What Mullens showed against UNC Asheville is that he does have the potential every national analyst in the country said about him all throughout the summer. After the Asheville game, we learned that the coaches have been simple in their teaching of Mullens: this move is good while this move is bad.
Watching one's own mistakes on tape can be the biggest way to help a young player improve, and it's obvious Mullens has had plenty of tape to watch so far. He is starting to put those lessons to work on the court, and the result is the player we saw Monday night.
Now the real test is whether or not he is able to continue putting it together against the bigger, more physical teams he is about to face as Big Ten play gets started in a few short days.
It will be interesting to see if Mullens earns starts when conference season rolls around or if the more powerful Dallas Lauderdale will play.
I think … I'm not sure who should be in the starting lineup anymore. I have a few names that should remain there – Evan Turner and Jon Diebler, your spotlight is ready – but other than that, I don't know.
It appears head coach Thad Matta is set on Jeremie Simmons at point, but do you go with the Buford and Madsen combination we saw against Asheville? The coaches and players have praised Madsen's contributions and effort, but he won't be a mainstay in the starting line. I still think Buford could be the sixth man of the year if he keeps playing the way he is, but at what point do you want that production to come out when the game starts?
I really liked the lineup OSU opened the second half with: Simmons, Turner, Diebler, Buford and Mullens. That quintet was able to help blow the game wide open in a variety of ways, but that is also a lineup without the game-changing shot-blocking capabilities of Lauderdale.
If Mullens continues to progress at a rapid rate, however, he has far more offensive potential than Lauderdale and figures to start taking some of the sophomore's minutes.
What lineup will we see when West Virginia comes to town? I truly believe that not even Matta himself knows the answer to that.
I think … Matta is greatly under-appreciated by the OSU fans. I've always sort of reserved my judgment on the man because I wanted to see how he would be able to respond from such rapid success enjoyed two seasons ago.
It's obvious that there were some serious growing pains last season, and we can talk at length about who is at fault there. But again tasked with molding a young team, this year's team is doing more with less talent than any team in recent memory. I think last year's Buckeyes might have had more overall ability, but this year's team is more of a team.
I give Matta all the credit for that.
I think … I also have to give Matta credit for being able to be so flexible this season. In the past, his substations have largely gone off like clockwork. This year, there is basically no rhyme or reason to some of the mixtures.
Matta is still evaluating all different kinds of lineups, and the sudden loss of a crucial player like David Lighty will have an effect we haven't yet seen. Still, the ability to juggle as many players as he has this season and keep OSU undefeated has been impressive.
I think … freshman point guard Anthony Crater and Mullens are continuing to develop some nice chemistry that I haven't seen in anyone else yet. Crater has a knack for anticipating where Mullens is going to be and has been lethal at times at getting him the ball.
As Mullens continues to grow, I believe we could see a trickle-down effect of more minutes for Crater as the season goes on. I still like the thought of having him running the point with Simmons more free to score and have an offensive impact.