I'm Not Your Stepping Stone

By Chris Lauderback on December 23, 2012 at 6:00a
37 Comments
The bench watches the Buckeyes fall to 0-2 against legit competition in 2012. 

Though most fans knew this year's edition of the basketball Buckeyes would likely take time to mature individually and evolve into their respective roles, there is still an uneasy vibe following yesterday's 74-66 home loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.

The fact of the matter is that despite winning nine of their first 11 games, the Buckeyes have only played two legit opponents and frankly, they wilted under the pressure in both contests. 

It was fairly easy to shake off the road loss to Duke, even though the Buckeyes had a 31-23 lead at the break and led by eight with 13 minutes left before being outscored by 10 points over the final eight minutes to fall, 73-68. The thought was that it was the first litmus test to see what kind of progress guys like Ross, Craft, Smith and Amir had made in taking on new, expanded roles and the team as a whole would learn from giving up 50 points in the 2nd half while shooting just 34% themselves. 

To their credit, the Buckeyes bounced back from the defeat to mostly dismantle five straight opponents (Winthrop, not so much) and the hope was that they had grown from the Duke loss and would be ready for another big time opponent, this time in the friendly confines of Value City Arena. 

Unfortunately, hope is not a strategy. 

Instead, not only did Ohio State lose, they showed the same flaws that did them in down in Cameron Indoor. In fact, the flaws were the same we've seen in a handful of the wins; they were just more easily camouflaged thanks to huge individual mismatches in talent.

Through 11 games, the Buckeyes have definitely experienced growth in a few areas, most notably the emergence of Shannon Scott, but they've also seen four themes play out in a way that requires correction if they plan to be a factor in the conference race and the Big Dance. 

Craft's Regression

The straw that stirs the drink the last two seasons, Aaron Craft's junior campaign can only be classified as a struggle.

The plan was for Craft to take on amplified offensive role to help compensate for some of the points lost via the departures of Jared Sullinger and William Buford.

Craft: Shooting 21% with 7 TO vs. Duke and Kansas

Whether at the point or playing off the ball alongside the blossoming Scott, Craft simply hasn't played very well at the offensive end of the floor. Worse, the veteran has been particularly shaky against both Duke and Kansas. 

Against the Dookies, Craft had his worst game as a collegian, missing 12 of 15 shots while turning it over three times against one assist. Strangely, Craft looked totally out of sorts with the ball in his hand even though Coach K continuously gave him the lane, choosing instead to double Thomas off the pick and pop, leaving huge holes in the defense and plenty of space to shoot.  

Craft wasn't even very good defensively, helping hold Quinn Cook to 3/10 shooting but Cook still managed eight boards and six dimes and was a difference maker down the stretch. 

Looking for a reversal of fortune yesterday against Kansas, Craft wasn't much better. 

In 37 minutes, Craft missed seven of nine shots from the field and coughed it up four times against three assists. Overall, he was a little better defensively but his poor play out of the gate, including two turnovers and an unwise foul on a Withey and-1, put OSU in an 11-6 hole barely five minutes in. 

In the two real games Ohio State has played, Craft is shooting 5/24 overall (21%), including 3/10 from downtown with seven turnovers and three assists. 

Flat out, Aaron Craft must play better offensively or Ohio State is dead in the water, no matter how in love you might be with Scott at the moment.

I'm not convinced he can't do it but it sure would be nice to see him string a couple solid outings together against some tough squads. 

Lack of Mental Toughness

At this point in the season, there seems enough evidence to question the level of mental toughness among this current crop of Buckeyes. 

We've seen it before with individual players but by and large, Matta's teams have been fairly tough when it comes to hanging in there in hotly contested games. 

At times, it's been hard for Tank to hide his frustration

Plenty of factors play a part in an opponent going on a big run but yesterday, the mental aspect of the game really hurt the Buckeyes. 

At home, you simply can't waste a 14-0 spurt like the Buckeyes reeled off yesterday, turning a 23-17 deficit into a 31-23 lead with 6:19 left in the half, but that is exactly what happened.  

Immediately following the blitz, Ohio State allowed a 14-4 Kansas run, giving the Jayhawks a 37-35 lead at intermission.

