Thursday, November 30, 2006

Postgame Thoughts: North Carolina

If you went to bed early, OSU lost, 98-89. Honestly, I'm almost pleased with the result. It's a little disappointing, because Ohio State was leading for much of the game, but we saw a team missing (possibly) the best player in the country hang with one of the best teams in one of the most difficult environments to play in. You have to be satisfied with the performance.

As expected, North Carolina scored almost at will in the post. Othello Hunter and Matt Terwilliger didn't play poorly (Terwilliger in particular impressed my untrained eye with his work defensively), but they are no Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. Obviously, a better inside presence is forthcoming for Ohio State, so I'm not too worried about that.

I also think that the Buckeye's lack of depth showed as the game went on. Much was made of North Carolina's depth, and they had nine guys play more than ten minutes (with a tenth playing nine minutes). OSU, by contrast, had their usual eight. The game was played at a pretty high pace (76 possessions), which meant two things for OSU: increased opportunity to foul (and therefore some foul trouble), and more time on the court running around for those who weren't in foul trouble. Some of the guys looked a little tired toward the end, and some (Hunter and Ivan Harris, in particular) didn't get a chance to play as much as you'd want due to foul trouble.

But there was a lot of good to take away from the game. The Buckeyes shot extremely well, going 13 of 26 on their threes. Ivan Harris was excellent again, going 5 of 8 on his threes en route to 18 points. They also showed the ability to drive to the basket. Mike Conley occasionally looked like Allen Iverson, blowing past defenders and around big men on his way to layups. Ron Lewis was even more impressive, scoring 24 of his 30(!) points inside the arc.

Overall, the team proved that they were as good as they looked against the Loyolas and Kent States earlier in the season. The only real weakness on the team is a major presence inside. If they had had Terence Dials for this game, I believe they would have won. However, they aren't getting Dials. They are getting a guy that is viewed by just about everyone as better than Dials in just about every facet of the game. We know now that the rest of the team can play with the best in college basketball. If Greg Oden can do likewise, this could be a scary good team.

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