No. 23 Ohio State has lost five of their last six games, and Wednesday night’s may have been the toughest to swallow.
The Buckeyes lost to Penn State. At home. After blowing a seven-point lead in the final three minutes, giving up a game-tying three on a defensive breakdown and blowing a three-point lead with a minute left in overtime. The game-winning basket? It came when D.J. Newbill broke Aaron Craft’s ankles, something that may not have happened before and may never happen again.
On paper it looks bad.
And based on the way that Lenzelle Smith was talking about the loss after the game, it looks like it may have been worse in the locker room.
“This hurts the most out of every game since I’ve been at Ohio State,” Smith said after Penn State ended an 18-game losing streak to the Buckeyes by winning 71-70 in overtime at Value City Arena. “We’ve got to get back to being a team and wanting to win.”
He was just warming up.
“As a team, we don’t care enough. It’s embarrassing. Every other team in the conference is laughing at us. They’re on top of the world.”
What exactly, Lenzelle, are the Buckeyes lacking?
“Toughness. Character. Camaraderie. Leadership,” Smith said, making sure to stress that as a senior he takes responsibility for those team deficiencies, which have played a role in the recent downturn.
Rob Oller, who wrote the column that is linked above, said that Craft and Smith were both on the verge of tears after the game.
For a team that has had so much success over the years, the inability to find any kind of consistency has to be frustrating.
But it’s not exactly surprising. Ohio State doesn’t have enough consistent offensive firepower. They don’t have enough size in the paint. They lack a true creator offensively. Craft is one of the best point guards in the country, but he’s the kind of player that needs talent around him. He’s not going to win games by himself.
Ohio State is in a bad way right now.
As good as Thad Matta is, I’m not sure if this team has the horses to turn this thing around.