End of Basketball Season - Five Thoughts

baddogmaine's picture
April 9, 2013 at 8:23a
28 Comments

1. I would rather have an appendectomy without anesthetic than root for AACC. Thank you Louisville! Why didn't you do that last year, Kansas?

2. What I take away from the tournament as a whole is the role of three point shooting. There are many reasons why teams win or lose but what struck me this year was the ability to shoot or defend the perimeter. Harvard shot 44% from long; New Mexico 21%. WSU hit five threes in a row against Gonzaga and was blistering in the first half against us. We hit 50% against ISU and AZ and won on threes; and laid bricks in our last game. MI beat KS because of late threes; Lville beat WSU because Henderson and Hancock got hot. The Cardinals won the title because they shot threes better than they shot layups.

I think this is partly true because players are better shooters than they used to be and because three is worth more than two so it is a strategy. But I think it also laziness on the part of offenses and defenses. It is easier to step back than try to break down a defense. And for all the talk of the Buckeyes' great perimeter defense the scarlet and grey were not very good at it, sagging off of guys who were out there to bomb away, not recovering quickly enough. I know that defense takes huge amounts of energy and a team needs to gamble on what to give up but IMHO what the Buckeyes need to work on most for next year is really defending the line.

3.  In looking at next year I'm not understanding why scUM is getting so little love. They are not likely to lose all their team, just Burke and Hardaway. And while those are big losses OSU lost a POY and was better the next year; lost Diebler and Lighty and went to the Final Four; Sullinger and Buford and went to the Elite Eight. MI has a lot more waiting to fill in the holes than OSU did, with Albrecht and LeVerte already ready to take over point; and a cast of  freshmen and sophomores who are going to be murder next year. MI also has 5 seniors and while 2 might be walk-ons that's three spots guaranteed to open plus as many more as leave early. If Beilein recruits for 2014 the way he has the last two years as painful as it is to say it the Wolverines are going to be next year what IN was supposed to be this year (I'd take McGary over Zeller).

4. I grossly underestimated OSU this year. I looked at the returning parts and the single part coming in and saw trouble. Matta got maximum return from this roster, methinks. Unless new recruits prove better as froshes than recent ones have (Craft and Sully excepted) I don't see a #8 team next year. The talk is that Ross will seamlessly replace Tank but though Q's performance statistically was on par with Thomas' this year he was not doing it as the focus of every team's defensive plan and was not doing it for 30+ minutes per game. Unless he can fill Thomas' shoes or unless points come from new players next year's squad is going to be scoring challenged.

We also absolutely need to upgrade at center. We got no offense from that spot; the guys we put there fouled too much and intimidated too little. Williams without Ravenel is going to be that much weaker. Is Williams going to finally become a player? Will McDonald decide that he wants playing time? Will a new guy be the answer? I can't see us as Top 10 or even Top 20 unless and until we get answers.

5. The forgotten art of team basketball. The Buckeyes need to learn the patience and togetherness on offense that they learned on defense. We had four games that literally came down to the final shot. Only against AZ did the ball go to a proven scorer who had been open. Two of those games ended in losses. Too often I watched Buckeyes grab a rebound inside and then try to force shots against traffic, too often with bad results (Louisville did that far too much last night too). Just because you have the ball does not mean you should be shooting. Twice in the closing minutes of the Shockers game Thomas grabbed a rebound and then tried to bring the ball upcourt himself, I assume because he was afraid that if he gave it up he would not get it back, and twice he got stripped. No, Tank, No!!! Get the ball to someone who is open, or to Craft or Scott and reset the offense. I was not troubled as much by the long shots we took early against WSU because most of them were open looks we should have made - what troubled me more was the forces inside against three defenders. The same way Sullinger kept trying without success to break down Withey last year. The team will be stronger  if they support their teammates and work with team strengths, keeping in mind that if something is not working find something else to do. Kenpom liked our offense - I probably saw more of it than he did and I think it needs to be more efficient still.

