Making the Grade: Ohio State's Basketball Report Cards

By Michael Citro on March 23, 2014 at 8:15a
98 Comments

The 2013-14 season ended much too soon. Although this year’s version of the basketball Buckeyes was a very flawed one, Thad Matta led his club to 25 victories and finished in the upper half of the rugged Big Ten.

The B1G may not be as strong at the top as it was a year ago, but the bottom half made giant strides over the course of the year, making automatic wins a thing of the past.

Along the way, there were frustrating losses, ugly wins, and, yes, several moments of the kind of magic Matta’s squad has become known over the years.

Any team is made up of individuals who must jell together to be successful. Herein we’ll look at the individuals who made up this year’s Ohio State hoops team and grade their performance overall. In so doing, it’s important to fight through the frustration and try to give an honest assessment. This is my attempt, beginning with the starters and continuing through all nine guys in the regular rotation.

Aaron Craft

It’s easy to point at Craft and blame him for some of the team’s issues. His scoring average dropped slightly (from 10.0 to 9.8 PPG), he set a career high in turnovers (90), and he made a career low in three-pointers (16).

On the other hand, Craft tried to step up and be a leader on offense in the wake of losing DeShaun Thomas, and that simply isn’t who he is. I suspect that’s what the coaches asked of him and to his credit he did his best. Meanwhile, he actually raised his field goal percentage and 3FG% from last year.

His offensive numbers never sparkled over his career, but they remained remarkably consistent. Meanwhile, he posted the most steals since his sophomore year, established a new high in rebound average and put up comparable assist numbers despite playing in the fewest games of his career on a team that couldn’t hit its open jump shots.

He finishes his career as the school’s leader in steals and assists — ranking first and fifth all-time in conference history in those categories, respectively — and is among the top 30 scorers in OSU history. You can take points off for Craft trying to do too much at times, but bear in mind that he was probably asked to do so by the staff.

Grade: A-

Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Smith is a player that many fans find frustrating. Indeed, he seemed capable of becoming a David Lighty type, but never quite reached Lighty-esque levels over his career. Always a streaky shooter, Smith became a lightning rod for fans whenever his shots weren’t falling and the team was struggling.

However, Smith increased his scoring average to a career-high 11.0, and hit 50 triples, also a career mark. He bettered his free throw percentage from .687 to .755 and got to the line a career high 102 times. Until his last 11 games, Smith was on pace for a career best in long-range shooting percentage and was scoring about 13 points per game.

He raised his rebounding average to a new high of 5.06, turned the ball over less often than ever, and was only one assist off last year despite playing two fewer games and having the bricklayer’s union for a team.

Perhaps the most frustrating stretch of Smith’s career consisted of his last seven games, during which he scored in double figures only once — 19 in a loss at Indiana. Undoubtedly, hitting only six of his final 34 attempts from distance (17.6%) will stick in people’s minds, but Smith still had a better year than most will credit him with, when you consider it against his previous three seasons.

Grade: B-

Sam Thompson

While Smith had a better season historically than many will remember, it’s surprising that Thompson’s numbers actually dropped somewhat. It seemed like he became a three-point threat and stepped up his defense in 2013-14, but the numbers don’t support that.

While Slam did hit four more triples than last year, his 3FG% dropped from .404 to .355 and his overall field goal percentage dipped from .498 to .450. Even his free throw percentage was lower this season (from .703 to .618). His rebounding average fell from 3.51 to 2.71 too.

Thompson has a world of potential and he’s a likable guy, but he scored only a tenth of a point per game more than last season. Still, he’s getting better as a defender and shot blocker and I’m no longer quite so terrified when he attempts a three.

Grade: C+

LaQuinton Ross

Ross became a first-year starter in 2013-14 and was counted on to replace the offense lost when Thomas turned pro. That may not be fair, but Ross mostly stepped up. His shooting percentage on twos and threes dipped slightly, but that’s to be expected when going from 17 to 29 minutes per game.

The junior from Jackson, Miss., nearly doubled his scoring average, going from 8.3 points per game to 15.2. His free throw percentage also dropped very slightly, but he got to the line much more often.

Like Smith, Ross’s three-point shooting abandoned him down the stretch. In his last eight games this season, Ross hit only two of 21 from distance (9.5%) and was only 1/14 from the arc in postseason.

Defensively, Ross improved but his inside help game still needs work. His steals, assists and blocks were all areas of improvement.

Grade: B

Amir Williams

Perhaps no one has done less with more than the former McDonald’s All-American from Detroit. You’ve seen the lost balls in traffic, the perfectly placed passes that slide right from between the two frying pans he calls hands, and the lack of finishing around the rim.

But to say that Williams didn’t improve during his junior year would be a lie.

It may be fair to say that we all expected more from Williams at this point in his career. But you can’t dismiss the progress he’s made.

Williams improved his scoring average from 3.5 to 7.8 points per game. He averaged 16.5 minutes as a sophomore and increased that to 23 in 2013-14. His rebounding average rose from 3.9 to 5.8 per game. He blocked 12 more shots and stole two more balls this season in two fewer games (albeit, playing more minutes) and more than doubled his assist total.

Last year, Williams made about half his free throws. This year he got to the line more often and put more of those freebies away (.651). And he turned in three double-doubles.

If he can turn in as big of an improvement next season as he did this year, we may remember Williams in a whole different light. But he’ll have to avoid the seemingly disinterested performances and have more discipline on defense.

