2008 Ohio State Buckeyes Basketball Preview
After finishing fifth in their conference, the Ohio State Buckeyes (24-13 overall, 10-8 Big Ten) went onto the NIT, winning that tournament by defeating Massachusetts 92-85. For head coach Thad Matta and company 2007-2008 was overall a disappointment. In eight years as a head coach, Matta has made it to the Big Dance six times. In his first season at OSU, 2004-2005, the team did not earn a NCAA Tournament bid. Last season the same occurred and that was after going to the Finals in 2007.
The frontcourt welcomes a major talent at center. Rivals.com ranked freshman center B.J. Mullens, a seven-foot-even MacDonald’s All-American, tops in the nation. The Buckeyes hope that he can play big immediately, especially because he’ll probably be NBA-bound after one season. It’s also hoped that sophomore forward Dallas Lauderdale (6.9 MPG, 0.9 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.1 APG, 57.1 FG%, 37.5 FT%) makes a solid leap forward in his development. Lauderdale has a good shot from the field, but his foul shooting is sub par. Power forward is a problem for OSU. Newly arrived Nikola Kecman, a sophomore, will play as long as he gets NCAA clearance.
With point guard Jamar Butler gone, the Buckeyes lost 15.0 PPG, 5.9 APG and 1.3 SPG. Noopy Crater, a true freshman, gets first shot at replacing Butler. He’s a fine passer and skilled in the open court. Junior college star Jeremie Simmons should also make an immediate impact. Junior David Lightly (32.0 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 44.5 FG%, 62.3 FT%) offers fine defensive chops and good shooting. Evan Turner (27.1 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 47.0 FG%, 69.9 FT%) showed fine skills and scoring in his first season. He’ll definitely put in minutes and produce points.
This Ohio State club is more athletic and deeper than last year’s
and despite the fact that almost half are newcomers, the team should
be good enough to get back to the Big Dance. Point guard and power
forward are both a concern but Matta knowns how to develop players
quickly and how to coach. Fourth-place in the conference looks likely.