Comments

Hovenaut's picture

Nice post, all thoughts valid.

Very much agree with your sentiments regarding next year's AACC team, a (desperate) need for inside presence and team b-ball.

I think (hope) Matta stabilizes the team concept and Loving the middle. The progress shown at the end of the season will need to carry over, as well as the shoring up of the weaknesses evident down the stretch: shooting consistency, defensive lapses and the aforementioned inside element.

All said, I believe Matta is closing in on taking this program, and himself, towards that next step.

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

Bam_Childress's picture

call me an optimist, but IMHO this roster, without Thomas, could be better than this years.  I think not having Thomas gets rid of a lot of the problems with your 5th point.  Everyone on the team is pretty unselfish other than Thomas.  Most of the year it seemed like it was either Thomas lighting it up and no supporting cast, or Thomas was cold and the supporting cast was lighting it up.  I feel like that kind of imbalance of scoring has to affect the teams chemistry!  Arguably, we played our best when Thomas was in his shooting slump and the supporting cast took over. 
I think losing Ravenel will hurt us the most.  your right, can Amir really step up?  We saw signs this year that he could, but he is still extremely inconsistent.  Even if Amir was all-world he cant play 40 min a game, so we need a good second option.  Is trey McDonald a second option? IDK.
 

5 ft 9 in - 185 lbs - ALL HEART

Toilrt Paper's picture

IMO Ravenel was not a factor after the purple faced public ass chewing Matta gave him. It was required, but Ravenel did not respond.

buckeye4life050233's picture

also didn't help that 7 times out of 10 the reason for a defensive breakdown leading to an open shot came bc deshaun got beat 1 on 1 and craft and scott or whoever else was in the backcourt would have to cover 2 people bc deshuan was always a step slow defensively....

buckeye70's picture

Could not agree more with this post. Looking at 2012-2013 numbers- Thomas and Ravenal took over 700 shots. Give those shots to Smith, Craft, Ross and Thompson per game and we will have 4 players in double figures. I look for Williams to improve and the two new guys, especially Loving to provide depth. They will have a better record than this year

BUCKEYE70

tdible2132's picture

Great post.  I agree with mostly all of what you said.  I do think Michigan might have more early season struggles than you think though only because they are going to be lacking a proven go to guy.  I still think they'll end up a top 15/top 10 team by the end of next year though. 
When it comes to our Buckeyes, without a doubt my biggest pet peeve was the 3 point shot.  We were quite inept when it came to shooting the 3 and without Sam Thompson and LaQ's late season emergence we very well could have been one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the nation.  I can live with the poor shooting though.  What REALLY got me heated this year was our lack of 3 point defense.  We were a great defensive team except when it came to guarding shooters.  I swear it felt like every stinking game the other team was raining threes on us at an alarming rate.  Countless opponents this year were only able to hang with us because they were hitting 50% from 3 point range. We must improve in that area going forward. 
Overall, I think it's safe to say that our defense isn't going to miss a beat next year.  Considering we were arguably the best defensive team in the country last year, it's safe to say that our defense will be a strong suit for this team.  Losing Deshaun and Ravenel isn't exactly going to hurt our defense (Ravenel will hurt worse but if Amir can just improve a little bit then his shot blocking and height around the rim will be an upgrade over Ravenel's defense).  It's safe to say the success of our team next year will ride on Offensive production.  I think that's where your point of team basketball really shines through.  If we can run good team oriented, unselfish offense then I think this group has great potential.  Craft has proven that he can break defenders down off the dribble, and with Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross on the outside, you have to believe they will be good threats to shoot the 3.  Truthfully, I believe it comes down to a low post presence who has the ability to score 10 points a night.  Amir NEEDS to be that guy for us.  If Amir can even average 7 points a game next year, I think that will be huge for this team.  It'll be very interesting to see how this team grows and takes on a new role now that DT is gone.  We are going to need to be an unselfish bunch offensively and shot selection needs to be on point.  No more Shannon Scott shooting somewhat contested 3's early in the shot clock (unless he proves he can actually make a jumpshot).
Should be entertaining to watch this team next year and I'm very curious to see how everything comes together for these guys.  Thanks for the post and GO BUCKS!! 

