The Coldest Story Ever Told: Lenzelle Smith's Winter of Discontent

By Johnny Ginter on February 7, 2014 at 2:00p
23 Comments

Things are starting to look significantly better for the basketball Buckeyes as of late. Aaron Craft had possibly his most dominant game of his career against Iowa. Points were scored with semi-regular consistency. Hell, Ohio State just won two hard fought games in a row against good competition, on the road, without completely crapping their pants at the end of regulation!

And those are all positive developments, don't get me wrong. Ohio State has emerged from the jungle primeval that is a potential NIT bid to claw their way back into legit NCAA tourney consideration. Truth be told, they're still probably one or two marquee wins away from solidifying a decent seed in the tournament, but if they continue to play sound defense, they'll get there.

The one roadblock to this might end up being Lenzelle Smith. Ohio State needed their senior guard to be a consistent scoring threat, and in the first half of the season he kinda was, and looked to build upon that in the second half of the year. Instead, the complete opposite of that has happened.

Lenzelle was able to silence his critics somewhat, with a 12 point "outburst?" against Iowa. Six of those points came on three pointer, which is another important area where he's been expected to contribute offensively during the 2013-14 season.

Still, the dude only went a total of 3 for 11 from the field, and this continues a trend that has been going on since the beginning of the new year. Beginning with the January 4th game against Nebraska, Lenzelle is a combined 27 for 84, which is good for slightly better than 32% from the field. His three point shooting is similarly bad: Lenzelle has only hit 12 of the 40 threes that he's attempted in 2014, or a whopping 30%.

MAKE THESEHarder than it looks. Hopefully not that hard

That's not a good sign, even for a team on the upswing.

The effects of this can be seen most clearly in the first half of the Iowa game, which despite some incredibly stiff competition might have been Lenzelle's worst offensive half all season.

He missed a jumper at 19:31, a threeball at 17:33, and then a layup with just under nine minutes remaining in the half. The cherry on top was another three point miss at 4:11, which instead of stemming the tide of an Iowa comeback, allowed them to quickly throw up another two points and get back in the game.

During Lenzelle's drought, Ohio State built and then lost a nine point lead. For a player that continues to need to be a huge part of the offense, his complete lack of input into anything that was going on on the court is a huge detriment to the team, because as much as we'd like to, 17 point scoring outbursts from Aaron Craft can be counted on about as much as a rainbow dodo laying golden eggs right in Thad Matta's lap.

More stats: two other B1G teams have only two players averaging double digits per game. One is Iowa, which thanks to an extremely deep bench is still putting up over 80 points a night. The other is 11-10 Nebraska. Point being, Ohio State is constantly on the precipice of being Nebraska on any given night. All it takes is a poor performance by Smith.

Again, because Lenzelle Smith is the second leading scorer on the Buckeyes, which granted isn't the biggest accomplishment in the history of the world, his teammates need to be able to count on those 11.8 points a night, every night. Absent that, the margin for error, especially during Big Ten play, becomes increasingly slim.

In the close loss against Penn State, Lenzelle scored 15 points (albeit on 4-11 shooting). A few days later, against Wisconsin, he scored two, going 1-7. This past Tuesday at Iowa, he got his requisite 12.

There probably isn't going to be a point at this season where someone suggests that Ohio State is a Final Four team. But in the next month they could evolve into a group that could do some damage IF they get consistent shooting from their most important offensive players. Like it or not, Lenzelle is one of those guys, but for now he remains mired in a shooting slump that's as cold as Ohio's winter has been.

23 Comments

Comments

Killer nuts's picture

Even when he is shooting poorly his contribution to the team shouldn't be understated, he is a great rebounder especially as a guard and he's a capable ball handler and facilitator. Not to mention, he's one of the few guys on the team that gives you the feeling that he can score at any point

+6 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I honestly thought I was going to come here and see each and every comment trashing Smith.  I share your opinion.  I wish he could have had a better shooting season up to this point, but the kid is probably the most well rounded player we have on the court.  I hope he gets out of the slump in time to make the NCAA and make a run in the NCAA.  With him getting back ONLY to his career averages, we have a decent chance to make a run.

Read my entire screen name....

+5 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

For the first month of the season, Smith was awesome at the little things and pretty good offensively. Since then, he hasn't been quite as good at the little things and I wonder if that has something to do with his offensive slump.

