#5 Ohio State enters this evening’s contest with a record of 10-1, suffering their lone loss of the year at Minnesota. The Buckeyes are currently ranked 5th in the country in three-point shooting percentage at 41.6%. Led by Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad who are each shooting at least 50% from 3-point range, this Ohio State team can flat out shoot the lights out. Beyond their sweet shooting stroke, the Buckeyes are very solid defensively and are +8.6 in rebounding margin through their first 11 games. Just as Coach Calipari said in his press conference, this really might be the best team in the country. One quick note, Duane Washington is expected to play today after missing the last couple due to a rib injury. He was starting before the injury, so it is certainly possible he would start over Andre Wesson. Let’s dive in and figure out the recipe for beating Coach Chris Holtmann and Ohio State.
#13 C.J. Walker: 6’1″ 195 lbs, Redshirt Junior Point Guard
7.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 3.6 apg
Lefty. Point Guard. No left hand drives. Will push it hard in transition when he is bringing it. Really looking to penetrate the defense and make plays for his teammates. Good 3-point shooter. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. Shoots the ones he knows he is supposed to shoot. Be tight enough to not let him load up an easy one, but give him a step and play him to take away the left hand drive. You can mix up going over and hopping under the ballscreens, just have your hands up to deter the shot. When he drives it he is looking to shoot the floater; not a great finisher going all the way to the rim because of his size. Driving it to pass the deeper he gets it deeper. Don’t over help when he drives; take away the 3’s. Stay between him and the basket!
#1 Luther Muhammad: 6’3″ 185 lbs, Sophomore Guard
7.5 ppg, 15/30 from 3
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! Have to know where he is at all times. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. Find him in transition. Get over any ballscreens and handoffs. Chase him off down screens and get over flares. Tighten up as the ball comes towards you. NO HELP OFF OF HIM!!! 30 of 55 shots have been 3’s. Once you take away the 3 he is looking to go to his right and shoot the pull-up. Really wants to shoot jump shots. Contest everything. Limit him to one 3-point attempt per half. Maximum of two per half.
#24 Andre Wesson: 6’6″ 220 lbs, Senior Forward
8.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.0 apg
Versatile wing. Shooter! No 3’s!!! 34 of 54 shots have been 3’s. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. Be tight on him. Cannot help off of him when he doesn’t have it. Once you take away the catch-and-shoot, he wants to drive it right. Physical driver. Will post up some too. Right hand, left shoulder when he catches it inside. Stay between him and the basket and make him finish over you. They will throw it ahead to him in transition for him to drive it right. Likes to cut when the ball goes into the post. Take away the 3’s and right hand drives.
#25 Kyle Young: 6’8″ 205 lbs, Junior Forward
8.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Strong, athletic 4-man. Plays very hard. No right hand drives!!! Closeout short to him when he catches it away from the basket. Be ready to take away the right hand drive. Will go left so that he can spin back right. Know that the is ALWAYS coming back to his right hand so be physical on his right shoulder as he drives it. Not looking to shoot it from the perimeter. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Will duck you in around the basket. Trying to get deep post catches. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Makes his first move to his left so he can come back right. Be physical on his right shoulder!!! No left shoulder baskets in the post. Excellent offensive rebounder. Have to box him out. Don’t let him just play harder than you. All right hand!
#34 Kaleb Wesson: 6’9″ 270 lbs, Junior Center
14.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg
Skilled 5-man. Best player. All-around offensive player. Shooter!!! NO 3’s!!! Have to be tight on him, get all the way out and take away all catch-and-shoot 3’s. Shooting 45.9% from 3. Make him dribble it and then pressure him. Not super comfortable driving it. You can make him turn it over but you have to be close enough to make him put it on the deck. Posts up a lot. Looking for deep catches in the paint. They love to throw the high-low pass to him. You are going to get ducked-in a lot. He wants to be physical with you. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Have to be physical and be on his right shoulder to take away his right hand. Very good offensive rebounder, good at rebounding his own miss. Be physical and BOX OUT!!!
#4 Duane Washington Jr.: 6’3″ 190 lbs, Sophomore Guard
11.4 ppg, 22/41 from 3
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 41 of 71 shots have been 3’s. Really looking to squeeze them off. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. Have to be tight on him. Absolutely NO help off of him. Tighten up as the ball comes towards you. Find him in transition. Chase him off down screens and get over flares. Have to go over any ballscreens or handoffs. Will drive it right after you take away the 3. Wants to shoot jump shots. Contest everything. Limit him to one 3-point attempt per half. Maximum of two per half.
