Dave Flemming and Dan Dakich are on a short list of people who have watched Ohio State’s last two games in person. So when the Buckeyes followed up an ugly Saturday road loss at Iowa with a home loss to No. 17 Maryland, Flemming and Dakich’s commentary from calling the broadcast was as relevant as any other thoughts on where this team is after passing the midway point of the Big Ten season.
With that in mind, here’s what a re-watching of the 77-71 loss to the Terrapins revealed.
*It wasn’t an MVP-caliber game for Micah Potter, but it was an improvement on his performance against Iowa. One little case in point: After Marc Loving missed in the paint on Ohio State’s first possession, Potter managed to tie up the Maryland rebounder for a jump ball that gave possession back to the Buckeyes. His hustle back upcourt helped prevent an early Maryland basket. Potter’s got to start doing a lot of little things better, and he did some of that against the Terrapins.
*Dakich: “The problem you have with Ohio State is they make so many mistakes because of laziness.”
*Flemming called Jae’Sean Tate Ohio State’s best player, to which Dakich added, “Interestingly enough, he’s also Ohio State’s most enthusiastic player. He’s the only enthusiastic player. Others need to follow his lead in terms of playing with energy and joy.” Later, sideline reporter Molly McGrath said Tate told her that after the Iowa loss the junior told his teammates they had to be mentally tougher. Dakich agreed that is one of the big problems, but also pointed out that the loss of Keita Bates-Diop has had a significant impact, too.
*Early turnovers were a problem. JaQuan Lyle lost a handoff out of bounds after Potter forced the jump ball, and he turned the ball over a moment later on a travel in the paint. Also, Loving picked up his dribble and threw a pass directly to the Maryland bench.
*McGrath said during the pregame show that Ohio State players unanimously pointed to Anthony Cowan as the next-most important guy to watch outside of Melo Trimble. Lyle completely lost Cowan on an inbounds play underneath Maryland’s basket for an easy layup. Dakich: “That is just not paying attention.”
*In defense of Lyle, I did notice in the opening minutes that when the Buckeyes were about to attempt a free throw, it was Lyle who grabbed everyone together for a quick huddle. Dakich also noted how smooth he can be in transition.
*Dakich highlights Kevin Huerter drilling a three-pointer off a double screen that shows the Terrapin sprinting off a double screen to get open while Loving doesn’t show much effort and allows the wide-open shot. Later, Loving does a great job of selling Huerter on a cut and steps back to bury an open three.
*Kam Williams looked fully healthy for the first time in more than a week, and he was impactful at both ends of the floor. ”The guy that I think could explode and will explode is Kam Williams,” Dakich said. “He’s got that kind of mentality, shooting ability and athletic ability to go jump up in the middle of the lane or finish.” Flemming called him the “upside X-factor,” and Dakich said he’s the one player who can change Ohio State’s offensive outlook.
*Trevor Thompson continues to impress me with his athleticism this season. His hands are so much better than a year ago and he makes athletic plays we didn’t see him making last year. He’s still got so much room to grow, but I thought this a few times during the game.
*Ahead 19-18, Ohio State came up empty on two chances to build on their modest lead. On the first, Lyle drove the lane but looked unsure if he should pass or shoot and threw a late pass to Potter that was behind him and easily intercepted by Maryland. Then after Lyle came up with a steal, he hit Loving on the right wing for a quick three-pointer (I’d argue too quick) and he clanked it off the front of the rim because he didn’t get the necessary leg lift for the shot.
*Then, ahead 21-20, the Buckeyes got a quick Maryland three-point miss, and just one Terrapin was in the paint for the rebound. Four Ohio State players converged, and the result was either Lyle or Potter knocking the ball away from Damonte Dodd and back to the three-point line, where four Maryland players were wide open. This led to an easy three-pointer that marked the final lead change of the game.
*Lyle passed up an open three, drove and threw a pass over his head that Thompson had no chance of catching for a turnover.
*I’m going to ask if anyone has mentioned Lyle’s high dribbling as he brings the ball upcourt when he’s not being pressured. I’m surprised nobody has jumped him and stolen the ball yet.
*This struck me as odd during the game and the same upon a second viewing. Tate and Thompson had near-rim misses, and Thompson ended up coming up with the ball at the elbow. He stood there as nobody closed on him, thought about it for two seconds and then attempted a flat-footed jumper that didn’t come close to going in. Dakich pointed out that while Thompson has hit some jumpers this season, right now he looks like he has no confidence in anything other than a layup.
