Great Scott

By Chris Lauderback on March 16, 2013 at 6:00a

Okay, so the headline might be overcooking it if you're looking at the entire season, but there's no mistaking the impact Shannon Scott has had on Ohio State's resurgence. 

Seemingly dead in the water after suffering a 71-49 shellacking at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers back on February 17, the Buckeyes have now peeled off six straight wins. The last five came in regular season play, vaulting OSU to a 13-5 record, a 2nd place finish in the league, and a #2 seed in the B1G tournament while the sixth victory, yesterday's 71-50 blowout of Nebraska, set up this afternoon's tournament semifinal matchup against Michigan State. 

While factors such as the improved play of Aaron Craft, and to a lesser extent Sam Thompson, have also had a hand in the late-season push, Scott's breakout stretch has been every bit as important, if not more so.

Passing the eye test with flying colors amidst Ohio State's current season-turning winning streak, I wanted to see just how well Scott's numbers during the impressive run stack up against his output in the first 13 league games.  

Sitting at a middling 8-5 in the B1G standings following the crushing loss at Wisconsin, Scott's numbers were decidedly meh:

18.5 30% 55% 2.4 3.1 .17 .92 .05 2.6 .14

The numbers through the first 13 conference games illustrate exactly what your eyes witnessed: Scott couldn't throw the ball in the ocean but he could drive and dish, creating a solid amount of assists for a player averaging only 18.5 minutes per contest and even though he wasn't generating a ton of steals, he applied solid ball pressure.

Even with the mediocre cumulative numbers, especially when lining up a shot, he did show some flashes such as the three-assist, three-steal and three-rebound effort in the blowout loss to Illinois followed by an aggressive eight-assist, six-rebound effort in a 10-point road win over Purdue. 

When the competition ratcheted up, however, Scott hit a wall. He coughed it up three times against four assists in a three-point win over Michigan followed by another three-turnover effort, this time against Michigan State, that also featured a boneheaded play at the end of regulation which killed Ohio State's chance at a possible upset in East Lansing. Combined, in 41 minutes, Scott turned it over six times and missed five of seven shots. 

Three days later against Iowa, Scott turned it over twice more and and missed four of six shots in 18 minutes to give him a three-game statline reading 4/13 from the floor with eight turnovers. 

The result was diminished floor time as Thad lost confidence in his sophomore guard. Receiving almost 22 minutes per game in league play to that point, Scott averaged just 13 minutes over the next five outings, making very little impact along the way.

It looked like things might be turning around as Scott was the benefactor of Thad employing a small lineup against a banged-up Northwestern outfit. Playing a then season-high 26 minutes, Shannon responded with seven rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and five points on 2/4 shooting as the Buckeyes outlasted the Wildcats in Evanston

Unfortunately, the honeymoon was short-lived when Scott missed three of four shots, turned it over once and failed to record a dime in 19 minutes of action in the embarrassing defeat in Madison. 

Basically, while it was easy to get excited about the defensive attitude he brought to the floor and his ability to beat his man off the bounce, his inability to finish at the rim, in addition to a freakishly heavy jumper, posed a serious problem for the Buckeyes, who were already struggling to generate points from the perimeter spots. And that left Deshaun Thomas carrying too much of the offensive burden.  

But then, with the season at a crossroads and Matta searching for answers, he began to more frequently employ a smaller, faster lineup that saw Scott gobble up increased minutes while partnering with Craft to turn up the heat on opposing backcourts. 

The numbers don't lie: 

23.8 52% 65% 3.0 4.0 .17 2.8 .12 6.5 .27

Before even digging into game specifics, Scott's slash line during the winning streak compared to the previous 13 games makes a strong statement. 

The sophomore is shooting it at a 52% clip over the six games, a sharp contrast to his 30% accuracy in prior conference play while maintaining a strong assists per minute mark and more than doubling his steals per minute. 

To start the streak, Scott reached double figures with 11 points along with five dimes and three blocks in a thrashing of Minnesota, showing his ability to thrive in transition both offensively and at the defensive end of the floor. 