Grade: C

Shannon Scott

Scott’s year speaks of offensive inconsistency. The junior from Georgia increased his minutes per game by six in 2013-14 and made his first 21 career starts, averaging 7.5 points (up from 4.9 last year). He increased his overall shooting percentage from .408 to .432 and his free throw average from .627 to .683.

However, Scott’s long-range percentage dipped from .333 to .302, he tallied 23 fewer assists and turned the ball over 20 more times than last year. On the defensive end, he did set a career high with 71 steals, but he also blocked only five shots, compared to 11 a year ago. He pulled down about half a rebound more per game this season.

He showed flashes of what he could do against Morgan State, Purdue and especially in the B1G semifinals against Michigan. Maybe he’ll be able to crawl out from under Craft’s shadow next season and find the offensive consistency to become a complete player.

Grade: C+

Trey McDonald

Probably the largest indictment of McDonald as a player is that even with the performances that Williams turned in, Trey could only find the floor 12 minutes per game — a five-minute increase over last year.

But even with those extra minutes, his scoring and rebounding averages remained about the same while his field goal percentage dipped slightly. And he makes only a third of his free throws.

The positives: he sometimes brought some energy to the floor; his blocks exploded from four total over his first two years to 19 this season; and he made seven steals compared to two for his career prior to this year — all while playing out of position at the five.

Still, there was no real progression in his game, he turned the ball over too often, and he just simply doesn’t seem to be the caliber of player a major program requires.

Grade: F

Amedeo Della Valle

As a sophomore, Della Valle showed some flashes of what he can bring to the table when he’s on his game. This was never more apparent than his performance against Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. He provided energy, an offensive spark and solid defense en route to 12 points, six boards, three blocks and two steals in just 21 minutes to lead Ohio State’s comeback.

If only there had been more of that.

The floppy haired Italian improved from 2.5 points per game to 4.0 in year two, playing about four more minutes (11.9) per game. His overall and distance shooting dipped, as he often rushed his play to try to make an impact in his limited minutes.

Aside from games played (from 15 to 33), none of his numbers significantly improved, aside from his turnovers and personal fouls increasing.

Had he not decided yesterday to move back to Europe to play professionally, ADV had a chance to improve and take over Craft's place as most hated Buckeye by opposing fans. Alas, we'll never know how his career could have gone. And that makes me sad.

Grade: D

Marc Loving

As the lone active freshman on the team, Loving showed a ton of potential and promise. His 4.4 points per game average isn’t gaudy, and he made only 25.9% of his triples but he appeared in all 35 games and Matta seemed to trust him more than almost anyone else on his bench.

The most important aspect was that the game didn’t seem too big for him. He appears to be a coachable kid who will learn Matta’s defensive requirements and his offensive game will come with more experience. He’s the most impressive Ohio State freshman since Sullinger/Craft/Thomas.

I’ll grade him on a curve for being a freshman.

Grade: C-

98 Comments

Comments

Youngbuck85's picture

Whoever made these grades gave them one hell of a curve 

+15 HS
Buckeye Chuck's picture

I don't know about that. When you think of C as an "average" grade, there were 3 As and Bs given out of 9 players, on a team that went 10-8 in the Big Ten. The grades all seem about right to me.

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

-2 HS
Youngbuck85's picture

I guess they're close... Craft is a b- to me, has gotten worse every year since he came here. I know that's unpopular but it's true. He could hit shots his first year. Amir should be an f or d. Don't really need to beat a dead horse on that one. I'd give Ross maybe a little better grade tho. 

+2 HS
d5k's picture

You must turn to another channel every time the other team has the ball, right?

+1 HS
Youngbuck85's picture

Steals mean nothing when your team doesn't do anything with them, and especially when you can't score in transition with them (aka miss layups) 

+2 HS
AJBor41's picture

I'd have to disagree on the Craft portion, since he hasn't gotten worse every year.  If anything, he's stayed almost exactly the same in regards to his offensive production.

route4buckeye's picture

Lenzelle got a B- and Shannon and Sam got C+?

+9 HS
el duderino's picture

I'm more than a little confused by that as well. Possibly he got a senior boost?

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

I was shocked too.  Being a senior, he should have done a LOT more.  D grade from me.

+2 HS
d5k's picture

No way.  Relative to expectations he came in about where I thought he would only I thought he would play less minutes.  Lenzelle is the typical undertalented but hard-working player who gradually becomes a decent role player.  He was asked to do too much because of Sam and Shannon not seizing their opportunities.  Those guys should have been solid if not dominant this year.  I expected them to be much bigger contributors than Lenzelle.  Instead they regressed compared to the end of last year.  I'd probably give Lenzelle a C+ though and give Shannon and Sam D+'s.  But that is all relative to expectations.  They should have played well enough that Matta would be forced to bench Lenzelle with their natural ability.

+1 HS
ghalephoto's picture

Crazy, L. Smith took his offense along with him to the defensive side of the court.  If he nailed a shot he was all over his guy and got back down on defense.   But, when Lenzelle Smith missed a shot he consistently was beat down the court and that was a huge part of why there is no grading scheme that could put him above a D...as in disappointment!!

Kingbuck12's picture

Williams gets an F-- that guy doesn't give a crap. And the rest all need two grades lower across the board. Just my opinion. Lets turn the page on this team and focus on football. 

Kingbuck12

-5 HS
TMac's picture

Amir may have "improved" but his performance is barely passing and not really acceptable (necessary for a C) yet - I'd have given him a D

+6 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Sorry, but bad grading Michael. McDonald an F and Amir a C-?  B- for Lenzelle Smith?  And as much as we love him, Craft is not an A-.  Too many turnovers and missed FTs late in games. 

