Five Things We Learned in a loos to Penn State

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Last updated: 01/30/2014 10:34 AM
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Men's Baskeball
Five Things We Learned in a Disappointing Loss to Penn State
By John Porentas

1) The Buckeyes had not hit rock bottom coming into this game and they needed to. You would have thought the Buckeyes had bottomed after the loss at Nebraska, especially when they won against Illinois the next time out, but Good Buckeyes that beat Illinois left town and Bad Buckeyes that lost to Nebraska came back. Against Penn State they had a double-digit lead with about eight minutes left in the second half, and ended up losing the game. It was eerily similar to all the losses during the losing streak. Once they got the lead, they played with little urgency. It was like they thought the game was won and Penn State would give up. Giving up a lead late is more a matter of lack of grit than lack of skill. OSU lacked the grit to hold on to a lead, and Penn State had the grit to take it from them. The Buckeyes didn't play like a team that is desparate to win, and Penn State did. The Buckeyes need a dose of desparation if they are going to right the ship and put together some wins. They clearly hadn't arrived at that point when they took the court against Penn State.

2) At least one Buckeye took this loss very, very hard. When Lenzelle Smith sat down at the post-game interview table I poked Rob Ogden in the ribs and told him to look at Smith. Lenzelle had the look of a mortally wounded man about him, a look that you don't see to often in major college sports. He took this loss very seriously and was struggling to keep his composure. To his credit, he expressed himself well despite his obvious pain. If there is one Buckeye who has bottomed out and is ready to lead a turnaround of this team it might be Lenzelle. He is clearly sick of the losing. If he can spread that attitude to the rest of the team, there might be some hope for them.

3) The OSU backcourt continues to be a scoring liability. Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft combined for 70 minutes of play and 14 points. That's .2 points per minute of court time. By comparison, LaQuinton Ross scored 16 in 32 minutes for .5 points per minute; Amir Williams scored 12 in 29 minutes of play for .41 per minute; and Lenzelle Smith totalled 15 in 34 minutes for .44 per minute. If you look at point production per minute of court time, the OSU backcourt is less-than half as productive than the rest of the starting lineup. By the way, Amadeo Della Valle scored 8 in 16 minutes for .5 points per minute, same as LaQuinton Ross.

4) The OSU offense was totally ineffective in overtime. That's probably no real revelation, there are some numbers that kind of quantify just how tenative and ineffective it really was. In the overtime period the Buckeyes got up a total of two shots from the field. The did get to the free throw line twice, but two shots and one make from the field is absurd even if two possessions did result in free throws. By comparison, Penn State got up nine shots and made three of them.

5) The Big Ten is either not as strong at the top as people thought, or is a lot stronger in the middle and at the bottom than people thought. Penn State over the Buckeye, Northwestern over Wisconsin, what gives? Either the top dogs are not as top-doggish as we thought, or the lesser dogs have developed some bite and are fighting back. Personally, I think it's the latter. An infusion of new coaching blood at places like Minnesota and Northwestern has elevated those programs, and you can probably include Iowa in that group though Fran McCaffery has been there a couple of years now. Nebraska is also showing improvement under second-year head coach Tim Miles. The league is getting tougher in the middle and bottom. That will make for a lot of upsets and a very interesting regular-season because there aren't a whole lot of automatic wins left anymore.

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