November 3, 2013

Left-handed Q

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Less than a week before its true season-opener, Ohio State crushed Walsh, 93-63, in an exhibition game Sunday in front of a sleepy Schottenstein Center crowd.

The No. 11-ranked Buckeyes -- whose 2012-13 campaign ended against Wichita State in the Elite Eight -- used a flurry of scorers to down a seemingly overmatched and athletically inferior Cavaliers squad.

The blowout victory likely serves as little more than a tuneup for another tuneup coach Thad Matta and Ohio State are set to play Morgan State Saturday at noon.

In the meantime, let us break down the finer points of the contest against Walsh.

A fluid lineup

The Buckeyes' starting lineup included LaQuinton Ross, Amir Williams, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Shannon Scott and Aaron Craft but Matta entertained the prospect of his starting five changing on a game-to-game basis.

"I think it could. I definitely want to keep practice as competitive as possibly can. I think we've got some pretty good depth, we've seen that not only today but we've seen throughout the camp we've been in," he said Sunday following the game.

"I've always said this: I wish they didn't turn the lights out and have dry ice and fireworks and all that stuff because it's not that big of a deal to me who starts the game."

Williams said Matta has changed things up on consistent basis.

"We change the starting lineup just about every week in practice so it's something different every week," he said.

Q playing with his left hand

While Ross (who surged late last season during the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments for Ohio State) totaled 15 points on four-of-nine shooting Saturday, the junior forward is dealing with a hand injury of sorts.

"Today's the first the day he shot the ball in a week or six days or whatever because his hand's been messed up, he's been in a cast. He's actually been playing left handed," Matta said.
Matta said Ross has an issue with something on the top of his right hand, though said an MRI revealed no further damage.

"I thought he looked pretty decent offensively today," Matta said, "but it's been kind of a challenging week for him."

Just keep playing

Arguably one of the most-maligned players for Ohio State last year was Amir Williams, who appeared to struggle for the Buckeyes last season. The junior center, though, totaled eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks against Walsh Sunday.

"I remember earlier in the shootaround, coach (Ed) Dickerson was talking and he was like 'Don't let your first and second shots determine how you play the rest of the game.' And I came out, missed my first shot and he just told me to keep my head up," Williams said.

"So when coach put me back in, I just kept playing -- playing hard. Went after rebounds. I guess I just kept playing hard and did my best out there and didn't let that first shot affect how I play."

Matta said he needs consistency from Williams.

"Amir has been a lot better leading into this game in terms of the buildup from the previous two seasons," he said.

"Fortunately, he saved himself because he wasn't in the right position on some of those blocks where he needed to be, the ball should've never have gotten there and that's something we got to get addressed but to his credit, he kept playing and blocked the shots and had a couple tip-ins on the glass which is what we need him to do."

Replacing Thomas

Without its leading scorer from last season in Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State will inevitably need to find a way to replace to the void he leaves.

Against Walsh, it seems that such a feat might be done by committee.

Five Buckeyes scored in double figures and it's something Matta said Ohio State will rely on throughout the season.

"No doubt about that, I think from a standpoint of guys sharing the basketball. think this team is going to be that way in terms of who's your leading scorer? I have no idea," he said.

"But obviously shooting the ball is very very important to us in terms of percentage and that sort of thing."


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