Buckeye Basketball Perspective: 2014

Written January 23rd, 2014 by Ken

thad1About a year ago, in fact, almost to the week I did an opinion piece about Ohio State basketball. At that point last season, the Buckeyes were also wandering around the basketball landscape. I thought I’d take a look at what I thought then, and compare it to what I think now. Interestingly, there are some common issues from one year to the next, which may not be all that surprising, since it is essentially the same group of players and essentially the same coaching staff. For sake of comparison, I’ll leave last year’s narrative in regular font, and italicize this year’s comments. Stats are courtesy of OSU’s Athletic Site. Here we go. I’m not the only one who’s concerned.

Up to this point, this basketball season may have not met the fans and players expectations, based on a combination of their record and the way they’ve played. I realize that it seems I’m being unreasonable when the team is at 13-3, but is there really a glimmer of hope at this point that this team will go deep in the NCAA’s? I see several issues with this team at this point. I’ll address my thoughts to each of these five points, below.

We’re pretty much at the same point with a 15-4, 2-4 record, sort of, maybe. Our losses last year were “reasonable”, putting up good games against Duke and Kentucky, but getting seared by Illinois. This year, the loss at Breslin probably surprised no one, but double digit losses to Iowa and Minnesota were “bad” losses, and the Nebraska loss was a horror show.

  1. This is not that good of a shooting team.
  2. This is an inconsistent team.
  3. This is a team with no legitimate post presence.
  4. This team is not fun to watch.
  5. Coaching impact

1. This is not that good of a shooting team The Buckeyes have shot decently in aggregate for the season (46.2%, 49th in nation), but in the three losses (Duke, Kansas, Illinois) the combined was just south of 32%. Meanwhile their opponents were right around 48%. This season shooting is fairly consistent with historical numbers, not nearly as good as the past 2-3 years. They’ve also demonstrated a tendency to not shoot well against quality teams, even when quality teams weren’t blanketing OSU shooters.

The Buckeyes are shooting exactly the same aggregate as last season (46.2%) but in our three losses, OSU’s FG% was 41%, so not that bad. The recent issue is their offense being flummoxed by an opponent in a zone defense. Against Iowa, although our game FG% was a respectable 44.6%, they struggled against the zone; our money was made when Iowa was in their man-to-man defense. Against Minnesota’s zone, we shot 35%; not good at all. Against Nebraska, the team shot 39% from the field, compared to Huskers’ 50%. Same baskets, same gym. Just to show that their 24 point 2nd half against Minnesota wasn’t a fluke, they came out and scored 25 in the 1st half of the Nebraska game.

To me, the concern is that Ohio State will be see a lot of zone defense going forward, since we’ve clearly demonstrated an inability to consistently score against a zone. Frankly, we don’t have a Jon Diebler-like shooter that can enable us to “shoot” our way out of a zone. That the zone defense also takes away the offensive strength of our team by closing down driving lanes to the basket. Get Craft, Thompson and Ross slashing to the basket and good things happen. Otherwise, we get what we’ve seen recently.

This is an inconsistent team Read More

Hey, You… Come Down Off Of That Ledge

Written January 23rd, 2014 by Jeff

The last two weeks have not been easy, if you’re a fan of Ohio State basketball. That’s an understatement. No player on this Buckeye squad has experienced a four-game losing streak in their college careers, so this is new territory for everybody on the floor.

It’s Gonna’ Be OK

In fact, it’s new for the fans as well. We’re used to success in shootyhoops, so this rough patch leaves us all with a feeling of helplessness. The problem is that a number of us are going to extremes in our various versions of distress. If you know anybody that has been spouting any of the following statements, please smack ‘em upside the head and send them this article.

(By the way, these are all comments I have read online regarding the Bucks)

“Thad Matta needs to be fired”

No, Thad Matta is not getting fired over this. Seriously, you’re throwing the guy overboard over four straight losses? How many times has he led us to 20+ wins? How many straight trips to the Sweet Sixteen does he need?  You want to fire him because of the past two weeks?  Do you secretly work for the Cleveland Browns front office?

“There goes our NCAA bid”

No, we are not eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. For crying out loud, it’s four losses. We’re 15-4 and we have a minimum of 13 games before the dance begins. By all means, it’s no cakewalk to get through the Big Ten, but it’s also not a failed season already. 22 wins in the toughest league gets you an invite to the NCAAs. Granted, I don’t want to go 7-6 down the stretch to get there, but it would be enough.

 ”Bench the entire team, start over again next year”

Nobody is claiming this team is perfect and cannot be tinkered with, but perhaps you’re overreacting a bit? You’d rather start Trey McDonald, Jake Lorbach and three other guys I can’t think of instead of working on the issues the current rotation has?

Yes, Amir Williams seems to have disappeared in the paint and LaQuinton Ross can’t find his shooting touch on a consistent basis, and there are times when it seems like nobody wants to shoot the ball, but why are you tossing them on the scrap heap so easily?

“Worst team ever.”

Yeah, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Perhaps you’re spoiled by success and unable to recall darker days, but that’s a pretty steep declaration.

