Old School is Dead

By Johnny Ginter on January 21, 2014 at 11:15a
Miss yoooouuuuu

I thought Ohio State was going to be okay in terms of offense. I really did. I looked at myself in the mirror and said "Okay, yeah, you're a Luddite and slow to accept change and half of your wardrobe is from high school despite the fact that you graduated a decade ago. But this time you're right, dammit!"

I believed that hey, if you're a scrappy team that doesn't turn the ball over and plays good defense, offense really doesn't matter so much. Just hike up your shorts to Gene Hackman-approved levels, play with heart and grit, and the wins will come. Maybe get some goofy looking dude to hit opportune threeballs every once in a while, and you're good to go for the Final Four

I was wrong. No matter how good your defense is, in 2014 you need to have somebody or preferably sombodies to score with some kind of consistency or your team will quickly melt away into the gutter of whatever godforsaken conference you hail from.

Oh, Ohio State plays in the Big Ten? The toughest basketball conference in the country? And has been ice cold for over half a season now?


Right now, the leading scorer for Ohio State is still LaQuinton Ross. In the wailing and gashing of teeth that goes along with a four game skid, it's probably worth pointing out that he's got two 22 point games. It's also probably worth pointing out that he's got a five point game and only managed 11 against Nebraska, which is a nice little microcosm of his season as a whole: the dude is inconsistent.

This is a historically bad problem for Ohio State. Ross is still the team's leading scorer, with 14.1 points per game, but that basically just means that he's the strongest link in a chain made of up plump sausages instead of steel. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 2003-04 season to find a team with a leading scorer that averaged fewer points than Ross is averaging in 2013-14.

Here's a handy chart:

Year Leading scorer Points per game
2013-14 LaQuinton Ross 14.1
2012-13 Deshaun Thomas 19.8
2011-12 Jared Sullinger 17.5
2010-11 Jared Sullinger 17.2
2009-10 Evan Turner 20.4
2008-09 Evan Turner 17.3
2007-08 Jamar Butler 15.0
2006-07 Greg Oden 15.7
2005-06 Terence Dials 15.3
2004-05 Terence Dials 15.9
2003-04 Tony Stockman 13.6

It's been a decade since the BMOC for the basketball Buckeyes has been this weak on offense, and that 2003-04 team lost 16 games that season. That was Bill O'Brien's last year as head coach, and the next season was Thad Matta's first. The 03-04 team never lost four games in a row (although they did lose three games in a row three different times).

Of course, you don't have to have a guy putting up 20 every night if you're getting contributions from other players. I wasn't surprised that Oden was the leading scorer for the 06-07 team, but I was surprised that he only averaged 15.7 a game. I was further surprised to to learn that not only is this year's team shooting almost the exact same percentage as that team from the field, but they also have the same amount of players averaging 7.5 points or more a night.

The legendThe shortest of short shorts

So what gives?

Well, a few things. First, this year's team is just entering Big Ten play, and stats are inflated due to playing teams like North Florida and Morgan State.

Secondly, and most importantly, college basketball in 2014 requires more than a token offense effort to beat decent teams. If you look at the box scores for the recent four game slide, you'll notice that every team save Minnesota beat Ohio State by having at least two scorers put up more than 15 points each. Ohio State, still a good defensive team, has been undone by big time offensive performances that they couldn't match.

That heartbreaking loss to Michigan State? No starter had even 10 points. Against Minnesota, LaQuinton Ross had 22 points; more than every single other player not named Sam Thompson combined.

Take a look at that chart again. Notice how those numbers have been steadily trending upward. That's no coincidence. Despite people bemoaning the lack of offense in the college game as of late, it has become increasingly important that the best teams develop at least one and preferably two major offensive threats capable of putting up 15 points a game.

For Ohio State, it's almost become a habit to make sure that there's The Guy who can ring up points when no one else can. Before Thomas it was Sullinger, and before Sully it was Turner. That's five straight seasons of one hell of a safety net.

Michigan State, class of the Big Ten, has three of those type of players. As of right now, Ohio State has none. That's a huge problem, because it seems that Ohio State is intent on playing an old school style of basketball that they can no longer actually win with. For now, they're going to have to evolve into something else, and quick.


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Oyster's picture

There has not been a 3 point shooter since Diebler either.  When you don't have that threat, it makes everything else more difficult. 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

WolverineKiller's picture

I remember watching him sink like 10 3's in a game.  Unreal.

