Gone is the ball-screen motion offense of a year ago and in its place is a scheme more focused on constant movement.
“This year there’s a lot more ball movement, a lot more player movement,” senior Sam Thompson said. “I think the ball will be moving from side to side much more than it did last year.”
That worked well against the River Hawks to the tune of 92 points, and while the level of competition is sure to increase going forward, the Buckeyes hope that their new style continues to lead to the type of balanced scoring that they got against UMass-Lowell. Five different players had double figures on Nov. 14 while senior point guard Shannon Scott was just short with nine.
“I think we succeeded in a lot of our offense in the UMass-Lowell game, but there’s still a couple of things that we’ve got to improve on, but for the most part we got a good feel for how we are going to run our offense this year, so we really liked that,” Scott said.
Not only was everyone getting involved in the scoring against the River Hawks, everyone was passing also. Ohio State recorded 20 assists in their opener, 11 by Scott, and the mindset of constant ball movement led to an unselfish attitude and a number of extra passes. Scott’s one 3, for example, came after freshman D’Angelo Russell passed up an open look to get the point guard an even better one.
“Basketball is a lot more fun when you share the ball,” sophomore Marc Loving said. “We feel like that as a team, just making the extra pass is second nature to us. We want to get that wide open 3, or the best shot we can and when we’re all on the same page it’s pretty tough for opponents to defend against.”
That sharing led to a lot of 3-point chances against UMass-Lowell as the Buckeyes hit 9-of-22 attempts from distance. That’s more attempts than Ohio State averaged last season (17.6) and the team connected on a higher percentage (40.9 to 32.4).
The addition of Russell and redshirt freshman Kam Williams will bolster the outside shooting this season while reports from practice indicate Thompson and Scott have both improved their outside strokes. However, the Buckeyes want to be careful that they don’t get too trigger-happy from deep and neglect the need to get the ball inside.
Ohio State only attempted nine free-throws against Walsh and 15 against UMass-Lowell. They hit 16 of them, just 67 percent.
“I think the reason that we didn’t shoot so many, I think we were settling a lot,” Scott said. “Our team’s 3-point shooting is a great asset to our team, so we are going to continue to do that, but we need to sometimes get to the rim and get fouls on their players and get them out of the game and get them going as well.”
While more free-throws would be welcome, the Buckeyes were largely happy with their first look at their new-look offense against the Cavaliers.