Around The-Ozone Water Cooler: Was the 2012-2013 Basketball Season a Success?
By The-Ozone Staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It seems like just a few weeks ago we were discussing how far we thought the Buckeyes would go in the NCAA Tournament. Some of us were probably wrong.
The discussion of late, however, has turned to the season as a whole. Mainly, our general thoughts on this past basketball season. Was it a success? Was the way the season ended a disappointment? Did the ending take away from the season as a whole? If we set up oil barrels in the lane, how many could Sam Thompson jump over?
Basically, we've been talking about the same things you all have been talking about around your own water coolers, except when we do it, we don't have any annoying secretaries telling us what their husbands think.
Jealous? You're jealous.
Ken Pryor: Admittedly, I waited until the Louisville - Wichita State game before I began penning this because the Ohio State loss to the Wheat Shockers left me somewhat puzzled. I wasn't sure if the Buckeyes lost that game because of themselves or because of Wichita State. But I'll address that later.
Having mulled over the season, I am of the mindset that the Buckeyes season was indeed a success, with perhaps a tinge of disappointment at the end.
Why do I say it was a success? Consider everything that went on going into the season. The Buckeyes were dealt some reeling blows when they lost high volume scorers William Buford and Jared Sullinger from last year's team, leaving the Buckeyes scuffling to find consistent scoring contributions.
As the season grew longer we found there was really only one man, Deshaun Thomas, who was even remotely a consistent scorer. On some nights it appeared he was the only one who could score.
With all due respect to Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel, the Buckeyes went virtually the entire season with next to no low post game. While Ravenel is a poor man's power forward with weak hands, Williams continues to be a work in progress.
When you consider the impact a low post game can have on a team's perimeter shooting, you must also consider what the lack thereof can do to any team's outside scoring as well. Night in and night out the Buckeyes were forced to work overtime to get perimeter scoring as the inside game proffered next to nothing.
Also consider they were forced to get that perimeter scoring from a group that was not very adept at in the first place. The Buckeyes only had two players average double digit scoring (Deshaun Thomas at 20 ppg and Aaron Craft at 10 ppg). They did get 9 ppg and 8 ppg from Lenzelle Smith Jr and LaQuinton Ross respectively, but much of their averages were boosted by late season performances in the B1G and NCAA tournaments.
Initially, I was disturbed by losing to the likes of Wichita State, but I became increasingly okay with the loss. First of all, Wichita State proved to be a legitimate player in the tournament. Secondly, the Buckeyes struggled to score all year, relying heavily on their defensive efforts. Their new-found ability to score in the tournament eventually deserted them as the clock struck midnight on their entire run.
The real Ohio State had returned, so the loss wasn’t all that “shocking” (pardon the pun). If there is one sore spot that does disturb me about the loss, it is that the Ohio State defense was not up to its usual standard.
Taking everything into consideration, a second place regular season finish, a B1G tournament crown, and a deep NCAA run (Elite 8) was very successful for this Ohio State basketball team.
Patrick Murphy: The 2012-13 basketball Buckeyes ended their season earlier than many thought when filling out their NCAA Tournament bracket. In falling to Wichita State in the Elite Eight, Ohio State fell short of the Final Four expectations many put on them when they saw the easy region the Buckeyes were placed in.
Looking back on this roller coaster ride of a season, there were points when people questioned if this team would make it past the first weekend of the tournament. Before the win over No. 2 Michigan, Ohio State was 0-3 against ranked teams. In February, OSU lost three of four games and looked to be out of the race for the Big Ten title.
After that, things seemed to come together for the Buckeyes and they went on the run that carried them, before losing in the tournament.
While expectations are always high for a Thad Matta coached Ohio State team, this may be one of his best coaching jobs since coming to Columbus. While this team was ranked high at the beginning of the season, it quickly became obvious to those who watched that this team lived and died with Deshaun Thomas. While Aaron Craft was a beast defensively, his offensive game was not where many had hoped.
In the middle of February, after OSU fell by 22 to Wisconsin, it seemed the sky was falling, yet Matta got this team back on track with a 26-point win over Minnesota. After that, this team won 10 more games before their season was ended and they were a sexy pick by many experts to reach Atlanta.
It was not just that the Buckeyes won, but how they were doing it. Over the winning streak, five different players led OSU in scoring and it was not until game six of the streak that Thomas was the high man. The team was sharing the ball and playing great defense, not allowing more than 60 points until the Tournament.
While a second-straight trip to the Final Four would have been great to see from Ohio State, it was not in the cards. This season though was a success nonetheless. This team really found itself in the middle of the year and made a run many did not expect. The turnaround and development alone was enough to make it a success.
Tony Gerdeman: Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes, this season was a success. Nobody has ever had an unsuccessful 29-win season.
However, if there is such a thing as a disappointing success, then this season was it. For me, it wasn't the end of the season that was the most disappointing, it was the middle.
In college basketball, I don't judge success on winning a six-game tournament. Yes, if you win it, then you are a success. But not winning a national championship in basketball only means that somebody had a better road, or simply played better than you did over a six-game span.
This was a very flawed team that ended up winning a Big Ten Tournament Championship. To me, that outweighs a loss to Wichita State, especially when the Buckeyes weren't going to get past Louisville anyway.
In college football, I believe that you can expect to win a national championship. You know all of your regular season opponents, and there are only a handful of teams that you might see in the BCS Championship Game. In college basketball, the best you can hope for is to reach a Final Four. There are simply too many variables involved to expect anything more.
At the beginning of the year, I didn't expect this team to play in the Final Four. That fact should be as upsetting as the fact that the Buckeyes didn't get there when they had an "easy" road.
When you can look at a Buckeye team in November and say, "Well, one and done is a very real possibility," then that's disappointing. That is the team that Ohio State had this year. That is the team that Thad Matta put together.
It's also the same team that Thad Matta took to the Elite Eight. A team which really had no business being there, except for the fact that they were playing basketball as well as anyone towards the end of the season, which is exactly when you want them to do so.
This season was a success, but not without its disappointments. That's probably why it was so fun to watch when things were going so well.
Michael Chung: Was this year’s basketball season a success? After the loss to Wichita State, I would have said no, but seeing the Shockers almost shock the eventual national champions changed my opinion.
It was my birthday, March 30, on the day Ohio State ended their title run. I thought surely playing a number nine seed would guarantee OSU a place in their second consecutive Final Four, but upon my return from dinner (I had the game on DVR), and much to my chagrin and surprise, Ohio State lost the game.
Many Facebook messages wishing me a happy birthday also offered condolences for Ohio State. I checked the score online to see that OSU’s season ended 70-66. The disappointment of losing to a number nine seed made me think that Ohio State’s season did not live up to expectations, but after seeing how the Shockers almost beat Louisville, I now changed my opinion and deemed the season a success.
I do think watching the championship game and how Rick Pitino masterfully coached it should be an example to Thad Matta. Pitino would strategically sit his point guard—Peyton Siva— at opportune times for rest. Louisville has a reputation for being one of the best-conditioned teams in the NCAA, but despite the Cards’ superior fitness, Pitino rested Siva at strategic times.
Matta, on the other hand, seems to rest his players when they are in some sort of foul trouble, but does not seem to grasp the notion of empowering the bench and resting his star point guard at calculated times. Despite Aaron Craft’s prowess at the point, he is human and will tire.
I think Matta will go further as a coach if he can improve tactically during a game, dictating when his stars rest instead of letting the circumstances of foul trouble force his hand to make a substitution, but overall, the Bucks had a great and successful season.