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Dave Maetzold

Buckeye Basketball: Not a "team" yet.

 
Posted January 20th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

Ohio State's basketball team has been ranked all season long but certain aspects of this team have reeked all season long.

The ranked team led Duke at halftime and stopped second-ranked, unbeaten Michigan last week at the Schott.

The reeked team lost at Duke and was unable to find a decent shot in the final seconds yesterday at Michigan State.

The ranked team blew through the non-conference schedule of cupcakes.

The reeked team lost the only two non-conference games anyone cared about and was blown off the floor at Illinos.

Ohio State may have a few players worthy of being ranked. They also have some players who in certain crucial situations, reek.

Thad Matta has been challenged with finding a secondary scorer for this year's Buckeyes. Deshaun Thomas has shown he can score, but he is not good enough to win games by himself.

Thomas is at times a one man team trying to lead his team through the Big Ten jungle. He has tremendous ability on the court and at times can be an unstoppable scorer.

But he can't do it by himself.

Michael Redd had Scoonie Penn and Ken Johnson.

Greg Oden had Michael Conley and Daequan Cook.

Evan Turner had David Lighty and Jon Diebler.

Jared Sullinger had among others Deshaun Thomas.

Deshaun Thomas should have lots of help. But he's still waiting for Lenzelle Smith Jr. or Shannon Scott or Amir Williams or LaQuinton Ross to shoulder a share of the load.

Note to Thomas' teammates: It's mid-January and the Big Ten season has started.

Ohio State, fresh off a trip to the Final Four, opened the season ranked in everyone's top-5 nationally.

That ranking was based on the assumption more than one guy would be scoring.

Thomas is the Buckeyes leading scorer averaging 20.8 points per game. Smith is next at 10.1. No one else is close to double figures.

This is not a team. This is a show. One lead actor and four guys in supporting roles.

That the Buckeyes have been able to win 13 games with this team is one part weak schedule and one part great coaching.

That they were able to beat Michigan last week added a few more factors like home court advantage and a cold shooting visiting team in the first 20 minutes.

Matta knows the challenge he faces in trying to develop other scoring options midway through the season.

So do his opponents.

What Big Ten coach won't build a fence around Thomas for the rest of the season and dare the other four guys on the floor to try to score?

What happens on the nights when Thomas is not hitting (which we've seen) and Aaron Craft or Smith or Ross or Scott has to pick up the slack?

The Buckeyes have enough talent to overcome the lack of balanced scoring against inferior teams like Nebraska, Iowa and Penn State.

It might get them past Wiscoonsin and Northwestern.

It has gotten them past Michigan and Purdue.

But is the inconsitancy enought to get them past Minnesota, Indiana and a return engagement with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor?

My guess is no.

It will be an interesting run to March. How long it lasts depends on how many horses decide to participate in the pull.

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