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Ohio State's defense was always solid and often elite under Jeff Boals

Boals, who will be the next coach at Stony Brook, served as the Buckeyes' de facto defensive coordinator for seven seasons.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven't heard, some forward-thinking athletic department (Stony Brook) finally woke up and hired longtime Ohio State assistant/defensive coordinator Jeff Boals to lead their men's basketball program. When Boals was hired as an assistant under Thad Matta prior to the 2009-10 season, Ohio State was not some sort of dumpster fire defensively. In fact, the Buckeyes had been good, very good, and elite defensively in the three seasons prior to Boals' hiring in spite of possessing three very different groups of personnel from 2006-09.

Here's how those three pre-Boals Ohio State teams fared defensively when measured by Ken Pomeroy's (KenPom) defensive efficiency rankings, which slots teams based on how many points per 100 possessions they surrender on an opponent-adjusted basis. (In other words, 90 is better than 95 and 95 is better than 100, etc.) I also noted where those Buckeye teams ranked in the Big Ten and nationally according to KenPom.

Season

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Big Ten Rank

National Rank

2008-09

96.7

6

64

2007-08

93.3

3

22

2006-07

91.6

3

11


The 2006-07 team was centered around an elite rim protector (Greg Oden) and a pair of ball-hounding guards in Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis. The 2007-08 squad was a strange mix of freshmen/newcomers (less heralded than the Thad Five) and seniors. The 2008-09 team had a core of sophomores on the come-up but was a group not quite ready for a breakthrough.

Boals succeeded Archie Miller as Matta's defensive chief when he was brought onboard, and the results quickly illustrated that Matta's decision to bring on Boals was an inspired move.

Season

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Big Ten Rank

National Rank

2015-16

97.1

5

42

2014-15

95.0

3

37

2013-14

89.6

1

2

2012-13

89.9

3

12

2011-12

89.7

2

7

2010-11

92.1

1

16

2009-10

93.0

4

30


Breaking down those numbers, we can determine that since Boals' hiring, Ohio State allowed an average of 92.3 points per possession per season. That mark would've ranked in the top 27 nationally for all seven of Boals' years in Columbus, and would've been a top-18 mark in four of those seasons.

On average, Boals' defenses ranked around third in the Big Ten -- the conference expanded to 12 teams in the 2011-12 season and then added Maryland and Rutgers for the 2014-15 campaign -- and 21st nationally among 300+ Division I teams.

Not a believer in advanced statistics? OK, lets' take a gander at where Ohio State finished under Boals in traditional defensive statistics such as scoring defense:

Season

Scoring Defense

Big Ten Rank

National Rank

2015-16

68 points per game

7

77

2014-15

62.9

3

76

2013-14

59.8

1

12

2012-13

59.4

3

30

2011-12

59.8

3

18

2010-11

59.7

2

10

2009-10

61.5

3

32


And opponents' field goal percentage:

Season

Opponents' Field Goal %

Big Ten Rank

National Rank

2015-16

40.4

4

37

2014-15

40.3

6

62

2013-14

40.6

2

43

2012-13

39.5

5

40

2011-12

40.7

3

47

2010-11

42.4

5

132

2009-10

41.0

5

66


And opponents' 3-point shooting percentage:

Season

Opponents' 3-point %

Big Ten Rank

National Rank

2015-16

33.4

5

109

2014-15

32.2

3

71

2013-14

29.3

1

7

2012-13

32.4

5

102

2011-12

32.5

3

91

2010-11

34.0

5

162

2009-10

33.7

6

151


Under Boals' stewardship, the Buckeyes ranked outside of the Big Ten just once in scoring defense and held opponents under 60 points per game from 2010-14. In all seven seasons, Ohio State was in the top half of the Big Ten in opponents' field goal percentage and was almost always better than average defending the 3.

Boals would likely be the first to admit that he was fortunate to be occasionally associated with prime individual defensive talent. Boals supervised Aaron Craft, a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and four-time all-Big Ten defender, as well as defensive talents like Dallas Lauderdale (2010 all-Big Ten defense), David Lighty (2011 all-Big Ten defense), and Shannon Scott (2013-2014 all-Big Ten defense).

Overall, the numbers indicate Boals elevated Buckeye outfits with average defensive talent into solid units and helped bump the Craft-era teams into an elite category. It's now up to Matta to hire someone who can approach the impact Boals had in developing Ohio State's defensive identity.