Rushed Reaction: #2 Ohio State 78, #15 Loyola (MD) 59Posted by JPriz on March 15th, 2012
Three Key Takeaways.
- OSU has many weapons, not all of which are loaded. OSU has as many weapons as anyone in the tourney. They have Jared Sullinger, William Buford, Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. They can afford in the early going to not have each of their weapons loaded, but that’s not going to cut it when they get deeper. Buford wasn’t firing on all cylinders today. The box score might suggest otherwise, but half of his points were in garbage time at the end. The same goes with Craft. He wasn’t his usual intense and defense-oriented self tonight. OSU needs that version of Craft throughout the tourney. The bottom line is for this team to win a championship, they need all of their weapons to be loaded and firing at the same time.
- Energy will only take you so far. Loyola came out firing, and actually surprised me for a bit. They led 5-1 right away, and didn’t look like they were going away. Then reality caught up to them. They are a little shorter, a little less athletic, a lot less tested, and nowhere near as deep as Ohio State. I have to tip my hat to Dylon Cormier and Erik Etherly, who gave everything they had versus OSU. Cormier finished the game with 14 points on 5-12 shooting, and a perfect 2-2 from the line. Etherly finished with 19 points on an even more efficient 6-12 from the field and a near perfect 7-8 from the field along with 7 boards and 4 blocks.
- Who is OSU’s leader? I have heard that Aaron Kraft is OSU’s leader, or maybe it’s Jared Sullinger, or, well, I am not exactly sure. I am not sure if OSU knows either. Usually you can tell by who is bringing everyone together in the huddle, or who is getting in other guys’ faces, but I didn’t see that today at all. I saw a collection of very good players that played very well together at times, and then played well individually at times. I didn’t see a complete team effort, and I didn’t see one person step up and take control as a leader. I think OSU is going to need that as they get deeper, or they won’t be the team standing with the trophy at the end of this. I think that’s what hurt them last year too.
Star of the game. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State. Thomas literally had a career day today, with 31 points setting a new career high. He did it in a fairly efficient manner on 13-22 from the field for 59%. In addition, he had 12 boards, seven on which were offensive, for a pretty phenomenal double double to start out the tourney.
Sights and Sounds. Unlike many of the earlier games, this game was lacking in sights and sounds outside of the cheerleaders and mascots for each team. During halftime I actually saw the Greyhound from Loyola jumping to give high fives to fans sitting above the hallway to the court entrance. Now that’s dedication and school spirit wrapped in one right there.
What’s Next? #2 Ohio State will advance to take on #7 Gonzaga on Saturday. Both teams essentially had blowouts today, and were never seriously challenged. Ohio State will need a couple more of their weapons to come with their guns loaded, in particular William Buford and Aaron Craft. Sullinger will need to be much more efficient, especially when operating in the post. Deshaun Thomas had a solid effort, so if he continues his scoring spree they should be in a good position to advance.