Ah yes, Ohio State men’s basketball. The big beautiful dumpster fire that looks to once again be headed in the wrong direction as we approach the final stretch of the season.
After a loss to Nebraska on Tuesday night, the Buckeyes are now 3-5 in Big Ten play, and have fallen out of everyone’s bracket predictions for the NCAA Tournament. Just a few weeks ago, this team was projected to be a six or seven-seed. Boy, how things can change quickly.
While it wasn’t the headline of Tuesday night’s game, something funny happened with 7:35 remaining — Bowen Hardman checked in. Ohio State was trailing by 16 on the road, and nothing was working. It was clearly a “throw everything at the wall and see if something sticks” move by Chris Holtmann. Hardman responded by scoring 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three. More on him in a bit.
Last week, Connor and Justin debated what Ohio State would need to improve on if they wanted to even the score with Penn State at home (spoiler alert, they did). Connor said the Buckeyes need to guard Ace Baldwin and Kanye Clary better. Justin said the Buckeyes just need to hit more three-pointers. 67% of the people sided with Justin, and Ohio State won, too!
After 136 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
By most accounts, Bowen Hardman has been Ohio State’s best shooter since he stepped foot on campus. He hasn’t played because pretty much every other aspect of his game lags far behind what is needed to compete at this level. But after his tryout of sorts on Tuesday, should Hardman see the floor more often?
Today’s Question: Is it time to have the Bowen Hardman conversation?
Connor: Sure, why not?
Things are heading south quickly for Ohio State, and unlike past seasons where the Buckeyes’ offense kept chugging along despite a bad defense, right now they’re struggling at both ends of the floor. Ohio State has been held under 70 points six times this season, but four of those games have come in the last few weeks (four of their last five games).
One of those games was Nebraska this past week, when Ohio State struggled offensively and put up 69 points. During the second half, as the Cornhuskers pulled away, Chris Holtmann subbed in Hardman with 7:35 left to go, in place of Dale Bonner. Hardman responded by scoring 11 points over the last seven minutes or so, knocking down four of his eight shots.
More than a few fans have asked why Hardman never plays, when his teammates say he is the team’s best shooter and that part of his game was already pretty refined coming out of high school. Chris Holtmann said last year that Hardman’s just not physically built or ready for this level of basketball, and truth be told if that’s really true, there’s never going to be a path for him to play.
But if the season is spiraling, Ohio State needs guys out there who can hit shots. Maybe he can’t defend and maybe he’s not going to viciously attack the glass for rebounds, but Hardman can hit shots. So at this point, why not?
I’m not advocating for Hardman to play 15 minutes a game, nor should he take minutes away from Bruce Thornton or Roddy Gayle. But five or six minutes per game, maybe Hardman knock down a three or two that sparks his teammates when things go dry.
It’s okay to say it like it is — Hardman was an early commitment in the class of 2022 that didn’t pan out. He looks physically overmatched on the floor, and has already been passed over by freshmen on the depth chart. But if we’re in, “just throw anything against the wall” mode, that should also include Hardman.
Justin: Give me extended Taison Chatman minutes instead
It was hard to judge Bowen Hardman off his play in the Nebraska game, as he was clearly brought in to give them a spark shooting and shot the ball every possession. He was solid, shooting 3-for-6 from the field, 2-for-5 from three-point range, with eight points.
I am not opposed to Bowen Hardman’s minutes off the bench. He looked good against Nebraska, and we know he can shoot at a high level, but Taison Chatman did not play in this one, and that is where I want those minutes to go if they are looking for a spark.
I understand why it was Hardman and not Chatman in this contest, because Chris Holtmann was clearly looking for a shooting spark, and Hardman provided that over Chatman. However, Chatman provides a higher ceiling.
Chatman has not played much this season as he recovers from two separate injuries and missed a lot of the offseason. He has looked okay in the minutes he has played, but at this point in the season and the position the team is in, it really can’t hurt to give Chatman some more minutes and let him get more comfortable.
Dale Bonner has struggled at times, and Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle can’t play 40 minutes a game. Maybe Chatman is the bridge player to help that.
At this point, it is all hands on deck to save the season. Also, you want Chatman to be here next season.
Should Bowen Hardman see more playing time?
This poll is closed
Sure, why not? (Connor)
No, give me extended Taison Chatman minutes instead (Justin)