This time last week, we said the sky was falling after Ohio State lost three-straight games. Fast forward a week, and that losing streak is now five. The Buckeyes (10-8, 2-5) are in the midst of their first five-game losing streak in four years, and it’s looking a lot like that scene from Chicken Little right now.
We will get to the shit show in a moment, but first: A recap.
Last week, Connor and Justin debated which former Ohio State player that declared early for the NBA Draft should have stuck around for one more year. Justin chose Daequan Cook, who was chosen with the 21st overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. Connor went with LaQuinton Ross, who went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft.
65% of the people agreed with Justin, while the remaining 35% sided with Connor.
Here’s the count:
After 84 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
This week, we’re making a change to the starting lineup, since Chris Holtmann has yet to do so. One could reasonably argue that of the five current starters (Bruce Thornton, Sean McNeil, Brice Sensabaugh, Justice Sueing and Zed Key), Key is the only one that you really need to leave in there.
The other four — for one reason or another — could be moved to a role off the bench. And after five consecutive losses, both Connor and Justin are hoping to see something different on Saturday when lineups are announced.
Today’s question: What lineup change should Ohio State make before the Iowa game?
Connor: Tanner Holden in for Justice Sueing
Listen, Justice Sueing is going through it right now. And as much as you would like to allow your captain to play through the struggles and right the ship, Ohio State is sitting at 2-5 in conference play and simply does not have that luxury anymore. Sueing isn’t just struggling to maintain what you’d expect of him, he’s struggling to help this team in any way, at all.
It’s a tough spot to be in as a head coach, but Sueing probably needs to hit the pine for a few games — it doesn’t matter how experienced he is.
Over the first 16 games of the season, Sueing averaged 14.1 points per game. Before his recent brutal stretch, he had scored in double digits in seven consecutive games — the most productive and consistent stretch of his Ohio State career. But over the last three games, Sueing is averaging 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. He’s shooting 26.7% over the last three games, including going 0-6 from beyond the arc. He’s also averaging three turnovers per game.
Aside from the paltry stats, Sueing has the yips. He’s missing layups and dunks. He’s missing free throws. He’s throwing chest passes at his teammates’ shins. He’s committing silly fouls on made baskets. It doesn’t strike me as a Marc Loving-esque “I just don’t care” struggle. More so, the struggles look like they’ve consumed him to the point where he can’t focus, and is therefore making a bunch of silly mistakes. For him and for his team, he might need to come off the bench for a few games.
In his place, I’d slide Tanner Holden into the starting lineup. Holden is averaging 4.8 points over 16 minutes per game, but he’s logged 20+ minutes in each of the last two games. He’s shooting 50% overall and 50% from three-point range, but has not attempted more than six shots in any game this season.
During a nasty stretch where this team looks disinterested so often, Holden has never looked lost, bored, or defeated. He always brings high effort on the defensive end, and has been very efficient shooting the basketball when given the chance. Simply for his hustle alone, he has earned some more run.
Starting Holden doesn’t mean he needs to play 30 minutes, and benching Sueing doesn’t mean he won’t still log 20-25 minutes off the bench. But the status quo isn’t working right now, and the Buckeyes have no choice but to mix it up starting on this weekend against the Hawkeyes.
Justin: Tanner Holden just needs to play more
When you are on a five-game losing streak, it is time to start really shifting some things around. Chris Holtmann has tried some different rotations and starting lineups, but I think it is time that we start to see more of the lefty from Wright State, Tanner Holden.
I agree with Connor that it might be time for Justice Sueing to come off the bench. I wouldn’t cut into his minutes too much, because he is still a solid player that just needs to get his confidence back, but coming off the bench might be helpful for him and take some of the pressure off.
I have been on the record saying that I don’t think the starting lineup is that important. This season, Holtmann has been making his first subs just three to four minutes into the game, so everyone that needs to get some run is getting in the game either right at the start or very early on.
In that regard, I am not necessarily saying that Holden needs to be inserted into the starting lineup. I am not opposed to him joining the starting five, but I don’t really care either way.
What I do want is for Holden to play more in general. Holden is currently averaging just over 16 minutes per game, and in those 16 minutes he is averaging 4.8 points per game and 3.0 rebounds per game. However, he has been very efficient, shooting 50 percent from the three-point line and 50 percent from the field.
Even though he is playing over 16 minutes per game, he needs to play more and also needs to be more of a focal point in the offense when he does play. Holden was an elite scorer at Wright State, averaging over 20 points per game and scoring 37 points in Wright State’s tournament game.
He also did this in December, and is the reason Ohio State is not 1-6 in conference play.
So in conclusion, I don't care if he starts, but Tanner Holden needs to play more and take a lead role in the offense.
Which lineup change makes more sense?
This poll is closed
Tanner Holden in for Justice Sueing, specifically (Connor)
Tanner Holden for anyone (Justin)
Other (Let us know in the comments)