I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a team that has caused me to switch opinions so often, including during a single game, than the current Ohio State men’s basketball team.
Just last night I was screaming (OK, I don’t scream at the TV anymore since I have a two-year old, but inside) at the TV because I figured center Amir Williams had to be the softest center this side of Velimir Radinovic!
That was the first half. In the second half, Williams showed some emotion following an Aaron Craft three-pointer and, soon after, flushed the basketball through the rim like it was one of my two-year old’s dirty diapers. He was so pumped up you couldn’t help but feel the energy lift in the building.
Now, the sophomore big man has a lot of issues with his hands, specifically when trying to catch a pass or actually hold onto a rebound. I don’t presume those issues will magically go away because the guy learned how to exert some authority in the paint, but it was a good sign.
I’ve had similar feelings this season, inside of a single game, with center Evan Ravenel and Craft, to name a few.
Craft is saddled with having been the point man on two solid teams in his first pair of seasons, including guiding one to a Final Four last year. But he’s lost big-time offensive firepower each of the past two seasons, without adding to the offense much with incoming talent. For example, two seasons ago Craft began his time on the team playing alongside seniors David Lighty and Jon Diebler, both solid offensive players, with Diebler graduating as the all-time leading three-point shooter in the Big Ten, and Lighty shooting around 43% from deep his senior season.
Also on Craft’s first team was junior offensive stud William Buford, who is high on the list of Ohio State scorers, and a player who would become a two-time All-American in Jared Sullinger.
Diebler and Lighty left after that first year, but Buford and Sullinger both stepped up their games even more a year ago, and Deshaun Thomas came more into his own offensively.
Now Craft is left with Thomas, the league’s leading scorer, and little else. He’s being asked to shoulder more of the load and the specific time I’ll refer to, although there have been more, when I threw my arms up in disgust, was the beginning of the Purdue game. OSU had just come off an embarrassing loss at Illinois and Craft picked up two quick fouls and looked lost on the court. Then came the second half when he decided to take the ball to the basket and was a key factor in the Buckeyes getting a road win.
Ravenel has displayed hands that appear to actually be made of stone in one half, only to become a solid rebounder and scorer in the second.
LaQuinton Ross would be on this list, but the majority of his time has been spent in Thad Matta’s doghouse because of a lack of defense and commitment to the offense.
Four of the aforementioned current players — Craft, Ravenel, Ross and Thomas — had solid games in the win over Wisconsin last night. Thomas led the way with 25 points, Craft was in double figures with seven rebounds to lead the team and Ross came off the bench to score eight points. Ravenel took it upon himself to take the ball to the hole late in the game to help put the game away.
Consistency has been looked for all season from this squad, and while it appears they won’t be the high-scoring team we’ve been accustumed to seeing the past four seasons, they could still be a factor in the league and in March.
What makes you pull your hair out while watching this team? Let me know via the “Comments” section.