I went to go work out, (yes I lift), at halftime. It was that embarrassing. I couldn’t take it anymore. A team with such talent, just laying an egg on the court. This team has an identity, and it’s the worst identity that a team can have: inconsistent.
Thad Matta needs to light a fire under the rear-ends of the Ohio State basketball team because this basketball that they’re playing now is simply unacceptable.
The first, and most noticeable, problem is the lack of offense. When they play like they did yesterday, they stand around and just pass the basketball, hoping that DeShaun Thomas will magically get open and make a shot. Sometimes it works, but that’s why they rarely score.
Matta needs to mess with the rotation and get some offensively talented players involved. LaQuinton Ross needs to get at least 25 minutes per game, and I think we need to start seeing more of Amadeo Della Valle. Don’t be fooled by his llama-like mug, the kid can shoot the lights out.
Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. need to step up their offensive game as well. Craft has been atrocious this year offensively, and needs to develop some sort of rhythm if the Buckeyes want to get anywhere come March. Lenzelle, on the other hand, needs to become more involved and take more shots. He’s not a bad shooter, and at times shows sparks of athleticism. Ohio State needs Lenzelle to at least have a few more open looks per game.
Next, maybe it’s time to put Shannon Scott in the starting rotation. Lenzelle needs to step up, but he can surely contribute and step his game up coming off of the bench. Every time Shannon Scott steps onto the floor, it seems like the Buckeyes have some sort of spark. For whatever reason, Thad likes to keep Scott on the bench, but with the way they’ve been playing, I think it’s time for Coach Matta to shake things up.
Amir Williams needs to either get it going or get off of the floor. The Amir Williams I saw against Michigan, I really liked. Somewhat strong, somewhat aggressive, Amir finally showed flashes of decency in Ann Arbor. Yesterday, however, it seemed like the Amir we’ve all come to know. In nine minutes of action, Amir had 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, and 4 fouls. That is simply unacceptable, and if he keeps that up, he might as well just quit all together because that’s not going to be permitted on the Ohio State basketball team.
While I like Ravenel, and he’s not nearly as horrible as Amir Williams, he needs to be way more productive on the glass. I know his play time is somewhat limited, but he needs to make more of an impact. He has a huge body and is somewhat athletic, he needs to make use of both of those attributes.
Finally, Ohio State needs to just come out inspired. Yesterday, they just were not ready to come in and compete. Against Michigan, they were fired up and on the ball. Sure, they couldn’t pull it out, but they competed extremely well against one of the top 5 teams in the country. I don’t know if they don’t sleep well on the road or get bad food or what, but they need to come out way more energized.
At this point, Ohio State is going to be nothing more than a first round exit. Their best player is leaving after this season, and things are going to look somewhat gloomy for Ohio State going into 2014. I have faith, however, that this group can turn it around. They just need to move and score the basketball. Defensively, they’re a decently sound group, but on the offensive side, things need an immediate and massive shakeup.
I know this team plays an incredibly difficult schedule, and I know they’re non-conference schedule did them no favors to get them ready, but I thought this Ohio State team would be a little bit better than they’ve shown. Everyone knew that the Final Four would be a stretch, especially after losing Jared Sullinger and Willy Buford, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be this bad.
For some reason though, I just feel like Thad Matta is going to keep the status quo and it scares me. I don’t want to say that Thad Matta is going to be on the hot seat as he has done so much for Ohio State basketball, but I think this season has exposed Matta in more ways than one. He’s been way too stubborn with his lineups, and he obviously hasn’t motivated the Buckeyes the way he should be motivating them. He hasn’t made his players disciplined enough, and hasn’t expected as much out of them as he should.
The good news is that Ohio State still has some huge games left and has time to prove to America that while they may not be a championship contender, they’re certainly not a joke. I believe that if they get a huge win against an Indiana or even a Michigan State, that Ohio State can have a legitimate run come March. Something has to happen, however. Things cannot stay the same. The lineup needs to look different, the rotation needs to look different, and the fire needs to look different.
Instead of coming out against Minnesota and looking nothing more than average, they need to come out firing on all cylinders. They need to prove that they’ve learned something and that they’re ready to compete. Yesterday was not competing. Yesterday they showed up and were hoping that it would be close. They need to grab the bull by the horns instead of letting the bull beat up on them.
This Ohio State team can be a huge spoiler come March. They’re not going to make the Final Four, but with a little luck and some offensive help, maybe they can make an Elite Eight appearance. Until that fire is lit, however, you can expect these Buckeyes to be nothing more than an 8 seed heading home with 31 other teams joining them.