RedStorm45's picture

3 - because there is the potential they lose 5-6 players off their team.  No one is expecting anything from Albrecht - he averaged 1.4 ppg this year and was a 3 star guy out of high school.

baddogmaine's picture

And Burke was ranked behind Scott - we've seen how that's worked out. Albrecht has no stats because he has been behind Burke and MI has been loaded and Spike and hasn't needed to score. I only know what I've seen - when he's been in he plays with composure and his stroke is clean. Much better looking shooter than many of the Buckeyes. He is good enough that if teams leave him alone he will score. I don't think he will replace Burke but I think he's good enough to ease MI's pain.
 
Who do you see leaving, besides Burke and Hardaway? In another post I say why I don't think McGary or Robinson will. Why do you think they will? And what other contributors even might? How do you get to 5 or 6 MI players leaving early - or are you counting the non-playing seniors?

EazyElmo's picture

The defense is the main thing that I believe could improve drastically next year. If Amir's progression continues upward, he could be playing all next season like the Kenny Johnson clone that he finished the season looking like. That should allow the wing players to keep with the perimeter players closer and clamp down everywhere. When Amir comes out, Scott goes in and he and Craft don't let the ball come up the court with there on-ball skills.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Unless there is a major change in Scott's shooting abilities, Matta must tell him not to shoot except for lay ups.

Toilrt Paper's picture

2. Agree 100% about 3-point shooting. Matta has been recruiting too many "athletes" and not enough Dieblers in his past few classes. Let's hope Loving and Williams meet expectations as outside shooters. They both are way too slight to do much damage on the inside in the Big Ten.
3. There is a good chance McGary leaves. His Tournament play has increased is stock to a lottery pick, in a weak class, especially weak for post players. Next year's class is supposed to be a much  better class. He might not go as high next year.
The only way Ohio gets an upgrade at center in the near future is if there is an unfound stud Center at a the JUCO level. Matta is looking into that possibility for next year.

baddogmaine's picture

I know there is talk of McGary and Robinson leaving. If so scUM will obviously be worse off. I don't think either goes. McGary did not arrive in Ann Arbor as a one-and-done so hasn't had that mind set. He played really well in the tournament but I think is still obviously rough, a late first round or second round guy. If he stays he could be a lottery pick next year, and the difference in money could be enough to keep in school someone who doesn't mind being there. I expect this year's NBA class to include Withey, Plumlee, Noel, Zeller, Olynyk, Len, Dieng, Bennett, Payne, Kadji  and more. McGary is not obviously better than those.
 
There is a reason why every mention of GRIII includes who his father was - he hasn't done enough to distinguish himself. I think he goes undrafted if he comes out now. We'll find out soon enough, my prediction for AACC is based on my belief that they will lose only Burke and Hardaway.

Clmm297's picture

http://insider.espn.go.com/nbadraft/results/top100/_/year/2013
 
Both McGary and Robinson are projected mid first round/borderline lottery picks...they're gone!

baddogmaine's picture

Chad Ford has about 15 lottery picks. Obviously not all his predictions will come true (Robinson ahead of Olynyk and Plumlee??? Really???). NBA Draft Room has McGary in the "Staying In School" category.
http://nbadraftroom2.blogspot.com/2013/01/2013-nba-draft-early-entry-lis...
 
