First Thoughts

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Last updated: 12/15/2012 4:32 PM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From the Buckeyes' 90-72 Win Over UNC-Asheville
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Before the season started there were questions surrounding the Ohio State offense, specifically where the scoring outside of Deshaun Thomas would come from.

So far, it turns out the answer to that question is "everywhere".

The Buckeyes scored 90 points and had four players in double figures on Saturday. That's not even including Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, who combined for 13 points, 17 assists and just one turnover.

Sam Thompson scored a career-high 18 points and Evan Ravenel tied his career-high with 12 points. One of the reasons that scoring can occur everywhere is because the Buckeyes have two dynamic distributors in Craft and Scott. They make players around them better, and they make scoring easier.

A good number of the assists from the Ohio State point guards didn't simply come from ball movement, it came from their vision, seeing a player breaking open, and then getting him the ball. Rarely was it routine — they just made it look like it was.

The Future of Flight. One-and-done players are nice, but there's something pure about watching a player develop from a shaky freshman to a calm and seasoned senior.

We saw it with Jon Diebler and David Lighty recently, and we are now watching that with Lenzelle Smith and Sam Thompson.

When he is a senior, I expect Thompson's 18-point career high to be more like his scoring average.

Every aspect of Thompson's game will continue to improve. His confidence grows by the day, which you can see in his confident shooting stroke. He only took seven shots (not counting the shots he was fouled on), and scored 18 points. Not only is he explosive, but he was also efficient in this game.

Everybody knows and sees his athleticism, but that's owed as much to natural ability as anything. I'm more impressed by the work he has put in as a shooter. Nobody is born a good shooter. That takes work, and we are seeing the results. Just imagine what Thompson will look like in two years.

Approaching the Bench. With the play of Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross of late, there are more and more murmurs calling for one or both of them to start. I will not be one of those murmurers, however.

With the pace that these Buckeyes are playing at right now, having two offensive weapons like Scott and Ross coming off the bench allows Ohio State to play at that pace for all 40 minutes if need be.

Offensively and defensively, the Buckeyes have a point guard gauntlet. If you think an opponent can take a breather when Aaron Craft goes to the bench, then you might want to take note of Scott's six steals and nine assists in this game.

Right now, Scott has 23 steals to Craft's 14, and 45 assists to Craft's 43, despite Craft playing 10.1 more minutes per game than Scott.There is no let up from the Buckeyes in pushing the offensive and defensive pace, so why change it?

Soft Middles. It's no coincidence that Aaron Craft is a better finisher when the opponent has no shot-blocking presence. Craft got to the hole whenever he wanted in this game, yet only shot it four times. I'm not sure what to make of this given his previous ramped-up attempts to score, other than putting too much thought into wondering why has very little worth.

Don't try to figure out why Craft is or isn't doing something, just understand that he is a junior who knows exactly what he is doing.

Center of Attention. There was a point in the first half when Evan Ravenel looked an awful lot like Jared Sullinger. Ravenel scored all 12 of his points in the first 20 minutes, and did it via power moves, finesse, a dribble or two, and a smooth jumper.

Earlier in the week I talked about him being a very serviceable big man in the Big Ten, and this first half exhibited exactly what I was talking about. He may not do anything great, but he can do a little bit of everything pretty well.

Running Out. The game got pretty sloppy late as the Buckeyes were looking to run out on just about every UNC-Asheville jumper, but I'm perfectly fine with that because watching Sam Thompson dunk is never not fun.

Just Wondering. Where is Amir Williams' shot-blocking game? Right now, Williams is not an offensive player, so he needs to be a defensive player. He's had just two games this season with more than one blocked shot.

Maybe this is a "Me Problem", but I expected more defensively out of Williams at this point. I wonder if his offensive struggles have stretched into his defensive game.

Right now he's not an intimidating defensive presence despite his length, and offensively his shot just doesn't get to the rim at a high enough rate.

At this point, Trey McDonald may need to play more not just because of how his own game is progressing, but also because of how Williams' game isn't.

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