Some final thoughts from Ohio State
's 86-48 beat down of Bryant, just as soon as Jake Lorbach
comes back down to Earth.
"I'm happy for Jake that the ball went in for him. Every single day, he comes in, he works. Those moves that he made, he's working on them every single day. That is exciting for him and exciting for the guys, because they know how hard he works." - Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta on Lorbach
Look, Lorbach wasn't the story of the game -- the Elyria, Ohio native only played in three minutes of action, with the contest well out of reach -- but for all intents and purposes (or is it intensive purposes?) he might as well have been. In a game that was hardly ever in question, Lorbach stole the show, completing a breakaway dunk, a turnaround jumper and a bank shot to give him a career high six points. The fact that the Buckeyes put the game so far out of reach so early that Lorbach could play such extended time is the true story of the game, but against lesser opponents like Bryant, it's fun to write about the little guy. And by "little," I mean 6-7.
Lorbach's breakaway dunk -- which was barely that -- came as a surprise to many, including both Matta and Lorbach himself. An accomplished high school volleyball player, Lorbach has built a reputation in the OSU locker room for his high flying abilities, but when push came to shove on Wednesday, he appeared barely capable of reaching the top of the rim. Matta suggested to reporters that Lorbach was probably caught off guard by having such a clear path to the basket, noting his abilities to reach the ball behind his head before slamming it home.
We don't know these kids like we think we do sometimes, and to be honest, I've never even spoken to Lorbach, but he seems like a good kid. Whether it's his self-deprecating sense of humor on twitter or his photobomb of LeBron James on the OSU sidelines, Lorbach has created quite the cult following for himself in Columbus during his year-and-a-half stint in the Buckeyes program.
As for the real stars of the show (sorry Jake), I continue to be impressed by Lenzelle Smith Jr., who is no longer an up and down player, but is instead good for double-digit scoring on most nights now for the Buckeyes. Smith posted 19 points against the Bulldogs, upping his team best average to 12.8 points per game on the season, which is three points higher than his nightly average from a year ago. After the game, Matta admitted that the senior guard plays better with a chip on his shoulder, warning the media not to praise him in fear that he'll lose it.
Should Smith continue his steady stroke, it will be interesting to see how teams choose to defend the Buckeyes. Right now they are making a conscious effort to stop LaQuinton Ross, and also know that they have Shannon Scott, Aaron Craft, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams to worry about. Smith admitted that he feels like the odd man out at times -- as he has throughout his entire career -- meaning that he's the player that teams opt to double off of on defense. The difference this season is that Smith continues to knock down those looks, which could cause a shift in how teams decide to cover the Buckeyes.
Speaking of balance, it's not bad to score 86 points and only have two players (Williams was the other) reach double-digits. I was a little bit skeptical of the "everybody help replace Deshaun Thomas" approach that the Buckeyes took into this season, but hey, so far, so good.
Yes, I've seen the Williams postgame interview No, I'm not going to comment on it.
Was interesting talking to Bryant head coach Tim O'Shea after the game, who served as Ohio University's head coach in the mid-2000s. O'Shea seems to like his team and said that it will compete for the Northeast Conference crown, while the Buckeyes will be competing for a national title. O'Shea said that Ohio State basketball is like Florida State or Alabama in football, a reference to how the Buckeyes have become a national power.
Told that those comments might not sit well in Columbus given the football Buckeyes recent loss, O'Shea recalled being at Ohio University on a Saturday, going uptown and seeing all scarlet and gray. He said it was then and there that he realized the power of Ohio State in the state.
I'm still waiting on an explanation as to what the BlackRock Gotham Classic actually is, but apparently this game was a part of it.
Between 13 steals, 10 blocks, and an opponent shooting percentage of 27.6, the Buckeyes' defense continued its dominance against the Bears. That will only be put to the test more and more as the season wears on, but if there's a better one in the country right now, I'd like to see it.
There's not much else to be said about a game where everybody did a little, but only one or two players did a lot, but I continue to be impressed by Marc Loving, whose role has been reduced by Ross' emergence, but continues to look confident coming off of the bench. Loving seems like a player who's capable of handling a shifting role mentally, which A. is more than you can say about most college freshmen, and B. bodes well for his future as Buckeye.
The Buckeyes return to action on Saturday for an 8:15 p.m. tipoff with North Dakota State, just in case you were looking for an alternative to watching Jameis Winston win the Heisman.
It's hard to take a lot away from a near 40-point blowout that was almost over before it started. Ohio State looked dominant throughout its 86-48 win over Bryant, leaving Ben Axelrod with little to write about through the game's first 37 minutes. Thank goodness for Jake Lorbach.
Ben Axelrod provides his final thoughts from Ohio State's win over Bryant.