Preview: Bryant at No. 3 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on December 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm
A bulldog of a player on the basketball court.Dyami Starks leads the Bryant Bulldogs.
Ohio State Buckeyes#3 Ohio State 8-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 7:30 PM ET - BTN —— The Schott Columbus, OH Bryant Bulldogs Bryant 6-4, 0-0 NEC Roster | Schedule

Bryant may be small in school name – the university is one of the newest members of Division I. But its coaching staff is not new to major college basketball. Head coach Tim O’Shea is the former coach at Ohio University and associate head coach Al Skinner spent parts of 22 seasons at Rhode Island and Boston College and was named the 2001 national coach of the year.

O’Shea came to Bryant after seven years at OU. It was a bizarre career path, but the native of New England has guided the Smithfield, R.I. school from 2-28 to 19-11, a postseason berth and Division I status.

“Coach O’Shea has done a remarkable job in guiding our men’s basketball program through the difficult transition to Division I,” Bryant president Ronald K. Machtley said. “To have a winning season and qualify for the postseason in our first year of eligibility speaks volumes for the type of experienced leader coach O’Shea brings to our program. As a recruiter, Tim brings high quality student-athletes to our campus who represent our institution in a first-class manner both in the classroom and on the court.”

The Bulldogs’ turnaround, from two wins to 19, is one of the best single-season improvements in NCAA history.

4 A. Craft SR 6-2/195 10.6 3.6 5.0 G 1 C. Maynard SR 6-3/185 9.5 4.4 4.6
3 S. Scott JR 6-1/185 9.5 4.3 3.9 G 10 J. O'Shea JR 6-4/190 9.6 4.2 0.9
32 L. Smith Jr. SR 6-4/210 12.1 4.8 1.4 G 12 D. Starks JR 6-2/195 22.1 3.3 1.6
10 L. Ross JR 6-8/220 11.4 5.3 0.6 F 23 A. Francis SR 6-6/205 16.3 6.2 1.4
23 A. Williams JR 6-11/250 10.5 6.9 0.4 C 44 C. McMath SR 6-8/210 1.3 1.2 0.2

Opponent Breakdown

Bryant is 6-4 on the season and has shown competitiveness against good teams. They lost by 24 at Gonzaga, four to North Dakota State and 11 at Notre Dame. In the last game out against the Irish, the Bulldogs had four players finish in double figures. They led by four late in the first half and only trailed by six in the second half.

Guard Dyami Starks, who averages 22 points per game, leads Bryant. That number is eighth in the country. Starks has already scored 20 or more points five times this season, including three 30-point performances. He ranks in the top-30 nationally in free throw percentage and three-pointers per game.

Starks isn’t the only Bryant player that sits in the national rankings. Forward Alex Francis is fourth in career field goals, fifth in career double-doubles, seventh in total rebounds, eighth in points,  and 12th in career scoring average. He’s one of five active players to total 1,500 points and 750 rebounds.

This will be Bryant’s second taste of playing on the road against a top-five opponent. The Bulldogs opened last season at No. 1 Indiana in the their first game at the Division I level.

Buckeye Breakdown

Maybe Ohio State’s offense isn’t so bad after all. In October, all head coach Thad Matta and the players seemed to talk about was the strength on the defensive end and needed improvement on offense. They looked prophetic when the Buckeyes won at Marquette, holding the Golden Eagles to 35 points but only scored 52 in the process.

All's well with Ross.Ross has reinvigorated the OSU offense.

In the first five games, Ohio State was barely shooting 40 percent from the field. The rate of made shots from beyond the arc was far worse. At the center of the poor shooting was junior forward LaQuinton Ross. With expectations came some disappointment. Not only was Ross not making shots, in multiple games he was benched for freshman Marc Loving.

But that slump ended in a big way. Ross is averaging 20 points over his past three games and was named the Big Ten player of the week after shooting better than 60 percent from the field and scoring 21.5 points per game in two wins last week. The team’s offensive rise has coincided.

The Buckeyes have made nearly half their shots over the past two weeks and upped their three-point shooting percentage to 35.4. A season-high 69 percent from the floor and 61 percent from 3 came at the hands of North Florida. A frustrated Ohio State team unleashed one of its best shooting performances in school history against the Ospreys.

Some pointed to the caliber of competition, but the Buckeyes didn’t let up much against Maryland. Fifty-two percent from the field, 44 percent from downtown. Then came Central Connecticut State and again Ohio State made more than half its shots. Suddenly, that ranking doesn’t seem so unjust.

“We’ve talked a lot about shooting the ball,” Matta said. “I felt like our percentages in practice in recent weeks were high.  So to carry it over to the last couple of games is good because you see how hard these kids work and all that we do. You like to see them play well on game night.”


  • This is the first game of the Gotham Classic. 
  • Ohio State and Bryant are meeting for the first time. The Buckeyes are 9-0 vs. teams from the Northeast Conference.
  • LaQuinton Ross was named the Big Ten's player of the week after averaging 21.5 points and shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range in wins over Maryland and Central Connecticut State. 
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