Numerical Autopsy of a Frustrating Ohio State Hoops Season

By Chris Lauderback on March 22, 2014 at 8:15a
Thad Matta yelled and yelled but it seldom sunk in with the 2013-14 Buckeyes

What turned out to be one of the more exasperating Ohio State basketball seasons in recent memory ended in fitting fashion Thursday afternoon as the Buckeyes bumbled and stumbled yet still almost advanced before a late Dayton bucket finally put Thad Matta's team out of its collective misery. 

Finishing at 25-10, the Buckeyes went 10-10 over their final 20 games and posted a 10-8 record in B1G regular season play before being eliminated in the opening game of The Dance for just the third time in 26 appearances. 

The team is very much in transition with Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. out of eligibility and LaQuinton Ross contemplating his basketball future but before we venture into the offseason here's a few numbers that help summarize the 2013-14 Buckeyes. 


As in 10 total losses. In what could be a surprise to some folks, under Thad Matta the Buckeyes have lost at least 10 games in four of his ten seasons though this marks the first time since 2008-09 the Buckeyes have reached double digit defeats. 

Judging from the various colors of Matta's face during the year (I'm pretty sure Tarantino would've dubbed him Mr. Purple), this was one of Thad's more frustrating years as a head coach. 

He repeatedly struggled to get through to his team as they often started slow, loafed on defense, went through frequent bouts of apathy and mental fragility. For the first time in a while, the players themselves showed a huge lack of chemistry and therefore accountability to each other. 


Even in a down year, the Buckeyes still managed to post a 17-3 record at home though two of the defeats were shaky. 

Ohio State fell 84-74 to Iowa on January 12th, evening their record at 2-2 in B1G play as they allowed the Hawkeyes to close the game on a 22-9 blitz. Ross tallied 22 points and seven boards but he and Craft combined to turn it over 11 times. 

A little over two weeks later, the Buckeyes bottomed out in a 71-70 overtime loss to Penn State, dropping Matta to 17-1 against the Lions, and OSU to 3-5 in league action. 

Four games later, Michigan came to Columbus and posted a 70-60 victory as they outscored the Buckeyes 44-30 in the 2nd half evening Ohio State's conference record at 6-6. 

As decent as 17-3 at home sounds, Ohio State hadn't fared that poorly in the friendly confines since back in 2008-09 when a 22-11 squad featuring names like Jeremie Simmons, P.J. Hill and Noopy Crater (for a couple months anyway) went 15-3 in the Schott. 

In fact, during the four-season stretch book-ending those seasons, the Buckeyes went 71-5 at home including a perfect 20-0 record in 2010-11 and 17-1 in 2009-10. 


Following the one-point loss to the Flyers, Ohio State's last six NCAA tournament defeats have come by a combined 14 points. A rundown of the previous five:

  • 2013: Wichita State 70, Ohio State 66 - The Buckeyes fought back from a 20-point deficit but couldn't overcome 31% shooting including 5/25 from distance as they fell to the #9 seeded Shockers, missing out on a berth in the Final Four. 
  • 2012: Kansas 64, Ohio State 62 - In a Final Four matchup, OSU led by as many as 13 points and for all but 3:48 of the 40 minutes but they were outscored 13-7 over the final five minutes as they missed eight of 10 shots allowing the Jayhawks to advance. 
  • 2011: Kentucky 62, Ohio State 60 - In a regional semifinal clash, Jared Sullinger posted a 21-16 double-double but William Buford went 2/16 from the field and Brandon Knight hit the game-winner with :05 left. 
  • 2010: Tennessee 76, Ohio State 73 - Evan Turner's one-man show went for 31 points but Ohio State lost the lead with :35 left and Turner's three-point try just before the buzzer was blocked, ending OSU's season in the Sweet Sixteen. 
  • 2009: Siena 74, Ohio State 72 (2 OT) - Turner was a beast with 31 points, nine boards and eight assists but the Buckeyes blew an 11-point lead late in regulation before falling on a Ronald Moore three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left. 


Despite going just 3-3 this month, Thad Matta is still 56-16 in March during his time at Ohio State, good for a 77.8% winning percentage. That number is good for 5th-best among active coaches over the last 10 seasons. 

Bottom line, everyone is frustrated with how this season played out for a litany of reasons but as I've said many times, Thad Matta is the best coach Ohio State can get and that's not a back-handed complement in any way whatsoever. 

