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A lot of things became much clearer last night, as the Buckeyes lost the close one at Michigan State, and Iowa beat an undefeated (B10) Wisconsin team....there really are no "bottom feeders" in the Big 10.
I have never questioned Mattt's coaching decisions, and usually would never comment on them, but the "Scott Prayer" play has many scratching their heads an asking some simple questions:
1) why was he handling the ball on that final play.?.(Thomas was used for the throw in pass)
2) Where was Craft and what was his role.?
3) Was Mata anticipating a foul call?
4) Would he really want Scott to be the foul shooter? Three point shooter?
5) Thomas trailed the play and it was apparant he or Smith were not involved in
the final attempt to tie the game. Thet are the best 3 pointer shooters on the team.
The shot taken by Scott somewhat resembled what I saw taken by my Grandson's 7th grade team in a recent similiar game. The only iron it drew was on the ceiling rafters. I truly felt sorry for Scott, andwondered why HE was put in that position after a time out, and hopefully on a play drawn up to tie the game with a three...we had 4 seconds I believe.
Alll of that brings me to this, and I am sure all close Buckeye round ballers fans know..ITS GOING TO BE A LONG FINISH TO THE B10 SEASON
I don't think this young Buckeye team can consistently be counted on for any type of consistent play, at home or on the road. The slow starts and mistakes being made by this team, I attribute to coaching and inept regiment of attention to detail. The last couple of games we came out and were a text book for how not to start a game...Matta needs to have this team run a sure fire set play for a quick bucket to mentally get this team in gear...or pass out No-Doz to each player in the locker room.
One thing I am puzzled about, and correct me if I am wrong..hasn't Amir Williams lost all but one opening tip since he has jumped the center position to start the game? Why not use Thompson
A weird thing also happened at the MSU game, and tell me if I am wrong....did Slam Thompson play in the 2nd half? I don't think he playedmuch if he did....I have to ask why?
We were out rebounded 24-14 in that half,,,,,we needed him....anyway..the frusturation is over....ha ha......bring on Iowa(wait, is that a good thing (?)..ha ha)
Matta pretty much went with Craft, Thomas, Scott, Smith and Ravenel in the second half. Craft, Scott and Smith give you good defense but you just sacrifice way, way too much offense with that 5. It basically says to me that Matta is going to live and die this year on the defensive end of the floor. I enjoy basketball and I especially enjoy uptempo, offensive basketball. This team apparently is just not geared for that. If you had Thompson and Ross on the floor with Thomas and Craft/Scott you may be able to play more uptempo and have a better halfcourt look. You sacrifice defense with that team and Matta is not willing to do that. Also, the lack of any post presence whatsoever on the offensive end is killing this team. We cannot kick the ball inside to Williams or Ravenel for points. Thad has got to recruit a post scorer and soon. Not sure what the so-called recruiting experts saw in Williams. He is the true definition of a stiff....I've never seen a player play so straight up and down as he does. No explosiveness at all. Couple that with terrible hands and you have trouble. Also he does not seem like a highly motivated kid. Sadly it looks like he is not going to pan out.
My conclusions about the BIG and our team were reaffirmed last night:
1) The BIG is to basketball what the SEC is to football. The competition is too tough and no matter how good the eventual BIG regular season or BIG tournament champs are, they are going to have some losses and aren't going to look pretty at times. I think this conference has a good chance at putting 4 or more teams in the Sweet 16 and a couple in the Final Four. A game like we saw yesterday is dress rehearsal for NCAA tournament.
2) TOSU's halfcourt offense is very mediocre because we basically have one scoring threat and seriously lack shooters. Smith Jr. is a good all-around player, but his shooting just isn't good enough. Thompson has improved offensively, but he's not there yet and needs another off-season to work on his game and think more like a scorer. Ross has the potential, but is turning the ball over too much and still has not adjusted to the in-your-face defense played in the BIG. Craft remains mired in a shooting slump and Scott's shooting is still wild and inconsistent.
