What am I thinking?

  • I have no idea what I am going to write today. To begin with I have to type the following words: The Buckeyes lost to Rutgers last night in the opening round of the BTT.
  • Which Big Ten telecast member, interviewing a Rutgers player after the game, asked if he thought at any time the Buckeyes didn’t want to be there? Or a question along those lines?

Was it Stephen Bardo? FWIW, it doesn’t matter who asked. The fact someone did says it all. Which leads to Thad Matta being non-commital when asked if the Buckeyes, if invited, would participate in the upcoming NIT tournament.

What’s worse than one fork stuck up your nose?

The answer is two. : )

  • I’m a positive person, overall. Especially where Buckeye sport teams are involved. Our men’s basketball team failed this season. There weren’t enough overall wins, conference wins, or quality wins.

The team lost quite a few close games. Why the Buckeyes lost those games is an issue which needs to be addressed this offseason.

  • Will you watch Ohio State if it does participate in the NIT? I will. But I won’t be upset if Thad, his staff and his players decide not to. I think they’ll decide together whether they want to or not and go from there. Whichever way the program goes I’ll be supportive.
  • First year players CJ Jackson & Andre Wesson have done good things recently for their team. Each needs to be given credit for that.
  • What’s the secret to upgrading a team’s ability to accurately shoot free throws?
  • I read a tweet by 11W’s Tim Shoemaker which stated:

That’s good news. JaQuan has a lot of ability. I think if he asks the question “How good of a player do I want to be before my career is over?” and then goes about providing the answers this off-season, that’s a great look for him.

  • Ohio State will be minus Marc Loving from the current roster when the 2017-2018 season begins. The Buckeye roster picks up, hopefully, a healthy Keita Bates-Diop, adds redshirt Derek Funderburk and then will, also, include two freshmen, Westerville South post Kaleb Wesson and Hargrave Military PG Braxton Beverly.

But on the heels of the Rutgers loss there are those who are already transmitting a sense of impending doom in 2017-2018.

If that’s the reality those who feel like that inhabit, then they are welcome to it.

It’s fact fans transfer their emotions upon their teams. A percentage of Buckeye fans are spitting venom today, and have been for awhile, at Thad Matta and his program.

That same percentage of fans would not like it if what they are doing with their lives was judged by the same standards they think it is their right to use against their favorite college team.

I want Ohio State to win as much as the next person. I want the Buckeyes to win the conference or finish in it’s top tier every season. I want the Buckeyes to participate in the NCAA Tournament every season. I want Ohio State to earn a trip to the Final 4 once every four seasons. I want Ohio State to win a national college basketball title every decade.

I’m 55 years old. I’ve lived through being a Buckeye hoops fan through the ups and downs of 45+ years of Ohio State basketball seasons and eras. I appreciated the basketball program when it’s winning and loved it when it’s been less than stellar.

Fans don’t have to enjoy the seasons/periods when the Buckeyes aren’t providing pure thrills.

Try walking a tread mill mile or five in Thad Matta’s shoes.

Try running a few sessions of line drills in the player’s Scarlet and Gray Nikes.

Whatever fans think of Ohio State’s current men’s basketball program it seems evident to me fans don’t give much thought about the factors involved in playing the game of college basketball at a high level.

A very high percentage of Ohio State basketball fans will never read the words I’m writing today. I accept that. To be read by a large audience is not why I write this blog anyway.

If you do read my words, though, please try to go beyond a knee jerk reaction in what you feel about the current edition and the near future of the Ohio State’s men’s basketball program.

At some point accept every season or period is not going to meet the high standards we would all like to watch the program earn.

  • I think that’s all I need to say for now.








Ohio State Buckeye, Braxton Beverly. Observations. Opinions.

—The ghost is all about the players—

———– —————–

|—Braxton Beverly—|


Short and sweet opinion of Braxton Beverly, for those who don’t want to read all the way through.

I like Braxton Beverly as a player and think he’s a solid pick up for Ohio State who will do nothing but pay dividends throughout his career in the Scarlet and Gray.

He’s in the mode of a PG who can score if needed. My feeling is his intelligence is the very best attribute Braxton will bring to Ohio State. He’s always where he should be and is making sure others are, too, as it is within his power to do so.

If you like players who know the game plan and help teammates do their thing, then Beverly is your kind of guy.

