Lineup Shakeup Could Be Coming
By Rob Ogden
In the midst of a four-game losing streak, coach Thad Matta is considering changing up the starting lineup.
"No, not all," Matta said Wednesday when asked if a shakeup was out of the question. "That's something we could definitely do."
Matta has been asked about the lineup on multiple occasions this season as onlookers wondered if Sam Thompson, Marc Loving or even Amedeo Della Valle would be a better fit for the starting five.
He has always denied the possibility. Until now.
With centers Amir Williams and Trey McDonald struggling to produce offensively, the Buckeyes went to a smaller lineup at times against Nebraska.
Thompson, who has repeatedly said he doesn't care whether he starts or not, said he thinks the smaller lineup can be successful in certain situations.
But it's unlikely the Buckeyes would line up that way for the opening tip against Illinois on Thursday.
Matta said while changing the lineup is a possibility, it's not something he has given much thought to.
"I haven't even thought in terms of that," he said.
"We're gonna compete and get after it, and we're gonna see who's standing at the end of the day. I've had a lot of thoughts go through my mind, but the starting lineup, I haven't thought about it."
Matta would prefer that the center positions get up to speed.
"We need Amir to play well," he said.
"We need him to play consistently with more activity around the rim. We have to do a good job of getting him the ball inside. When he's played well we've played well."
Williams hasn't been much of a factor in the past three games, a span in which the Buckeyes have been outscored 120-80 in the paint.
But the responsibly of slowing opponents in the paint falls on more than just the big men, Thompson said.
"It's just a matter of us not playing together on the defensive end," Thompson said.
"Defense has really been a staple of our program since I've been here. We've been a team that's gotten offense out of our defense and one that can control the game. We've given away some games on the defensive end, but we've taken the necessary steps to correct it and our defense will be back on Thursday."
The defensive struggles are a new problem, but the offensive struggles have persisted nearly all season.
But Thompson said he doesn't think missing shots on one end of the floor is affecting the team's play on the other.
Their mental approach might be, though.
"We're over-thinking the game a little bit too much right now," junior Shannon Scott said. "We're afraid to make mistakes. We can't play like that."
Matta said he's not considering pulling freshman Kam Williams' redshirt in order to provide the team with a scoring boost.
He said Williams is a natural shooter, but said it wouldn't be fair to throw him into the fire now.
"He's missed too much. That would be selfish on my part," Matta said.
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