Know Thy Opponent: Ohio State Buckeyes

  • 01/05/2010 7:00 am in

Ohio State Buckeyes v Notre Dame Fighting Irish

We’ve reached out to Bob Baptist, the Ohio State basketball beat writer for The Columbus Dispatch, to answer five questions for the Ohio State edition of Know Thy Opponent. You can read the Dispatch’s OSU basketball blog, Hoops & Scoops, here and follow Bob on Twitter here. The transcript of our Q & A, conducted via e-mail, is below:

Tough start in the Big Ten for the Buckeyes. A 65-43 blowout at Wisconsin and then a 73-64 loss in Ann Arbor to Michigan. What’s the quick synopsis of why Ohio State has struggled in their first two conference games?

Very quick synopsis: They don’t have Evan Turner making plays for every other player on the team, and every other player on the team save for William Buford needs Turner to do that for him.

The loss of Turner (18.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 5.9 apg) has obviously been a major blow. When does Ohio State expect to get him back into the lineup?

The team’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Grant Jones, told me Sunday at Michigan that Turner was scheduled for an X-ray Monday and that, if all looked good, his activity would be increased this week. If his back tolerates the increase in activity, he could return to the lineup within the next two weeks.

Assuming Turner comes back and is the same player he was early in the season, what’s the ceiling for this team? Sweet 16? Elite Eight?

It could take awhile for Turner to get back in the flow he was in, but Ohio State’s schedule lightens up after a game at West Virginia on Jan. 23, so I think it could have a very good February leading into the tournament. And I think the tournament selection committee will take Turner’s absence into consideration for how Ohio State played early in the Big Ten.

That said, I think this team at best is a Sweet 16 team. It’s too reliant on making outside shots, isn’t a good rebounding team besides Turner, is vulnerable inside defensively if Lauderdale isn’t in the game and gets no offense off the bench unless Jeremie Simmons is hitting his threes.

Looking at the boxscores for the past few games, the Buckeyes are only playing seven players. How big of a problem is depth going forward?

It’ll be eight when Turner returns. P.J. Hill will go back to the bench and be their defensive spark when they need it, and Simmons can bring scoring off it, even if he hasn’t the past two games (his nickname is A.O., for Automatic Offense).

Where they really are vulnerable, as I said before, is inside when Kyle Madsen gives Dallas Lauderdale a blow. He can be scored over and isn’t a threat to score. So far, they’ve gotten nothing but garbage minutes from Zisis Sarikopoulos and Nikola Kecman. Matta keeps saying they’re going to be factors before the end of the season, but so far it’s just empty rhetoric.

This matchup with Indiana is certainly a game fans had penciled in as a win prior to the season and with road games at Minnesota and Purdue coming up, this is a game the Buckeyes need to win. What do you see as the keys to this game for Ohio State?

They need to make shots, something they did prior to the conference season starting but haven’t in the past two games. I don’t think they’ll have a problem defending Indiana, except maybe giving up some threes. But, especially at home, they need to get back to shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Especially with two more road trips coming up.

Filed to:

  • marcusgresham

    I'm sick of seeing Indiana kids going east to play in Columbus (even if I do think Matta's a pretty good guy)

  • NCHOOSIER

    It didn't help that we had Mike Davis who recruited the South and not in his backyard. He is a good guy, so I'm glad to see he is doing well in his backyard….the South.

  • Dropping 2 games in a row and coming back home to Columbus. This is not a good thing for the Hoosiers. I was pulling for OSU to beat Michigan, just because of that fact.

  • IUMIKE1

    Having lost 2 in a row and them seeing 2 more road games on their schedule after our game is probably not a good thing for us but is also a good test for us.It does get under my skin somewhat when Baptist says he doesn't think they will have a problem defending us except “maybe” ” some” threes. Also noticed that he stayed away from the “most fans had a win penciled in at the start of the season” part. I like the viewpoint from the other team's beat writer / blogger and would like to see it continue so I hope this didn't sound like nothing more than bitchin' and whinin' just MHO.

  • Looks like Turner might be a go tomorrow now, according to Baptist:

    http://blog.dispatch.com/hoopsscoops/2010/01/tu

  • IUMIKE1

    Almost forgot there is a nice interview with VJ3 by Jason King at Yahoo sports page.

