Ohio State Buckeyes: Looking To Compete In The Big Ten Now

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Ohio State Buckeyes: Looking To Compete In The Big Ten Now
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

At 3:30 on the afternoon of November 9, 2005 Ohio State got David Lighty to sign a Letter Of Intent finishing off the schools greatest recruiting class ever. Highlighted by Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. along with Dequane Cook and Othello Hunter the class was deemed the “Thad Five” and Ohio State’s miracle.

They went on to National Championship, just like the “Fab Five” before them. 

Of the five Lighty is the only one still on campus. He also remains the most under appreciated of the five.

He only scored five points in Ohio State’s 67-60 win over Georgetown to get them to National Championship game but he held Jeff Greene, fresh off a 22 point outburst against North Carolina, to only nine points.

But this past season he was given a medical red-shirt causing many fans to forget about Columbus basketball until their 2010 recruiting haul comes in. 

But let’s not look past the present team. This year’s team has a great chance to hang around the top 25.

They went into Miami and beat the Hurricanes, beat Notre Dame and Butler in consecutive games and were 9-0 climbing up to 13 in the polls before their first loss. But the most crucial loss of the season came with 4:02 left in a game vs. Jacksonville.

Lighty was dominating the game but his team was only up by eight. He gets the ball and drives hard to the basket.

"One of the kids from the other team came up and under (Lighty) trying to draw a charge," O'Brien said. "Dave shifted his weight (to avoid the contact) and landed on the outside of his left foot."

After that they were never the same team.

Against Notre Dame he held Kyle McAlarney to six points, nine points off his average, missing all six of his threes and shot 3-11 everywhere else.  

In the Buckeyes game against West Virginia after Lighty broke his foot ,Alex Ruoff, the man David most likely would have been sent out to stop, dropped 17 points leading West Virginia to a 76-48 win.

This happened time after time throughout the rest of the season as Evan Turner was forced to carry the load. Though if someone had to do it, then Turner is the man.

The sophomore led the Big Ten in points, 17 per game, and led his team in almost everything else. Points, rebounds, assists, steals, three point percentage, you name it he did it.

He constantly got to the basket with ease and was also the best point guard while playing the four much of the season.

Freshman guard William Buford was second on the team with 11 points per game and took over games with ease but could disappear in a blink of the eye. He scored 16 against Iowa one night but then struggled in the next game at Minnesota on his way to only six points.

He scored 22 against Perdue and then three at Northwestern shortly after.

He is a good athlete, has a nice three point shot and if he can add weight and stay on track health wise he could become one of the best players in the conference.

Jon Diebler is just a straight up shooter who, when hot, is unstoppable. He scored 27 against Iowa while 7-10 for three and at Northwestern later in the season he scored 28 points shooting 8-10 from deep.

He average 11 points through the season and will be a junior this upcoming season.

Jeremie Simmons and P.J. Hill round off the Buckeye backcourt. Both are small guards, Simmons 6-2 170 and Hill 6-1 170, but neither are true point guards.

Hill took over the starting job after Anthony Crater announced he was transferring for not getting playing time coach Thad Matta apparently promised.

Hill played with a lot of energy making hustle plays night after night. He started the last eight games including a 12 point win over Michigan State in semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Though they went on to lose to Purdue in the next game by four they proved they could hang with ranked opponents.

The teams main obstacle is their front court. From the outside it looks like next season will be even worse down low but Ohio State has some hidden weapons.

You have to start with returning starter Dallas Lauderdale. He never did find his offensive game last year but that isn’t what they needed. His job was to just to be a big body down low and block some shots on D.

6-9 220 pound Nikola returns after a season which he started off suspended the first 12 games for playing on a foreign pro team, scored six points, had five rebounds and committed three fouls in 11 minutes against Houston Baptist, but then shortly after he was injured in practice and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

He will be back full strength though and will add a dynamic player. He can shoot the three but is not afraid to go down low and battle for rebounds. He will be a nice weapon off the bench.

B.J. Mullens clearly never wanted to be there and never was a big factor.

I am not sure about J.J. Grycko but apparently he has got game, mainly a three point shot.

But the best part of the team is the fact that they have the only player in NBA history to not be allowed into the NBA draft. No rap sheet and passing all his classes was not enough for professional blogger Mark Titus. He was told he was making a “mockery” of the draft.  

Quick recap: This year’s team has depth at the guard positions, one of the best game to game scorers in the nation with Evan Turner along with a few players who can take over games themselves, three point shooting big men and a very hungry David Lighty determined to help anyway he can.

They return all their starters and much of their bench from a team that went 22-11 (10-8 in the Big Ten with wins over two top ten teams and a total of six top 25 teams.

2010? Big Ten beware now.

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