Jard Work: St. Francis Edition

It was a blowout from the early going, but that does not mean there is nothing to be learned from Ohio State's decisive victory against St. Francis. Beat writer Adam Jardy empties out his notebook and shares his thoughts on the Buckeyes after their victory against the Red Flash.

I think … that, for me at least, the Ohio State game against St. Francis was a blessing in disguise in that it allowed me the opportunity to watch the game without worrying about taking down notes on a play-by-play basis.

I stopped doing so early in the second half and turned my attention solely to the court to try and get a better feel for some of the players on the roster.

The first guy I really noticed was Jeremie Simmons. I've been as critical of the guy as anyone ever since his arrival last season, but he is learning his role on this team and starting to show signs of being able to hold it down. He entered the game averaging 8.0 points in 13.6 minutes of action and had a team-high 18 against the Red Flash. It should be noted, however, that 15 of those points came in the second half when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

I like the upside of Zisis Sarikopoulos. He's still a project in basically every sense of the word, but he plays hard, has quick feet that belie his lumbering body and has a post move or two. Potential doesn't show up on the stat sheet.

Neither does hustle, which works against P.J. Hill. On one possession, Hill came up with the steal, drove the length of the course and attacked the rim despite gong up against two guys decidedly bigger than him.

He missed, then somehow corralled his own rebound, drove the basket and drew a foul. He converted both free throws. Still needs some work on that three-point shot, however.

Finally, this team is the most unselfish team I've covered at OSU. I think these guys truly care about each other and don't care who is scoring, as long as someone is. Every team says that, but it's something else to truly believe it as I think these guys do.

I think … that it is a good sign that the Buckeyes have immediately turned to Dallas Lauderdale on their first possession in each of the last two games. The junior center appears to be fully healthy and in the flow of the offense, and his two early dunks in the past two games have sent a message that OSU will go inside.

I'm still curious to see how that holds up against bigger, better opponents than the likes of Lipscomb and St. Francis, but I like the effort. In addition, his six blocks spearheaded a team block party that ended with 11.

Also, don't overlook this stat line: the Buckeyes had 42 points in the paint and assisted on 22 of 39 shots. For the game, OSU was 39 for 62 (.629) from the field. That will win games.

I think … that for once, I have nothing negative to say about head coach Thad Matta's substitution pattern in this game. He got Evan Turner out of the game before the midway point of the second half, and he got his numbers: 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists against three turnovers.

No player saw more than 28 minutes in this one, which is exactly how it should be when you are winning by more than 60 points. A lot of players got some significant minutes that will have their confidence high heading into Wednesday's game against Florida State.

Along those line, I like the fact that William Buford was the one to see the most minutes against the Red Flash. The sophomore has struggled in his last three outings, going a combined 8 for 33 (.242) from the floor along the way. He still looked out of sorts to an extent against St. Francis but finished 5 for 9 from the floor with 15 points – his second-highest scoring output of the season.

In addition, he added three assists and looked confident pushing the ball up the court.

It's exactly the type of game Buford needed heading into the showdown with the Seminoles.

I think … that Sarikopoulos is also the biggest cheerleader on this team – literally. If you get the chance, watch the Buckeye bench after a big play. He's the first guy on his feet cheering every time.

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