  • aceman07

    You know, sometimes a team in a funk stays in a funk and that's what I'm hoping for tomorrow night! I don't think Turner will play because I don't think Matta is the type of guy to chance further injury for 1 win so I think IU has an outside chance of staying in the game. If they stay in the game until late I think we're starting to figure out how to win late so a close game could turn into a win. The key to this game is rebounding. OSU isn't strong in the paint and like Baptist said, they're not a good rebounding team. They're struggling on offense and we're a pretty solid defensive team (at least we play hard on defense) and we aren't going to outscore anyone so I think if we can win the battle on the boards and get a few second chance opportunities we can hang around long enough to make it a game. We'll see!

  • CreamandCrimson

    Just saw this on CBS Sportsline.
    Gary Parrish writes: “Evan Turner will be available to play Wednesday against Indiana if he makes it through Tuesday's practice without complications, Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting.

    Baptist attributed the report to a “source close to the program.”

    Turner broke two bones in his lower back in a game Dec. 5 and has missed the subsequent six games. Ohio State is 3-3 without Turner, a stretch that includes an 0-2 start in the Big Ten. Turner was averaging 18.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists at the time of his injury. He's considered a lock for the lottery if he enters the 2010 NBA Draft.”

    Turner's potential return, a desperate Ohio State team and a Big Ten road game. This will be a very difficult get for the Hoosiers.

  • GFDave

    I find it hard to believe that Turner is going to play. I think this is a smoke screen designed to make our game preparation more complex.

  • I'm not worried about Turner playing, there's no way he's in game shape and his return could actually mess them up rhythm wise for a game or two. It could actually be a good thing for IU.

    What does worry me is that we have a very young team coming off a huge win heading into their first real road game, and they'll be going up against a team absolutely desperate for a win. That's a recipe for disaster!

  • Kelin Blab

    First a team with NO inside game will blow out IU. Evan turner or not, I think IU will be in this game if they limit turnovers, make F/T's and get some ez shots on the road. J.Rivers v Evan Turner coming off a month or so off, I like the match up

  • marsh21

    OSU did not look impressive against Michigan and if IU stays sound we have a chance. If our turnovers stay around 10 and make more FT than they attempt which means we don't settle for 3 pointers we should be in this game. Freshman on the road for the first time???

    GO IU!

  • IUDan

    Despite being an IU grad and die-hard fan, I am ALSO an OSU season ticket holder (cheer for them outside of 2 or 3 games a year). Watching them this season, I think IU could be in for a tough night – even without Turner. Diebler and Buford are deadly from outside, especially in their building – PJ Hill is an adequate PG with a decent shot, and Jeremie Simmons can really light it up from outside as well. We will really need to defend the perimeter, and not let Lighty/Buford slash to the basket.

    OSU really needs this win, and their backs are against the wall, so they will come out strong – they have been defending well, particularly at home.

    All that said, I'll be a few rows behind the visitor's bench with my IU gear on, cheering on the Hoosiers.

  • HoosierSmitty

    I don't see how Evan Turner plays tomorrow. He broke his back! If he plays, that's just freakish, and probably very risky!

    Is OSU really that desperate to put him on the court?

  • cooper

    Tough break, no pun intended, for Turner. Seems like a great player who is injury prone. With that said, if he can play I could still see him scoring 10 pts and having 8 rebounds. Some guys are just good enough to score regardless of time off.

    IU has no match for him if he is anywhere near full strength (which he isn't). He is too strong for anyone on IU 1-4, and way too quick for TP or Jobe. If he plays IU should be very physical with him. Frankly, I've never heard of anyone else on their team and I follow bball quite a bit so I guess thats a good thing.

  • plane1972

    You SHOULD have heard of these guys. They are year-in-year out Top 15 recruiting classes and David Lighty is one of those guys you think should have graduated by now. He is really good, and got supplanted by Conley at the point. When he is on, he is dangerous. Very capable of lighting it up from long range. Diebler can open the floor as an inside/outside threat for his size. Dallas Lauderdale concerns me about as much as anyone. He's a big presence and more agile than Pritch. I could see 2 or 3 quick fouls on Tom early on. Then what do we do?

  • IUDan

    Generally agree – although Lighty is not a point – more of a 3 (he was in the same class as Conley). That being said, he is a great defender and a very smart player. Lauderdale is more of a defensive presence, and has struggled offensively with Turner out – but you're right – TP could have trouble with him. What will be an interesting matchup is who they put on Watford – they dont' really have anyone with his combination of size, agility and shooting ability, so will be interesting how they defend him. My guess is they will put Lighty on him.

    Go HOOSIERS!