Scott has been instrumental in OSU's six-game streak

His output was modest in the payback of Michigan State, though he did pick up a couple swipes, and four nights later, he was a difference maker in a 10-point win over Northwestern. Scott was all over the floor defensively, picking up four steals and he was just as slippery at the offensive end, totaling eight assists.  

The real show came five nights later in Bloomington when the Buckeyes spoiled Senior Night with a nation-noticing 67-58 upset of the Hoosiers. Scott did a little bit of everything – eight points, three assists and three rebounds – but it was his four steals that best spoke of his impact. Scott and Craft absolutely stifled the Indiana backcourt. Oladipo turned it over four times and was held to seven points and Yogi Ferrell missed seven of ten shots plus committed a couple turnovers. The night illustrated what kind of influence a pair of stud ball-pressure guards can have on a game. Further, it showed just how dangerous this team can be when Craft, Thompson and Scott are all contributing in various ways in support of Deshaun's scoring. 

In the regular season finale, Scott once again teamed with Craft to create disruption on defense, totaling nine rebounds and two steals including the midair theft and behind-the-back pass in one motion in what amounted to a glorious hockey assist. Offensively, Scott did work with seven points and three assists, though he did cough it up four times.

Finally, last night in the United Center, Scott offered more of the same, registering two steals and three boards while adding seven points and four assists on 3/3 shooting in 20 mostly game-changing minutes. He keyed a 12-0 spurt that gave Ohio State the lead for good midway through the first half, confidently stroking a jumper late in the shot clock before splashing a triple. At the other end of the floor, he converted a steal into a fast break layup for Craft and later snagged a Ravenel strip and started another breakout that culminated in a pair of free throws for Thomas to cap the run. 

With Scott and Craft harassing opposing guards and giving Ohio State's offense some spark, especially off dribble penetration, coupled with Thompson's improving overall game and the sporadic scoring of Lenzelle Smith Jr., the Buckeyes aren't forced to be as reliant on Thomas. That's the beauty of this current streak. Multiple guys have played at a higher level in numerous facets of their respective games, paced by Scott, showing just how good Ohio State can be when almost everyone is clicking in support of Deshaun.

The streak is back on the line again this afternoon as the Buckeyes square off against Michigan State for a spot in the B1G final plus an increasingly likely #2 seed in the NCAA tournament. If Scott can work in tandem with Craft once more to lead what is currently a strong-performing supporting cast, Ohio State will move that much closer toward positioning themselves for another shot at a B1G title and a deep run in the Dance. 


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oregonianbuckeye's picture

Really nice article, Chris. I always thought if we could get two of the four sophomores that play to 'click' they could be a really good team. Seems like Scott and Thompson are the two, with Q still not having the consistency and Amir being Amir. Can't believe how much more confident both of them (Scott and Thompson) are with the ball, and how tough the defense is with Craft and Scott in together. At this point, it's clear that our best lineup is Craft, Scott, Thompson, DT, and Rav (who has stepped up his game since Matta went off on him). 

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

You mentioned the key word with Scott I think - confident.  His confidence is visibly increasing.   Kid keeps this up and we are a really tough out for anyone.     
And I agree on Ravenel, the guy just knows his role, plays his butt off and does all the little things we need from him.   Wish he was coming back next year!

sirclovis's picture

At this point, it's clear that our best lineup is Craft, Scott, Thompson, DT, and Rav

I completely agree. I think this is a solid lineup that can matchup against pretty much any opponent. Against a smaller team or for a change of pace I like Craft, Scott, Thompson, DT, and them LQ or Smith jr. I feel like this lineup has a ton of fire power and can truly be explosive if everything is clicking.

popeurban's picture

I am so happy that this team appears to finally be clicking.  Scott playing well is helping to put the Burke demons to bed for me.

