LaQuinton Ross, Lucas Strouble

Health issues clearing up for Ohio State as season approaches

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With Deshaun Thomas gone from last season’s Elite Eight team, the Ohio State Buckeyes have a question to answer as they approach the start of the 2013-14 campaign: how will they account for the 19.8 points per game that Thomas provided? If their 93-63 exhibition victory over Walsh University offered any insight when it comes to the answer to that question, it could be that Thad Matta’s team will rely on offensive balance.

Five players scored in double figures on Sunday, with Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross scoring 15 points apiece to lead the way. Add in a solid effort on the glass both as a team (52 rebounds with 23 being of the offensive variety) and individually from center Amir Williams (ten rebounds) and freshman forward Marc Loving (nine rebounds), and overall Ohio State did what it needed to do. If there’s one concern it would be their 18 turnovers, but the Buckeyes made up for that by forcing 23 Walsh turnovers.

Ross’ performance was key for another reason: according to Matta Sunday was the first time in about a week that the junior’s right (shooting) hand was out of a cast.

Matta said he did not know what caused the injury, and Ross was not made available to the media.

“Something in his right hand on the top,” Matta said. “There was nothing on the MRI, just some inflammation, and it’s obviously gone down. I thought he looked pretty decent offensively today, but it’s been kind of a challenging week for him.”

Ross shot 4-for-9 from the field (making his lone three-point attempt) and 6-for-10 from the foul line in the win. Also of note according to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch is the fact that freshman Kameron Williams, who was sidelined for about a month due to a case of mononucleosis, is expected to return to practice this week.

“He’s missed a lot,” Matta said of Williams according to the Dispatch. “It’s hard to miss a month of practice, but (he’s a) great kid. It’ll just take some time.”

Guards Aaron Craft (14 points, five assists on Sunday) and Shannon Scott (nine points, seven rebounds) saw the most playing time of the nine Buckeyes to see action against Walsh, playing 28 and 26 minutes respectively. With those two, Smith Jr., Sam Thompson (12 points, four rebounds) and sophomore Amedeo Della Valle (13 points) all part of the equation on the perimeter it’ll be interesting to see if Williams can earn a few minutes once he catches up.

Ohio State opens their season on Saturday against Morgan State, and they’ll host Ohio (November 12) before visiting Big East preseason favorite Marquette on November 16.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.