The run was fueled by mental breakdowns such as a Deshaun turnover on an inbounds play, Scott missing back-to-back free throws, Craft rushing a three-point try, Ross storming down the lane on an ill-advised drive, Scott hoisting an early three (career 22% 3FG), and a Craft turnover leading directly to a Ben McLemore dunk. 

If that wasn't hard enough on the eyes, trailing only 48-49 at the under 12 media timeout, Ohio State allowed Kansas to deliver the knockout blow in the form of a 15-4 spurt, giving the Jayhawks a commanding 64-52 lead with just under five minutes to play. 

The Buckeyes shot an amazingly bleak 2/19 during part of the run and saw Thomas whistled for a silly foul on the baseline, Sam cough it up, Scott decide to launch another three, Craft do him two better by jacking up an unconscionable three triples of his own sandwiched between a missed Smith try from downtown. 

Basically, the Buckeyes fell in love with lazy ball, totally disregarding trying to get to the line or use any ball movement to get a good look, instead falling into the trap of settling for a long ball that clearly wasn't falling. For the game, Ohio State took 48% of their shots from beyond the arc (31/65) even though they were in the midst of shooting 26% from downtown. Exhibit A in not being mentally tough. 

This was also an issue at Duke as the Buckeyes gave up a five-point lead down the stretch, allowing the Blue Devils to score 50 points in the 2nd half by way of failing to identify and challenge hot shooters, leaving Plumlee to terrorize the paint or Cook to get free off the dribble. 

At times, this team even wears their frustration on their sleeve, which is something that should be addressed especially when it comes from the unquestioned leaders. Thomas has been very demonstrative both toward officials and in response to adversity and Craft has look less composed than ever as he challenges whistles or fails to finish plays. 

Those guys need to be the rocks the other players rely on to provide a steady hand in crazy atmospheres like at Duke and yesterday in the Schott. They have it in them. It's time for it to come to the forefront. 

Scoring Droughts

Coming into the season, who would step up to compensate for the lost points of Willie Buckets and Sully was of chief concern. 

It was a perceived given that Thomas would do his thing and for the most part he has done what's expected. He wasn't a superstar versus Duke or Kansas but he did tally 16 in each game on the strength of 6/13 from distance, though he shot just a combined 40% overall. 

The hope was Smith would continue his maturation as a scorer and Craft would put up more points as he became more assertive on penetration and confident in his stroke while playing off the ball more than we had seen in his first two years in Columbus.

Additionally, LaQuinton Ross was tabbed as a guy who could potentially emerge as a big-time scoring threat and all we heard all summer was how Sam Thompson was working out the kinks in his jumper.

Unfortunately, the growing pains are still very real for all four players as they continue their quest for offensive consistency. Smith, Ross and Thompson have all shown flashes while Craft has had a harder time, but I've seen enough to think the quintet can provide more even production than we've seen in the Duke and Kansas matchups.

Sam is hitting 20% of his career three-point tries

We already took a look at Craft's shooting woes thus far but he's not alone when it comes to not stepping up in the two big games to date. 

Smith, who managed just a 4/12 night in Durham including 1/6 from deep, didn't fare any better yesterday, hitting on just 3/13 from the floor including a donut (0/7) from distance. Over the two games, that gives him a stat line of 7/25 overall (28%) and 1/13 from beyond the arc. Rims beware. 

Counted on to a lesser extent, Sam still hasn't shown that improved J when it counts. He took about the number of shots he probably should in the outing against Duke, going 2/6 from the field but yesterday he was feeling it, taking 10 shots, though making just three.

Bigger than the issue of Thompson taking 10 shots is the fact half of those were from distance. This is the part where I remind you he is a career 20% shooter from distance (7/34). I don't mean that sarcastically, either. I just think all these guys need to play to their strengths if this team is going to compete with the better squads on the schedule. 

Then there's the enigma that I'm praying LaQuinton Ross doesn't turn out to be in his sophmore season. He was a deer in headlights during a few possessions at Duke but he still came up with nine points in 11 minutes on 3/7 shooting. Yesterday, he seemed to be a step slow both physically and mentally and Thad yanked him at least twice for mental lapses. In just nine minutes of action, he missed four of five shots, two of which were on a questionable triple try and a forced drive, and turned it over twice. 

