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Last updated: 01/28/2014 6:31 PM
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Men's Basketball
Rob's Buckeye Basketball Notebook
By Rob Ogden

Free Throws Costing Buckeyes

By far, Ohio State's worst statistical category when comparing the Buckeyes with the rest of the Big Ten is free throw shooting.

The Buckeyes rank 11th in the league with a free-throw percentage of 68.6. They rank 209th in the nation in that category.

That's a lot of wasted points considering Ohio State ranks fourth in the Big Ten in free throws attempted.

Coach Thad Matta said he's tried many different drills over time to improve that percentage.

"You can't simulate game situations with free throws in practice," he said. "But shooting them when you're tired after practice, shooting for consecutive makes, making 50, making 100, running if you miss. I've done everything imaginable." 

At 67.6 percent for the year, Amir Williams is the third-best – or third-worst – free-throw shooter among Ohio State's starters.

Williams said they've had the same free-throw routine since he's been a Buckeye.

"We shoot 25 free throws after practice every day and we also shoot them during our shoot around, so it's the same thing each and every day."

Williams said Matta doesn't use video to analyze technique and motion flaws.

"We just get more reps up and continue to shoot to try to help get that confidence back up at the free-throw line," Williams said.

Matta has seen the declining numbers at the line, and said for that reason, they've probably shot more free throws in practice this year than they ever have in the past.

Despite Struggles, Penn State can Shoot

Penn State has just a single win and six losses in Big Ten play, but three of those losses have come by a combined seven points.

"They've been in every single game they've played this season," Matta said. "They've had some of the craziest losses I've seen in terms of how the ball just didn't bounce their way."

The Nittany Lions' defense ranks last in the Big Ten, allowing an average of 72.6 point per game, but they boast two of the league's top scoring threats in junior D.J. Newbill and senior Tim Frazier, a preseason All-Big Ten first-team selection. 

Each averaging more than 16 points per game, the pair is the highest-ranked one-two scoring punch in the Big Ten.

"Frazier and Newbill have shown throughout their career that they can go in your gym and get 30 on you," Matta said. "You've got a pretty good feel of who they're trying to get shots for, and we've got to do a great job blocking those guys down as best we can."

Buckeyes Remain Ranked – Barely 

For the third consecutive week, Ohio State has dropped in the polls, and this time is barely hanging around.

After a week that included a loss to Nebraska and a win over Illinois, the Buckeyes fell from No. 17 to No. 24 in the AP poll and fell from No. 15 to No. 23 in the Coaches Poll.

The No. 24 AP ranking is the lowest for the Buckeyes since they were unranked in January of 2010.
That team came on at the end of the year, reached No. 5 by the end of the season and made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan State fell to No. 7 after losing to Michigan at home last week. The Spartans were without two starters in the loss.

Michigan, meanwhile continues its climb towards the top. The Wolverines were unranked two weeks ago, but now sit at No. 10 after three consecutive wins over top-10 opponents.

Wisconsin and Iowa, both victims of the Wolverines, dropped out of the top 10 to No. 14 and No. 15, respectively.

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