In fact, among the coaching community, Matta is always on the short list of the best coaches without a national title. Ohio State is incredibly lucky to have him leading the program and any known current commodity viewed as a better CEO of a program is not interested in or available to Ohio State.

38.5% & 28.4%

What a rough swan song for Lenzelle Smith Jr. The guy Ohio State was forced to lean on as a secondary scorer managed to do so (11.0 ppg) but it wasn't pretty. 

His numbers nose-dived in league play, putting him up there with Shannon Scott as having the most busted jumper among Buckeyes in the heavy rotation (at least 70 FGA in B1G play). 

SMITH 42.6 38.5 33.1 28.4 11.0 10.6
SCOTT 43.2 40.3 30.2 25.6 7.5 7.2
ROSS 44.7 45.9 35.3 38.9 15.2 16.2
THOMPSON 45.0 44.1 35.5 40.0 7.9 7.5
CRAFT 47.3 47.1 30.2 37.0 9.8 9.5
WILLIAMS 59.8 57.9 N/A N/A 7.8 6.9

As you can see, Smith was Ohio State's worst overall shooter among the guys logging major minutes and his shaky 28.4% shooting from distance in B1G play was only outdone by Scott's 25.6%. 

Scott's clanks against B1G competition were less hurtful as he attempted just 39 (making 10) while Lenzelle launched 81 triples, hitting only 23. 

Also of note on this graph, only Ross managed to score more points per game in B1G play than overall. Everyone else failed to step up in the scoring department.


Comments Show All Comments

bucksfan92's picture

I said back in January this season was a lost cause and we should start prepping for next year.  Craft and Smith, for all their good points proved to be poor leaders, unable to rally the team to win games they really needed to, and should have won.  The outlook for next year is pretty good though.  Sammy Slam has rally added to his offensive game this year, scoring points in bunches at times.  Scott appears to be a better ball handler than Craft and I thin our PG play will be just as good.  He may not get the notoriety Craft got on the defensive end, but he is a pretty scrappy defender as well.  Marc Loving had a great freshman year and will be a starter and I think our next superstar.  We need some improvement down low, but that isn't anything new.  And if Della Vale ups his game as much as he did between season last year he is going to really add a lot to this team.  I see OSU as one of the favorites again to win the B1G.

-8 HS
BuckeyeCrew's picture

Craft was a poor leader?

Really? I mean.. REALLY?

Just like the sky is not blue.. and Obama is a Swedish blonde.


+4 HS
3cent's picture

So Craft is a great leader, but according to most of you Q, WIlliams, Thompson, etc... have no hussle or heart. Wouldn't a great leader change that? Who exactly was Craft leading then?

-3 HS
BuckeyeCrew's picture

It's like some of you haven't watched a game, this year. Craft constantly called his teammates into a huddle to give a quick pep-talk, especially after a tough play or stretch.  I saw him do this EVERY game I watched.  (Admittedly, I didn't get to see all of the games, this season) Furthermore, his play on the court, proved that he is a leader. I don't know what more one could want...

As for your hyperbole.. I can only speak for myself; I have no problem with Slam or Q.  However, Amir seems not to care about basketball, and that has naught to do with Craft, or for that matter, Matta. What more could Crafty do? Tazer him after every lazy play?  WTH.. you think Tom Brady or Peyton Mannning could have been better with motivating Amir?  What.. should we bring in Tony Robbins?  For anyone to say it's ACs fault, that others played poorly (which is subjective, anyway), is just slovenly analysis.  It's typical dumb talk from typical fans.  This is 11W.. try to rise above that.



3cent's picture

Not saying its his fault, just pointing out the leadership myth and how fans criticize the whole team except for Craft, but then call him a great leader. So maybe other 11W fans should also rise above calling out everyone else. Seems like every player is fair game, but him.

BuckeyeCrew's picture

But you are saying it's his fault. Make up your mind.. troll. Or wait.. being schizo, according to whatever is oppositional, is your job.

-1 HS
Oakland Buckeye's picture

So 3 cent - do you simply follow all the Craft stories on 11w & then troll the crap out of every one of them? I for one miss the days on the site when a  troll was on the loose & we could collectively downvote them into oblivion - to the point they could not even comment. Now you are capped at -10?

You need to take you #ichigan loving crap elsewhere - you could not carry A Craft's jockstrap on the court or life.

-1 HS
3cent's picture

Lol, following all the Craft stories? There seems to be abundance of them so they are hard to miss. Again I am not a troll, If you guys can comment on how much you Love Aaron Craft, or how sorry Amir WIlliams is, then why cannot I comment on how overrated I think Craft is without being called a troll. 

