Hello and welcome to the morning Hive, Tuesday edition! I know, just like all of Buckeye Nation, I am still heartbroken over Saturday’s 64-62 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks. Unlikely several Buckeye fans that I’ve talked to, I was happy to see Kansas lose last night to Kentucky, even though I still despise the Wildcats for ending Ohio State’s season last year.
The loss on Saturday still stings because, frankly, the better team was not victorious and after watching UK celebrate last night, I was even more mad about Saturday’s loss because Ohio State could have, very easily, been cutting down the nets late last night. In the second half of Saturday’s contest, Ohio State shot an abysmal 24-percent. It was one of their worst halves of the season. During the NCAA tournament, against Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Syracuse, and again on Saturday, the Ohio State men’s basketball team built double-digit leads only to have the opposition come back to tie or take the lead in the game. Each and every time, Ohio State made plays down the stretch to come out of the game on top, until Saturday.
Now, the question remains: What will the Ohio State men’s basketball team look like next year? We know, no matter what, this team will lose William Buford, the lone senior on the Buckeyes, but what about the future of current players such as Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas?
OSU HOOPS: THE FUTURE
I’d be shocked to see Jared Sullinger wearing the scarlet and gray next season. However, Sullinger seems to really love Ohio State and the city of Columbus, but I don’t know if that is enough to lure the big fella back for his junior season. And, besides having a shot at winning a national championship, there isn’t much for him to gain by coming back to college.
On the other hand, DeShaun Thomas could really benefit from one more year at Ohio State. Thomas is a guy that averaged around 16 points per game this season while sharing the load with Sullinger and Buford. If both of those guys are gone, DeShaun could do some serious damage to opponents next season and only help his NBA draft stock.
There is no question that if Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas come back to Ohio State, the Buckeyes, more than likely, will be the favorite to not only get back to the Final Four in Atlanta, but the favorite to win the whole thing. If Ohio State were to lose Sullinger and Thomas, along with Buford, Thad Matta would have his work cut out for him.
Without Sullinger, Thomas, and Buford, Ohio State, next season, would have no players that averaged double-digit points per game during the 2011-2012 season. Aaron Craft would be the leading scorer heading into next year at 8.8 points per game this year followed by Lenzelle Smith Jr. at 6.8 points per game. I don’t think Ohio State will have this problem, though.
I see DeShaun Thomas returning to Ohio State for his junior season. Craft, Smith Jr., and Thomas would certainly return to their starting roles next year, but Ohio State would need to replace Buford and Sullinger in the starting line-up.
The two guys that I think will replace Buford and Sullinger in the starting five are Sam Thompson and Amir Williams. Neither Williams nor Thompson have provided much offense for Ohio State this season, but they both get after it on the defensive end of the floor. Along with Williams and Thompson, I think Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross will see an increase in playing time next season. Scott, usually, came into games to give Aaron Craft a breather, but there were times that we saw Matta play both Craft and Scott in the backcourt and I think we could see even more of that line-up next year. Ross rarely saw the floor this season, but as a 6-foot-7 pure scorer, LaQuinton would certainly contribute to Ohio State’s offense next season.
As tough as Saturday’s loss was, Buckeye fans, at least we aren’t TTUN! We will all certainly remove this loss from our memories relatively soon with spring football getting under way and with the constant improvements to the Buckeye football program under the direction of Urban Meyer. As always, Go Bucks!