Sibert's Defense Led To Lack Of Playing Time

With Ohio State preparing to face Dayton guard Jordan Sibert on Thursday, many are talking about the former Buckeyes' ability to shoot the ball. But current OSU guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. says that it wasn't Sibert's shooting that led to his lack of playing time, rather it was his inconsistency on the defensive end of the floor.

You've heard it already.

Jordan Sibert left Ohio State for Dayton and now the shooting-challenged Buckeyes wish that they had the Flyer guard's sharpshooting stroke heading into the NCAA Tournament, where they'll meet Dayton in Thursday's opening round.

You've also heard the rebuttal.

While in Columbus, Sibert didn't shoot at the same effective clip that he is now, as evidenced by his 17.9 percent increase in shooting percentage from beyond the three-point arc this season.

But is Sibert's shooting really the reason he left Ohio State? According to one Buckeye, not as much as you'd think.

LINK: SIBERT TALKS BATTLING BUCKEYES

A four-star prospect from Cincinnati Princeton, Sibert entered his sophomore season as the expected replacement for Jon Diebler at Ohio State's shooting guard position. But when 2011-12 season opened up, it was Lenzelle Smith Jr. -- not Sibert -- playing with the Buckeyes' first five. And by season's end Sibert had been practically eliminated from Ohio State's rotation altogether, sitting out 14 of the Buckeyes' final 18 games.

Asked what it was that allowed him to jump Sibert in the OSU pecking order, it wasn't shooting that Smith pointed to. Rather, the now-senior said that it was what Sibert didn't do when his shots weren't falling that ultimately led to his ouster at Ohio State.

"You have to be able to play a certain level of defense to play on this team," Smith said. "As well as he's done on offense, I don't know if he has the capability of playing the same type of caliber defense that we need."

Asked about Sibert's time in Columbus, Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta echoed Smith's sentiment.

"That was probably one of the things thinking back on it," Matta said of Sibert's defense and decreased playing time. "Defensively back then, Sam Thompson coming in as a freshman at the end of that year was really becoming a athletic defender. We used him down the stretch for defensive purposes."

As a result, Sibert's minutes dwindled as he failed to make up for a 26 percent three-point shooting percentage on the other end of the floor. Minutes can be had at Ohio State despite inconsistent shooting, but only if a player is finding ways to affect the game in other ways.

Need an example? Look no further than Smith, who admittedly has gone through slumps shooting the ball over the course of his college career. But the 6-4, 210-pounder has remained a mainstay in the Buckeyes rotation thanks to his all-around game, which offers more than just his streaking shooting.

"If you struggle on offense, your defense better be on top of (its) game. If you can, 10 rebounds or at least five steals," Smith said. "Those are things I know I don't have to worry about."

At Dayton, Sibert hasn't needed to do the little things that kept him off the court at Ohio State. Shooting 43.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc while averaging a team best 12.5 points per game, he has proven to be a more than viable offensive weapon, which would have likely made up for his shortcomings and led to more playing time with the Buckeyes two years ago.

But could Sibert have found the same type of success in Columbus that he's now enjoying in Dayton? Smith is skeptical.

"We go at it a little bit differently in practice and the games," Smith said. "When he struggled, he wasn't producing the same type of effort on defense and that's what I think got to him a little bit. I think he just tried to make the best decision for him and his game style and I guess it wasn't here.

"He's successful where he is now. I don't think that would necessarily make him successful for this program."


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