+10 HS
Michael Citro's picture

Sorry, but bad grading Michael. 

 

Heh. this guy.

BassDropper's picture

It's true, though. Horrible grading.

DIRECTIONER

+5 HS
d5k's picture

Trolls be trolling?

-6 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

Team Chemistry - D-

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+7 HS
bucksfan92's picture

Actually team chemistry was an F-.  I said from the time we started that losing streak in January, there was a big non basketball problem on the team.  That was clearly the case.  For whatever reason, these guys just did not gel when the going got tough. So many games it looked like they just did not care, so I stopped caring. This team had no heart and no personality and will be forgotten very quickly.

DenBuck's picture

I would be fine is Williams, Trey and Scott just voluntarily decided to give back their schollies and leave. 

Buckeye For Life

-11 HS
ab1993's picture

dude I'm totally ok with the first two, but scott?? you're crazy man

+5 HS
ITWASME's picture

Yeah and then we can play with 9 guys next year with only 8 on scholarship! What's even better is we could only have one big man on the ENTIRE roster and he would be a freshman! THEN WE COULD JUST COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW SMALL WE ARE SOME MORE YAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!!!!! Also, we could take away our senior PG and best defender! Golly gee willickers that's a great idea you have!

+8 HS
bucksfan92's picture

Wow, some of these grades are way off.  First of all Loving gets an A-.  Compared against the one and done freshmen he didn't have a monster season, but he looked comfortable out there from day 1 and was a solid contributor.

Take off the man-crush goggles with Craft, he gets an F in my grade book, along with Lenzelle.  At best they set a D-.  Go back and reread your own articles from before the season.  All we heard was how Craft had worked on his shooting (he was just as unreliable as ever - maybe more so) and how he and Lenzelle learned from Diebler, Lighty, and Lauderdale about the importance of senior leadership and they were not going to have the kind of ending that team had.  No, it was worse, FAR worse.  And the worst regular season since Matta has been here. Seniors don't take wild shots late in games when the game is on the line (Smith at PSU - twice in the last minute) or go out of control and heave something toward the basket in hopes it goes in (Craft far too many times).  I know I am in the minority but I will  not miss those guys, they did show any improvement or leadership at all this season.

DellaValle grades higher in my book since he expanded his game.  He is no longer just a statue out behind that 3 point line.  He developed a nice dribble drive penetration move that is a lost art in today's game.  He was reminding me so much of Diebler that I am very sad to see him go.

Same goes for Thompson, he developed his outside game, so he gets credit for that, and was a lot of times that second scorer we needed.

Overall the season was a dial failure, it gets an F no matter how you grade it.  8 losses in the B1G is unacceptable.  Not getting to the finals is underachieving, and the first round loss in the NCAAT is beyond comprehension.  To an instate mid major just makes it all that much worse.  

Knarcisi's picture

+1 for you to balance the down vote. Ridiculous that you can't be critical here, of team or 11W staff. I'm in agreement that the grades were way off. 

+5 HS
3cent's picture

I agree with everything you said, unfortunately you will reach -10 down votes. DIdn't you know you are not suppose to criticize Craft?

+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

I call it like it is. I love Aaron Craft. Yet I can't ignore the turnovers and the poor FT shooting late in games. 

+5 HS
3cent's picture

I was actually replying to BucksFan, but hey I agree with your comment , too.

Knarcisi's picture

I don't agree that Craft is an F though. That's over the top. I'd say B at best. 

+7 HS
3cent's picture

He is a C- to me.

d5k's picture

If the junior class developed like they should have by now then Craft would've been all-everything this year.  He had to do too much because outside of Ross and sometimes Smith, no one wanted the ball.  He IMPROVED as a defender which is incredible given the hyperbole surrounding his defense.  You guys really have to stop pretending guys can magically become something they are not.  They can become more consistent but they can't just acquire new skills this late in the game.  Thompson has a good jumper, just does not know when to let it fly with confidence and he also inconsistently utilizes his ability to attack the lane off the dribble.  Scott has lapses that are not really explainable and also just does not do what he does well with confidence for stretches.  I am hoping that when they literally are forced to do something with the ball on a more regular basis that they realize what they are capable of and succeed but we will have to wait and see.

FROMTHE18's picture

your thoughts on craft are pretty alright IMO. I don't think he gets an F, I would say anything from D to C works for me. In terms of what we'd expect from a player who has lead this team over the last 4 years (3 sweet 16's, two elite 8 appearances, 1 final four; B1G titles), he underachieved big time. He was never really a scoring threat. I think the staff and he tried too hard to adjust his game to fit a scoring role. All we needed out of him was awesome on-ball defending, smart decisions running the offence, and leadership. I was far more disappointed with Smith Jr. He was very obsolete during the year. Little leadership, little in game impact. I wouldn't be hard pressed to argue against an F for him. 

