Breaking Down Ohio State’s Exhibition Win Over Walsh
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn’t a pretty win for Ohio State on Tuesday against Walsh University in the team’s lone exhibition contest, but Thad Matta kind of expected that.
He started LaQuinton Ross and used double-digit combinations in during an 83-71 win over the Cavaliers at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes forced 19 turnovers but also turned the ball over 12 times in a game they led by just nine at halftime.
It appears, at least from this game, Matta has eight guys he feels comfortable rotating, with two others who could see the occasional minute or two off the bench. Here’s a break down of what we saw from each player on the court in the first game of the 2012-13 season.
The Starting 5
Photo by Jim Davidson
23 Amir Williams (6-11, So.) — It was hard to get a true gauge of Amir on Tuesday, because he started the game but only played 14 minutes. He still blocked five shots, including a couple that probably reached the stands, but Matta wasn’t overly pleased with his man-to-man defense in the post. Most of his blocks came on help defense, which is where Williams has always been a dangerous threat on the defensive end. He grabbed five rebounds, but probably should have twice that with some of the loose balls that just slipped right between his hands. It’s early, but it looks like he’s going to be both fun and frustrating for OSU fans to watch this year.
1 Deshaun Thomas (6-7, So.) — What can we say about DT that hasn’t been said? He started slow, but really found his groove towards the end of the first half and into the second half. That’s when he stopped settling for outside shots and started creating his offense down on the block. Thomas said he worked hard on that little turnaround move from the left block over the summer, and it was similar to the move Jared Sullinger used to dominate people with on the opposite side. He was only 1-of-6 from long-range, but only one or two of them were questionable. He did an excellent job getting open off the pick-and-pop and those will go down, more often than not.
10 LaQuinton Ross (6-8, So.) — It’s easy to see why so many people have raved about Q’s ability to score the basketball. He missed on the first shot of the game, but the two
Photo by Jim Davidson
threes he did hit were about as smooth and pure as any shot you will ever see. The scary thing is, he can get that whenever he wants because he’s 6-8 with a 7-foot wingspan. The problem is, he knows that, and there were times on Tuesday where he just decided to throw up a shot. The only real bad one was the one at the top of the arc where Matta said his feet were facing the sideline.
They quickly took him out of the game for a little talk, but the biggest thing Ross needs to do is put the ball on the floor. He can’t always settle for outside shots the way Deshaun did as a freshman. He’s too talented to let that be his only weapon. On the other end, Ross looked like he was trying to play defense, but he just isn’t accustomed to it yet. It’s probably going to take him some time, just as it did with Deshaun.
32 Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (6-4, Jr.) — We didn’t get to see a whole lot of Smith doing anything new on Tuesday, but he did knock down a three and scored on a one-handed breakaway dunk off one of his two steals. He also had three boards and an assist, but three turnovers is too many in 19 minutes.
4 Aaron Craft (6-2, Jr.) — Craft was his usual self against Walsh on Tuesday. He was diving on the floor for loose balls in an exhibition game and he was creating havoc at the defensive end. He finished with six assists and two steals, but didn’t seem to be any more aggressive offensively than he was last year. Maybe that was by design, because Matta said they didn’t run many offensive sets, but three of his five points came on a last-second heave from behind the arc at the end of the first half.
First 3 Off the Bench
30 Evan Ravenel (6-8, Sr.) — A couple weeks ago, a lot of people expected Rav might get the start in a game like this, but the lone senior played pretty well off the bench. He made all five of his shot attempts, and took advantage of some pick-and-rolls to the basket early in the second half. He added four rebounds and a block, but it’s pretty clear most of what Ravenel brings to the table is going to be hustle and hard work at both ends of the floor.
12 Sam Thompson (6-7, So.) — This guy could be one of the greats at Ohio State by the time he leaves Columbus if he can figure out a way to create his own offense. It’s clear Thompson is one of the guys Matta has the utmost trust in at both ends of the floor, and he looked better offensively on Tuesday than he did all of last year. He had a couple dunks and three swats at the defensive end, but his nicest play of the day may have been a little floater early in the first half. That’s something he didn’t have in his game last year.
Photo by Jim Davidson
3 Shannon Scott (6-1, So.) — Scott is another young guy who has a very bright future at Ohio State, and he looked like a much more comfortable version of himself on Tuesday. He finished with just six points and one assist, but Scott did a great job pushing the tempo in transition. At one point, he sliced through two defenders and threw a reverse layup off the glass. On the next possession, he knocked down a pull-up jumper that looked better than any shot he took at any point last season. He also showed a floater and a nice little up and under move.
Emptying the Bench
55 Trey McDonald (6-8, So.) — He was the last of the 10 guys who played Tuesday to check into the game, so McDonald didn’t get a lot of playing time. He seems to move pretty well for a big guy, and has good hands, but there isn’t much else that jumps about his game, at least right now. It’s hard to draw any conclusions when a guy only plays nine minutes, but it wasn’t like McDonald was racing up and down the floor making plays on Tuesday.
33 Amedeo Della Valle (6-5, Fr.) — We didn’t get to see a whole lot of the rookie on Tuesday night, as Della Valle played just eight minutes in the exhibition game. He seemed nervous at first and had a pair of careless turnovers that turned into easy points for Walsh at the other end. He misfired on both of his shot attempts, but at least he showed he can handle the basketball when his defender started pressing up into him. This was the first time he has played in that arena, so it’s unfair to draw too many conclusions, but right now it’s hard to think he will be a part of the regular rotation.
Related Items: Game Story, Box Score, Photo Gallery
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