While this season was frustrating for many Ohio State fans, one of the few bright spots of the team this year was the continued growth of Shannon Scott. Now in his third year in Columbus, Scott saw nearly 27 minutes per game on the court after only 10.6 minutes per game in his freshman season. The year saw Scott continue to give the Buckeyes very strong play on the defensive end, while continuing to show signs of improvement on the offensive end.
2012-13 Season Stats: 20.9 MPG, 4.9 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.7 SPG, 40.8% FGP
2013-14 Season Stats: 26.8 MPG, 7.5 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 SPG, 43.2% FGP
Season outlook revisited:
As the Buckeyes were gearing up for the season I took on the preview of Shannon Scott, and while I didn't step out on any limbs, I wasn't too far off on what I thought Scott would give to the team this year:
With four of the five starters from last year returning this year for the Buckeyes, it looks as if Scott's role will again be to be the sixth-man off the bench. Last year saw Scott's minutes nearly double from 10.6 MPG in his freshman season to 20.9 MPG in 2012-13. While we won't see his minutes double again this year, he should see another increase in his floor time. After seeing the success the Buckeyes had during their late season run to get to the Elite Eight, it wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of Scott and Craft on the floor together to wreak havoc for opposing offenses. Increased minutes will help Scott to take more of a leadership role and ready him for next year when the team is his to run with Craft moving on.
Shannon Scott spent the early part of the season in the starting lineup, but once the Buckeyes were stuck in a losing streak in the Big Ten, Thad Matta made the decision to bring Scott off the bench and it worked pretty well for the rest of the season. The Buckeyes had lost five of six games, and when the team headed to Madison to take on the Badgers, Scott came off the bench and it work as the Buckeyes downed the Badgers by one. Even though the NCAA Tournament run wasn't as long as fans or the team would like, the move shook things up a little bit and kept the Buckeyes from totally folding up down the stretch in Big Ten play.
There was plenty of instances where the combination of Craft and Scott on the floor brought the offense to a halt for opposing teams. A perfect instance of when the two shined together was when Ohio State held Illinois to just 39 points in Champaign, and Scott was able to register five steals. That wasn't the only game that Scott had five steals in, as he also recorded that many against Marquette and Bryant in the non-conference portion of the schedule early in the season.
Scott did show a little bit more scoring prowess early in the season, going for 10 points or more in three of the first four games this season. The junior might have set the bar a little high with his offensive work early in the season though, going a month before his next 10+ point game after his scoring exploits in the first four games. The best way to describe Scott's offense during the year is inconsistent, but that could explain the whole Ohio State basketball team this year.
While there was a couple of standout performances for Scott during the season, the best one came in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Michigan. Scott gave Ohio State 18 points, six assists, five rebounds, and three steals in the 72-69 loss to Michigan. Scott's performance helped to ignite a comeback from the Buckeyes that gave them the lead briefly before Michigan recaptured the lead and went on to victory.
The 18 points that Scott scored against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament tied his season-high, which he initially hit on December 31st at Purdue. In the Big Ten opener for Ohio State, Scott earned his 18 points in 33 minutes, and also grabbed five rebounds in the 78-69 victory for the Buckeyes.
While Scott was able to be productive in the Big Ten semifinal against Michigan, the same can't be said for their NCAA Tournament opener against Dayton. One of the worst games of the year came at the worst possible time for the Georgia native, as he went 1-6 from the field to finish with just three points in a game that Ohio State only lost by a point.
Another nominee for one of Shannon Scott's worst games of the season may not actually look that bad aside from one column of the stat sheet. In the overtime loss to Michigan State in early January, Scott scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds, and notched three steals in 34 minutes. What made the game one of the worst of the year was the six turnovers he was credited with during the game. Had he accumulated them in a game Ohio State either won or lost by 15 or 20 points, it wouldn't be on this list, but it's to omit the turnovers when the game went to the extra session.
Scott has made strides in his offensive game, especially in his free throw shooting from his initial year in Columbus. After hitting only 22% of his limited free throws in his freshman season, Scott hit 68% this year. As long as that trend continues next year, it'll help Buckeye fans breathe a little easier since Scott will figure to have the basketball in his hands a lot next year.
While Scott's free throw shooting has improved, his long range shooting still leaves a little bit to be desired. Scott showed moments of being a threat from the outside, with four three-pointers against Michigan and Morgan State, but so far his perimeter shooting has been inconsistent. While that might not be quite a big deal with some of the incoming offensive threats that Ohio State has coming in, but it would be nice to see Scott start off the season hot from deep just so that opponents respect the threat that he could possible give them.
The real star of Scott's play is his defense, and it showed this year. The quick hands and feet that Scott possesses helped him to create pressure and turnovers for the opposition. Had the Buckeyes had any semblance of an offense this past year, they could've made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament behind some of the lockdown defense that Scott gave them.
With Aaron Craft having now exhausted his basketball eligibility, the point guard position will be Scott's next season. While he won't have his defensive partner in crime to wreck havoc with, Scott should be helped on the offensive end with the addition of some more offensive options. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Scott's assist number rise next year, while his points per game stays around where they finished this year after he saw them increase in his first two seasons in Columbus.
This year saw Scott average two steals a game, but he did have the defensive pressure that Aaron Craft put on defenses to help and create some of those turnovers. But, even without Craft we shouldn't see Scott's defensive numbers fall off too much or at all. Scott still is very quick on the defensive end, and you can only imagine some of the tricks of the trade that he learned after spending three seasons playing with Craft.
Leadership is going to be what Ohio State is going to need most from Scott next season. With Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr graduating, and LaQuinton Ross going pro, Thad Matta is going to need a steadying force to help the incoming freshman and transfers. The good thing is that Scott has been familiar with winning during his time in Columbus, so he shouldn't have a problem passing on his knowledge to the newbies.