+2 HS
TU-Rocket Buckeye's picture

Teammates and coaching makes in-season improvement of a players performance possible.., a players determination to improve makes off-season players improvement possible.., looking at the report card list, a C of Amir is about right.., if he had the same stats, but had shown so fire, it would have been a B+.., the man lacks that "fire inside" that will take him to the next level.., hopefully this off-season he will strike the match and let it burn.., Craft, lots of pressure on him (whether real or self imposed) and for the most part he handled it goods, but the outside shooting was torrid.., I think a B- is good for him.., Smith regressed, the pressure of being a senior and leader was too much.., give him  a D+.., Ross improved, maybe not enough to take us to the next level, but enough to warrant a B, he needs to reduce the turnovers and hit free throws.., Sam, good improvement all around, needs to quit disappearing in games at times.., he gets a B.., Scott had higher expectations from the fans, but did not live up to them as regular as we would have liked.., he did improve, to the tune of a C.., Loving was a freshman, talk to me after next season,.., Trey improved with more minutes, he just needs to get used to playing on the "big stage".., give him a C-.., ADV improved, but i am glad he is leaving.., Give him a C..,     

+1 HS
Son of Sevenless's picture

Lost twice to Penn State. Drop everyone one letter grade.

+10 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Some of you people truly embarrass me.  Yes, this team did not quite have the chemistry, character and firepower we've seen in recent years.  At the same time, the real problem was the poor outside shooting that plagued this team all season long.  With even mediocre outside shooting, this team would likely have only lost 3-4 games, and would be getting ready to play in the Sweet-16.  Calling kids a failure because the team had a major flaw in the form of overall poor outside shooting is ridiculous.  Blame the team.  Blame Chris Jent for leaving.  But don't single out the individual players.  Without a doubt, this year's version of the Buckeyes was not a strong as we fans are accustomed to.  At the same time, 25-10 is far above the level of suckage some of you make it out to be.

Ferio.  Tego.

+2 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

three point shooting as been an issue the last couple of years. The hope was ADV would take care of that. Sadly, he was crap far too often. 

+2 HS
Nutinpa's picture

I agree with much of your post, nitro....however, the 25-10 record was made possible by the soft OOC schedule Gene Smith hand delivered to Thad Matta just like he did to Urban Meyer. 

In the long run....it does your team no favors. The Buckeyes' 15-0 run was the mirage of the season.

 

+3 HS
Kingbuck12's picture

After reading everyones comments, I'm not alone on this one. This team is horrible, and Craft can't shoot worth a crap. Sorry i had to say it. Im glad he is a 4.0   He won't need basketball to make a living. Good luck to the seniors and della vella. Smartest move that guy could ever make. He was no Diebler. Take the money now. It wont be there for you   In the NBA. 

Kingbuck12

Knarcisi's picture

Craft B, Scott C, Smith Jr D, Ross B, Thompson B, Williams F, McDonald C, ADV C, Loving B 

+2 HS
ab1993's picture

Pre-March grades / March Grades:

  • Craft - B+ / A-
  • Smith - C / C-
  • Scott - C+ / B+
  • Ross - C / A-
  • Thompson - B / B
  • Williams - D+ / F
  • McDonald - D / C+
  • ADV - B- / C+
  • Loving - B / B (and the fact that he's a freshmen is way more promising than all the returning seniors)
+2 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Smith a C- in March?  He totally disappeared. 

+2 HS
d5k's picture

Not sure how Thompson gets a B pre-Dayton.  He finally played like he should've all year in that game.  I think losing his starting spot set him back, but that's mostly on him.

ab1993's picture

I also wish Matta had put in Jake Lorbach once in a while, who knows what he could do

+1 HS
Firedup's picture

I think the biggest issue is the outside shooting because this team tried to play exactly like last years team minus Thomas.  Lets not forget Thomas averaged 16 shots a game and this Ross averaged 11 shots a game. Someone had to step and take more shots and it look like that role fell to Craft when Smith fell off the cliff with his stroke down the stretch.  I feel that our perimeter orientated offense for a perimeter deficient team was a poor choice in asking players to do something they couldn't.  Ask yourselves this, how many times did we have an open layup in the half court off a pass and not a drive? Very very few as we lacked an off-ball offense of cross screens and back cuts.  

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM

Evil_Empire_CRS's picture

Craft: C Hard not to root for but I think he regressed offensively since his sophomore season. I think he peaked as a player early and, fair or unfair, had a very Tim Tebow-like draw.

Smith, Jr.: D Another case for lack of player development. He came to the Bucks as an athlete and he leaves as an athlete, not a basketball player. Not good when you reflect on a senior's season and only the missed opportunities stand out.

Thompson: C+ We all get it Slam- you can SKY! Please don't miss any more alley-oops now. Nonetheless, it was nice to see his perimeter game improve..

Ross: C I think he leaves and I wouldn't blame him. His offensive game translates to the pro level, albeit not in the NBA.

Williams: D Before I get too critical I have to remind myself that these are not professional athletes, though most aspire to be. Amir doesn't appear to have it between the ears. The only reason he's not an 'F' was the improved free throw shooting. Still waiting for him to get pissed and begin to realize he's got an NBA body.

Scott: C+ I thought he looked comfortable as a starter and there was something more to that Michigan comeback. Dare I say it- this team may have wanted him running the point over Craft.

Loving: B- Looked good at times and went to sleep (like most freshman) in other times. To me he was the most passionate player on a team that played uninspired for most of the year.

ADV: C Jon Diebler you are not. Hearing about some attitude, coupled with the matching earrings has me wanting to celebrate his departure.

Coaching & Player Development: D I can't believe we're not talking about this more. It certainly looked and felt like there was a locker room problem. Unemotional. Q's aweful start to the season. No offennsive development. Is it time to start looking at Matta as a recruiter who doesn't develop his talent?

+4 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

"Is it time to start looking at Matta as a recruiter who doesn't develop his talent?"