Bort's picture

I agree.  I never thought after watching Shannon Scott the last two years that I would believe we're a better team with him on the floor.  After this last month, it is clear to me that we are.  I've said all year to my friends that I can't believe Thad recruited Shannon Scott over Trey Burke, especially after watching Burke put up 20 points a game and us having nobody other than DT that can score.  After these last few weeks, I'll take Shannon's defensive abilities.  He's not better than Trey Burke, but he's not as selfish, and we have a better team than Michigan even if we have less scoring.

"We've always had the best damn band in the we have the best damn team in the land"
Jim Tressel

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

He provided them the spark they needed coming off the bench last night.  Slow start, but once he entered it seemed like that helped to flip the switch.  The defense took over after that.  Good job Bucks!  Now on to a tough matchup against MSU.  Go Bucks! 

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

Scott should be starting ahead of Lenzelle for the remainder of the year and all of next.  It won't happen - but it should.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

We will need L to play well before this season is over. He is especially important against teams that play a zone or that have big guards. I agree that Scott is playing better, and that L has been disappointing recently, but Matta is smart to stick with L in the starting lineup. If he started Scott over L, he would risk losing one of our better outside shooters and destroying this confidence heading into the tourney. 

sirclovis's picture

I think Lenzelle has the ability to be a true scoring threat and plays solid D against several different positions. Also, he has an uncanny knack for rebounding, specifically offensively, and battles down low quite well despite his size. I agree that Scott has played better as of late but I think Lenzelle should still be a starter.

Baroclinicity's picture

I'm just one who always looks ahead (and I'm not ignoring the rest of this season!), but if Thomas comes back, this looks like a very potent team with the aforementioned improvements to Scott and Thompson.  Get Q and Amir to climb to the next rung and we could be very dangerous again.
That said, like Oregonian alluded to above, I think Lenzelle will be the key to how deep we go into the tournament this year.  He's the X factor in all of this.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Flyermike's picture

I love the statistical analysis on this site. This was a great read. At first I hated craft and scott on the floor together, but scott is great on the fast break and is turning into an excellent defender.

Hovenaut's picture

Nice write up.

Scott has been a real boost, Matta is slowly unveiling this kid nicely. What a perfect time of year to be coming on strong - both Scott and the team.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

I wonder what Burke is doing today. Oh yeah, watching Craft & Scott play.

osu07asu10's picture

But but....Matta made such a huge mistake deciding to play with Scott and Craft and not recruit Burke....

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Not a mistake by Matta, Sullinger insisted Craft be his PG. He played with Burke during the high school season and Craft during the AAU season. Sullinger thought Burke was too much of a gunner and not as good at getting him the ball, as craft was. Burk has failed to make a big play to win a game over the past 2 years against a big time opponent.

bhartman13's picture

Scott needs to be on the floor 25+ minutes per game if possible.  I know matchups could be a problem with big guards but I think he can hold his own.  Plus his shot has been looking solid so he can contribute on offense.  When he is in the game the defensive pressure and tempo goes to another level and everyone feeds off it.  Love me some Shannon Scott!

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

I feel confident in Matta's decision to bring him off the bench for a change of pace. Worked pretty well with Craft.

bhartman13's picture

Scott should come off the bench but he should get more minutes.  I trust Matta as well and he has really turned this team around and they are clicking at the right time.  I just feel that recently when Scott is on the floor this team is at it's best.

gravey's picture

Psychology is a stunning thing.  It's hardly ever more evident than in basketball.  Athletes that can get their head straight in front of a crowd are stars.  I think Scott's getting his head right at the right time.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Well put. Jordan said something very similar. He used to park his car in the arena and opposing players would stop to check out Mike's car. He had them beat before they took the floor.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

I will definitely give a "hear hear" to Scott's increased production, but my god does thompson's shot look smooth as hell.
Also, can i please just sit down with Williams in a room for just 10 minutes and figure out what the hell is going through that kid's head?

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Interesting now to revisit this poll, posted the day after our most recent loss:
I thought at the time Scott was showing improvement that couldn't really be quantified, but this post has quantified it. (To be fair, Craft has really improved over the last month also.)

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.