+1 HS
LouBuck35's picture

Sadly, I've lost that particular confidence about Lenzelle that he can score at any time.  I'm more at the point that if he pulls up after a few dribbles for a jumper, I'm significantly more confident that it IS NOT going down - and sadly the same can be said if is driving the lane.  He does rebound well for a guard, and it appears as though he can still be a high energy guy.  I'm not sure what the answer is for him.  I know they'll always tell the shooters to keep shooting, and eventually they will go down, but shooting at such a low clip for so many consecutive games can't be a significant boost to his confidence.  Let's just hope he finds his stroke at some point, because what other options do we have?

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

+3 HS
SavannahBuck's picture

While I'm am not supremely confident that his shots will go in, I am still confident enough with his long range shooting that I want him to shoot when he is open. What gets me is, he is very good at making a shot for himself, which is something this team sorely lacks. But he keeps missing these short shots game after game. I almost want to see him stay behind the 3 point line and be the recipient of a dribble drive pass from craft or scott

skid21's picture

I'm more at the point that if he pulls up after a few dribbles for a jumper, I'm significantly more confident that it IS NOT going down - and sadly the same can be said if is driving the lane.

Well sadly recently almost 70% of the time you would be right. LSJ is in his senior year so I think what you see is what you get. He will have some good games but will not be consistent. He often disappears against good competition but has shown up in big games now and then, just not enough to be considered a factor.

+1 HS
JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

Dude cant make an open dunk either. I also hope he gets better. We're going to need him. Defense can only take you so far in basketball.

Buckeye fan from PA

-1 HS
vitaminB's picture

How could you be so heartless?

+6 HS
Killer nuts's picture

And I actually do think this team could make a run in the tournament. With the right draw and a couple hot hands you never know what can happen but our defensive backcourt will keep us in the game with just about anybody. It's all about matchups and the ball bouncing your way a couple times. I think we could beat a 1 seed just as soon as we could lose to a 12

+4 HS
OvalBeachBum's picture

Lenzelle really has been sliding recently.  I hope he gets his shooting turned around, we'll need his range if we want to make a deep run and beat peoples zones...

"In the words of the late great Colonel Sanders, I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Ricky Bobby

+1 HS
OvalBeachBum's picture

But since I don't want to be completely negative, I haven't seen a GUARD rebound like him in a long time here...he eats up the boards.

"In the words of the late great Colonel Sanders, I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Ricky Bobby

+5 HS
I_Run_The_Dave's picture

You forgot the part about Lenzelle nearly costing us the game at Iowa (edit: oops that was Wisconsin) because he missed a layup, rebounded it, and fell to the ground resulting in a controversial travelling call.

There probably isn't going to be a point at this season where someone suggests that Ohio State is a Final Four team.

Also, someone on this site last week predicted we would go to the final four after we lost to PSU.  There was a great deal of hilarity there, until we won two road games in a row.  Now it's serious...

smith5568's picture

I am nitpicking, but that was at Wisconsin. 

+2 HS
I_Run_The_Dave's picture

You are correct, my mistake.  And hey look, it let me edit it and put Wisconsin in there after you replied!  I'm liking this new site...  

+2 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I am also nitpicking, but Amir Williams took him out.

Read my entire screen name....

+2 HS
BuckeyeSouth's picture

True, but if he makes the layup none of that happens.

Embrace it.

+1 HS
chili96's picture

Seems like he leads the team in missed dunks as well. Does anyone have stats on this?

But, I agree that his rebounding is good, and I would add his toughness.

pabdublin78's picture

He's definitely a streaky shooter and at times has been able to carry the team offensively.  The consistency thing has not been his challenge but the challenge of nearly every player on the team.  There simply hasn't been that reliable scorer who we know is good for 16-20 a night - we've been pretty spoiled the last 6-8 or so years.  Ross has his nights as well but he's struggled late in games and our hopes become more dire when Lenzelle is going 1-7....hopefully he can get on a run.  He brings a lot to the game - we just need his scoring to supplement Ross. 

route4buckeye's picture

He just really needs to lay off on the bad shots. He's a fantastic rebounder and defender. Just needs to make layups and stop taking stupid shots.

+3 HS
Ebvine96's picture

Like lenzelle but man does guy miss a ton of layups

gwalther's picture

Great writeup. I fully agree with your breakdown.

Class of 2008

-1 HS
BuckeyeSouth's picture

Thanks, Johnny.   I'm sure Lenzelle's game was driven by your comments.

Embrace it.

+1 HS