OSU Basketball: A look at the Forwards


LaQuinton Ross shoes are pretty big, but the shoes he is about to step into are even bigger. One of the main storylines we are going to look at for at the Forward position this year is that of Ross trying to fill the huge void left by 2012-13 Big Ten scoring champ, Deshaun Thomas. Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the San Antonio Spurs and leaves behind his 19.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 35.4 minutes a game. Ross showed he is plenty capable of stepping into the premier scoring role for the Buckeyes, highlighted by his game winning 3 pointer as time expired against Arizona in the Sweet 16. In addition to that, Ross averaged 8.3 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game while only averaging 16.9 minutes a game. Expectations will be high for Ross coming into the year based on his averaging the 4th highest points on the team while only getting the 6th most minutes and coming in off the bench. Ross will be counted on to take Thomas’ spot in the lineup this year. Like Thomas before him, Ross can score with his back to the basket in the post, shoot the 3 and create his own shot off the dribble. Perhaps one being left handed and the other being right handed is the only real difference between these two scorers.


In addition to Ross, another Forward expected to contribute mightily to the team’s success is Slam….err, I mean Sam Thompson. Known for his ability to rise above any defender and throw down some unbelievable dunks, Sam came on strong towards the end of the year as a serious scoring threat. In fact, Thompson led the Buckeyes in 3 point percentage at 40.4 % for the year. He is going to be counted on to expand on his 2012-13 stats of 7.8 points a game and 3.5 rebounds a game. Thompson started all 37 games last year and is expected to be a constant starter on this squad as well.


Also expecting to contribute as a Forward for the 2013-14 Ohio State Buckeyes is incoming freshman Marc Loving out of Toledo St Johns. Hoping to follow in fellow Toledoans Neshaun Coleman and Jimmy Jackson’s footsteps from Toledo to Columbus is the 6-7 215 pounder. He was the Associated Press player of the year in the state of Ohio in both 2012 and 2013 as well as a 2013 Parade All American and a 4 star recruit per most prep basketball sites. He averaged 21.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a game as a senior. Going into the season, Loving is expected to see some action as a reserve backing up either Thompson or Ross provided he can pick up the defensive schemes Matta has been so accustomed to using.

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It’s July 1st, which means there is only ONE FULL MONTH of no football. Can you take it anymore? So why not celebrate the proximity of the football season by starting off with a little basketball talk?

CRAFT AND ROSS: If you had told me that Aaron Craft declined a chance to be on the U.S. team that will play in the World University Games next month, I would replied with a, “Duh, it’s Aaron Craft.” But if the same was said about LaQuinton Ross, I may have given you a double take:

Craft was invited but declined, as did teammate LaQuinton Ross. Both are enrolled in summer classes, which might have been a factor in their decisions because certain classes they need to progress toward graduation are not offered as often now that Ohio State is on the semester system.

That’s probably unfair on my part toward LaQuinton, so I feel bad in retrospect. But I’ll make it up by saying I’m glad to see it’s not just Craft that is taking their schooling lightly. Ross will probably have a chance to go pro if he has a break-out season next year as a Junior. It’s refreshing to see him taking steps to continue his education.

ONE THOUSAND YARDS AND A CLOUD OF DUST: Tim May writes about Carlos Hyde’s quest to become the first 1,000 yard running back in an Urban Meyer offense:

As prolific as Meyer’s offenses have been at four schools in his 11 seasons as a head coach, none of his running backs ever has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season.

Sure, Braxton did it last year, but he’s a quarterback. You need, like, two of those to fill a halfback’s shoes.

Carlos Hyde recognizes that it’s not a birthright to be an Ohio State running back and deserve 1,000 yards. “I definitely feel that responsibility,” Hyde said. “Any running back at Ohio State should feel that responsibility.”

He also recognizes what it would mean to be the first to do it for Urban Meyer:

And for me to have a chance to be Coach Meyer’s first 1,000-yard rusher as a running back, that’s huge.

SPEAKING OF MEYER: He almost didn’t take the job at Bowling Green, because, well

Then I had to make the hard phone call, that was to Coach Holtz. I said, ‘Coach, I got offered the job, but I’m not going to take it.’ He says, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m not going to take it.’ He says, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘I don’t believe it’s a good job.’ He says, ‘Of course not. If it was a good job, you think they’d be calling you?’

BIG HANK TELLS IT LIKE IT IS: From video at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

… we was supposed to be number one last year and you know they gone take that and run with it you know what i’m saying we gone win all our games and hopefully be in the national championship, where we supposed to have be in it last year

ALSO: First place sure feeeeeels nice. Take a breath between sentences, Brock. This is not good.

Indiana Preview

March has arrived. Two huge tournaments loom for the Buckeyes as the Madness draws near. Indiana poses a major challenge for the Buckeyes today, and will be a preview of what to expect come Tourney time. Ohio State needs to step up to the challenge in order to gain ground in the conference standings, but also to boost confidence heading into the last game of the regular season.

