A season opener often serves as a glimpse of what the remainder of the season holds. If this axiom is true, things are looking up in Columbus. Ohio State's first challenge of the season, Delaware State, turned out not to be a challenge at all for the Buckeyes.
With the loss of Kosta Koufos, Jamar Butler, and Othello Hunter, a new-look Buckeye squad took the court in St. John Arena Thursday evening. The starting lineup featured one new face from last season's team, a Columbus native, Kyle Madsen, a 6'10" transfer from Vanderbilt. Along with Madsen stood four familiar faces: David Lighty, Dallas Lauderdale, Jon Diebler, and Evan Turner.
As play began, the Buckeyes jumped to an early lead with solid shooting and an airtight defense that allowed zero points for nearly the first five minutes of the game.
Dallas Lauderdale, on two occasions, brought the Buckeye faithful to their feet with dunks that Darryl Dawkins would have been proud to call his own.
The first substitution for the Buckeyes brought a thunderous round of applause. Enter B.J. Mullens.
In any line of work, there is always a fear of falling on one's face on the first day. Within moments of entering the game, Mullens indeed took a fall. Fortunately, the fall was not on his face, but on his backside, while playing solid defense
As the first half progressed, coach Thad Matta began incorporating the other new Buckeyes into the game. The first splash was made by Jeremie Simmons, a JuCo transfer from Chicago, who landed two consecutive three-point shots and ran the offense without missing a step.
Not to be outdone were William Buford, a five-star recruit from Toledo, OH, and Anthony Crater, a 6'1" guard from Flint, MI. Buford moved without the ball extremely well, and this led to two open baskets, which were converted easily. Crater then demonstrated his defensive prowess and speed by creating a steal, leading the break, and making the assist to add two points for the Buckeyes.
As the half drew to a close, the Buckeyes' lead neared 20 points. After allowing three long distance three-point shots moments before the end of the half, the Buckeyes led the Hornets 35-22 entering intermission.
Defensively, Ohio State played in a zone throughout the game. Matta has stated in the past that the zone is not his defense of choice, but with such a young team, the zone can help cover any shortcomings the Buckeyes may have on the defensive side of the ball. The zone worked well for the Buckeyes, leading to 10 first half turnovers.
The second half opened with another offensive explosion for the Buckeyes. Diebler came out firing from three-point range, Lauderdale threw down a breakaway dunk and then was on the receiving end of an alley-oop, and Simmons finished the 10-3 run with a beautiful three-point shot.
When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 70-42 in favor of Ohio State.
William Buford (13), David Lighty (10), and Jeremie Simmons (10) led the Buckeye offense in scoring. On the other hand, Dallas Lauderdale starred defensively with seven—that's right, seven—blocks.
Considering only one game has been played and the quality of the opponent, it is difficult to determine what to make of the Buckeyes so far. Will Ohio State lay down 28-point victories on every opponent this season? Dream on. Did the Buckeyes show glimpses of great things to come? Most definitely.
With difficult out-of-conference games on the horizon, Matta and his Buckeyes are in need of a quick and strong start. Through one game, so far, so good.