First Thoughts From a 70-50 Win Over Lamar
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — I'll be honest, it was hard for me to pay as much attention to this game as I should have given what's going on with the football program right now, and it seemed like the crowd was right there with me.
I would almost go so far as to say that the basketball team was affected by it as well, but of course they were not.
The Buckeyes took it easy tonight and went through the motions. There's nothing wrong with that. You can't always play your A-game, it's just not physically or mathematically possible. It's also not necessary.
Unfortunately, the fans showed up hoping for something to take their minds off of the football team's NCAA sanctions, and I don't think they got it until J.D. Weatherspoon's dunk gave Ohio State 70 points and the fans free fries.
Perhaps the fries will take their minds off of the football program. But I doubt it.
First Thought - I don't want to call this a boring game tonight, but I found it pretty hard to pay attention to. Even Bob Knight couldn't be bothered to watch the entire thing intently, and his kid was coaching!
Clearly I had football on the brain, and I apparently still do with this entire piece being as much about football as basketball at the moment.
You know a game is boring when Gus Johnson is doing the game and even he alludes to how boring it is, and he's Gus Freaking Johnson. He could make roll call at a senate hearing exciting.
"Brown, Sherrod. Burr, Richard. CANTWELL, MARIA!! OH!!! GETTIN' IT DONE, YOUNG BUREAUCRAT!"
Overrated Thought - In games like tonight, I don't like it when talk turns to "killer instinct". As in, the Buckeyes don't have killer instinct because they're only up by 17 with six minutes to play.
Why does every mismatched game have to be a 40-point game or else it details some weakness about the victor?
Besides, isn't the "prolonged torture instinct" more sadistic anyway?
Unhesitant Thought - The thing I liked most from this game was Lenzelle Smith's three-pointer in the first three minutes of the game. It came from a bad angle on the wing, and yet there was no hesitation on his part.
The most telling part about the shot was that it came very early in the shot clock, and it wasn't one of those shots that a player has to take simply because of how open he was. He shot it like it was a normal play for him.
Maybe soon it will be.
Enjoyable Thought - I like watching Deshaun Thomas play defense. If I had said this last year, I probably also would have been accused of rubber-necking at car accidents as well.
Thomas is obviously a different player on defense this year, and you can tell this because he's never standing around lost in thought like a six-year old in right field.
He will follow his man all over the place, but has also gotten better at switching down low. As an undersized power forward in Thad Matta's system, he will frequently be out-sized this year, but he will rarely be out-battled.
Forced Thought - Reserve guards Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott and Jordan Sibert all played at least 13 minutes tonight, which is a ton of minutes for Thompson and Scott at least.
However, the three of them combined to shoot just 2-11 from the field. Thompson went 0-3 while Sibert went 1-5. Was it a matter of players who want more time forcing the issue and having it backfire on them?
Are they feeling the pressure to show Matta something that will get them more time on the court? Or are they simply confirming Matta's intuition about why they aren't seeing the court more?
Obviously Ohio State already has a pretty good starting five, so reserve minutes are going to be hard to come by. However, will there come a point this season when backups don't feel the need to force the issue?
And if it does, is that suddenly when Matta will start rewarding them with more time?
Final Thought - How about Jared Sullinger taking a charge right out of the gate tonight? He's got back issues and foot issues, yet there he was standing in the lane making himself available to be run over like none of that mattered.
And he better knock it off.
Season Stats Year to Date
Win Over Lamar a Wake-up Call - by Ben Axelrod
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