This team will live and die with Jared Sullinger — And given how good this kid is, it may not die very often. Though Sullinger got off to an incredibly slow start a quick nudge by his head coach turned into a 27-point, 13-rebound performance. When Sullinger wants to assert himself in the paint there aren't a lot of people in college basketball that are going to be able to stop him. And what is amazing is the way he does it. It isn't flashy. He didn't particularly stand out to me in the game then I looked at the stats monitor and he had 20 points and 10 boards. He is just a very impressive kid and has really taken on the form of a leader.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. could be the next "Mr. Do It All" — It didn't take long for me to realize why Matta fell in love with this kid this year. He is long, he plays hard and he plays good defense. It just seems like he does everything out there, whether it is grabbing key rebounds or throwing down monster one-handed jams when his team needs the momentum. Though Smith had a miserable time at the free throw line (he went 1-for-6 from the charity stripe), he finished with seven points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes. He is just making an impact in a variety of different ways and as long as he is doing that he isn't going to come out of the starting lineup.
Evan Ravenel needs to hit the boards — I have been extremely impressed with the way Ravenel has come off the bench this year and I think he did another solid job against North Florida. However, the one statistic that stood out to me is that he grabbed only one rebound in nine minutes on the floor. Though his playing time was limited he did score four points, but his impact is going to be made on the boards. Matta probably would have loved to see another board or two out of the team's top bench player.
Free throw shooting has to improve — I think it is becoming clear that this team is going to rely on more 3-point plays than makes from beyond the arc. Though things could still be developing in terms of who is going to replace Jon Diebler's precision from long range, one thing will always remain constant – this team is going to get to the free throw line. That said, Matta will look long and hard at the numbers and see his team only converted 25-of-40 attempts from the charity stripe. Against better competition, this team simply cannot afford to leave 15 free points out there.
J.D. Weatherspoon lacking defense? — That's the only explanation I have for why this guy isn't getting more time. Though he was limited to only seven minutes, he didn't check into the game for the first time until nearly midway through the second half. In that time Weatherspoon scored seven points and grabbed a rebound. In Ohio State's win over Jackson State Weatherspoon played 17 minutes and created a spark offensively. Every time he sees the floor he brings good energy, which leads me to believe that Matta isn't quite comfortable with where he is defensively.
Amir Williams grabs three boards — We didn't get to see a lot of Williams out there – he played nine minutes – but two of his three rebounds needed to have a little muscle and he got it done. The major knock on Williams is that he lacks the strength to bang in the paint right now, but it was nice to see him work on against UNF.
Matta had to put his starters back in — Matta cleared his bench in the second half and let his reserves take a run at playing. Just four or five minutes into that experiment, Matta had his entire starting lineup back at the scorers table. If I know Matta as well as I think I do, that will have him up tonight thinking about what went wrong with those guys on the floor. Still yet to come a decision on his rotation, that isn't the showing he probably would have liked to see.
Jordan Sibert could have an integral role — Ohio State made only 4-of-17 shots from beyond the arc. Without Diebler, this team is in desperate need of a sharp shooter who can knock down big shots from beyond the arc. Sibert is supposed to be that guy and in the game he knocked down 1-of-2 attempts from long range. However, he played only 15 minutes and seems like the clear No. 2 behind Smith. However, I have a hard time thinking Matta would keep him out of the rotation if he can be that guy that can give them a lift there. He shoots the ball with confidence, so he is capable of it.
Some easy shots in the first half — I asked Sullinger after the game what led to some of the easy buckets UNF got and he complimented them as a team. While I am not trying to insult the Ospreys, the bottom line was there seemed to be a lot of defensive breakdowns in the first half that led to easy looks for the opposition. Ohio State is going to be a team that is going to keep other teams hard-pressed to score, but at times it just seemed too easy for UNF. Simply put, they got to the rim with ease at times.