To counter this, we need Craft and Scott playing together for 30 minutes. We need tenacious, on-ball defense leading to steals, turnovers, and bad shots from an opponent that will create fast break transition opportunities for us. Improving the number and percentage of fast break and transition opportunities as opposed to half-court possessions is what we need to do. When we are in the half court offense, both these guys need to drive to the basket. They can get lay-ups or dish off to Williams or Ravenel, neither of whom are getting involved in the offense. I wouldn't mind seeing Della Valle get a few minutes here or there to give him a few minutes when either Craft or Scott is on the bench.
In my opinion, this is the obvious adjustment Matta needs to make. We need to play to our greatest strength relative to the competion. We are simply not going to be able to beat the best teams in a slow down, half court type of game. Speed up the pace, get the transition game going, our odds are greatly enhanced.
Good point about Ravenel and Williams. Neither is an effective post player with their back to the basket.
Thanks for all of your input, guys..very well said, and I want to say, that in my opening post remark, when I refer to coaching...it is not the talent or level of Matta and assistance coaching that I am talking about, its the entry into the start of the game coaching.....when a team is flat, you have to address that and quick.....we have been doing that the past 3-4 games.....slow starting and letting the other team set the pace......(except Michigan) but we did struggle wih some dumb turnovers there too...When I coached a few years ago, I would make a coaching change in the first couple of minutes if I saw a player was not "with it" to start the game....outside of Craft and probably Thomas..a lot of these guys are coming out and Ho-Humming the game and it has shown.....as My Cousing Vinny said..."young Uts"...ha ha
There were alot of factors in the MSU-OSU game of why they lost the game just not your bitching about Scott. Why can't Sam Thompson make free throws in games? Why can't Aaron Craft hit open three pointers when no one is guarding him? Why can't Aaron Craft not turn the ball over four times in game when he has played the position since his freshman season? Why does Smith Jr. always choke versus a ranked opponent? You have four other guys on the court and no one can score other than DT. The half court offense is atrociously bad. No one is able to move without the basketball. This is a huge factor and the coaching staff needs to find ways to get this guys moving around and getting open shots. This team is a poor shooting team and this OSU team has to rely on defense to keep it close and give them the best possible chance to win. Don't you think Matta and his staff already know this information. Matta needs to have a ball hawking strategy but if you don't have a second string that can execute it. You are $hit out of luck! Ross cannot guard smaller and quicker forwards. It is not option, it is fact.
It's very hard to judge about this team. I agree with BigJimmie on Amir. This guy is terrible. Why not put in McDonald in there for a period of time and see what he can do. Once that ball gets lower than his waist - Turnover guarantee. How are you 7 ft and can't play a post up position. Absolutely horrible player.
Now on the half court offense- it's unwatchable. But if we don't have scorers what can we do. Thomas is all we have, but then again, there are times I think he knows that and forces to many bad shots.
There were always two complaints I had against Matta: not using the bench, and always allowing the opponent to set tempo.
He has addressed the first and has been solid in using an 8-man rotation. This is good to see. Unfortunately, there aren't enough guys who can shoot among those 8. I agree that a quicker substitution might help. Maybe go to 9 and give Della Valle a chance?
A Craft-Scott combo would help us set tempo. I really don't see that there is much of a choice at this juncture other than to do this.
Our half-court offense just isn't very good. If Mich St. had done a better defensive job on DT, they would have run us off the floor. If Matta doesn't step on the gas peddle and push tempo, Wisconsin will run us out of the gym.
Some time you have to really gamble when coaching..I have seen coaches replace all 5 starters wiht bench guys in the first 3-4 minutes of a game....sometimes it works out sometimes, not.....right now I think there are a few things evident....a) Williams is not a B10 quality post player...he is about a 4 on a 10 point scale...., b) Scott is a good ball handler and passer and defeder, but he can't shoot...c) Ross can play,but his head is messed up as to his "role" on this team....plays tentative......d) Thompson is a heck of a leaper, but not a shooter.... e) Smith Jr could star in Dr Jeckl and Mr Hyde wiht his play....f) nothing has changed since the opening tip off of the first game-Only Thomas and Craft can be counted on for a solid game, most of the time......its going to be a Looooooong year!
Matta needs to go out on the court, draw a line and tell those to step over it, that want to play for him and make a difference, emphasing that it is going to cost them real hard, as he is going to run their azzes raggged and into the ground on Defense and a high pressure game that will guarentee they represent The Ohio State University in a playing style that everyone will be proud of..and then go do it.....it might work..right now I see a confused, lazy bunch of guys just going thru the motions......they need to be challenged...
