We’re still a few weeks away from the start of the college basketball season for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and already you can feel the excitement building. This week, the first coaches’ poll of the season came out, and the Buckeyes landed at number 3. It’s meaningless, of course — but this year should be interesting.
I thought Ohio State was one of the best teams in the country last year, and though they’ve lost a lot — David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale were crucial parts of the rotation — they kept a lot, too. Jared Sullinger is a year older and, from the pictures I’ve seen, a lot lighter, too. He’s supposedly been working on his outside game to go with his excellent inside game, and if he’s developed a solid outside shot he should be close to unstoppable. Silky smooth William Buford, who wisely decided to nix the NBA draft — especially wise, in view of the NBA strike — will be looking to wash the bad taste of last year’s last game out of his mouth. I’ll be particularly interested in seeing how pesky defender Aaron Craft, who quickly became the OSU player opposing fans most love to hate, has developed his game in the off season. And what about Deshaun Thomas — who at times was a scoring machine and seemed to have almost intuitive rebounding skills? Has he been working on his defense?
It will be up to coach Thad Matta to mold a team around these guys, and it should be fun to watch. Other pieces of the puzzle are Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who played a bit last year, J.D. Weatherspoon, who was sidelined for most of last year, and some true freshmen whom Buckeye Nation hope will make a contribution: Amir Williams, a 6-11 center, and Shannon Scott, a point guard. It will be a young team — Buford is the team’s only senior — and a team where the rotations and the chemistry have yet to be worked out. Coach Matta’s always been very skilled at the chemistry equation, and I hope this year is no different.
It is rare indeed when excitement about Ohio State basketball rivals excitement about Ohio State football, but this is one of those years. Let’s get the basketball season started!