First Thoughts From an 82-58 Win Over USC Upstate
By Tony Gerdeman
- I never really fault a team for starting slowly against an opponent that they know is inferior. After all, how can you take a school that you've never heard of seriously?
Even after playing South Carolina Upstate, in three years if these two schools play again, the seniors on the Ohio State backetball team will be like, "USC Upstate? Never heard of 'em."
That's the danger with these glorified exhibition games. At least back in the day you had heard of "Marathon Oil", even if you didn't know they were a basketball team.
First Thought - While things went slowly in the first half, Thad Matta gave his team enough of a message during halftime to make sure that they knew for certain who they would be playing in the second half.
The game was never in doubt, and the Spartans never threatened, but for a while the Buckeyes only did what they had to do. They ended up being outrebounded 30-22, which is disappointing.
Jared Sullinger—he of the debilitating back issues—was the only Buckeye to record more than two rebounds. When you look at the slow start, and the lack of rebounding, I think it's safe to assume that some extra effort was lacking.
But then again, after finals and before the holidays is when this sort of thing happens. I know my own effort lacked all throughout college, regardless of finals or holidays.
Constant Thought - After every game I am compelled to write about Deshaun Thomas simply because he's always doing something that makes me want to talk about him.
Tonight it was his work in the post. He scored ten of his 23 points in the paint and never hesitated to work on his man down low. He was actually pretty emphatic about working for position as well.
As of now, he's not really getting double-teamed down low, but that might have to change. In fact, the way he's scoring right now, defenses might want to double him everywhere—even in the layup line.
I think the most amazing sight that I saw from him tonight was his last three-pointer. He was wide open and clearly was looking to pass instead of shoot. Nobody would have faulted him for taking the shot because there was nobody within fifteen feet of him. Finally, with nobody to pass to, he took the first reluctant shot of his career, and drilled it.
Rotational Thought - After seeing Sam Thompson play on television in high school last year, he instantly became the one freshman I was looking forward to watching more than any other. He showed much of the reason why tonight.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Inserted for, I assume, defense and energy, he also provided offense and electricity.
Everyone will remember his two dunks, but what I liked most was his one dribble pull-up 18-footer. He sank it without batting an eye, or touching the rim. His form was perfect and his confidence was as high as it has been all season long.
I've said here before that the mid-range is a lost art and most players have no middle ground. Thompson has that middle ground. He's got floaters and jumpers, he just needs more time to get comfortable...not that he didn't look remarkably comfortable tonight.
What would be really nice is if this performance is rewarded with actual playing time against a legitimate opponent. If it doesn't, you have to wonder what will, short of an injury or two.
If you look at the box score, Jordan Sibert only got seven minutes on the court. Is Thompson the Buckeyes' new seventh man? Would that also mean there is now an eighth man?
This was probably the first time many Buckeye fans had noticed Thompson. He will be an All-Conference performer likely next season, so get to know him while the bandwagon still has room next to the heater.
Pressing Thought - I know a lot of people were bothered by the way Ohio State struggled against the Spartans' full-court press tonight, but I chalk that up to playing USC-Upstate during the middle of the week during winter break.
With Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith's press-breaking abilities, when they are actually keyed in, they're not easily affected.
Consider me officially unworried until this happens during conference play in big games.
Doctored Thought - People were wondering why Sullinger was playing so many minutes tonight, but would it shock you to know that Matta has actual medical personnel on staff to make sure things are going okay?
Also, in case you didn't know, Sullinger has the ability to communicate with those medical persons and convey information regarding his back. They then take this information and process it by using said medical knowledge to decide the best form of action to take.
If the bulk of that information consists of Sullinger saying, "I'm fine", then the medical personnel really have nothing to process, do they?
Aaron Craft gets a steal against USC-Upstate
Photo by Jim Davidson
Final Thought - I love to watch Aaron Craft steal the ball. I'm not ashamed to admit it. He finished with five tonight, which was great to see.
However, one of his steals came with his back towards the ball.
Let me repeat that—he stole a ball that he didn't even see coming.
We're talking Jedi-level playing of the passing lanes, here.
In other words, what he told the Spartans on that particular steal was, "This is not the entry pass that you are looking for."
Season Stats Year to Date
Sullinger Shows Rust but Boosts Buckeyes - by Ben Axelrod
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