Loving It

By Chris Lauderback on January 11, 2014 at 9:00a
Matta loves Loving's basketball IQ, work ethic and desire to be coached

Though it was tough to stomach Ohio State falling to Michigan State in overtime after fighting all the way back from a 17 point deficit to force overtime on the road, there were still a handful of positives to enjoy, most notably the continued emergence of true freshman swingman, Marc Loving. 

One of just two incoming freshmen to the 2013 squad, Loving, a Rivals 4-star out of Toledo, was known to possess an all-around game complimenting an ability to put the biscuit in the basket but with the likes of upperclassmen Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross forming a log jam on the perimeter, not to mention sophomore Amedeo Della Valle fighting for wing minutes of his own, whether or not Loving could convince Thad Matta he was worthy of meaningful minutes was far from certain. 

Of course, Matta would kick the tires on Loving as he is wont to do against non-conference cupcakes that dominate Ohio State's playbill in the month's of November and December but against the better out of conference competition, Matta mostly reverted back to his status quo of leaning on vets to log heavy minutes. 

Interestingly, and somewhat foretelling of what Matta sees in Loving, the freshman logged 22 minutes in Ohio State's third game of the season, a 52-35 road win at then #17 Marquette, ending their 27-game home winning streak. He hit just one of three shots but it was a big one as the offensively challenged Buckeyes used his triple with seven seconds in the opening half to tie things up at 19 before a 2nd half defensive assault triggered the eventual blowout. Despite the lack of offensive production, Loving did pick up two steals and looked far from overwhelmed in the most hostile environment he'd encountered to date. 

Loving is 2nd on the team in Free Throw Attempts (12/14) in B1G play despite ranking 7th in Minutes Per GameLoving has shown a strong ability to get into the lane

Less than three weeks later however, as Ohio State hosted Maryland in the ACC/B1G Challenge, Loving saw just nine minutes of action as the Buckeyes won by 16. He would average over 12 minutes per contest over the next four games including 14 in a 12-point performance against a solid North Dakota State squad but when the Buckeyes headed to New York City to take on Notre Dame in The Garden, Loving was virtually stapled to the bench, logging a season-low four minutes of action in Ohio Sate's sick comeback win. 

Loving responded with eight points thanks to a knack for getting to the line (4/5 FT) along with three boards in 16 minutes against a badly outclassed UL-Monroe team to round out the non-conference action setting the stage for an unforeseen breakout through the first three games in B1G play. 

In his league debut at Purdue, Loving looked very much the part of a solid reserve contributor as he posted another eight points and three boards, including 2/4 from distance, in 16 minutes of action against a physical Boilermaker lineup. 

Four days later, Loving had his best game as a Buckeye tossing in a career-high 13 points on 3/6 from the floor and more importantly, 7/8 from the stripe in a blowout of Nebraska. As he had shown in small doses during the non-conference slate, Loving flashed a scorer's mentality balanced by a strong basketball-IQ, driving to the bucket as 'Husker defenders consistently played him tight in an effort to take away his jumper. 

Those two outing set the stage for last Tuesday night as Loving racked up 23 minutes of action, much of it as the Buckeyes used a 20-3 run in the 2nd half to force the extra session. No less significant was the fact he did so with Ohio State's top two scorers, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr., riding the pine. 

PUR 16 3/7 43% 0/0 3 1 8
NEB 17 3/6 50% 7/8 5 1 13
MSU 23 2/8 25% 5/6 1 1 10

Loving shot just 2/8 from the field, missing four of five tries from downtown, but did manage to earn six trips to the stripe, making five, while turning it over just once in a raucous environment against a tenacious D. 

The kid made his share of freshman mistakes including his decision to take a leaning triple while being heavily crowded by a defender with five seconds left in overtime and he was partly to blame for a turnover in which Aaron Craft appeared to read a curl while Loving picked and popped midway through the extra session. 

NON-CONF 13.6 31/73 43% 40/48 83% 2.5 7.0
CONFERENCE 18.7 8/21 38% 12/14 86% 3.0 10.3

Still, there's no denying Loving is a future star in Columbus and unlike Ross and others before him, it's clear he has earned Matta's trust in his first year on campus for a multitude of reasons. 

Beyond the obvious ability to score in a variety of ways, Loving has impressed Matta with his work ethic and the already noted floor intelligence that shows up in ways such as leading an opposing offensive player into a switch to correct a defensive mismatch or exploiting the defense and earning a trip to the line when the offense lacks flow. 