 

Are you kidding me?  I've pointed this out for a LONG time and have been getting blasted on a daily basis.  I actually LIKE Matta but I've yet to hear him take responsibility or others to ask what's going on.  Coaching isn't just recruiting and game management, it's also teaching.  I get very excited when we get these recruits but when they leave (save Sullinger, Thomas, etc) I'm like meh.  NO development.

+4 HS
d5k's picture

Lighty, Diebler and Turner didn't develop?  This junior class has been disappointing and most of the senior class left early.  Deshaun also developed extremely well.  Q developed and if he comes back will likely be all-conference first team.  Will you retract this comment when Loving becomes all-conference by his junior season?

Kingbuck12's picture

Ok fine Craft is the greatest point guard of all time, and the best shooter OSU has ever seen. Up votes please 

Kingbuck12

-2 HS
el duderino's picture

The first rule of Fight Club [upvotes] is you don't talk about Fight Club [upvotes].

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."

FROMTHE18's picture

For the most part, I think these are pretty damn close to what they should be. I think Amir got a bit too much love. Ive never seen someone that massive be that poor at gaining physical position down in the post. Also, if someone passes him the ball its 50/50 whether he catches it. Q got his points at times but if he took a dribble, I was just expecting turnover. Overall this team is probably a C+. Decent guard play, especially defensively, but scoring was as hysterically inconsistent and confused as our secondary in football, and we had zero inside game. If any incoming player can play the post, Id hope Matta keeps Amir on the bench. Looking forward, I don't know what to expect for next year, probably a lot of inexperienced players getting PT, probably the first true rebuilding year for Matta at OSU, no real key players will be back. 

I will say I believe Thompson was the most consistent player we had this year. He does his job and does it well IMO.

3cent's picture

Next year isn't a rebuilding year. The Buckeye will be fine; I actually think they will be really good next year. Next year looks like 2007 and 2011 all over again to me. We have a mix of upperclassmen and a top 5 recruiting class.

+2 HS
d5k's picture

Exactly.  We have a bunch of role player upperclassmen that don't want to be the guy.  If Russell is the man early on then we will be very good.  Even if not it won't be an NIT year.  Kam Williams sounds like he will be an upgrade over ADV as a bench shooter.  Scott should play much better with a 2 guard that likes to shoot/score rather than defer.  He can focus on early offense and finding gaps and won't have to play 2 guard himself at times.  Scott and Thompson have good chemistry where Craft and Thompson did not quite have it.  Being on the floor together for 25+ minutes rather than 10 minutes per game should help both guys.  I don't expect us to be a bad defensive team with Scott, Thompson on the perimeter and Amir blocking shots (say what you will but he is a very good shot blocker).  Loving will get a lot more minutes and make a lot less mistakes.  He did a lot of good things that were offset by bad freshman mistakes.

+1 HS
ExpatBuckeye's picture

I give the author a little credit for at least trying to have some evidence to back his grades, but I give the overall article a 'D'.  The author seems to be confused and distracted by statistics.  He vacillates between 'per game' statistics and 'totals' to defend his grades, while almost completely discounting minutes played.  The overall effect and conclusion is that it seems our bench was horrendous while the starters were good to very good.  Anyone that actually watched this team play over the season knows this to be false.

Most of the gains credited to Williams and Ross are due to more minutes played.  While I think the 'D' grade for ADV was closer to fair, I think the same arguments made against ADV could be applied to others that got better grades.  Most importantly, the analysis should include and emphasize performance in the games that mattered most.

It's impossible to judge this team in isolation, without looking at the success of previous years.  One could argue that this was a fairly average team that slightly overplayed its scoring abilities with moments of superior effort and desire.  But you could just a fairly judge it by its high "potential", "talent" and "athleticism" and say a lot of guys did not or may not ever live up to the high expectations we (and everyone else) had for them coming out of high school.

buckeyebowhunter's picture

Wow, bad grading. Obviously they were going to go up statistically they played more minutes.  Forget looking at the stats use some common sense and observation when making grades.

 

+2 HS
headina's picture

I'm sorry. Amir Williams is an F- 

GO BUCKS

+6 HS
Kingbuck12's picture

10 up votes for Headina

Kingbuck12

+2 HS
Oakland Buckeye's picture

Wow - wish I had Micheal for a prof!

Craft - B+, agree staff asked more of him than capable.

LZJ - C- , you cannot discount the last 11 or 7 games  - 11 games is a 3rd of the season - dont care about his precentages - he did most of his work outside the B!G

Slammy - solid B - if you look at B!G he was significantly better pct wise. - & they didnt turn around the B1G season until he moved into the starting lineup

Q - solid B+ (dont think anyone on this team deserves an A) greatly improved his all around game - especially rebounding

Scott - C, but agree he may improve the pg position in some areas, while approaching Crafts greatness on the defensive end

Amir - F-, cmon man! He more than Mcdonald doesnt seem to be a D1 player - never saw a more disappointing 5 star ever.

Mcdonald - D +, has zero offensive skills, cant play defense without fouling - that was as much reason why his minutes were so low.

ADV - glad to see this rating - the Nebraska game gets this kid more love than he deserves - fun guy - but he is NOT the 3point specialist!  .324 is not a specialist!

+4 HS
O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

How about grades for the coaching staff? 

I know they are doing great work on the recruiting trail with the incoming classes which we're all pumped about. But it seems Thad is missing a true shooting coach. Paulus worked with Aaron this past off season--not the answer. Our team free throw % is awful. It's time to bring in someone who can get these kids to shoot up to their potential.

