Size 'Em Up

By Johnny Ginter on March 26, 2012 at 11:00a
Forever awesome

Last month, most of us were predicting that Ohio State had maybe a 50/50 chance of getting to the Sweet 16, where they were likely to be dispatched by a Big East team riding the hot hand of a gangly looking white guy who had been scoring 9.7 points per game but decided to hit 10 threes in a row or something equally infuriating.

And I think we had made our peace with that! I mean, look, March Madness is a fickle mistress. Even the greatest coaches of all time rarely win more than one or two championships over the course of careers that span decades, and so what if this year wasn't the year? February, when the Buckeyes lost three games in just over two weeks (including two at the Schott), had put the nail in the coffin that was Ohio State's NCAA hopes, as Jared Sullinger bemoaned the team's lack of maturity and Thad Matta had to throw the team out of practice. It sucked, but if the past year in college sports has taught us anything, it's that life isn't in any way fair.

Of course, now it's March 26th and the Bucks are in the Final Four, having achieved a successful season and playing with house money.

So really the lesson that I think I'm starting to learn is that once March starts, pretty much nothing that came before it matters. Ask Louisville. The Cardinals lost 4 of their last 6 regular season games, but find themselves the winners of the West Regionals after getting luke warm and finding ways to win ugly game after ugly game. On the other hand, don't ask Kentucky, who has been straight up dominant, aside from a loss against Vandy they seemed more than a little disinterested in. But you can ask Kansas, who lost to Baylor in the Big 12 tourney and then eeked out games against Purdue and NC State before blowing out a hobbled UNC team.

In any case, though all four teams took different paths to the Final Four, the do share a number of commonalities; as we'll see today, defense rules (and is pretty much the only reason why Louisville was even invited to the party), but that isn't the only statistical item of importance between these teams. Because of that, the Final Four games may get extremely ugly, which should put a smile on your face.

Let's go back to Louisville. Ken Pomeroy has them ranked as the number 1 defensive team in the country, which is good because he also has them ranked as the 101st offensive team in the country. The Cardinals' stifling D allowed them to hold both Cincinnati and Michigan State to 44 points in March, which is not a lot of points but is also a little like telling a lactose intolerant guy he can't eat cottage cheese anymore.

Their secret is that they contest everything. Louisville is a relentless team on defense, and that constant pressure can lead to a lot of mistakes by their opponent. This is important, because unlike a number of other teams that rely on their defense for success, Louisville doesn't strive to shorten the game by limiting possessions. In fact, they average slightly more possessions per game than the NCAA average, but their defense forces so many bad shots (which effectively become the same thing as a turnover), that they are able to stay in games despite an often crappy offense. An example: remember that four of six they lost to finish the season? In none of those games did they give up more than 60 points.

Offensively they really have issues; only two players average more than 10 points per game, and one, Russ Smith, takes over 35% of UL's shots with only an overall .359 field goal percentage to show for it. It's rough.

Will he be able to elevate?

On the other hand, Kentucky has a ridiculous 6 players who average over 10 points per game, and five of them have scored more than 20 points at least once this year. The one who hasn't, Darius Miller, has scored 19 points four times this year, including in both of the last two games in the tourney. With the exception of Doron Lamb, who hits about 47% of his threes, they aren't an amazing perimeter team, but their inside presence with Anthony Davis is completely ridiculous.

And inside is where their defense shines. Davis averages 4.6 blocks per game, and at least in part because of this, Kentucky was probably the best team at defending 2 point shots in the country this year. Offensively Kentucky doesn't really need Davis, but he really is their identity on defense. With him hobbled, Baylor was able to make (something resembling) a run at Kentucky in the second half of their regional semi-final game. It should be noted that as tough as UK is on the inside, they don't cause a lot of turnovers; a team that can rebound, especially on the offensive glass, has a shot against them, as does a team that can attack them on the perimeter. Louisville isn't particularly good at either of those things, but if Davis is hurt then that changes the entire complexion of that game.

