Today the OSU basketball team won their first game of the season against a ranked opponent, beating Indiana 82-70. It’s a nice win, but it sure took a while to get it — a lot longer than we’ve come to expect during the Ohio State career of Coach Thad Matta.
This year’s Buckeyes squad has had a scrappy journey so far. The Buckeyes have three key seniors — Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, and Amir Williams — and many fans have been disappointed in their play. Williams, in particular, has been hard to figure out; he’s got the size, but seems to lack the competitive fire that has characterized some of Coach Matta’s other products, like David Lighty and Aaron Craft. It is noteworthy, perhaps, that today’s win came in a game where Williams did not play at all.
Coach Matta is trying to mix the seniors in with some stellar freshman that include D’Angelo Russell and Jae’Sean Tate, who led the Buckeyes in scoring today, redshirt freshman Kam Williams, and sophomore Marc Loving. It’s fair to say that the Buckeyes are a work in progress, and the gears don’t really seem to be meshing yet. Trying to make the pieces fit and motivate the players who don’t seem to be giving it their all, and win a few more key games in the process, will be one of Coach Matta’s toughest assignments.
The Buckeyes’ next game, against a pretty good Maryland team, will tell us a lot about whether today’s result was a fluke — or maybe the start of something better. We’ll see whether Coach Matta can pull another rabbit out of a hat.