Radford coach Mike Jones didn’t have a big manual on Ohio State to study for Sunday’s game, but he knew where to start on the Buckeyes.
“We certainly thought that they were playing guys that weren’t necessarily true point guards, and so we could pressure their guards a little bit in the full court, just make them work,” he said after an 82-72 Ohio State win. “We just wanted to make them work, and when we had opportunities to apply a little bit of pressure, we felt we could get something good out of it.”
Jones wasn’t wrong, and what the Highlanders showed against the Buckeyes has to be atop the list of Chris Holtmann’s concerns this season. Ohio State committed 15 turnovers, four of which came as a direct result of Radford’s occasional, nominal full-court pressure.
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This came against Radford, a team ranked No. 194 nationally by KenPom.com and projected to finish seventh in the 10-team Big South Conference. The Highlanders played hard, sure, but they aren’t Michigan State. Or Purdue. Or even Rutgers, ranked No. 127 nationally.
The Buckeyes have to take better care of the basketball, especially when under pressure, if they want to outperform outside preseason predictions.
“You cannot be in the 200s in turnover percentage and have a good team,” Holtmann said after the game. “You just can’t. At least, not any team I’ve ever coached. We’ll have to get better, and I have to coach that better.”
As of Wednesday night, Ohio State was ranked No. 252 nationally in offensive turnover percentage by KenPom.com. Immediately after the Radford game, starting point guard C.J. Jackson and backup Jae’Sean Tate looked at the stat sheet, shook their heads and immediately mentioned Ohio State’s 15 turnovers — seven by Jackson and four by Tate.
Jackson said the problem was trying to hit too many “home-run plays” rather than making the simple pass. Tate said that the 19 turnovers he and Jackson have committed in two games is an unacceptable number.
“Us being the primary ball-handlers, we’ve got to get that number way down,” Tate said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball more. It’s new, new system, new team, so I’m very excited, and I know that we will get better as the season goes along.”
Graduate transfer Andrew Dakich, the third Buckeye logging minutes at the point, said Tuesday’s practice involved time spent on the most basic of basketball skills to try to combat the issue.
“Spinning the ball out, catching the ball and pivoting was something we worked on for like 10 minutes" Tuesday, he said. “It’s just slowing it down. Everyone’s anxious, everyone’s excited because the season’s here, and maybe you’re forcing some plays, but once the season starts going, it’ll start slowing down, especially for us three.”