Kansas, OSU's opponent, is alike the Buckeyes in a lot of ways. Thomas Robinson is very similar statistically to Jared Sullinger, and typically carries the load with regard to rebounding for the Jayhawks. Tyshawn Taylor is a terrific guard in his own right, averaging 16.6 points per game, but in the first matchup against OSU he only managed 9 points. Craft and Taylor should be at each other all game.

But again, Kansas wins on the basis of their excellent defense. Pomeroy lists their Effective 2 point FG% at 40 percent, the best in the country, and they have done very well in the NCAA tourney in terms of allowing points overall. They average around 7 steals per game, the same as Ohio State (!), and also manage a block on nearly 15% of their opponents' possessions (compared to 9% for OSU). It should be pointed out that Ohio State is at this point a vastly underrated offensive team, but in the upcoming game it is definitely going to be strength on strength, as OSU is only slightly a better three point shooting team than Louisville, who flat out sucks at it.

There are a ton of stats that you can go through for the next few games; blocks, points per possession, effective defensive FG%, dollars per inflated SAT score, etc., but in my opinion, the teams that will win are the teams that have consistently shown their ability to be dominant defensively in the paint. What does that mean for Louisville? Well, it means they're screwed.

But more importantly, what does it mean for the Buckeyes? It means they Jared Sullinger needs to play out of his mind, Deshaun needs to continue to be awesome, Lenzelle needs to keep making clutch threes, and most importantly, William Buford needs to start shooting better than the .295 he's been averaging during the tournament. If that happens, look out. If not, we start writing about spring football.


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deadbuckeyeinthelake's picture

its  all coming together  as planned,rematch with kansas then  kentucky for  all the marbles.



"Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!"

ArTbkward's picture

I know it's been said but so far the Buckeyes have done very, very well in revenge games.  Perhaps losing early to Kansas was a blessing in disguise.  We can't forget Sully spent a year looking at Brandon Knight's winning shot for UK in his bathroom, if UK and OSU both move on that will most certainly be a revenge game too.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Matt's picture

I have to imagine that Ohio State is the last team that KY wants to see in the final.  Sure, KY fans will crow about how they'd love to beat the Bucks two years in a row, but the last thing you want is an extremely hungry, revenge minded team with nothing to lose, packing an All-American post presence, an elite PG, an X-factor SF playing out of his mind, a glue-guy defender peaking at the right time, and a streaky NBA grade shooter who is hell-bent on redemption against this particular team and long overdue for a breakout game.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see Matta throw a curve ball and give Williams some minutes alongside Sully, should we make it to the final, which would disrupt what KY wants to do defensively.  Here's hoping we take care of business versus the Jayhawks to get that chance. 

Johnny Ginter's picture

ohio state really does matchup the best against UK, mainly because of the threat of outside shooting. with that said, i really don't like the matchup of sully and davis. he's pretty much the prototype of every player that has infuriated jared over the course of the season, and his insane shot blocking skeelz make the situation that much harder for him.

people are going to say this all week, but buford HAS to get going. keep in mind that his 29.5% FG shooting INCLUDES loyola, where he was 5-11. the one saving grace here is that thomas is a unique mid range offensive threat, and if he keeps slamming the boards (34 during the tourney so far), he'll be a game changer

Matt's picture

Agreed, and I have no illusions that Sully is going to somehow own the NPOY/defensive player of the year on the block, but Sully will occupy at least Davis, and probably two KY defenders, at all times.  If Sully can make crisp passes out of the post once the double comes and if ball movement is emphasized in the offense, I think OSU would eventually find the open man, and its then up to that player to knock down shots.  I'd imagine that Gilchrist would be on Buford, which would be a tough matchup for WB, but I do like Thomas's chances against Terence Jones, who could struggle containing DT's skill set.  Teague seems to be a weaker link in KY's team, too, so Craft would have to show up on the offensive end as well.  

djidell's picture

Wait..we're playing Kansas right???

Jdadams01's picture

Honestly, I like the way Sully matches against Davis as long as Sully doesn't try to go straight over him. If Sully can consistently get a foot in the lane when he gets the inbound pass, he weight and strength advantage will give Davis fits. He'd have no shot of pushing Sully off the block and Sully is probably the best post player in college ball as far as post positioning. Now, not saying I expect Davis to get dominated because he will have some blocks in this game. Sully just needs to go in understanding that.

