COLUMBUS — Ohio State moved to 2-0 on the season with an 82-72 win over Radford (1-1) Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t the prettiest game you’ll ever see, but it did give us an idea of the kind of season to expect from the Buckeyes this year.
There will be good moments, there will be bad moments, and there will be times when OSU’s stunted roster simply cannot overcome an opponent. What you should still see at all times, however, is the effort that was missing so often last season. That kind of energy is still a focal point for Chris Holtmann, and he wants his team to play fast-paced, which is why he won’t get too upset with them for some rushed offense.
But when that offense starts turning the ball over, then it becomes a problem that needs to be addressed. On Sunday, we learned that Holtmann will need to have that talk with his players in the very near future.
We also learned a few other things.
1 Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop could pose problems for three-guard lineups.
There were times in this game when Jae’Sean Tate was being defended by a 6-foot-1 guard in the paint. It did not go well for Radford. There were other times, however, when Tate was out on the wing and things went better for the opposition. Chris Holtmann is going to have to find different ways to take advantage of the three-guard lineups the Buckeyes will face. One player who is finding his own ways to take advantage of size disparities is Keita Bates-Diop. For the second game in a row, KBD was just TDB (too damn big) for anybody to stop him.
2. The full-court press is going to be a problem.
Of course, when the Buckeyes — who start just two guards — face any kind of full-court defensive pressure, things can get ugly. It was an up-and-down affair up-and-down the court for OSU. Radford is a pressing team anyway, but when I asked head coach Mike Jones if this was his plan against the Buckeyes coming in, he admitted that he thought his team could have some success pressuring the Buckeyes because of their guard situation. Chris Holtmann said after the game that because the Buckeyes don’t press, they don’t see it much in practice. They want to attack pressure as a rule, and will work on it moving forward.
3. You’re going to have to be patient with the freshmen.
In the season opener, all three of Ohio State’s freshmen had their moments. Kaleb Wesson showed himself to have a nice touch down low, Musa Jallow had touch from everywhere, and Kyle Young was an aggressive above-the-rim rebounder. Against Radford, however, Young and Jallow both went 0-for-2 from the field, with Jallow scoring just one point on the afternoon. Wesson still added nine points, but both he and Jallow finished with four personal fouls. This was a quick turnaround for everyone, having played just two days ago, but it was an even quicker turnaround for the freshmen, who are still swimming upstream a bit.
4. C.J. Jackson has to score, but he also needs to be smart about it.
C.J. Jackson needs to be able to score for this offense to beat good teams, so when he’s shooting well like he did today, that’s a great thing. Where he sometimes hurts the team, however, is when he becomes the first option without involving his teammates. The strength of this offense is moving the ball to find the best offensive advantage. That doesn’t always lead to assists, but it does lead to advantageous one-on-one situations with guys like Bates-Diop and Tate. When Jackson is simply shooting from deep before looking for a better shot, the offense becomes a bit stunted. Jackson needs to stay aggressive, but within the offense. That is when he is at his best, which is also when the Buckeyes are at their best.
5. Kaleb Wesson is a taller Terence Dials.
I tweeted this out after the Robert Morris game, and I don’t know if I mentioned it here or not, but I’ll go ahead and mention it again because I like to be diligent — Kaleb Wesson really reminds me of Terence Dials. Neither player is the most athletic post player, but both of them have/had great paint awareness. Not only are they aware of where they are in relation to the basket, but they can feel defenders and they understand the best way to attack them. Wesson still has a long way to go to get to Big Ten Player of the Year levels like Dials managed, but if you don’t see the similarities at some point this year, then feel free to yell at me in person or on the internet.
[Kaleb Wesson photo courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com]