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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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.