I have written he's totally capable of exploding onto the scene but I'm starting to wonder if his maturation process won't be a long and arduous one for all involved. 

Through 11 games, another facet to the scoring problem is whether or not it's fair to question Thad's offensive strategy considering the Buckeyes flat out don't have an answer for when opponents double (or triple) Thomas.

On one hand, there should be an expectation that other sets – coming off staggered double screens, etc. – should still be able to get him the ball in scoring spots on the floor but at the same time, if good teams know they can singularly focus on stopping one guy because his teammates aren't making them pay, then I don't think even John Wooden would have much success. 

The good news here is that the Buckeyes still have plenty of games remaining to see if they can't work out the kinks offensively. I haven't given up, the players and coaches haven't given up, and you shouldn't either. It's December. 

Defensive Lapses

For the most part, Thad Matta-coached squads have played excellent team defense. 

They may not always own the glass but being long on the wings and gaining a commitment at that end of the floor, the Buckeyes have typically held opponents to fairly low shooting percentages and points per game. 

Ravenel and Amir struggled against Withey and Plumlee

Unfortunately, this year's crop of Buckeyes has yet to put it together defensively against both Duke and Kansas. 

Ohio State held firm in the 1st half against the Dookies, forcing them to miss 14 of their 20 field goal tries (30%) but utterly collapsed in the final 20 minutes, allowing the Blue Devils to shoot 58% on the way to the aforementioned 50 points. 

They were beaten off the bounce and thrashed in the paint as Mason Plumlee went off for 21 points and 17 boards, five offensive. 

Yesterday, the Buckeye defense allowed Kansas to shoot a blistering 56% in the 1st half and 51% for the game, yielding a season-high 74 points (Duke: 73). 

Ohio State again struggled in the paint as Jeff Withey put up 14 points, but an inability to contain perimeter players Travis Releford (4/5 FG, 11 pts), Elijah Johnson (4/8, 13 pts) and Ben McLemore (8/17, 22 pts) was the real killer. 

The fact only five of the 25 made Kansas field goals came from distance further illustrates how Ohio State just didn't contain guys off the dribble and struggled to rotate after the Jayhawks did a great job using inside out ball movement to get Buckeye defenders rotating in an attempt to recover on open shooters. 

While it is understandable that guys are struggling to fill their respective expanded offensive roles, Matta should be able to rely on a more consistent effort defensively and against the two good teams on the schedule to date, the Buckeyes haven't delivered. 

Bottom line, though the Duke and Kansas games have been tough to watch at times, we knew it would be a process. The question at this point is, are you comfortable with the respective role evolutions to date and if not, is that because you expected a faster learning curve or because you are legitimately worried that this team just doesn't have the necessary pieces to be a Sweet Sixteen-plus type of outfit?

At this point, I'm willing to hold serve because I have faith in Thad's track record in fielding a tough out but there's no question I thought this team would earn a split in the two legit games to date and that Craft, Ross and Smith would all be showing me considerably more than I've seen thus far. 

Deep breath. There's still 19 more games to play before the postseason begins. 

37 Comments

Comments

oregonianbuckeye's picture

I agree with points 1-3 above. Point four needs to be put into the context of a struggling offense. Teams tend to have higher shooting percentages when the opposition (tOSU) shoots poorly. This leads to more baskets in transition, and generally less time to set defensively. This OSU team has played well defensively, especially Craft and Scott on the perimeter. They force a lot of turnovers, which matters a lot. Statistics on shooting percentages are an okay measure of performance, but points per possession are a better indicant. I reiterate that Duke and Kansas are both top 10 teams with a lot of nba talent. Giving up 73 points to Duke and 74 points to Kansas is not bad, and that was with a number of fouls at the end to try and get back into the game. From my perspective, TOSU does not have a defensive problem.

