In the wake of Ohio State’s uneven effort at home versus North Carolina Central Monday night the question was asked of me on twitter by Mark @govolx “Who are the dudes and dawgs on Ohio State’s team.”
(Keep the term “develop” in your back pocket as we proceed)
(Please remember these are just my opinions. Nothing more than that. I certainly don’t think I’m right about everything.)
Dudes are defined as the “talent”
Like Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh from the movie, Bull Durham.
Dawgs are defined as the meat-and-potatoes, get things done at all cost players.
Like Crash Davis from the same movie.
Mark’s question hits an important nail on the head about the level this season’s Ohio State team can reach. One that requires a positive answer if the Buckeyes see themselves achieving goals.
Does a team absolutely need a “dude”?
Scrutinize two examples.
#1 – In 2013, #9 seed Wichita State made the Final Four.
#2 – In 2006, #11 seed George Mason made the Final Four.
Did these teams have a true dude, or dudes? Or simply a collection of good players?
Each had players with exceptional ability at the college level whose work with teammates to win games could be termed remarkable.
Wichita State had 6’8 Cleanthony Early, who scored 24 and had 10 rebounds in the Shockers 72-68 loss to eventual National Champion Louisville. Early was long, full of intensity and pop, and skilled.
George Mason had guards Jai Lewis and Tony Skinn that ran a show of determination and shock during the tournament. Thinking of them now causes me to draw comparisons with the Canton McKinley/Buckeye duo of Ron Stokes and Troy Taylor. Both pairs were joined at the hip.
In 2006 the Patriots lost 73-58 to eventual National Champion Florida but far surpassed presumptions of results to get that far.
Both teams started off with less than advantageous tournament seeds, but willed and wove their way through each challenge to reach the Final Four.
So, I say the answer is yes, teams need at least one player who “can get theirs” as the saying goes.
Look a little deeper at these squads, though, and you’ll see “dawg” after “dawg” lined up in support of the “dude(s)”. Without the dawgs the dudes aren’t traveling far.
Another aspect of these definitions of what boils down to who is a star and who is more supporting/role players, is that a dawg can play with enough quality and consistency to eventually be considered a dude.
If a player can do one or two things well within his/her role it’s certain that player will be noticed.
Wichita State had 6’4 guard, “Iceman” Ron Baker, who is now a member of the New York Knicks.
The Shockers also had tenacious PG Fred VanVleet, 6’3 guard Tekele Cotton and 6’7 forwards Darius Carter and Chadrack Lufile. I can describe details of Early, Baker, VanVleet, and a few on Cotton, but one thing I absolutely recall about that entire group is how well organized they were and how much will they had to get things done. The Shockers kept coming at you, no matter who was in the game.
George Mason’s “dawgs” were even less well know than Wichita State’s. Will Thomas, at 6’7, 230 pounds, exemplified the whole Patriot team. He was a bruiser who could flat pin his opponent on his back and move him around like a dump truck.
Thomas was relentless, a brick wall on the boards and guarded with strength and decent feet. The Patriots believed in themselves and were on a Blues Brothers type mission.
Despite the result against Florida they showed the nation there would aways be a vein of overlooked programs to be feared when March Madness arrived.
The Buckeyes don’t yet compare to either of these teams but that’s not to say they can’t rise up and surprise.
I’m not predicting a Final 4 but the Buckeyes can make the NCAA tournament and throw a scare into a Sweet 16 opponent. But they have a whole lot of work ahead to get there.
Here’s my list of possible “Dudes” on the Ohio State team:
There are two.
1. JaQuan Lyle 1A. Keita Bates-Diop
Either of these two players have the outright ability and status to become “Dude” of the Buckeyes.
JaQuan Lyle is young and talented with a facility for aggressive hoops and a flair for scoring. He reminds me of a thoroughbred colt who has yet to grow into his body or to show understanding of how to implement and navigate a strategically based mind on court.
Keita Bates-Diop has a mature basketball body that combines better than average athletic ability with ridiculous length. Bates-Diop gives the impression of possessing a high level of off court maturation. His hoop skills are wide and varied. I would call him Ohio State’s best representative of a potential five tool basketball player.
He can score, pass, rebound, block shots and earn steals. He might also be Ohio State’s best defender.
Keita can be streaky shooting the basketball but he can drive the ball and finish. I’m less attuned to the level of his basketball mind because he is not a PG but I would say he can carry out objectives, those planned, or those which arise on the fly.
Naming one of them a better bet to lead than the other is difficult.
Optimally, JaQuan will eventually be on court for larger periods of time and, if so, will possess the ball as the PG and have the ability to make choices that best benefit his teammates.
If I had anything to do with it, though, Keita would have much of the offense run through him.
JaQuan’s mindset is to be the “dude” He wants to earn his team’s confidence and make plays. Question is, just how much dexterity does he have to create opportunities for teammates and remain a threat to score and/or collect high quantities of assists? Bigger question? Will Lyle commit himself to play the type of defense Thad Matta wants him to?
Keita’s mindset is to not push his agenda but the problem with that is he’s Ohio State’s best player, who, if he possessed the dominant streak of a bull, would consistently take opponents on and win.
In reality, the Buckeyes need both players to step into the batter’s box to take their cuts and get used to making smart, tough, on time plays to lead their squad to a higher level of synchronized effectiveness.
Now, take the term “develop” out of your back pocket. Keita Bates-Diop and JaQuan Lyle both need to develop and continually look to bolster their leadership in order for their team to advance in quality this season.
Both have shown they can become a “dude” this season.
If this team doesn’t work together at a higher level than last season, though, it’s in trouble. I don’t state that fact lightly.
Who are the “dawgs” or possible “dawgs” on this 2016-2017 Buckeye team?
1. Jae’Sean Tate – The ultimate “dawg” – Lives in the junkyard and isn’t giving his up space to you or anyone else. Effort, strength and idiosyncratic offensive ability and touch near the rim are the hallmarks of his game. Definite “dawg”.
2. Kam Williams – Has worked his tale off to become a more formidable all around player. His shooting touch is gold. Has shown glimpses of 2nd and 3rd options this seasons if defenders try to run him off the 3-point line. I’m rooting for Kam Williams to show how easy it could be for him to destroy opponent’s defenses. All that’s missing is consistency. “dawg” who can become a “dude” this season or next.
3. Marc Loving – I look to the results Loving got in the latter third of last season as a focal point for what he’s capable of if he’s dialed in long term. I think the idea Marc doesn’t care enough and doesn’t give big effort is a bunch of hooey. “dawg”
4. Micah Potter – Freshman. Doesn’t yet know what he doesn’t know about college hoops. Has the coach Matta’s confidence. Can shoot from deep with accuracy. Rebounds. Good passer. A little lost on D. Goes too hard trying to make effort plays, which I call Daniel Giddens syndrome. Wasted energy. “dawg” this season who can become a “dude” in the future.
5. CJ Jackson – Defender, ball handler, assist provider. If Jackson can stick to making fundamental plays he can play the role of a huge “dawg” for Ohio State. Let’s hope Lyle gets it together and CJ can get comfortable in a role.
6. Dave Bell and Andre Wesson – Two players where consistent, sound performances can provide them minutes. Possible “dawgs.” As is, once the Big 10 schedule arrives, it will be difficult for them to see the court. All depends on what they add to the team that is beneficial.
All of the players on Ohio State I’ve listed above have the skills and athleticism, and most now have enough experience, to form a cohesive Buckeye brotherhood that can overcome the challenges within the 2016-2017 season and overcome them.
“Want to”, if applied, can go a loooooooooooonnnnnnggggg way. Cue the Rocky Theme Song.