OK, So I posted this as a comment, but I figured it deserved its own blog post because I think it is a good discussion topic, and I would love to hear others' thoughts and critiques:
After watching today, I think that an amazing offensive and solid defensive lineup that should be on the floor a minimum of 20 minutes per game for quick scoring and offensive runs is as follows:
1- Aaron Craft
2- Shannon Scott (splitting PG duties) or Lenzelle Smith Jr.
3- Sam Thompson
4- LaQuinton Ross
5- Deshaun Thomas
That obviously isn't the biggest lineup, but it is the type of group that could go on a 15-0 scoring run at any moment. Even if Deshaun is off and Craft plays like he has been recently on offense, the other three guys can light it up from the outside, not to mention attack the rim (as witnessed by Thompson's aeuronautical theatrics on the alley-oop tonight, I mean DAMN) and get easy points while getting fouled.
A more realistic starting 5 that could legitimately play most of a game if on top of everything:
1- Craft (offense has been shabby but his D is the truth and he should play because of it no matter what- the fast break opportunities he creates are astounding)
2- Smith Jr.
3- Quint Ross
5- Evan Ravenel (maybe Amir Williams by March, but Ravenel simply brings more offensive at the moment)
For this starting 5, the two deep- who should get plenty of PT- would be:
2/3- Thompson (should get at LEAST 20 min a game somehow)
2/3- Della Valle (good for 5-7 min a game and 6-9 pts once he is a 35% 3 point shooter, so maybe by Jan.)
4/5- Amir Williams
Having played basketball for my entire life until a few years ago, I can honestly say that this team has too many weapons for all the playing time to go around. They are young, but if they improve on a linear (or hopefully exponential) curve as they should, they WILL be the best team in the country come March. Craft will eventually hit an offensive flow as he did near the end of last year. This offense will be absolutely lethal. Teams will be double teaming Deshaun, but by the end of the season everybody else will be a damn good threat. So, the double teams will grow less frequent, and The Microwave will start putting in 30-35 points a game. That, or Ross, Thompson and Scott will have wide open looks that they have proven they can hit and they will make up for the points that Deshaun Thomas isn't producing.
I know tonight was LBSU, but they are most likely a tourney team- think an 8-12 seed. They will win their conference, and we made them look J freakin V this evening. I am so excited to see this group in a couple months. If we were to play Duke again in say the Elite 8, I think we might beat them by 15 or 20 points since we have so so so much higher of a ceiling than the Blue Devils, who are currently #2. Indiana is the biggest threat, and those will be a couple GREAT games. Indy might take game 1, but by game 2 we should have them. Then, of course, the rematch will be in the Big Ten tourney championship, then maybe again in the Final 4. I am very up on this team right now. They put on a show tonight.
I almost forgot to mention, the Big Ten schedule will be frickin BRUTAL. But, it will ge this team ready for March like no other. Indiana, MSU, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, even Penn State and Nebraska are all tourney teams, or at least possible tourney teams. If OSU makes it through that schedule with only a couple losses, they will be ready for anybody in the country. Honestly, I think their only competition for a national championship comes from the Big Ten itself at this point. The conference is downright scary.