Nobody thought that Alcorn St. would pose much of a threat last night in the Schott. Of course, nobody thought the Dolphins of LeMoyne would beat Syracuse last week either. The difference is that this was not an exhibition, and the Buckeyes would have no trouble at all.
The Bucks cruised to a 100-60 win in front of a sparse, generously counted 11,000 Buckeye fans. It must have be two for one night in Columbus. Everyone counts as two. Apparently, the campus is busy tailgating for Iowa..... and Michigan.
Evan Turner led the way recording the second triple-double in Ohio State's storied history. Dennis Hopson completed the feet 20 years ago. I'll take this opportunity to name drop: Dennis and Ms.Hopson... thanks for all the autographs and letting me into your home some many years ago... The Hopson's are TOP NOTCH. Dennis surely dawned a smile at Turner's performance last night. I bet he's already talked to Evan about the feat. Turner finished last nights' game with 14 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists. The last assist came in the closing minutes as Turner dished the rock to the left side of the arc, and Jon Diebler nailed home his 6th 3-pointer of the night.
Buckeye center Dallas Lauderdale stayed on the bench for the duration. He could have played, but 4 more days of rest will allow his hand more time to heal, and the team more security for perhaps their most important factor in this years' equation. Senior Kyle Madsen(6'11") and newcomer Zisis Sarikopolous(sp?/7'/UAB trans) are space takers and decent back-ups, but Ohio State will depend heavily on Lauderdale as their most athletic, and most effective centerpiece.
The 2009 Buckeyes should be one of the best shooting teams in the BigTen; if not the country. So.William Buford is Silky smooth at any range, and Jr. Jon Diebler is one of the most prolific shooters in Ohio history. Dieb's started his third campaign with 6 of 9 from the arc, and 22 points. He also nabbed 4 rebounds behind his newly bulked up frame(up 15 lbs). After the game Thad Matta said confidently and emphatically, "We can shoot the ball". Jeremie Simmons and Nicola Kecman provide two additional long-range threats from off the bench.
David Lighty returned to action after missing most of the '08 season with a broken foot. All worries about lingering issues were put to rest when Lighty literally jumped over one of the Alcorn forwards on a rebound attempt. Lighty looked like his old self with 8pts, 4 boards, and 8 assists. Lighty's biggest impact on the team will be the return of his tenacity on defense, and his leadership.
The return of Lighty and Lauderdale means the Buckeyes will bring back their starting 5 from last season. The Optimism is tempered with perspective as the Bucks face North Carolina(11/19), FSU(12/2), and Butler(12/12) before beginning their grueling conference run in a vastly improved BigTen. 5 BigTen teams(OSU,Minn,Mich,MSU,Purdue) are ranked in the pre-season top25 and another, Wisconsin, is coming off a 19-11 season with 4 returning starters. The media has made their share of hooplah about the conferences' downward trend on the gridiron, but on the hardcourt, the BigTen is on the rise, and fast.
Thad Matta looks to continue his streak of 20 win seasons. Two years ago the Bucks were passed over by the selection committee - only to win the NIT. Last season the Bucks we're dropped in the opening round of the dance by Sienna 74-72. Sienna was sent home two days later after a 79-72 loss to #1 Louisville in the second round. This year the bucks hope to extend their run. The most experienced group in many years will lead the way.
Evan Turner - Who will handle the point, but is essentially a forward. Turner could be the favorite for BigTen Player of the Year. Thad Matta claims that nobody in CB works harder than this guy. Turner is nearly unstoppable going to the basket, and will bring in a constant flow of rebounds and assists.
Jon Diebler - Diebler hit 29% from the arc as a freshman. As a sophmore that number jumped to 42%. Expect it to jump again. This kid can flat-out fill it up from the outside.
William Buford - Buford is a budding superstar. He's rangy and possesses a beautiful shot with great elevation. Buford, like Turner, will play at the next level.
David Lighty - This is your hustler, leader, and defensive standout. Lighty will draw every tough G/F match-up that the Bucks face.He's a great rebounder for his size(6'6"), and will even hit the occasional 3.
Dallas 'Get that outta here' Lauderdale - Dallas is not going to score many points. He's in there for one reason - defense. He's very athletic and physical at 6'8" 255. Last season Lauderdale had 67 blocks despite playing just over 20 minutes a game(for those counting that's approx one block every five minutes).
Key Bench Players:
P.J. Hill - Hill is a pesty guard who can be depended on to protect the basketball off the bench.
Nicola Kecman - Kecman missed last season with a knee injury. He's a big guy(6'8" 225) that can shoot the three..
Jeremie Simmons - his nickname is 'instant-offense'.
Kyle Madsen - will provide the occasional relief for Dallas.
Zisis Sarikopolous - Huge. 7" 265. Raw. Needs to get more aggressive, and not foul at the same time.
Walter Offut - athletic guard that is looking to put two complete knee re-constructions behind him. Active last night.
2nd or 3rd in the BigTen(behind Purdue and give or take with MSU)
24-9 with an appearance in the sweet 16.