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By Matt McCoy
To listen to Basketball Bucksline from Monday January 21, 2013 click HERE:
Other than Deshaun Thomas, who continues to lead the Big Ten in scoring, the basketball Buckeyes have been offensively challenged at times this season. Ohio State has scored just 56 points in each of their last two games, beating Michigan 56-53 but losing at Michigan State 59-56.
On 610 WTVN's basketball Bucksline Monday, former Buckeye captain and 610 WTVN analyst Tony White said it might be time for a line-up tweek.
"You look at Ohio State offensively and you just say, as it's going right now, this team is probably not going to win a Big Ten championship because other than Deshaun Thomas, they can't get anybody to score consistantly on the offensive end," Tony said. "No matter how good you are on the defensive end, if you can't get consistantly two guys in double-digits and have at least a two person threat, you're not going to beat good teams."
The lack of a second scorer was never more obvious than Saturday at Michigan State when Thomas scored 28, matching the point total for the rest of his teammates.
For the past two seasons, we've had numerous Bucksline calls, e-mails, or Twitter messages, wondering why LaQuinton Ross does not play more. If you've listened, Tony has consistantly backed the coaching staff saying Ross is a talented player, but is work in progress, especially on the defensive end...But given Ohio State's scoring issues, Tony's mind is changing.
"I have been watching LaQuinton Ross and at times my eyes bleed at watching him play basketball but he's getting better defensively and the only person on the court other than Deshaun Thomas that teams are keeping keep an eye on, on the offensive end, is LaQuinton Ross. Maybe it's time to put LaQuinton Ross in the game more and see what the kid can do."
If it's not a new contributor like Ross, then someone already getting heavy minutes is going to need to become more effective offensively. We were also joined on Bucksline by SportsRappUp.com's Jeff Rapp who said the obvious candidate is Lenzelle Smith Jr. who sparked the Buckeyes last March in their run to the Final Four.
"Remember in that NCAA run, teams were worried about (William) Buford coming off a curl and if that action was covered, they'd get the ball reversed, there was Lenzelle in the corner and 'wham'...he hit several of those," Rapp said. "It also helped to have a guy like Sullinger down low, but it's an important point to make that this is a hard working kid who has a body of work that shows if he stays with it, there's reason to believe that by the end of the year he's going to get it right."
But lately, Smith has been in an offensive funk. Since scoring 17 against Nebraska in the Big Ten opener, the junior guard has scored a total of 20 points in the last four games and has made only seven of his 26 shots (27%.)
Smith's offensive production has also disappeared when the Buckeyes have played quality opponents.
In five games against ranked teams, Smith is 13-45 (29%) from the floor, 5-25 (20%) from 3-point range and is averaging only 7 points. On the other hand, in the 12 games against unranked teams, Smith has been a key factor, making 50 of his 100 shots (50%), including 24-44 from 3-point range (54%) and he is averaging 11.3 points.
To his credit, he has contributed in other areas, including rebounding. He had 10 boards in wins at Purdue and home against Michigan, but as the teams second leading scorer behind Thomas, a more consistant Smith would clearly benefit this Buckeye team.
Remember that we are on the air with Bucksline every Monday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. You can be part of the show by calling at 821-9886 (821-WTVN) or by e-mail. Contact us at email@example.com.