First Thoughts

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 03/02/2014 8:58 PM
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Men's Basketball
First Thoughts From Ohio State's 72-64 Loss at Indiana
By Tony Gerdeman

There comes a point in a flawed team's season when you realize that they just aren't capable of playing up to their abilities. In other words, their best is still remarkably disjointed and beatable. For me, that point has finally come for the Buckeyes, and I'm probably about a month late in realizing it. Forgive me, it's not that easy to watch this team that closely.

This is just a bad mix of flaws. Each fault is multiplied by the next, and there is no area which can lift the other. In the beginning of the season the defense kept the offense's head above water. Against Indiana, however, Ohio State allowed 16 assists on 24 field goals. The majority of the other eight field goals were also the result of poor defense.

The only confusing part about this team is that they haven't completely given up, even though they play like they have at times. I think that's a credit to Thad Matta because he refuses to let it happen. He's not an innocent in this whole mess because he put the team together, but what else is he expected to do at this point?

Which Craft? Much like the team as a whole, Aaron Craft confuses me because I don't see him quitting, but he sure has gotten selfish-ish late in games recently. For most players that would be indicative of a guy who is absolutely not giving up, but at the rate that Craft is unable to convert and score, any shot by him at this point is as close to a wasted possession as a team can get.

He shot 2-11 against Indiana and so many of those shots never even hit the rim. I agree with those who say he has fewer options than he has ever had around him, but the fact that he never became a viable option himself will always stick with me. This senior season was a disappointment for Craft, but he was as responsible for that disappointment as the team around him.

Just Shoot Me. Ohio State went 0-11 from three-point range and 14-23 from the free throw line. The only excuse for that kind of shooting is lack of talent. It's not just an off night, because it's not that far off from a typical night.

Shooting is the one thing that anybody can do, which I've said many times here before. It's the great equalizer. For Ohio State, however, its the great demoralizer. Shooting really has nothing to do with the coach and has everything to do with the player.

Lenzelle Smith is shooting 35% from three-point range this season and Aaron Craft is shooting 34%. As a freshman, Craft shot 38% from three. In 2012, which was Smith's first season of substantial playing time, he shot 38% from three.

Where has the improvement been?

Where Was the Advantage?
Indiana was without freshman center Noah Vonleh in this game, which allowed Ohio State to outscore the Hoosiers 48-28 in the paint. When it came to individual battles, however, the Buckeyes weren't able to take advantage.

Without Vonleh, it still only took 10 minutes for Amir Williams and Trey McDonald to both pick up two fouls and sit for the rest of the first half. This hasn't been the best week or two for McDonald, and even when Williams plays well enough, it's still not enough to have a positive impact.

Quick Thoughts. ... I'm trying to think of something positive to write about, and right now that's not very easy. Sam Thompson had a good couple of weeks, but he struggled against Indiana. LaQuinton Ross took over and had 19 strong points, but he still couldn't keep himself from pushing an opposing player. Lenzelle Smith was driving very well, but shooting 1-4 from the free throw line is no way to secure a win. Much like this entire season, there were only flashes of positives, and there's little proof that any of these flashes will lead to anything more enlightening. ... When a team can't hit a three-pointer or make its free throws, it's imperative that they make their layups. The Buckeyes couldn't even do that. There were so many missed layups in this game that when they were actually made, it was a surprise. When a made layup surprises you, the basketball season has gone on for far too long. ... Aaron Craft's drives are empty possessions again, just as they were when the Buckeyes were in the midst of their last losing streak. I wonder if there's a connection. ... Spring football practice starts on Tuesday.

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