Hoops Stat Session: Savannah State Week

By Chad Peltier on December 11, 2012 at 5:00p

With Shannon Scott playing lights-out defense, Deshaun Thomas caring about all facets of the game beyond shooting, and LaQuinton Ross maturing as the second-best shooter on the team, there's little to complain about for the BasketBucks. 

Even freshman Della Valle has seen time this seasonThe Buckeyes benefit from getting more involved

Long Beach in perspective

Sure, they weren't Duke, but Ohio State had to gain some confidence by their throttling of Long Beach State. StatSheet has some interesting notes

  • OSU beat the spread by 12.5 points. That makes the 4th time this season the Buckeyes have beaten the spread.
  • This game was statistically over in the 2nd half with 11:51 left to go.
  • The bench recorded more rebounds (24) than the starters (21).

Further, Ross was their runner-up as B1G Player of the Week, while Scott and Amedeo Della Valle were honorable mentions for 6th man and freshman of the week, respectively. 

The first and last bullet points are particularly interesting here. In four out of just seven games the Buckeyes have beaten the spread – that is, they've performed better than expected.

Part of that has to come from the bench performing so well through the first seven. Sure, Ross is a member of the bench and he accounts for a majority of those numbers, but it's nice to see the bench get some love. 

Offense-Defense Balance

While it hasn't been easy replacing the offensive production from Willie B. and Jared Sullinger, the Buckeyes currently are Pomeroy's sixth-rated team in adjusted offense, even better than their defense at ninth. 

The problem has been that an increased focus on one has come at the expense of the other. For instance, take the example of Aaron Craft, who Ohio State has built upon as a top-three scorer for the team so far this year. From Chris

Craft has struggled the most in trying to expand his offensive repertoire and with he and Smith shooting a combined 11/45 over the last two outings (24%)...My gut says this Ohio State team would be much better off asking Craft to concentrate on what he's done best – run the offense, dish out some dimes, and cause absolute chaos on the defensive end of the floor.

LBSU was overmatched with Craft and ScottCraft focuses on his comparative advantage: defense

I agree with Chris: Craft is currently second on the team in field goals attempted compared to fourth last year, but his percentage is down from 50% to 38%. Let Aaron focus on his comparative advantage and good things will follow.

The offense, at least statistically, has been solid so far. While putting 91 on UMKC may have exaggerrated the offense's rankings, Matta has seen this dip in the defense:

“All week coach (Matta) has been challenging us, talking about toughness and being able to get stops on defense,” junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said. “When we come out and play like this, we hope coach is going to cut back on some of those defensive drills in practice.

Matta believes that a slight dip in defensive production is actually hurting the offense as well. 

On the radio yesterday, Matta mentioned the need for one position in particular to step up defensively:

For Matta, it's no chicken or the egg problem – the offense will improve as soon as the defense gets in rhythm. It certainly got a good start against Long Beach State.

It's hard to really say that either the offense or defense is struggling when you've got the 6th and 9th-ranked squads (not to mention that it is difficult to evaluate them when there has only been one challenging game), but it's clear that the team is still settling into an identity: Will Craft need to be a top 2 or 3 shooter on the team? Will the bench be utilized this year?  

Savannah State Stat Preview

Savannah State (5-4) comes into Value City Arena tomorrow night ranked as Pomeroy's 163rd and RPI's 141st-ranked team (right behind Penn State, actually).

This has all the makings of another piece of cake victory, as Savannah State is most comparable to Rhode Island and Missouri-Kansas City, who the Buckeyes beat by a combined score of 160-103. 

Savannah State brings in the 312th-ranked adjusted offense (which most recently put up 45 points in a loss to Norfolk St) against the Craft and Scott-led Buckeye defense, and I don't see those number improving. 

Seniors Preston Blackman (guard) and Rashad Hassan (forward) are the two leaders in almost every category, averaging 11 and 13 points per game, respectively. 

Outside of Duke, the Buckeyes have yet to be seriously challenged this season, which is reflected in their strength of schedule rankings, 214th (Pomeroy) and 86th (RPI). The Buckeyes' next three opponents are all solid practice games (with the latter two against teams with RPIs above 300) for the big slugfest with Kansas on Dec. 22. 


Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

There is a lot to like from this team. Sure there are some deficiencies, notably Craft's shooting and the lack of a consistent second scoring option, but the beauty of CBB is the growth you can have by seasons end.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Doc's picture

I was at a party this weekend and was talking to one of my neighbors.  He said Craft was a scorer in high school.  Why has that changed now?  I agree he needs to concentrate on D, but having someone else able to score the ball would be nice.  The more scorers we have the harder we are to defend.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

dean7647's picture

Craft was a scorer in high school (at Liberty-Benton) out of necessity.  With Ohio Red he essentially played the same game there that he has his first two years at OSU.  His game was always predicated on layups and jumpers the foul line/elbow.  His high school team was in division 3, so he was able to get a lot more good looks and layups over smaller, weaker defenders.  He'll never have the same ability to create his own shot, the way the Ross's or Buford's of the world can, but that being said, his game as-is definitely has a spot in the offense and he is far and away the best passer on the team.  For this team to make a deep run in March, I believe Craft has to be the primary ball handler, not so much to develop his own offensive game, but to improve others' off-the-ball games and the overall chemistry of the offensive. 

Doc's picture

Dean, thanks for the clarification.  I think Craft being a shut down defender is more critical to the team than his scoring, but being able to get an "easy" lay-up or two and some three point production is gravy.
I really like Lenzelle, Amir and LaQuinton.  Those guys seem to have a lot of potential.  If we can get Sam to be more of a scoring threat, other than being dunktastic, this could be a really good team.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Joshy614's picture

OSU is giving 22 1/2  ... I think they'll cover

ATL Buckeye's picture

I wished I could give a little love to the bench, but Matta only uses them against inferior teams. When he plays the likes of Duke, he goes back to the 7-8 man rotation. I love Matta a great deal. Top 5 coach in CBB. However, we'll never win a championship with a 7-8 man rotation. He's gotta learn to blend that talent better in my opinion. Last year we could have gone 9-10 deep like Kentucky. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

I beg to differ. Kentucky was not a deep team by any means last year. Calipari would play 8 guys if that, and mostly due to foul issues, not because he wanted to.

btalbert25's picture

Yeah they really didn't like going much deeper than Miller and he was the 6 man!

PWLafferty. TBDBITL. TRow.'s picture

I upvoted you both, because whoever downvoted you doesn't know what they are talking about.  Here's proof. http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/team/stats/_/id/96/year/2012/...   Reference 'MIN'....
EDIT: This is also case to say that talent wins in CBB.  I'm not saying we should never play our bench guys, but if we can develop a solid defensive based team with 6-8 guys, the scoring talent of Deshaun, Ross, Lenzelle should carry us fairly well.

"I'm up there with Chris and Dave Pass, getting ready to broadcast that game, and that band came out of that tunnel, I was wiping tears out of my eyes and all the memories came back." ~Urban Meyer

moopdawg's picture

Matta DEFINITELY can get away with playing 8 this year, and to me, that's progress.  Scott, Ross, and Williams hopefully will be consistent contributors this season.  If Matta really wants to get crazy, he can give more minutes to Della Valle and McDonald...that would be 10 deep!!!  I don't see that happening, though. 
Love to see Della Valle get some minutes and develope as a consistent outside threat.

osubuckeye4life's picture

I really hope that Matta uses the bench more this year. There is too much talent on this team to let it go to waste.