Jon Diebler and the Art of being Selfishly Unselfish
By Brandon Castel
We all miss Jon Diebler.
Photo by Jim Davidson
There, I said it, now we can get on with the rest of this column.
Ohio State fans miss Diebler because he was a deadly three-point shooter who was over 50 percent from behind the arc last season on one of Thad Matta’s most talented teams. I miss him because he was a good kid, a pleasure to interview and a joy to watch.
He wasn’t perfect. No one is ever going to confuse him with David Lighty defensively or ask him to run the offense like Evan Turner, but he was perfectly suited for that team, and he would be a nice addition to this one too.
Diebler was not only a dangerous shooter, he was also an excellent post-feeder, something Sullinger all but pointed out Tuesday. Sullinger said he is often coming off the block because his current teammates are unsure of their angles on the post-feed.
But Diebler was more than just a good post-feeder, he was a willing one. By the time he reached his senior year at Ohio State, Diebler had mastered the art of being selfishly unselfish.
He knew when to take a three and when to pass it up for a better shot. He knew that if he gave it up to Sullinger inside, he would either get it right back, or on the next trip he would have a little more room to shoot.
His unselfishness caused Jared to play unselfishly, because he realized the same thing. He knew Diebler would get him the ball if it meant a better look inside, and he knew that by kicking it back out to Diebler, he would have more space to operate in the paint.
Think about it? Teams were game-planning to stop Diebler, yet how often did he have to shoot over defenders? It all works together. There was a lot of trust between those guys last year and I think a lot of that has been lost this season.
Their two best outside shooters, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas, are guys who don't understand how to pass up a good look for a better one inside. If there isn't a man right in their face, the ball is going up.
That isn’t a criticism, necessarily, because this team would be going nowhere without Buford and Thomas, but like I said, it all works together.
When was the last time we saw Jared make a good pass out of the paint?
The other two starters, Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith, are always passing up good shots, even if there isn't a better one to be had. Again, not necessarily a criticism because Matta is not asking them to be high-volume scorers every night, but right now defenders only have to appear like they are in the area, rather than really being in a guy's face.
It all works together, and right now, it isn't working. This team has forgotten how to play unselfish basketball. How else do you explain a total of 25 assists on 56 made baskets in the last three losses to Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin?
The Buckeyes averaged fewer than 20 made shots in each of those games and they assisted on less than half of those. That is not going to win a lot of basketball games.
So now we have a team that does not shoot the ball well from long-range, and probably won’t at any point this year. It also doesn’t share the ball right now and has an All-American big man who is afraid to play physical inside because of the refs.
That is a recipe for disaster, and it explains why a once-potent Ohio State offense has suddenly screeched to an agonizing halt over the last month.
If this team is going to make a run in March, these players have to remember what made it great offensively, and they had better do it soon or it will be too late, because without a doubt, it all works together, and that's really the only way it can work.
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