Just Win.

buckifishr's picture

yeah, against Penn State.  Was fun to watch.  I think the last 3 or 4 were so long, he didn't even expect them to go in.

buckifishr's picture

Having two primary ball handlers who are no threat to shoot a three, let alone make one and a third, looking at you Jr, who seems willing to Jack up any shot in the world but never makes any until garbage time makes this team easy to defend.
Ball screens don't work when the defense plays under them and doesn't have switch into a mismatch.

d5k's picture

You leave out the fact that we are running ball screen stuff vs. a zone which is even worse when you can't shoot.  We need to run curls for Ross like we used to for Buford and Thomas.  No one knows what to do without the ball on this team.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

That's why I think the team that unfortunately lost to UK in the Sweet 16 was probably the best team we've had in a long time, save for maybe the 2006-2007 team.  3Bler's (and Lighty's) senior year combined with Sully's freshman year was one hell of an inside-outside combo, and I think was better than the two teams that followed that went farther in the tourney.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

45has2's picture

Did you mean John Threeeeebler?

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

buckifishr's picture

Jim O'Brien = Bill O'Brien in the first paragraph after the chart.
Similar guys I guess.

Bugsyk's picture

All shooting has been atrocious.  Craft, Smith, Scott, and Thompson have all been fighting their jumpshots.  Craft in particular has a shooting motion akin to Tebow's throwing motion.  Their in their own heads, hesitant to shoot, and none with any confidence.  It's hurting the "old school" style as they aren't getting the confidence boost and extra breath after the made shot.  Playing defense becomes difficult when you're constantly sprinting back after a missed shot; you can't set the defense as you'd like.  Until the shots come around, the drive and kick offense is going to be a hard row to hoe.

Tim's picture

A lot of guys are too hesitant to take open 3s, and then they over-penetrate and throw the ball away or commit an offensive foul.  I've noticed Ross and Craft doing this the most, and Ross needs to shoot anything remotely open every time he can.

FLAMikey's picture

No scoring punch + no interior defense = death

German Buckeye's picture

We've been somewhat spoiled with our success over the past decade, we are due a down year once in a while.  Maybe this year is that year or maybe we are over-reacting.  Certainly the issues pointed out need to be addressed, for sure.  One thing not mentioned much is the loss of Chris Jent, I think he was a key offensive coach that we don't have now.  Could be one reason why the offense isn't clicking or moving forward with confidence. 

d5k's picture

The offense had dry spells last year.  Some of that was covered up by a late season winning streak where Q and Deshaun were both red-hot and Craft was finding driving lanes due to the attention Deshaun was getting.  Now teams are playing heavy zone against us and Ross doesn't know how to bust a zone like Deshaun could.  Deshaun would be tearing the zone apart from the middle of the floor if he was still here.  Ross doesn't have his playmaking and score-in-traffic ability.  And we lack rebounding.

buckeyepastor's picture

We are pretty spoiled as Buckeye fans.  Pretty great to be in the top 20 for so long that to fall out of it and have a losing streak means time to push the panic button.   I'd like to think this is just a matter of needing to re-build, some cyclical thing catching up with us, but I don't think it is.   A team that recruits very well and has the number of juniors and seniors this one does should not look this lost and lacking in offense.   I could easily shrug off this sort of play from a roster full of frosh and sophomores that are still sort of working out their chemistry as a team.   But this is a team loaded with experience that's regressing.   I think they bounce back, find ways to manufacture points and regain confidence to finish at or above .500 in the conference, but the last three games have been awful. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

d5k's picture

Offense and defense are highly correlated with each other.  If your offense becomes mediocre rather than above average, suddenly you have to defend more transition opportunities for the other team off of late clock bad shots and steals.  Conversely when this team is at its best, it is creating turnovers that lead to easy offense.  
Right now the mistakes are compounding even from the dependable senior guards.

OSUFlash's picture

Why is Ross passing on wide open 3's in favor of pump faking, driving and shooting a shot where he's covered by 3 guys and it has no chance of falling?
Catch and shoot has totally disappeared from this team except for maybe Della Valle.


nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

My point exactly! Couldn't agree more. Q will do a pump fake and then lazily take it into the lane where sometimes he looks silly smooth and many other times he looks like "stumblin', bumblin', fumblin', travelin'" guy. And for the love of a fair god, could he please make his foul shots! They might not right this ship soon but still love my Bucks!

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

2morrow's picture

Good comment on catch and shoot - has anyone noticed that Ross seems to have to wind up before he can shoot a jumper now? --- like pushing his arms straight out with the ball and then brining them back in before he can shoot? I don't remember him doing that last year.

741's picture

How did you guys find that picture of LeBron James' dad?

whobdis's picture

I know offense is primarily the problem..but it's driving me crazy watching teams drive the lane and get uncontested lay ups. I have no idea what's up with that..it's been happening since the Ohio U game. I bet half their points can in that fashion. At times I've actually seen Williams move out of the guys way!

