Preview: Walsh at #4 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on October 30, 2012 at 12:30p
Thad Matta must replace two starters.
Ohio State Buckeyes #4 Ohio State 0-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 7:00 PM ET - —— The Schott Columbus, OH Walsh Cavaliers Walsh 0-0, 0-0 AMC Roster | Schedule

In the midst of a 9-0 football campaign in Columbus, the basketball season begins. It’s only an exhibition game against Walsh, but coming off a season that resulted in a Final Four berth has reason for excitement.

The Buckeyes aren’t likely to look like a team that’s ready to make another Final Four run tonight, despite their lofty No. 4 ranking – Lenzelle Smith Jr. said as much on Monday. Improving day-by-day and developing together as a team is the main early-season goal.

Several storylines surround the team as the season opener versus Marquette approaches. The top thing on everyone’s mind is the starting lineup. Ohio State didn’t just lose two starters from last season’s team, it must replace two of the program’s all-time greats in Jared Sullinger and William Buford.

The duo leaves behind 32 points and 14 rebounds per game. They’ve given way to a faster, more up-tempo offense.

At this point, the starting lineup appears to be Aaron Craft, Smith, Sam Thompson, Deshaun Thomas and Amir Williams. Evan Ravenel, Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross should also be a regular part of the rotation. The competition between Thompson and Ross, and Williams and Ravenel for those final two starting spots is an area to keep an eye on.

Thompson worked extensively on his offensive game during the offseason, developing a reliable jump shot, while Ross’ offensive prowess is already well known. But the Mississippi native must concentrate on defense and learning the overall system at Ohio State.

Williams gained 30 pounds in the offseason to become a bigger defensive threat in the rugged Big Ten. He worked on defending down low and fine-tuned an already impressive shot-blocking technique. As a freshman, he swatted away 23 shots.

4 A. Craft JR 6-2/195 8.8 3.2 4.6 G 11 B. DuPont JR 6-0/195 9.2 4.7 7.5
32 L. Smith Jr. JR 6-4/210 6.8 4.6 2.0 G 1 R. Burrell SO 6-3/185 13.9 3.5 2.5
1 D. Thomas JR 6-7/215 15.9 5.4 0.9 F 3 D. Beard SO 6-2/180 5.2 1.8 1.6
12 S. Thompson SO 6-7/200 2.1 1.1 0.7 F 33 K. Kornowski SR 6-9/235 18.6 8.8 1.0
23 A. Williams SO 6-11/250 1.7 2.1 0.1 C 30 H. Vucic JR 7-1/245 1.5 1.7 0.1


Walsh, a highly successful Division III program, is continuing its transition into a Division II school this season. The Cavaliers are coming off a 26-win season and eighth straight conference title.

Head coach Jeff Young’s eight seasons at Walsh read something like Matta’s eight seasons in Columbus. Walsh has a 224-44 record, national championship and national runner-up finish.

Walsh returns three starters but must replace two 1,000-point scorers. Point guard Brad DuPont returns, the team’s leading assist man with 7.5 per game. DuPont doesn’t just distribute the basketball, however; he can also score. He became the second Walsh player in program history to record a triple-double.

Rian Burrell, a guard, also returns. As a freshman last season, Burrell averaged 14 points per game and shot better than 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.

Senior forward Kenny Kornowski is coming off a season-ending knee injury last December. Before he was sidelined, Kornowski was averaging 18.6 points per game and nine rebounds. He scored a career-high 36 points in one game and put up 28 points against Dayton in an exhibition game. He’ll be paired down low with 7-foot-1 Valparaiso transfer Hrvoje Vucic.

Another transfer, Davonte Beard from Siena, will be the fifth starter. Beard, an Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary product, averaged five points in 10 games at Siena before transferring to Walsh in December. He possesses all-around guard skills.

Buckeye Breakdown

Yes, Ohio State wants to win against Walsh – the Buckeyes have already been down that road before, losing an exhibition game to Findlay. But, unlike a regular season game, exhibitions are used to tinker with lineups and gauge what a team has to work with. 

Evan Ravenel is a dependable backup.

In practice, Matta has noticed several pair of players play well with each other: Aaron Craft-Lenzelle Smith, Deshaun Thomas-Amir Williams and Shannon Scott-Sam Thompson.

The dawn of each season brings something new to a team and locker room. For the 2012-13 Ohio State Buckeyes, cohesion with a starting five is No. 1 on the agenda. But not far down the list of importance is developing a reliable bench rotation.

Matta is questioned about it every year and the answer rarely varies. According to Matta, and one glance at the roster reinforces his thoughts, the Buckeyes are as deep as they’ve been in several years. Whether the rotation grows to seven, eight or nine remains to be seen.

“I’m kind of interested to see how everyone plays,” Matta said on Monday.

The top candidates to come off the bench are Ravenel, Scott, Ross, Trey McDonald and Amadeo Della Valle. To do so, though, each must be equipped to get up and down the floor as fast as possible.

