Steals Are Predictive But Are They That Important

This is the final part of my four-part response to questions and comments stemming from my article “The Hidden Value of the NBA Steal.” Here are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.Near the beginning of my article on steals, I made the following claim:If you had to pick one statistic from the common box score to tell you as much as possible about whether a player helps or hurts his team, it isn’t how many points he scores. Nor how many rebounds he grabs. Nor how many assists he dishes out.It’s how many steals he gets.My argument went like this: Steals are super-valuable predictors relative to other box score stats. They are “worth” — predictively —  as much as nine points because they’re more difficult to replace than other stats.But a number of astute readers noticed something missing. Here’s commenter Mike Schloat:I struggle with the real life value of steals when looked at in this way since there are SO SO few of them. Averaging 2.5 steals — finishing a game with 2 as often as you finish with 3 — is such a minuscule part of the game, and frighteningly random when you actually look at what sometimes constitutes a steal.It’s a fair point. Because steals are so rare, they could be much more predictive than other box score stats on the margins and still be less important overall. And in the original article, I didn’t show that marginal steals are such a great predictor that, despite being so rare, they are still the most valuable predictor.So let me address that concern. There are two levels we need to consider: The first is how rare steals are relative to other events recorded in the box score, and the other is how much steals vary from player to player, relative to how much other stats vary from player to player.For example, in my dataset, players who played more than 20 minutes averaged .92 steals and .55 blocks per game. But the standard deviations — the typical amount that any particular player is likely to differ from an average player — were .43 steals and .59 blocks.One way to judge how skilled a player is at a particular thing is to measure how many standard deviations they are above average. These values fluctuate, but the difference between Ricky Rubio (the league leader this year) and an average player is about a steal and a half, making him a little over three standard deviations above average for the steals per game stat.To judge a stat’s overall predictivity, what we want to know is the extent to which a player’s skill in that stat predicts his overall value (measured by the impact on his team’s performance by his playing or not). For example, if a player is two standard deviations above average in steals per game but only one standard deviation above average in points per game, how does his value compare to a player who is the reverse?To figure this out, we can run a regression similar to the one in the original article. But instead of using a player’s raw box score stats as our variables, we use his standardized stats; that is, the number of standard deviations the player is above or below the mean for each. The relative size of the coefficients (how much a stat should be weighted) that this type of regression spits out tells us the relative predictive importance of each stat overall.Here are the results of such a regression, from the player’s standardized box score stats to his impact on team win percentage. I’ve listed the relative size of each stat’s coefficient (weight) as a percentage of the whole — reflecting the percentage of information about a player’s value that comes from each (note that turnover value is negative, I’ve converted it to a positive “skill at not giving up turnovers” for purposes of comparison):This was the finding behind the claim that of all the basic box score totals, steals are the most predictive. It may be less sexy than nine points, but it’s pretty remarkable that a skill that comes up so infrequently can be so important.Of course, there are a lot of different ways to structure this kind of regression: You have to decide which types of variables to use, how advanced they should be, whether to use game-based or play-based data, and what specific difference to predict.So, why am I analyzing this particular group of stats at all?I made a list of all the people who use points, rebounds and assists per game in their analysis and reporting more often than steals per game:Almost all sports reportersAlmost all sports commentatorsAlmost all sports columnistsAlmost all sports fansEstablishing the predictive ability of box score stats is only a tiny step toward improving our understanding of the dynamics of basketball. But, like the steal itself, it has outsize importance. read more

