The 365 Day Dovetail: A Lot Has Changed for Wichita State and Ohio State Since the Elite Eight

By Johnny Ginter on March 4, 2014 at 11:15a

Last year's NCAA tournament game between Ohio State and the Wichita State Shockers wasn't really as interesting as the score indicated.

The score read 70-66, but the reality was that the Shockers mostly dominated the game, only allowing Ohio State to mount a second half comeback that ended up falling short in the last few minutes. And in fact, the last minute of that game would be a horrifying look into the future, like some kind of crappy shooting looking glass that sees all, knows all, and laughs at your futile attempts to do anything about it.

Ohio State had seven offensive possessions in the last sixty seconds of that Elite Eight game. Here's what they looked like:

  • Aaron Craft missed three
  • Deshaun Thomas missed jumper
  • Shannon Scott offensive rebound (okay, maybe there are SOME anomalies), followed by a made two point jumper
  • LaQuinton Ross missed three
  • Evan Ravenel missed two
  • Aaron Craft made three (???)
  • Aaron Craft missed three (the universe rights itself once again)

Two players for Buckeyes, Deshaun Thomas and LaQuinton Ross, accounted for 63% of Ohio State's scoring. Aaron Craft had nine points, but was only 2-12 from the floor. Sam Thompson was on the court for 33 minutes and took three shots, two of which he missed. Deshaun Thomas missed on every one of his six three point attempts. Amir Williams had four blocks, three rebounds, and did literally nothing else in 17 minutes aside from picking up a foul. The team shot a whopping 20% from three, and 31% overall.

During that game Wichita State didn't shoot particularly well either, but they also managed to have four players scoring double in the double figures, and another player with nine points (all on free throws).

The Shockers were more well rounded than the Buckeyes, and it was obvious which team was more suited to win in an NCAA tournament that generally gives the advantage to teams with a large amount of flexibility and multiple shooters. This is why a little heralded team has been able to extend it's success from last season into this season, and why Ohio State has not.

Last season, Wichita State lost two of it's top three scorers (all who were averaging over 10 points per game), Carl Hall and Malcom Armstead. The Shockers responded in 2013-14 by having four players average double digits per game, and are currently ranked second in the country after finishing their regular season undefeated in the Missouri Valley Conference.

I'm apparently required by law to point out that the Shockers play in a garbage league with garbage teams filled with garbage players coached by garbage coaches, but the truth is that when a team is as efficient offensively as Wichita State has been all season, when a team rebounds and plays overall defense as well as they have, the Shockers have earned the right to shed whatever paper tiger label that fans of bigger name schools have placed on them in an effort to mask their own insecurities.

You know, like us.

Ohio State has taken a different track than Wichita State. We all know the details: can't shoot, can't rebound, overly reliant on one guy to carry the offense, etc. All of those things are bad, but what's really hurt the Buckeyes, especially in Big Ten play, is the team's continued inability to find a consistent second scoring option behind LaQuinton Ross. Matta remains an incredible coach, but his failure to develop even one extra shooter in the past two or three years has sunk this team in crunch time.

Earlier this week, The Lantern asked Ohio State players about this year's Wichita State team:

Craft had an answer for the next question too, an inquiry into whether he and the rest of the now No. 22 Buckeyes knew how good Wichita State would be this season before everyone else did, simply because their season ended at the hands of the Shockers almost a calendar year ago.

“It’s not a moral victory if that’s what you’re hinting at,” Craft said with a grin. “It doesn’t feel any better that they beat us now that they’re having this success.”

The thing is though that Wichita State didn't establish that success last season against Ohio State in that fateful Elite Eight game. In the intervening year between now and then, the Shockers were able to rebuild their offensive game into something formidable while also complementing things that they already did well. As a result, they're undefeated and a strong one seed going into their conference tournament.

Ohio State hasn't done any of those things. After starting their season 15-0, they've stumbled as their lack of player development has hurt them in a murderous Big Ten. They're turned out to be the real paper tigers in this story, and their last shot at changing the narrative will be to have the same kind of March that Wichita State did last year.


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trock's picture

Are we allowed to bring back DT for the B1G and NCAA tournament? 

Bolt's picture

We were overly reliant on one player to score and suffered trying to find a second consistent scorer all of last year as well...yet DT still lit the B1G/everyone we played on fire to the tune of 20ppg and carried this sorry offense while being the opponents defense's sole focus. I'd say that's a testament to how good DT is/was.

