The Case for Mayhem

By Michael Citro on February 22, 2013 at 1:00p
MOAR Floppy Haired Mayhem!

Ohio State’s 71-45 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday didn’t exactly right the listing ship of the past two weeks. The Buckeyes shot poorly for much of the game, went on prolonged scoring droughts, turned the ball over cheaply, and didn’t rebound well at home.

While it’s still cool to chillax and enjoy the win in the midst of a stretch that has humbled the Scarlet & Gray, it would be a mistake to think Ohio State played up to its potential or to assume that all is well. You’re likely not feeling as good as you did when you saw the Buckeyes take Michigan to the wire in overtime in Ann Arbor.

Michigan State arrives in Columbus this weekend, fresh off a painful home loss to Indiana, intent on staying in the B1G race. Sparty will be hungry.

What can Thad Matta do to prepare his team not only for the Spartans, but for the regular season home stretch and the tournaments beyond?

On Wednesday we saw a myriad of new lineup combinations. We even saw a “twin tower” lineup in the second half, including both Amir Williams and Trey McDonald. Matta was partly trying to accommodate foul trouble, but clearly he’s still searching for something — the magic combination that will unlock the potential of the 2013 Buckeyes.

Perhaps Matta should give Amedeo Della Valle more playing time.

OK, I know, but hear me out on this one. Indulge me, if you will.

Despite what we saw in his few, mostly uneventful minutes in the first half Wednesday — including falling down on defense once — inserting ADV from time to time could give Ohio State an interesting wrinkle, while giving opponents something different to prepare for.

With Della Valle’s floppy-haired mayhem (h/t Vico) as part of the OSU offense, Matta can send Deshaun Thomas down onto the block against teams without multiple, talented bigs (read: almost everyone). Thomas can handle anyone his size or slightly taller in different ways — posting up, making a quick dribble move, or stepping back for a short-to-mid-range jumper.

This wouldn’t necessarily work against a team like Michigan State, which can send out Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne together, but against many teams Tank can eat guys alive on the block.

Flying mayhem.The B1G isn't protected from mayhem like ADV.

This is where ADV comes in. Thomas and Della Valle could work a two-man game on the same side of the court against a team playing man-to-man defense, as long as Ohio State’s pivot can draw his defender to the other side of the lane. This is far from guaranteed, but at least Evan Ravenel can knock down baseline jumpers.

With proper spacing, ADV’s defender would need to double down on Thomas, much as we saw in the past with Jon Diebler/William Buford and Jared Sullinger. Quick ball movement would result in either an easy basket for Thomas or an open triple for ADV. Since the Italian freshman is leading the Buckeyes in 3FG%, it would add a dimension to the offense that has been missing.

While there are defenses, and even teams, against which this doesn’t work, it’s better to dictate to the opponent than to let them get comfortable doing whatever they want.

Are there issues to overcome from this? Sure. We saw it in the first half Wednesday. Della Valle got broadsided by a screen and a slow reaction from Shannon Scott on the resulting switch left a shooter wide open. Playing ADV with the more instinctive Aaron Craft could mitigate situations like that.

It’s natural that defensive movement is one of ADV’s weaknesses at this stage of his career. He does get lost at times, but he’s been better at man-to-man defense than I expected. The trouble, as with all young players, is with communication on screens. Still, he has quick hands, a fairly long reach, and he’s shown an ability to block shots. Would you believe that ADV has blocked more shots this season than Lenzelle Smith Jr.? He has.

I believe Della Valle can handle the offensive part of the game, although he’d likely be more turnover prone than the upperclassmen ahead of him. ADV is hitting 42% outside the arc. Compare that to Jon Diebler’s 29% from downtown his freshman season, although the floppy-haired wonder has a much smaller sample size from which to draw. From what we’ve seen thus far, I think the Italian has the stroke and the confidence to add the kind of offense that this year’s squad could use.

In 12 appearances this season, ADV averages 7.8 minutes per game and three points per outing. Extrapolating that to a 20-minute average, Della Valle could provide about eight points off the bench on a given night. With the rotating disappearances we’ve seen this season from Smith Jr. and Sam Thompson, it could mean the difference between winning and losing a close game in a brutal conference schedule.