Alex Root's picture

I like Matt's idea of putting Amir in with sully at times, I think that would be really good because Amir can score a little and who would guard him? If davis matches up with im Sully can take who ever guards him, the only problem with that is either sully's or amir's defense they don't match up good against anyone on Kentucky's team, But if they did that I would have Thomas, craft with them and either buford and smith Jr. I don't know if Matta plays a Zone but with Amir and sully in the game that woudln't be a bad time to play a zone against them. I know they can hit the 3 but I don't believe they are that great at it.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

If the Buckeyes face UK and they were able to get to about the 6 minute mark of the 1H with, say, 3 or 4 team fouls (not in the bonus), they should bring in Amir for a few minutes, if no other reason than to try to rough up and frustrate Davis (taking a page from that p.o.s. Harrelson from last year).  

djidell's picture

Did the schedule change?  I thought we were playing Kansas..

Alex Root's picture

Having said all that OSU has a tough game against Kansas but I think OSU can win this, we played them very well without sully before. They did win by 8 or so but it was close all game till the end so I have no worries that OSU can and should win this game.

Doc's picture

I'm sorry to break up the party on how we would match up with KY.  We still have to play Kansas!  Looking ahead is bad mojo.  Last week we were full of hate over UC.  We didn't look ahead to 'Cuse/Wisky.  We have got to stay focused on the task at hand.  Looking ahead is fun, especially this week with a possible NC game birth, but Kansas deserves our full attention.  I'm hoping the team is focusing on KU and not looking ahead themselves.  Just my $0.02.

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TBDBITL0509's picture

^ This. KU will be tough enough, so let's talk about them. No need to get the mojo stacked against us!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I don't believe in mojo. Absolutely, the team must focus 110 percent on KU. But it doesn't matter if the fans want to talk about UK, unless you suspect that the team regularly reads 11W to get pumped up for practices and games (maybe they do?).  

TBDBITL0509's picture

I won't assume they read 11W (but one can hope). Maybe I'd like to think our fans can emulate a little of that "cool guys" vs. "blue collar" mentality Sully talked about. Focus the energy of the fanbase on KU, then let's deal with UK.

If nothing else, it makes my superstitious arse feel a little better!

Doc's picture

Superstition is what drove me to make my original post.  If the fan base over looks KU, why not the team?  Don't lose sight of the prize by looking around and dreaming.


I think Kansas could give us fits.  They play good defense and move the ball well on offense.  Tank and Craft will be their reliable selves (I hope).  Hopefully Sully keeps from getting frustrated and here is to hoping Buford doesn't take the entire tournament off.

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The Vest-er's picture

I'm not superstitious.  I am a little stitious- Michael Scott'd

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

Denny's picture

DeShaun Thomas is our version of a playoff goalie in heat. It's all happening at exactly the right time.


Run_Fido_Run's picture

Some time this week, a Buckeye fan will pass out after a late-night White Castle run and start dreaming . . .  

The Buckeyes are up 14 pts with 35 seconds to go in the NCG. DT went completely en fuego, lighting up UK with 33 pts of silky smoothness.

This is when the dream takes a bizarre turn . . . 

Right before taking his curtain call, DT goes Rashard Mendenhall on the poor fool who couldn't guard him all night.

Dean's picture

He goes Rashard Mendenhall?

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Florida matched up well against Louisville because they play fast, excellent in transition, take good care of the bball, one of the best 3-pt shooting teams in the country. They made 8-20 against Louisville and were up 65-54 with 8 minutes left in the game.

UK is also very good in transition and takes good care of the ball, but they were 212th in 3-pt FGs this year.

Basically, Louisville - which has a mediocre offense - needs one of those games when they shoot out their minds and execute their offense at an uncharacteristically high level. It can happen, although it's unlikely (the most extreme example was Villanova in the 1985 final game).

If so, and Louisville can magically generate like 65-70 pts, they might pull the upset. Louisville held UK to 69 pts in the earlier matchup, even though they got out-RB'd 49-28 in Lexington. As long as they don't got pummeled on the boards again, no reason Louisville can't hold UK to mid-60s or lower. Before the Florida game, Louisville had held 11 of 12 opponents under 60 pts.

