October 12th many college campus’ around the country will be buzzing as the start of another NCAA Men’s college basketball season gets underway. So does another season of Buckeye basketball. This season there is considerably less hype without the “Thad Five”. Gone are freshman stars; Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook to the NBA; plus losses of Ron Lewis and Ivan Harris to graduation. This season if the Buckeyes look to 3-peat as Big Ten champs, they have plenty of holes to fill.
This year’s Buckeyes will have 5 freshmen on the roster, but will be anchored by players who have played big minutes in big games last year and the year before. The floor leader will be Senior point guard Jamar Butler (pictured above with Hunter and Lighty). Butler played more of a 2 guard last year with the arrival and emergence of Conley, and that proved to be the correct decision. Another veteran the Buckeyes will rely on is Senior forward Othello Hunter. Hunter played big last year as Oden sat out with his wrist injury early on, then played big minutes when Oden was on the bench in foul trouble throughout the season. Two other familiar faces from last year’s team are Sophomore swing man David Lighty and Senior forward/center Matt Terwilliger. Both were huge in the game against Tennessee last March when the Buckeyes overcame a 20 point deficit in the 2nd half. Each player will add leadership and game experience as the Buckeyes look to reload (sounds better than rebuild) this season.
Newcomers to the Buckeyes include 2 sophomores; guard P.J. Hill who transferred from Midland Junior College after leading them to the NJCAA championship last year. Also Kyle Madsen, who sat out last year since he transferred to Ohio State from Vanderbilt. (He was around the team last year and practiced with them all year.) The 5 other new comers are all freshman. The 2 biggest names are Kosta Koufos from Canton, Ohio (GlenOak) and Jon Diebler from Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Koufos is a 7 footer who can play the post and also step outside and shoot the long ball. Another long range shooter the Buckeyes added is Diebler. He comes from a very successful high school program and a career in which he set the career scoring record for the state of Ohio. Other newcomers include Dallas Lauderdale from Solon, Ohio (Solon High School), Evan Turner from Chicago, Illinois (St Joseph’s) and Eric Wallace from Winston Salem, North Carolina (Hargrave Military Academy).
This year’s Buckeyes have a favorable schedule much like the football team. The start seems really easy then some formidable tests. The first may come where they play in the Preseason NIT. If they win their regional they could play teams such as Texas A&M or Syracuse in New York. On 11/28 is a home game against North Carolina as part the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. 12/1 the Buckeyes travel to the basketball hot bed state of Indiana to play last year’s Cinderella from the regular and postseason Butler at the storied Hinkle Field House. 12/22 the Buckeyes will square off with the 2-time defending champions and sudden rival. The Florida Gators will be in Columbus, as the Buckeyes look to avenge 2 losses from last season, one from the national championship game. Then there is the grueling Big Ten schedule which has been expanded to 18 games this season. During that time the Buckeyes will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to play the Volunteers. Ohio State beat the Vols twice last year in two close games, one including an epic tournament game in March.
This Buckeye team could surprise a lot of people. Picked to finish 3rd or 4th in the Big Ten, look for Thad and his troops to use that as motivation as they defend their Big Ten title. -Pat Glasser for Halftime Adjustments