Let’s take a look at the four losses, shall we?

  • Michigan State - we were a buzzer-beating layup away from victory in one of the toughest environments in the NCAA. Give some credit, they nearly toppled the #3 team in the nation on their home court.
  • Iowa - With under three minutes to play, we were within two points. Iowa pulled away late, and let’s keep in mind that they are currently the 10th-ranked team in the nation.
  • Minnesota - We trailed by four points with just under 4:30 to play, and Minnesota stepped on the gas. Minnesota isn’t ranked, but they should be. They’re 14-5, and four of their five losses are to teams that are ranked.
  • Nebraska - Granted, there’s no excuse for that loss. But they were within 2 points at the 2-minute mark before the Huskers went on a free-throw run that teams named Nebraska are not supposed to have. They shot 15-18 from the line in two minutes, but still…that’s a loss that should not have happened.

Translation – these were not blowout defeats. There appears to be a struggle to close out games, and there hasn’t been any of that magic we saw vs. Notre Dame. But worst ever? Come on, man.

Let these guys figure out their issues and work on them. Trust me, nobody on the team is satisfied with what they’re doing right now. Now more than ever, they need your support, not your petty trash-talk.

Could be worse – it could be early March. There’s six weeks for them to work out their problems before it gets desperate.

I’ve loved Ohio State sports since I was a child. The scarlet and gray is family to me – and trust me, if my daughter brought home failing grades, I wouldn’t disown her and decide to try next year with a different kid. And I’d never cast aside my beloved Buckeyes, either.

Pregame Glance MBB: Illinois

Written January 22nd, 2014 by Ken

illiniThe #11  (for now) Ohio State Buckeyes (15-4, 2-4), have dropped four consecutive games in the last two weeks.  Next up are the Fighting Illini of Illinois (13-6, 2-4) on Thursday in Columbus. Both teams are in a bit of a funk right now, with both teams on four game losing streaks and both tied for 8th in Conference play with Northwestern.  Yep, that’s where we are.

Here’s their Profile:

  • School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Location: Champaign, IL
  • Founded: 1867
  • Student Population: 44,000
  • School Type: Public, coed
  • Division: D-I
  • Conference: Big Ten Conference
  • Arena: State Farm Center (Assembly Hall)
  • Seating: 16,618
  • Built: 1963
  • Head Coach: John Groce
  • Year: 2nd

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SBP: Buckeye News And Notes 1.22.14

Written January 22nd, 2014 by MaliBuckeye

Quick change of title format for our Wednesday update, for reasons that will soon be evident.  Also taking a beat from the news, today’s soundtrack goes all Roger Goodell on life.

Buckeye 411

  • 21 And Over, Please

    21 And Over, Please

    Tight End, Loose Cannon? Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors broke the news late Tuesday that Buckeye tight end Marcus Baugh had been suspended from the team indefinitely for yet another issue with underaged alcohol usage.  While many of us would file this either under “meh” or “college lyfe!!”, it’s important to note that this would be Baugh’s third “incident” while a Buckeye, and his second involving alcohol.  He was removed from scholarship last summer, and was removed from team activities in September as well… it will be interesting to see if Coach Meyer believes in a “three strikes and you’re done” policy.  Baugh has always been seen as an amazing athlete, but his absence will mean that the other tight ends in the system (Heuerman, Moore, and Vannett) may be asked to bear the burden during the spring and beyond; the 2014 recruiting class does not have a tight end in the mix as of yet.

  • Happy Birthday! One day late, but still- Jack Nickalaus turned 74 on Tuesday. I would have mentioned this yesterday, but like most things involving my golf game I was way off target.
  • Hard Knox? Buckeye verbal Demetrius Knox made news on Tuesday with the announcement that he would be making an official visit to UCLA this weekend in spite of his commitment to Ohio State. Many feel as if this is a “vacation” opportunity, but it should be noted that the Bruins have several of Knox’ teammates in the fold and only have one offensive lineman in the class thus far.  Interestingly enough, though, Coach Meyer, Warriner, and Herman will all have their “in home” with him today, so it remains to be seen if the trip to Westwood actually occurs.  If it does, I might need to head that way myself to wander around campus with my Ohio State swag on.
  • Speaking Of Recruiting- It was an interesting day in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, with their number one recruit for the 2015 class, 5 star running back Damien Harris decommitting from That Team Up North. What makes this worthy of the “Buckeye 411″ you ask? Well, his recent two twitter follows include Stan Drayton and Tim Hinton, and it’s rumored that he spoke with Urban Meyer over the weekend.  Hmmmmm…
  • The Future Is Now- Sammy Silverman with a look at the early enrollees in the Dream 2014 class:

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Pregame Glance WBB: Michigan Wolverines

Written January 21st, 2014 by Ken

UMThe Ohio State Buckeyes (12-9, 2-3) make the return trip to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines. These teams met a couple weeks ago in Columbus, and TTUN got the better of the Buckeyes, 64-49. The loss was key by some pretty horrendous rebounding, outrebounded 48-33, and even worse shooting. We’ll see if Coach McGuff has been able to get his team back on track for this game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST Thursday at the Crisler Center.

