Today, before the first November night football game in Ohio Stadium history, the Ohio State men's basketball team held an open scrimmage for the fans at Value City Arena in the Jerome Schottenstein Center. While there was limited attendance, the Buckeyes played a number of games with the first to score 11 being declared the winner.
Overall, the Buckeyes brought a good effort on both sides, including more defense than would normally be expected in a scrimmage. Then again, this is a Thad Matta coached team, so defense, as always, will be an emphasis. Unfortunately, we were not able to see Marc Loving play, as he was ill and was told to stay home.
1. Scott and Thompson look like they can lead offensively.
Shannon Scott is going to have to step up into the starting point guard role with fan favorite Aaron Craft finally having moved on. He looked comfortable running the offense and was able to hit a few long jumpers. He also gave his normal strong defensive performance against the talented freshman D'Angelo Russell. Scott also made a few nifty passes, both on the break and in the half court to help facilitate the offense. He also has proved to be very good at picking off outlet passes that hang too high, so be on the lookout for that this season.
Sam Thompson also showed a more complete offensive game. He started off the scrimmage with floaters and tough lay-ups that weren't going in, but he found his groove after a fast break dunk and an alley-oop. He also was able to knock down some long jumpers, including a few from three. If Thompson can be a threat from inside and out, he will make this team very difficult to guard.
2. New players are going to be very important this season
Thad Matta was able to bring in a very talented freshman class, as well as snagging a few solid transfers. This is also going to be Kam Williams' first season after he contracted mono last year early in the season and was unable to play. Williams looked very good today, showing off his talent inside and out, as well as a lot of hustle. He was often fighting for rebounds and hustling on defense.
I was also very impressed with D'Angelo Russell, the five-star guard from Louisville, KY. He showed a good command of the offense and was able to run it very effectively while being guarded by Shannon Scott, who has proved that he is an excellent defender. He did make a few mistakes, including dribbling into a double team once, but for the most part, it was a very good performance for the young Buckeye.
Jae'Sean Tate, the four-star forward from Pickerington, OH, and Keita Bates-Diop, the four-star forward from Normal, IL, had a rougher go of it today, but both players showed they have talent and upside. The players spent much of the scrimmage guarding one another, and Tate seemed to have the upper hand over Bates-Diop for most of the game. Tate also ended up putting in the final bucket, a three from the top of the arc. I could see all four of these players getting playing time, even though Thad is not known for going deep into the bench. With this level of talent, if they all progress as they should, it will be hard to ignore.
3. Three-point consistency still suspect
While it's hard to definitively tell anything from one practice, this team seems like it could potentially lack a consistent three-point attack once again. A lot of the players struggled early, but were able to find their grove in the end. Last year, the Buckeyes finished with a three-point percentage of 32.6%, which is well below par.
While the team struggled early, they showed signs that they have improved from last year and could keep improving. Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson were both able to have some success from outside as the scrimmage went on. Also, a few of the younger players, particularly Kam Williams and D'Angelo Russell, were able to knock down a few three-point shots. The three-point offense certainly looked better towards the end, but I have concerns that they might be feast or famine when the season finally tips off.