ou88bocat's picture

The Buckeyes obviously have several issues right now and they can be corrected, but to me the biggest issue is the lack of skilled offensive players on the roster. I'll start with Craft, he's a good ball handler(not great), obviously great defensively, but is a poor shooter and can't create his own shot. Smith, he's a streaky shooter, average ball handler, and he too can't create his own shot. Scott, is a very good ball handler, he's become a force on defense, and can get to the basket whenever he wants, but can't finish, and has no confidence in his jumper. Thompson, he's a great athlete, very good defensively, but doesn't handle the ball well so therefore he can't create his own shot, has no feel offensively(doesn't have a consistent jumper, mid range game or a go to move). Ross is very skilled offensively, and he can create his own shot, he just needs to earn more minutes by playing more consistently on defense. Ravenal/Williams offer nothing on offense, but are decent on defense. And lastly, Thomas, good but streaky shooter, average ball handler who struggles with athletic defenders. In the NCAA you win with strong guard play and right now the Buckeyes guard play is below average as witnessed by their play against Duke & Kansas. The Buckeyes will do ok in conference play but come tournament time, we'll see the same as we did yesterday unless the guards, Craft, Smith, Scott and Thompson improve offensively.

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Basically agree, but think that one key is Ravenal, who can provide offense with some coaching and confidence.  He took 1 14 foot turnaround from the baseline that he has made a couple times against cupcakes and then lost it in traffic in the paint (where was the foul?) and then was never heard from again.  He should not take that turnaround, and we should get him the ball down low on a fairly regular basis if we want to stretch it elsewhere for Thomas and Smith to get better looks.

nltemple's picture

Hello! what you are speaking to is the recruiting of this coaching staff.

Noel Temple

baddogmaine's picture

The good news here is that the Buckeyes still have plenty of games remaining to see if they can't work out the kinks offensively.

In theory yes, but based on Matta's decision making over the last few years it's not clear that he will let that happen. He quickly settles on the very few guys he trusts or thinks he needs to play, and PT for the rest becomes scanty. Scott will be a regular because he is already contributing; Williams may get time because the situation inside is dire; but if Ross got only nine minutes yesterday when even with a couple of yankings for coaching more time was available then based on past practice by Matta he is still going to be getting only spot action in March.
The reality is that we could lose 10 or even 12 games in the early season and if that helped us grow so that we reach the finals of the B1G we would be going dancing as a matured, very dangerous mid-seed. If Matta instead tries to score 90 against cupcakes or limit losses against average teams the bench will not develop any better this year than it has in past years, and because our starting 5 is not as good as in past years we will have little cause for long-range optimism.
In other words, success for the 2012 team probably depends most not on Craft or Thomas but on Matta changing his approach.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Q looked lost and confused yesterday, and not just on defense. Twice he was wide open and surprised that the pass came his way. I don't blame Matta. As for the bench, I thought that Scott and Amir played better than anyone else on the team, and that our bench kept us in the game. Matta changing his approach? I think that he has a proven record when it comes to Big Ten Championships and NCAA appearances. TOSU was in a very different place in basketball before he took over. 

baddogmaine's picture

 

I think that he has a proven record when it comes to Big Ten Championships and NCAA appearances. TOSU was in a very different place in basketball before he took over.

Those are two very different statements. The Buckeyes are better under Matta than under most previous coaches, but we have a record under Matta of flaming out in the NCAAs before our seed says we should. Last year was a big exception, we did better then I think we should have - but should have beaten KS as well, and I think Matta's game management lead both to our being in position to win and ultimately losing.
The bench didn't keep us in Saturday's game - other than Scott, who is earning his minutes, the bench consisted of but two players who contributed but 29 minutes (out of an available 200), scored but 10 points and committed 3 turnovers and 5 personal fouls.
The question is how Ross is going to get better if, now in his second year of practicing, he still looks cofused in games, if he does not get game experience. You can defend Matta's not playing Ross yesterday, but down the line Ross' continued confusion will surely hurt a team that needs to be able to call on its bench to contribute positively.
As for Amir the very next comment criticizes him. Everyone we put inside is struggling. No opponent will lose sleep over how to attack or defend Williams unless he gets a lot better (Amir had one of the TOs, which is a lot considering how little he handles the ball, and 4 of the fouls in 20 mnutes).

