This was a game the Buckeyes could have won and should have won. They have more players who have taken on big roles in big games, but you would not have been able to tell by watching the first 38 minutes of that game. Both teams played sloppy basketball, but the Tar Heels had an advantage the Buckeyes do not: the ability to force the ball inside and make something happen.
OSU head coach Thad Matta had better hope Dallas Lauderdale magically becomes able to play 30 minutes a game and hold down the middle of the court, because he is the only post presence on this team. Kyle Madsen is a very nice kid, and I can appreciate a hard worker who gets the most out of a body with limited abilities (that was me in high school), but he is simply a liability on both ends of the court against above-average competition.
I would inject Zisis Sarikopoulos into this conversation, but there is nothing to say about the sophomore until he sees meaningful game action.
Without that inside presence, the Tar Heels were able to extend their defense against the Buckeyes and take away driving lanes. That meant Jon Diebler and William Buford had defenders in their faces for nearly the entire game and Evan Turner and David Lighty had little room to drive.
The importance of an inside game was further hammered home when both Buford and Diebler opened the game ice-cold from the floor. Buford in particular looked like it was the third game of his career and not his sophomore season in college.
OSU can survive a cold shooting night from Buford or Diebler but not both.
Right now, it's hard not to think that this will be a recurring theme this season. The Buckeyes are the definition of a doughnut team right now.
I think … that the addition of Sarikopoulos and Nikola Kecman last year is making me scratch my head. I can appreciate the physical presence Z brings to the court, and I know you can't teach 7-0, but I'm not sure I really see where he fits in long-term on this team. Again, a very nice kid and a hard worker, but I don't know that he will ever be more than a bit player in the future.
As for Kecman, I have no idea why Matta went to bat to land him other than he must see something special in him. I will say that it has not yet been a year since he suffered a torn ACL, meaning he still has a long way to go to be considered fully healthy.
I guess I'll give him a pass at least until mid-January, but I can't say I really see a way he plays a meaningful moment this season either.
I think … that Turner is going to get criticized for his 10-turnover performance against the Tar Heels, but I still think he's the best option at point guard. You are going to have to take the good with the bad from Turner
There will be nights like this one where the bad seems to far outweigh the good, but he is a good enough of a player that the good nights will be great ones during which he is capable of doing just about anything on the court.
I think … my game ball goes to P.J. Hill, for reminding us why he's emerged as a fan (and media) favorite in the past two seasons. I'm not sure how many charges he took against the Tar Heels, but there is no player on this roster more ready to sacrifice his own body for the good of the team than Hill.
His approach is unorthodox at best, and he is not a long-term solution by any means, but the kid knows how to get the maximum amount of ability out of his body.