-1 HS
BuckeyeCrew's picture

Let's see.. he's over-rated.  Hmm.. one of the best defenders in B10 history, along with being first in steals, and fifth in assists, in B10 history.

What's over-rated, is your ability to make a cogent argument.  Troll.


RufusVonDufus's picture

You have to be kidding me!    We will still have Matta and that is bad.    He cannot coach up and cannot adjust or coach end of game.     ADV is gone thank goodness and Ross is leaving also making room for new talent which, hopefully, is coming in.     Matta's recruiting is usually a week to ten days late in most cases.    No, I don't care for him much.


hootch2's picture

I've been pissed since seeing The Huffington Post headline "Aaron Craft the most hated player in college basketball". Somebody at the Post is a Buckeye hater. Yesterday they were still revelling in the loss by posting the Dayton newspaper headline. Wasn't there any other games played on Thursday to report on. 

+1 HS
Jason Priestas's picture

Eh, that headline was funny, just not for us. And quite frankly, if Craft played for Michigan (or hell, even Purdue), we'd all hate him to the point of not being able to see straight.

DenBuck's picture

It's sad when we consider 25-10 an EPIC FAIL but it was a tough year. I'm still pissed about the 2 Penn State losses. It's time for some fresh faces. Please can we get a big that's decent? There are lots of 3 star guys out there that other teams seem to find? Why not us?

Buckeye For Life

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

In every loss Ohio State led at some point in the 2nd half, except for the Michigan game and in that game they led in the first half. This shows that this is a team of nice guys. When you have you opponent down you MUST put your foot on their neck and choke the life out of them. They could not finish, or better yet, finish them off.

+1 HS
NitroBuck's picture

It is good that Ohio State is in a position where a 25-10 season is considered to be a failure.  I'm looking forward to a better season next year, particularly if Q sticks around another year (personally, I think that would do him a lot of good).  The team just needs to find a bit more energy and power inside, and find a couple of good outside shooters.  It may sound odd, but I was really pleased with the improvement Trey McDonald showed over the course of the B1G season.  He was horrible in January, but by March looked like the solid reserve big man this team needed.  Marc Loving showed flashes as a Freshman.  Now he needs to get stronger (which would also help Amir and ADV).  Hopefully Bell will come in and be good enough to really push Amir and Trey to step it up.

Ferio.  Tego.

+1 HS
RufusVonDufus's picture

No decent bigs for Matta.   They know better.    Only guys like Williams, the gooseneckers.


bergy22's picture

I don't care if we don't play a center at all next year. But If Bell gives us more energy for the same production I'm all in for him getting the lions share of PT at C. Maybe 3rd year is the charm for Amir but I can't imagine either McDonald or Amir are getting better playing against each other in practice. Not to be negative but I think that ship has sailed.

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

I like McDonald. He had energy and is a scrapper. Amir, well, of course he isnt that. But I really see Matta having a long, personal one on one with Amir after he goes back over tape and see his MASSIVE lack of heart and drive. I think he will be much better next year, but I am an optimist so that is always try and view it.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

+1 HS
bukyze's picture

I don't think Thad will need to look over any tape.  Amir's deficits were loud and clear every single game.

funky123's picture

If I could ask coach Matta just one question it would be what did he see in Amir when he was recruiting him that made him want to bring Amir to Columbus.

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Great question Funky - never even crossed my mind.

bukyze's picture

I think the potential is very apparent.  Maybe he's worked his ass off, and he just hasn't gotten any better. Maybe he's content with his talent level the way it is and is just going with the flow.  Who knows.  It's just frustrating to see potential not being utilized.

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Someone that has that body type with his height and weight should be dominating the game inside.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Very simple answer to a very simple question. 6-11 and a McDonald's All-American. He was actually only 6-9 his Senior year in high school. When you're 6 inches to a foot taller than almost everyone you play against in high school, it is difficult to judge how much improvement will be made to compete against players of the same size in college. MUCH easier to judge how guards will do, Most play against other players the same size. 

Amir was the #5 rated center in the country by Scout and #10 by Rivals. Ohio State outbid Duke, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Wake Forest, USC, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue and Minnesota. Ask those school's coaches what they saw in Amir. Rivals said about Amir: "Shooting = good, Rebounding = good, Handle = good, Strength = good, Passing = developing." Scout's description of Amir: "A long lean post prospect oozing with talent and potential. He moves up and down the floor extremely well and gets off the ground quickly when attempting to block a shot or reel in a rebound. Offensively he has a good set of hands." 