Robinson probably does not need the money, and his father probably is telling him that Ford might not be right this year but could be right next year (though NBA Draft Room rates Robinson higher than Thomas, so who knows?). I still think both stay in school, but soon  no guesswork will be needed.

d5k's picture

This is the fallacy of the fan's analysis of the NBA draft.  It has nothing to do with what you've done unless that is evidence of what you'll do.  McGary has more upside than Plumlee.  He's as big as Jared Sullinger (longer actually) and runs the floor like Plumlee.  Rebounds like a man at 19 years old and is deceptively athletic.  This has far less to do with what you would expect him to do for your team next year than 5 years from now.
Also, it is another fallacy to think coming back and having a good season can definitely boost your draft stock.  Scouts currently would expect McGary to average 15 & 9 next year and first team all conference if he comes back.  In other words his stock is extremely high.  He would have to basically exceed those expectations and be a national player of the year candidate to boost his stock in the draft.  You have to learn something about the player you didn't already know for stock to improve.  Also, coming back makes you a year older and magnifies your flaws.  The NFL is a bit different as you are drafting for a 53 man roster and you can get more contributions from guys on day 1 as part of a good team.  If a rookie is your best player (or even one of your best 2-3 players) in the NBA you are going to be drafting in the lottery again except in the rare Duncan/Spurs phenomenon where a good team wins the draft lottery.
Scouts expected Deshaun to perform like he did this season (score a lot, rebound some, inconsistent on defense).  He didn't improve his stock, if anything it went down because he is a year older.  I still think he makes a roster because of his strengths, but scouts already knew he could score...

Poison nuts's picture

Not bad Baddog...some good points! However, on one hand, you say UM will be good despite losing multiple stars, & sight how OSU always does well after losing it's stars as your reasoning...But then you turn around & say that OSU losing Deshaun will hurt them. To me what's good for the goose, must be good for the gander. IF UM is still good despite losing it's best guys, OSU will certainly survive the loss of Deshaun. I saw Q, Thompson, & Scott all improved immensely this year. Amir does need to improve (understatement), no doubt but Loving is coming in & I believe he could be a special kid. Not that he's a center, but he could provide the spark this team needs to get over the hump...The basketball Buckeyes will be a force next year, of this I have no doubt. Easily a top 10 team. As for Matta, I thought this years coaching job was one of his best ever & believe fully that he'll be charged up to get OSU to the NC game, particularly watching UM nearly make it to the promised land this year.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

baddogmaine's picture

I'm looking at both teams as a whole. At one point in the NC game AACC was playing five freshmen. The most important game of the year and AACC had five froshes who could be relied on! That is a team with a deep, experienced roster. Two of whom can already run the point so the drop-off without Burke will not be devastating. They lose no seniors who contributed. If they can replace Hardaway they will be just as strong next year. And since they will be replacing non-productive seniors with new talent, and since Beilein's talent evaluation has been pretty good, wouldn't you say?, this will be a team to watch next year.
 
This is a much different picture from Columbus. The Buckeyes don't have a deep bench. With 13 scholarships to give out the Buckeyes played eight guys - and Ravenel got big minutes only because the starter was not good. That's five scholarships that contributed nothing and all of them are coming back (unless someone quits). We don't even have a Henderson (Louisville walk-on) who can ht a couple of threes. Other than Q and Scott who can you point to on the bench who is likely to contribute next year? and what do you base it on? We were weak at center this year, and the loss of Ravenel is a serious blow to the rotation at that spot. Tank was a big body with the bulk to play center when we went small - I don't think Q can do that. And Q was the sub for Smith or Thompson - with Q starting who comes off the  bench? We're getting a new guard who's supposed to be pretty good, but while it's good to have lots of back-up at that spot (Burke, LeVerte and Albrecht, for example) and prepare for the future what we need now is productive size, and lots of it. Unless and until Smith and Craft show that they need to be guarded teams will dare them to shoot as WSU did (Craft making one three against AZ does not make him a shooter, as WSU proved).
So even if the number of players lost is the same for both teams it's the players who will return and the new players coming in that, to me, make scUM much stronger than OSU in 2014. And if McGary returns - and I'm sure he will - I think scUM will be better than us even if GRIII leaves because of the overall rosters. Of course if we get someone who can patrol the paint and a forward who can shoot reliably (Loving?) then I might be proven wrong.
I agree about Matta's job this year. I think he left potential undeveloped in past years, failed to adjust in games when needed, but this year there was not a whole lot more he could have done short of putting the ball in the basket himself. It was a terrific coaching job. I'm not fully sold on his recruiting top to bottom, it remains to be seen if next year's squad gets the pieces to compete at the highest level.