This post was edited by Bigjimmie 15 months ago
Many of these thoughts and criticisms are valid, in my opinion, but much of it has to do with the fact this is still a young team (based on experience) and they've played an overall pretty tough schedule. Has this team struggled, at all, against average teams? The only games they've struggled in have been against high quality opponents (I'm including Illinois in this because of the way they were playing up to that point in the season, including the game against OSU, not how they've responded since).
The B1G is TOUGH this year, and as bigjimmie said, there are no easy games. This team is continuing to learn and grow. They didn't play their best ball, and lost by 3 on the road at MSU. Similar to what transpired against Duke and Kansas, they are in position to succeed, they just have not gotten over that "hump" yet.
Now I'm not making excuses for guys not making open shots or grabbing rebounds that they should get. There is much for these guys to improve on, obviously. I just think the entire season is going to be a grind for every team in the B1G, and those that come out of it with a profile good enough to make the NCAA tournament will benefit greatly.
I don't care if OSU ends up with an 11-7/10-8 conference record this year, which is very possible. It gets them into the dance. They have 13 conference games left, meaning they need to win 7-8 more to guarantee an above .500 conference record. I wouldn't doubt for a second they could still end up at 12-6.
Matta's teams always, always get better as the season progresses. This team will be no different, especially with its youth and inexperience coming into the year.
I heard Matta talk on 97.1 last week about DT and how he is getting better at managing the flow of the game and even said that he would rather see DT take some "offensive possessions" off vs. sacrificing with "rest" on the defensive end. This tells you where Matta's mind set is for this team in general. He knows offensively we are not good so he is selling out on winning with Defense. We will win more games if we play like we did against scUM which is turning TO's into points more than your opponent and doing ENOUGH teh rest of the game to hold on and win.
I read an arrticle on the Sparty game......the play call was to have Shannon drive up with DT trailing with the thought in mind to get the ball to DT but Matta said that if it seemed like someone was going to foul then try to get the shot off. Izzo even stated that he told his team to foul ONLY if DT got the ball and not anyone else. Why? Because he knows the odds are in his favor to let anyone else shoot other than DT. I do not have a problem with Scott bringing it up the court there because he is much better at penetrating and creating than Craft is......he just needs to grow with the experience and make better overall decisions.
I also do not have a problem with seeing Craft and Scott on the floor for a lot of minutes and i even like Scott running point more than Craft. Scott is faster with the ball and creates and can penetrate which leads to creating space for others to score.......BUT those other players have to score. Scott has been tremendous on defense as well so with Craft AND Scott on the floor your defense is that much better.
I disagree with some of the knocks on Ravenal. He is by no means an offensive "threat" but he has proven to be capable of scoring inside but also the 15 ft jumpers. Amir is awful....awful....awful. He should play no more than 10 minutes a game.......unless he gets the ball WIDE OPEN and can dunk it then he stinks. I would much rather give those extra 10 minuts to ROSS and get him 20 min a game....
DT played all 40 minutes.....anyone else see that as a problem? scUM - 37 min Purdue - 39 min Illinois - 38 min.......the young man will be dead before the end of the B1G season playing that many minutes a night with the pressure that he HAS to score 20 + a night to ensure we have a good chance to win the game. Take 5 minutes from DT and give them to Ross.
This conference is tough......no game is a gimmie (maybe except against Penn St and possibly Nebraska). Beyond that every game is going to be a battle adn we can not afford to come out of the gates and get down early. We got out to great starts against scUM and Purdue and Nebraska....all wins. Illinois and Sparty...bad starts....losses. Although i do give our team credit for bouncing back with a run to get back in the game.
Bigjimmie...I agree with you that we should have Sam Thompson jumping center.
The next 4 games must be won and someone else on this team must emerge has a scoring threat. I do not envision us winning the next two (scUM and IU).....but it would be good if we could split them.
I am glad we only play Minnesota one time and it is at home......At this point I see us finishing 4th - 5th in the conference.
I think you are being generous giving Amir a 4 out of 10........ lol :)
Ross would not be messed up if he played more like 15 - 18 min a game......I stated this before but if he continues to get 10 or less min a game he is going to transfer.