Importantly, Della Valle doesn’t seem to be the type of player who would be discouraged by getting pulled from the game for a mistake, or the kind of guy who would let inconsistent minutes affect the confidence he has in his shooting.

If he can shoot 42% on triples when mostly coming in cold off the bench, after sitting for almost two hours, it’s not unlikely his percentage could increase when he’s routinely in the flow of the game and properly warmed up. Could he get open regularly? That remains to be seen, but the only way to find out is to play him.

Matta isn’t stupid. He sees ADV every day in practice and would play him more if he trusted him. After all, he wants to win, and winning percentage directly affects his livelihood as a head coach. But it’s also true that some players show better in games than in practice. Whether that applies to Della Valle…well, there’s simply not enough data to say definitively.

Perhaps the B1G season isn’t the best place for experimenting, but it’s a much better place to do it than the postseason. With just a few games remaining, Ohio State is more or less locked in to where it will finish the regular season, give or take a position or two in the standings. Its NCAA seed probably won’t change much, unless it upsets both Sparty and Indiana.

And so what if more of ADV doesn’t work out? Matta can always go back to the old rotation. If it does work, his team becomes even more dangerous in Chicago and in the NCAA tournament.

I think that makes it worthy of a look. What do you think? Would you like to see more mayhem?


Comments Show All Comments

rdubs's picture

I would argue that the case isn't so much that he needs more PT it is that DT and some others could do with less, so rotating ADV in gets him experience and keeps some of our top guys rested and out of foul trouble.  I think rotating guys especially early in games and early in the season is an easy way to steal some time without much of a negative impact.
EDIT: Thad is that you? Downvoting me for supporting using more than 6-7 players per game.

Timotheos's picture

I don't think we can afford to take DT out, unless you are making the case that the reason he disappears occasionally is that he is tired. Without him, we have no offense.

rdubs's picture

No one should have to play 40 mins a night.  They fade down the stretch when you need them.  If you can't afford to put someone on the bench for 4 minutes a game, you will not win many games against good teams.
Take him out around the TV timeouts to steal a couple extra minutes of rest.  You don't need to sit him for long, but if you don't those last 5 minutes of a game suffer greatly.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

But I'm guessing that Thad is already giving DT a bit of extra rest, given Thad's typical rotation patterns.
DT is averaging 34.9 minutes/game so far this year. In 2009 - 10, for comparison, Diebler averaged 37.2 minutes/game. That same year, Lighty averaged 36.3 and Turner 35.6.
If Thad thought that DT's body could handle more minutes . . . well, knowing Tad, DT would probably be averaging over 36 minutes/game.  

rdubs's picture

I certainly agree with your last point, but look at the top 5 in the conference in minutes per game:
Not exactly a who's who.  Look at Indiana's Min/Game, part of that is blow outs, but imagine how helpful it is to be fresh in the last 5 minutes.  And I am not necessarily referring to just DT, having a deeper rotation has little downside because it isn't like I am saying that DT should be playing fewer than 30 mins per game (like Oladipo is), but just taking off one or two min in B1G play and he would be much more effective in the last 5 minutes of those games.

brandonbauer87's picture

I love me some ADV. I think I could be the leader of his fan club. I also think we need a good nickname for him.  I mean come on, he looks like a guy that deserves a sweet nickname. 

Colonel Quaritch's picture

He did tweet a long time ago when he signed if Buckeye nation had any nicknames for him. I would like it if the annoucners said ADV for 3! But i cant think of something other than the Italian Stallion which obviously is taken.

"The question isn't who's going to let me, it's who's going to stop me." 

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

Anyone suggest Il Assassino? Thats il assissino btw. Just hard to read when capatalized.

Urban Ohio's picture


Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

brandonbauer87's picture

I thought up cecchino early. It's Italian for sniper. I thought it might be a little too obscure. 

d1145fresh's picture

I really think he needs more PT. Having a sharp shooter on the outside makes almost everyone on the floor better. It opens up the middle for guys like Amir and DT. It makes the drive and kick more effective for Craft and opens up lanes for Thompson because ADV's defender can't drop down to help because of the shooting threat. I understand he is a liability on D right now but he will get better with more playing time. 

