First Thoughts Iowa

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Last updated: 01/08/2012 10:00 AM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From a 76-47 Win Over Iowa
By Tony Gerdeman

The most anticipated game in Carver Hawkeye Arena in quite some time brought with it promises of a hostile environment and a 40-minute challenge. Or at least that's what the Buckeyes expected.

In fact, it almost seemed like the Buckeyes themselves bought into the hype, playing off-tempo and out of kilter for a good portion of the early going.

It was like the first time you ever got into a fight and you think getting punched is going to hurt, but when your adrenaline is flowing, you don't really feel it.

It took the Buckeyes a moment to realize that the Hawkeyes couldn't hurt them, and once they did, they poured it on.

First Thought - It was good to see Shannon Scott play so well in this game. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that he actually outplayed Aaron Craft.

Craft was in foul trouble for most of the first half and only played 22 minutes. He scored four points, dished out three assists, grabbed three rebounds, had one steal and turned it over three times.

Scott, meanwhile, played the 18 minutes that Craft sat, and scored five points, handed out six assists, pulled down five rebounds, grabbed a pair of steals and only turned it over once.

They both defended well and it showed in the frustration of the Iowa guards.

I don't know if it was Scott's best game, but it was certainly high on the list.

The most encouraging thing of the night was the decision making. He put the ball in the right place almost every time. And he actually should have had at least two more assists, but William Buford missed a wide open three and J.D. Weatherspoon had a dunk blocked.

There have been a few times this season when Scott has looked unsure of himself, but tonight he looked like a guy who could definitely be a starting point guard in the Big Ten.

In my opinion, he looked like he could be the point guard of this team right now and the Buckeyes would still be very successful.

Sully'd Thoughts - Jared Sullinger's 28 points on 18 shots was a testament to the dangers of not double-teaming him.

He sealed Hawkeye defenders like some gargantuan king of caulk. They simply had no chance.

And it was a good thing he was such a dominating player tonight, because there weren't many other options. Deshaun Thomas was the only other scorer in double figures.

William Buford scored eight points, but went 0-10 in the first half. Over his last three games he's scored a total of 29 points.

It almost seemed like Sullinger knew his team was going to need him in this game. It definitely seemed like Thad Matta knew his team was going to need Sullinger, because the Buckeyes went down to him repeatedly early in the game and kept doing it throughout.

On a hostile court against an inferior opponent, Sullinger brought his best game and didn't take anything for granted. That's what champions do, and it's what he and the rest of his team need to continue to do this season.

Drafting Thoughts - While William Buford hasn't shot the ball well of late, I do like the way he has been taken the ball to the basket. It's not something that he excels at, so it's nice to see this conscious effort to get to the rim.

However, it also seems a bit out of place. It reminds me of Perry Carter's senior season when all of a sudden he started shooting 15-foot jumpers in the middle of the season after never doing it before.

It was clear that Carter was trying to show NBA scouts that he could do something that he had never done before. I see some of the same thing in Buford's recent paint prevalence.

While we're talking about the NBA draft, I would point you to the fastbreak that Deshaun Thomas "led" against Iowa that resulted in him dribbling the ball about three times before throwing a bad pass to a guard.

At his height, Thomas is actually going to have to be able to lead breaks like that in the NBA, and right now it's clear that he can't.

He still needs to become the type of player a 6-6 guy needs to be in the NBA. He's not that player yet.

Initial Thoughts - Contrary to popular opinion, the "J.D." in J.D. Weatherspoon doesn't stand for "Just Dunks". I actually like Weatherspoon's post game and he's shown a nice turnaround game down by the basket.

Besides, if all he did was just dunked, he'd never see the court. Weatherspoon got some great minutes (16) today and scored eight points on 4-6 shooting. He did a great job in place of Deshaun Thomas in the first half and never looked out of place.

Because of his athleticism, he plays like he's 6-9, instead of the 6-5 or so that he actually is. Except, however, against guys who are actually 6-9.

Still, where he is as a player right now is about where I expected him to be as a senior. I wasn't sure there was ever going to be a legitimate spot for him on Thad Matta's team, but it's pretty apparent that Matta likes what Spoon brings, and is only going to like him more as he gets older.

As an aside, I would advise point guards to pay attention to Weatherspoon because when he calls for an alley-oop, you darn well better throw it.

Final Thought - The Buckeyes held Iowa to 17-53 (32.1%) shooting from the field. And that's with the Hawkeyes hitting 5-9 over the last five minutes when defense wasn't really a consideration anymore.

When the starters were still playing serious minutes, Iowa shot just 12-44 (27.3%) from the field. It was a dominating performance on defense as well as on the glass, where the Buckeyes outrebounded Iowa 39-29.

With scorers like Sullinger, Buford and Thomas on the team, Ohio State's defense is generally overlooked. In fact, given the defensive hole in the middle at times, their defense can often be underestimated.

Though it should be noted that Sullinger blocked a shot and had four steals in this game. He may not be an intimidating eraser, but he has basketball smarts and quick hands.

He can anticipate better than most, though his second instinct will likely always be to side towards staying out of foul trouble. Right now, that's hard to disagree with.

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