Andre Wesson tries to lead during tough times for Ohio State basketball team
Officially, Andre Wesson was credited with 14 points and five rebounds in Ohio State’s 12-point loss at Maryland on Tuesday.
The numbers, while impactful, didn’t seem to fully summarize his impact on the game. Unofficially, Wesson kept multiple possessions alive by tapping offensive rebounds to teammates, and for the first time in a month and a half, he did not have a turnover.
It seemed as if the forward was doing his part to compensate for the absence of junior Kyle Young, who missed his second straight game after undergoing an appendectomy Dec. 29. After the game, though, Wesson said it was more than that.
As the lone scholarship senior on a team mired in a three-game losing streak, Wesson said he’s trying to put this team on his shoulders as best he can and avoid last year’s five-game losing streak.
“I wasn’t really thinking about that,” he said of replacing Young, who will be a game-time decision Saturday at Indiana. “We don’t want to go out like that again. We’ve got to keep stacking good days on top of each other.”
On a team with four freshmen and three sophomores, coach Chris Holtmann has said all season that Ohio State will go as far as its few upperclassmen can lead it. That’s a four-man group that includes Wesson, a player who avoids social media and isn’t among the team’s most outspoken players.
It doesn’t necessarily come naturally to Wesson, which made Tuesday’s comments about taking senior ownership of the team noteworthy. Holtmann said Friday that he’s seen Wesson be a little more vocal recently in practice.
After all, Holtmann said, Wesson has a unique vantage point on this team as the lone holdover from the Thad Matta era. Holtmann said the coaching staff has asked for more vocal leadership from Wesson.
“I think this team needs it,” Holtmann said. “Listen, he’s got to provide some perspective, too, because the reality is we’ve played some good teams here and they’re trying to win, too. We’ve not played our best, but other teams have performed better. Sometimes that happens.
“It’s a long season. For him, he’s got to increase his level of leadership, which he has.”
Wesson’s next chance to do that will come on the court where he had arguably the biggest play of his career. It was at Assembly Hall last season that the win-starved Buckeyes fought off the Hoosiers in a three-point win clinched by a Wesson dunk with 20 seconds left, a play on which younger brother Kaleb Wesson was deployed as a decoy.
For the season, Andre Wesson is fourth on the team in scoring at 8.4 points per game and adds 3.8 rebounds in a team-high 27.2 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, Wesson has the highest offensive rating on the roster among players who have played in every game, according to KenPom.com.
That comes in addition to his significant defensive responsibilities. He has played power forward in Young’s absence and small forward when Young has been in the lineup, and his versatility around the perimeter has allowed Ohio State’s defense to keep it in games when its offense has sputtered.
It’s in practice, though, where Wesson said he most pushes his teammates.
“The only way you get out of slumps is just keep working,” he said.
Ohio State at Indiana
When: Noon Saturday
TV: Fox (Ch. 28)
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
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