collards's picture

I am all for experience, but he is not quick/instinctive/experienced enough to play defense on the perimeter. This allows his man to drive for an easy layup or our bigs in trying to play help defense pick up too many fouls. I don't know if he brings fear to the opponents on the offensive side either as nobody has yet to defend him with their real starters . We will see if he starts averaging double figures against IU, MSU, tsun etc.
I realize he needs pt to get better, but the bucks need victories this season. I say let him work real hard in practice ( I am sure he does) and over the summer learn to read the floor on the defensive side as well as the offensive side.  He isn't reading the first step move when he is defending very well. His only pass in the first half against the gophers was a real soft, high one that was almost stolen.
I am really pulling for him to be the outside shooter which we need, but as long as we are in the race for a good finish, his playing might sacrifice more than it gains for the bucks. He really only looked good after the Minnesota game was a laugher. I know we are desperate for solutions as well and hope remains eternal, but he needs a lot of learning.


RedStorm45's picture

Constantly referencing his 42% is poor form in my opinion.  As you've said he's played mostly garbage minutes, defense isn't exactly a strong suit then by either team.  If he did play 20 or so minutes having to play defense and be defended, I doubt he keeps that up. He's made poor decisions passing/dribbling and his defense isn't very good.  I like his effort though.  I could see the case to be made for 8 to 10 minutes a game perhaps as the 3rd guy off the bench.

Michael Citro's picture

Granted, I'm no litmus test, but I always felt it was easier to score as a starter than off the bench, especially when I was very young and only played in garbage time. I understand teams haven't had to game plan for him, but I think it's harder to shoot after having sat on the bench all night. Just my opinion and my own personal experience.

Jack Fu's picture

In my opinion, we as fans need to stop thinking about lineup changes to try and make the offense better. Just accept that it is what it is: totally average. The guys surrounding Deshaun that we were all hoping would significantly improve didn't. The team scores 1.02 points per possession, over a fourteen game sample size of Big Ten play. That's not great, but it can get the job done if the Bucks play great defense. When they do, they'll win or at least be very competitive. When they don't, they'll almost definitely lose. Simple as that.

Savage45's picture

Isn't the B1G tourney in Chicago this year?

Michael Citro's picture

It is. Force of habit.

Vico's picture

I'm always up for some Mayhem.

I think ADV becomes a key 6th man on next year's team, as long as guard play will continue with a senior Aaron Craft, junior Shannon Scott, and a senior Lenzelle Smith.  The opportunity is ripe for him to start as a junior.

It's why, as much as I like seeing Mayhem on the court, I wasn't in a terrible rush to get him on the court now.  He has the shooting stroke we kinda need on this team, but I don't doubt he doesn't have the other facets of the game put together to justify a bigger role on this year's team.  That he's a "year two" project like Shannon Scott or Deshaun Thomas I don't find necessarily worrying.  I would be worried if his "year two" looked like LaQuinton Ross' sophomore season.

When the time comes for Mayhem, particularly of the floppy-haired nature, you'll know.

We will all be witnesses. To Mayhem.

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Timotheos's picture

Next year's team will be intriguing with ADV and Q, both developing unorthodox talents. Assuming DT leaves, the offense will a huge question mark. As always, lots of talent, but how will they work together?

Northbrook's picture

Look in my eyes and what do you see? Little globes and anchors, and mayhem.

sb97's picture

A change I would like to see is Matta posting up LaQ with Deshaun Thomas spotting up for a three (Usually it is Thomas down load and LaQ outside).  Right now I trust LaQ inside more than I do outside and we might get DT a few open looks.

Statutoryglory's picture

I feel the opposite.  Q tends to lose the ball when he is dribbling too long against one guy, but he is a pretty good catch and shoot guy.  Conversely DT is pretty stellar at upfaking anyone around the rim and can quickly pass out of that double team to hit Q, ADV, or Lenzelle on the wing for that open 3.

Davep160's picture

I wish I had his hair....then again I wish I had hair.

German Buckeye's picture

ADV gives us some offense - Amir gives us ZERO offense (and most nights no rebounds either). Small ball can work...

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

We've got plenty of shooters, in my opinion, and any one of the them can get hot on a given night.  More to the point of the two man game - we just don't do that.  We hardly look to go low and I have found that to be a problem throughout the year.  Everything we do is perimeter based and we hope for dribble-drive penetration.  While I don't know if ADV is the explicit answer, I'd wholeheartedly agree that some kind of high-low, 2-3 man game (triangle) would benefit this team.  From what I've seen, the biggest problem is down low with establishing and holding position and finding a location where the ball can be easily delivered.