AndyVance's picture

Yes, yes, 1,000 times, yes. Game management is an issue, and not having a coherent strategy to put players in the position to play to their strengths is Exhibit A. Watching last night's game, I often thought, "These guys need to watch Hoosiers, specifically the part of the movie when Gene Hackman made them pass three times before they could shoot."
When your plan is "get the ball down the court and shoot the first 3-ball you find," things aren't going to go well, especially against top-ranked teams who know how to win tournament games. I was soundly criticized earlier this season for saying this, but I'll submit again that Matta's strength is recruiting Blue Chip talent - it isn't getting those players to play to their fullest potential (the obverse being that Jim O'Brien was only capable of recruiting average talent, but often seemed to coach them beyond their ability).
Are we better off under Matta than under his predecessors? The W-L column, Big Ten titles and 2 Final Four appearances speak for themselves. If you go back and look at the record books, Matta's accomplishments have already reached par with those of even the legendary Fred Taylor in terms of NCAA Tournament Appearances and his winning percentage is significantly better (77.3% vs. 65.3%).
Matta is also on track to pass the 300-win mark by 2016, his (in theory) 12th season at the helm. Taylor picked up win #297 in his 18th and final season as head coach of the Buckeyes.
In other words - Matta has earned his page in the annals of Buckeye lore. Is he capable, however, of closing the deal and putting up wins in big games, when it matters most? Two games this season offer ample reasons to ask that question. Big Ten play will tell us a lot, not only about this team's abilities, but of those of its Coach, as well.

nltemple's picture

Matta is a good coach however he is not in the top 10 nationally if you were to rank the coaches.

Noel Temple

Toilrt Paper's picture

Can we get one of your top coaches to come to Ohio State?

nltemple's picture

Why would they want to?

Noel Temple

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

The biggest disappointment to me by far is Amir Williams, Maybe my expectations were way too high.

While the loss is frustrating, there's no reason to freak out like it's a 13 game season.

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

ou88bocat's picture

I have to agreem, honestly, I thought Amir Williams would be a beast this season based off of how he played in the B1G tournament and the NCAA's. It seems like he's playing very timid right now and that has to change. No offense to Ravenal, but he's better off the bench but with Williams up & down play, Ravenal has to start.

slippy's picture

I don't think it's all on Amir.  He played pretty well yesterday all things considered.  A lot of it comes with his role in the offense.  When he's out there, it's his job to go set picks 25 ft from the basket.  I realize at this point he doesn't have the offensive skillset of a guy like Sully, but I think we have to at least pretend he does.  He got the ball down low twice yesterday and scored both times.  Small sample size aside, just the smallest threat of a low post should open the offense up from the pick and roll, drive, and kick out (which is the entire offense at the moment, apparently).

nltemple's picture

Looking at Amir realisticaly it is evident that it is not just his skill set that is anemic but also he is weak and not physically able to play at this level.

Noel Temple

GoldenBearBuckeye's picture

Understand that KU is traditionally the strongest inside team in the nation, but A Williams played badly yesterday.  Any pass that comes in low to him is bobbled or lost.  He will look better against most opponents, but with the limitations of his offensive game, he MUST improve his FT shooting.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

I agree that he looked bad on offense. I thought he did a nice job on Withey when he played behind him in the second half. It was night and day inside defensively when Amir was in the game compared to Ravenel (who let Withey catch it to deep in the post, and who was lost on a number of switches). 

RC's picture

As a Kansas fan I can tell you that for the first couple of years Jeff Withey looked a lot like Amir Williams does right now.  It took until about midseason last year to click for Withey and he just took off.  And the more he did it the more confident he became and he is a completely different player now.  So it may take some more time for Amir to become what we expect him to be but I think he has it in him.  I actually saw some flashes of it Saturday and I think he can build off of that.  Don't give up on him yet.  A lot of times it takes big men more time to develop.

