The end of Ohio State's Big Ten vacation has officially come. It's time to pack up the family truckster and hit the road for the stretch run. No pee breaks until early March.
First Thoughts From a 78-54 Win Over Penn State
By Tony Gerdeman
Wednesday's blowout win over Penn State was expected, but it's still good to see players actually go through with what they think is inevitable and make it happen. Many times, players will wait for it to happen. The Buckeyes did no such thing tonight.
Ohio State defended from the outset and got up early. Just like they have over their last three games. Defense has carried them, and offense has kept them consistent.
But now things are going to get serious. Michigan comes to Columbus on Saturday. Both teams are tied at the top of the Big Ten standings, so something is going to have be settled.
The Buckeyes have been blowing teams out by simply going through the motions, but they should be playing at an entirely different level on Saturday. And it should be very fun to watch.
Poor Tim Frazier. It's not fair when a human point guard is being defended by the CraftTron 3000.
It's like playing a video game on the highest level the first time you've ever played it.
Frazier went 6-17 from the field and turned the ball over four times. Aaron Craft was in his face for most of the night, and when he wasn't, somebody else was.
Craft will get most of the credit, but it's not like Frazier ever had an easy time of it. Lenzelle Smith and Shannon Scott were defending as well.
People can worry about Ohio State's perimeter shooting during the Tournament all they want, but with the defensive guards that the Buckeyes have, a backcourt is generally going to have to be in the zone to shoot well against them.
Excellent perimeter shooting for the Buckeyes leads to blowouts. Defending the opponent's perimeter shooting leads to wins.
How about Jared Sullinger going down low to Craft in the paint for the first basket of the game?
Happy Opposite Day, everybody!
I'm not sure this is a legitimate plan of attack, but wherever Craft finds himself on the floor, I'll give him the advantage.
And then later on when Craft drained a 30-footer that many thought was an alley oop to Sam Thompson. That seemed completely believable, right?
What in the Wide, Wide World of Sports is going on around here?!
Sullinger looking for Craft down low. Craft draining threes accidentally. Up is down and left is right.
I guess even the Buckeyes have gotten bored with their recent schedule.
While we're talking about Aaron Craft, if he's going to hit that floater in the lane consistently, then opposing defenses are in trouble.
He can already get into the paint any time he wants, and if he's hitting that shot, he has the option of either finishing at the basket, or pulling up short to avoid a charge.
It's a tough shot to master, but once you have it, it's impossible to defend. And the good thing about it, even when you miss it, it ends up as an offensive rebound half the time.
If missed floaters that led to offensive putbacks were counted as assists, Michael Conley would've led the nation in assists back in the day.
I will never fault Jared Sullinger for being aggressive on offense, but I thought tonight he forced a handful of shots.
Fortunately for him, his basket awareness is really second to none. He always knows where the basket is, and he always knows the best way to get a shot off.
And the fact that he did force a few shots, and still shot 7-11 from the field, is evidence of that awareness.
Would I like to see better shots? Sure, but he even draws fouls on his poor shots, so why shouldn't he keep firing them up there?
Freshman point guard Shannon Scott played 18 minutes tonight, and he didn't play particularly well. But Thad Matta kept him in the game.
This probably has as much to do with giving Aaron Craft a break prior to the big game this weekend, but it also allowed Scott to make mistakes and then keep playing through them, rather than instantly being yanked.
Even after missing two perimeter shots badly, Scott stayed in the game, eventually leading to a terrific layup with a beautiful hesitation dribble.
While I am worried about his shot, the rest of his game has confidence. He knows that he has handles and he can find the open man. But the fact that he keeps shooting is an indicator that he has confidence there as well.
After all, a point guard without confidence is a worthless thing.
I've talked a few times about Deshaun Thomas' one-step dribble jumper, but tonight he hit a one dribble step-back jumper that we haven't really seen much of this season.
Thomas seemingly adds something new to his game every single week, and it's tremendous to watch.
He has gone from a three-point shooter who was also an effective offensive rebounder with a good put-back game, to now being an offensive force everywhere on the court.
There really is no spot on the floor where he can't be an effective scorer. Unless, of course, he goes 4-11 from the field like he did tonight.
Sam Thompson has been lying to us, people.
Or, at least, he's been lying to me.
I never knew he could zip passes into the post so accurately like he did against Penn State. There were at least two times that he fired pinpoint passes into a covered Sullinger for layups.
We all know what Thompson can do above the rim, but he showed some things below it tonight. One of the unmentioned aspects of Jon Diebler's loss was the fact that he was the team's best post passer. Perhaps Thompson can develop into something similar.
With the occasional chin-up on the rim, of course.
Amir Williams blocked three shots and grabbed four rebounds in eight minutes of play.
Obviously the offensive game has work to do, and he'd probably foul out in 20 minutes of play, but how can you not be excited about the potential of this freshman?
And really, his offense is fine for a freshman center who is still growing accustomed to his abilities. He's a quick finisher, but he will obviously have to develop his all-around offensive game. I'm looking forward to what that ultimately becomes.
It won't ever catch up to his defensive game, but then the Buckeyes don't need it to. There will always be offense on this team, but Williams provides them a defensive presence in the future that they just don't have right now.
For the love of God, can people stop throwing underthrown lobs to J.D. Weatherspoon?
Throw it towards the top half of the backboard and let him go get it. I'm not convinced any pass is too tall.
Remember wishing that quarterbacks would try to overthrow Ted Ginn so that he could simply run under the ball instead of fighting for a jump ball? It's the same principle here. Let the freaks be freaks. Don't make them mortal through bad passing. Let them go up and get what they can get.
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