The question is whether Louisville can score 60 pts against UK. Ordinarily, no.

btalbert25's picture

Florida was killing that matchup zone that Louisville runs, it wasn't til Pitino switched it to man to man and Florida still kept bombing up shots, but this time contested shots that the tide turned.  They made 70 percent of their threes in the first half.  When Louisville switched to man and started generating turnovers they got more shot attempts and despite not shooting great from the floor, they made a lot of baskets down the stretch to ice the Gators.

They can't afford to get behind to Kentucky, and if they allow Lamb and a guy like Miller to take those wide open 3's that Florida was getting, they'll hit them all day long. 

That said, I think that Louisville has a shot.  Siva and Smith have been tough to get the ball up the court on.  Dieng has improved a lot through out the season and he's a 7 foot shot blocker, who can also hit a mid range jumper.  I think he and Davis could have a nice matchup in this game.  The one guy who has really seemed to get better each game for UofL is Bohanan.  I think he could be a real impact player.  IF and it's a big one, Louisville can stay out of foul trouble and force some turnovers, I think Bohanan and Dieng could score down low, giving Kuric, Smith, and Siva, some open looks from the perimeter.  Those shots start to fall and it could be an entertaining game.  The thing about UK is, all those IFs and Maybes have to happen, and you'll still need them to have an off night shooting as well.  '

I absolutely think Pitino kills Cal when it comes to X's and O's.  He'll have a gameplan for Kentucky, just not sure if he has the talent to do it or not.  All that being said people have been picking against Louisville since the first game of the Big East tournament and they keep proving everyone wrong.  They could just be on one of those magical runs.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Good analysis. I didn't watch UK that often this year. After reading your comment, I looked at 3-pt FG percentage and UK was efficient when they did shoot threes. 

I suspect that they had such an easy time scoring inside there was less reason for them to bomb from the outside - taking a high percentage layup or dunk (2 pts * 0.75 percentage = 1.5) is better than shooting an open three (3 pts * 0.40 percent = 1.2). And Ohio State, UNC, and MSU, for example, had even fewer threes per game than UK.

Still, it's a bit out of character for UK to launch 20 threes against Louisville simply because that's what Lousville is giving them. IMO, Louisville should make 'em prove they can hit 40 percent of those threes. UK was 3-16 in the first meeting.

Louisville is disruptive enough to force UK, despite its good ball handling, into 12+ TOs, but that's not enough. They need not to get killed on the boards AND they must force UK to beat them from the outside.

In addition to that, they also need to play as well as they can offensively. Not asking much, right?      

btalbert25's picture

Ha ha, No kidding.  I agree it would be uncharacteristic for them to launch 20 3's per game, the problem is just about everyone of their guys, including Davis, can knock down wide open 3's.  They have so many guys capable of taking the ball to the basket though that, they  just don't need to shoot that man 3's.  Even Lamb is pretty good off the dribble. 

The boards are key, and I think that's a big difference for Louisville from the first time they played til now.  Louisville is much improved on the boards.  Bohanan is becoming a beast and I just think Dieng is a star in the making.  I'm really impressed with how far his game has come.  He's not Davis, no one is, but I do think he can be disruptive to Kentucky's penetration.  I hate using this term, but maybe he's a poor man's Davis.  He has similarities, he's just not as good.  Pitino kind of laughed it off when someone compared him to Davis the other day.  He said Dieng has played well, but you'll never confuse him with Davis.  I think if he stays out of foul trouble though, he could help throw UK off their game a bit and make it more of a jump shooting game instead of the "lob city" dunks to Davis and Jones.  Gilchrest may not be able to dominate like he has the last 2 games too. 

They need a lot of things to go their way that's for sure, but I'm pulling for them.  I just love the Pitino factor too.  Cal has had trouble in the tournament against coaches who are better at X's and O's than he is.  Pitino fits that category, Cal just has so much talent I don't know if he can even screw this one up.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

How does Louisville stack up with UK in terms of pure athleticism, speed, quickness, hops?