Smith said the Buckeyes spent more time on the track than the basketball court over the summer to prepare for the amount of running they would encounter during the season.

“We’ve been doing marathons,” he said.

The first three players off the bench are known quantities, though Smith said Ravenel had the best practices of his career last week. Still, McDonald and Della Valle are unknowns.

McDonald only averaged three minutes in 13 games last season. He came to Ohio State as a lanky 6-foot-8 center, but he’s since added weight to his frame and is up to 240. Making him a candidate to see minutes is his ability to get up and down the floor. McDonald’s athleticism also allows him to have a more well-rounded offensive game. He can extend his shot to the 10-to-12-foot range.

Della Valle is the Buckeyes’ lone freshman on the team. The Italian attended national juggernaut Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. A three-point specialist, Della Valle has been compared to Jon Diebler. In 2011, he led Italy with 15 points per game in the U-18 European Championships. He then broke the single-season three-point record at Findlay Prep with 66.

It remains to be seen how much playing time Della Valle receives, but one of Ohio State’s biggest problems a season ago was its lack of a three-point threat. That alone makes him a viable option.

“I think we’ve got more depth,” Matta said.


  • Charlie Danis and former Buckeye Neshaun Coleman have the call on 
  • Deshaun Thomas was named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press.
  • Former walk-on Alex Rogers earned a scholarship in August.

Comments Show All Comments

ccollins0325's picture

It can't be time for basketball already! Football season just started!

LouGroza's picture

Seems like it but three more games and we will be crying about the long wait til next FB season. Going to be fun to watch this BB team. Good luck men.

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Does that mean the game will be streamed live on

The South will NOT rise again!

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yes, the game will be streamed live on BTN however I'm not sure if there is a subscription fee or not. I know there was last year.

FWIW to those in the Columbus area, tickets are super cheap. I think they are like $16 once Ticketmaster is done gouging for lower bowl. I got one 5 rows behind the Buckeye bench for that price.

For anyone interested in updates that doesn't go or watch on, Kyle and I will be tweeting relevant info during the game.


SilverBulletNYC's picture

Thanks, Chris! You're the man!

The South will NOT rise again!

AC1972's picture

BTN will also be re-broadcasting it the next day at like 3 in the afternoon or something like that.   You can DVR it...

RBuck's picture

The replay on BTN TV is tomorrow at 3:00 pm. Followed up with a replay of the PsU game.
Edit: Oops, didn't see the post above.

Long live the southend.

d5k's picture

I'm very interested in how Amir and Laquinton look defensively.  Also would like to see if anyone shows some confidence in launching some 3's early in the season.  Other than Deshaun of course.  I'm not sure if he ever lacked confidence in anything in his life.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

This sounds a little wierd but I just wanna see Amir Williams w/ 30 more lbs on him.  Dude could be a wreckin' machine (yo adrian) this year. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

kr66osu's picture

Is it really basketball season already?! Man time flies

ATXbucknut's picture

Man, I do not remember the name Neshaun Coleman.  When did he play for us?

otrain2416's picture

I'm a Walsh Alum but I'll still say Go Bucks!!!!

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

mclovin's picture

Glad to see Williams has, at least for the moment, nabbed a starting spot.  I think with his athleticism he could dominate the post in the Big Ten this year.  No offense to Ravenel but the upside on Williams is very high.

GoBucks713's picture

It's a joyous time for basketball dorks like me.

-The Aristocrats!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I couldn't agree more, my friend. Count me in as a member of your basketball dorks club.

GoBucks713's picture

Welcome to BBDorks Chapter 11W.

-The Aristocrats!

stl_piznaul's picture

Not to quibble, but I believe Walsh has been an NAIA school that is moving to NCAA DII, not a NCAA DIII school.

sj52's picture

I was wondering about this too, so when I clicked on their schedule to see who they play and I got Air Force schedule. Guess 11W is confused about who they are too.

tennbuckeye19's picture

You are correct. It's a move from NAIA to Divison II. Here's an excerpt from Bob Baptist of the Dispatch:
Why Walsh every year?
Tonight will be the fifth consecutive year, and sixth in the past seven, that Ohio State will play an exhibition game against Walsh University, from Canton.
I asked coach Thad Matta yesterday why he likes playing the Cavaliers. He said he's repaying coach Jeff Young for the help Young gave him in the Akron/Canton area, presumably in making recruiting contacts, after Matta was hired by Ohio State in 2004.
"Jeff has always been great to me . . . (as) a friend kind of knowing that area up there," Matta said.
"They’re trying to take that program to the (NCAA) Division II level. They’ve been doing it for a couple years now, and I think in that regard, it’s helped them get to where they want to go."
Walsh is entering its first season as a full-fledged Division II member in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), which also includes Ohio Dominican, Ashland and Findlay....
(continued here

Doc's picture

Good luck Basketball Buckeye's!  This year is going to be a blast!

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

LadyBuck's picture

Why, why? I'll just have to obsess over twitter...