It hasn’t been pretty all the time, but the Ohio State men’s basketball team is 12-2 on the season. Its leading two scorers — Roddy Gayle and Bruce Thornton — are both guards. Ohio State’s third guard, Dale Bonner, transferred in from Baylor this summer to give Thornton and Gayle some relief and to bring a little shooting off the bench.
The odd man out so far has been Taison Chatman, a former top-50 recruit who just hasn’t been able to break in to the rotation so far. Should that change? We’ll get into that soon enough...
Last week, Connor and Justin looked back at the best Ohio State men’s basketball teams of the past several decades, and each picked one team that they thought should have won the national championship. Connor went with the 2006-07 team, while Justin went with the 2010-11 team. 51% of the readers last week sided with Justin, while 49% went with Connor and the 2007 team.
After 133 weeks:
(There have been four ties)
This week, we’re talking about Chatman’s role on this Ohio State team. He’s played a total of 16 minutes so far, appearing in three games. Should he get at least a few minutes per night, or should Chris Holtmann avoid messing with the rotation that has gotten the Buckeyes off to their 12-2 start?
Today’s Question: Should Taison Chatman get more minutes in Big Ten play?
Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle are going to continue playing 35-40 minutes per game, as they should. The two of them, along with Jamison Battle, have pretty much carried the entire team over the last week or two. But outside of those three guys, you’re not seeing much offensive production from anyone else.
In Wednesday night’s game against Rutgers, those three combined for 57 of Ohio State’s 76 points. The other six players who saw the floor scored 19 points on a combined 7-of-18 shooting.
Most notably, Scotty Middleton and Dale Bonner have been struggling lately. Middleton has hit two of his last 19 shots over the last four games. He’s averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, and is shooting 35% overall from the floor. Bonner is four for his last 23 overall and two of his last 11 from beyond the arc over the last three games. Bonner is now shooting 32.6% this season overall, and an identical 32.6% from three-point land.
Chatman missed the first month of the season after undergoing a knee procedure in the pre-season. When he returned in late November, the rotation had already been more or less established, making it hard for him to find minutes in games that haven’t been blowouts. As stated earlier, Gayle and Thornton are each playing a baseline of 30 minutes per night, but usually more. Bonner has played 15-20 minutes per night behind or with them. Where does that leave Chatman?
In reality, there’s not much room for him to play significant minutes unless one of the other three guards gets hurt or someone is struggling mightily. I think we are getting close to the second scenario with how much Bonner has been struggling.
Bonner has found ways to contribute other than shooting — he’s grabbed five or more rebounds off the bench in three of the last four games. He’s avoided turnovers for the most part. But as his shooting percentage creeps closer and closer to 30%, you have to wonder if Chatman could start to eat into those minutes a bit.
I don’t think Bonner needs to be saddled to the bench and flip roles with Chatman, but I’m not sure you validate playing a guy shooting below 30% 20 minutes per game. Maybe Chatman starts popping in for four to five minutes per game, and we’ll just see how he does with those minutes. Maybe he’ll excel and earn more minutes, or maybe he’ll struggle mightily and lose even those few minutes.
Regardless, I think it’s fair to give him an opportunity to earn more minutes, especially if Bonner continues to struggle the way he has lately.
Justin: Not necessarily
First of all, I want to point out I am one of the biggest fans of Taison Chatman there is out there. He is a talented young player with an insanely bright future on this Ohio State team.
There are really two reasons why I don’t think Chatman should be playing right now. The first is that he has missed a lot of important time due to his injury. That obviously is not his fault, but as a freshman, those offseason workouts and non-conference play are vital to getting ramped up and prepared for the grind of conference play. Chatman missed a lot of that, and it may not be fair to toss him into that fire unless the staff is sure he is ready.
The second reason is strictly rotation-related. Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle make up one of the best backcourts in the conference, and possibly in the country right now, and they need to be on the court for 32-36 minutes a game.
That does not leave a lot of time for the backup guards to get in, and while Dale Bonner has been struggling to shoot the ball over the last couple of games, he still provides a high level of ball handling, facilitating, defense, and experience that are important as well.
It would be best, in my opinion, to let him get fully acclimated to the team, healthy and ready to go to be the backup to Thornton and Gayle next season when Bonner is gone.
Should Taison Chatman get more minutes in Big Ten play?
This poll is closed
Not necessarily (Justin)