RedStorm45's picture

I remember getting called out by an 11W staff member for questioning what he said was "Craft's expanded offensive role"....ahem.
I've heard theories of him changing his shot with Chris Jent.  I still don't understand why, yet again, when we needed a bucket we went to some b.s. pick and roll with him.  With his % why would anyone care if he got an open look?
Withey's numbers were a but misleading since he got quite a few in garbage time.  I thought Williams played him much better than Ravs did.  Ravenel makes me miss Kyle madsen or Matt terwilliger.  No offense to the guy, seems like a good dude but good lord.
I don't buy this garbage about Thomas getting doubled being the reason we can't get him a good look.  Sully and turner almost always got a double team, but somehow in crunch time when we needed a basket we had a play for them to get a decent look.  We went way too many possessions in a row with tank not even touching the ball.
 
started 6/10 from distance, finished 2/21.  That's worse than 10% me thinks.  12/34 overall inside the arc I believe.  Take out the 14-0 run and we get outscored by 22 over the other 35 minutes.

nltemple's picture

Well some time back we spoke of the upcoming team and season, there were many who defended the team and the season the recruits and rightfully so, however those defenders vision was clouded by the reality that this years edition of Buckeye Basketball was going to have trouble scoring the basketball and was going to be weak inside. So where does this season at currently the Buckeyes are the fourth or fifth best team in the BIG behind Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota and arguably Illinois. Will make the tounament if the NCAA takes 6 or 7 out of the BIG and will be dispatched round 1 or 2 in the Big Dance. When you can't score the ball and you are weak on the inside your future is bleek.

Noel Temple

Toilrt Paper's picture

Ohio State isn't capable of beating Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota or Illinois at home?
We already know Minnesota can't beat Duke, they lost by 18, can any of the other Big Ten schools beat Duke?
 We know MSU beat Kansas by 3, can any of the other Big Ten schoos beat Kansas?

miller2234's picture

I really hope this doesn't turn into a year where people begin questioning Thad. It's basketball and these years happen. I told people before the season started we are over rated.  Starting with Craft, look at what he has been playing with for two years. Anyone of us could've prolly played the 1 with the team in 2010 and last year he still had Sully, WB, and DT to bail him out. He had these types of games but they were overshadowed by Sully and someone else leading to the W (and not having to do too much except game manage). Lenzelle is too inconsistent and can't create, Sam T hasn't developed a great shot yet, Ravenel can't do anything against quality comp and DT is trying to carry the load. Amir, Amir. Did play a decent game yesterday but he is the most confusing player I've seen. Expectations were high since he was a 5 star picking us over Duke. It looks like he needs someone to spit in his face to get mad to play. Very slow and too weak to play the position effectively right now. Scott has been really good. LQR just gets too lost on D and we know that if you can't play D consistently Thad will not play you. Especially against quality opponents. This team is great defensively and really athletic which may save us in most games. We shot 30% at Duke and v. Kansas and lost by a combined 13 pts. While I don't think this team has a very high ceiling, I'm not going to blame thad for much of it. 
Another overlooked part I think is the BB IQ on this team. We lost Sully who KG said had the highest bb iq from a rookie he's ever seen and WB a seasoned vet. We have head scratching possessions and turnovers. We didn't have anyone coming in to overcome this and we are going to struggle. I mean even last year we were inconsistent shooting and struggled in the league for that one stretch. I count 11-12 toss up games (7 on the road) left on the schedule so I am anticipating a 5, 6, or 7 loss B1G campaign. We will be in trouble in the Dance with a team that can play some D and has a strong inside presence.  Here's to hoping Im wrong. Go Bucks!

GO BUCKS

RedStorm45's picture

Any of us could have played the 1? Lol wow I'll refrain from the name calling you deserve.

miller2234's picture

it's called sarcasm - do you actually think I meant we could've really played it? learn to interpret what you're reading. and yes he didn't have to do much at the "1" with the team in 2010. 

GO BUCKS

jestertcf's picture

This is the sarcasm font
edit: downvote for attempting to be helpful? well played.

~Because we couldn't go for three~

miller2234's picture

Not sure who down voted you but didn't really pay attention or thought I would need to type in italics to make sure people knew I wasn't serious with a statement such as that one. I am a huge craft supporter he's just being exposed and his inept offense has been covered for 2 years all I was saying

GO BUCKS

RedStorm45's picture

All your other points on the players seem fairly valid, so I don't know why you're throwing in a random "sarcastic" statement in the middle of all of it.  You do know it's the internet, and there is absolutely no tone unless you switch fonts.  Also, you're still an idiot for thinking he didn't have to do much in 2010.

