First Thoughts From OSU's 58-49 Win Over the Badgers
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every basketball game against Wisconsin is a lot like a man-sized sculpture. It generally takes the better part of the first half before it stops looking like a giant slab of rock.
This game was no different. It didn't start resembling a basketball game until about the 12-minute mark of the first half. The good thing, however, is that it was completely expected.
Wisconsin slows the game down, and the Buckeyes generally play whatever type of offense their opponent is playing. The bad thing is that the opponent dictates the style, but Ohio State is versatile enough to match up against different formats.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, their slow pace does not mesh well with the Buckeyes' defense, which needs no help being stifling. The Badgers only had six offensive rebounds, with just two coming in the second half. They simply had too few possessions, with too many of them being empty.
Maybe it wasn't Wisconsin who dictated the style after all?
The Man. I have said a few times in the past that Deshaun Thomas needs to work in the post more and focus on the intermediate game. With his shooting struggles in his last outing, he seemed to agree with my assessment because he only took one three-pointer in this game, and yet had one of the best offensive games of his career.
Thomas scored 25 points on 10-17 shooting, and showed every aspect of his game in doing so. The bulk of his points came off of the dribble, and even down in the post he put the ball on the floor and was unstoppable doing so.
He tried to put the bad game against Penn State behind him and came out firing. Unfortunately, he also came out missing four of his first five shots. He then went to work in one-on-one situation after one-on-one situation, making 9-12 of his field goal attempts the rest of the way.
In a strange way, the more Thomas engages defenders, the harder he is to defend. When he simply floats around outside, he's just taking what comes to him. But when he gets the ball on the wing or at the elbow and takes the game to the defense, they have very few answers. All they can do is hope that he misses.
The Buckeyes only had 10 assists in this game because Thomas did so much on his own, and that's especially true when you factor in that four of those 10 assists belonged to Thomas.
Bizarro World. I'm guessing for the first time in history we have witnessed a game where Aaron Craft was the team's leading rebounder (7), and Deshaun Thomas was the team's leading assist man (4). I'd go back and actually look to make sure, but that seems very unnecessary.
Help Me Out. Why in the world would the Buckeyes ever need to help out on defense against the Badgers? They aren't that hard to defend, after all. It would seem that the smarter thing would be to just stick to your man, rather than helping out, because the Badgers aren't necessarily tremendous finishers either.
I would rather see Wisconsin try to finish a drive instead of allowing an open three-point shooter. Granted, they had some very ugly three-point attempts, but shooting 11-28 (39.3%) is good enough to get a win on most nights.
Answering the Call. In a game where every point counted about twice as much as it normally does, Thad Matta turned to LaQuinton Ross to help him out, and he got what he needed.
Ross scored eight points against the Badgers, which is like 16 points in a normal Big Ten game. He looked comfortable and confident, he didn't look like the sideshow that he can sometimes resemble.
Ross was strong with the ball, and quick with his shot. Matta needed him to give the Buckeyes a boost, and Ross didn't hesitate. He stepped up, and it's a good thing that he did. He also defended well, and certainly looked like he earned more minutes.
One game after scoring 16 points, Sam Thompson took one shot and went scoreless. That should never happen, but because it did, Matta had to turn to Ross. A game like this will do more for Ross down the road than a game like Penn State did for Thompson, and it certainly does more for Matta's confidence.
Quick Thoughts. An aggressive offensive game by Aaron Craft, coupled with Deshaun Thomas and LaQuinton Ross playing together at the same time almost seems too good to be true. What's next? Amir Williams grabbing an offensive rebound, putting down a power dribble, and then going back up and throwing one down? ... It was good to see Williams get a little emotional, but it was his six rebounds that were more important. Also, I've avoided talking about his hands as much as I can this season because until something changes, there's really no reason to keep harping on it. Nobody is blind to it. ... Aaron Craft plays defense like a pitbull biting a tire. He can swing for hours and never lose grip. ... I liked the offense running through Thomas in the post, especially when it ends in a Ross three-pointer. Hopefully we can see more of those two together. ... It's amazing how fast this game looked when the Buckeyes decided to run those few times. It almost looked sped up compared to the slow motion I had gotten used to. ... Lastly, yes, that was a dirty foul by Traevon Jackson.
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