The junior guard is finding that Big Ten teams are better at keeping him from being effective behind the three-point arc than the rest of the nation. The leader in minutes played for Ohio State this season is still closing in on the school's all-time record for made treys, but the going is proving more difficult down the stretch.
On the season, Diebler is shooting 42.3 percent (85 for 201) from beyond the arc. That total sits him third in the conference and would be the fourth-most accurate season in Buckeye history.
Against Big Ten foes, however, it is a different story. Heading into today's game with Michigan (noon, ESPN) Diebler sits 13th among players in conference games with a .374 (40 for 107) three-point shooting percentage. Among players ranked in the top 10 in overall three-point shooting, Diebler's difference between the rankings is the greatest.
A few factors are likely at play. In addition to the fact that he has logged more minutes than any other Buckeye, Diebler suffered a sprained right (shooting) wrist with 5:50 remaining in a Feb. 14 road contest against Illinois.
Until that point, Diebler was 71 for 163 (43.6 percent) from behind the arc. Since, he has gone 14 for 38 (36.8 percent). The junior has been wearing a protective wrap on the wrist since the injury. In the immediate aftermath of the Illinois game, head coach Thad Matta said Diebler hated having the tape on the wrist.
By and large, that feeling has not subsided.
"I'm starting to get used to it," Diebler said. "Now I'm just using this light tape so it's not too bad. At first when I first did it there was a lot of tape and I didn't like it. I'm the type of person that I don't like all that stuff on me."
Diebler said that trainer Vince O'Brien has used a different tape job in each game since the injury. He was wearing black tape on his wrist during a Friday interview session.
"You don't think about it in the game," Diebler said. "There's been times where I've shot well with the tape on and obviously last game I didn't shoot so well. It's no excuse. I don't really think about it in the game."
As Diebler pointed out, he went 2 for 10 from deep during the team's Feb. 24 road victory against Penn State. It marked the third consecutive game during which he had shot 40.0 percent or less from three-point range and the sixth time in his last seven games.
Asked about the difference between shooting in and out of conference, Diebler said, "I think there's just more awareness and scouting and you pay so much more attention to the detail in conference. You are familiar with a lot of the teams and players."
The opposite was true last season, however. Diebler finished the season shooting 45.5 percent (60 for 132) within conference play but was 96 for 231 (41.6 percent) for the entire season. It was the fifth-most accurate season in OSU history. He finished fourth in the conference in three-point accuracy for the season but was tied for first in Big Ten play.
Matta said he does not feel that Diebler's minutes logged through the first 30 games this season have caught up with his shooting. In conference play, Diebler is fifth in average minutes played (38.0) but three players shooting better than him (Wisconsin's Jason Bohannon and Northwestern's John Shurna and Michael Thompson) are also playing more minutes per Big Ten game.
"That's not even half of an NBA season and those guys are turning it (around from one game to the next) a heck of a lot quicker than we are, and they play eight more minutes in a game than we do," the coach said.
Diebler sits third on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game and is on pace to become the school's all-time leader in three-pointers. He enters today's game against Michigan with 229 three-pointers, second only to Jamar Butler (2005-08) with 242. At his current pace, Diebler would surpass Butler in five games.
His 85 three-pointers made this season are a conference-high, and his 40 in conference play tie him for second in the league. Three-pointers aside, Matta has consistently praised Diebler's basketball IQ and his ability to contribute in other facets of the game besides simply shooting the basketball.
To improve on his numbers, Diebler said the focus has to be on little things that help impact the shot.
"Obviously in the Big Ten it's a lot more physical and there's just not that much more time to do things because the scouting and preparation is at a much higher level," he said. "That makes the little things for us like shot preparation, sharp passes (more important). We have to focus more on that part."