Get the Blackhawks Championship Package  Give the Gift of SI
SI.com Home
Posted: Wednesday November 18, 2009 9:21AM; Updated: Wednesday November 18, 2009 9:23AM

SI's 2009 Top 20 Scouting Reports

16
Ohio State Buckeyes
Big Ten
Healthy and surrounded by a seasoned cast, David Lighty could make a difference at both ends of the floor.
Healthy and surrounded by a seasoned cast, David Lighty could make a difference at both ends of the floor.
Andy Altenburger/Icon SMI
Key Game
Four of the Buckeyes' first five conference games are on the road, a grueling stretch that includes stops at Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Knocking off Purdue before embarking on an easier second-half slate could ensure a high NCAA tournament seed.
Fast Facts
COACH: Thad Matta (6th season)
2008-09 RECORD: 22-11
Big Ten RECORD: 10-8 (T-4th)
NCAA TOURNAMENT: First round
Starting Lineup
POS.PLAYER  HT  CLASSKEY STATS
PG P.J. Hill 6' 1" Sr. 3.2 ppg 1.9 apg
G-F David Lighty* 6' 5" Jr. 9.7 ppg 5.7 rpg
SF Jon Diebler* 6' 6" Jr. 11.2 ppg 3.6 rpg
PF Evan Turner* 6' 7" Jr. 17.3 ppg 7.1 rpg
C Dallas Lauderdale* 6' 8" Jr. 4.7 ppg 3.6 rpg
Key Reserve
G William Buford* 6' 5" Soph. 11.3 ppg 3.7 rpg
*Returning starter
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated

Coach Thad Matta offers a statistic that underscores the difference in his team before and after guard-forward David Lighty broke a bone in his left foot in the seventh game last season. "With David we were Number 1 in Ken Pomeroy's [team] defense rankings; after he went down, we dropped into the 50s," Matta says of the stat guru's efficiency ratings, derived from points allowed per 100 possessions. "People didn't see all the things [Lighty] did for us, but when he got hurt, there was a drastic difference."

The Buckeyes were 7-0 with Lighty and 15-11 without him, a swing that suggests the team had lost its elite scorer. But Lighty, now a junior, was Ohio State's best defensive player -- one who could guard every position but center. He was a veteran influence on a team composed largely of freshmen and mostly untested sophomores. "We went to Wisconsin after David was injured, and none of our guys had played in that gym," Matta says. "We didn't have that experienced player to lead the younger guys."

Lighty rejoins four returning starters for what should be Matta's deepest team (in all, 12 players are back) since his 2007 Final Four squad. "Last year we could use inexperience as an excuse," Lighty says. "Not anymore."

With Lighty shoring up the defense, it will fall to junior swingman Evan Turner to remedy another problem in 2008-09: turnovers. The Buckeyes shot a Big Ten-best 48.4% from the field, but their assist-to-turnover ratio was an appalling 1 to 1. Because the team is without a standout point guard, Turner will act as a point forward, creating mismatches and (fingers crossed) protecting the ball. If he can run an offense, Turner's NBA stock and his team's Final Four prospects will improve considerably.

Matta is confident that his team will continue to progress under Lighty's guidance. "The communication, the commitment to defense and rebounding -- a team needs that," Matta says.

Lighty says he's up to the task: "I'm ready to do it all."
-- George Dohrmann

Issue date: November 23, 2009

ADVERTISEMENT
YES, I WILL TAKE THE SURVEY

MAYBE LATER

NO THANKS
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs Golden State Warriors Bryce Harper Paul Pierce Masai Ujiri
TM & © 2013 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint