With the season-opener less than two weeks away, the Ohio State men's basketball team hit the floor Saturday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center for the Scarlet & Gray scrimmage, which was open to the public.
Players swapped teams almost every other game, so there were no set squads. There were eight games played, each to 11 by twos and threes. There was no box score kept from the game so no stats were provided.
This was really our first chance to look at this year's team. Last week, the Buckeyes opened up practice for 20 minutes, but it mostly consisted of stretching and shooting drills. Here are some of my observations from Saturday's scrimmage:
- Sophomore wing Marc Loving was not in attendance. Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch tweeted it was because he was suffering from an illness and was told not to come to the arena.
- The best player on the floor was senior point guard Shannon Scott. He played his usual harassing defense, but offensively he pushed the ball every opportunity he had and also made some nice passes.
- Freshman D'Angelo Russell was also impressive. He didn't score quite as much as I thought he would, but he still scored his fair share. There was one game in particular where he and Sam Thompson went head to head and scored the majority of their team's points. Russell is also a tremendous passer. He had two or three alley-oops to Thompson when they were on the same team and dropped a couple of nice looks to other teammates, as well. There will probably be a few Russell-to-Thompson alley oops this season.
- Ohio State played a lot of zone defense. The Buckeyes extended pressure to a three-quarter court press, as well, then faded back into the zone. Ohio State appears like it run a lot more zone than it has in the past.
- On pretty much every opportunity, the Buckeyes were trying to run. They have the athletes to do it, too. Every team says it wants to run more coming into the season — and it certainly looked like Ohio State would like to — but it will be interesting to see how that plays out when Big Ten play begins and teams try to grind out wins.
- It took some time, but we finally got to see Shannon Scott and D'Angelo Russell play together toward the end of the scrimmage. They spent time on opposite teams for most of the scrimmage as the team's lone point guards, but I expect them to start together come opening night. Because there are no more point guards on the team, assistant coach Greg Paulus stepped in to play, which was fun to see. Scott and Russell played well together, too, and it allowed Russell to play off the ball which is where he's most comfortable.
- Keita Bates-Diop could be a big asset to this team. His length makes him very valuable. He can pass, shoot, handle the ball and rebound at his size and do them all pretty well.
- Freshman Jae'Sean Tate also had a good day. He's very aggressive on the floor and can play a couple of different positions. Thad Matta has said it will be difficult to keep him off the court so it'll be interesting to see how many minutes he gets.
- Temple transfer big man Anthony Lee didn't have his best day. He grabbed a couple rebounds and scored a couple times, but he went largely unnoticed out there. He did step out and hit a 15-footer, though, to show his range.
- Redshirt freshman Kam Williams also didn't play great, but he's fearless. He's not afraid to attack the basket. Williams got a couple of buckets in the paint.
- Amir Williams is still Amir Williams. He actually started off the day strong, but then we saw more of the same from him around the basket. I actually thought Trey McDonald was the best big guy Saturday for the Buckeyes.
- Columbus Northland junior Seth Towns was in attendance and sitting on the bench. He tweeted earlier Saturday he received an offer from Ohio State.
- Sam Thompson's jumper looks to still be inconsistent. He started off the day cold from 3-point range, but started to heat up toward the end of the scrimmage. He's a capable shooter, just needs to learn to pick his spots.
Ohio State opens up its season with a scrimmage Nov. 9 against Walsh and the season-opener against UMass-Lowell is Nov. 14.