That being said, there are a number of encouraging signs that came out of a 102-56 doubling-up of NAIA Division II foe Walsh on Sunday afternoon, the biggest of all is that this team looks to be a matchup nightmare. Where would you start trying to take away from this OSU squad? Focus on the big men, and there are a number of guards who are going to make you pay. Put the attention on the perimeter and watch as Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale put up big numbers in the paint.
Both facets of the game complemented each other nicely in this one. I'll highlight one possession as an example. With the ball at the top of the circle, freshman DeShaun Thomas made a nice post feed to classmate Jared Sullinger on the left block. Sullinger immediately drew a double team, so he kicked it out to junior William Buford on the wing.
Spying a crease, Buford attacked the baseline and drew the attention of the defense, which then left Sullinger wide open for a pass from Buford. It went off his hands and out of bounds, but you get the idea.
I saw OSU making a conscious effort to feed the post for the first time since Greg Oden was in uniform, and I saw the ball getting kicked back out to the perimeter for the first time since … well, I'm not sure. This team should have great balance.
I think … that a lot of the concerns about the point guard position – many of which were raise by me – are rapidly being answered. Both William Buford and Aaron Craft were solid in their first go-rounds at the point but the position does not figure to be settled anytime soon.
Buford was all over the court in the early going, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the first half before resting for much of the final stanza. Craft filled out the sheet, going for eight assists and no turnovers while also popping in 12 points and four boards. His hustle created a number of opportunities for his teammates.
David Lighty saw some time there but is clearly not the answer. He is a lot of things for this team but a point guard is not one of them. The coaches decided during camp that Jon Diebler will not run the point either, so it is clearly up to Buford and Craft. I like the early returns here, but to answer a question I posed earlier, this would probably be where I would start trying to attack the Buckeyes.
I think … that among the freshmen, Sullinger and Craft are obviously going to be big factors this season. After that, things get a little murkier.
To me, the biggest question mark is going to be Thomas. The former five-star prospect looked raw and a step slow on a number of occasions against Walsh, and the moves I witnessed out of him will simply not work against bigger, stronger and faster opponents. He didn't score a million points in high school by accident, but I think we're going to see some significant growing pains here similar to what Diebler experienced upon his arrival.
Jordan Sibert and J.D. Weatherspoon each to me look to be at least a year away from having any tangible impact on a game. No doubt about the athletic ability each possesses, but I see them being at the end of the rotation. Matta said he hopes to go nine deep this season, but that will inevitably shrink to eight or seven by the time tournament play rolls around. I'm not sure either of them will fit into that.
The return of Lenzelle Smith will help from a depth standpoint, but Matta pointed out after the game that he has not played for about six months and is clearly behind. His profile will grow as the season does, but it's hard to project a significant role for him at this time.
I think … that an incredible stat lost in all of Sunday's fireworks is this one: Diebler finished with five points on 2 of 3 shooting. I can't think of too many times where Diebler only needed to take three shots regardless of the skill level of the opponent.
Also, I have to mention that his second jumper came when he faked on a trey, got his defender to jump and then dribbled inside the arc for a pull-up jumper. The senior talked a lot about expanding his game during the summer and this was one sign of that.
He's going to play a big role on this team, but I'll be curious to see how many times he finishes among the team's leading scorers this season because I'm not sure they'll need him to do so.
I think … that Lauderdale has shown considerable improvement on the offensive end. I saw him put the ball to the hardwood, spin and cut into the lane from the baseline to put one in off the glass. I can't say that I saw much of that out of the big man last season.
We've seen flashes out of Lauderdale on a number of occasions throughout his OSU career. The Buckeyes must hope that this is not a flash but rather a change that is here to stay.