Five Things We Learned

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Last updated: 03/21/2014 1:40 AM
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Men's Basketball
Five Things We Learned in a Loss to Dayton in the NCAA Tournament
By Tony Gerdeman

1) This was the only way for Aaron Craft's career to end. A late, inexplicable flagrant foul to give Dayton a three-point lead, followed by a three-point play by Craft to tie it. Then, with 17 seconds to play, a crazy, corkscrewing reverse layup to give the Buckeyes the lead, followed by his man taking the ball right at him and scoring on him. Then ending with Craft putting up one final desperation shot in the paint that refused to fall. It was a frustrating finish for Craft, and it mirrored his and the Buckeyes' play all season long. So close at times, but always prolonging the inevitable. There will be a time to say more about Craft's career, but this ending is a frustrating reminder that both Craft and the Buckeyes were just too flawed this season to fare any better than they did.

2) I am excited to see what Shannon Scott can do as the lone point guard for 35 minutes a night. It was a very confusing season for me, as for long stretches of the season the Aaron Craft - Shannon Scott lineup was one that actually stifled the Buckeyes offense. Of late, however, when Scott was in the lineup, that's when Ohio State was successful. In this game, Dayton built their leads with Scott on the bench, and the Buckeyes would always come back once he returned to the court. This happened despite his shot not falling. Next season he will have more players around him who can shoot, and it would be a bit of a surprise if he's not very near the top of the Big Ten in assists.

3) The Buckeyes can't afford to have starters who are detrimental to success next season. Thad Matta went with a small lineup for a good portion of this game because there was no point in going with Amir Williams or Trey McDonald at center. Together they played just 27 minutes, combining to finish 0-2 from the field, going scoreless. They were only slightly better on defense. I don't see the Buckeyes being able to sign a freshman who will be able to come right in and play at center, so I would expect Matta to go out and find a graduate transfer who can start next year. There is no way he can feel comfortable relying on the returning post players. There is still a role for each of them next year, but Matta has to be looking for an upgrade. If he misses on a newcomer, that upgrade has to come from somewhere, whether it's Williams, McDonald or incoming freshman David Bell. It is not possible for it to be that difficult to improve the post performance from this past season.

4) If Sam Thompson is able to take the way he finished this season and apply it to next season, then maybe this season wasn't a complete waste. Thad Matta has repeatedly talked about Thompson's potential, and we saw so much of it on display against Dayton. Matta got him involved early with a three-pointer, and kept him active with called plays for alley oops. Thompson sort of needed pushed down a hill to get jumpstarted this season, but don't be surprised if he's fully operational for his senior season.

5) I don't know if LaQuinton Ross is coming back, but I do know that he should. If he doesn't, then I fully expect Mark Loving to step into his spot, with help from incoming freshmen Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'sean Tate. That's a ton of potential, but a senior at that spot would be much more agreeable to success, I believe. Plus, Ross gives Thad Matta the ability to go small, and I don't know if Loving can do that yet. If Ross comes back, I think next year's team will be better than this year's team. If he doesn't, then I won't know what to expect, other than 20 wins and another NCAA Tournament berth, of course.

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