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Williams is the least intimidating big guy in the league. If you can't block the shot at least make sure the little guy bringing it inside doesn't want to do that again. Softy Soft Softenstien.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

brandonbauer87's picture

I think the stagnation of the offense has a strong relationship to having Craft and Scott on the floor at the same time. Scott brought energy and athleticism to the offense last year, off the bench. Having both on the floor should be limited to short stretches throughout the game. When both are on the floor, the half court offense struggles mightily. It seems like Scott has gotten very indecisive with the ball. Craft's offense is what it is at this point. He can slash and distribute. That's about it. Offensively, he's a poor man's Rondo. 
I'd start Craft, Thompson, Lenzelle (for lack of better option), Ross, and Amir. At the first substitution I'd bring in Scott for Lenzelle. At the next substitution I'd bring in Loving and Della Valle for Ross and Thompson. The next rotation I'd swap in Lenzelle for Craft. I'd finish the half with Craft, Loving, Lenzelle, Ross and Thompson. I'd only use McDonald in relief of Amir for foul trouble or bad play. I don't think Amir is nearly as bad as some of you think, and I think Trey is a defensive liability. 

OldColumbusTown's picture

I agree with a lot of what you are saying.  The rotation is just plain stagnant right now.  Scott looks like he has zero intention of scoring, and he struggles to make layups when he does finally decide to penetrate (which is hardly ever).  Guys are not moving without the ball, and it seems like Craft is trying so hard to create something/anything but he gets stuck in no man's land and just has to get rid of the ball.
They've got to rotate more guys in and just find the hot hand each and every game.  Ross has his moments, and he has plenty of opportunities to shoot more but for some puzzling reason he's passing up wide open shots.  His shot fakes are so good he gets his man with both feet off the ground but then he doesn't take advantage and just get fouled in the act of shooting.
The one place I disagree is Amir.  I agree he isn't bad, but he's a liability when he plays as he did last night.  He's not hedging properly, he's not helping on drives defensively, and he just doesn't look like he really cares much.  I think right now he'd be good in small doses, but the team struggles when he's on the floor, which is too bad considering he's shown flashes of being a presence on both sides of the court.

brandonbauer87's picture

Finally, someone with some sanity in regards to Amir. He definitely has flaws. And I've seen the same positives as you. Defensively, he's equal to Trey with the exception of being a shot blocker. His ability to block shots bails him out sometimes. Offensively, I think he's still better than Trey. McDonald needs to slow down on offense, he's very impatient. The exact opposite is true for Amir. 

FLAMikey's picture

Amir can only block shots when the player on offense doesn't try to drive by/around him.

brandonbauer87's picture

Most of his blocks come in help defense, so I guess that's true. 

Sleepy's picture

In other words, OSU basketball = UM football?
"This totally worked in 1995, yo!"

cronimi's picture

Ugh, I don't even want to consider that analogy.....

BoFuquel's picture

Not good enough inside. Got out rebounded in many of those early wins. I'm a Buckeye for life. GO BUCKS!

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

wyatt's picture

At least when the Bucks get a win....whenever that will be.....we will appreciate every victory a little bit more.

deddy214's picture

The problem is zero consistency from anyone night to night. AW played like he figured it out for awhile and now he looks like he has no clue again. Lenzelle can't hit the broadside of a barn right now. And Scott and craft are turning it over right and left. I would like to see more of loving and Ross on the floor at the same time but I'm sure Thad will get something figured out.

PhillyBuckeye27's picture

2014 sucks so far - from a Buckeye sports perspective that is......

tcm1968's picture

We're just seeing what happens when Thad banks scholarships. Can argue both sides of the way he does things. Could have used scholarships this year to add a kid who can knock down 3's and add a kid who is a serviceable big man ( every team in the country goes three/four deep on the frontline).
Flip side is if Thad doesn't bank scholarships we don't get the Oden team and we don't get the class coming in next year. Ohio State will probably never be a one and done pipeline like UK, Duke and Kansas so it's on Thad to decide what years to go for it and what years to bank scholarships. 
This year though really was a perfect storm. He's got a team that's a cast of characters that's better fit to be around a scorer. Thad whiffed at all the five stars he went after this year and he struck-out talking DT into sticking around and he struck out trying to get Rodney Hood to come to town. Thad gets DT to stay or lands one five star kid or talks Hood into playing for the Buckeyes and it's a different conversation and a completely different team. Just one legit scorer lets Q be Q, slides LsJr to natural 2G position, stretches the floor for everyone, allows us to play 1 PG and everyone would get better looks at the basket.

