Skip to content

The key to Ohio State’s season? Finding that third scorer

Nov 18, 2012, 7:36 PM EDT

Thad Matta,  LaQuinton Ross, Evan Ravenel

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – When Deshaun Thomas gets into rhythm, there aren’t many players in the country that can score like him. After averaging 15.9 points as a sophomore, Thomas entered Sunday afternoon’s matchup with Washington in the final of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off averaging 22.0 points early on this season. The 6-foot-7 lefty did nothing to dissuade that opinion on him, either, as he hit nine of his first ten shots from the floor, scoring 21 of his 31 points in the first half, adding eight boards and four assists.

Aaron Craft showed off a bit of a refined scoring touch as well. He finished with 18 points, giving Washington fits with his ability to run off of a pick-and-roll while playing his usual brand of lockdown defense and running Ohio State’s offense like the veteran all-american he is; Craft’s stat-line on Sunday was rounded out with four assists, two steals and just a single turnover.

Do the math, and those two combined for 49 points on 17-32 shooting from the floor and 12-13 from the line in No. 4 Ohio State’s 77-66 win over Washington.

The rest of the Buckeyes?

28 points. 10-25 from the floor. 8-13 from the line. That includes 12 points on 4-5 shooting from senior center Evan Ravenel, a performance OSU can’t exactly become reliant; ‘Rav’ averaged a career-high 3.4 points last season and entered Sunday’s game with a grand-total of two points this season.

But Ohio State is going to have to count on those ‘unexpected’ performances this year; regardless of where it comes from, the Buckeyes need a third source of points.

The first two games of the season, it was Lenzelle Smith. Much was expected of the junior guard heading into this season after he put together a couple of explosive scoring performances during the regular season and a very solid NCAA tournament. Smith was pegged as one of the players to see an increase in shot attempts with Jared Sullinger‘s departure, and the 16.5 points he was averaging entering Sunday are evidence that line of thinking proved to be prophetic.

But Smith struggled with his shot on Sunday, finishing 0-5 from the field without scoring a single point.

“I thought Lenzelle played a heckuva basketball game,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said after the game, and that’s probably a fair, albeit slightly exaggerated, statement. He had three assists and a couple of steals, he didn’t turn the ball over, he helped keep Washington’s talented perimeter attack in check until the second half. But he didn’t score, and at the end of the day, the winner of a basketball is determined by who scores more points. “He’s been 18 or 15 for us, and he knows he has to do that.”

Matta knows, however, that there are going to be nights where Smith’s shot isn’t falling. And he also knows that Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross aren’t exactly ready to be major contributors for this team; and that Sam Thompson, for all that otherworldly athleticism, isn’t much more than an athlete at this point in his career; and that his big men are more adept at taking up space than they are at being even half of the low post threat that Jared Sullinger was.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Matta knows that his team doesn’t need those five to be much more than role players that can consistently do their jobs. But on nights like Sunday, when Smith’s shot isn’t dropping, someone needs to step up.

“[Ravenel] had to do what he did,” Matta said, while also driving home the point that the rest of his bench still performed. “I thought [Ross and Williams] were very effective. Sam Thompson, once he started playing harder and challenging shots, Amir and Q, it’s still relatively new to them. This was a very good test for them.”

“Very excited about the way we played. I told our guys we learned a lot about ourselves in this game.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Texas A&M adds former USF point guard, eligible immediately

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Collins averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, and his arrival could lead to Alex Caruso getting more scoring opportunities off the ball.

  2. Alcorn State announces hiring of Montez Robinson as head coach

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT

    Bethune-Cookman Athletics Bethune-Cookman Athletics

    Robinson has quite the rebuilding job on his hands, but guard LeAntwan Luckett (16.3 ppg) is one of the team’s top four scorers who have eligibility remaining.

  3. Former Arizona State signee headed to Washington

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Dominic Green was released from his National Letter of Intent to Arizona State a couple weeks ago.

  4. New NCAA VP of Division I governance wants to take closer look at graduate ‘transfer’ rules

    Apr 26, 2015, 6:02 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    In addition to making graduates sit out a year, there’s also consideration of the idea that schools can restrict where they can go.

  5. Top 100 point guard headed to Iowa State

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg Fred Hoiberg

    Nick Noskowiak joins former Arkansas guard Nick Babb as players who have committed to Iowa State this month.

  6. Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Skinner_web

    Skinner was the longtime coach of Boston College.

  7. New Alabama head coach Avery Johnson touring with Nick Saban

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Avery Johnson AP

    Avery Johnson is touring with Nick Saban to get more familiar with being a head coach at Alabama.

  8. UAA Day 2: The return of Seventh Woods; Markelle Fultz is the real deal; Josh Jackson’s up-and-down day

    Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    The Under Armour Association has plenty of talented players in its league this season, including former mixtape star Seventh Woods and the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, Josh Jackson.

  9. Nike EYBL Day 2: Malik Monk gets busy; Harry Giles has a quiet outing; Wendell Carter steps up

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Malik Monk had a dominating effort on Saturday while Harry Giles didn’t make much of an impact.

  10. No. 1 in Class of 2016 Josh Jackson has a monster outing at Under Armour Association (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Josh Jackson went for 41 points, seven assists and six rebounds at the Under Armour Association.

  11. Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor returning for junior season

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:19 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Taylor averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game last season, and his decision to return is a nice boost for head coach Shaka Smart.

  12. Iowa State hosts three players, including two who would be eligible immediately

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Graduate students Max Bielfeldt and Tyler Harris were in Ames this weekend, as was former Marquette commit Nick Noskowiak.

  13. Manhattan adds former Ball State point guard Zavier Turner

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Turner won MAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2013-14.

  14. Former Rutgers forward transfers to Tulsa

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Junior Etou averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season.

  15. Former Memphis forward transferring to Alabama

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:33 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    King averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season at Memphis.

  16. Mixtape for Duke’s next point guard, Derryck Thornton (VIDEO)

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline, Under Armor Kelly Kline, Under Armor

    Thornton will fill the void left by Tyus Jones at the point.

  17. Oregon lands four-star Class of 2016 wing

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    Oregon landed a commitment from a former San Diego State pledge.

  18. Maryland guard will return for one more season

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    image

    Maryland returns another reserve guard for next season.