Poison nuts's picture

I think UM will be fairly strong next year & I think McGary is potentially a very, very good player. But I just think OSU will be better. Off the bench there will be Loving, Williams, Amadeo, McDonald, possibly Smith Jr. Is that a strong bench? My crystal ball is broken right now so I don't know how they'll do, but I do think Matta is every bit as good a talent evaluator as Beilien. So we'll see. But I do have faith that Loving will end up being a difference maker needed on this team. As for the starters...A starting lineup of Craft, Thompson, Q, Scott, & Amir could be a strong line up with Smith Jr/Loving coming in for small lineup duty. If these guys continue their growth, they could be incredibly good. I mean, if Thompson starts to have confidence in his jumper, look out! If Scott becomes a scoring threat? Another positive the 2013/14 team will have - experience. This team will know each other very well & will all have played in big games in high pressure circumstances. Experience is huge. UM was probably a more talented team than Louisville, but Louisville had leadership & experience & it paid off. My biggest concerns for OSU being Smith Jr & Amir for obvious reasons...if Amir doesn't step up or even McDonald, there will be issues. A big man in the paint will be a necessity.
The bottom line is that I'm optimistic about this team. I was optimistic about this years team as well. I don't see a lot of reasons to be worried. Honestly, I think Q will step into his role just fine. He's a junior, he's got some experience under his belt, & he can play when it matters. He proved that in the tourney. Loving will contribute. My main concern for next year is a big man. If someone steps up who can play in the paint, everything will be fine.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

buckeye70's picture

Great post - Next year the Buckeyes will have a better record than this year. With Ravenal and Thomas gone, 700 more shots will be taken by Smith, Craft, Ross, Thompson etal. We will have 4 players in double figures and a pressing defense.

BUCKEYE70

baddogmaine's picture

It's not as simple as that. Ravenel didn't take that many shots so his departure won't free up that many, and while he had zero offensive skills his shooting percentage was one of the highest on the team. What we are losing is his 154 rebounds - how will those be replaced? Thomas certainly did shoot a lot. In many games he shot too much. But he created shot opportunities in ways no other Buckeye could, and to a great degree the  Matta offense relies on players creating their own shots, the Matta offense is not based on lots of offensive patience. Ross will shoot more, no question. If Thompson learns to love the midrange jumper as much as he loves the highlight reel dunk he could take up some of the load (he could be our new Lighty which would be really good!) but who else do you want shooting more for OSU 2014? Craft and Smith are good defenders but very unreliable offensive players. Do you really want them taking that many more shots? Scott? Really?  Who are the "et al" you want taking shots for the Buckeyes? Who on the bench was not used enough this year? I'd love to see a better record next year than this, I'm just not convinced that this year the team becomes better by the loss of our primary offensive weapon and only thug inside.

