The Ohio State men’s basketball team starts it 2016-17 season Nov. 11 when it travels to Annapolis, Md. to take on Navy. This will be the first time since the 2003-04 campaign that the Buckeyes open the season with a true road game. That year the team lost, 76-65, at San Francisco.
“Honestly, I’m ready to go,” head coach Thad Matta said Nov. 9. “I’m excited to play, I’m excited for the event that we’re in so from my standpoint I’m jacked up and ready to roll.”
Ohio State returns its top six statistical leaders from last year in junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, senior forward Marc Loving, sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle, junior forward Jae’Sean Tate, junior center Trevor Thompson and junior guard Kam Williams.
Though Thompson started a majority of the games last season (28 of 35), true freshman Micah Potter will be in the starting lineup vs. Navy that likely includes Bates-Diop, Loving, Lyle and Tate.
“I think so,” Matta said when asked if Potter will start against the Midshipmen. “We got two more practices to go, but we’ll see how that goes (Wednesday) and if we’re competing like we always do.”
Potter started the Buckeyes’ exhibition game against Walsh on Nov. 6, logging 16 minutes and shooting 2 of 6 from the field for six points.
As for the upcoming opponent, Matta said Navy is a gritty basketball team that is physical on defense and is well-coached.
“From what we’ve seen from last year and a little bit of this year, (Navy is) a very disciplined, tough basketball team,” he said. “They really have got some guys who can shoot the basketball. They’re going to run their stuff and are very physical on cutters.
“(Navy head coach) Ed (DeChellis) does a tremendous job of coaching his team. They’re going to be disciplined in the half-court offense, but they will push in transition. (If) they got an open three they’ll let it go.”
Junior guard Shawn Anderson will be one of those guys the Buckeye defense has to account for. He led Navy last year with 13.2 points per game and was second on the team with 2.6 assists per game.
Matta made it clear that he is excited for the season to begin. Now his players have to show they’re fired up for the new season.
“I hope so because they’re the ones playing,” Matta said when asked if he thinks his guys are eager to get the year started. “I think they will be. I think that, once again, it’s been a lot of hard work. This is our first opportunity to go out and see what we’re made of.”