Fired up yet?
Another performance like this please TP….
Buckeye hoops are rolling. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Getting started with the basketball season while simultaneously submerging oneself into the entire bowl fanfare hubbub of football season is a tough thing to do. It really is too bad considering the job that Matta has been doing with the program. It deserves to be hyped and followed as much as the football team, they are undefeated and ranked #2 in the country after all. They have beaten ranked teams already this year with a beat down of Florida a couple weeks ago, also taken down an athletic Florida State team and dropped a serious 79-57 beatdown on 7-1 South Carolina on Saturday. People are talking about potentially a 19-0 start and being undefeated until the end of January.
I have only been able to catch a couple of games to start this season so that has not helped the ability to follow the specifics of the season, but after the performance against South Carolina, Diebler blowing up for 29 and a second monster day for Sullinger I am definitely paying attention now. We still need to work on some bench play, after all six players are not going to win a NC on their own but being undefeated going into conference is almost a lock considering the remaining games are UNC Asheville, Oakland, and Tennessee-Martin.
The current version of sensational Buckeye freshman Sullinger has been ridiculous. Today it was just a 30 pt 18 board dominating day against an athletic long team and last week he decided to up and drop 40, setting a new Buckeye record for points in a game. I knew Sullinger was going to be good and was impressed with his play even against the better competition like Florida and Florida State – but stepping up and dropping a score like that is a man size task, even if it is against IUPUI (really this is a school?). Today we got a look at what he can do against a legit team and he left no doubt who the best freshman in the country – he had a double double in the first half and was a complete beast that took his game directly at the Gamecocks.
It hasn’t all been about Sully though – Buford has been his smooth self chipping in double digits and serving as the floor leader, Diebler had his big night when he tied Jay Burson’s record for threes in a game and also have taken over AJ Guyton’s spot on the Big Ten’s all time three pointer list. Lighty and Lauderdale have been consistent at their game and the newbie Aaron Craft has been impressive in the way he can get in the shorts of opposing point guards and plays with a high level of composure for a freshman. But outside of Craft the bench has been virtually invisible. DeShaun Thomas is talented but has yet to figure out that he is not a consistent enough shooter to shoot every shot he wants and he is really the only other bench player getting minutes. Jordan Siebert, JD Weatherspoon, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and Eddie Days combined don’t have as many minutes as either Craft or Thomas do by themselves.
Matta needs to figure out his bench soon because the competition will get tougher once Big 10 play starts. As kind as the schedule has been at the beginning of the season it is equally as tough at the end. After the Buckeyes to take on Illinois and Purdue back to back in January they then have to play currently ranked Minnesota, Sparty, Purdue and Illinois over a two week stretch in February – the only non ranked opponent over that stretch is a game at Wisconsin where Matta’s boys have not won in seemingly forever. We will find out just what this team is made of but one thing is for sure – the team is loaded with young talent with a couple veterans to provide leadership so it is looking like a hell of a season coming up.