First Thoughts From Ohio State's 99-64 Win Over North Florida
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes may have finally played their most complete game of the season – and certainly their best on offense – against the North Florida Ospreys Friday night. Ohio State shot 69.2% from the field, and that percentage never really wavered through either half. Thad Matta wants his offense to be distributed evenly this season, and it could not have been more evenly spread out than it was in this game.
The Buckeyes had six players score in double figures, a sixth with nine points and a seventh with seven. Not only were the points spread out, but they came from every spot on the court. They scored 36 points in the paint, and 42 from behind the three-point line. Perhaps the only black mark on this game was the fact that OSU only shot 59.1% (13-22) from the free throw line.
Overall, it was an ideal performance on offense. The ball movement was fantastic, and those extra passes were rewarded with made baskets. This is an unselfish team, but it's always good for them to see that unselfishness pay off with points.
No Quit In LaQuinton. While many, including me, have been wondering if it was time to start thinking about giving LaQuinton Ross' minutes to somebody else, Ross showed tonight that he still has plenty of impact left in him. He scored 17 points on 6-9 shooting and never took a bad shot. North Florida left him alone a few times, and he made them pay. Now, he's not going to enjoy that much room most nights, but he took advantage of it in this game.
The other aspect of Ross coming back to the world of the living is that he was able to move the ball quickly and teammates were able to find even better shots. He was very much a complementary player tonight and wasn't really interested in forcing one-on-ones. He caught the ball, and if he had the shot, he took it. If somebody had a better shot, he looked for them. Above all else, however, he finally got to see his shots falling, and for a scorer like Ross, sometimes that's all it takes.
Posting Another Big Number. Amir Williams has set another career high in scoring, with his 18 points against the Ospreys. Obviously, I want to see what he does in Big Ten play, but his effectiveness to this point cannot be denied. He threw several dunks down with authority, and is finally playing as big as the roster says he is.
Sure, his numbers will drop in Big Ten play, but you can't discount the fact that he is now capable of producing like this on any given night. When the Buckeyes' shots aren't falling, it's always nice to have a big man down on the block who can grab offensive rebounds and put them back up and in. Williams led the Buckeyes in shot attempts, which would have been unheard of a year ago, or even a month ago. Williams is no longer showing glimpses of what he could become. Rather, he's showing us who he is, and right now it's not bad.
Pest Control. It's fun watching this team play half-court defense because not only do they have tremendous length, but their shortest guys are the biggest pests. Shannon Scott, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith tip passes relentlessly, and there's rarely a free run to the basket. I don't know how the rules would work, but I'm pretty sure Scott and Craft could play a game of HORSE that involves them trying to top each other with steals.
When a team is playing the Buckeyes for the first time, I think they expect it to be difficult, but other teams just can't simulate what it's actually like once they step on the court. I don't expect to see many teams with quicker hands and feet than the Buckeyes. Even when an opponent gets an open look, often times they are rushing the shot simply because they know they won't have much time.
Quick Thoughts. I think Ohio State might be at its best when Shannon Scott is the best player on the court, but it says something when he only scores nine points with four assists and the Buckeyes still dominate. Against better teams, however, I think he'll need to do more. … There were no issues with confidence in this game. Lenzelle Smith, Amadeo Della Valle and Shannon Scott shot the ball without hesitation, as did Ross. Even Aaron Craft immediately stepped into a 23-footer. Amir Williams was calling for an alley-oop that went awry, but he was still sure enough of himself to call for it. This is a pretty confident team right now, and the production finally showed. … I thought the Buckeye post players did a tremendous job of sealing off their man and allowing Scott and Craft to finish at the rim. Amir Williams is contributing in all facets right now. … Marc Loving was again impressive, hitting a three in transition one minute, and side-stepping a defender for a dunk in the next. His understanding of the game is far above his grade level right now. … I'm starting to think that Sam Thompson is never going to be much of a scorer. With his athleticism, he should be looking for his shot more, but he's just so unselfish. He only took two shots in this game, and for the potential that he has, I don't think that's nearly enough.
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