COLUMBUS, Ohio - The most frustrating thing stemming from the 2013-14 Ohio State basketball season was easily the Buckeyes’ inability to knock down open, outside shots consistently. Or any shot consistently, for that matter.
Thad Matta said the shots his team took last season en route to its game-one exit in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of Dayton weren’t necessarily bad, but clearly something needed to be different.
“I think we haven’t changed, we’ve gotten more specific of the shots we want our guys shooting in the offseason,” Matta said Monday, the day before he and his team leaves for the Bahamas for two games. “And going back and looking at every guy’s shot, and giving him a video of everything and trying to tweak the minor details the best that we can, we’ve all done that.”
The Buckeyes struggled to score points last season, but a slew of new faces in the form of transfers and a highly rated freshman class are looking to change that.
“I hope so,” Matta said on if his team will be able to lean more on its offense compared to how it did with the defense last year. “But I know this — we still have to defend. You can't win at the level that we want to win at and not play defense. But hopefully with some multi-dimensional guys that we have, guys that can score the ball a lot of different ways, we're going to be able to put five guys out there that can get a great fluidness to them offensively. That's one of the things we've worked on this summer.”
One player who is likely to have the ball in his hands an awful lot this year is Shannon Scott, who is now the unquestioned point guard after the departure of Aaron Craft.
“I want Shannon to run this basketball team. I want Shannon to play with no fear. I want Shannon to play consistently,” Matta said. “The ups, the downs he's had in his career, hopefully those things are behind him.”
Whether or not those ups and downs are officially behind him will remain to be seen, but Scott is ready to move on to life without Craft.
“There’s four seniors now, but the role kinds of comes to us now. I feel like everybody understands that when they got a question now they have to come to us,” Scott said Monday. “They can’t go find Aaron anymore, they gotta come get it from us. So we gotta have great leadership.”
Getting Scott better acclimated to having the ball in his hands and working for more specific looks at the basket are on the front burners as the team heads to the Bahamas, where it is set to face off against the Bahamas All Stars (Thursday, 9 p.m.) and the Providence Storm (Friday, 7 p.m.). But the trip is also for another very important thing: developing team chemistry.
“I think the practices really helped us out in sort of developing an identity this summer and see how we can mesh with each other. So that'll be good and obviously we'll spend six days on an island in the Caribbean. That's never a bad thing,” senior Sam Thompson said. “Build some team chemistry, hang out on the beach and just enjoy ourselves. Have a good time.”
- Matta said the timing for a trip like this is good because of how many young and new players there are on the team.
- Matta said the program usually does a trip like this one out of four years, but waited an extra year because they knew they would have so many new players in the program this season.
- Matta said Anthony Lee has the potential to contribute in a big way this season, but has to stop overthinking some things on offense. He compared his body type and style of play to former Buckeyes Deshaun Thomas, LaQuinton Ross, Matt Sylvester and Othello Hunter.
- Freshman Jae’Sean Tate started practicing Sunday as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery. He is practicing every other day.
- Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson cannot go to the Bahamas with the team despite Ohio State’s appeal, but the NCAA still has not ruled on his eligibility for the 2014-15 season.
- Matta said after Scott, freshman D’Angelo Russell is next in line at point guard. Matta said he has the ability to be a big help this year.
- Russell did not practice Monday as he was suffering from flu-like symptoms.
- Matta said Trey McDonald had an “unbelievable” summer.
- Matta said they have been experimenting with playing some zone defense, because he already knows the team can play man-to-man.
- Despite playing alongside and sometimes behind Craft in his first three years, Scott said he never really considered transferring.
- Scott said the competition has been “great” so far this summer during practice.