I ask because when Memphis in the 2007 NCAA regional finals met a team with equal athleticism, we discovered they really couldn't play fundamentally-sound defense. They had relied on pure athleticism to shut down most of their opponents, but against Ohio State, they were constantly out of position and ended up foling the Buckeyes 29 times in a 76-92 loss! Prior to that game, Memphis' defensive statistics were stellar, because they could simply outrun, out-quick, and out-jump most of the teams they'd played.

Now, this UK team is more talented and probably more fundamentally sound than the 2006-07 Memphis team, but it would be interesting to watch them play a team with similar athleticism.

btalbert25's picture

Overall, I'd think Louisville will be able to get up and down the court just fine with them.  I mean Pitino is notorious for having insane conditioning and workouts that push players to the brink of quitting or leaving the team.  So, stamina and conditioning wise, they are pretty good at holding up and usually they are a team that tries to wear down the other team.  That's always been his mantra.  Get his guys in the best shape so when there's 10 minutes left in a game and the other team is getting tired, his guys are still running full speed. 

 Jones, Gilchrest and Davis are insane athletes. I don't know, outside of UNC if anyone has that much athleticism on the floor at once.  I don't think people realize how good Jones is or could be.  If he were on a team like I don't know Florida where he'd be more of the focal point in the offense, I think he could be like Jamal Mashburn.  The guy can shoot threes, he can drive to the basket, he can post up.  He is quick, he can leap, he's strong.  He's the kind of guy who could be a star in the NBA with the skills he has and size he has. 

Louisville has some speedy guys like Smith and Siva.  I think Bohanan is becoming a great offensive rebounder I don't know how much of that is talent or desire though, rebounding can be about attitude as much as athleticism.  I think Dieng is quick, and has good hops too.  Louisville has good atheletes, but I don't know that they really compare much to UK's.  Those 3 players I mentioned above are just great talents and guys like Lamb, Teague and Miller are no slouches.  All were highly touted recruits who are fine athletes as well.

Ethos's picture

My understanding, when you are looking at two teams that are almost identical (kansas and us) then you look at their bench.  Whose bench is stronger?

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

Rooster Buckburn's picture

This may or may not play a factor -  but UK v. Louisville is obviously a huge rivalry game that is made even bigger on the Final Four stage.  We've all seen big letdowns happen after big rival games before (2006 OSU/MICH anyone?)  The championship game may seem to be something of an unintentional letdown to the winner of the UK/UL game.

Then again, maybe not.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Good point. If the Buckeyes can get by Kansas, here's hoping the winner if UK/Louisville had spent a lot of emotional energy two nights before the NCG.  

Matt's picture

Sully is a first-team AP All American, the first repeat selection since Psycho T in 2009, and the first player to be so named in his frosh and soph years since 1989-1990 (Chris Jackson, LSU).  Also the only preseason AP All American to make the final team.  He'll get to test himself against unanimous selection Thomas Robinson on Saturday.

norwich's picture

We are definitely peaking at the right time.  On a neutral court we should be able to handle Kansas.  Withey and TRob vs Sully alone will be a problem though.  Two long, strong guys against Sully maybe too much for him.  The idea of playing Sully and Amir Williams together is excellent.  I think, even now, that Amir is the better defender and playing next to Sullinger in the offense will defintely open up some space for him.  Sully and Amir playing swings that matchup in our favor. 

Deshaun can be pretty much unstopable.  No matter who is on him, I think he will get his.  He may not go off but he'll be effective scoring and rebounding.  His defense is nothing short of terrible.  Clearly the one thing that makes him less appealing to the NBA.  I would love to see him stay a year to work on his D but I think he'll take the money and run.  Hopefully his D is such an issue that he projects low enough in the draft that he decides to stay... probably not though.

Craft on a neutral court will play at his usual brilliant level.  AC because he is stone cold heartless when it comes to shutting down the opposing PG.  And if Buford plays like he did against Syracuse then he will be helpful too.  Not saying he was great in that game but it was easily his best performance since the game at East Lansing.  His turnover at the 30 second mark against Syracuse was painful though.