 

+2 HS
d5k's picture

I think they need a sports psychologist for some of the guys and other guys just won't ever be good shooters (mainly Craft but he does so much else well).  Thompson and Scott look good on their shot when they shoot with confidence but they get caught in the trap of "is this a good shot?" and pass up good looks and take worse shots at times.  Free throws fall into the mental aspect as well.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Aaron Craft will not be happy with a grade of A-, anything less than an A+ is unacceptable by his standards.
 

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

+2 HS
Damonbuckeye's picture

I don't give out individual grades for a team sport and as a team this years team gets a C .. The coaching staff gets an F for not having guys mentaly and physically prepared before the season even started. This team regressed and has been regressing for along time.. The smart players see the writing on the wall and are leaving see Siebert, Weatherspoon, Armadeo, and the one and dones that Matta has lost his ability to make you a better player...... Matta is another John Cooper a guy who sends guys here and there to the pro's but if you stay he'll turn you into a crappy player who can't shoot or make a lay-up...

d5k's picture

See, AndyVance, this is what happens when you make dumb comparisons while sounding reasonable.  You get some guy ranting about Armadillo of the valley and then citing you.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

I'm flattered that you think I have that kind of influence around here :)

Also, mad props to you for giving such a consistent and full-throated defense of this team, and especially the coaching staff. You're good man; my hat's off to you.

aerobuck's picture

Count me as another who would like to see the author's grade for the coaching staff.

+4 HS
Bailey458's picture

I hate to see all the ragging on this team so I am going to just be positive and posit a few quick thoughts.  McDonald is not an NBA caliber player most likely but compared to what he was last year (unusable) and where he was this year I thought he deserved a C+.  The guy actually is capable enough of playing some backup minutes (admittedly 10 max), not killing us defensively and he plays like he cares.  Plus his handles have gotten a little better and he can make some shots around the rim. 

I think these grades should be based on improvement as much as comparison to an average player, this isn't fantasy college basketball, WAR is irrelevant.  Its all about cohesive play, interchangeable parts and guys picking up the slack for others.  Some of our guys in my mind did take big steps forward (Scott, Thompson, McDonald), heck even Craft by the end of the year learned his forte offensively by becoming an effective and consistent driver of the basketball.  Any of you who didn't enjoy watching Craft hit a seemingly impossible layup and slide half way off the court for the and one is totally buckin nuts.

+1 HS
d5k's picture

Any of you who didn't enjoy watching Craft hit a seemingly impossible layup and slide half way off the court for the and one is totally buckin nuts.

Yes, and if we had 3 guys on the floor that could knock down a 3 can you imagine how many times he would set them up on a platter with drive/kicks?  And then Craft would have had more room to drive.  Basketball is a team sport.

+1 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Pretty friendly grades for a couple of guys (Smith, Amir, looking at you guys).  I'd probably give Loving a higher grade than C- and Sam Thompson could maybe edge into B- range.

Class of 2010.

+1 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Pretty friendly grades for a couple of guys (Smith, Amir, looking at you guys).  I'd probably give Loving a higher grade than C- and Sam Thompson could maybe edge into B- range.

Class of 2010.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Craft - B - had to do far more than he should have based on this team but never, ever gave up.  You can't teach drive.  Unfortunately his drive didn't match his abilities but I would always love to have a guy like this on my team. People are tough on him now because he is the face of this disaster of a team, but I think over time it will soften and people will realize just how much he truly brought to the team

Smith - D  - this guy is a senior and completely disappeared.  I was tempted to make this an F.  When the team needed him the most he did nearly nothing.  Should have lost his minutes a long time ago for Loving or ADV.  Seniors need to put their mark on the game and seemed to be AWOL way too much

Thompson - C - love the athletic ability but seemed OK to be a bit player.  May have something to do with team chemistry but should have used that athletcism to at least take over/demand the ball.  Jumper seems to have improved but too much deferring when the team needed SOMEONE

Ross - C - he might be the most frustrating player on the team.  When you see someone who appears to have immense talent but only uses it on occasion, that reeks of laziness.  Seem to be both mentally and physically immature.  If he ever truly believed he is as good as everyone thinks he could be offensively, he'd be unstoppable.  Much like Carmelo, defense is foreign to him; Needs another year and a LOT of time in the weightroom; lastly, my God man stop with the pump fake from the 3 pt line.

Williams - F - talk about someone that looks like they'd rather be doing something else.  Williams showed absolutely no desire even though he was clearly a man among boys physically; poster child for "it's not the size of the dog in the fight..."; Worse hands I've ever seen on the court, compounds that by always bringing the ball down for his double dribble; needs to find another profession

Scott - C - another extremely frustrating player, as evident by his fouling on a 3 versus Dayton.  Shows signs of really progressing only to make plays that make you go, "huh".  His deviation is probably the biggest as one moment he is brilliant and the next moronic.  Thus, net results is average

ADV - B - this will be the most disputed by everyone but I gave him this grade based on my belief that he really tried and had the potential to be an excellent player, had Matta been willing to break from his stubbornes.  His coast to coast score and MVP from the Euro Under Championships demonstrated that the potential is there, just not sure why Matta wouldn't give him a shot; now we shall never know

McDonald - C - though he clearly has almost no skill, McDonald fought and played with passion.  If you could transplant his mind into Amir's body you would have an All American.  He is what he is, a bit player, though having no one in front of him really exposes his weaknessess

Loving - B- Showed signs of being a decent player with much expected flashes of "freshmanitis".  Was a candidate for more time during the season to make him battle-ready for the tourney.  For some inexplicable reason, never materialized and he was ultimately a non-factor.

