After reading countless reviews of the Iona game/previews for the rest of the tournament for the Buckeyes I became very annoyed. All year we have been hearing that the Buckeyes would only succeed if they could find a second scorer behind Deshaun. Most everyone agreed with that. However, after reading the aforementioned reviews/previews I am still seeing this exact narrative. I wanted to propose the idea that this is incredibly lazy at this point. The theory behind this narrative is that Deshaun will be keyed on and if he is shut down (at least from an efficiency standpoint) Ohio State would fail if someone didn't step up to be a big scorer. I sort of still agree with this (I'll get to why I only "sort of" agree in a little). Sure, we need other people to step up and score. But to continue that narrative at this point is beyond lazy, it's ignorant. Let's take a look at the scorers OUTSIDE OF DESHAUN in the past nine OSU games (current winning streak):
Feb. 20 vs. Minnesota: 2 players in double digits (Ross, Scott) and 8 players scored
Feb. 24 vs. MSU: 2 players in double digits (Craft and Ravenel) and 7 players scored; Craft was leading scorer with 21
Feb. 28 @ NW: 1 player in double digits (Smith Jr.) and 7 players scored; Smith Jr. was leading scorer with 24
March 5 @ Indiana: 1 player in double digits (Craft) and 6 players scored
March 10 vs. Illinois: 2 players in double digits (Craft and Smith Jr.) and 6 players scored
March 15 vs. Nebraska: 2 players in double digits (Thompson and Ross) and 7 players scored; Thompson tied with Deshaun to lead scorers with 19
March 16 vs. MSU: 1 player in double digits (Craft) and 5 players scored; Craft was the leading scorer with 20
March 17 vs. Wisconsin: 0 players in double digits and 5 players scored
March 22 vs. Iona: 3 players in double digits (Thompson, Smith Jr., and Ravenel) and 10 players scored.
So, to recap, in every game but 1 we had another double digit scorer outside of Thomas. During that run of games, 6 different players (again, not counting Thomas) scored in double figures. Even further, Thomas was the the sole leading scorer in just over half of the games (was 4-8 before last night). Looking past just double digit scorers, in these 9 games we have averaged 6 players scoring/game outside of Thomas which means that we not only are getting high scoring from other players, we're also getting a lot of "scoring by committee."
The only game in which we didn't have another scorer in double digits was Wisconsin. I think that everyone can agree that most teams in the country would struggle (most of the time) to have multiple double digit scorers against Wisconsin and their style of play. But, clearly, the Buckeyes can win big games while not having other scorers step up. This is why I only "sort of" agree with the "second scorer" narrative.
It can be said about every team that they need people to score outside of their leading scorer in order to win--such an obvious statement that it almost sounds like something John Madden would say--though this was especially true for the buckeyes most of the season. However, to continue this narrative now proves that these writers and analysts haven't been doing what they're paid to do: watch basketball games.