First Thoughts From Ohio State's 84-74 Loss to Iowa
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Losing a game at home to a team that you should beat is always troubling, but the most troubling aspect of this game was that Ohio State lost it without much help from Iowa. The Hawkeyes played consistently well throughout the game, and the Buckeyes stayed right there with them – even taking a short-lived lead in the second half – but the collapse in the game's final six or seven minutes has to be disappointing to Thad Matta.
I don't think this has anything to do with any type of hangover from the Michigan State game, this was simply a matter of Ohio State's weaknesses being brought out by the Buckeyes themselves. LaQuinton Ross's ball-handling issues loomed like an umbrella over much of a the game. The inability of OSU to shoot from deep was also glaring. The problem with OSU's three-point shooting isn't just the misses, it's the open shots that never get taken because the players aren't ready or confident when they get the ball.
There are no easy fixes, in fact there really are no fixes. This is what the Buckeyes are, and it's something that they will have to overcome every single time out. Those problems were exacerbated by Ohio State's inability to stop a versatile offense as well. Iowa took it to the Buckeyes routinely, and were rewarded consistently. When it comes to a shoot out this season, OSU will generally be at a disadvantage.
Danger Zone. The Buckeyes once again struggled against a zone defense, which is becoming pretty routine. As most teams do, they tried to shoot the Hawkeyes out of the zone, but they weren't able to do it. It was only after they finally started attacking via the drive that they found any success.
Given that neither Aaron Craft or Shannon Scott are shooters, they have to make zone defenses pay with their driving ability, but that didn't happen today because Craft couldn't keep control of his dribble, and Scott wasn't all that interested in getting into traffic.
While every single player on this team, save for the two true post players, are able to hit three-pointers, the inability of any of their guards to do it consistently will be their ultimate down fall. This is not a new finding, but it was definitely reaffirmed in this game. When your team's two best shooters are a pair of guys who play power forward, you're going to struggle to score simply because you don't have guards who can hit simple threes at the top of the key.
First Responders. I was interested to see how Ross and Lenzelle Smith responded in this game after combining for just 12 points against Michigan State. Against Iowa they combined for 32 points, with Ross scoring 22 of those points. It was definitely an improvement scoring-wise, but Ross had three or four possessions in a row down the stretch that cost the Buckeyes a possession every time.
I wonder if the outcome of this game would have been different had Marc Loving been on the court down the stretch instead of Ross.
Time for a New Lineup? I doubt Thad Matta will be changing the lineup any time soon, but if I changed it, I would probably bring Shannon Scott off the bench moving forward, and put Marc Loving at small forward.
This would get a shooter at the top of the key, as Lenzelle Smith would handle the ball more. It would also get Loving and Ross on the court together, as those two may ultimately be the Buckeyes' best scorers.
While Matta likes to have three guards on the court, Loving can handle the ball pretty well, and could pose a problem against an opposing three-guard lineup down low. The fact that Ohio State got 61 minutes and just eight points (and seven turnovers) from Aaron Craft and Scott tells me that going with just one point guard wouldn't be a bad thing.
Offensive Defense. This was the worst defense we have seen all season from Ohio State, and that might even include the football team. After Iowa scored 37 points in the first half, I expected the Buckeyes to tighten things up a bit on defense, and they almost did for a moment. Ultimately, however, Iowa went on to score 47 points in the second half, and Ohio State had no answer for anything the Hawkeyes were doing.
Iowa scored 30 of their 37 first-half points in the paint, mostly on drives that couldn't be stopped at the front end or the back end. For as aggressively as Iowa drove the ball, the Buckeyes should be extremely disappointed that Shannon Scott was the only player to block a shot. Even Aaron Craft had defensive lapses, losing his man and committing a few foolish fouls.
Quick Thoughts. … Even though Iowa proved to be a tough matchup for the Buckeyes, the game still came down to too many unforced errors by Ohio State. They turned the ball over 17 times, and only half of those were because of stellar Hawkeye defense. … Just because LaQuinton Ross can go coast to coast after pulling down a rebound doesn't mean that he should. At times, he's more wild with the ball than Rick Vaughn. … Another reason that I think Marc Loving should be on the floor more is because he's fearless on the drive, and one of the few Buckeyes who can actually finish or get fouled – and he makes his free throws. … It was good to see Sam Thompson score a little bit in this game (8 points), after scoring 18 against Michigan State. The one thing you don't want to see is a big game followed by an invisible game. … I haven't seen an Ohio State team pass the ball this poorly since the Orange Bowl. … It's going to be nearly impossible for the Buckeyes to win a regular season title after this loss. Losing a home game to a team that you should beat means that they will now have to beat a team on the road that they shouldn't – and they already missed doing that at Michigan State.
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