No Evan Turner?
The Ohio State Buckeyes started the 2010-2011 Basketball season will a bang, winning 102-61, over a beleaguered North Carolina A&T.
It was all about the freshman and even though most believed it would be consensus high school All-American Jared Sullinger who would shine, it was another highly-touted rookie who had the crowd at Value City Arena buzzing.
Deshaun Thomas, the 6-7 220 pound forward, had a remarkable debut for the Buckeyes scoring 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 2-of-3 from behind the three point line.
While it was a blowout victory, the perfectionist in Thad Matta was quick to point out the things his team didn’t do well, even though they won by over 40 points.
“I think there were a couple main things about tonight. We didn't guard as well as we need. They had amazing quickness and explosion tonight,” Matta said. “We committed 22 fouls which is not something we can do. We need to fix this fast. The rebounding tonight made the difference in the game."
With probably their toughest non-conference test of the season on Tuesday at Florida, it is easy to see why Matta was looking at what needs to be improved before the Buckeyes head into battle with the Gators.
For one night, however, it was about the freshman and their chance to finally shine on a meaningful stage.
"We had a great couple of practices after the Walsh game and we felt really comfortable and relaxed heading in,” Thomas said after the game. “It was nice to finally get out there and play a game that counted."
Going into the game, most expected Sullinger to have the night that most would talk about and while some of his steam was taken by Thomas, the Naismith high school Player of the Year had a game for the record books.
With 19 points and 14 rebounds, Sullinger became the first freshman to debut with a double-double for Ohio State since Herb Williams in 1977.
"Coach told us before the game we can either start out 0-1 or 1-0 and he put the game in our hands,” Sullinger said. “We just went out and handled our business."
Senior Dallas Lauderdale gave OSU another double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and was two blocks short of an illustrious triple-double.
Possibly the best sign of the night was the emergence of Aaron Craft. The freshman point guard had nine assists and eight points.
He has been talked about as a possible answer to OSU’s lack of a traditional point guard and while he might not be as starter this season, it is clear he will be able to facilitate for the Buckeyes.
Now with their first “official” game behind them, the Buckeyes hope they can get even more from the freshman on Tuesday night in Gainesville.
"We try to help them with their nerves by how we practice,” Matta said of preparing his freshman. “We take out thinking and go fast and furious for two hours in practice. We make them function while breathing hard and being tired. I thought all six had great demeanor tonight."