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Ohio State Buckeyes Basketball: What They Got Right

How the Buckeyes were able to turn it around.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into this season, the general consensus among Buckeye faithful was that the team lacked talent and the fans expected a .500 record. If the Buckeyes lose every remaining game, including the first round of the B1G tournament, that’s the record they will finish with.

Currently the Buckeyes are 14-4, ranked in the top 25, and sitting at 7-0 in the conference. The turn around from last season has been unexpected, but the three main reasons why are actually quite simple.


The first, and obvious, place to look is at the biggest change from last season and that’s with head coach Chris Holtmann. After success at Butler, the Buckeyes brought him in after a strange off-season hiring process. Big things were expected, next season.

The job he has done has been remarkable. The team is shooting better, scoring more, and playing better defense than they did last season. They are also rebounding better. All of this is the result of the players playing harder. A big stat I look for when looking for effort is opponent three point shooting percentage. Last season, it was 35.6%. This season it’s 33.6%. That’s a strong indication that players are rotating better and jumping out on outside shooters.

Obviously the assistants are doing a fantastic job, too. What might not be so obvious, however, is that Thad Matta also did a fine job. He mostly built this current team and recruited the majority of the players. Matta is arguably the greatest coach in Ohio State history and the foundation was set for Holtmann to come in and work miracles. That’s not to take away from the great job Holtmann is doing as much as it is to say things weren’t quite as dire as most thought.

Keita Bates-Diop

Speaking of Thad Matta’s players, none has played better than Keita Bates-Diop. His injury last year was underplayed in the effect it had on the season. The 6’7 junior is averaging 19.8 points and 8.8 rebounds this year. He is shooting over 50% from the floor and nearly 40% from beyond the arch.

While Bates-Diop is having a fantastic season, it’s hardly a one man show.

Better Ball Rotation and Shot Selection

While Bates-Diop is shooting lights out, he is hardly alone. C.J. Jackson is shooting much better, and the improvement from Cam Williams is nearly off the chart. As a team, they are hitting 49.3% of their shots.

There wasn’t some magical formula to cause this turnaround, and I can assure you the water in Columbus still tastes the same. The team is being more patient on offense and the guards are doing a much better job getting the ball to players in their spots.

Sometimes, things aren’t really that complicated. How the Ohio State Buckeyes have managed to turn this season into a winner isn’t very complicated, it’s simply fundamental basketball. Hindsight is 20/20, so it really shouldn’t be that huge of a surprise that the Buckeyes are ranked and in position for a decent seed in the NCAA tournament. However, it is. I can’t think of one person that predicted this.


How shocked are you by the Buckeyes performance this season?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    I am amazed. I thought they would win 10 games.
    (11 votes)
  • 65%
    They are much better than I expected. I figured them to be right around .500 at this point in the season.
    (66 votes)
  • 17%
    I knew they were good, I figured they were a bubble team, so a little better than I thought.
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    They are doing exactly what I expected, as I am always correct about everything. I also lie, a lot.
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    (5 votes)
101 votes total Vote Now