Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The 11th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes lift
the lid on the 2013-14 season with a home game against the Morgan State Bears.
Morgan State put forth a modest effort in 2012-13, going 10-6 in the Mid-
Eastern Athletic Conference while finishing the regular season at .500
overall. The Bears made folks stand up and take notice however, by winning
three games in the conference tournament before finally falling in the title
tilt to North Carolina A&T, 57-54,
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta seemingly has his club competing for the top
spot in the Big Ten Conference every year, and this season is no different as
the Buckeyes will try to up the ante after posting a 29-8 record last season.
They won 13 of their 18 Big Ten bouts, won the conference tournament, and
advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Ohio State won the only other meeting with Morgan State by virtue of a 95-74
decision in Columbus on Dec. 27, 1994.
Morgan State welcomes four starters back from last year's club, as the team
seeks to climb the MEAC ladder in this, coach Todd Bozeman's eighth year at
the helm. The Bears could excel if they stay healthy and catch some breaks,
and much of their success will hinge on the play of Justin Black (14.2 ppg),
one of the league's top offensive performers. Anthony Hubbard (11.4 ppg, 6.5
rpg) is a gritty player who has the ability to create opportunities for
himself, while Ian Chiles (9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg) provides some stability
in the paint. Blake Bozeman (5.8 ppg, 2.8 apg) lacks scoring punch, but does
his best to get his teammates involved in the action as much as possible. The
Bears may make some noise in the MEAC this season, but against a team as
formidable as Ohio State, they will need to be almost perfect and hope the
Buckeyes falter in several areas.
Deshaun Thomas (19.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) did it all for Ohio State in 2012-13, but
his departure means that a guy like Aaron Craft can really shine now. Craft, a
senior, is one of the Big Ten's best backcourt performers, particularly at the
defensive end, but he will be expected to up the ante this time around after
averaging 10.0 ppg as a junior. Craft (172 assists) thrives on setting his
teammates up, and the hope is others, notably Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (9.2 ppg,
4.8 rpg) and perhaps even Shannon Scott (4.9 ppg, 3.8 apg), will throw their
hat in the ring with regard to serving as leaders, both on and off the court.
In the middle, it's time for the underachieving Amir Williams to step up, but
while few question his natural ability, averages of only 3.5 points and 3.9
rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game last season suggest he hasn't been giving it
his all on a consistent basis. Sam Thompson is a solid role player who could
develop into more of a contributor, and LaQuinton Ross has the talent to
produce as yet another weapon in OSU's potent arsenal.
The Sports Network