#3 D.J. Carton: 6’2″ 190 lbs, Freshman Guard
10.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg
Lefty. Backup Point Guard. Coming in to score the ball. Aggressive offensive player. Shooter! No 3’s. Have to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Get over ballscreens and handoffs. Will shoot behind them if you go under. Once you take away the 3 he really wants to drive it right. Quick first step. Have to bounce back and shade over to his right shoulder to force him right. Make him score with you between him and the basket. Do not get beat in a straight line to his left!!! Have to get the ball stopped in transition, he brings it fast. Do not help off of him when the ball goes in the post.
#32 E.J. Liddell: 6’6″ 236 lbs, Freshman Forward
8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Versatile forward. Plays the 3/4. Non-shooter. Closeout short when he is on the perimeter. Help on the drives and on the post when he doesn’t have it. One of the few guys we can help off of so make sure you are doing something! Driver. No right hand drives! Will shoot jump shots when he drives. Be ready to contest. Posts up some. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Stay between him and the basket at all times. No layups!!! Closeout short! Find him in transition. Get all the way back and don’t let him beat you don’t the court. Not thinking about passing when he drives it.
#10 Justin Ahrens: 6’5″ 180 lbs, Sophomore Forward
3.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 25 of 26 shots have been 3’s. Lefty. Take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Have to be tight on him. Absolutely no help off of him. Chase him off down screens and get over flares. Find him in transition. If he isn’t dribbling then you aren’t close enough. Make him dribble it. Don’t get smoked going left.
#0 Alonzo Gaffney: 6’9″ 198 lbs, Freshman Forward
3.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Super athletic forward. Very bounce. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Mostly wants to dunk it on little dump off passes. Have to box him out. Just make him score with you between him and the basket.
They set a lot of ballscreens and have a handful of set plays to get Kaleb Wesson the ball in the post. This game is going to come down to you being a great individual defender and taking away the 3’s of YOUR guy, but we definitely need to be prepared for their ballscreens. Here are a few of their favorite actions.
Ballscreen Continuity- We’ve guarded this a lot this season, but they have the most weapons that we have had to guard. They usually get into it by setting a middle ballscreen and throwing it back to the screener who will then go into a dribble handoff on the wing. They give their opposite post player the freedom to either stay on the block to duck-in or they also will come high to the perimeter for a catch, dribble at the wing as the top guard cuts backdoor and will be into a handoff or ballscreen with the guard coming out of the corner. With the weak side perimeter defenders having to stay tight on Andre Wesson and D.J. Carton, the defender at the rim is forced to help on the roll which leaves Walker with an easy dump-off pass to Liddell for the a dunk. Right at the point of the ballscreen, if there is this much separation from the ball we just need to switch it. In the second clip, it is the exact same situation but the weak side defender helps down onto Liddell off of Carton, which leaves the lefty wide open for a 3.
Roll/Replace to High-Low- This is their favorite half court action. They begin with their big men a step or two above the blocks with one guard at the rim and the other guard at the free throw line. The low guard will pick a side to cut to the wing while the top guard goes opposite. Forward comes high to get a catch and dribbles into a handoff with the Point Guard while the other forward replaces. It will be Wesson giving the handoff and rolling to the basket so he can post up. Again, the defense is so spread out because you have to stay tight on their shooters. This leaves Wesson essentially one-on-one in the post and gets fouled to take away an easy dunk.
Side Ballscreen to High-Low- Point Guard hits a wing and cuts underneath to the block. Forward comes up to side the side ballscreen and rolls to the rim as the Point Guard replaces behind him to the wing. They throw it back to the replace and the opposite forward flashes to the high post and they throw it down to Wesson on the block. They are always looking for opportunities to go high-low.
Mostly are in man-to-man defense. Have mixed in some possessions of 2-3 zone when they are getting scored on multiple times in a row. Very solid man-to-man defense. Good ball pressure. They look to get steals and turn you over. Have to be strong with the ball and be ready to drive it in a straight line when they are up in you. Be ready to catch-and-shoot on the perimeter once we penetrate.
Keys to the Game
- BE TIGHT ON SHOOTERS!!! Most of the guys they play are dangerous 3-point shooters. You, individually, have to be responsible for taking away 3-point ATTEMPTS for the guy you are guarding. We need to limit them to 6 made 3’s or fewer. You should be holding your guy to 1 or 2 ATTEMPTS per half.
- Ball pressure. It comes with taking away the 3, but when your man catches it I want to see us turn up the ball pressure. Make them drive it. Be physical at the end of their drives. Make Kaleb Wesson dribble when catches it away from the basket. PRESSURE!!!
- Communicate Ballscreen Defense. They set a ton of ballscreens and they do a good job of making it a 2-man game because of their offensive spacing. Be ready to switch if we need to. Do not over help off of shooters. We have to focus on taking away the 3.
- Shoot it with confidence. Today is the day we see the ball go in from outside. Ohio State is going to make some 3’s. We have to shoot enough to keep the 3-point differential within four made 3’s. Have your hands and feet ready to shoot!