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Yes, they're still our Buckeyes, win, lose or draw. And yes, it's been a frustrating stretch. Primarily because they have the potential and for some reason don't just have the "scrapper" mentality needed right now. As I watch other programs (good & bad) I see guys getting pissed when team effort drops. At times the Bucks don't look they care. That's not to say they should all go ballistic but man, when times are tough somebody's got to get vocal and step up.
Pet Peeve #1 Foul Shots - When all else fails and you can get to the line where nobody is guarding you...make your damn shots! 66%?! For the game?! As a team?! Wait, what? Oh, they're only shooting 68.4% as a team for the season? Oh, well that explains it. Hell it does. Q: 66.7%. Shannon: 66.7%. Dead-Eye Della Valle: 57.1% Even Thompson and Craft not much more impressive...BUNK! These are supposed to be shooters! Sometimes you can't do anything when your shots aren't falling but there is no excuse to struggle like that from the line. Q shot 77.6% last year from the line so you can't tell me he's not capable. It's focus.
Pet Peeve #2 Offensive Movement - When all else fails and you're shots aren't falling. Move without the ball! I see other teams freeing up people for back-door cuts, pick and rolls, etc. We get a Slam-Thompson or two a game and that's it. Seems like too many times down the floor either Scott or Craft is dribbling at the top waiting for a lazy ball screen while the other three guys stand around and watch the show. Lack of snappy passes around the perimeter. We've got team speed. Guys gotta MOVE! Thompson, Q, Amir all seem to walk around most of the time.
Anyway, this to shall pass. I support The Buckeyes and believe they can work this out but somebody's gotta care. Go Bucks! Beat Illinois!

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

chimes3899's picture

Smith has been playing horribly and I think Thomson should be starting over him. It would give us more energy, height, and someone who is more of a natural 3. Having Kam Williams redshirt really hurt our depth and I feel like he could have been someone who would provide more offense. Loving should probably be playing more minutes with his ability and it seems like he is the only other player for OSU besides Q who can create offense on his own.  
I would like to see a line up of Craft, Della Valle, Thomson, Q, and Loving. This would give craft a lot of offensive weapons to kick it out to because 3 out of the 4 can hit shots and Thomson can slash to the hole fairly well. Unfortunately this line-up would be pretty weak defensively but it could be a line up worth messing around with.
The main reason for this losing streak in my mind is Scott and Smith have both been turning the ball over much more frequently and havent been forcing as many turnovers as they were at the beginning of the season

BamaBuckeye144's picture

November: Hell Yeah! Undefeated Buckeyes!! We got a shot!
December: Crap...
December: Hell Yeah! Undefeated Buckeyes!! We got a shot!
January: Crap....
For once, I would like to get stoked about being real good and actually be real good. Someone keeps letting the air out of my happy balloon.


2morrow's picture

In my opinion, poor shooting is the symptom but not the entire problem. A total lack of an inside game has as much to do with the poor play as anything. Hope we can find a dominant center. I think Williams is light years better than he was last year and he is still not close to what is needed.

gm3jones's picture

I think this team really lacks "situational awareness". Meaning you try and trap someone (e.g. brasky) right when then in-bound the ball, while in bonus, and you foul him? WTF! That is the absolute last thing you should do. I would rather you punch his lights out if your going to foul!
And when they get down by even a few points, they PRESS PRESS PRESS. Craft will drive the ball all the way under the rim and try to kick it out but throw it away (brasky again)... Really? You couldn't take that to the rack and try and get a foul? He is a senior for gods sake. i have alot of love for craft, to. not trying to dis him here either.
The simple things they should all know as upper classmen is very disturbing to watch them do over and over and over. It shows a lack of mental toughness IMO. 

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

BenedictineBuck's picture

This team REALLY makes me miss the days of Scoonie Penn and Ken Johnson!! I could deal with Amir's disinterest out there if he defended the rim like KJ. Oh well, ready for next year.

Because we couldn't go for three!!!

zacisone's picture

Still trying to figure out the short shorts picture. That is Jerry Lucas in a Cincinnati Royals uniform in the NBA. Oh, and the Lucas teams at OSU averaged very close to 90 points a game. So short shorts yes, short on points no.
Go Bucks!


Toilrt Paper's picture

If a player is not a great 3-point shooter in high school, being a great athlete in high school does not mean he can be taught to be a great 3-point shooter in college. It is much easier to teach a great shooter to be a good defender. One must be "athletic" enough to be a great 3-point shooter in high school to be taught defense in college. A Top 10 program has to recruit three good shooters and one 6-9+ physical player in each recruiting class. Every other year, one less great shooter, for one top ranked PG.