First Thoughts From Ohio State's 63-53 Loss at Minnesota
By Tony Gerdeman
You'll forgive me if I make this short – I'm still trying to regain my sight after having my eyes gouged out for that last two hours. This was one of those terrible games that teams have that sort of come out of the blue, except there was no blue involved here. This was an inevitability. Granted, we didn't know when that inevitability would hit, but there was no way this team could avoid a shooting night like this for an entire season.
Overall, the Buckeyes finished 18-51 from the field (34%) and only managed to shoot that well because they hit a few shots when the game was already over. Sam Thompson (4-7) and LaQuinton Ross (8-17) combined to shoot 12-24 from the field – the rest of the team shot just 6-27 (22.2%). Just imagine what tonight would have looked like if it was one of those games where Ross and/or Thompson never show up.
In reality, that's the biggest problem with this team – any single one of these players can disappear for an entire game. Tonight, it was more than just one, and they weren't talented enough to overcome it. Minnesota is a good team, and winning on the road in the Big Ten is never easy, but for the second loss in a row the Buckeyes weren't good enough to keep themselves from beating themselves.
The lack of offense at the point guard spot was a detriment yet again, as Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott were just 1-2 from the field combined through the game's first 30 minutes. Those are the two Buckeyes who command the basketball more than anybody else, and they managed to look at the basket just twice. How is a team supposed to win like that?
At Least Ross Showed Up. This was one of those rare games where LaQuinton Ross provided the calming influence over the Buckeyes. He was under control for most of the game and was looking good from three-point territory. His free throws continue to be baffling, but that's to be expected (if that makes any sense). Overall, he did what the Buckeyes needed him to do – he found vacancies in Minnesota's zone and converted. He and Sam Thompson were the only bright spots in this one for the Buckeyes, but even their light couldn't escape the offensive black hole for Ohio State right now.
Time for My Annual Shooting Rant. Stop me if you've heard me say this before, but if you are a guard and you can't shoot, then you are holding back your potential and the potential of your team. I firmly believe that anybody can become a good shooter with enough practice, so I don't really have any patience for a perimeter player who can't shoot from the perimeter.
My belief is that there is very little difference between how good a shooter is and how badly he wants to be a good shooter. Shooting the basketball is the one thing that anybody can do, man or woman, boy or girl. Heck, there's even a film franchise about a dog that can shoot.
This isn't junior high basketball. If you play major college basketball on the perimeter, the only excuse you have for not being a good shooter is because you're happy being mediocre.
Remember when Greg Oden – a right-handed seven-footer who probably had not needed to attempt any type of jump shot since he was eight years old – was able to turn himself into a solid left-handed free throw shooter? You know how he did it? He didn't stop until he could do it. That's all. There is no secret to becoming a good shooter, or no question as to how it's done. The only question is why do perimeter players accept not being able to shoot?
Quick Thoughts. … If teams are going to continue to play a zone against the Buckeyes – and why wouldn't they – the Buckeyes will need to continue getting solid performances from LaQuinton Ross like they did tonight. It would also behoove them to find somebody else who can hit a jumper or two. … I'm repeating myself, but it's completely unacceptable for your starting backcourt to attempt just two shots in the first 30 minutes of a game. I'm not sure if it was fear of shooting, or simply lack of interest. … Yes, this is January basketball and it's relatively meaningless, but a performance this poor is certainly indicative of future results. … Getting back to the two point guards for a third time, what is the point of playing Scott and Craft together when the defense is lacking, the scoring is non-existent and they combine for nine turnovers? Last week I suggested that Scott be benched and Lenzelle Smith should slide down and Marc Loving slide in. That lineup would have done no good in this game, but at least it would have provided more offensive rebounding opportunities. … While I have pounded on the perimeter players tonight, not to be outdone, the Ohio State post players were completely outmatched against the Golden Gophers. Let that one sink in. … I always thought that a basketball team with Aaron Craft on it would never be mentally weak, but this team certainly has issues in that regard right now. I expect it to get better as the season goes, but that's more blind faith than anything else at the moment. … It sure appears like the Big Ten has figured this team out, doesn't it?
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