Apparently the Ohio State Buckeyes have been struggling with their offensive identity recently.
The loss of Deshaun Thomas after last season has left a scoring void that Ohio State needs to figure out how to fill. As a team, the Buckeyes struggled to score in the first half in their win over the Marquette Golden Eagles, and did much the same on Wednesday night against the American University Eagles. The Buckeyes shot just 26 percent in the opening half and went into halftime with just a five-point lead over the Eagles.
Who will step up and fill Thomas’ shoes? That question still remains unanswered as it seems like a different player has stepped up each game. Sometimes it’s nice to spread it around and give more players an opportunity, but you still need someone like Thomas who will step up each game and be the offensive leader. The Buckeyes already have Aaron Craft leading their defense; they just need someone to lead their offense.
Coach Thad Matta was looking for either Lenzelle Smith Jr. or LaQuinton Ross to step up into this leadership role. We have not seen either of them step up to that degree since Ohio State’s first game of the season against the Morgan State Bears. It was looking promising for the Buckeyes. They seemed to have a couple of guys who wanted to step up and fill that void. Smith Jr. led the team with 18 points in their win over the Bears, while Ross put up 14 points and had his first career double-double.
Since then, a different Ohio State player has led the team in scoring each game. First it was Smith Jr., followed by Craft in their win over the Ohio Bobcats, then Shannon Scott in their win over Marquette. Amir Williams stepped up and led the team with 16 points in their 63-52 win over the Eagles on Wednesday night.
I think their offensive struggles as of late stem from a lack of leadership on the offense. Their defense has been playing just fine with Craft’s leadership. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is fine to spread the ball around and give more players scoring opportunities, but without the leadership on the offensive side, I feel like the Buckeyes will continue to struggle offensively until they find that identity.
They better hurry up and find it. Big Ten play will be here before they know it.