The Buckeyes know they won't be the same team defensively after the graduation of pit bull point guard Aaron Craft. More important, they know they can't be the same offensively. The ball rarely rotated last season, and when it did, players often stood around waiting for someone else to shoot. The result was the nation's 128th most-efficient attack. "One guy would have the ball on one side of the floor for 10, 15, 20 seconds," forward Sam Thompson says. "It's hard to have a fluid offense like that."
In off-season workouts coaches emphasized movement, spacing and playmaking. In the "pin-down" drill, for example, a big man dropped from the free throw line to set a screen for a guard or a wing. The player who received the pass was instructed to immediately shoot, dribble or feed the ball into the post. "Everyone catches the ball, looks to the rim and makes something happen right away," guard Shannon Scott says.
Still, no returning player averaged more than 7.9 points last year. So expect the moving ball to find its way to 6'5" McDonald's All-American D'Angelo Russell, a high-volume scorer who's also an excellent passer. "He has such a good feel for the game, wherever he is on the floor," Thompson says. The rest of the Buckeyes need to follow his lead in order to be both different and better.
With 2014--15 Projected Stats
ROUND OF 64
TELLING NUMBER 1
Gospel rap song recorded by 6'9" Temple transfer Anthony Lee, who also led the AAC in rebounding (8.6) last season. Lee's song, "Ball," was used during the Owls' pregame warmups in 2010--11. He performs under the name Young Polo.
DAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Scott & Co. need to move the ball better.