Ohio State men's basketball | Woods attributes inconsistency to being 'too far in my own head'

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes guard Keyshawn Woods (32) [Joshua A. Bickel]

Keyshawn Woods was adamant that things were about to change.

Moments removed from a gritty win against Illinois at Chicago’s United Center, the graduate transfer for the Ohio State men’s basketball team had put up a team-high 18 points against the high-pressuring Fighting Illini defense. It was more than he had scored during his prior three games combined, a stretch that included a scoreless outing against Minnesota in the prior game, and showed exactly what kind of role he should be expecting to play for the Buckeyes going forward.

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As a newcomer on the roster, Woods had been picking his spots to be aggressive. This game felt like a shifting of his role, and Woods felt it. 

“Yeah, I think it’s that time,” he said that afternoon. “I only have how many games left until my senior year is over with and then I’ve got to hand it over to my young guys.”

The Buckeyes are still waiting. As they prepare to host No. 16 Maryland on Friday evening at Value City Arena, the desire to get a more consistent, aggressive approach from Woods remains high on the priority list – especially when mired in a three-game losing streak.

Woods followed up that Illinois game with a 13-point outing in a closer-than-expected home win against Bucknell. In six games since, he hasn’t topped nine points in a game, averaging 5.2 points including a pair of two-point outings during this losing streak. Woods has occasionally done other things – he dished out 10 assists with no turnovers in a win against UCLA also at the United Center – and he’s far from the only Buckeye looking short on offensive confidence.

For Ohio State to beat the Terrapins, though, it will need the Woods it got against Illinois and not the one who had four games without a made field goal this year.

“The last couple games I’ve played bad,” Woods said Thursday afternoon. “That’s the way to put it. This team needs me to be aggressive on both ends. My teammates told me that, my coaches told me that. I have to be aggressive at all times on both ends of the floor, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

His average of 6.6 shot attempts per game is tied for a career low, down from a career-high 9.6 last season with the Demon Deacons, while his field-goal and three-point percentages are also at career-low figures entering the Maryland game.

Coach Chris Holtmann said the Buckeyes have had conversations with Woods about being more aggressive, not only during practices and film sessions but also in the midst of games.

“He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to be a high-volume guy,” Holtmann said. “We have some high-volume guys. That’s not who he is. You have to be careful as a coach that you’re not trying to force-feed him, yet at the same time he has to understand he has to be a little more aware that our team needs him, but he’s got to play how he’s comfortable at playing, too. He’s got a great feel, he’s never been a guy who’s just been super high-volume.”

Early in the season, Woods said he’d been “too far in my own head” before powering a road win at Creighton by scoring 19 points. Asked why his aggressiveness has been inconsistent of late, Woods said he’s not sure.

“That’s a great question,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t have that answer, but I just know from here on out I’ve got to be aggressive and stop thinking about everything else. Just be aggressive and help my team win.”

Every player in coach Chris Holtmann’s rotation has seen some statistical drop-off during these last three Big Ten games, so it’s not as if Woods has single-handedly cost the Buckeyes victories. Holtmann pointed that out when discussing him.

“He wants to do everything perfectly and he wants to do everything right,” he said. “I think he’s by nature a bit of a pleaser and I think he can get really down on himself. He can get discouraged, and I think that he’s struggling a little bit. Sure, he’s struggling. We have a lot of guys who are.”


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