Watching the carnage once again wasn’t fun and was surprisingly predictable. It did highlight some of the troubling aspects that plagued Marquette on Saturday and will make it tough to beat good defensive teams in the future.
Packing the paint
The story of the game is summed up right there. Jamil Wilson beats his man off the dribble and finds himself facing five red shirts in the paint. Yes, his defender isn’t there yet (and is also fouling him with Jim Burr no further than four feet away), but he does end up there. There is absolutely no room to drive or finish. The Buckeyes made a great adjustment in the second half and completely left their marks in order to stop penetration or easy passes into the lane. Ideally, Derrick Wilson would be a prime target for a jump pass as no defender would ever get within six feet, but his shooting is non-existent at the moment. How did Ohio State show this? By guarding him in the paint when he was at the arc. Look at the examples that preceded that picture.
Derrick is almost finishing his shooting motion and his defender hasn’t closed in at all. He is daring Derrick to shoot at all costs. It wasn’t the last time.
Only a minute later Derrick is looking at the same exact shot after his defender goes under a Gardner screen. His foot was on the line so it only counted as a 2-pointer, but the result was the same, a miss. To Derrick’s credit, he didn’t force up any more jumpers, unlike Todd Mayo, but the damage was done. His confidence was shot and Ohio State’s defensive strategy set in stone.
Believe it or not, Derrick did a good job of penetrating in the first half finishing with nine paint touches. Keep in mind that Derrick had six total paint touches in the first two games combined. He was very aggressive against a defense that was playing him close, twice getting uncontested shots at the bucket (though only converting once). The Buckeyes adjusted, though, and sagged way off him, as Derrick finished with only one paint touch in the second half.
With the paint closed for business, it was up to Todd Mayo and Jamil to create offense, notching 10 of Marquette’s 16 second-half paint touches. Note that 16 is a season low for a half this season and tied for the second fewest since we tracked paint touches dating back to last season (MU only got 15 PTs against Florida). Unfortunately, neither Mayo nor Jamil were very effective once there with so many red jerseys focused in on them.
Dan Hanner of RealGM Blog had a great breakdown of the ails Marquette’s offense went through, particularly at missing “easy” shots.
According to my informal tally, Marquette missed only 6 easy inside baskets. The most egregious came with 9:30 left in the second half when Todd Mayo stole the ball and completely whiffed on the wide-open lay-up in transition. Another egregious error came on a gorgeous give-and-go passing play which resulted in a missed lay-up with 6:45 left in the game. Marquette also missed 6 wide-open threes, and 2 wide-open jumpers. Thus I would argue that only 14 of Marquette’s 43 missed shots were good shots.
I also counted Marquette as taking 5 threes with a defender closing out late. One involved an off-balance pick, and most involved pull-up jumpers off no action, the kind of three an offensive player can get at any point in the shot-clock.
We highlighted two of those wide-open attempts from Derrick, but 3s, no mater how open, are not going to be high percentage shots. Point-blank lay-ups should be. Missing six is almost unfathomable. It kills all confidence and momentum to have it happen once, so to see it over and over again makes it impossible to mount a comeback.
There were two specific instances where the would-be assists were top-notch and ruined by three-inch bricks.
Ohio State did a great job of getting back in transition all day, holding Marquette to 0 fast-break points. This is a great example with all five guys back behind the ball after a miss. However, no one bothered to front Gardner leaving him sitting open in the paint. Derrick identifies this and makes a perfect line-drive pass to Gardner’s right hand from about 25-feet away. This is normally an automatic make for Ox, one that would have pushed Marquette’s run to 10-0 and might have forced a TO from Thad Matta. Instead, Gardner missed the bunny and Marquette failed to add a field goal the rest of the half. And absolute momentum killer.
The situation was a bit different for this miss, but the pass was even better. Ohio State was on a 21-7 run and Marquette was having trouble getting anything but contested jumpers, scoring two points in six minutes.
Gardner’s defender had done a great job of keeping him out of the post, forcing him to catch it 15-feet from the basket. As you can see, the defense is already starting to sag towards him despite the poor positioning. Juan Anderson does something few players did all day and slashed to the basket with his defender not even looking at him.
Gardner sees it and sends a gorgeous bullet with his left hand, splitting the incoming trap and leaving Anderson wide open for a dunk or lay-up. He missed. It was that kind of day.
The biggest surprise for me was not seeing John Dawson or Jajuan Johnson for a few minutes during Ohio State’s run in the second half. The offense was creating less action than Comic Con convention and frustration was beginning to mount amongst the players.
Don’t get me wrong, they are not some saviors that would have made it rain out there and as Mark succinctly showed earlier today, Johnson’s defense is some of the worst in the country. But Buzz is no stranger to throwing changeups to shake things up, routinely going to full five-man line changes in the non-conference portion of the season.
Looking at previous blowouts, these two DNPs are a bit odd. Last year’s rout in Gainesville saw Jamal Ferguson get three minutes of action. The last home loss, a blowout back in 2011 to Vanderbilt, saw Jamail Jones play 13 minutes and Juan Anderson play nine. Theses were similar instances of non-rotation players seeing minutes they may not have deserved were it not for the scoreline.
I get there are some differences in those examples. This game came much earlier in the season than those, meaning less practice and game time for Buzz to gain familiarity or confidence in his youngsters. Those games were also double-digit deficits at the half, meaning the outcome was sealed earlier.
Buzz noted in his post game conference that he can’t be expected to carry 11-man rotations in all games and that’s certainly true. Expecting two untested freshman to disrupt a stifling Buckeyes defense is foolish. That doesn’t make it any less odd that he didn’t find a minute or two for them at some point. We’ll see if this becomes a trend or is simply a blip on the radar.