Daniel Martin

Deshaun Thomas

Ohio State will struggle if it can’t support Deshaun Thomas

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You can’t fault Deshaun Thomas Sunday. The 6-7 junior scored 26 points, including going 8-of-9 from the free throw line in Ohio State’s 81-68 loss to No. 1 Indiana.

The cause for concern, though, is the point distribution.

Thomas will get his points, as those who lead a major conference in scoring will, but it is the complementary pieces like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Jr., Sam Thompson, and LaQuinton Ross who need to step in and produce.

To Craft’s credit, he had 16 points, but Thomas still accounted for 38.2 percent of Ohio State’s total offensive output, even higher than his usual 27 percent portion of production. Thompson was just 2-of-8 from the floor. Smith, Jr. had six.

Ohio State should be pleased with the progress of Ross, who had 11 points, but the Buckeyes need more of a split like they had in their overtime loss to No. 3 Michigan earlier this week if they want to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

In that loss to Michigan, Thomas accounted for just 22.9 percent of the offensive, helped along by Ross, Craft, and Smith, Jr. in double figures, along with strong single-digit production from Amir Williams and Sam Thompson. It’s that balance that keeps the defensive-minded Buckeyes able to compete.

That is why it may be difficult for some to pick Ohio State to advance deep into March because it’s unclear whether the Buckeyes can string together a series of games against high-level competition with Thomas as the lone go-to scoring option and defense as the focus. This also hurts when Ohio State begins to slip behind, as it did Sunday against Indiana.

Thomas can only do so much. It would be asking a lot of a single player to dig a team out of a 10- or 15-point hole in an NCAA tournament game.

The Buckeyes return to the floor Thursday against Northwestern.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Victor Oladipo’s importance shows as No. 1 Indiana rolls over No. 10 Ohio State

Victor Oladipo
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It was a turnover that ultimately sank No. 1 Indiana on Thursday in a last-second loss to Illinois on the road. Victor Oladipo lost control of the ball on Indiana’s final possession and, despite blocking a breakaway layup to preserve the game for the moment, Tyler Griffey’s layup at the buzzer off an in-bounds pass delivered the upset.

But that Oladipo, the one who was just 3-of-7 from the floor Thursday night, was nowhere to be found on Sunday against No. 10 Ohio State.

Oladipo scored 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was the engine behind Indiana’s offensive attack, as the Hoosiers cruised to an impressive 81-68 win over Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon.

Emerging alongside sophomore Cody Zeller, Oladipo has proven that if he is able to get going, the Indiana offense follows suit. Take a look at Indiana’s two losses in Big Ten play.

On Thursday against Illinois and earlier in the year against Wisconsin, Oladipo went 3-of-7 from the floor in both. That 43 percent clip is 21 percentage points off his astronomical season average of nearly 64 percent from the floor.

His offensive prowess only adds to what he does on the defensive end, where he excels whether or not he is in a groove offensively. Sunday, he was part of an Indiana attack that isolated Deshaun Thomas and made him Ohio State’s only real scoring option with 26 points on the afternoon.

Though Aaron Craft added 16 points, Thomas accounted for 38.2 percent of Ohio State’s offensive output. That number is up from the already large 27.6 percent stake that he has held over the course of the season. Credit that to Oladipo and the rest of the Indiana defense.

The Hoosiers hope to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the polls, come Monday, but will have that Illinois loss counting against them.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Steve Lavin will not coach St. John’s vs. Syracuse after death of father

Steve Lavin
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St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will not be with his team when the Red Storm take on Syracuse after the passing of his father, Cap, the school announced Sunday afternoon.

Cap Lavin is a member of the University of San Francisco Hall of Fame and played guard for the Dons in the early 1950s. He was honored at halftime of San Francisco’s win over St. John’s on Dec. 4. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a short feature detailing the basketball-centric relationship with his son on the day prior to the ceremony.

The St. John’s coach is reportedly headed back to California and assistant Rico Hines will take over major coaching duties, along with Gene Keady, Tony Chiles, and Darrick Martin.

The Red Storm make a tough trip to the Carrier Dome Sunday and late news broke that the Orange would be welcoming forward James Southerland back into the lineup after the senior won an appeal and was granted his eligibility. If St. John’s is able to pull the upset without Lavin on the sidelines, it will have won seven of its last eight games and tied for fourth in the Big East.

Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

James Southerland reportedly likely to play Sunday vs. St. John’s after eligibility issue

James Southerland
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After missing six games due to an eligibility issue, Syracuse senior James Southerland will be available to play Sunday vs. St. John’s, the Post Standard is reporting. The report was widely circulated, but has since been taken down.

Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News has also cited sources and reported that Southerland is likely to play Sunday.

According to the report from the Post Standard, Southerland’s appeal was upheld and his eligibility restored. Syracuse will welcome him back, along with his 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Without Southerland in the lineup, Syracuse was 4-2 with back-to-back losses to Villanova and Pittsburgh. His presence as likely the team’s best three-point shooter will be a major asset against St. John’s matchup zone.

With a win Sunday, Syracuse would pull into a tie with Marquette atop the Big East.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Snowstorm delays Bryant-Sacred Heart game again

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Blizzard conditions in the Northeast have dumped as much as three feet of snow in some areas and college basketball is not immune to the damage.

The Bryant-Sacred Heart in Smithfield, R.I., an area that saw between 20 and 30 inches of snow over the course of the weekend, has been postponed for the third time, now scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The two teams had been scheduled to play as part of a doubleheader with the women’s teams at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET Sunday, but Sacred Heart reportedly ran into problems with its bus company, according to the Providence Journal.

The game should have implications in the NEC race, as Bryant leads the conference with a 9-2 record in league play. Sacred Heart sits in a tie for third at 7-4. A Pioneer victory would pull them within one game of a tie for the conference lead.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Garrick Sherman emerges for 1st time in Big East play to lead Notre Dame in 5 OTs

Garrick Sherman
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In the ten Big East games prior to No. 25 Notre Dame’s five-overtime thriller against No. 11 Louisville, Garrick Sherman had only appeared in six and averaged two points in just over 10 minutes per game.

Saturday night, though, he was just what the Irish needed.

His 17 points came all in the the second overtime and beyond, coming in for Big East Player of the Year candidate Jack Cooley, who fouled out with 6:54 left in regulation. At the time, it appeared the Irish would be in trouble without Cooley for the remainder of regulation, not even knowing yet that there would eventually be 30 minutes of game to be played.

Notre Dame was nearly even in the rebounding column with Louisville Saturday, but would not have been without Sherman’s important six, including four on the offensive glass that turned into six second-chance points. In hand with that, he was efficient. His 7-of-10 from the floor was the most efficient mark of any Notre Dame player on the night.

Sherman, a Michigan State transfer, had shown flashes of his ability to contribute earlier this year. He narrowly missed a double-double with 22 points and nine rebounds against Monmouth on Nov. 12, then followed that up just over a week later with 18 points and seven rebounds against George Washington.

Did his performance earn him some more time in the regular rotation? We’ll see. But at least for one night, he came through in a big spot.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_