The skeptics are all over the Ohio State Buckeyes lack of depth. “How can they survive two games in two days” ask the critics. It’s a simple answer, it’s about the quality not to quantity in 2010.
Ohio State is not a deep team. The Buckeyes regularly play a rotation of no more than six to seven guys. The top four players average at least 34 minutes a game and it isn't uncommon for a few to play the entire 40 minutes.
On Sunday against the No. 10 seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Buckeyes had three players go the distance while the other two starters played 36 and 31 minutes. That's a lot, but it doesn't matter due to the way the game has changed.
With the integration of T.V. there is a mandatory timeout called at a dead ball on four separate occasions each half. Each team is awarded four timeouts per half, eight for the game. So we are up to a potential 16 timeouts per game. Add that to whistle-happy referees calling more fouls than ever before and the outcome is a game of stop-and-go. There are so many opportunities to rest during a game now that it is not a big deal to go the full 40 minutes.
Not to mention the whole "these guys are 18-22-years-old and are at their physical peak" theory.
Make no mistake about it, the quality is certainly there. Junior, do-everything guard, Evan Turner won the Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented annually to the national player of the year in college basketball by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Turner returned from missing six games with a back injury to lead the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding. Including his two NCAA Tournament games, he is averaging 20 points and a shade over nine rebounds per game. He was only a rebound and assist away from a triple double on Sunday against Georgia Tech.
The veteran leader, David Lighty, (the only remaining member of the Greg Oden led final-four team) has shown excellent veteran leadership while averaging over 12 points and four rebounds a game.
Sharp-shooting junior guard Jon Diebler forces a defender to shield him at all times due to his red-hot 42 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Dallas Lauderdale, the 6"8 junior forward, supplies the bulk in the paint. He is averaging five-and-a-half rebounds a game while banging with the other team's best big man.
This brings me to the one problem the Buckeyes face—foul trouble. OSU can't afford for any of their starters to get in early foul trouble. This is especially the case for Lauderdale. They don't have the depth to lose the big fellow for an extended period of time. Yet somehow, the Buckeyes have done a solid job of shielding this chink in their armor.
Credit must be given to coach Thad Matta for teaching the proper way to defend in the post without hacking the other guy. Credit must also be given to Turner, whom is terrific at avoiding the ticky-tack fouls that so many players fall victim to.
The No. 2 seeded Buckeyes will be in St. Louis Friday at 7:30 to take on the No. 6 seeded Tennessee Vols in the regional finals of the Midwest bracket. No. 5 seed Michigan State will play No. 9 seed Northern Iowa 30 minutes after the first game.
I can’t picture a scenario where the Buckeyes wont be dancing their way to Indianapolis and the final-four. They are much more disciplined and better coached than the Vols, and they have already beaten the Spartans at Michigan St. with a healthy Kalin Lucas.
The need to have a deep bench is simply not as important as it used to be.
So what if the OSU bench isn't very good. The starters are all more than capable of taking a ride down the final-four highway.