Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ohio State better next year than this year?

By: Kevin Duffy

5.0 seconds left in the Sweet 16 match up between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Kentucky Wildcats. Tie game; Wildcats ball. Brandon Knight, star freshman point guard for Kentucky, drives to his right, steps back and knocks down the silky 15 foot jumper in the face of Ohio State's Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes' William Buford throws up the desperation shot...clank! End of Ohio State's season.

The regular season was full of glory for the Buckeyes who rode into the NCAA Tournament with the number one overall seed. They were in the Associated Polls' Top 5 all year, but yet again fell short in the Big Dance.

Under Thad Matta, Ohio State's furthest trip in the Tournament was to the Championship game in 2008 with the help of freshman big man, Greg Oden.

The 2010-11 team had an outstanding center of their own, Jared Sullinger. Unlike Oden who left the Buckeyes after his freshman year, Sullinger who was a projected lottery pick has vowed to return to Columbus for his sophomore season.

I'm definitely coming back next year," Sullinger said. "I need to work on a lot of things. I have to come back.I'm coming back to win."

With Sullinger and William Buford, the teams top two scorers, likely to return along with Big 10 Sixth Man of the Year, Aaron Craft, the Buckeyes will have a lot to build on.

The wild card, as he was for parts of this season, is Deshaun Thomas.

The 6-6 forward was one of the top 25 recruits in the nation last year, but he played only 14 minutes per game, averaging 7.5 points as the Buckeyes' seventh man.

"He's one of the guys that fits the role of being versatile and being a really tough match up," OSU assistant Brandon Miller said. "His overall skill level can continue to improve, like a lot of guys, but you've seen when he gets going, he can really get it going. He's the third all-time leading scorer in Indiana high school history for a reason."

So pencil in Thomas as a starter alongside Sullinger, Buford and Craft. The fifth starter very well could be incoming freshman Shannon Scott, who was named Mr. Basketball in Georgia. He and Craft could work as the point guard and two guard the way Mike Conley and Jamar Butler, two true points, did in 2007.

"With the chemistry we had, we played well on the court, and it's time to rebuild it. We've got five people leaving," Sullinger said, "and we're bringing in another five. We'll see where the ride can take us."

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