After the debacle in Charleston Harbor on Friday, the Ohio State shooty hoops team hopes to be able to shoot some actual hoops Sunday, hosting the Albany Great Danes at 2 p.m. If you’re looking for the game on TV, turn on your computer. It’s on BTN.com, so…yeah. We’re reasonably sure we can get this game in, unless someone puts The Schott on top of an aircraft carrier. Thad Matta is 12-0 in season openers as a head coach, including the last eight at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have never played Albany, but are 4-1 all-time against teams from the American East Conference. While Ohio State has yet to tip off the season, the Great Danes (1-0) are coming off a 69-66 win over Duquesne on Friday.
Vico broke down Ohio State’s preseason outlook in his preview for the Marquette game that never was. One thing he meant to mention, but forgot (first sign of aging, my friend) is that more will be expected of sophomore guard Shannon Scott. He’ll be expected to provide some bench scoring (including assisting others) while maintaining the defensive lockdown normally brought by starters Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr.
A handy link to the liveblog chat appears below.
The Great Danes return three starters from a team that finished fourth in the AEC last season, with a 19-15 overall record (9-7 in conference play). Albany lost by a basket, 57-55, to Stony Brook in the conference tournament semifinals and fell 89-79 to Manhattan in the first round of the CIT Tournament. The Danes were picked to finish fourth again this season in a preseason poll of the AEC’s coaches.
Although three starters return, Albany lost 45% of its offense from last season in departing all-conference players Gerardo Suero (first team) and Logan Aronhalt (third team). Thus, the Great Danes find themselves in much the same situation as the Buckeyes in terms of replacing two key starters. Unlike Ohio State, Albany returns the conference’s leading active scorer and assist man in senior guard Mike Black (#10), a second-team All-AEC performer in 2011-12 and a member of this year’s preseason all-conference team. Senior center Blake Metcalf (#21) averaged four points and five rebounds in 22 minutes per contest a season ago. He’ll share the paint with new starter John Puk (#44), a junior who averaged two points and three rips in 15 minutes per game off the bench a year ago.
Senior guard Jayson Guerrier (#30) has earned a starting spot this season, after he led the AEC in three-point accuracy last year (.423). Rounding out the starting lineup is senior guard Jacob Iati (#0). Iati started seven games last season, averaging five points and a rebound in 13.5 minutes. He also hit 45% of his triples, but didn’t shoot enough of them to qualify to be among the league leaders. Key reserves include junior forward Luke Devlin (#11), who started 29 games last season but figures to be the sixth man this year. Devlin has seven career double-doubles and averaged 5.7 points and 4.3 assists in 2011-12. Other key players off the bench will be sophomore forward Sam Rowley (#14) from Charles’ current stomping grounds of Sydney, Australia, and fellow Aussie Peter Hooley (#12), a redshirt freshman guard.
Black scored 15 points Friday night on 6/15 shooting with two steals and four assists to lead the Great Danes over Duquesne. Puk added 14 on 7/9 shooting with eight rips. Rowley added 11 points and seven boards off the bench. Iati and Guerrier combined to hit 5-10 outside the arc.
Ohio State wins if…Aaron Craft shuts down Black, the Buckeyes turn the ball over fewer than 12 times, and shoot better than 45% from the floor. Additionally, it would be ideal if Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams combine for 10 or more rebounds. I don’t expect that last item to be difficult, as the two players listed as “centers” in the starting Albany lineup are just 6-10 and 6-9.
Albany wins if…Craft gets into foul trouble and Black is allowed to roam free, the Great Danes turn the ball over fewer than six times, and Guerrier hits five or more triples. Albany would likely need Ohio State to shoot under the aforementioned 45% while hitting that number or greater from the arc. Additionally, the Great Danes could steal this game if they can manage to hang around and no Buckeye steps up to assume leadership down the stretch. We don’t expect many of the things in this paragraph to happen.
Notes: Previous Ohio State opponents from the America East Conference include Maryland-Baltimore County (2-0), New Hampshire (1-0), and Vermont (1-1)…The Buckeyes are 91-18 in home openers and 87-22 in season openers…Ohio State is 137-12 in Columbus under Thad Matta…Aaron Craft enters the season needing just 34 steals to become the school’s career leader in that category. He has 171 thefts in his first two seasons…Albany’s game notes have a possible Ohio State starting lineup including Trey McDonald. It’s possible, but LOL.