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Crew fans get more on your favorite team
By Matt McCoy
Moments after Ohio State was undressed 74-55 at Illinois Saturday, Buckeye guard Aaron Craft told Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch, "I still think we're trying to find out who we are and if we keep trying to find our identity on the offensive end, we're going to keep losing like that. We need to go back and play defense."
Translation...this isn't a great, or even good offensive team. There is one player right now, Deshaun Thomas, who is a reliable scorer. But even Thomas, who scored 24 Saturday, was part of the problem, taking some ill-advised and quick shots when Illinois began to run away from the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has lost all three of its games against ranked teams and the script has been the same. The Buckeyes can't put the ball in the basket. Versus Duke, Kansas and Illinois, Ohio State is 63-193 from the floor (33 percent). It will be hard to beat anybody shooting like that. Compounding the problem against Illinois were the turnovers. That's what led to the blowout. Ohio State had 11 in the first half and 16 for the game.
There's still time for this team to become better on the offensive end but the Buckeyes are what they are...limited on offense and better on defense. Craft is as good as it gets on the defense end, Amir Williams gives them a shot blocking presense inside, Deshaun Thomas is improving and is now adequate and Sam Thompson and Lenzelle Smith Junior are above average on the defensive end.
Bottom line, you may see some ugly losses like Saturday again this year, but if the Buckeyes don't let the offense affect their defense, you could also see some ugly wins. That was Craft's point. This is a team that needs to take care of the basketball and dig in defensively even when the shots aren't falling. Ultimately, that is what will win them some games.
I vote in the AP poll and dropped Ohio State from 11th on my ballot last week (they were 8th in the overall poll) to 19th this week. There's a lot of talent on this team with Thad Matta as coach, they will improve as the year goes on and potentially become dangerous in March. Right now they're not dangerous and have been overrated in my opinion.
It's a big week ahead for Ohio State, visiting Purdue Tuesday and hosting undefeated and number 2 Michigan Sunday. The Purdue game is a must. I'll be interested to see how this group responds.
If you're interested, here's my AP ballot this week:
13) San Diego State
16) North Carolina State
18) Michigan State
19) Ohio State
20) Notre Dame
21) Kansas State
23) New Mexico