d5k's picture

Matta offense has a lot of forcing switches and then exploiting matchups that result but it also tries to force the defense to make decisions.  Btw, Ross could be a more difficult matchup if they get cross matched than Thomas.  He doesn't have the same post game but he can blow by a bigger defender and shoot over a smaller one with his length.  Deshaun had issues with the first option.  And I don't like calling it the "Matta offense".  He has done different things with the personnel he has had.  Was the team that played all year with Evan Turner at PG the same offense as last year's Sullinger-led team?  How about with Conley/Oden?  The team will be different next year and hopefully rely more on drive-n-dish or drive-n-kick actions as Craft and Scott's ball handling and the inside-out threats of Ross and Thompson will be solid weapons.  But it will still use a lot of ball screen actions that force defenses to decide whether to help, sag or allow Craft to turn the corner.
But all of this discussion ignores the reality.  This team got better the second half of the year at the same time that Deshaun started shooting poorly.  I don't think this is the reason we played better but instead the team became elite by playing rock solid half court D as good as anyone in the country and taking much better care of the basketball.  When you go from 12 turnovers to 9 turnovers you are going to score 3-4 more points per game which is huge.  This team will be more of a veteran, solid team with much fewer boneheaded mistakes and meltdowns that we saw at times in the first half of this season.  We will be efficient if not flashy but we have a chance to have a top 10 offense and the #1 defense in the country which if it happens means we are a top 5, title contending team.

baddogmaine's picture

 Offense first. Whether you like calling it a "Matta offense" the Buckeye coach works with basic sets. How else explain why Northwestern consistently played us tough except that Carmody knew what to expect and had his ever changing roster ready to face Matta? For the first 2/3 of the season just concluded the OSU offense was basically Thomas left, Thomas right and hope for rain (old baseball joke). This wasn't because everyone else on the roster was totally inept. Nor was it because no one else had learned the playbook yet - Craft and Smith were juniors; Thompson, Williams, Scott and Ravenel were in their second year at OSU. The problem was that Matta was trying to play square ball with round pegs. Eventually some of the pegs started fitting better but if the offense improved it was not because Matta started utilizing individual strengths, it was because players became a bit better at what Matta wanted them to do. I neither remember nor care what sets Matta ran seven years ago, my short-term memory tells me that for the last several years the OSU offense has had some common traits. This is not necessarily a criticism of Matta as an offensive coach, anymore than saying that Syracuse plays zone defense is a criticism of Beiheim.  If our offense was so potentially variable why was WSU so ready for us with just two days preparation? Our offense shot 31% for the game against a defense that had been letting teams shoot 40%. The shots we took weren't that bad, there were a lot of open looks and they were shots our coach did not mind (we attempted 10 threes in the first half and even more after intermission - we were not being steered away from threes).  WSU gambled that OSU would not make those shots and they were right, we didn't. We went down missing those shots because in a Matta offense that's what gets taken.
(BTW, drive-n-dish and drive-n-kick are already parts of a Matta offense and have been. Whether it will work better next year than it did this year will depend on whether we set better interior screens, and whether we hit mid-range jumpers any better)
Defensively we finished the year ranked 40th in field goal percentage defense - not great - and 102nd in 3 point percentage defense - not good. These final numbers do not reflect whether we improved. For that we can look at stats from our final games: WSU made 40% of its threes, better than the percentage we gave up on the year, better than the percentage they had shot on the year. AZ shot 44% overall, 33% on 3s, both slightly worse than they had averaged on the year. ISU made 48% of 25 3s - needless to say we made them look very good. Iona and WIS struggled (though anyone who saw the Badgers very next game should question whether what happened in the B1G title games was good defense by us or really atrocious offense by WIS), MSU made 43% of its threes. In fact, looking at the latter part of the season we pretty much alternated good games defensively and bad. On the whole Kenpom likes us, to the tune of ranking us #9 defensively, but anyone who watched us in consecutive games at any point in the season including the end knows that by and large we were unable to string together consecutive 40 minute defensive successes. We were 87th in rebound margin because too often we were not in position to get missed shots. Our defense was premised on creating turnovers and in that we did very very well  but when we didn't create a turnover we did not do particularly well in preventing opponents from scoring. We did not hold a single Big Dance opponent to under 70, including the woeful Iona Gaels. We blew double digit second half leads against both ISU and AZ. The idea that we became a rock solid defensive unit is more myth than fact.
Can we become better next year? Of course. And I agree that it should not be hard to improve on Thomas' defensive contributions. But unless someone else contributes in the middle or Williams greatly improves (which he hasn't done in his first two years) our interior defense will be weaker without Ravenel. There is no human way a team can be the best defensive unit in the country with what can reasonably be expected from our centers. And if we want to go small - which was one of the things that helped us towards the end of the year - it is not clear that Q can do what Thomas did. #1 defense in the country? We're all entitled to dream big and dreams sometimes do come true. But dreaming big and downvoting someone who calls a dream a dream is just nasty. Try to be nicer than that DSK.