Besides intelligence, Braxton’s creativity, competitiveness and steady leadership are other positive attributes he’ll bring to Ohio State starting next season.

Offensively, he’ll beat you any way a defense will let him. He can handle defenders who play up on him or lay off him. Either way, Braxton has the skills and mind to defeat those challenges.

Defensively is where, I’m sure, there are questions to be answered by him when being effective versus high level NCAA Division One hoop teams are concerned.  He has the lateral quickness to defend out top. He competes on that end of the floor, looking for advantages to gain but I don’t have a sample of his facing the big bodied athletes who roam the Big Ten courts to provide any answers as how he will do against them.

See more guesses at the end. I’ll provide grades and/or an assessment of some kind for his skills.

——–  ——–  ——-

Venue. Carmichael Arena on the University of North Carolina Campus.

Opponent. University of North Carolina junior varsity team. I talked to a father of one of the JV players. He told me the UNC JV team players gets two years to participate. They do not practice against the UNC varsity team but they are all competing in hopes of being invited to be a part of the varsity team at the end of that time.

Play sequences. Observations. Opinions.

(Listed in chronological order from the start of the game to the finish)

Braxton is a starter for the Hargrave Military Academy Post Graduate team.

Pre-game shooting stroke:

Opinion – Braxton Beverly’s shot is like any other player who’s spent thousands of hours practicing on it in backyard, driveway, playground and indoor courts. Growing up in Kentucky and loving the game of basketball a kid naturally picks up a basketball and shoots and shoots and shoots. His jump shot reflects that love and dedication.

These photos show perfect form. Straight up and down al the way through from hand on ball preparation through his release at the top. Notice what I have to share about his jump shot throughout the list of plays below.

——–  ————–

–1st half–

-Missed a (left) three.

-Missed a drive (left).

-Fouled driving right. 2 FT shots. Made both. (Observation – He doesn’t miss FTs)(Observation – Uses left hand or right hand to finish when driving the ball)

-Rebound & go. Pushing the ball. Middle. Full speed pull up three is good.

-Defensive communication…”Who’s got who?” “Matchup. Matchup.”

-Assist on an inbounds play.

-Pick and roll. Right of the lane with his big man. Waited. Initial read didn’t provide a passing angle to the roller. Kept his dribble. Penetrated the lane. A left to right diagonal pass got his big a scoring opportunity at the rim. He was fouled, earning two free throws.

-Defending a fast break. Defensive communication. “I got ball.” I got ball.”

-Off the dribble at left of the free throw line, froze his defender, blew by for a left hand layup.

Observation – Braxton kept his dribble and hesitated and aligned his body in an eye blink with an almost imperceptible fake that told his defender he was going to stop and pop a jump shot. Instead, as soon as the defender reacted Braxton kept going and got an easy bucket.

Opinion – A real beauty of a move. The type you develop from games likes 21 and two on one contests.

Observation – Braxton is even keeled (under control) and engaged on floor at all times. His facial expressions and body language never change and he’s constantly talking to teammates before, during and after plays as needed.

-Missed a three (right).

-Assist – Moving left, pass is thrown diagonally left to right to a cutter for a dunk.

-Missed a pull up two.

-Missed a (left) three.

Observation – It’s a staple of Braxton’s manner when moving off the ball to see him adjust and give a teammate an easy lane to deliver him the ball. He finds creases to get himself an easier shot before he receives a pass.

Everything he does on court involves read and react. He only stands still when there’s a reason to do so. I began to notice this aspect after watching him purposely drift one direction or another a number of times while attempting to take advantage of small break downs in the Hargrave offensive pattern.

Assist – UNC JV was using a 1-2-2 half court trap defense. Waited, drew defenders, went over top of the traps with the pass.

-Drove through the 1-2-2, shot and was fouled. Makes both FTs.

Opinion – I bet he’s converting just above or below 90% of his FTs. He’s Mark Price like in that regard.

Opinion – Former Georgia Tech & Cleveland Cavalier PG Mark Price is a actually a good comparison for Braxton Beverly. I’m not suggesting Braxton is a player of Price’s level, just that their styles are the same.

Observation – Braxton is Hargrave’s on court organizer.

-Assist – Goes over the top of the UNC trap again for the assist.

-Missed a three (right) with :05 left in 1st half.