Amir had just about everyone in the county fooled.

+2 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

There is nothing that a talk will do to improve Amir's ability to catch a pass. There were MANY passes in the right spot at the right time that he had absolutely no chance of catching. Unless the pass is a softball, Amir is incapable of catching them.

+1 HS
route4buckeye's picture

Solid Reservoir Dogs reference.

gravey's picture

OK OK we had a down year....for US....for now.  So many of you have been spoiled by Matta that you can't enjoy a 20 win season.   Have you forgotten the years when 20 wins was considered a great season?  I'm sick of all the dancing on the grave of Aaron Craft's season and career.  It's always, "what have you done for me lately?"    I guess this is the price one pays for being a fan of the Buckeyes where a final four in basketball and a national championship in football are the only seasons that don't disappoint.

Have you talked to any Hoosier fans lately? 


If you're going to do an autopsy - do it right.  There were clearly flaws on this team, but there was plenty to consider that was positive as well.

Lighten up folks!  We live in the golden age of Buckeye sports.   

+6 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

You beat me to the punch.  We are all avid buckeye fans and we naturally live and die each play and each game be it basketball or football.  Most schools would have loved to have had a "down" year like this.  If you can overcome a myopic view of this season alone (still a 20+ win season and a trip to the NCAA) and look at what Matta has done for this program over the past ten years, you should feel pretty lucky.  But, we are spoiled, and of course we fans have a right to state our opinion.  There is a line however, when someone like Aaron Craft who puts his heart and soul into every play, yet receives so much vitriol it just makes you want to shake your head. 

Rant over.  Anyway ... nice stats Chris, appreciate that.  Next season should be interesting, the bucks have some decent players and some super frosh coming in, but the B1G will once again be VERY competitive.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

doodah_man's picture

I'm still trying to figure the Arron Craft as the most hated player in basketball at the HP. Where the hell did this come from other than in the warped mentality of Chris Greenberg? Have I been missing something?

The guy is intelligent, a good student. He plays so hard that it seems he spends half his time on the floor in and out of bounds. He probably has raspberries on his elbows and knees that will take until next season to go away. No criminal accusations, no honeys from drunken parties accusing  him of rape. What is up? 

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

+1 HS
funky123's picture

I for one believe that OSU made an exceptional choice when they brought coach Matta to Columbus. He is one of the main reasons that OSU hasn't been in that group of football powers that haven't been able to be basketball powers too. Those schools would be more than happy to have been in four straight Sweet Sixteens. 

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

It's one down year with 25 wins - I think most colleges would give their right nut to have a down year like ours. Keeping thiese in perspective.

+1 HS
buckeye4life050233's picture

I think it was more of a down year because we had a pretty experienced team that looked the exact same as last year minus Deshaun and they added more stupid careless turnovers at important times in games as well as terrible ft shooting especially front end of 1 and 1's.  Also very uninspired play for long stretches of games.  Sad part is in all 10 of the losses they were within reach in the second half and we had the lead or were within a possession or 2 of changing the outcome.  Woulda been nice to have craft on the 06'-07' team with conley, cook, oden and those guys. he would've made the defense that much more exciting and would have added to the rotation that year.

buckeye4life050233's picture

As much as I want a B1G ten team to win the ncaa tourney it will kill me if Belein or Bo Ryan get one before Matta.

+1 HS
ghalephoto's picture

Our faults with this team are simple.  Players that left early, or were not given the chance to play in Columbus.  A. Payne, wanted to be a Buckeye, we couldn't seem to work it out, yet MSU did...A. White Iowa, offered but way late.  Trice with MSU...offered?  Jackson with Wisc was talked to but not went after as serious option.  T. Burke wanted to be a Buckeye, not offered.  I know this is a huge what if, but where would Thad be with this group instead of group we are so proud of at 25-10.  A Payne alone would have done some serious damage.  I am aware Its a numbers game and hind site...bla, bla  But these guys would have added some serious numbers to the 2013-14 basketball team.

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

AGAIN, Payne DID NOT want to be on the same team as Sullinger. Sullinger did not want Burke to be his PG, he wanted Craft, he played with both of them, The reason Craft was offered and Burke was not. Craft preferred to pass the ball into Sullinger, Burke preferred shooting over passing the ball into the post.