Sunday, October 15, 2006

Basketball Preview - Shooting Guards

I haven't quite decided as to whether or not I'll actually do a postgame thoughts/analysis on the OSU/MSU game. It was probably the most complete game played all season long, and Troy Smith's name and number should soon sit up there on the stadium with Eddie, Archie, Chic, and the rest of the Buckeye legends. I pretty much forgot to continue my Buckeye Basketball preview this past week, so I'm going to do it now before I forget again. So without further adieu, here is the Buckeye 2's.

The Sniper:
Daequan Cook, Freshman
6'5" 190 lbs
Dayton, OH

Imagine this: You're the #2 ranked High School Basketball Player at your position nationally, and #13 nationally regardless of position, and you're one of the more overlooked members of your college's recruiting class. This is the exact scenario for incoming Buckeye freshman Daequan Cook. As mentioned before, Cook was one of the top basketball players in the nation, a consenses 5-Star player from all of the recruiting services nationwide, and most people are forgetting about him in the midst of the "Thad Five." While all of the talk in the offseason focused on Greg Oden, whether it be his expectations or his injury, there has been almost as much talk about his High School teammate Mike Conley, and perhaps the most athletically gifted member of the recruiting class, David Lighty. Perhaps the only member of the Thad 5 that has been talked about less than Cook is JUCO transfer Othello Hunter (who, honestly, I don't know much about myself). But while Oden is resting his wrist, and Conley and Lighty are backing up their respective positions, Cook very well could have the biggest impact on the team early on in the season. Remember last season how Ohio State thrived off the 3-Point ball last season thanks to the likes of Je'Kel Foster? Well, Cook could soon make people forget about Foster. His jumpshot is that good. Scout.com calls Cook, "The top mid-range schooter to come around in recent seasons." He's the most complete offensive weapon that Ohio State basketball has seen since, dare I say, Michael Redd? From all I understand, he's just as deadly from outside, and he can finish at the rim, too. The only real question around Cook's game at this point appears to be his defensive presence, something that his predecessor Je'Kel Foster had no problem with. It may all have to deal with just a lack of effort, because he's more than athletic enough to do it. Remember, last season, Foster was always the guy relied on to shut down the oppositions top offensive threat, which left him fatigued in the later stages of the game, which led to his struggles later on in the season. I'm not saying that Cook should play lazy on defense, but since he won't be expected to guard the top opposing threat, he may be left in better condition to impact the game offensively. I'm not going to lie, outside of Oden, Cook is the player that I'm most eager to watch, just because there's that chance that he could end up being the next Mike Redd, and remember this: The last time we had a guy at the point like Jamar Butler, a #2 like Cook, and a defensive presence down low like Oden, we were in the Final Four.

Other guys to look out for:
  • Mike Conley, Freshman - I know I mentioned this guy in with the point guard position as well, but Thad Matta has said that there will be times this season when Butler and Conley will be on the floor at the same time. With the current lack of depth behind Cook, Butler and Conley may find themselves in the same backcourt quite often early on this season (especially considering we will be trying to compensate for Oden's absence by using guys like David Lighty and Ron Lewis in the front court while he is gone).
  • Ron Lewis, Senior - This will really all depend on how quickly David Lighty adapts to his role as a forward. Let's say Lighty lives up to the hype early on and Cook struggles a bit. Then there will be lots of pressure on Matta to push Lighty into the starting 5, but also keep the experience of Ron Lewis on the court as well. There is no doubt that Lewis can play either position, but his athleticism may better suit him to play the 3. Then again, it may not be totally up to him.

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