Jugdish's picture

Craft drove and was open for a 7 foot jumper but did not take the shot. He passed back outside. He has lost confidence in himself as a scorer. Craft averaged 10 -12 points his freshman and sophomore seasons with the hitch in his shot. It is a little late to convert him to a different shooter. I'll take the 10 points and his tenacious defense anytime.
Our offensive rebounds really are not there. One shot and done. Our big guys need toughness and hit the boards. None of the bigs are taking charge of getting it done in the paint.
Even though the Bucks played poorly, it seemed they were always in the game. Matta and his staff will get it figured out and they had better do it soon because B1G play will soon start.
But I suppose the real problem is that the new floor was not installed. That was the real let down.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

RedStorm45's picture

You may want to do some research since craft never averaged 10-12 points a game.

Jugdish's picture

I should have done the research just as you said. He may have had some good games but his average for the freshman year was 6.9 and his sophomore year was 8.8. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We can see that he had steady growth over the two years, but something is clearly wrong with his shot this year. I hope for the sake of the team that he gets it corrected.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

RedStorm45's picture

Yeah, he'll occassionally have games where he gets 15-17, but I don't see too many of those this year.  He doesn't have the shooters of Diebler, Lighty, or Buford to spread the floor as much and no inside presence like Sully to play off of.  Still, there's no excuse for the shooting 37%, many of those uncontested.

Donny T's picture

Hate to say it, but it seems obvious to me that Craft has hit a plateau. I don't want to say ceiling yet, but you've got to start wondering. His shot, like everyone else on the team except Thomas, is inconsistent as hell. I can see Scott emerging as the starting point guard by the end of the season. Defensively Scott's picking it up and again, his offense is no worse than Craft's at this point and probably better. I think he has a quicker move to the basket than Craft, which is about the only thing that is going to open up the half-court offense -- drive and dish. I also wonder about Craft's decision making. Seems to be pressing to make plays to make up for lack of offense, like fouling Withey under the basket. WTH. And the turnover trying to pass it through traffic in the middle of the lane, resulting in a fastbreak bucket for Kansas. 
That said, there are a lot of problems as noted in the article. Thomas is the only shooter you can trust on this team, and even he missed wide open shots. The defensive breakdowns when Kansas had the ball out under its own basket were just inexcusable. Half court offense just horrible. And very little attempt to try to push the action after that 14-0 run in the first half. Granted, Kansas got back quickly most of the time, but Craft seemed very content to walk the ball up after that. Again, with their half court offense being as bad as it is, doesn't seem like a good strategy. At least force Kansas to stop you before you settle for half court set.
Finally, b-ball IQ is down on this team as others have noted. One example -- typically, at the end of games, if you want to save time on the clock, you roll the ball down the court hoping it will make it to half court before your player has to pick it up. Right? I don't know what OSU was doing at the end of the game, but at least twice, the in-bounds guy rolled it out just to the foul line, where Scott had to pick it up and go. How the hell does that save you time if you still have 3/4 of the length of the court to go? Nit-picky, I know, but just going to the point that this maybe isn't the savviest group Thad has ever had. 

mobuckeyenut's picture

7 points on inbound passes is unbelievable , never seen that many points scored in a high school game off inbound passes under your basket

rvm102246

DefendYoungstown's picture

Unless we have a 1 and done type player we ain't $hit. The team is made up of #2's and #3's. That's all I have to say about this.

