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November 10, 2012

Canceled 'Classic' delays Buckeyes' opener

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just a day ago, Ohio State men's basketball team figured that it would have its season opener in the books by now.

It thought wrong.

Due to condensation problems that couldn't be stopped, the Buckeyes' expected opener aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C. against Marquette was canceled on Friday night, delaying what is a highly anticipated tipoff for the fourth-ranked OSU squad.

"It's definitely disappointing not being able to play," OSU point guard Aaron Craft said following the Carrier Classic's cancellation. "We were pretty geared up ... it's just very unfortunate."

Although their game against the Golden Eagles will not be rescheduled to a later date this season, the Buckeyes won't have to wait long to kickoff their season, as a 2 p.m. tipoff in Columbus against Albany tomorrow has now become Ohio State's unexpected season opener.

While clearly upset about not having the opportunity to play in front of the armed service members who were in attendance in a once in a lifetime type of game, Craft did find some silver lining in the delayed start to his team's season. After admitting earlier in the week that all of the Buckeyes' attention was on Marquette and not the game that they'd be playing less than 24 hours, the junior guard admitted that the extra time that OSU now has to prepare for the Great Danes could be a positive.

"Hopefully it's two more days for us to get better," Craft said. "Just find a way to focus ... that's all we can do at this point."

Even without playing a minute, Friday night still afforded us the opportunity to learn something about this year's Ohio State squad.

With the game not being called until the starting lineups were announced, we learned that OSU coach Thad Matta had planned to use Craft, Deshaun Thomas, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Evan Ravenel, and Sam Thompson as his starting five against Marquette. That lineup is a departure from the unit that Matta first used two weeks ago in the Buckeyes' 83-71 exhibition win over Walsh, where sophomores Amir Williams and LaQuinton Ross started in place of Ravenel and Thompson.

"You have to look and say, who gives us the best chance to start the game well," Matta said. "I may not start the five best players, but I'm going to start the five guys that play the best together. And that's usually how we finish the game as well."

One would imagine that the same starting five that Matta trotted out on Friday night will be the same that takes the court on Sunday, when the Buckeyes host an Albany team that has already jumped out to a 1-0 record this season. The Great Danes defeated Duquesne on Friday night, with senior guard Mike Black scoring 15 points and recording four assists.

Friday night's win for Albany was its first in a season opener since the 2006-07 season, which was also the last time that the American East Conference member appeared in the NCAA Tournament.



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