Monday November 3rd, 2014

The Buckeyes know they won’t be the same team defensively after the graduation of pit bull point guard Aaron Craft. More important, they know they can’t be the same offensively. The ball rarely rotated last season, and when it did, players often stood around waiting for someone else to shoot. The result was the nation’s 128th most-efficient attack. “One guy would have the ball on one side of the floor for 10, 15, 20 seconds,” forward Sam Thompson says. “It’s hard to have a fluid offense like that.”

In off-season workouts coaches emphasized movement, spacing and playmaking. In the “pin-down” drill, for example, a big man dropped from the free throw line to set a screen for a guard or a wing. The player who received the pass was instructed to immediately shoot, dribble or feed the ball into the post. “Everyone catches the ball, looks to the rim and makes something happen right away,” guard Shannon Scott says.

Still, no returning player averaged more than 7.9 points last year. So expect the moving ball to find its way to 6' 5" McDonald’s All-American D’Angelo Russell, a high-volume scorer who’s also an excellent passer. “He has such a good feel for the game, wherever he is on the floor,” Thompson says. The rest of the Buckeyes need to follow his lead in order to be both different and better.

Read all of's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

Projected top seven scorers

ohio state
name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
D'Angelo Russell 2 Fr 13.3 4.5 2.1 109.4
Shannon Scott 1 Sr 10.0 3.7 5.1 110.8
Marc Loving 4 So 9.8 4.3 0.6 110.6
Sam Thompson 3 Sr 9.4 3.0 1.2 116.0
Anthony Lee 4 Sr 7.6 5.8 0.5 109.9
Amir Williams 4 Sr 7.3 5.4 0.3 116.6
Keita Bates-Diop 4 Fr 6.7 3.3 1.0 108.5

Projected Big Ten standings

rank team projected conf. record 2013-14 conf. record
1 Wisconsin 15-3  
2 Ohio State 12-6  
3 Iowa 11-7  
4 Michigan State 10-8  
5 Michigan 10-8  
6 Maryland 10-8  
7 Nebraska 9-9  
8 Illinois 9-9  
9 Minnesota 9-9  
10 Indiana 8-10  
11 Penn State 7-11  
12 Purdue 6-12  
13 Northwestern 6-12  
14 Rutgers 4-14  

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.