Go Bucks!

btalbert25's picture

The thing I like about Thomas is, he's taking a lot of the load off of Sully, I remember during a timeout in the game the other night they were walking off the court together and Thomas was telling Sully, I"M OPEN.  Those 2 working the ball back and forth down low are, in my opinion what has this team playing at another level right now. 

yrro's picture

It's give and take on Sully vs Amir's defense. Sullinger usually isn't terribly out of position, and has better on ball defense. But his help defense is awful - no presence at all when someone else gets beaten on a drive, because he doesn't want to foul.

Amir still gets lost sometimes, but he has the mindset of a shot blocker, and is a much better goal keeper when it comes to protecting the paint. He provides that help defensive wall that you expect from a big man on drive penetration. But his rebounding isn't as good as Sully's, which can end up in a few extra shots.

DefendOhio's picture

I love how people have already assumed it will be OSU/Kentucky. Kansas is pretty good too. 

Doc's picture

I've been saying this all day. 

IF we lose Saturday night because the team lacks focus and looks unprepared don't blame me.  I am a firm believer that the team feeds off the vibes of the fan base.  Not in some metaphysical "Force" type thing.  But, in the way we as a fan base are talking.  These guys read stories and hear things.  If they hear too many times this week how they will match up with KY then they may believe they have already beaten KU and won't prepare as well.  Before 41-14 the fan base was thinking we were untouchable as well.  Keep focused on the next game people.  We can talk UK all day Sunday and Monday if we get past Kansas.

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BrewstersMillions's picture

What fans say on a blog has zero (0) impact on a game. What we felt as fans prior to the Florida game also had zero (0) impact on that game. If this team doesn't show up to their final 4 matchup focused and prepared, it will be a failure on Matta's part-not on what the fans said.


Come on dude....

Doc's picture

Look, if these guys listen to sports radio or ESPN or read anyone of the Buckeye blogs on a regular basis it could have an effect.  The 41-14 team read the press clippings then as well.  They heard everyone saying they were unbeatable.  You are naive if you think these guys live in a bubble.  just FB and Twitter alone could be enough of a nudge in the wrong direction.  I'm sure I'm being more than just a little paranoid, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

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btalbert25's picture

Well the 41-14 team also really never had much adversity to overcome all year long, I'm not saying it was an easy perfect regular season, but they didn't have many bumps in the road like the 2002 Buckeyes did.  Also, they had what 60 days off to sit there and listen to all the hoopla over how good they were, and they had a bunch of players going to banquets and awards ceremonies during that 60 days. 

I think it's fair to talk about Kentucky and it's fair to talk about Kansas too.  This Buckeye basketball team has been through a lot this year.  Highs and lows and they have come through it all stronger than ever.  They will be focused.  Plus they have some payback in order here.  I don't think anyone is saying HELL YEAH KANSAS STINKS.  I'm certainly not discounting Kansas.  I don't think they are as good as some do, but it'll be a great matchup. 

I love the idea of UK/Ohio State and want to talk about it because I think it'd be a terrific title game.  I want to talk about UK and Ohio State because I already have UK fans in my ear telling me how they'll beat Ohio State by 30.  If they lose to Kansas, it won't be because people are talking about a matchup with Kentucky, it'll be because Kansas was the better team that night.  The new found maturity and blue collar attitude this team has won't allow them to overlook Kansas.

Doc's picture

I agree, it just seems like we are over looking a very good BB team to talk about the Championship game possibilities.  As much as I love this run they are on it is nerve racking as hell for me.  I know the team won't take Kansas lightly, I'm just not hearing the fans talk much about them.  I need two or three KU articles first, before we start "dreaming" about UK.

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btalbert25's picture

I can understand that, like I said I got fired up last night about it because a guy said the only team left in the tournament that could beat UK was Kansas.  Then he made the comment that Uk would be Ohio State by 30-40 points.  My comment was, Ohio State is better than Kansas.

Doc's picture

I get it.  If someone was trolling me for a response then yeah give them both barrels.  My point is as a blog it seems we have dismissed Kansas over talking about KY.  I need to get my full hate on the Jayhawks first before looking to next Monday night.