I really thought LSJ showed some flashes last year for his ability to score but he has really done little on the offensive side of the ball. He could very easily be that second consistent scorer on the floor.......and we need him to be that guy. He is doing all the right things on the other side of the ball (defense and rebounding).
Stop giving Craft a pass....he's been bad this year.
williams is about a 2 right now. thomas needs more rest or he will not last the season. smith jr and craft have been disappointing but craft is the only one who can run the team(although he threw some very poor passes against msu. ross needs more playing time as does thompson. it really is remarkable that we played that poorly and only lost by three. these guys have to improve their foul shooting if they can't hit their outside shots. this team needs to beat another good team to really begin to believe that they are a good team. someone besides thomas needs to start catching the ball and shooting an open jumper when it is right there. all these guys look terrified when given a wide open jumper
all good objective posts. agree with just about all that has been said. let's all hope we keep improving and our offense really improves. love to watch the bucks.
not a VIP
I wouldn't call Craft "bad", DBL B, I look at his defense as his contributon to this team...I have never expected him to score in double figures, only occassionally.....making turnovers, like aganist MSU, was not good, but without his play, we would really be in the soup this year. When I said " all we can count on is Thomas and Craft"...I was stating that they pretty much make the footprint of this team and no one else has really stepped up on any kind of consistent contribution that can be counted on. Smith Jr is a mystery, as are Ross and Thompson....Scott is from game to game...Ravenal and Williams are not going to carry this team....
Watching the Iowa game now Bigjimmie. You have been very effusive in your praise of Craft. He is without question a great defensive player and gives supreme effort. However, he is a bad offensive guard. There's no other way to really put it. He may have 10 or more points tonight, I don't know. Hell, he can score 20 tonight for all that matters. He's just not very good on the offensive end of the floor. He can't shoot the ball, committs untimely turnovers, is not a great ballhandler and really doesn't make the other players on the offensive end better like a good point guard should. We are in the process of blowing a 24 point lead. We should win this game but this is a very flawed basketball team. We can point out the deficiencies of every player on this team but we cannot keep leaving Craft out of the mix as to the problems this team has. Your support of Craft is admirable but he's not a great point guard and because of his tremendous effort and hustle people tend to overlook his complete lack of offensive game. By the way, you still have to scratch your head at times at Matta.....we look clueless against the press. I'm glad he received a raise and I'm glad he will be here for a long time but he has to improve greatly on game days for this team to win a NC before he leaves here.
Other than his outside shooting, which I agree has been poor this season, none of the other criticisms are warranted. Craft's defense is as good as it gets. He may be the best defensive player in the country. His passing and ballhandling are very good, as indicated by his assist-to-turnover ratio. He is also effective at getting the ball to the rim. This is my objective analysis.
On the more subjective side, Craft plays with as much heart as any player we have ever had. He is a fan favorite with good reason, and motivates his teammates as a great floor general, point guard should do. With a player like Craft, these intangibles are so strong, they become measurable and show up in the statistics in his column and that of others in the box score.
I believe Craft has been a great influence on Scott and has made him better. In my opinion, he should be starting along side of Craft and they should be in the game together for 30 minutes. If Matta unleashes this combination, we've got another Final four run in us.
i like craft very much but his poor shooting seems to be affecting his passing as he has started to commit more turnovers than he used to. he also is holding on to the ball way too much at the end of close games and even seems unsure on the foul line. there is no one on that team that plays with more heart, but right now he is playing very, very tight.
he wasn't a great shooter last year but he wouldn't pass up an open shot if he had one. now it seems he will only shoot out of desperation. he also was able to drive to the basket last year with much more success than he has shown this year. many times this year he has missed easy layups when going hard to the basket. he just seems very tight right now. i hope he can play his way out of his slump because i don;t see anyone else on the team who can do what he can do.
