Sibert Provides 3-point Threat Buckeyes Desperately Needed
By Ben Axelrod
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pointing to a wrap over his right index finger, Ohio State sophomore Jordan Sibert tried to self-diagnose it as a case of torn ligaments.
His teammates weren’t having any of it.
“Don’t listen to him,” said a laughing Jared Sullinger.
“He’s just trying to be like Kobe. That’s his favorite player.”
Regardless of what Sibert’s exact injury is, it wasn’t just the wrap that made him resemble the Los Angeles Lakers star guard on Wednesday night. Sibert turned in his best performance of the season with 12 points on 3-4 shooting as the Buckeyes defeated Northwestern 87-54 in their conference opener at Value City Arena.
After a nonconference schedule that saw him struggle to find his stroke, which led to inconsistent playing time in a loaded Buckeyes backcourt, Sibert attributed his breakout game to a work ethic similar to that of his favorite player.
“I have been coming in late and shooting with one of my managers, making sure I’m getting up shots,” Sibert said.
“Just taking the extra time to make sure I get up shots instead of being complacent.”
The Cincinnati product said that he was motivated to put in extra work after a shaky out-of-conference schedule that saw the sophomore convert just 30 percent of his shots and only reach double-digits in scoring once. After coming into the season as a favorite to start as the Buckeyes shooting guard, Sibert’s lack of production off the bench translated into him playing as few as seven minutes in games against South Carolina Upstate and South Carolina.
“I got complacent with having a good spring and summer shooting. I didn’t work as hard on my shot as I felt I needed to,” Sibert said.
“Just being able to come back in and contact my managers, they’re always here for us, so being able to contact them and being able to shoot with the gun, shoot four or five hundred shots a night, just taking the extra time out to make shots.”
Despite Sibert’s 25.8 percent shooting performance from outside the arc prior to Wednesday, OSU coach Thad Matta said he wasn’t overly worried by the play of his primary back-up guard.
“I was a little bit concerned, but I’ve seen him making them. It’s a matter of doing all of the other things,” Matta said.
“Jordan has a role on this team and obviously one of the things that he can do is stretch the defense with his ability to shoot it.”
Sibert is hopeful that Wednesday’s opener is just the start of a Big Ten season that will see him further define his role for the Buckeyes, a role that he sees as very cut and dry.
“Lock down on D and make shots. Just simple and plain,” Sibert said. “I do those two, I think I can help the team out.”
Matta didn’t disagree.
“As he can bang those shots and defend, he’ll be in good shape,” the OSU coach said.