Matta/coaching - D - If any year needed coaching and devloping, this was it. While Matta is a great recruiter and defensive genius, it's impossible to miss the lack of development and the regressive offense.  This team had players that were decent at specific things.  Had Matta taken advantage of that, their ceiling was likely the Sweet 16.  His refusal the expand his rotation and get more time for Loving and ADV, or pull Williams and go small ball, was his doom

 

 

 

+1 HS
Evil_Empire_CRS's picture

I was really surprised they didn't go small ball more often and play to their personnel. I would've liked to Smith come off the bench, not Scott or Thompson.

d5k's picture

He did eventually utilize it late in the year much like last year.  Ideally Amir would gain confidence and play with his hair on fire in the B1G and I think Matta was trying to wait for lightbulbs to go off.  The other difference this year was he was bringing in Loving for Amir rather than Q last year.  Loving is not 100% ready for primetime but shows promise a la Deshaun's freshman year (different style).

The Rill Dill's picture

Did anyone notice all of these NOTHING schools in the tournament that had actual basketball players on their squad?  We have the biggest fan-base in sports, a first class educational university, UNLIMITED resources............and get knocked out of the first round by a double digit seed?  No excuse, so don't tell me any.

+1 HS
BuckWylde's picture

You speak an ugly truth for which there IS NO EXCUSE!!!

BuckWylde

+1 HS
d5k's picture

Is variance an excuse?  Syracuse, Kansas, Duke, VCU, Oklahoma, UMass, etc. all lost to double digit seeds.  3-4 of those have similar resources.  6-11 games are historically 60/40 type games.  It is not a huge upset for us to lose to Dayton this year.  Dayton is pretty good and we were not dominant obviously.

+2 HS
BuckWylde's picture

This season gave increased exposure to # 4's dual personalities,as Aaron Craft thrilled OSU fans for most of the year but, as the year wore on, his alter ego "Errant Crap" enforced his will on the outcome of the last few games; . . . but there's just no way that I can see this forum as being complete without addressing the "elephant on the bench" which is of course the grading of Thad Matta as the coach of the Buckeyes for this season. My grade for Thad is a C for coaching a team comprised of upper-classmen to yet another cupcake fueled 20+ win season. When I took into account the lack of improvement in these players after 3 or 4 years under Matta's teaching, the overall final grade drops to a D.

 As a Buckeye fan since Lucas, Hondo & Mel Nowell roamed the campus, I have very high expectations for multi millionaire coaches, and a bunch of meaningless B1G titles doesn't quite measure up for me.  Now I know I've put myself squarely between the crosshairs of Matta's loyal groupies, and I'm fully prepared to hear just how wrong I am, so let's hear it gang . . .  

BuckWylde

theopulas's picture

i agree....this is one of his worse years if not the worst....but like our chances if all 4 guys come back next year.....

Theopulas

jaxbuckeye's picture

I've been taking it for awhile my friend. The hardest part is people actually thinking I enjoy being critical of Matta. Couldn't be more wrong. 

Seattle Linga's picture

I am glad this topic is important to so many fans because it would be very challenging being involved with a team that no one cared about. It's great to be a part of a fan base that is so passionate about the major and minor sports as well. Hopefully next year we can be grading these players while we prepare for the sweet sixteen.

route4buckeye's picture

IMO 

Craft (B)

Lenzelle (D)

Scott (B)

Ross (B+)

Williams (D)

McDonald (D)

Della Valle (D+)

Loving (B)

Thompson (B)

 

 

theopulas's picture

if all 4 seniors return next year and show progress we might have a very good year.....

Theopulas

Pa_snoborder's picture

I'll never for the life of me understand the craft hate. So say brax next year misses a game winning hail marry will you say "well he should walk, he's garbage?  Yes I know it's basketball/football, apples and oranges you say. But they are both the leaders of their respective teams. I know not so much craft, he's done. But both sports are TEAM sports and it takes a TEAM to win or lose. Why not bring up the horrible free throw shooting, or the lack of perimeter shooting. I'm sorry I think it's delusional to think this team would have been better off without craft. I mean who's our go to next year? Scott/Thomson?  I would feel much better if craft had another year of bball eligibility. Jus' sayin. 

"No one puts baby in a corner!" - P.Swayze.

jaxbuckeye's picture

I agree. I think it's because Craft had the misfortune of being the face of this team, thereby taking the vitriol.  I think it will soften once everyone calms down. Will take time...

Pa_snoborder's picture

Makes sense that human are emotional and feel the need to blame someone but these are kids. I'm sure they hear enough from their parents then to get on a national stage and having a fan base light into them isn't constructive or helpful. That's why coaches exist. 

"No one puts baby in a corner!" - P.Swayze.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Preaching to the choir.  I laid into people on here for doing that in the past.  Never going to stop some people because they get every bit of their self worth through the team, as sad as that is.  Craft is the kind of guy that I dream my daughter marries.  I know someone relatively famous (sportscaster or something) had a really good tweet about Craft.  Wish I could find it.  No different than Tim Tebow.  People get tired or jealous of hearing about someone that lives a great life and is the person we all strive to be so they look for anything to pull them down.  May be human nature but it's quite sad.