—-  ——  ——

Braxton’s 2nd half effort got his team started. Braxton earned open shots as the clock began ticking. He impressed.

-Fast break one on one. Took the defender left of basket and turned him, twisted him, and tangled his feet up and Braxton finished in front of the rim for two.

-Jab step left. Drove right. Open 10 foot pull up two went down.

(UNC 50 Hargrave 46 with 18:30 left in the 2nd half)

-Catch and shoot three (right) goes down.

-Missed catch and shoot three near the last one he took. Braxton gets catch and shoot shots off with a lightning release. He’s prepared and ready to bang it. No wasted motion at all. Catch and it’s gone.

Opinion – His prep work to catch and shoot the ball off before a defender can react is an example of why he’s effective as a player. He knows there are small increments of space versus reaction time to use to his advantage. He’s got those experiences itemized and catalogued. When he needs them he knows where they are located. He’s like the man who has all the tools he needs organized on hooks and in drawers, so they can easily be put to use.

-Turnover on a drive.

-Pick and roll drive down the middle for a made two.

-Turnover above the FT circle. Off ball defender pokes and dislodges the ball which results in points for UNC JV on the other end.

UNC 59 Hargrave 55 w/12:50 to go.

-Missed a three left.

Hargrave 69 UNC 66 with 7:52 left.

-Catch and shoot three goes down (right).

-Assist. Two on one Hargrave fast break – Caught the ball on the move in the left court. Stayed left, kept dribble. Got the angle he wanted and made a left handed bounce pass to his teammate for two points.

(Our Buckeyes sometimes seem to not know how to run a fast break. Braxton knows how.)

-Steal on the baseline—>outlet pass—>earns two points for his team on the offensive end.

-Assist. Three on one fast break. Middle of the floor on the dribble. Made the bounce which hit his teammate in stride for two. Took the easy play.

Hargrave 87 UNC JV 76 with 3:15 left.

-Assist on a three. Under two minutes left. Penetrated and drew the defender, kicked the ball out diagonally from mid lane. Textbook play.

———– ———-

Grades for his skills…

Basketball IQ – A+


…..Strength – B – Braxton’s not quite Aaron Craft strong but he can handle himself. You can’t knock him off his base.

……Fitness – A+ – Braxton was on court for 33-35 minutes of the game and moved at full blast the entire time.

……Agility – A – Whatever you throw at him he has an instant counter to it. His body control gets the space he needs.

……Leap – B – He’s not an above the rim guy. He gets up quick, fast and high on jump shots.

……Speed – B – He can go where he wants to. Not slow by any means.

…….Quickness – B – His feet are really good. He’s not lightning quick but good enough.

Dribbling skills – A+ His knowledge and application of the use of changing speeds is unerring. Operates at a high level with either hand.

Passing skills – A – Braxton’s abilities in this area underscore the fact if his teammate is open he’ll get the ball to him. It’s my opinion he’d not shoot the ball an entire game if he saw continual opportunities to give the ball up to teammates who’ve made themselves available for scoring opportunities.

I was thinking how well he and Kaleb Wesson would mesh together on the same side of the floor. Both are very smart players and think ahead and make great reads. Put them together and the would make a good duo.

Shooting skills – A – He took his share of shots and not once sniffed making a poor choice to take a bad shot. Everything comes within the offense. Beverly is a deadly catch and shoot off the ball shooter.

His free throw shooting ability will prove to be as good as anyone Thad Matta has ever recruited. Jon Diebler comes to mind.

Defensive ability – Incomplete. If I had to label him I would say C+. I didn’t see anything that led me to believe he’s a defensive stopper, where Aaron Craft’s attributes as a defender are the comparison. Neither is he lazy or ever out of position.

Big 10 comparison – Stylistically, the healthy Spike Albrecht.

Outrageous comparison – Mark Price.

Overall grade – I’m not going to go with a letter grade because I’ve not seen him play in  person enough to do that.

But I do feel with a player like Braxton you have to look at the overall package. On offense, good things happen when he has the ball. Defensively, he’s where he’s supposed to be giving smart effort.

In my opinion, Braxton can get a lot of good things done and comes into the Ohio State program as a mature young man who’s prepared himself to contribute right from the start.

My thinking tends toward the idea he’s going to surprise Buckeye fans with the level of his effectiveness on court.

Braxton Beverly’s a coach on the floor.

Go Buckeyes!