Tonight’s 9 p.m. matchup is the second-last regular season contest for each of the two contenders before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 14. Both teams could use some momentum heading into the postseason, especially the Buckeyes. #2 Indiana (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten) needs a win to assert its dominance and prove that the Hoosiers are the top dog of the league. Following an upset loss on the road to Illinois on February 26, Indiana looked a bit vulnerable. Though the Hoosiers easily handled Iowa a few days later, Indiana would love to have some positive energy heading into the team’s season finale with Michigan and then the Big Ten Tourney. Still, #14 Ohio State needs the “W” even more.

The Buckeyes (21-7, 11-5 Big Ten) have won their last three matches, snagging victories over tough opponents Minnesota, Michigan State and Northwestern. But the Bucks lack a significant, defining road win this season. Against ranked opponents on the road, OSU owns an unappealing 0-5 record. The most recent road game against a ranked opponent resulted in an embarrassing 71-49 loss to Wisconsin on February 17. For OSU, picking up its first big victory away from the Schottenstein Center will not be a simple task. Assembly Hall is not an easy venue to play in as the road team. As OSU’s Deshaun Thomas told The Lantern, “It’s one of the loudest places I’ve been at, besides Kansas.” Head coach Thad Matta agreed: “It’s proven over time it’s one of the toughest places to play in.” Indiana boasts a 17-1 record on its home court this season, with the lone loss coming against Wisconsin in mid-January.

But if Ohio State wants to claw its way to the top of the pack past Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin, all tied with OSU for the second spot, the Bucks need to find a way to win tonight. The key to doing so is defending Indiana’s top scorers better than last time and coming up with secondary scoring. The last time the squads paired off on February 10, the Hoosiers trounced Ohio State, 81-68. Indiana playmakers Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo ran rampant. OSU’s defense could not stop the dangerous pair, as Zeller finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Oladipo collected a career-high 26 points and eight boards.

Ohio State has improved since it suffered a beating to Indiana. The Buckeyes have drawn more fouls and seen more scoring from Lenzelle Smith Jr. The junior guard led the team in scoring in OSU’s last game on February 28, putting up 24 in a 63-53 triumph over Northwestern. The defense has also looked stellar as of late, limiting opponents to 60 or fewer points in four of the past five games. Indiana head coach Tom Crean agrees that this is a much-improved OSU team. “They’re better from when we played them the last time, because they are getting fouled a lot more,” Crean said. “In the last five games, they’ve made more free throws than their opponents have taken. Deshaun Thomas is way up in his free throw shooting; Lenzelle Smith is shooting the ball at a high rate. They are rebounding the ball well, they’re getting fouled, they’re winning games and they’re really good. There’s no doubt in our mind that it’s going to be an incredible battle.”

For it to be an “incredible battle,” Ohio State has to keep the score low. The Buckeyes excel in low-scoring affairs but often falter when games require the winner to score more than 70 points. Four of the team’s five conference losses occurred when opponents posted over 70 points. The Bucks have simply lacked the secondary scoring needed to keep up with high-flying offenses. Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas can only carry the team so far. Though Smith, Sam Thompson and Evan Ravenal often provide some support, it is not enough to consistently score 70 points a night in the Big Ten. Thus OSU has to rely on its defense to help carry the team.

Against Indiana, that starts with defending a National Player of the Year candidate in Oladipo and an ever-dangerous playmaker in Zeller. But stopping Christian Watford must also be a focus for Ohio State. The senior forward hurt the Bucks for 20 points in the last meeting, connecting on four of five shots from behind the arc. You can’t forget Jordan Hulls either, as the senior averages 10.7 points per game and likes to shoot from deep. Overall, Indiana averages a whopping 81.9 points per night. Facing the Hoosiers offense compares to Luke Fickell’s defense taking on AJ McCarron, Eddie Lacy and the Alabama offense of last year. Thad Matta’s defense will have a tough time tonight. His team is known for playing stout D, but Indiana’s offense is a whole different beast. The Buckeyes need to turn up the knob another notch if this game is going to be close.

On offense, Thomas obviously needs to have a big night. The junior forward (19.9 ppg) is the heart of the offense, and without him to lead it, the unit sputters. Craft also plays a critical role, as he is the quarterback of the offense and the soul of the team. The junior point guard must show his well-known tenacity and aggressiveness if the rest of the team is to follow suit. Smith, Ravenal, Thompson and others must also put up significant figures. Coming off the bench, look closely at LaQuinton Ross, Shannon Scott and Amir Williams. If one or more of these three men can step up and give the team quality minutes, as well as some points off the bench, the Bucks will be in much better position.

As a whole, the OSU offense needs more explosiveness than it has shown in the past five games, when the team has shot just 41.9 percent. The Buckeyes need to shoot the ball better than that tonight. Defense will only take you so far against the Hoosiers. Defense may keep the game close, but to put away the troublesome Hoosiers, you need to have the hot hand down the stretch.

Indiana is no easy foe to face on the road, especially on an emotional Senior Night for three Hoosiers. There is a reason Ohio State has not taken down a ranked Indiana team in Assembly Hall since 2000. But the Bucks do have a chance to topple the giants of the Big Ten. Though the odds are stacked against OSU, with a combination of stellar defense and secondary scoring, the Buckeyes can capture a crucial road victory heading into Tournament season.