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Last updated: 02/03/2014 10:58 AM
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Men's Basketball
Around The-Ozone Water Cooler: Which Former Buckeye Would Ensure OSU's Best Tourney Run?
By the-Ozone Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With Ohio State's clutch win at Wisconsin over the weekend, it appears that their NCAA Tournament lives have been saved for another week at least.

So, with renewed postseason talks around the office, the discussion quickly turned to the hypothetical. Namely, if you could transport one former Buckeye onto this team, which Buckeye would you pick to ensure OSU's best tournament run?

How far back do you look? Jerry Lucas is one of the all-time great college basketball players, and John Havlicek is right there with him. Jim Jackson is one of the greatest Buckeyes ever. Dennis Hopson is still the highest-scoring Buckeye ever. What about Greg Oden, a #1 NBA draft pick? Or maybe Evan Turner, a national player of the year. Deshaun Thomas took this team to the Elite Eight a year ago, so why not him?

Or maybe it's none of the above? After seeing our picks, feel free to add your own suggestions below.

Tony Gerdeman: Thinking about this question, my mind immediately goes to Greg Oden because he was an absolute monster. He would have given this team a dose of the toughness that they absolutely need, not to mention a dominating force in the paint both on offense and defense. What he wouldn't have done, however, is help improve Ohio State's perimeter shooting, which is the larger problem for me.

So that leaves somebody who plays on the perimeter. Jon Dieber is a nice thought, but I want somebody who can get a shot up on their own off of the dribble. Evan Turner could certainly do that, and was a national player of the year, but I want a better shooter. Deshaun Thomas could get a shot up on most anybody, but wasn't necessarily all that great at taking defenders off of the dribble.

That's why I'm going with the perfect combination of Diebler, Turner and Thomas – Michael Redd. He would immediately make the Buckeyes a better three-point shooting team, and could kill a zone all on his own. He can put the ball on the floor like Turner, and still has possibly the best crossover in Buckeye history. He was also a crafty lefty in so many different areas, just like Thomas, but could drive with ease almost whenever he wanted.

Michael Redd would complement this team perfectly. There would only need to be one point guard on the floor at a time, and Redd could move between the two and three depending on who else is on the court with him. The offensive lulls would be less frequent because there would be so much focus on Redd that others would find themselves open more often.

Guards drive teams through the NCAA Tournament, and a backcourt of Aaron Craft and Michael Redd sounds pretty devastating to me.

Rob Ogden: What does this team lack the most? A dominant scorer, and a dominant post presence. Who can be both? Greg Oden.

In his one season at Ohio State, Oden dominated the Big Ten, averaging 15.7 points per game to go along with 9.6 boards. He would give the Buckeyes a single player to run their offense through, and allow everyone else to fill in as role players, which is what they are.

In conference play, starting center Amir Williams is averaging 7.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds. He's nearly seven-feet tall, but at times, Williams easily goes unnoticed on the court.

Very few of Ohio State's upperclassmen have developed into what coach Thad Matta had likely hoped, but Oden was a star from his first time on the collegiate court. Not only would the addition of Oden make the team better, but it would make every player on the team better. Far more shots would open up on the perimeter as defenses keyed on Oden, and when guys like Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross are able to knock down shots, the Buckeyes are tough to beat. The team's shooting percentage would likely skyrocket. During the 2006-07 season, Oden ranked second in the Big Ten with a field goal percentage of nearly 62 percent.

And that's just the offensive side of the ball. Imagine would Oden's 7-foot-stature would bring to an already aggressive Buckeye defense. He led the league in both rebounds per game and blocks per game. Oden's presence alone would take Ohio State from bubble team to title contender.

Patrick Murphy: Ohio State has a lot of deficiencies this year. Who would be better to help them than the best player in Buckeye history?

Jerry Lucas was a consensus three-time All-American, two time AP Player of the Year, two time Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and most importantly a member of the only national championship team in OSU history.

If you are adding someone to help make a deep tournament run, a player who played in two Final Fours would bring a lot of experience.

With a career scoring average of 24.3 points per game, Lucas would help an Ohio State offense that has struggled to put the ball in the basket. The 6’8” power forward shot better than 62% in his three years, better than anyone on the current Buckeye roster.
Knocking down shots would be one advantage, but Lucas also would add to the rebounding. He averaged 17.2 rebounds per game, twice as many as OSU’s leader.

With Lucas in the lineup, the Buckeyes lineup would be one of the most diverse teams in the country. Thad Matta could bring Shannon Scott or Lenzelle Smith Jr. off the bench, helping the second unit considerably.

With Lucas and LaQuinton Ross on the court together, Aaron Craft would have passing options that would open space when he drove down the lane. Ross could be more of a spot-up shooter and Lucas could score in a variety of ways.

The Buckeyes would be instantly better with Lucas on the team and they would add to an already experienced roster.

Ohio State’s Sweet 16 Streak, which appears to be in serious jeopardy this year, would seem much more doable with one of college basketball’s best players suiting up.

Brandon Castel: I know a lot of people would probably be quick to say Jon Diebler. In fact, I think most Ohio State fans would love to add Diebler's deadly range to just about any team in school history, but what this team needs more than anything is a stabilizer, a go-to force who can control the game when things get tough. 

It would be nice to add a guy like Diebler from long range, but if this team had a guy like Jared Sullinger inside, it would open things up for LaQuinton Ross and Amedeo Della Valle outside. Sullinger isn't a perfect player, and it's hard not to pick Mike Conley Jr. because of his ability to take over a game, but with Craft and Scott already on the roster, a guy who can dominate the post -- and ideally keep Amir Williams from having to play important minutes -- would make this team incredibly dangerous come tournament time.

Then again, Evan Turner could probably have done that all by himself, but I'm going to stick with a healthy, more mature Sullinger. 

John Porentas: The Buckeyes need a shooter and a post presence. That means choosing which problem is bigger. If it's post presence, the Buckeyes need Greg Oden. If it's a shooter, Jon Diebler.

The way I see it, Oden is the guy.  A post presence would force the opposition to pack in the defense and play off perimeter players. Oden would bring his own scoring, but the scoring from the wings and guards would also improve since defenses would have to account for Oden. It would be a boon to LaQuinton Ross as well as guys like Lenzelle Smith and Shannon Scott.

Oden is also a defensive presence that would allow OSU's quick guards to take more chances. That means more steals and more fast break opportunities.  Diebler is tempting given the current shooting, but Oden helps with both the inside presence AND helping the current back court and wings be more effective.  Oden also controls the glass, leaving guys like Lenzelle Smith with more opportunity to be out on the fast break and be more offensive minded instead of having to do so much of the rebounding work.

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