Ohio’s starting lineup has been fairly consistent this season. Star point guard D.J Cooper, 6-foot-3 Ohio State transfer Walter Offutt, 6-foot-3 three point specialist Nick Kellogg, 6-foot-8 forward Ivo Baltic and 6-foot-7, 190 pound center Jon Smith.
At 6-foot-8 263 pounds, Reggie Keely provides an enormously different look on the low block when he enters the game down low. In the backcourt and on the wing Ricardo Johnson (6-4), recently recovered from a back injury, and Stevie Taylor (5-9) play a supporting role while T.J. Hall (6-6) is a sophomore combo forward that played some of his best basketball in the MAC tournament.
After the jump find player-by-player scouting with supplemental video clips from Ohio’s MAC Championship win over Akron.
D.J Cooper (15 ppg, 6 apg, 4 rpg)
Big Ten Comparison: Tim Frazier
A note on player comparisons. These are based on style of play and are not meant to imply that the players are equivalents.
Cooper is going to hit his fair share of “pro shots”: contested mid-range jumpers, NBA range threes, crafty finishes around the hoop in traffic, most of which are indefensible. He’s also going to attempt a few too many of them. The talent – quickness, ball handling ability, active hands and confident feel for the game – is all there which makes it tough to understand how he could make just 39% of his twos and 31% of his threes. The problem is two fold. 1) He’s forced to create a lot of “shot clock shots” as the clock is winding down – this responsibility will drag anyone’s shooting numbers downward. 2) He just takes some bad, hurried and ill advised shots. Ohio’s offense stagnates from time to time but there were more than a few shot attempts that can do nothing other than leave you shaking your head. Cooper handles the ball with the utmost confidence and uses change of pace to get into the lane with ease. He’s a willing and able passer and appears most dangerous when he’s setting up teammates rather than forcing difficult shots.
Ivo Baltic (9 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg)
Big Ten Comparison: Ryan Evans
Baltic will be a fascinating match-up for Michigan. The 6-foot-8 214 pound forward styles his game a bit after a Euro-four man. He likes to shoot 17 foot jump shots, he can put the ball on the floor and he’ll also post up with his back to the basket from time to time. He’s a lot like Evan Smotrycz with a long two point jumper and a bit more back to the basket game instead of the three point shot. He loves to drive to the left baseline and he loves to try to distribute the ball from various spots on the floor. He’s also a little overzealous in estimating his own abilities and tries to do a bit too much whether it’s a forcing a no look pass or attempting a much too difficult fade away jumper. He seemed to be the Bobcat player other than Cooper who had the ball in his hands the most often against Akron and tried to make plays – at times that worked well (two assists), other times not so much (two turnovers). He’s taller than Novak and probably quicker than Smotrycz but his defensive aptitude will be tested when Michigan drags him away from the hoop and forces him to defend on the perimeter more than he’s accustomed to.
Despite how active Baltic was in this game, he’s been struggling of late:
Want to hear some crazy numbers? Well, consider Ivo Baltic’s final six weeks of the season. Over Ohio’s final 13 games, Baltic — a 6-8 junior forward — hit double figures just once and averaged only 5.4 points per game; or just half of what he averaged during the first two-thirds of the season.
Reggie Keely (9 ppg, 5 rpg)
Big Ten Comparison: Derrick Nix
Keely is in the game to provide a physical low post scoring presence and he does a pretty good job of it. He’s not as big as Derrick Nix (not many players are) but his role is very similar. He comes off the bench but plays roughly half of the team’s minutes at the five position. When he checks in, it’s a safe bet that Ohio will go to the block on the first few possessions; something the Bobcats rarely do with Jon Smith at the five. He uses roughly a quarter of Ohio’s possessions while he’s on the floor and connects on a solid 53% of his two point attempts. He uses his size, plays physically and does a great job of drawing fouls by using his size. Morgan should be able to handle this matchup head to head defensively if he plays a good game but he will be tested as Keely also appeared to be the most aggressive Ohio player on the glass.
Walter Offutt (12 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg)
Big Ten Comparison: Will Sheehey
Offutt was limited with foul trouble to just two points in 21 minutes versus Akron in the MAC Championship but he’s the closest player Ohio has to fit the role of a slashing inside-out wing scorer. He was just 1-of-5 in this game but has proven the ability to knock down the three at an acceptable rate this season, 35%. Despite the ability to knock down the occasional three, he’s a slasher first and foremost. He has the athleticism to get to the rim and attempts roughly 60% of his shots inside the arc but he also has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) near 50%. The key is keeping him off the free throw line and forcing him to make tough buckets around the basket where he connects at just 49%.
Nick Kellogg (9 ppg, 2 rpg, 1 apg)
Big Ten Comparison: Ryne Smith
Kellogg is a shooter. He’s a very good shooter (42% on threes), but he doesn’t do much else. 84% of his field goal attempts this season have come from behind the arc. He did show off a nice pump fake against Akron against an over aggressive close out, stepping aside to knock down a three. However, the scouting report is simple: close out hard and deny the three. If Kellogg beats you some other way, he earned it.
Jon Smith (4 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 bpg)
Big Ten Comparison: Adreian Payne
Smith is only listed at 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds but he has incredible length and uses it to his advantage blocking shots. His block percentage of 8.2% is better than any player in the Big Ten. Against Akron he was faced off against seven footer Zeke Marshall and seemed to hold his own anchoring the middle. He will pose a problem for Michigan attacking the basket with his help side defense but at times he’s a bit overzealous going for blocks which can cost him on the defensive glass. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Michigan is in attacking the weak side offensive glass due to that tendency in his game, Akron was fairly effective on second chances. He’s not much of a factor offensively unless its on the offensive glass or off drop off passes around the bucket.
T.J. Hall (4 ppg, 2 rpg)
Big Ten Comparison: Terone Johnson
Hall could be an interesting chess piece for John Groce against Michigan’s small lineup. Hall is an athletic 6-foot-6 forward who has the ability to play a bit of stretch-four position in Ohio’s lineup. He’s offensively challenged – 39% on twos, 27% on threes, 63% on free throws) – but he could be an option to chase Zack Novak around the perimeter if Baltic struggles to cover him. Hall averaged eight points and four rebounds per game during the MAC tournament and knocked down five triples (one fourth of his season total of 20).