First Thoughts From an 87-54 Win Over Northwestern
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Generally, Northwestern's style of play does not allow for 33-point losses, but clearly on Wednesday night, it did.
The Wildcats took quicker shots and didn't make the Buckeyes work as long on defense as was anticipated. Had they done so, they still would have lost, but it probably would have been a bit closer.
Northwestern's increased tempo led to a 48-28 rebounding advantage for Ohio State. Rarely did the Wildcats have anybody in position to rebound the ball on offense, and considering how many shots they missed, even a blind squirrel finds more than the five offensive rebounds that Northwestern came away with.
Oh well. Live and learn. (And we thought Northwestern was a "smart school".)
First Thought - I like Angry William Buford. Generally, we get smiling William Buford, or indifferent William Buford. But after a slow start on Wednesday night, Angry William Buford made his presence known.
Then "AWB" hit three after three after three after three.
Angry William Buford eventually turns into Happy William Buford because of how well he's playing. It's like the opposite of the Incredible Hulk. AWB starts out angry and then tells people, “Don't make me happy. You wouldn't like to see me when I'm happy.”
Buford scored a career-high 28 points on just 9-14 shooting. When he is doing that, Ohio State is not going to lose this season.
Zoning Laws Thought - When Northwestern came out with their various zone defenses against the Buckeyes, my thoughts quickly turned to the three-point shooting that would be necessary to break the Wildcats' defense.
More specifically, my thoughts turned to whether or not Ohio State would be able to shoot threes well enough to make Northwestern pay.
My thoughts were eventually confirmed to be stupid as the Buckeyes threw up threes like USC football players throwing up gang signs.
Jared Sullinger got the ball rolling, followed by Jordan Sibert, then Buford, then Sibert again. Then Sibert again. It was a definitive answer to a serious question.
At least for one night, anyway.
Food for Thought - When Northwestern started the game by refusing to double-team Jared Sullinger, and Sullinger knew he was going to be singled, he became a different player.
It was like watching a kid who just realized that nobody else is around to take turns whacking a piñata with him, so he just started greedily pounding that paper mâché donkey like there was no tomorrow.
Sullinger finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in just 22 minutes of play. That's a kid who likes his candy.
Though admittedly his four fouls are an issue. Normally, it's not wise for Sullinger to miss half of a conference game in foul trouble.
Just What The Doctor Ordered Thought - With Northwestern's zone defense, the Buckeyes weren't going to be able to rely on just William Buford to attack from the perimeter, he would need help.
Enter Jordan Sibert.
Sibert and Lenzelle Smith split the minutes, and Sibert did exactly what his job description details that he do. He was 4-6 from three-point territory, and made Northwestern regret quite a few decisions on the night.
It will be a confidence builder for Sibert, who was 5 for his last 21 three-point attempts coming into this game. He will be needed to produce each time out during conference play. Many times, however, it won't be for his team's benefit as much as it is for his.
The more confident Sibert becomes, the sooner he will stop being a shooter who goes into 5-21 slumps.
Final Thought - It was great to see the bench playing good minutes early in the game. They have earned minutes, and they produced in the time they were given.
Amir Williams played just eight minutes, but grabbed six rebounds. Northwestern pulled down five offensive rebounds for the entire game. Williams pulled down two by himself.
I liked what Shannon Scott did, leading the team with four assists, but I would have liked to have seen him be more of a playmaker instead of just a caretaker.
After turnover issues early in the season, he seems to have lost some aggressiveness in getting into the paint. With more outings like this one, however, he should be getting it back before too long.
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