In bringing D.J. Carton to Ohio State, Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff added a point guard with athleticism and explosiveness to help lead their offense.
But having lost five of their past six games, the Buckeyes are looking to separate the point guard from the finisher in the hopes of making both better. Continuing a trend from recent games, Carton is being groomed to spend more time off the ball as Ohio State tries to wring more out of its offense.
The reset should allow Carton to react to plays and use his athleticism to attack rather than continue in a decision-making role.
“They want me to be a more-aggressive scorer, so me being off the ball I don't have to worry about controlling the offense,” Carton said. “That will put a little less pressure (on) me so I can put a little more focus on getting the ball in the hoop. I've got to grow in some areas, and while I do that I think it's good to let other guys create our offense more.”
Holtmann's inclination is to have a freshman learn only one position, especially a point guard. It's why early on, when Carton would be on the court with fellow point guard CJ Walker, the veteran would primarily slide to the off guard spot.
Now Carton is learning both.
“It might allow him to think a little bit less and just kind of play off of instincts,” Holtmann said. “You don't want to throw too much at a guy who's still processing a lot as a freshman.”
Carton's statistics compare favorably with other Big Ten freshmen. He leads them in assists (55), is second in three-pointers made (21) and third in both points (182) and field goals (63).
At times, though, he has struggled to take care of the ball and with his decision-making, culminating with a seven-turnover performance in a loss at Indiana on Jan. 11.
He is second on the Buckeyes in assists but has the second-most turnovers (49).
“I wasn't there for my team (against the Hoosiers),” Carton said. “That was hard on me, but I also know this is a team game and we all could've done things to step up. That was probably one of the hardest games on me mentally. It was a bad game.”
The adjustment to Carton's positioning could mean a different role for sophomore Duane Washington Jr., the team's second-leading scorer. Holtmann said he's comfortable with Washington having the ball in his hands, which could mean the sophomore will see some action at the point.