Observing A Blowout

The Buckeyes dismantled UMass-Lowell to open the season, while the competition left something to be desired, there was still plenty to learn from the 92-55 win.

The Ohio State basketball team kicked off their season Friday against UMass-Lowell and, as expected, blew the doors of the River Hawks 92-55. While that level of domination may not yield the most riveting of contests, there was still plenty to see in Value City Arena. Here are my takeaways from a dominating performance:

  • Outside the arc: While the River Hawks zone defense certainly dictated the Buckeyes shot chart some, Ohio State seemed content to shoot 3’s against UMass-Lowell and unlike last year, it appears they have the perimeter shooters to be successful outside the arc. The team finished 9-of-22 from 3 (40.9 percent) and five different players hit at least one. The Buckeyes shot just 32.4 percent from three last season on an average of 17.6 per game.

    Sure, the opponent had a lot to do with the long-range success, but I expect this version of the Buckeyes to shoot and make more 3's than last season. The team is well-suited for it with multiple shooters with range and an offensive style that has the ball flying around the perimeter. Kam Williams, Marc Loving, Sam Thompson and D'Angelo Russell each hit two while Shannon Scott had one.

  • Instant offense: Speaking of Williams, he is going to be a difference-maker off the bench this season. The redshirt freshman had 12 points in just 13 minutes and really caught fire in the second half. He appeared to settle down a bit after the break and hit all four of his second-half attempts, scoring 10 in the period. We heard about his ability to shoot before last season, one he redshirted due to mononucleosis, but he is also an explosive athlete.

    Thompson is clearly comfortable with Williams in the role of bench scorer.

    "He really hunts buckets," he said of Williams. "That’s just what he does. He knows that his job on this team is to put the ball in the basket."

  • Russell stars: Williams was far from the only freshman contributor and D'Angelo Russell headlined the bunch. While the competition was suspect, his 16 points, six assists, three steals and four rebounds suggest he's as good as advertised. He scored or assisted on 6 straight points in just a 20 second window in the first half.

  • Scott's turn: After three years of waiting behind Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott got his first opportunity to be the starting point guard Friday, and he looked every bit the part with nine points and 11 assists. He's lightening quick with the ball in his hands and well-suited to get out and run, a focal-point for this year's team. He had just two turnovers and seems more than ready to direct the offense.

  • Zone still needs work: Defensively, the Buckeyes exclusively played zone, extending to full-court pressure on made baskets. Ohio State certainly has the length to play that way, but it was obviously still a work in progress. The River Hawks struggled to go over the top of the Buckeyes guards to get to the middle of the zone, but exploited the corners at times. The back line will have to improve communication to clean that up going forward.

    "It’s just all about our awareness, our talk and communication and just getting the ball under control," Thompson said. "When we can dictate what the offense does, when we can keep it out of the corners and keep ourselves out of the scramble situations we can do good things defensively.”

  • Rebounding concerns Despite the margin of victory, there were some negatives Friday. The Buckeyes outrebounded the River Hawks 35-24, but considering UMass-Lowell didn't start a player over 6-5, that disparity probably should have been greater. Boxing out can be an issue when playing a zone defense, but the Buckeyes will need more aggressive rebounding from their bigs. Trey McDonald did well, pulling in seven rebounds in 13 minutes, but Anthony Lee and Amir Williams had just three apiece.

    "When I get out there I just want to control the boards, got to do a better job with that going forward," Lee said.

The Buckeyes take the court next on Tuesday with a 7:30 p.m. tip against Marquette.

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