First Thoughts after Loyola

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Last updated: 03/16/2012 1:14 AM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts After Ohio State's 78-59 Win Over Loyola (MD) in the NCAA Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman

As far as first round games go for the Buckeyes, I've seen better and I've seen worse. However, a win is a win, and that really is the only aesthetic that matters.

The game was never in doubt, which it shouldn't have been.

Ohio State only got offense from one player tonight, and that was Deshaun Thomas. I don't know how many more rounds the Buckeyes can advance to if they're only getting offense from one of their three scorers.

Yes, William Buford scored 17 points, but six of those came when the game was over. In fact, had the bench not let the team down, he would have finished with eleven points on 3-9 shooting, including 1-6 from three-point range.

In other words, it would have been the William Buford that this team can't afford to have if they are going to win a National Championship.

They can probably win one more game without getting scoring from three players, but beyond that the Buckeyes are going to have to do it with defense.

First Thought

I really can't say enough about Deshaun Thomas' performance. He was the only starter who shot over 50% from the field (13-22), and he carried the Buckeyes when nobody else was able to.

Thomas scored a career-high 31 points and hardly broke a sweat doing it. Don't get me wrong, he certainly worked for it, but he just made it look really, really easy.

Is it wrong of me to have more confidence in him having the ball in the paint than Jared Sullinger?

Those two came into this season as a sort of Batman and Robin, though I'm starting to think they switched costumes sometime in February.

Unhelpful Thought

The Ohio State bench scored seven points tonight, which isn't much, though sadly it seems like it's more than normal. People have clamored for the bench all season—I'm guessing I have done it as well, but we saw again tonight that this bench just isn't ready.

When Thad Matta brought in the reserves late int he game, I'm sure the starters thought their night was over. Instead, they had to go back in to make sure things stopped being so interesting.

I can understand the bench players performing a bit lax, given the large lead and the late stage of the game, but if they are trying to prove their worth, they should prove it whenever given the chance.

After a performance like tonight, I guess we just have to conclude that they aren't able to prove anything right now.

Big Thought

I think Deshaun Thomas is a good small forward, but he's a very good power forward. If he comes back to Ohio State for a third season, he will become a great power forward.

I know I've been talking all season long about what Thomas needs to do to be ready for the NBA, but if he chooses to come back, he's already got everything that he needs to be able to dominate on offense next season.

His post moves are first-rate, and his confidence is even better. His understanding of the basket's location allows him to shoot quickly with swift moves, and his touch allows him to make those nearly-blind shots.

Every shot in the paint feels like it's going to go in when he shoots it. It makes you wonder what he could be like next year if he was the team's number one option in the post.

Small Thought

I'm really not looking forward to this team playing against Kentucky and Anthony Davis. They simply don't have the size and explosion to combat his defense. Jared Sullinger will go right at Davis early on, and Davis won't even have to jump to block his shots.

Late Thought

Seriously, who starts a basketball game at 10:00 pm? It can't be any fun waiting all day in hotel rooms or locker rooms for tip off. Your entire day is thrown off.

The committee should at least be able to make west coast teams play these late games since their bodies are used to it.

And yes, I'm tired and cranky.

Messy Thought

It just wouldn't be an Ohio State double-digit lead without a long period of ineffectiveness. The Buckeyes led by eleven points at the half and halfway through the second half, there wasn't much difference.

Yes, the game was never in doubt, but if this was against a better opponent, it would have been. You can only shoot terribly for so long before an okay team ends your season. With shooting like we saw in the first half tonight, that end could come at any time.

Rough Thought

Loyola played the game like a bunch of hacks. That's not a derogatory statement, rather it's just a comment on the style that they play. Well, plus they hack a lot too.

It's not a brand of basketball that I find enjoyable, nor do I think it helps even the playing field. A lower seed can't come in and set a physical tone because they haven't earned any calls from the referees yet.

In fact, Loyola's style actually helped the Buckeyes tonight. With a shooting night like they had, it was the number of free throws that helped counter their poor first-half shooting.

Soft Thought

Along with Loyola's rough play on defense was their similarly rough play on offense. They took the ball right at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes backed up plenty.

This would not be a good trend to continue because Ohio State will be meeting up against more talented players in every single round from here on out.

They need to make a stand on defense, and keep it.

Final Thought

I don't think referees believe Jared Sullinger when he says he gets fouled every time down court, and I guarantee that they don't like it when he complains after every missed shot.

It's gotten to the point where everybody on the court expects him to call for a foul every time he takes a shot, so when he does it, it's nothing but white noise.

His frustration then is a combination of his struggles with the refs, and a frustration at his own inability to perform to his capabilities. He then lashes out at those he deems responsible for his troubles.

Though I'm not sure he's ever complained about himself.

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