The No. 4 Ohio State men’s shooty hoops team tips off its 2012-13 season tomorrow night with an exhibition contest against the Walsh Cavaliers of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at The Schott. The Buckeyes were picked to finish third in the B1G in a media poll, behind Indiana and TTUN. Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes are currently ranked ahead of the Wolverines nationally. Ohio State has tipped off its season against Walsh five years in a row, with consecutive 46-point exhibition victories the last two years. Only a 12-24 performance from the stripe kept the Buckeyes from topping the century mark in last year’s 95-49 win. As with last year, you’ll need the internet to watch this game (unless you’re attending it). It’s only available on BTN.com. Unlike last year, I don’t have a handy coupon for you to get the service free for a month this time.
The Buckeyes return three juniors who were starters on last year’s Final Four team: guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and forward Deshaun Thomas, a pre-season AP All-American. It’s conjecture who will replace All-American Jared Sullinger and William Buford, the school’s third all-time leading scorer. There has been a lot of talk about LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams, but I think we may see Sam Thompson and Evan Ravenel open the season in those spots. Thad Matta wants his team to swarm defensively, and Thompson seems much more capable of that than Ross at this point. Ravenel is the team’s only senior, which may get him the nod until/unless he gets outplayed by Williams or Trey McDonald. Sophomore guard Shannon Scott will also play more this season and we may see a bit of freshman sharpshooter Amedeo Della Valle.
The Cavaliers celebrated their final season in the American Mideast Conference by winning it for the eighth consecutive time. Walsh is attempting to move up to Division II in 2013-14. Head coach Jeff Young is 224-44 in eight years at the Walsh helm. The Cavs were 26-5 last year but weren’t eligible to play in the postseason as they climb the ladder from NAIA to Division II. Since Young took over as head coach, Walsh has won an NAIA title and finished once as runners-up.
The Cavs return three starters from last year’s squad: junior point guard Brad DuPont (#11, Massillon Jackson) at the point; sophomore guard/forward Rian Burrell (#1, Zanesville) at the three and senior pivot Kenny Kornowski (#33, Marshallville Smithville). DuPont averaged 7.5 assists last season to lead the Cavs. The honorable mention All-AMC guard became just the second player in school history to register a triple-double last season. He and Burrell each scored 13 in last year’s game to lead Walsh. Burrell averaged 13.9 points last year and shot 41% outside the arc. Kornowski averaged 18.6 points and 8.8 rips per game last year before blowing out his knee in December. Sophomore Davonte Beard (#3, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary), a transfer from Siena, will start at the two spot. He averaged 5.2 points for the Saints before transferring to Walsh last December. The Cavs also feature 7-1 Croatian man-mountain Hrvoje Vucic (#30), a transfer from Valparaiso.
As with last year, I’m not going to break this down in any kind of depth because it’s just an exhibition game and the Buckeyes should romp, regardless of who plays. It will be interesting to see if there are any growing pains with the significant losses of Sullinger and Buford, along with the transfer losses of Jordan Sibert and J.D. Weatherspoon. Look for Thad Matta to experiment with a lot of combinations.
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