now our offense is playing 3 on 5, with Smith and Craft bringing barely any threat to the table. Until craft gets back to driving consistently to draw defenders or dishing to a cutter, this offense will continue to struggle. He is the ignition and nothing is happening. And for those who say his D is worth it, not as much the last two weeks. His steal and deflection numbers are down and he's just simply not forcing turnovers/ taking teams out of their game plan. Teams are just high screening him or avoiding him and it's opening up the lane. And his defense is still good, but not enough to warrant our whole offense sputtering.

buckeye70's picture

Perhaps instead of having a shoot around before a game the Buckeyes should have a drive around and post up with the bigs.  There is a need to drive more.  Like having Williams and Ravenal at the center and let Sully and Weatherspoon play the 4.  Don't hear any realsuggestions on rotation or changes just whinning.  


The atmosphere in College Park will be crazy because at lease 40 % on the stadium will be Buckeye fans. Go Bucks

Tanner's picture

I think this team is going to look a lot better when it gets into the tourney and it's not facing Big 10 teams every game. There's so much familiarity with these teams and the defenses are so good it's making this team look worse than it is (although it is obviously a flawed team.)

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

This team can't hit open shots and are still in every game.

tampa buckeye's picture


The ball movement wasn't great but when it comes down to it they missed 9 open three's in the first half.  

Maybe they need to just take some days off from practice and simply shoot around.  

Side note thought the refs let every michigan player that drove push off with the off arm to create space (burke).  That would normally be fine if they allowed Craft to push back.  Also the charge calls were out of hound.

RedStorm45's picture

Anyone know the rule on officials for the NCAA tournament? Like if we play a conference USA team, do the officials have to be from a conference other than the big 10 or C-USA? I don't know how that all works, if crews are designated by conference or they do all conferences.  If we don't have Valentine or Hightower (and their crews), then I think we'll start getting more hack/hug/grab calls.  Plus, the sites will be "neutral" aka Valentine won't have a home crowd to play to or against.

DMcDougal24's picture

Everyone raves about Craft's on-the-ball defense. I'm not stupid, I see it, but he is completely overrated. He gambles too much, which leads to easy points, and he can be nullified by a switch. Counter that with his complete lack of production on offense and you have an average to below average point guard. It would be different if he were more of a facilitator, but he only had three assists and it's not like he's doing well in that category on the season either. Look at Kendall Marshall. That's a point guard.

He can't make shots, he can't put others in positions to make shots, and he loses the 1-on-1 matchup nearly every game. 

I'm not calling for Scott to be in because he is no better, but stop this love affair with Aaron Craft (not to anyone in particular, just the Buckeye fan base). 

awwwwwwop's picture

Remember the poll where more people wanted Aaron Craft than Mike Conley?

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

call me crazy...but am i the only one that feels like losing like this during the season is a good thing?


We can all hate Matta when this team is down, but the man is a hell of a coach..period..you can't tell me by the time the tourney comes around he hasn't examined absolutely everything from these losses  and does make adjustments to help this team in the time when it is most important...

like i said call me crazy but i hope i'm right

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Ethos's picture

problem is we've seen ZERO improvement through the year and zero changes to the bench/starting players to shake things up a bit.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I'd find this plausible if Matta's teams had any history of peaking in March, but the opposite has been true--we're usually the victims of those teams that have "made adjustments."

Considering that "throw a few passes and chuck a three" is Matta's default offense, you'd think he would have taken more care to recruit more guys who can shoot. Or, you know, one guy like that.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Ethos's picture

looks like I should be happy I missed the game...

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

zbd's picture

How did Buford get worse? Maybe last year's Kentucky game was his norm. It looks like a 3 man team of Sully, Craft and Thomas.

Seabass1974's picture

It seems as though the team just isn't learning between games. They are not regressing but not learning from their mistakes in previous games either. I feel that is on both the coaches and the players.


One simple formula for wins is to feed the hot hand and go to it often no matter who it is. It seemed like that was Thomas last night but it didn't seem like they were feeding him the ball as much as they could have.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

This team is so talented, but can't seem to play through pathetic officiating.  Granted, if Ted Valentine never refereed a basketball game again, I would be totally stoked.  I'd even settle for officials making the same calls/no calls both ways.  We seem to not have as many issues when that jackass is not officiating our games.  I just don't think our team is mentally tough enough to handle close games.  They are more than talented enough to blow away teams like Duke, Florida, etc. when they're on top of their game.  But when the game is close, we almost never seem to come away with the win, at least this season.  It seems like the offensive gameplans are too predictable (hmm, wonder where we've heard/said that before).  I think that partially explains shooting struggles by Buford and especially Sullinger.  These guys need to figure out how to make shots.  Some want to criticize Matta - when Matta starts taking and missing shots, let me know, and I'll jump in on that with you all.  The only thing I wish Matta would do is to get a T to fire up the team. 

Edit:  And just to clarify, Matta is definitely not blame-free.  Obviously, there are some underlying issues with either work ethic, attitude, or both on this team, and I'm not sure exactly how much he is trying to do about it or how much he can do about it.  I agree with Seabass, too - it seems like this team is not learning from a damn thing.  They haven't learned from MSU - it felt like this game was a repeat of that game, in a different arena and against a lesser opponent. 

Class of 2010.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

I think the bottom line for me for last nights game is that one of the two teams on the floor really wanted that game - unfortunately they weren't wearing scarlet and grey.  That's another concern for this team, imo.

buckeyenut10's picture

The more I read the comments from this basketball season, the more i start to dislike this fanbase. The MOMENT some negatives show people start pointing fingers and calling for heads.


Thad Matta- Before you start throwing him under the bus because you think it's cool, look at Ohio State Basketball before he was here. There is no argument against that. Ohio State was practically a nobody until this man put us on the map EVERY YEAR.


Aaron Craft- Are you kidding me? You think he's awful/overrated/would prefer others? Did you see what S. Scott did against Trey when Craft was out? NOTHING. Aaron Craft is, without a doubt, the best on ball defender in the NCAA. The kid hustles EVERY SECOND OF EVERY GAME. Yeah, he isn't the flashy PG that a lot of people like (Trey Burke), but I'd still take him over any other PG in the country right now. Seriously, the kid flat out SHUTS DOWN opposing players. What he lacks in making points on offense, he MORE than makes up for in preventing the opposing team from scoring (which is just as good in my book).

Sullinger- "He's soft/overrated" Sweet god, are you from Kansas? You realize how many teams would love to call a game where their big man scored 11 points a major disapointment? The kid is a great guy, a huge team player, and has more dedication for what he loves than most of you commentors combined. Have you ever tried losing 20 lbs in about 4 months? He did. He thought it would make him better and help the team. What have you done in your life lately?


Seriously, I'm sick of reading all this end of the world crap. This is still a very good team. I just hope they can turn it around in time for the tournament. A loss ON THE ROAD to a team that is perfect at home this year isn't the end of the world.