Tuesday night some friends invited Kish and I to watch the Buckeyes play Illinois at the Schott. We had a great time watching the Buckeyes beat up on a traditional Big Ten power.
I don’t know what will happen for the rest of the season or in the NCAA Tournament. I do know, however, that this is one of the most entertaining basketball teams I’ve ever watched. They play great defense. They rebound well. They can get out and run with anyone, and in David Lighty they have one of the best finishers in the college game. They can play a slow-down game and fire away from the outside, with Jon Diebler and William Buford. They can work the ball inside to Jared Sullinger, one of the best post position players in America. And, with Aaron Craft, they can break a press, break down a defense on a drive down the lane, and unmercifully harass the opposing point guard with in-your-shirt defense.
Tuesday’s game was a great example of the enormous entertainment value of this team. In the first half, Illinois shot the ball about as well as a college team can reasonably expect — at one point, the Illini were 8 of 9 from three-point land — and still the Buckeyes led by 15 at the half. They did so because they forced turnovers and were ridiculously efficient at the offensive end, with William Buford leading the way. In the second half, after Illinois closed the gap to 6 points, David Lighty grabbed the game by the throat and simply wrestled it into submission. He hit threes, he made steals that led to breakaway dunks, and he took the ball to the rack, and the Buckeyes pulled away.
I really enjoy watching these guys play. Thad Matta has produced another great team.