Ohio State Basketball: 3 Positions the Buckeyes Have to Worry About
If you’re a college basketball coach, chances are there is something that is worrying you at this time of year. (Chances are also high you probably have something better to do than reading this article.)
Every team has holes—even yours John Calipari. Whether it is inexperience, a lack of formidable big men or even a shallow bench, there is something to fret about.
Ohio State is no different. Sure, the Buckeyes reached their 11th Final Four last season, but the start of every new year brings a brand new list of worries.
That is not to say that any of these issues will be crippling for the scarlet and gray. Nevertheless, if the Buckeyes are going to have another successful season, these are concerns that must be (and can be) overcome.
Here are the three positions that Ohio State has to worry about heading into the 2012-13 season.
It’s fairly obvious why the center position is on the list of potential concerns for Ohio State this offseason. Jared Sullinger, the All-American who so effectively clogged the lane for the Buckeyes the past two seasons, is now wearing Celtic green.
Again, it is important to note that just because center is a position Matta has to worry about now, that does not necessarily ensure that it will be a weak point.
The first issue with the center role is who exactly will fill it. Ultimately, it comes down to Evan Ravenel or Amir Williams, and it is safe to say Matta will probably give the nod to Williams, who has a higher ceiling.
Nevertheless, both are relatively unproven commodities, meaning that there is a natural sense of worry that will accompany any decision.
Williams (or Ravenel) will almost certainly fail to match Sullinger's contributions, but that is not what they will be asked to do. If the center position provides rebounding and consistent defense all year, there will be much less worrying for Matta and company.
Just as the departure of Sullinger has left a hole to fill in the lane, the graduation of William Buford leaves another question mark on the perimeter.
Buford was somewhat of a polarizing figure among Buckeye Nation, but it’s hard to argue against his statistical production. Frankly speaking, now that Matta faces his first season in five years without the option of inserting Buford into the lineup, small forward is a position to worry about for Buckeye fans.
Paralleling the center situation, there are two options at Matta’s disposal for small forward—the high-flying Sam Thompson or the once highly-regarded recruit LaQuinton Ross.
The main reason Buckeye fans have to worry about this spot is the fact that Ross is still a question mark. He missed the first half of the season last year with academic issues and provided inconsistent production when he did have a shot.
Additionally, while Thompson brings top-notch athleticism, high-flying dunks and a defensive presence, he doesn’t offer much else on the offensive side of the ball.
However, if Ross can fulfill his potential as a 6’8” slasher who can shoot the three, then Matta will not have to worry as much about Thompson’s limited offensive abilities or the small forward spot in general.
But that is yet to be seen.
At this point, it has become almost cliché to point out that bench play is going to be a concern on any Thad Matta-coached team.
While it is easy for armchair quarterbacks (admittedly I include myself in this category at times) to sit back and criticize Matta’s under-utilization of his bench, it is hard to argue with his results. Nevertheless, this year could be of particular concern, thanks to a handful of unexpected transfers and a one-person recruiting class.
Realistically, there will probably only be seven or eight Buckeyes who see any meaningful game time (assuming good health), but a solid season from backup point guard Shannon Scott and lone freshman Amedeo Della Valle would go a long way toward keeping the starters’ legs fresh.
There is certainly a lack of depth on this team, meaning health will be a critical component in determining the season's ultimate outcome.
The Buckeyes should have a successful season, but it won’t be without some concerns.