We've seen the Buckeyes struggle to figure out how to attack a zone manned by an outmanned Presbyterian team. We've seen them struggle to get into a rhythm against a Delaware State team determined to take the air out of the basketball, and now we saw them struggle at times against Cleveland State's man-to-man defense after initially shredding the Viking zone early on.
But these are small lessons against small teams. I am hard-pressed to say that the Buckeyes have any chance of going into Wisconsin for the start of Big Ten play and coming out with a victory.
For starters, I do not know where the offense will come from. David Lighty obviously had a big night against CSU with a career-high 30 points, but OSU got exactly one point from its bench. William Buford finished with 13 points but was 5 of 14 from the floor and was somehow only officially credited with five turnovers. I thought it was much higher than that.
At times, Buford looked like he had no business being on the floor. I guess that's just youth rearing its head, but the Buckeyes will not win many Big Ten games without Turner if he plays like that.
Jon Diebler has seen his scoring average drop in each of the last four games and is down to 14.4 after sitting at 17.1 following the Eastern Michigan game. He is going to continue to struggle to find opportunities to score until Turner returns, and that is going to handcuff the offense further.
I will say this about Diebler, however: the kid's effort is never in question. I like his hustle and his desire to give up his body for the team.
What we have is a team that seems to have several pieces that do not yet add up to a full pie against upper-level competition.
Given what he has been through this season, OSU head coach Thad Matta said he was simply happy to be 10-2. I don't blame him for that.
I think … that although Jeremie Simmons has clearly improved his play from last season, he is still what he proved to be on most levels: a player incapable of being trusted on the court at the point guard spot when the game is in question against a quality opponent.
After the Cleveland State game, Matta said Simmons only saw five minutes of action because he liked what P.J. Hill was doing defensively. I buy that and I agree, as CSU's head coach said he felt Hill helped keep Norris Cole from ever establishing any sort of rhythm while on the court.
But you would think that a team's fifth-leading scorer would be capable of seeing more than five minutes of action in what becomes a 13-point victory for the Buckeyes. It further lends credence to the theory that Simmons might prove to be a solid sixth man off the bench from the shooting guard spot but that he does not really factor into the point guard position – even in Evan Turner's absence.
I think … that Dallas Lauderdale is quietly growing into a more dependable post player. I've seen post moves out of him that I haven't seen before, and his free-throw percentage is improving.
He needs to continue to stay out of foul trouble, but I like what I've seen out of him as the season has progressed.