Read my entire screen name....

tampa buckeye's picture

We've got plenty of shooters?  Outside of DT no one is over 40% from 3 that is terrible.  ADV shoots around 50% in games he sees the floor for more than 10mins.  

d5k's picture

Quantity of shots kind of matters here.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

With percentages, why? Can you explain more? Unless you're trying to get into a statistical conversation about sample size to which I would argue that one who gets to shoot more should shoot better.  I was pretty amazed with that data. 

Read my entire screen name....

d5k's picture

If you shoot less than 1 3 pointer per game it doesn't really open anything else up if you are talking about Shannon Scott shooting >40% on the year.  When our offense hummed, we had 3+ guys who shot volume 3 pointers and made >40%.  The volume guys are basically Deshaun and Lenzelle and Lenzelle has trailed off in his % as teams have stopped helping off of him (which is a good thing though).  And then Craft/Thompson are non-factors from 3 and like I said Scott doesn't take them unless he is wide open or the shot clock is running down.
It's kinda like running and throwing.  Braxton was reasonably efficient on a per-pass basis this year but you wouldn't say the passing game was anywhere near as good as the running game. They had to run way more than pass and that is with teams even selling out to stop the run.  Similar here, when you have guys who are non-shooters in this offense then it makes defense way easier for our opponents.  They can focus on Deshaun and protecting the lane against our guards and ignore Thompson and let Craft take jumpers.
I would like to see a lineup with ADV, Ross and Thomas with Scott on the ball as I think they would have a hard time helping off of anyone.  Wouldn't be as good on the other end though.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

With respect to the dimensionality of our offense, I do think that's what happening and exactly why I suggest agree with those who want to see dt move down low and us play high-low. 

Read my entire screen name....

d5k's picture

Yes this team would be way better just with some guys like Jakel Foster (3p shooting AND defense rather than 1 or the other) and Dallas Lauderdale. But we do have other things previous teams didn't have.

Donny T's picture

Love to see more ADV. He and Scott always bring energy into the game when they come in, something which can't be said for say, LZIII. I think his defense will get better (hey, he's already blocked more shots this season than Lenzelle) and the energy and 3-point threat will help the team in the long-run. He could easily steal minutes in different line-ups from Craft, Lenzelle and even Slam, who are to put it nicely, inconsistent as hell on offense. In fact, Lenzelle's 11 minutes last game seems just about right. And as for ADV getting broad-sided on a screen, that's as much the fault of his fellow defenders not calling out the screens as it is him running into them. I can't hear what they're saying on the floor, but it seems they rarely let each other know when a screen is coming. 

bucksfan92's picture

I'd like to see more ADV out there on the court.  Yes he did end up flat on his backside on the first defensive possession Wednesday, but by the time he was finished, he had nailed a 3, blocked a 3, pulled down a couple rebounds and, as you put it, generally added mayhem into the game.  Plus at home he draws energy out of the crowd.  He looks like he is thrilled to be out there playing, and that says something with this year's team of mostly uninterested players.

Eric1347's picture

I just dont think matta trusts ADV enough right now, its one thing to put up jumpers behind the arc when your up 15 or 20 pts. its another when the games on the line,but theres no doubt he bring an energy to the floor that the bucks need. The thing that stood out to me weds. was that this team was way better with thompson and smith jr. on the bench and scott running the offense, the more consecutive minutes have played the better team played.

AC1972's picture

ADV is really just a novelty at this point, still a really good high school player but not a B1G. That said, tOSU needs at least the threat of a 3pt shooter out there.  Same with the center- Amir is lost and we need at least the inside/ outside threat. Erav needs more minutes and they need to go to him every once in a while. Thad seems to do the same thing every year- ride this stars for 40 minutes and they can't win the close ones. The KY loss 2 years ago and the KS loss last year...ugh. 
Thad is a great coach, but I don't think he is a good game time coach. Thad has lost some good assistants, and they are the ones that perhaps helped keep the game mgmt in check. 
Thad is gonna miss out on recruits if he keeps this up...

osubuckeye4life's picture

All of these are mayhem in Italian. Just different uses of the word.
italiano caos "italian mayhem"