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Run_Fido_Run's picture

Also, we have six days to talk about the KU game but, if the Buckeyes are able to get past KU, we'll only have two days to chat about the NCG. Naturally, we won't be patient enough to jam all of (potential) second game discussions into that short window, even if it's a bit premature top widen that window on Monday.


Earlier today, I commented that, fans will be fans, but the team must be 110-percent focused on KU. Now that I've thought about it, though, I'm not so sure.

The goal is to win the NC. Yeah, it's perhaps slightly better to lose next Monday than to lose on Saturday, but the team must approach the next phase with an all-or-nothing mentality.

If that's true, though, than they should spend part of this week practicing for Kentucky (and maybe just a bit for Louisville, too). I think Kansas plays exclusively man defense, right? They're very good, but they don't do anything exotic. Mixing in some UK prep might be necessary, as long as the players are mature enough to understand that they'll have to be the "blue collar guys" to beat Kansas - and I think they are now.    

buckeyedude's picture

I highly doubt that Matta and the players are looking ahead and discussing UK with KU up first.



Matt's picture

Sounds like Buckeyes are out of running for Tony Parker, favoring Duke, Kansas, and UCLA.  Makes this Final Four all the more important, because with Sully, Thomas, and Buford gone next year with no new stud players coming into the program, we are going to take a big step back.

BrewstersMillions's picture

It will be a transition next year but come on dudes, we are in the Final Four! Next year can wait.

Plus, I do like what a Craft\Smith\Thompson three guard set can do. Rav and Amir make a physical front court. I do worry where the points will come from but if Amir works his game, he has the build the be a downright dominating center-and that wins you a lot of games. If his work ethic matches his physical tools, he can be special.

Matt's picture

64% of offensive production gone with Buford/Sully/Thomas.  Absolutely no low post scoring presence.  And Q-Ross only swingman with a dependable jump shot.  We are going to take a big step back from the current team -- which, again, is why I said we should enjoy it while it lasts. 

btalbert25's picture

I think the potential is there for them to be a good team though.  Amir could be a beast next year.  Thompson isn't a scoring threat now, but he's very athletic and talented, he may end up being a pretty good scorer when all is said and done.  I also think Craft will take a big step forward offensively out of neccessity.  Smith has shown flashes of having the ability to score and Ross may just be an impact player.  So, do I think they'll be top 10 all year and make the final four?  Probably not, but I think they could still be a very good team next year.

William's picture

Thompson really needs to develop a jumpshot, especially since he will most likely be a starter next year.

Matt's picture

Yes, I think they will contend for B1G title and come on strong towards end of year.  See them being a very dominant team defensively, arguably actually improving on defense with Amir in lineup, with Thomas gone, and with Rav potentially in the 4 spot.  I just don't see enough offensive firepower, unless Q-Ross blows up and averages 20 ppg (which is possible, but unlikely) to be a legit national title contender.  I love Thompson's game and attitude, but he is a terrible spot up shooter.  Same goes for Scott.  They will develop that part of their game, but it will take time.  

RedStorm45's picture

Scott, Thompson, Smith, Williams, Spoon - good lord look out for some highlight reels.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i for one am excited to do da spoony all next year

German Buckeye's picture

Why o why can't Thad play Amir, Sully and Diesel togther in the front court.  Smith and Craft backcourt - bring Willy off the bench to spell Smith - maybe he'd be better at getting his shots to fall in that roll?  With the bigs that KU and KY/Louisville have, I think its imperative to have some size to match up.  Sorry Ravenel doesnt cut it - hes the same size as Sully without skills.... 

RedStorm45's picture

He said it's not a lineup they practice too much.  Plus, that leaves Tank on a 3 guard who would likely abuse him off the dribble.  As much as we all like what we've seen from Amir, how many minutes haven't been in garbage time?  He's getting better, but it's a bit much at this point in the season to say hey go play 10 minutes a half.

Johnny Ginter's picture

i actually think amir will get a lot of PT in the final four, but yeah, to ask him to start smacks of grasping at straws at this point in the season. probably not the message matta wants to send.