Ohio State Basketball Report Card: Grading the Buckeyes

January 24th, 2011 by David Thurman Leave a reply »

Dave Thurman (11:15 am)

It has been an interesting year at Ohio State, as the basketball team has thus far trumped the highly successful football squad.

Don’t get me wrong—a 12-1 season on the gridiron with a bowl win over an SEC team is nothing to sneeze at, but I guess we all expected something special from the football Bucks.

In fact, as good as their season proved to be, it never seemed “great,” probably because of that first-half meltdown in Madison and the fact that they lacked a “signature” win until the Sugar Bowl (and even that game felt like they just held on). 

On the other hand, few would have predicted a 20-0 start for the basketball team, even though most experts felt this would be a very good squad. True, the schedule has been pretty soft, with a lot of tough games on the horizon, but all you have to do is look around the nation to realize how incredible it is to be undefeated this late in January.

Without a doubt this team grades out with a solid “A” to this point, even if depth is no better than a “C.” Basically, the Buckeyes play seven guys, so let’s take time to grade them individually, starting with the upperclassmen.

David Lighty

The “old man” of the team, Lighty has played on some excellent teams and with a bunch of NBA players through the years. Although he has never been a great shooter, this year he has shown improved marksmanship, hitting 45 percent from behind the arc (although still just 65 percent at the foul line).

His strength is defense, and few are better at shutting down an opponent than No. 23, but he is also an excellent passer who is averaging 3.7 assists per game. Even if he didn’t score much (and he is averaging nearly 13 a game), he would be valuable, but this year he has become a legitimate offensive threat as well. Considering his leadership and intangibles, I have to grade David an A to this point.

Jon Diebler

The classic “shooter” is hitting 47.6 percent of his shots behind the three-point line while making three a game. He is a good passer (2.5 assists per game) but a poor rebounder (1.9 rpg) and a mediocre defender in my estimation. Still, he can stick a dagger in the heart of an opponent with his threes and is a smart player who rarely turns the ball over. I’ll give him a B+.


Dallas Lauderdale

I have to confess that the big guy frustrates me because he has never really progressed beyond being a shot blocker who throws down a few dunks. His rebounding, in particular, is not what it could be, and he is hitting only 33.3 percent from the charity stripe.

Still, on a team lacking depth, it is essential that Dallas log minutes, and he is a shot-blocking phenom who understands his role. I will give him a C+ (graded a little higher because he has accepted fewer minutes with no pouting).

William Buford

Sometimes an enigma to me because he has never become the scorer I thought he could, William is a guy who can do a lot of things well, including playing some point guard. He averages 13.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.4 apg, which is pretty good stuff. He has also been very good at the free throw line. I will give him a B+.

Jared Sullinger

What can you say about the big guy? We all had high expectations, but how many of us thought he would be averaging 18 and 10 at this point and carrying the team in big games? I love his hands—when he gets his mitts on a ball, it is his—and he is also a fine passer who adjusts to the defensive scheme being thrown at him.

Honestly, I think he is not only the national freshman of the year, but to this point the national player of the year as well. Grade: A+.

Aaron Craft

The reason the basketball Bucks are 20-0 is due to the development of Craft, who gives the team a true point guard. He is a heady player who is surprisingly physical, and besides being a very good passer (4.9 assists per game), this young man has shown he can shoot enough to keep people honest (42.9 percent on threes).

At times he shows he is a freshman, but for the most part he has taken care of the basketball with a better than 2-1 assist to turnover margin. He also leads the team with 36 steals. My grade is an A-.

Deshaun Thomas

A very talented player, Thomas never met a shot he didn’t like and seems to have an aversion to passing. Still, he can score, sometimes in bunches, and it is nice to have a guy off the bench who with the potential of lighting it up. His big shots against Illinois were critical to that victory, and he shows no fear.

Thomas is also is a good offensive rebounder and is averaging 9.5 ppg and 4.2 rpg in just 16 minutes of action per contest. He has also been money at the line and has the potential to become a star if he sticks around. I’ll give him a B to this point.

It will be interesting to see if the freshmen can withstand the rigors of a long season in the physical Big Ten and whether or not lack of depth bites the Buckeyes in the butt. But for now, this is a team that has surpassed expectations and been a lot of fun to watch.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com


Comments are closed.