10 Things We (think we) Learned.

Please patronize our advertisers to help
keep theOzone.net free for everyone.





The-Ozone.net Mall

Interesting, Fun companies with interesting, quality products - and the-Ozone gets a piece of the action!

Click here to return to the front page.
Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 11/06/2011 10:22 PM

Twitter
Follow Brandon
on Twitter
Email
Email Brandon
Share |

Men's Basketball
10 Things We (Think We) Learned from Walsh Exhibition
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time since their 62-60 loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, Thad Matta and his Buckeyes were back on the court in front of fans at Value City Arena.

It was only an exhibition game against Walsh University, but fans were treated to an exciting 95-49 victory. Here is a look at 10 things we think we learned about the 2011-12 Buckeyes.

Jared Sullinger lets a jumper go.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jared Sullinger

1. Everything we heard about Sullinger is true. One of the main things to watch for in this game was how the “new” Jared Sullinger would look compared to the one we saw last year. The 2010 version was pretty good at dominating inside, but the 2011 version has added a lot more to the arsenal. Maybe Sullinger was just showing off for the fans, but he looked perfectly comfortable pulling up for shots from 15 feet away from the basket. He also knocked down one of his two threes, but the biggest thing we saw was a more mobile version. He got to more loose balls, he got up and down the court better and he even had a pretty athletic looking swat on defense.

Aaron Craft
Photo by Jim Davidson
Aaron Craft

2. Aaron Craft is still Aaron Craft. Thad Matta has talked about building a statue of David Lighty in front of the Schottenstein Center, but he might need to start casting a dye for Aaron Craft to stand right along side it. Craft is a tenacious defender who never takes a play off. If Lighty was the glue guy or the heart and soul of last year’s team, that title goes to Craft this year. He was the only guy out there diving on the floor for loose balls in an exhibition game. Matta even had Craft come down during practice to show the big guys how he wants them to body up in the paint. He wasn’t sure Craft could do it in a game, but said he would “die trying.”

William Buford
Photo by Jim Davidson
William Buford

3. The big three are going to play a lot of minutes. There is more depth on this roster than any Matta has had since at least the 2006-07 team, but most of it is young. The Buckeyes could feasibly rotate 9-10 guys every night if they wanted to keep fresh bodies on the floor, but that is easier to think about before the ball is in play. Once the game goes live, Matta has a very difficult time taking his best players off the floor, especially when his other options are young guys. There is no reason Matta can’t use more of his depth this year, but it won’t come at the expense of Sullinger, Craft and William Buford; not in big games. Those three are going to stay on the floor until their legs fall off. As Matta always says, they recruit guys to play 40 minutes.

4. Deshaun Thomas is a more refined player. The sophomore known as the “microwave” has never been shy about shooting the ball. He certainly wasn’t against Walsh. Thomas had four shots in his first seven minutes and finished with seven shots in 17 minutes. The difference is that only one of them was a forced shot that Matta would like to have back. Thomas seems to be much more settled in his role and he isn’t celebrating after every basket he makes. He is attacking the basket, and when he misses a shot, he is all over the offensive glass to clean it up. It will be interesting to see how he develops during his career at Ohio State, but he looks like a more refined version of the player we saw last year.

Jordan Sibert
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Sibert

5. Jordan Sibert is a more confident shooter. The Buckeyes are going to need a lot of scoring from Thomas this year to help offset the losses of Jon Diebler and David Lighty, but the one thing that could help alleviate some of the pressure is clutch scoring off the bench. They got that Sunday from Jordan Sibert, who scored 15 points in 16 minutes off the bench by knocking down four his five attempts from behind the arc. Sibert has always been able to shoot the ball, but he looked nervous last year; unsure of himself. The guy wearing No. 2 out there against Walsh was neither. He took threes with confidence and they looked great coming off his hand. If he can give them that all year, Matta will be smiling all the way to the NCAA Tournament.

Lenzelle Smith
Photo by Jim Davidson
Lenzelle Smith

6. Lenzelle Smith fits with the starting lineup. Most people assume that the fifth starter—at least early in the year—will come down to whoever wins the battle between Sibert and Lenzelle Smith. That makes sense, but in reality, Sibert may fit better coming off the bench where he can provide a spark with his instant offense. Smith is a more complete player. He can defend, he can pass and he can rebound. He had eight of them at the shooting guard spot against Walsh. He also had three assists and six points, but most importantly he doesn’t need shots to be effective. Buford, Sullinger and Thomas are going to need a lot of touches in that starting lineup. It makes sense to put another defender out there who can pass the ball and help on the boards.

Evan Ravenel
Photo by Jim Davidson
Evan Ravenel

7. Ravenel is going to help this team more than Williams, at least early. A lot of people are anxiously awaiting to see Sullinger on the floor at the same time as freshman Amir Williams, but they may have to wait a while. Williams is a big kid and has talent. He can block shots and should develop into a scorer, but right now he is raw. He had one points, two rebounds and two blocks in 11 minutes against Walsh. Junior Evan Ravenel also played 11 minutes. He had four points and eight rebounds. He played physical, attacked the glass and brought a spark off the bench. He has played at this level before and seems capable of playing alongside Sullinger if they want to go with a big lineup. Right now it looks like Ravenel will be out there more than Williams to start the year.

Sam Thompson
Photo by Jim Davidson
Sam Thompson

8. Thompson could make an impact at both ends. Another guy who filled up the stat sheet Sunday was freshman Sam Thompson. The lanky 6-7 wing from Chicago started slowly, but quickly settled in against the Cavaliers. He is a tremendous athlete who can jump out of the gym, whether it be for a dunk or a block. He also does a great job disrupting passing lanes and showed off a little floater on the offensive end. He finished with nine points (4-of-4 shooting), five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and four steals. It will be interesting to see if he can crack the rotation this year. If not, he has a bright future ahead of him. Exactly the kind of player Matta loves.

J. D. Weatherspoon
Photo by Jim Davidson
J. D.Weatherspoon

9. Weatherspoon looks to have come a long way. Speaking of athletes, how about J.D. Weatherspoon? Sullinger’s former high school teammate has always been a big dunker, and he had a few of them against Walsh, but he looks to have really worked on his game in the off-season. He was 6-of-7 shooting Sunday with 13 points in 11 minutes, including a three. He also had some nice finesse baskets around the rim, but Matta said afterward that they aren’t usually going to be that easy. He is probably not in the rotation as of yet, but if he gets a few more chances to play like that, he might push for some PT.

Shannon Scott and Thad Matta
Photo by Jim Davidson
Shannon Scott and Thad Matta

10. Shannon Scott is the wild card. The one guy we still don’t know what to expect is Shannon Scott. The freshman point guard looked jittery to start the game, and he admitted that he was afterward. Even Matta said he had to say something to him at halftime to settle him down, and Scott was much better in the second half. It’s obvious the kid has talent at both ends of the floor. He can get to the basket and create off the dribble, but he didn’t show much Sunday. Just four points, two assists and five turnovers. He’s going to have a few of those this year because he is aggressive, but he could be the wild card for the Buckeyes if he can rein it in.

Donate by Check :

Ozone Communications
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio
43212

Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.

Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.

(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.

Click here to return to the front page.

Front Page Columns and Features