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

acBuckeye's picture

Amir Williams has no hands and you can pretty much count on him turning the ball over if he's forced to catch a pass in traffic. Plus, he's really soft. He's the anti-Sully.
I remember many on here at one point saying that Aaron Craft would play in the NBA once he was done in Columbus. I totally disagreed then, and i'm sure those who once said that do now as well. As much as we all love his defense, he's not a very good ball-handler, is certainly not a play-maker off the dribble, and is actually getting worse as a shooter. His jumper is so broke looking, its not even funny.
Sam Thompson just lacks confidence, it seems to me. He knocked down a couple early threes, then as soon as he missed a couple in a row, I could see his confidence just shutter away. He needs to be more aggressive offensively. With his athleticism, there really is no excuse as to why he shouldn't attack more when he has the ball.
Lenzelle Smith is trying too hard to be the scorer that he isn't. He's a role player, but he's trying too many times to be the number 2 guy. This team, with its current construction of players, all collectively need to be the number 2 guy. Smith played a large part in shooting us directly into both losses this season. Smith's game relies on an inside scoring threat to get him open looks. He, like Craft, can't create his own. Without an inside threat this year, Smith needs to take smarter shots.
I think Ross will come around. He's got a sweet game, and i think when he gets knocked around a few more times in the B1G, he'll adjust and eventually have a big game against a primetime opponent. Him missing the first part of the season last year really set him back.
It's amazing to me that Tank has been able to score as much as he has considering the offensive ineptitude of his teammates.
I'd like to see Della Valle get more meaningful mins. He seems very confident, but can actually make outside shots. I'm sure he doesn't do many other things very well though.
Shannon Scott is turning into a beast. I wouldn't mind if he started over Craft at this point.

Jack Fu's picture

I think a lot of OSU fans really underestimated the loss of Sullinger. The guy was a legit great college player, not just because he had a great offensive post game and rebounded like a boss on the defensive end, but because he made the other guys better. He demanded double-teams in the post, and he knew where to pass the ball once the double came. That got guys like Diebler and Buford wide open jumpers, and got Craft the ball in positions where he had a step on his man from the get-go and could penetrate and either finish or dish it off. So much of our offensive success the last two years was based on Sullinger; not just his actual skill, but the attention that opposing defenses had to give him, at all times.
I think Sullinger made our other guys look better than they were. As an admittedly crude illustration, I'd say that his presence made Thomas look like an 8 (on a 1-10 scale) last year, when he was really a 7, and made Craft and Smith look like 7s or so when they were really 5s. So fans when into this year (metaphorically) saying "well, we just need Thomas to step up from an 8 to a 9, and Craft & Smith from a 7 to an 8, and that will make up for a lot of the loss of Sully." When in reality, those other guys weren't as good as we thought, they just looked that good thanks to Sully. So we were really asking Craft and Smith to improve from 5s to 8s, for example. I hope I'm wrong, but it's troubling that we've played two legit opponents this year, and both times when it got down to crunch time I found myself saying, "Jesus, unless Thomas makes a contested jumper here, I have no idea where our points are going to come from."
I also think fans engaged in some serious wishful thinking when they thought that Williams, Thompson, and Ross would be above-average players this year. Williams is soft and has the basketball IQ of someone who just started playing the game (how many times is he going to get a rebound and then bring the ball down to his waist so that a smaller opponent can strip it from him? Seriously, this is like "Big Guy 101" here). Thompson is a great athlete with an erratic jumper who can't create shots for himself. Ross has never shown us any reason to think he's going to be a solid contributor. He's solely an internet/fan hype creation, like a basketball version of Ray Small (without Small's off-field idiocy). I hope these guys get there. They're nowhere close at this point.
If you look at the four factors for the two losses this year, there are two ways to look at it. The optimist will say, "OSU has really held their own in every category but shooting. We generally hold onto the ball better than our opponents, we generally rebound our misses better than our opponents, and we get to the line a decent amount. All that's really lagging behind is shooting." The pessimist will say, "Yeah, but we've been so bad shooting in those two games (eFG of .382 and .369, respectively) that maybe that's just who this team is, at least against good opponents. And what are the odds that everyone will start shooting better? Other than Thomas, no one has much of a track record of shooting success."
The season is still relatively young at this point, and things can change. Maybe a light goes on for Thompson and/or Williams. But I think we need to seriously consider downshifting the expectations for this team. Especially considering that our first five games in conference play are v. Brasky, @ Illinois, @ Purdue, v. Michigan, @ MSU, with six more games against ranked opponents on the horizon. There must be improvement, and it must come fast.

osubuckeye4life's picture

The loss of Sully definitely weighs heavy on this team. 
They will have to do a large amount of growing up to be a factor in March.