d5k's picture

I didn't downvote anyone in this thread and don't know why anyone would.  Just having a healthy debate.  I'm not saying they will be better for sure or anything but another year of development for these sophomores should yield better results.  I expect them to play at least as good as they were playing at the end of the year.  I do expect us to try to go small and like you said, Ross (and Thompson) needs to put on some muscle to be able to bang around inside like Thomas did for it to work at all.  We were a top 2 defense if you only look at the 2nd half of the big ten and on.  Louisville was the only team that was better on that end.  And we were the #1 defense the year before (using kenpomeroy adjusted efficiency).  I don't think Ravenel contributed as much as you claim though.  He was inefficient offensively and probably took too many shots.  Decent defensively but not better than Amir really.  Both of them were only average to above average rebounders.  I think if you just take those post-up black hole plays for Ravenel and do something else we don't lose a lot.  Physicality from Amir as he plays 25+ minutes will be important, though.
Iona played one of the fastest paces in the country, so scoring 70 isn't really a knock on our defense.  This is why we scored ~95 rather than some all-time superlative offensive effort.  The fact is if you take every game into account we were the #9 defense.  My eyes and the results (without doing all of the math) tell me that we were significantly better post-@ Wisconsin.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

It will be interesting next year.  I think Ohio State has a chance to be very good.  Defensively, they'll be as good if not better.  Tank, as much as I love the guy and his scoring, isn't much of a loss defensively.  He got better on defense over time, but he still had plenty of room to improve.  Offensively, I don't know.  Tank leaving will obviously hurt in that area, but maybe with more shots to go around, and some hard work on shooting jumpers over the offseason, this team could be better offensively by simply not having one guy that you have to key in on.  More shots for other guys means more chances to get into a rhythm, and eventually, more confidence shooting the ball. 
I don't think TSUN will completely suck next year, but they will not be on the level that they were this year without Burke and Hardaway.  Where would they be this year without them?  They were one big shot by Burke away from losing in the Sweet 16.  They'll still have a good team.  I agree that McGary definitely does not leave - while he had a big tournament, that's the only time all year that he played on that level.  He needs to do it for a full year next year in the Big Ten, and I expect he'll go after that.  I'm not convinced that GRIII stays, but he could probably use another year in college.  They'll be a top 20 team, but I wouldn't expect them to get back to the Final Four. 

Class of 2010.

GoBlueBlood's picture

This is a great post. I agree with nearly everything. As far as Michigan is concerned next year, considering all I have seen on the interwebs and heard around Ann Arbor, chance of return:
Burke - 2%, Hardaway - 45%, Glenn Robinson III - 60%, Mitch McGary - 80% 
I fully expect to lose Burke, wouldn't be surprised about Tim either way, and I am cautiously optimistic about the two freshmen. I also agree with the points about Spike and Levert, while although we may lose some talent, they have already done enough to prove we would be a formidable opponent with just them stepping up.
As far as incoming freshmen, which has gone unaddressed and it shouldn't because Beilein has freshman play seemingly every year now, Walton, Irvin and Donnal might be Beilein's best class yet. Last years was incredible and the on-the-court production from the 2013 class may not touch 2012's, but there are people who think Walton is one of the top 2 or 3 point guards in the country and his tape agrees; he will contribute right away. Zak Irvin is one of my favorite players in the entire class and will be lethal in Beilein's offense. He is a 6'7" lengthy shooter, creates his own shots off the dribble, drives the lane with athleticism and actually plays defense which would be nice around here. This kid is a lottery pick in the making, I just can't wait to see him do it on the college level. Last is Donnal who is a 6'9/6'10 PF that can pull up and knock down the 15 foot jumper, and from beyond the arc at a decent rate, which none of our big men this year could do other than McGary when he flipped the switch last week.
Sorry if that was rambling, but I just wanted to add our incoming class to the discussion for the future of our program. They are very, very good and should not be taken lightly. To end, you guys are in great hands as well, there is no doubt. Losing Thomas stings because of his value to your offensive production and his leadership, but there is no question Matta will find a great roster to put out. And the way you guys have already been recruiting (in 2014 especially) both of our programs are going to be powerhouses with Matta and Beilein respectively. This was a fun year, I'm looking forward to the next. 

