That's fine but the "mentally" part threw me - IMO few players have had more intensity, at least on the offensive end, as DT. Found it a bit off to use him as an example of Ohio State getting softer
Disagree on Deshaun Thomas being squishy, mentally or physically. Was a fighter inside and on the boards, played hard, and had an almost weirdly high level of confidence on offense. Not great defensively but not terribly athletic so hard to chalk that up entirely to effort. A few extremely inopportune mental lapses but he's a primary reason we were in situations to win in the first place. Also, Thad should have used him against Kentucky in '11. Don't blame the player having a historically poor shooting night for missing a buzzer beater - blame the decision to not try subbing in the freshman with freakish confidence and proven scoring ability for the junior who's confidence was clearly in shambles that night.
I am a big Deshaun Thomas fan, btw. I also wouldn't have wanted any other coach in the country over Thad Matta for the past decade-plus. But don't disagree these are discouraging times.
Problem is when you lose players like Sully and to a lesser extent, Buford, you need to either backfill with immediate-impact recruits or rely on improvement from returning players to retain the same level of play. We don't have any impact new guys, and from what we've seen I think it can be argued that only one returning player has improved to any noticeable degree - Shannon Scott. Several players, IMO, have actually regressed from last year - notably Craft and Lenzelle.
So we lost a lot and gained little to nothing (I can't be pursuaded that Ross has become a real contributor yet). Combine that with what everyone is pointing out as a lack of floor leadership, and the falloff is considerable.
Two things to keep in mind, though - 1) there's still time for guys to improve this season and you have to believe that's at least possible for Amir (why hasn't this happened yet?) and Craft (based on the fact we've seen him as both an offensive baller and floor leader in the past); and 2) there was a ton of concern and frustrated threads last year about leadership and consistency, and we landed a few plays shy of the NC game.
Another thing I assume is pretty obvious but maybe it isn't - the offensive importance of the Willie B threat. Watch how defenders play Scott when he's in - they sag and can help down low. Not the case with WB. Coaches dedicate resources to his threat because they know what he's capable of, regardless of how often he actually goes off. The result is an inability of whoever's guarding him to concentrate on much else.
I don't care if it's Willie's offense or the ghost of Willie's offense - if it causes problems for other teams' D, I'll take it.
I think Willie has been of real value in this tourny. Value can be measured on defense and the glass just as much as it can on offense, especially when your team is already loaded with players providing offensive value. A hole on defense can be much more detrimental than a hole on an otherwise talent-loaded O. Willie has been inefficient and at times absent-minded on offense. Yes, I get nervous when he gets the ball. And when Jay Bilas calls Buford "clutch" (he's done so at least twice in the past month, probably more) I get pissed because it seems absurd. But without WB's very, very clutch boards against the Zags, a huge 3 when we most needed it against cinci, near shut-down D on Joseph after the first few minutes against 'Cuse and a few clutch free-throws to seal it, yes it's very possible the Bucks don't head to NOLA this weekend. I mean, I get it and don't argue, his offense is simply bad right now. But to argue that he hasn't been a key part of the Buckeyes success this year, including the tourny, is wrong. We're headed to the Final Four and Willie owns part of that.
Call me silly but if Buford goes 0-10 in a loss next Saturday, he'll be the first guy I'll want to thank Sunday morning for all he's given to the program. If he goes 0-19 and we lose, I might reconsider...