Diebler Hoping To Expand Game

Ohio State fans have come to know Jon Diebler as a three-point specialist. After having already rewritten the school's record books, the prolific senior might be setting himself up for a more complete role on this year's squad.

With a record-breaking year in the books, Jon Diebler is looking for more in his final campaign at Ohio State.

As a junior, Diebler's 116 three-pointers set a program record for a single season. In the process, he pushed to the top of the school's all-time record books and opens this season with 260 career makes to his credit. It also marked the third straight season in which he increased his three-point percentage.

So while his ability to connect from long range has been well-established, Diebler said one of his goals for this season is to get back to his offensive approach in high school. That means getting to the basket with more regularity.

"This year, coach challenged me to be able to put the ball on the floor more and it's something I've taken to heart," he said. "I really worked on it. Not only is it going to make me better, but it's going to help our team out."

Head coach Thad Matta has continuously praised Diebler's overall game since his arrival in Columbus. Reflecting this, he has led the team in minutes played for the past two seasons. A deeper team this season could result in fewer minutes – a sign of team strength, not Diebler weakness.

"I know coach is excited about the guys we have coming in because they are capable of playing," Diebler said. "I know by us resting some, it's going to save us help us at the end of the year because at times, it may not have showed but if you play 40 minutes a night your body is going to get tired. It's just natural regardless of how good of shape you're in."

For the season, Diebler averaged 37.2 minutes per contest. Four players averaged at least 34 minutes a contest.

This year, he could be one of a few players tasked with helping nail down the point guard position. Matta has pointed out that although Evan Turner was the team's primary ball handler last season, players such as Diebler and David Lighty also helped out at the position throughout the season.

"If you look last year, there were times we ran Jon at the point, we ran Dave at the point, William Buford at the point," the coach said. "We had certain calls for those actions."

Last year's team also had the benefit of having taken a trip to Canada that afforded them 10 extra practices before the season got underway. It allowed Turner to get a head start on the switch to the point.

In the lone scrimmage open to the public, Diebler was positioned up high with junior guard William Buford as the two helped share the point guard responsibilities.

"You know you've got three guys who have logged a lot of minutes for you (in Diebler, Lighty and Buford) but I think that my hope is we're a lot deeper this year," Matta said.

To help prepare for that, Diebler said he spent the summer putting in extra work on his ability to handle the ball.

"Just adding that other dimension to my game has been exciting," he said. "I've worked extremely hard with (assistant) coach Brandon Miller every day before practice and before individual workouts doing ball-handling. Each day I'd do 20 minutes of ball-handling. When I come in on my own at night, (I'd be) working on a quick ball-handling drill. That's really going to help."

However, it is impossible to expect his primary responsibility to be anything but draining three-pointers for the Buckeyes.

"Coach said he obviously wants me working on ball handling but at the same time don't go away from what you do well," Diebler said. "I had to keep getting up shots and working on shooting on the move."

As a freshman, Diebler suffered through one of the most heavily scrutinized shooting struggles in recent history. Ohio's all-time leading prep scorer at Upper Sandusky, Diebler went 28.9 percent (48 for 166) from deep that season. Looking back, Matta said a roster that had lost five of its top six players from a team that played for a national title the year before had no choice but to rely heavily upon Diebler and his classmates.

Now a senior, Diebler has established himself as a top-notch shooter. Matta said he does not plan to ask him to make substantial changes to his primary responsibilities.

"One thing Jon can do is run as fast as he can down the floor, catch, shoot and make threes in transition," the coach said. "If you want to take that away from him knowing that the defense has to shift when he crosses halfcourt, those are the questions we've got to answer."

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