The Campbell Camels (1-2) visit Value City Arena tonight for a 7 p.m. tip with No. 16 Ohio State (3-0).
The Buckeyes are fresh off their 106-48 decimation of Sacred Heart and are shooting a nation-leading 60.8 percent from the field early this season. Ohio State has not faced the stiffest competition to date, shutting down UMass-Lowell and an undersized Marquette unit in addition to the Pioneers, and head coach Thad Matta said that this early in the season the focus is internal.
“A lot of it is we are going to look at positioning and movement and are we doing what we are supposed to do,” Matta said when asked what can be gained from such lopsided wins. “Are we where we are supposed to be? Are we shortcutting things, if you are supposed to be here, are you here? Movement defensively, just the reads of where we are supposed to go, I think that’s the biggest thing we took out of Sunday’s game. When we do what we’re supposed to do we are a lot better than when we try to shortcut stuff.”
Their 106-point outburst against Sacred Heart was the most the Buckeyes had scored since December of 2009 and the first time they had cracked 100 since the 2010-11 season. A big part of that is the pace with which Ohio State is playing. Matta said that so far this team is playing faster than any he has ever coached.
The Buckeyes are averaging over 60 shots per game, seven more per contest than they did a year ago, and Matta is using a 10-man rotation that has allowed him to keep his team fresh. The results have been promising, shown not only by the team’s shooting percentages, but by individual numbers. D’Angelo Russell put up 32 points against Sacred Heart, tied for the second-most ever by a freshman, and Shannon Scott broke the single-game assist record with 16.
The Camels, meanwhile, have struggled. Campbell has lost their last two contests, by 16 to Colgate and 34 to Davidson. They’re shooting just 47.1 percent from the floor and the Camels are averaging 16.7 assists per game, just three more than Scott is putting up per contest by himself. Matta said that when playing such an overmatched opponent it’s best to go in with internal goals.
“We’ll go in to (tonight’s) game with objectives offensively and defensively and we have to meet those,” the coach said. “If we meet them we think we have a really good chance to win. So we sometimes guess wrong as coaches and have to change the objectives? Yeah. But with our guys, I think they’re going in to (tonight) saying we have to do these things and we have to do them well.”
The Buckeyes have a premiere matchup with No. 6 Louisville looming on Dec. 2, but the team and the coaches offered assurances that the lowly Camels where the sole focus. Trey McDonald gave the exact answer you would expect from a senior when asked about focusing on lesser competition.
“We just take them one at a time, we don’t want to look ahead or past anyone,” he said. “So we’re just going to focus on the next game coming up. We’re going to debrief and look at the things we did well last game and the things we can improve on and just move forward to the next game.”
The Buckeyes claim they’re not looking ahead, and with so much room for internal improvement on the young roster, maybe they’re not. After all, they have to get over the hump first.
BONUS CAMEL LOGO RANKINGS Greetings, loyal Blake Williams reader. Ryan Ginn here. Because I have so much respect for a school that chooses to call itself the Campbell Camels, I volunteered to supplement his preview with a ranking of the Camel logos the school has used over the years.
5. The Llama Camel
This camel is not even a camel. It is a llama. Disgraceful.
4. The Clip Art Camel
Hey, at least it’s a camel. I am, however, concerned about its ability to walk. The front right leg looks like a paperclip. Is it doing some sort of Navy SEAL crawl?
3. The Bodiless Camel
This camel is lacking a full body. So is the upcoming camel, but this one just has a paltry letter C next to it, not lots of letters that form words.
2. The Aggressive Camel
This camel is here to mix it up. In addition to growling, all subtlety goes by the wayside with his declaration that he is a fighting camel.
1. The Classic Camel
Finally, a classy camel. This logo provides a full glimpse at the regal beast the school has chosen to call its own. It can also walk properly, unlike Clip Art Camel. Just a winner any way you look at it.