+2 HS
TheShookster's picture

The reason why I still believe in this team is the year UCONN played Butler for the title. The best team did not win that year and usually doesn't. Do I expect OSU to win it all? Hell no. Haha but there's hope.

He ain't even stretch doe!!

+1 HS
wyatt's picture

Can OSU just finish the season and not go to either the NCAA or NIT tournaments?  I've had enough embarrassment for one year.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Wichita State is a very good basketball team.  If they were playing in a major conference, like the Big Ten, they would not be undefeated right now.  However, that's about the only thing that would be different.  Can they beat any team in the Big Ten on a given night?  Absolutely.  So can several other Big Ten teams.  You know it doesn't always work out that way, though.  They could probably contend for the conference title, though not unbeaten, and still be ranked in the top 10, though not necessarily #2.  The thing with Wichita State is that they're playing OSU's non-conference schedule in conference play and non-conference play.  OSU didn't lose in non-conference play, either.  It would be interesting to see how the matchup would play out today.  Wichita State would have to be the favorite after watching OSU's last two outings.  However, wouldn't it be funny if OSU did the same thing to Wichita that Wichita did last year?

I think the most frustrating thing about this OSU team is that they can play better than what they are.  Everyone loves Wichita State for being undefeated when they have played the same caliber of schedule that OSU played to start 15-0.  I think it's a confidence thing more than anything else.  And make no mistake about it - Wichita State deserves all of the hype they're getting.  Finishing a regular season undefeated is an incredible feat in college basketball regardless of what the schedule or league you're in is.  However, it's hard to deny that they probably wouldn't be unbeaten if they had to play in a top conference.  There's nothing wrong with not being undefeated.  Finishing with 5 losses or less is still pretty amazing.

Class of 2010.

Go1Bucks's picture

I agree with alot of what you said.  Wichita St has played a weak schedule and now have to go the Dance where they will play real teams, that can defend against the threes that they live on. These Ds will expose their weaknesses and then they will lose. It  isn't acknowledged by the media and the readers believe they have no weakness.  I won't deny that it is tough to go undefeated, but it is easier when playing in their league.

OSU fell last year to the streak that WS was having and because of mistakes in the offensive game plan.  I don't believe it would repeat given the same players in a rematch.  However, with this years squad, I wouldn't bet on OSU to win if the version that played was the one during any of our losses.

Go Bucks!

Buckeye Chuck's picture

...Matta remains an incredible coach, but his failure to develop even one extra shooter in the past two or three years has sunk this team in crunch time.

A big part of the problem here is that we've only added two new players the last two years, one of whom is pretty clearly overmatched at the Big Ten level. Yes, I know K. Williams got the redshirt and I know the transfers at the end of the 2012 season were players who would have been seniors now, but we're habitually at least a couple of players short of a full roster. And before anyone uses it as an excuse, we're not the only team that has early entries to the NBA.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Go1Bucks's picture

no, but we have had a hell of a lot more than most teams, that directly affected potential titles

Go Bucks!

bucksfan92's picture

WSU is getting a lot of mileage over a poor performance by OSU last year.  We showed up for 5 minutes in that game and could have easily won.  Our guys looked past them, plain and simple.  WSU was not a better team than OSU last year. Yes they were good but OSU would win that matchup 7 out of 10 times at least.  The beauty of the NCAAT is that it isn't a series, it's a 1 game deal and upsets happen.  And as bad as OSU has choked in the B1G they would absolutely be 31-0 with Wichita's schedule.  In fact I'd say there are a dozen teams that would be.  

ibuck's picture

Matta remains an incredible coach, but his failure to develop even one extra shooter...

Yes, it's Matta's fault his players can't shoot. Not his assistant coaches, nor the former shooting coach now back in the NBA. Not Aaron Craft's sister, who beats him at shooting anything but twisting, acrobatic attempts. Not the fault of scholarship players that miss uncontested lay-ups and slam dunks. It's not the fault of players who refuse to alter their shooting motion, nor the players who don't set their feet before receiving the pass for an open shot, or whose upper bodies move laterally while shooting, nor the players who can make shots in practice, but not in games. And we certainly can't blame players who are forced into those terrifying free throw shots, something they never have had to attempt before coming to Ohio State. Yes, it's clearly Matta's fault.

I think you'll find the height of the rim and the distance to the foul line is the same as it is back in our gym at Hickory. 
(paraphrased from the movie "Hoosiers")


Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS