Greetings Hoops Fans! This is Dave Horning for Hoops on Fan Podcast with a post-game review of the North Carolina – Ohio State Men’s Basketball game won by the Tar Heels by a score of 86-72. The game was played in New Orleans on Saturday, December 23rd as part of the CBS Sports Classic.

Ohio State started Kaleb Wesson, Keita Bates Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Mussa Jallow and CJ Jackson.

On North Carolina’s first possession, Theo Pinson made a 3-point shot and set the tone for UNC. This was NOT going to be a game where UNC would shoot poorly. Up until that made 3-pointer, Pinson was shooting 2 for 23 this season on his 3-point attempts for less than 10%. In its two losses this year, UNC made 1 of 18 3-point shots against Michigan State and only 7 of 25 3-point shots against Wofford last Wednesday. In fact, against Ohio State, North Carolina would make 13 of 25 3-point shots.

The two teams played even for the first 15 minutes, thanks in large part to the offense play of CJ Jackson who made 3 of 5 3-point shots in this span. Unfortunately, Keita Bates Diop was not involved in the offense and was not trying to be the dominant player that he actually is. He was too passive and, when he picked up his second foul at the 15 minute mark, he had to sit down. This is not the leadership that is needed from our best player. Also, we need a point guard with an eye to getting Keita the ball earlier, and feeding CJ when he is hot.

With the score tied at 23-23 and 5:37 left in the first half, Ohio State fell apart. A series of poor offensive plays doomed the Buckeyes …. an unnecessary charging foul by Jae’Sean Tate, a missed dunk by Mussa Jallow, and a great steal by KBD on defense, only to see him pick up his dribble unnecessarily and throw the ball away.

This was poor play by the Buckeyes by players who have talent. We have seen this talent on display this year, against Wisconsin and at home against Michigan.

So, I disagree with the approach of Columbus Dispatch columnist Rob Oller who focused on a differential of talent between North Carolina and Ohio State. There is no value in that perspective, because there is nothing we can do about it this year. Let’s talk about talent during recruiting season. And, I think he is wrong.

If the Buckeyes had played well and lost, then I think there might be merit to Oller’s analysis. . But I’m not ready to go there. Our Buckeyes lost badly to Gonzaga earlier this year, but have gotten better and better.

And, if the North Carolina bench outscored the Buckeyes 32-6, as Oller himself pointed out, then the starters held their own against UNC. Keita Bates Diop has NBA caliber talent. But he made his two 3-point shots with 1:11 and 0:52 left in the game when it was too late. Keita needs to step up early in these big games.

And, there is no sport like basketball where a group that plays together as a team can overcome a collection of all-stars, which is what UNC and certain other elite programs are.

I hope Ohio State never becomes a collection of McDonald All-Americans who play for one year and leave. I’ll take a team that plays well together and mixes in one or two All-Stars before I want a team of all “one and dones” like Kentucky. With all of the NBA players that have come through the Kentucky program since 2000, it is interesting to note that they have only won one NCAA tournament, in 2012. There are two options here: (1) John Calipari is a great recruiter but a lousy coach, or (2) John Calipari is a great recruiter and a great coach, but the sport of college basketball relies more on team play than individual stardom.

Great team play overcomes great talent.

Coming up next, let’s discuss reasonable goals for the Buckeyes.

Coming into this game, Ohio State was ranked Number 44 on the Team Rankings website of all 351 Division 1 Men’s Basketball programs. After the loss, we fell to Number 59, right behind UCLA.

That ranking is close to good enough to earn the Buckeyes an invitation to the NCAA tournament which should now be the goal of this team. With a win against Miami of Ohio next Saturday, the Buckeyes will have 11 wins. We are currently 2-0 in the Big Ten, tied for first place. If we win 8 of16 remaining Big Ten games, we are 10-8 in the Big Ten. One win in the Big Ten tournament, and we have 20 wins. If we can get a signature win against Michigan State at home, then we are assured of an invite.

And that should be the goal for this team this year: to relaunch the Buckeye basketball program and make it to the NCAA Tournament. I’m looking for this season to reignite Buckeye Basketball enthusiasm.

I’m not expecting this team to win every game, and that’s what makes this season exciting. I’ve actually heard some friends of mine complain about how boring Buckeyes football games are. Many Buckeye football fans don’t bother to go to the game if it looks like an easy win !?!? We Buckeye fans can’t have it both ways … Cheering for dominant Buckeye teams only when there are big games and passing up exciting games when we are not dominant.

But I do expect us to win every remaining home game, and this Buckeyes Men’s Basketball team needs our help.

We do need to improve our play. Keita Bates-Diop needs the ball earlier and needs to jump up straight, not fade away on his 3-point shots. Andrew Dakich is stepping up and shooting the 3 when he is open – we need Kam Williams and Kyle Young to do the same. CJ Jackson is coming on – we need Jae’Sean Tate on top to penetrate the defense but kick it back out for the high percentage 3.

This will be an exciting team to watch play. Let’s fill up the Schott – the home games will be very exciting – starting with the next Big Ten home game against Michigan State.

Let’s get behind this team and this new coach and show upcoming recruits that Columbus is a great place to play.

This is Dave Horning for Hoops on Fan Podcast. I’ll see you at the game! Be there! Come to the Schott and support our team!