Buckeye Basketball: The Two-Faced Monster

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March 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm
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Jekyll and Hyde

The 2011-12 edition of Ohio State basketball has been nothing short of a comparison to one of the many high flyin’ roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park.  Its peaks, valleys, twists, turns, and even loops have made for one wild ride.  In reality, there are about 325 other Division I basketball programs that wish they could compare themselves to our Buckeyes, but I thought this was a good time to air out some thoughts and some feelings that have been heard around Buckeye Nation.  This Buckeye team has two faces: “Jekyll” (the prettiest and perhaps the best looking in the country that every day you have to do a double take and look twice) and “Hyde” (your uglier, not as desirable team that once was).

“Jekyll” (The Pretty One):
This team emerged after the under eight minute timeout in the first half of the Florida game early in the season. This “face” was most noticeable throughout the entire Duke game on Nov. 29. “Jekyll” is what the national media had predicted for the Buckeyes during the pre-season and pre-conference play, labeling the Scarlet and Gray as a national title contender. “Jekyll” has shown up in games this season and one can only hope this side of the Buckeyes shows up in the NCAA Tournament starting this Thursday.

The Starting Roster:
G Aaron Craft  6.5 PPG  5.8 APG  1.2 TO
G William Buford  19.1 PPG  3.3 APG  44% FG%
G Lenzelle Smith  8.9 PPG  6.9 RPG 
F Deshaun Thomas 15.5 PPG 2.2 APG  4.4 RPG
F Jared Sullinger  17.7 PPG 9.7 RPG  1.9 TO  76.7% FT

*Taken from the majority of Buckeye games not including games listed below (for Hyde), also not including out of conference cupcakes
This face is noticeably and incredibly more efficient.  All the statistics reflect the name of the face and, when Ohio State is playing at this level, if it can beat practically any team in the field of 68. This is the team that we want to show up on Thursday, Saturday and for the following two weekends, because most know that this side of Coach Thad Matta’s squad could advance to the Final Four in New Orleans. This team is exceedingly solid on all facets; it rebounds better than any team out there, and has a chance to make an incredible run.  You can even take a look at basketball stat gurus Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin.  These guys know their numbers and the numbers don’t lie.  Each has OSU ranked second overall due to its incredible efficiency
Take it for what it is worth, but if “Jekyll” shows up for the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State could be raising another banner in Value City Arena.
“Hyde” (the much uglier, just above average Joe):
This team premiered on New Year’s Eve at Indiana, specifically at the 10:38 mark in the first half.  Jared Sullinger picked up his second foul and was forced to watch the rest of the first half from the visitor’s bench.  That was when the nation was first introduced to Buckeye basketball’s “Hyde” side.

The Starting Roster:
G Aaron Craft 7.5 PPG  3.5 APG  3.5 TO
G William Buford  8.8 PPG  1.1 APG  3 RPG  21% FG%
G Lenzelle Smith 10.5 PPG  1.5 APG  6 RPG
F Deshaun Thomas 16.5 PPG  .9APG  4.1 RPG
F Jared Sullinger 16.1 PPG  9.0 RPG 5.5 TO 62% FT

*Actual Stats from a sample of “Hyde” games including  the second half of @IU, @ Illinois, Wisconsin, MSU at home, and @ Michigan

Do not let Sullinger’s statistics deceive anyone.  In games where the Buckeyes’ “Hyde” team shows up, Sullinger carries himself as well as the guy who hasn’t gotten his Snicker fix.  Sullinger turns the ball over at more than double his normal rate and shoots substantially worse from the line.  He complains to the referees and whines like he is entitled to the whistle.  The Michigan State game at the Schott was a prime example of this Sullinger.  Sullinger was abused by MSU bigs Adrien Payne and Derrick Nix, neither of which is as talented as the Buckeye sophomore.  Sullinger finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, but shot just 5-of-15 from the floor and committed an abysmal 10 turnovers. He was also very noticeably complaining to the referees on every possession.
William Buford first showed up in the Kentucky game last year in the tournament and made several more appearances during these “Hyde” games in the ’11-12 campaign.  In fact, many believe he is the captain and main contributor to team Buckeye “Hyde.” During these games, Buford shoots a miserable 21 percent from the field and even worse from 3.  In some cases, he refuses to even show up and becomes non-existent (refer to @ Indiana before taking a horrible last ditch shot for the loss).

Even the Buckeyes’ heart-throb, Aaron Craft, has his woes on team “Hyde”.  Craft tends to dribble with his head down, causing him to turn the ball over at a higher rate (3.5 Turnovers in these games).  It is most likely due to the fact that his “Hyde” teammates have no interest in getting the ball and Sullinger is usually swamped with fouls at this point.  Craft is forced to score himself, something he is not yet efficient at doing, but nevertheless has to in these situations.  He often picks up unnecessary fouls trying to create baskets for his team in these situations.  Although it is nice to see assertive scoring efforts from Craft, it is definitely not in the Buckeyes game plan.

Lenzelle Smith and Deshaun Thomas are the only two players that actually prosper offensively from “Face A”.  Smith averages about four points more per game and Deshaun takes 3.5 more shots than average, but remains as efficient.  However, this duo will not win big games for the Buckeyes alone.
Team “Hyde” had even caused Matta to play the team the tape from the Duke game at the start of the season.  Even Coach longed for the return of Buckeye basketball “Jekyll”. 
Conclusion: “Hyde” is still a solid team, but not strong enough to get past the Sweet 16 or even Gonzaga or West Virginia in the third round, for that matter. “Hyde” will continue to struggle down the stretch, blow big leads, and lose big games.  Buckeye fans have seen “Hyde ” way too many times in the second half of the season and can only hope that “Hyde” does not show up come tourney time.  We can only hope for the Dr. Jekyll Buckeyes..

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