Buckeyes Hope to Not Waste More Opportunities
By Rob Ogden
More than anything, non-conference games against far-inferior foes are about getting better. Wins over Morgan State and North Florida aren't going to give the No. 8 Buckeyes any sort of boost in the polls, but they do provide Thad Matta's team with a chance to improve.
Last Wednesday night, junior Sam Thompson said they didn't take advantage of that chance.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"We wasted an opportunity tonight. We won't do it again," Thompson said via his Twitter account minutes after the Buckeyes' 63-52 win over American Nov. 20.
Ohio State shot just 35.7 percent from the floor and 18.8 percent from 3-point range in the closer-than-expected victory.
In the second half, American pulled within as few as six points of the Buckeyes.
"The opportunity that I was talking about in my tweet was the opportunity to play for The Ohio State University," Thompson said Sunday as the Buckeyes prepare to face Wyoming Monday night. "Every time we put on that uniform, every time we step out on the court in front of our fans it's an opportunity, a privilege that we have to play for this university and represent this university. We didn't come out and play the way that we need to play when we have that opportunity."
A "waste," Matta said, is probably the best way to describe to describe the Buckeyes' fourth win of the season.
"I just didn't think we got better," Matta said. "That was probably the biggest thing. We were okay, but I don't know if we played at the level that I wanted to play at."
Maybe the biggest of the Buckeyes' problems has been their shooting woes.
Ohio State scored just 52 points in a Nov. 16 win over Marquette, and now rank 11th in the Big Ten in scoring with 70.8 points per game.
Only Northwestern (70 points per game) ranks lower than the Buckeyes, who are nearly 7 points behind the pace of the 10th ranked team. No Ohio State player ranks in the top 20 in the league in scoring.
After the win over American, Matta said he thought his team lacked the confidence needed to step up and make open looks.
Point guard Aaron Craft, shooting a career-low 34.5 percent from the floor this season, couldn't put his finger on exactly what is hindering the Buckeyes.
"It's frustrating," he said. "It's probably a combination of things. Maybe confidence. We've put the time in. Right now I think we might be doing a little too much thinking, might be pressing a little too much. We just need to trust in the work that we've put in and trust in our teammates. We need to focus on being ready to make a play with the ball."
Shooting wasn't the only problem, though, Thompson said. The effort and energy lacked, as well.
"I don't know if there is any one thing that we can point to during that game, but we did not come out and play the way that we needed to," Thompson said. "We didn't play like we have only 32 guaranteed games this year, like we have only a certain number of home games this year. That's something we can't allow to happen again if we're gonna become the team we want to become at the end of the year.
"Coach Matta told us in the locker room that we have a finite number of games that are guaranteed this year and it's our duty to go out and play as hard as we can every time we step out on the floor."
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