As Matta noted, talents such as these are hard to instill, especially a true freshman, which has Thad believing Loving is coming into his own as an overall player. 

Knowing how all freshmen operate, there will likely be times that he looks overwhelmed or out of sorts as he did for a few minutes against Michigan State but if can consistently contribute in more ways than just trying to score, there's a great chance Loving will continue to receive quality minutes which will not only pay dividends this season but for years to come. 


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Olemissbuckeye's picture

Another promising Toledo Buckeye!

Chief B1G Dump's picture

St Johns baby!
Toledo talent...

45has2's picture

The Glass City has been kind to TOSU. Dennis Hopson, J.J., Kelvin Ransey, William Buford and now Marc Loving. GO BUCKS!

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

Marc is a cool customer, he never seems to get rattled or out of his game. He's made some freshman mistakes, but he balled against MSU and I can forgive him for the tough shot he took at the end. Smooth jumper, decent rebounder and polished in the screen game. Very well coached in HS. I think he's the next big thing at OSU. 

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

TLB's picture

I like the pace that Thad is bringing him along.  The game doesn't appear to be too big for him.  His minutes will grow through the B1G season and he could become the go-to guy in tournament time.  Defense may hold him back a little, but that'll come with more playing time.

DenBuck's picture

I like him very much. I'm also glad Thad is giving him minutes. It's bad pub when Thad refuses to go to the bench as these kids want to play! 

Buckeye For Life

bucksfan92's picture

Marc Loving is absolutely going to be a superstar here, maybe as soon as next year, and he is probably the most polished freshman we've had here since the Thad 5.  It was clear that the pressure of the situation got to him late in the MSU game.  I was a little surprised Matta didn't sub him out for a possession in the OT to settle him down a bit.  Would rather he not have had the ball on that last possession feeling like he needed to take the shot.  But Matta has a knack for going with the 5 on the floor when they are in a rhythm and it generally works out. 
I think OSU is going to crush Iowa tomorrow, considering Iowa does not play the 4 corners style.  It wil be a chance for us to run the floor and no team in the B1G can match us there.

IGotAWoody's picture

We had a couple VERY polished freshmen a few years ago - Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft. But I'm liking me some Loving, he's come in as ready to contribute as you can expect from a freshman.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

BoFuquel's picture

This has IT! GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Normal Buck's picture

I really like this kid.  He just looks like he wants to take the shot when he's out there, and outside of Tank, and Q (when he's hot), we've had too many guys that look like they don't want to take the shot since the likes of Diebler and Lighty graduated.

bukyze's picture

As with the other responders, I too think Loving is a superstar in the waiting.  I may not be an excellent evaluator of basketball talent, but even I could see his potential just in the first 3 games he plays.  Dude has a sweet stroke, runs the floor well, and rebounds fairly well.  It's going to be fun watching him develop and dominate!

Brutus's picture

I was saying the same thing about Evan Turner early in his freshman year.  Let's hope things turn out the same for Loving.

Statutoryglory's picture

Can't mess with 2x Mr Basketball's in OH.  Lebron, Mayo, Sullinger, Greg Simpson, and Jimmy Jackson.  The odds tell us that, barring arrest, Loving will become a very solid NBA player.

gravey's picture

He's made fewer freshman mistakes than Q or Lenzelle in recent games.  He doesn't take a bunch of bad shots. He is more under control when he's driving than most freshman - not over committing to any particular shot or a pass.  It makes him more dangerous than some other players who never seem to use a pull up jumper.  It makes his tendencies hard to scout.

sharks's picture

A man got to have a code...

ScarletGray43157's picture

Solid player.  Will help the team.  Get him into the rotation now so he is ready for The Big Dance.  
That is all.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

dubjayfootball90's picture

Loving will be in beast mode come March...

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

okiebuck's picture

Love this Loving kid!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Seattle Linga's picture

He's got skills we have not even seen yet.

osubuckeye4life's picture

Thank you Glass City for producing another exceptional talent!
I love it when a freshman 'gets it' and can contribute right away!
Way to go Marc!

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Chris!  I'm McLovin it!!
Go Bucks!!

Seattle Linga's picture

Dah Dah Dah Dah Dah

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

PLEASE bench LSJ and start Loving......PLEASE!