*With a minute to go in the half, Lyle points at Williams to guard Trimble so he can guard Anthony Cowan. Then Cowan easily blows past Lyle to the left for a layup.
*Just before halftime, Flemming pointed out that Ohio State looked better than it did against Iowa, and Dakich said, “The effort is so much better. Jae’Sean Tate has spurred that, but Kam Williams as well. We did the Iowa game, and Ohio State literally – I’m not exaggerating this – got no loose balls. Here, I really believe this: loose balls have kept them in this game because they’ve not played well, but they’ve hustled.”
*Maryland got two gift points with 2.9 seconds left on a bad foul call on the Buckeyes following a missed Terrapin three-pointer.
*We all know that Matta ripped into the Buckeyes early in the second half. Here’s the sequence leading to that: down six, Ohio State starts with possession but Thompson loses the ball in the paint for a turnover. Dodd has a wide-open dunk at the other end, and Thompson misses a tough shot in the paint to lead to a Maryland fast break. The Terrapins miss an open three from the left corner, but all five Buckeyes turn their backs to the other side of the court and leave Justin Jackson untouched at the other block. He easily puts in the rebound for a 10-point lead. Then Lyle scores, and Matta goes nuts.
*Dakich: “Good for him. His team drives me crazy and I’m in the announcer’s booth. They don’t play all the time. This is not who Thad Matta normally is. If you can’t play for Thad Matta, you can’t play for anybody because he’s a logical guy that will explain things to you, but if you don’t give an effort, he’ll let you know. Good for him to do it. … I think this team’s a little tone-deaf.
Dakich continued, “When they came out of the huddle, and you have a veteran group here, nobody was talking like, ‘Hey, let’s go, let’s go.’ There are four or five guys walking along, not talking about anything. That’s terrible leadership.”
McGrath said she was listening in and “it was all about the effort from his players.”
*As play continued, Dakich brought up Loving. “The problem you have is marc loving is a senior and he doesn’t take it upon himself to back the message of the coach. This is strictly a coach-taught team, meaning good teams are player-taught, player-led. They take over the team. They say what the coach just said. They make sure it gets done. Ohio State does not do that, and that’s disappointing because you can’t leave college the same as you came into college. Marc Loving’s going to do that.”
*Loving did come over and encourage Williams after he was called for a foul about two minutes after the timeout.
*So much of the broadcast discusses how Trimble is being kept in check and that there is a belief that he’ll be fine down the stretch.
*Missed this in person. With 13:33 to go, Lyle tells Williams to guard and tries to stick with Trimble. The Maryland star blows right past Lyle and to the rim to push the Ohio State deficit back to 10 points, and Lyle says something to Williams after the basket. About a minute later, Lyle is pulled for the remainder of the game after Trimble beats three players to the basket for another layup.
*More teams have been trying to force Lyle to his left, so lately the Buckeyes have been getting him the ball on the left wing to allow him to cut toward his right more often.
*When Lyle came out, Trimble did too, which meant C.J. Jackson wasn’t immediately trying to stop the Maryland star.
*Dakich, on Ohio State’s lineup of Jackson, Loving, Tate, Thompson and Wesson: “I love this lineup. This is an energetic team. I would keep this lineup in for a while.” It’s also the lineup that helped get the Buckeyes back into the game.
*I forgot how Thompson looked to be limping, signaled to come off and had play stopped but then stayed on. He missed a layup and then was beaten up the floor for a dunk and was lifted for Potter.
*After a graphic showing that Ohio State has lost 10 of its last 11 to ranked opponents, Dakich said that’s largely due to a lack of defensive effort that shows up late in games.
*Maryland caught a break after some strong Potter defense on Trimble. The guard drove from the top of the circle and Potter contested, but the ball clearly went off Trimble’s body and out of bounds. Maryland kept possession, and the announcers clearly noticed it too. The Terrapins wound up being called for a shot-clock violation, so maybe no harm, no foul.
*Ahead 66-65 with the crowd roaring, Cowan hesitated on a dribble at the top of the circle and used that to blast past Tate for a layup. Then Tate scores to cut it to one, and the camera cuts to the bench to show Potter, Thompson, David Bell and Derek Funderburk on their feet. Lyle is seated but clapping.
*Big sequence. Lyle has been criticized for not attacking enough while on offense, and trailing by one with less than four minutes to go Jackson does the same thing. The possession breaks down, the ball doesn’t move and it ends with Jackson having a drive easily rejected leading to a fast-break dunk at the other end.
*Trimble’s basket made it a four-point game in the final minute, and it came against pretty good defense from the Buckeyes.