I’m not going to lie. I didn’t watch the VMI game as close I usually watch our games. Way back in August my friends and I booked a place in Indianapolis on the assumption that the Buckeyes would be playing for the Big Ten championship. The good news is that we sold our tickets for a lot of money. The bad news is that it’s hard to watch the game at a bar in Indy when Hawkeye and Sparty fans are booing at you for demanding the channel stay on the Ohio State basketball. The other bad news is I watched the entire Iowa vs. Michigan State game. Holy shit that as awful. Neither of those teams should make the playoffs. What a waste of the national treasure that is Gus Johnson.
One benefit of watching the game in this environment is that it’s easier to have casual conversations about Buckeye basketball. A few interesting talking points came up.
- Why aren’t Harris and Lyle playing together? I’ve discussed this previously as something I would do if I were Matta, but I can’t emphasize enough how mind boggling it is to me. It seems like they would compliment each other so well. Harris can guard the better player on defense and Lyle can run the offense where Harris usually plays off the ball anyways. My friends and I could not come up with a plausible explanation for this.
- My friend posed a really interesting question: has Jae’Sean Tate improved from last year to this year? I countered that he was shooting 3’s well early in the season, but he’s also shot 13/29 (44.8%) on free throws this year so you can’t really say he’s improved as a shooter overall. I think his face-up game in the post is better and that has helped our offense, but it’s an interesting point of discussion that he is still mostly the same player as last year.
- Didn’t come up in Indy, but Mark Titus previewed the OSU vs. Virginia game on the Hard Hedge podcast and made an interesting point about our offense. We catch the ball off screens 2-3 feet behind the 3-point arc. It’s a little thing, but catching it closer makes it harder to defend. I noticed Virginia does this exceptionally well. Fortunately, Loving and Grandstaff are not afraid to bomb from a few feet behind the line, but both would shoot better if they got the same spacing while being closer to the line. I think a lot of time this happens because we run the plays mindlessly and are looking to be in the area the play calls for rather than running the play to get open.
Virginia Game Notes
- It’s hard for me to watch Kam Williams and not get upset. Way too often he freelances on defense looking for steals like he’s Russell Westbrook or something and it eventually backfires nearly every time.
- We played the hard hedge well. Giddens shorted the pick-and-roll at least a couple times and gave us an odd-man advantage. He did well to make the right plays in these situations too. Lyle also handled the hard hedge well. He split the trap a couple of times and whipped smart passes around to the open guy.
- I might have been wrong that a faster pace is better for us. We tend to turn the ball over when we rush things. Having 3 or 4 guys on the court most of the time that can work 1 vs. 1 has made our halfcourt offense better than I thought it would be. We might be best to play the slow games that Virginia likes.
- 2 things I liked: our digs on post ups and Loving being aggressive.
- 1 thing I hated: Doris Burke’s commentary. Usually, I don’t mind Doris for the most part, but she said some stupid stuff that annoyed the hell out of me during the Virginia game.
- This was another game we lost, but looked better. Sure enough, they kept the momentum going and blew out VMI. Let’s see if they can consistently play at this level or if they fall back into the mistakes they made earlier in the season.