First Thoughts From a 69-40 Win Over Miami (OH)
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn't pretty until the second half, and even then it was only pretty compared to the first half.
These non-conference games against "lesser opponents" remind me of the scene from Jurassic Park where they attempt to feed a goat to a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In the scene everybody waits for the goat to get snatched up, and while waiting Sam Neill says, "T-Rex doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt."
That's pretty much how I view this team—they want to hunt. They are ready for the Big Ten season and are tired of being fed these tied-up goats.
Yes, the T-Rex eventually ate the goat, just like the Buckeyes eventually won by 29 points, but neither were immediate, and there seemed little joy to be had until late.
First Thought - The rims at Nationwide Arena were about as unforgiving as an angry wife. The teams combined to shoot 6-29 from three-point range, which says all you need to know.
The Buckeyes had good shots all night long but if any portion of the basketball hit the rim, the shot wasn't going to fall. It got better in the second half, but still wasn't good.
That's part of the deal with playing in an unfamiliar setting, however. But it does give the Buckeyes a chance to deal with some adversity and find different ways to win.
After all, if you're going to win it all, you'll have to do it in as many different ways as you can.
Overdue Thought - Earlier in the week I said that I need to talk about Deshaun Thomas' defense one of these days, and there was plenty of reason to do it tonight.
Matched up with Julian Mavunga (6-8 232) most of the night, he didn't make anything easy for the 20-point per game scorer. Yes, Mavunga shot 8-14 from the field and scored his 20 points, but most of those points came in the final fifteen minutes of the game when the Buckeyes had already distanced themselves from the RedHawks.
Thomas was rarely out of position and Mavunga had to make some very tough shots to finish as well as he did. This seemed to be a challenge that Thomas really embraced, and I'm guessing Thad Matta had to like what he saw from his sophomore scoring machine.
Slashing Thought - I love seeing Sam Thompson drive the baseline and finish around the rim. He only did it once tonight, but I see a lot more of it in his future.
In fact, when I see him do it, he reminds me of the last Buckeye to wear the number twelve jersey—Ron Lewis. Lewis drove the baseline relentlessly, and generally he either scored or got fouled, and oftentimes both.
While the young players continue to look for a role to fill, attacking the baseline could very well be the one that Thompson fills best right now.
Selfish Though - The Buckeyes obviously didn't feel much like sharing with Miami in this game because they only turned the ball over five times.
Even with the RedHawks' slow pace, that's still a tremendous number. Especially when you consider the fact that the reserves were in for the last seven minutes of the game or so.
When the Buckeyes aren't shooting well, they'll still be protecting the ball and defending, and those two things can withstand most icy nights from the field.
Miami, on the other hand, was forced into 18 turnovers and only shot 32.6% from the field. The Buckeyes scored their 41st point with 14:12 to play in the game.
In other words, they could have gone the rest of the game without scoring a point and still won, and it would have been because of defense and protecting the ball.
Uh oh, I think I just described Tresselball.
Futuristic Thought - The best part about games like this is getting to watch the freshmen for extended periods of time. Tonight, that was true again as we saw freshmen Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams teamed with sophomore J.D. Weatherspoon all on the court at the same time. It was essentially like looking into the future, and the future looked good.
You look at the talent on the court at that time and you wonder who has the most potential. Scott will get to learn from Aaron Craft, Thompson has all of the athleticism of an Olympic Trial; Ross saw his first action of the season and already the comparisons to Glen Rice have begun.
Weatherspoon may never have an actual position or a spot, but there is always room for a guy who can get up and finish like he can. Effort is never a problem with that guy, and that will earn minutes more often than not.
Williams is still raw, but he's ripening every day. He's not comfortable yet, but some more time on the windowsill will do him wonders.
The most insane part of looking into the future, however, is that guys like Craft, Thomas and Lenzelle Smith should still be a part of it beyond this year.
Long-Awaited Thought - Buckeye Nation had to wait a little while to get to see LaQuinton Ross, but after just a few seconds of time on the court, it sure looked like he was well worth the wait.
Taking a three-pointer in transition after sitting for an entire game is a pretty aggressive thing to do, and it requires uncommon confidence. When his first three went in, it seemed like everybody else realized what those around the team had known all along—this kid is pretty good.
For a taller guy (6-8), Ross gets very nice elevation on his shot, which makes it virtually unblockable. He's also got a quick release, and he's clearly comfortable shooting on the move, both of which will make him hard to defend.
But let's remember, it was just one shot. He's not the first player to hit a three in his first attempt and he won't be the last. Right now he's just looking to keep moving in the right direction.
The potential, however, might indicate that direction is skyward. I still want to see him put the ball on the floor, though.
But right now, if Ross had a "Like" button on him, I'd press it.
Final Thought - After watching Ross throw up three three-pointers in the span of three minutes and two seconds, I was thinking that even a freshman Deshaun Thomas might tell Ross to calm it down a bit.
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