After I wrote following the Alcorn State game that I was concerned about the Ohio State big men who were playing in Lauderdale's absence, it was correctly pointed out to me that there was nothing shocking about that statement. It's not like we can expect Kyle Madsen and Zisis Sarikopoulos to suddenly morph into game-changing big men, and I think we learned even more about them against James Madison.
Namely, that Sarikopoulos is a third-stringer regardless of having the biggest frame on the roster. He did not enter the game until 7:45 remained in the second half and the Buckeyes led 60-36.
Madsen got the start as Lauderdale continues to ease back into the flow of things, but he had an impact on the team's offense aside from his four rebounds and three points. The OSU offense went stagnant in the first half as the Dukes crawled back into things, and the Buckeyes have a lack of a post presence at least partially to blame.
Without having to respect the possibility of a lob into the post, the visitors were able to extend their defense further and put more pressure on outside shots and passes. It's not rocket science, I know, but it's also something that will not cut the mustard when Purdue comes to town, for example. And it certainly will hurt in a few days when the Buckeyes take on North Carolina in Madison Square Garden.
I know Lauderdale is not a game-changing big man yet. Entering the season, his career high is 11 points and he has scored 10 or more twice. But you have to hope that he can improve on last year's average of 4.7 points to help create some breathing room for the shooters outside.
Otherwise, I'm wondering if all the Evan Turners in the world would be enough to help the Buckeyes make a deep tournament run this spring.
I think … that this team does not have a sixth man.
We've had plenty of talk this season about how deep the bench is, and I've bought into it for the most part. Now, after two games, I have to wonder. If the bench is so deep, why did Thad Matta's "feel" for the game lead him to conclude that he could only rotate in Jeremie Simmons and Lauderdale – who is basically a starter – for the first 27 minutes of the game?
Turner did not come out of the game until there was 9:24 remaining in the second half and the score was 58-34. He wasn't one assist away from a triple-double this time, so why not put P.J. Hill in to replace him?
That's a bad sign.
The sixth man on this team might actually be Madsen once Lauderdale returns.
That's a bad sign.
I think the Buckeyes need a guy like Simmons to show he can come in, hit a few shots and keep things moving while William Buford, Jon Diebler or Turner catches a breather. I could also see Walter Offutt potentially playing this role.
We've heard a lot about the deep bench. Now let's get some measurements.
I think … that it's not all doom and gloom after the win against James Madison. Can Evan Turner average a double-double this year? All signs are starting to point to yes, although I'll withhold judgment until after the North Carolina game.
I also liked the effort put forth by Buford, who has apparently battled a flu bug that knocked him down by about seven pounds. He was a needed offensive spark aside from Turner in the first half.
In all, the Buckeyes are 2-0 and have time to examine some good film before facing the Tar Heels. I'm looking forward to seeing the results Thursday night.