First Thoughts: Minnesota

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Last updated: 02/20/2013 11:49 PM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From Ohio State's 71-45 Win Over Minnesota
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you thought your basketball Buckeyes were a program in shambles, I bet you slept a bit better knowing that they weren't nearly as broken down as the Golden Gophers.

Sure, Ohio State has some issues, but Minnesota made the Buckeyes look like they were the 1993 Chicago Bulls.

Ohio State only shot 40% from the field, but it was still enough to win by 26 points. How is that even possible?

Well, it's possible because Minnesota turned the ball over 24 times and the Buckeyes scored 26 points off of those turnovers. It also didn't help that the Gophers shot 29.2% from the field.

The good news for Ohio State, other than the convincing win, is that they caused most of Minnesota's problems. Their defense was outstanding, which was a necessary fix to a growing problem. The Gophers rarely had an open look, and when the shot clock wore down, the vises got even tighter.

This game was an opportunity for the Buckeyes to rebuild some confidence, and they did just that.

Avert Thine Eyes. I sure wasn't thinking it at the time, but it's a good thing that this game had a second half. Without a second 20 minutes, this game could have been named the "Most Ocularly Detrimental Game of the Year". In any sport.

There were nine fouls called in the first 150 seconds. I stopped keeping count after that because torturing myself has never been part of the job description.

The first half of this game was about as smooth as road rash. Fortunately, the Buckeyes saved the game by playing better in the second half.

To The Point. It's interesting how much better this team is when they get Shannon Scott's best game. Scott scored 11 points, which made him the second-leading scorer in the game, and he also handed out five assists, while blocking three shots and picking up three steals.

Aside from the three steals, none of these numbers were outrageous for Scott, but his 3-5 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the line are certainly above the ordinary.

I believe that when Scott is able to finish consistently, he will be twice the player that he is right now. In this game he had a nice pull-up jumper in the lane, taking what the defense gave him. When he is able to drive the ball as deep as the defense will allow, and then convert, this team becomes much more difficult to defend.

And don't even get me started on how good Scott can be when his jumper is consistent. It looked good in this game, and I might be the only person that is perfectly fine with him shooting more jumpers.

When Scott is commanding minutes, this is a much better team than when he is simply playing by default. Lenzelle Smith played 11 minutes in this game, and Scott seemed to be a large reason for that.

Addition and Subtraction. Shannon Scott led the team in +/- with a 23 in 26 minutes, which is outstanding. Aaron Craft was right behind him with a 22 in 33 minutes, followed by Deshaun Thomas (21 in 35 minutes) and then LaQuinton Ross (20 in 22 minutes).

The Ross number surprises me quite a bit considering his two turnovers and five missed shots. If you were wondering why he got 22 minutes tonight and Sam Thompson only got 19, you might want to take a look at Thompson's +/- of 6.

PDA for ADV. It was great to hear the crowd react to Amadeo Della Valle getting the call so early in the first half. Granted, he didn't do much while he was in there, other than immediately lose his man and give up an open look from three-point range.

However, Thad Matta made his point. Della Valle was rewarded for his efforts, and got early minutes. Early in the season, it wouldn't have mattered what he did in practice or a game, because he wasn't going to get minutes in front of any of Ohio State's guards.

Now, however, he was in before the first media timeout, and Smith and Ross both watched from the bench. He only ended up playing seven minutes, but they were seven fruitful minutes and the results were only positive.

Quick Thoughts. There were some breakdowns in the post defense early in the game, but overall it had to be encouraging for Matta to see his team play the same stifling defense that we had seen earlier in the season. Just getting back to that type of defense will solve more than a few of the current problems going on in Columbus. ... Whoops, I just got whistled for reaching in on my space bar. ... This really warrants more than a "quick thought", but until Ohio State finds a way to avoid having so many empty possessions, they're always going to struggle against the better teams. These empty possessions can come from turnovers, or forced shots on poor looks, or simply driving the ball too deep to get a good shot off. Empty possessions go away the smarter your team is. Right now, the Buckeyes need to continue to get smarter. ... Deshaun Thomas is still forcing shots. I'd normally be okay with that, but lately he isn't even getting squared up when he does it. It's not the forcing of the shot that is the necessarily the problem, it's the position that he's in when he forces it. If he would just work a little harder, he'd probably find some better looks. Also, I thought he was a bit intimidated by Minnesota's athleticism early on, which is why he did so much settling on his shots. ... Evan Ravenel was +16 in his 21 minutes, showing the type of offensive player that he is capable of being. He was only 2-6 from the field, but that's going to happen when you have a player who is confident in his offensive game. Yes, he can sometimes be a little too confident, but over-confidence is probably better than no confidence. At least until it starts leaving to empty possessions and no ball movement, of course.

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