Cleaning The Glass: Illinois Road Edition

There were plenty of teachable moments in Ohio State's road loss to Illinois, and BSB men's basketball beat writer Adam Jardy offers up his take on the loss in the latest edition of "Cleaning The Glass."

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – I think … I was right to withhold judgment on this Ohio State team until seeing if it could strike gold twice. A road victory against Michigan was a vital turning point for a young team, but the real task was to see how it would be able to handle that momentum.

After the game against Illinois, we have our answer and it is not positive for the Buckeyes. Once again, a young team that seemed to be riding a wave of confidence apparently got too full of itself and was handed a cold, hard dose of reality.

Unfortunately, I think this is the Ohio State team we are going to see for the rest of the season. There will be flashes of brilliance, as wins against Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.) and, yes, Michigan have shown. But for this team to be truly considered among the elite, it will need to start leveling out the highs and the lows.

Either way, this game might become a defining moment in this team's evolution. A hard-fought conference road win was something that eluded the Buckeyes last season, and this win against the Wolverines showed them that they had the potential to be more successful than last season.

For all the talk about the team being a united front and as close-knit as ever, I thought it was telling that one of the first things out of freshman center B.J. Mullens' mouth immediately after the game was that they did not stick together.

They had better hope that does not happen from here on out.

I think … fans who are waiting for David Lighty to make his return and provide a spark to this team might want to stop holding their breath. I don't have any sort of inside information on the junior forward's prognosis, but I'm starting to think that we might not be seeing a return from the most experienced member of the roster at any point this season.

It has been a little more than one month since he went down with the fractured foot, and there is no news on how he is recovering or progressing. He's up and walking with a boot on his foot, but any questions about his status are met with no answers from head coach Thad Matta.

The initial diagnosis said Lighty should return in six to 12 weeks. If he was two weeks away from being able to be back on the court, I think someone would be talking about that by now.

Instead, silence greets the situation and Lighty continues to collect dust on the bench. I think you are seeing the same roster you will see in the final game of the season, wherever – and whenever – that might be.

I think … that the line about William Buford being tired against the Wolverines might not necessarily be the case. When Buford has sat for stretches, it has been as Matta has gone to a big lineup with Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens on the court at the same time.

In that alignment, Matta apparently likes having a point guard, Jon Diebler and Turner on the court to compliment his big men.

I can't say I'm against that line of thought, because I think anything that gives Buford a spell for a few moments is worth it. Asking Buford to play 35 minutes a game as a freshman is tough and will eventually begin to affect his scoring.

I think … P.J. Hill is the luckiest player to ever suit up in the Thad Matta regime.

I love the energy Hill brings to the table, and he is one of the most enjoyable people to talk to that I've encountered in my years covering Ohio State. But I know a liability when I see one, and Hill in the game is just that.

Defenders do not respect his shot because they have no reason to, and he does not pull up for open jumpers for a reason. When he has open looks to the basket, he instead pulls the ball out and looks to give it up to someone else. Offensively, OSU might as well be playing 4-on-5 when Hill is in the game.

After a Hill turnover near the middle of the court one point, I saw Matta roll his eyes and gesture as if to say, "Yeah, that's P.J." You absolutely can not fault the guy's effort, but he is what he is and he's not going to drastically improve.

For that, Matta has two players to thank: Mike Conley for being so good so quickly and Anthony Crater for not having half the discipline Hill has and bolting from the program so abruptly.


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