Jdadams01's picture

Him being good marriage material doesn't make him a better basketball player. People knock the Craft love because he is below average offensively and never improved on that side of the ball. We spent two years with an offense that was often an eyesore while he was running it. He's a wonderful human and fantastic defender. He is not the Tim Tebow of basketball. Tebow won championships.

+1 HS
jaxbuckeye's picture

Tebow didn't win championships, his TEAM did.  People are overly critical of Craft, you included.  You could find issues with EVERY player.  Turner jacked up shots, Oden was a marginal offensive player, Conely could be outmuscled, and Sullinger couldn't jump.  Craft can't shoot.  His positives far outweigh his negatives and heart and character DO matter.

Jdadams01's picture

Trust me, I'm not saying we should have booted him off the team or something. I'm glad we had Craft for the last four years. But Craft's holes are more glaring than every player you just mentioned. His hole is one half of the game of basketball. He was an average ball-handler, a below average (at best) shooter, could get to the hole but struggled finishing at times, and was an average passer. His defense was so good that we absolutely needed him on the court, but he is not a once-in-a-generation overall player. As a human, yes, a player, no.

As far as criticism of Craft goes, it is not "overly critical" to state truths about his game. Some of our fans are so hopelessly devoted to him that anyone who doesn't say he is amazing gets lambasted. I'm glad we had him, but I'm not devastated to move on. The slobbering over him as a player is unwarranted.

Tebow's team certainly did win those championships. And I don't see how anyone can seriously compare his role on those teams with Craft's role on this year's Buckeyes.

 

+1 HS
Josh P's picture

If Amir makes the same jump next year as he did this year percentage wise, we'll be watching him average 16 and 9.  I know I shouldn't be optimistic, but...

Jdadams01's picture

It'd be the quietest, most joyless 16 and 9 ever.

+2 HS
German Buckeye's picture

Na, Amir taking his talents to South Beach.

-1 HS
740's picture

1, I find this to be silly. why are you *grading* the players? the season is over. we're all disappointed. what is to be gained by trashing 20 year olds? the site has taken on a simon cowell persona which I find difficult to tolerate, much less enjoy.

secondly, why are *you* grading the players? we watched the games. we know basketball.

I feel like this was an enormous waste of time on your part. it's as if you said, "well hell, I need to write at least *something* today."

 

do what 11W does best: research. I don't care about your opinions. bring me some real journalism. recruiting investigations, player interviews, program rumors. overall, anything other than your opinions, please.

-2 HS
German Buckeye's picture

As in everything, you chose to read the article, and the last time i looked, this site is supposed to write about all things OSU related.  I care about the staff opinions as they are putting themselves on the line daily.  That said, I care less about your opinion interweb tough guy. Have a nice day.

-1 HS
740's picture

as in everything, you chose to read my comment, Internet tough guy.

i don't expect you to understand the irony of of telling me that my opinion is dumb simply because it conflicts with your own.

lastly, we real army officers don't tout the fact that we're army officers. we've done so much to improve our image since Vietnam, and declaring "hey, I'm in the military" every chance that you get just looks like entitlement and fishing for gratitude. take it off your 11w page. it's embarrassing.

Jdadams01's picture

As far as the grading is concerned, if we are looking at whether or not they made slight statistical improvements then I guess this is about right. If we are looking at their overall play compared to what we hoped or expected, that's a different story. Yes Craft and Smith were statistically on par or slightly better than previous seasons, but we were hoping for better. The team needed better. And all things should be graded according to team needs and results. In that area, Craft = C+ and Smith = C- at best. Craft is a great defender, but not a great player. His offense is so ugly to watch at times that it hurts. I'd take Conley over him every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

GregB's picture

After watching a few other teams play this weekend I think I have more agreement with your grades. Seeing how other guys play gives you perspective on our guys I think.  

Yes this was frustrating team to watch and we all hoped for more but we got great effort form most (ahem Amir) and the Bucks aren't alone as elite teams with huge holes in their game.  Did anyone watch Kansas and Syracuse play?  They were very Buckeye like.  Long periods of no offensive output but a sound defense that kept them in the game.  Giving themselves a chance but no one being able to hit the big shot.  Kansas is OSU with a couple better athletes at a couple positions.  They were so bad down the stretch offensively, KU fans must be pulling their hair out and Syracuse too!  Both those teams spent time at #1 this year and were seeded much higher than Bucks.  We are a hairs breadth from being an Elite 8 team with all our flaws.

We are a defensive minded team at our heart.  If you won't play D, Matta doesn't really want you. That means some guys won't even be looked at.  Im okay with that.  Mattas calling card has put the Bucks in position to be one or two 3 pointers of a final four every damn year!!

If  Zell and Q makes 3 or 4 more 3 pointers at the right times or if Craft had 5 more made three throws and 3 less TOs we wouldn't be having this discussion right now and neither guys numbers would be significantly different. We'd be prepping for a Sweet Sixteen matchup with someone and knowing that if we hit a couple big shots, we are an Elite eight team...............again!

 

+1 HS
twism21's picture

I say give Matta an A for squeezing 25 wins out this team. 

+2 HS
NWbuckfan's picture

The worst part of this season is that we could of won every game we lost 

Ebvine96's picture

Craft b- (still can't shoot or make free throws plus too many turnovers)

Amir f (no words)

Scott c-  (up and down more down than up)

Q b (was pretty good most of year)

Lenzelle c (eh, too much chucking not enough driving)

Thompson c+ ( for the highlight reels )

Loving d (no freshman curve look lost at times and no confidence)

 

 

+1 HS