d5k's picture

I love that a Pickerington kid is doing pretty well but Spike and Levert aren't half the player Nik Stauskus is.  With all McGary's hype and attention for Hardaway and Robinson, Stauskus was the most efficient player outside of Burke.  Michigan will still be good next year but probably not a national title contender if 3 of those 4 leave.
From an objective standpoint, all 4 should leave.  It is a weak draft class and the 2 freshmen and Burke are rated as clear first round picks.  Hardaway is like Thomas in that he doesn't have any more to prove but his flaws are what they are so he can't really improve his stock by returning.

d5k's picture

What was this team's strength this year and what is Deshaun's biggest weakness? 
We can and should be the best defense in the country next year.  If we are, we should be a top 10 team and contend for trophies.  It really can be that simple. 
People tend to put too much stock into individual points per game scoring when they look at offense.  From an X's and O's standpoint we will attack teams in different ways than this year (and the prior 2 years).  I think we had some effective sets with Thomas catching and shooting as the goal or with Craft driving with options off of a ball screen.  I think, however, that despite the immense growth Thomas still took several bad shots per game.  He was an efficient player in the mid and low post and on catch-and-shoot he was above average but I don't think he was very good (few are) from an efficiency standpoint on all the catch, jab step, 1 dribble pull up shots he took.  I think next year we will be balanced and rely on our guards to penetrate and break down the defense in addition to Ross and Thompson (and Loving if and when he plays) being both inside and outside threats. 
There are some growth areas which could help the team become more efficient offensively and typically you see improvement in those areas throughout the college careers of good players.  I am confident Amir Williams will get decent at catching and keeping the ball high and develop 1 half-decent post move.  He is going to play well and tougher on the other end and on the glass.  Thompson needs to continue to be efficient as a jump shooter (50% from 3 in the 2nd half of the year) and also play like he is the best athlete on the floor (aggressive!).  Scott needs to continue to develop his jumpshot or at least a floater to keep defenses honest.  Similar with Craft but more honing the hitch in his shot.  Ross just needs to play with his head in the game and the sky is the limit.  He doesn't take bad shots.  His issues are sloppy turnovers and defensive mental blunders.  I think he will be all conference.  Craft will be as well and Thompson has a chance.

rightfield's picture

Craft and Scott will create one of the best shut down back courts in OSU history. This will cause chaos for opposing teams all season long. They will disrupt even the best of guard play in college bball next season. Hopefully Scott will commit to driving to the hoop and breaking down defenses.
 
  Amir will wake up and be a good defensive player and a mediocre offensive player whereas this year he was a sometimes OK defender and always a horrendous offensive player.
 
  Sam Thompson is a rising super star. 
 Smith JR. is an important  glue-dirty work player who has proven he can score outside and inside in the past but seemed to lose his scoring touch much of this year.
  McDonald will get 10-12 minutes productive minutes per game. He is athletic, big and strong. He will be a pleasant surprise next season.
  Loving will make a big splash and be a major contributor by mid season.

Its good to be the king