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Just The Sports: Assimilating Greg Oden

Just The Sports

Monday, March 12, 2007

Assimilating Greg Oden

It is a testament to both the Ohio State players and their head coach, Thad Matta, that they were able to integrate center Greg Oden seamlessly into the Buckeye basketball product. The feat involving a switch from a perimeter-oriented team to one that involves a 7-foot center with range that does not extend outside the paint into the gameplan for success is not an easy one to complete satisfactorily. In the first seven games of the season, before Oden recovered from his off-season wrist surgery, the Buckeyes averaged 10.9 made three-pointers a game and in the twenty-six games with Oden, they have only made 6.6 three-pointers per contest. Yet, they have kept up their winning ways.

In order to gauge how difficult it was for the Buckeyes to include Oden, I split up the twenty-six games Oden played into thirteen game halves. After creating those two data sets, there was really no difference between how Ohio State performed in the first thirteen games with Oden and how they played in the second thirteen games, either offensively or defensively, when taking into account all the second set of thirteen games were played against Big Ten (11) opponents. The only improvement seen in the Buckeyes' production was that they have been turning the ball over less in the second set of thirteen games, going from a turnover rate of 13.6 to one of 10.3, but that has more to do with the emergence of star freshman point guard Mike Conley, Jr. than it does with Oden because Oden is a lot of things, but one who keeps turnovers to a minimum is not one of them.

Even Oden himself had no trouble transitioning to the college basketball game. Oden got off to a torrid start in his first thirteen games as a Buckeye with 15.4 points per game on a 66.6 TS% and 1.33 points per shot attempt; also, Oden managed a 19.5 rebound rate. In the second thirteen games his shooting touch cooled off slightly to a 61.0 TS%, but he has maintained his other statistics, averaging 15.7 points per game and a 19.3 rebound rate. Where Oden really saw an improvement was in his free throw percentage as he became more proficient shooting free throws with his left hand, increasing his free throw percentage from 61.0% to 65.8%.

Come NCAA Tournament time, Buckeye faithful will be glad Oden was assimilated so easily.



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