Ohio State’s formula for winning games last season was simple: Get the ball to Jared Sullinger and let him do his thing; when defenses focus on him, everyone else hit shots.
That’s slightly simplified, but it’s how they spent most of the season No. 1.
This season, expect more of the same. But Ohio State seems a little rusty at step 1.
As Andy Glockner noted from Tuesday’s 81-74 win against Florida, the Buckeyes thrived when Sullinger was fed the ball in the low post, scoring 1.67 points per possession. (An absurd number.) However, they only successfully fed Sullinger nine times in 68 possessions.
The other 59 possessions resulted in 1.12 points per possession.
The difference may simply be rust.
Sophomore point guard Aaron Craft and senior William Buford either waited too long to feed Sullinger the ball or didn’t do a good job getting the defense off balance to make the pass. The Mikan Drill has a series of videos illustrating the difference between this season and last, which you can see here.
(That’s what you call synergy among college hoops writers. Thanks guys.)
Fairly certain Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s already ironing out the offensive kinks. After all, getting the ball to Sullinger is hardly a secret. Maybe all they need is a reminder.
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.