Here’s their Profile

  • School: University of Michigan
  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Founded: 1817
  • Student Population: 27,979
  • School Type: Public, coed
  • Division: D-I
  • Conference: Big Ten Conference
  • Arena: Crisler Center
  • Seating: 12,707
  • Built: 1967, last renovated 2012
  • Head Coach: Kim Barnes Arico
  • Year: 2th

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MBB Recap: Nebraska Husks Buckeyes 68-62

Written January 20th, 2014 by Ken

This recap is going to be Hobbesian: nasty brutish and short. The Buckeyes traveled to the cornfields of Nebraska to right a wallowing ship, having lost three straight games to drop to 15-3.  They are now 15-4, 2-4 after losing to Nebraska in basketball, 68-62. Yes, you read that right. This had some similarities to the MSU game in that Ohio State dug a deep hole in the 1st half, mounted a frenetic comeback, then ran out of gas coming down the stretch. To me, this team is in a bit of a funk right now. They just aren’t playing “right” you name a facet of the game, and that facet needs improvement. Right now, this is not that good of a ball team. Opponents no longer fear playing us.

The game progressed for the 1st half being “horrific” to the 2nd half being “I can’t believe we can’t play better than this”. It was one of those nights. The Bucks made a bit of a run in the last 25-30 seconds or so, but the results were just cosmetic. For the evening, Ohio State shot 39% from the field and 29% from 3-pt range. They continued their atrocious free throw shooting by hitting 14-21, 67%. In contrast, Nebraska shot 50% from the field, 15% from 3-pt range and 77% from the foul line. The Buckeyes were outrebounded 33-27.

The Buckeyes were led by LaQuinton Ross (11 pts, 4 rebs) , Aaron Craft (12 pts, 7 rebs) and Lenzelle Smith Jr (10, 4). Sam Thompson came off the bench to contribute 9 pts and 4 rebs. The Huskers were led by Shavon Shields (18 pts, 9 rebs) and Terran Petteway (17 pts. 5 rebs).

Tonight’s game started out much the same as the game in Columbus, with Nebraska holding a slight lead at the midpoint of the 1st half. Except something went wrong; they kept expanding the lead to go into the locker room up 34-25. Were it not for 2 last second free-throws by LaQuinton Ross, it could have been double digits. The shooting woes continued for the Bucks as they finished the half shooting  31% (8-26) while the Huskers shot 56% (15-17). Quite a difference.

Thad’s halftime speech had some impact as OSU came out of the gates and outscored Nebraska 9-2 in the first three minutes to pull within 2, 34-36. An Aaron Craft layup at the 15:31 mark tied the game at 36. As the teams hit the mid-point of the 2nd half, Ohio State incredibly held a 1 point lead, 44-43, outscoring Nebraska 19-9 at that point in the half.

Over the next five minutes of play, both teams flatlined a bit on offense, with OSU hanging on to a 46-45 lead.  OSU’s last FG was at the 5:56 mark. Points were still tough to come by for the Buckeyes as, at the 2-minute mark, the Huskers held a 51-49 lead. By the time we got to the 1:00 mark, the teams were locked in a free-throw contest, which rarely turns out well for Ohio State and Nebraska had a comfortable, “game-over” lead of 61-51.

Next game is Thursday with Illinois in Columbus, with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 PM EST tip-off. Television coverage will be on ESPN, check local listings; LiveChat will be provided here. Please stop in approximately 30 minutes before game time.

BBN Basketball Liveblog: Nebraska Part 2

Written January 20th, 2014 by Eric

The Buckeyes are again away from home, taking on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the second time this season. Recall that the Buckeyes took care of business at home by 31 immediately before starting their three game slide.

The game will start at 7:00 PM Eastern on the Big Ten Network. Stop by and chat with all of your favorite Buckeye bloggers and friends! Go Bucks!

Brady Taylor Is A Buckeye!!!

Written January 20th, 2014 by MaliBuckeye

Staying Home

It may be a holiday weekend, but it doesn’t mean that Coach Meyer isn’t still hard at work.

This morning, Columbus Bishop Ready offensive lineman Brady Taylor completed a switch that many had seen coming for a while now, changing his verbal commitment from Virginia Tech to Ohio State after a weekend visit with the staff.

The 6’5″ offensive tackle gave his pledge to the Hokies over Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and others, but was recently offered by the hometown Buckeyes and had an escalated courtship that concluded this morning. Taylor was initially intending to take another visit to Blacksburg, but has decided against that given today’s announcement

Taylor becomes the 22nd member of the 2014 recruiting class, and its fifth offensive lineman; it is believed that they’ve now “filled” this position for the class.

Over at the hudl site, you can see young Mr. Taylor in action… in my opinion, he will benefit from a year or two in the program and under Coach Warriner and Marotti’s tutelage.

Welcome to the Buckeye Family, Mr. Taylor… glad to have you at home!