So I was wrong that the Buckeyes would come out and defend their home court against Louisiana Tech. They played with better energy, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the Bulldogs. The same was true for our overtime loss to Memphis last Friday. Matta’s squad has now lost 3 in a row with a big home game coming up against #10 Virginia. Here’s my notes from the last 2 games.
- Giddens got the start against the Bulldogs which was the right call. He’s a better role player at center than Thompson right now and his rim protection is forcing a lot of misses near the basket. Thompson is a little more skilled than Giddens with his back to basket and if he can make free throws, he should get crunch time minutes if we’re ever winning towards the end of the game.
- Lyle’s defense was bad and his mistakes were all over the place. In transition, on pick-and-rolls, on dribble handoffs, etc. We just can’t have him defending the opposing team’s best guard right now. He’s not ready for it.
- A.J. Harris needs to slow down. It’s like he’s out to prove he’s the fastest guy on the court. He would be much more effective if he was in more control of his speed. When he uses hesitations and change-of-pace dribbles, good things have happened.
- WTF are we doing on dribble handoffs? Everyone seems unsure whether to switch or not. We need to figure it out ASAP.
- Dear Matta, please stop putting our center on the inbounder. We have no steals on inbounds plays and it puts us in bad matchups. This play was a direct result of this silly tactic.
- I’m going to keep track of lineups where we play without a traditional center because I think it’s an interesting twist that could work for this team. We went without a center starting at 5:22 left in 1st and we went even overall in one minute. With 13:28 left in the 2nd half, we played without a center for 6 minutes and went +2. Nothing dramatic either way, but I’m keeping an eye on it.
- Alex Hamilton was unstoppable, especially when Lyle guarded him. KDB was at least able to make things more difficult, but he used the pick-and-roll extremely well to create for himself and his teammates.
- I thought we showed an appropriate amount of energy against Memphis. It was our best game so far this season, but a couple lingering problems prevented us from pulling it out: fouls and turnovers. If we can clean those up, we’ll be in much better shape.
- Ok those aren’t the only issues. We cannot guard a fucking dribble handoff. PLEASE FIX, MATTA. THANKS. Also, we always put our hands straight up and let guys shoot freely in the post. Giddens can block a hook shot. Let him go for it! It’s too easy for experienced players to score when they realize they can always get a clean shot off (i.e. Shaq Goodwin).
- We finally tried some 2-3 zone starting at 14:01 left in 2nd half. In 2 minutes we got 2 stops, gave up one wide open 3, and gave up a layup. Timing is everything with the zone. When the other team gets rolling, it’s a good stick to throw in the spokes for a couple possessions to make them slow down and think.
- What the hell was Matta doing at the end of regulation? That was the exact same play we ran about half a dozen times during the game. We couldn’t draw up something Memphis hadn’t seen yet for a chance to win? Predictably, Memphis read the play easily and forced JaQuan to take a terrible shot that he didn’t even get off before the shot clock sounded.
- This game gave us an interesting look at our “no center” lineup. We went without a center starting at about 7 minutes left in 2nd half and went -6 in 3 minutes. Then, with Giddens and Thompson fouled out, Matta decided to go no center for the rest of the game starting from 2:25 left in the 2nd half (score was 75-70) until the end of the game (final score was 81-76). The shocking part was that we only scored 6 points. This lineup doesn’t have a rim protector, but has more space on offense. We did well when we posted up Loving, KDB, or Tate and spotted up around them, but we went away from that late in the game. We need to keep our cool late in games and look for our playmakers in the post.
Despite 3 straight losses there are some good signs. Grandstaff’s defense has dramatically improved from the first couple games to the point that he is pushing for playing time. Also, GIddens keeps getting better and his rim protection is a real asset. Finally, Marc has been aggressive on offense and is scoring 16.6 PTS/G.
Unfortunately, things get harder. Our turnover issue will likely be exacerbated by Virginia’s grinding defense and points could be very tough to come by. I can an envision a 20 point blowout, but I’m also hopeful that we can clean up the fouls and keep things close. We’ll find out soon.