Jag, usually I agree with your posts but on this one not so much. Again, it's because of Crafts heart and effort that we as fans give him a pass on his lack of offense. As much as Ross is a one dimensional player (scorer) and is not a good defender, Craft is a one dimensional player (defender) and is not good on the offense end. I can't give him a grade of "very good" as a passer and ball handler. He's average in both categories. He does take the ball to the rim....however, when do you ever see him take it to the rim and then dish it off for an easy 2 from a teammate? Rarely. When Craft takes it inside he goes all the way to the rim. Last night Scott penetrated, drew the defense and then had an easy look to Ravenel for an uncontested layup. Craft does not do that. And his assist to turnover ratio may be good....I have not looked it up. But you cannot deny that his turnovers tend to be untimely and far too often late in games. There's been some suggestion that he gives so much effort and expends so much energy that late in games he's spent and that's when he struggles. This could be valid. Matta needs to rest him then. I'm not calling for Craft to not start nor to not get his minutes. And his intangibles are important to be sure. I would love to read an NBA scouts report on him. My guess would be that he is considered a top level defender and below average in all aspects on offense. A point guard on the offensive end has got to make the players around him better....at this point in time I don't believe you can say that Aaron does this on a consistant enough basis. My concern is fans love his hustle and effort so much that he really can do no wrong in their eyes and they don't put enough of our offensive woes on the point guard production or lack thereof.
Shep - I'd have to find the article again, but after the Ohio State win over Michigan, there was an article with many quotes from Beilein stating he's absolutely positive Craft could stay in front of/well-defend the high-level point guards in the NBA. He's basically shown it in every matchup with Burke, along with every other PG he has guarded.
In the same article, an NBA scout, who attended the game, essentially made the statement that if Craft had a consistent jumper, he'd no doubt be on an NBA roster. Take it FWIW.
We will agree to disagree on some points.
But I am in full agreement on one point you made and I have always been a huge proponent of resting Craft. I was screaming for this last season as I said in post after post that putting Scott at point and moving Craft to the 2-spot would help Craft's offensive production as he could rest more and wouldn't necessarily be forced to expend as much energy guarding the BIG's excellent point guards.
His legs have got to be tired and he no doubt mentally fatigued, which I believe is causing him to have the jump shot "hitch".
If you watch DT, he is playing 40 minutes, but by the end of the game, his defense and rebounding suffer. He is conserving energy to be able to score. Again, Matta should give him a few minutes on the bench toward the middle of the second half to recharge. Nobody should ever play more than 35 minutes, and I think it would be addition by subtraction to keep Craft and DT at an average of around 32 or 33 minutes per game.
You can see some NBA evaluations on-line. Last I looked, Craft was projected to be drafted in the 2nd round, but I don't see this happening unless his outside shot improves. He has got to be able to consistently hit a college 3 to even get much of a look.
This post was edited by JAG24 15 months ago
There's never been a question about Craft's ability to guard the basketball. He's most likely the best on-ball defender at the guard position in college basketball. He just is not a great offensive player and is not a good shooter. If he had a better offensive game there's not doubt he would get a shot at the next level. He still may because of his intensity and defense abilities. The NBA however is a game of great offensive skill and you don't see many defensive specialists in the league. And those you do are usually wing defenders or post players, not point guards. Ronda, Conley are a couple of guys that come to mind that are great defenders. In fact early in their careers they were defense first players. However, both have worked very hard on the offensive end. Rondo is now an all-star and Conley is a very good point guard. If Craft can somehow find a jumper and a better offense who knows.
With the reasonably good play we are getting from Scott there really doesn't seem to be any reason why Craft can't get a 4 or 5 minute blow in the first half and one in the second half. Does he need one for an individual game? No....but it's a cummulative affect. By the end of the season it will show
Something I've noticed throughout the season - Craft rarely, if ever, finds himself in a spot-up position, with his feet set, and an opportunity to shoot. When he does, which, again, is rarely if ever, he tends to make them. Too often his only shot attempts are those off the dribble, and of the rushed variety.
I wish I had the time or means to look into his shooting percentages for the year and compare the difference between with his feet set/without his feet set. But, I think it would help show just what type of shooter he is and can be.
Previously, with a Sullinger down low on the block, he did get those shot attempts, but I feel like this season he's always moving, looking to receive the ball in a position to setup someone else. Without a low-post option and the complete lack of post entries in the offense this season, it's making it very tough for Craft, or others, to get many clean looks from a set position.
Big game tomorrow. The Craft-Scott combo is going to be needed to excerpt pressure and push tempo against Wisconsin.
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