Michael Jordans 2016 Shoe Earnings Was Greater Than LeBron

Michael Jordan (left) can thank his Air Jordan for his huge Nike sales over LeBron James. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)Although LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers lost the 2017 NBA Finals, the small forward can take solace in knowing he brought in the most moolah among current ballers with a shoe deal.The only thing is, he’s nowhere close to retired Chicago Bulls shooting guard Michael Jordan’s earnings.James’ Nike deal brought in $32 million in the last year, Forbes estimates. His endorsement began when he entered the NBA in 2003, which had an eventual $100 million payout over seven years — the biggest shoe deal to be given to a rookie.Yet Jordan’s $110 million earnings, thanks to Air Jordan revenues reaching $2.8 billion in the 2016 fiscal year, makes James’ $32 million look paltry. A combination of payouts from current top-earning NBA players — Kevin Durant’s $25 million from Nike, James Harden’s $14 million with Adidas, Stephen Curry’s $12 million with Under Armour, Derrick Rose’s $11 million with Adidas and James’ income — doesn’t break the $100 million mark.Such high earnings make LaVar Ball’s push for his basketball-playing sons to go their own way with the Big Baller Brand even more significant, as Uproxx reported James and Durant make almost equal amounts from playing ball as they do from shoe deals. Ball’s three sons have yet to enter the NBA, although Lonzo Ball is considered a top prospect for the draft. read more

The NFLs New Defensive Rules Probably Arent Going To Make A Difference

Every offseason, NFL officials make an instructional video that highlights new rules and gives players a warning about which existing ones will be called more tightly in the upcoming season. This year, officials say they’re going to key in on defensive holding and illegal contact, ensuring they’re called correctly.According to reporting by ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha, officials became concerned that those particular penalties were not being called as often as they were a decade ago. (Conspiracy theorists, on the other hand, blamed the Seattle Seahawks’ dominant defensive performance against Peyton Manning’s record-setting Denver Broncos offense in the Super Bowl.) With an assist from the data of Pro-Football-Reference.com, we wondered if the official rationale holds up: Have illegal contact and defensive holding really been called less (on a per-pass basis) in recent seasons?In the case of illegal contact, yes. In 2004, Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian spent the offseason lobbying the NFL Competition Committee to more strictly enforce the illegal contact rule in the wake of his team’s 24-14 playoff defeat against the New England Patriots (a game in which Manning — then playing for Indianapolis — tossed four interceptions).As the chart below shows, referees began calling the penalty much more often the very next season, a 15-year high point. Since then, the penalty’s frequency has steadily receded.However, the pattern is less obvious with defensive holding, which also peaked around the middle of the decade but reversed its decline by 2010, and was near its 15-year high just last season. It doesn’t seem to be a penalty in need of greater emphasis.Then again, concerns about the wisdom of placing more restrictions on defenders in an already pass-happy league may be largely academic. At least in terms of illegal contact and defensive holding, there doesn’t seem to be any relationship between the frequency of either penalty being called and the NFL’s overall level of passing efficiency (as measured by Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt).The last time the NFL cracked down on holding and contact by defenders, it didn’t make any noticeable dent in the rising trend of passing efficiency. Pass offenses have steadily become more and more efficient over the last decade and a half — but that’s part of a longterm trend of increased passing efficacy, not because of the rule changes inspired by Polian a decade ago. The same will likely be true for the changes made this offseason as well. read more

Opinion Three position groups to keep an eye on during the Ohio

OSU then-redshirt senior Corey Smith (84) and then-sophomore Cam Burrows (16) face off during the 2015 Spring Game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe 2015 Ohio State football team came into the year with very few questions, riding a wave of consistency and experience. The same cannot be said for coach Urban Meyer’s 2016 squad heading into its annual spring game on Saturday.Most of the headlines surrounding the program this offseason centered around the nine players leaving early for the NFL draft, including defensive stalwart Joey Bosa and offensive playmakers Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Thomas. Returning just six starters — three on offense, three on defense — from last year’s team that went 12-1, there are a lot of new faces at the top of the depth chart for the Buckeyes.Although most of these competitions won’t likely be settled until the final days of fall camp, here are a few position battles to watch for in the Scarlet and Gray scrimmage.Offensive lineBehind what might be considered the most intimidating front line in school history, “The Slobs” have a remodeled look in 2016. Redshirt senior Pat Elflein and redshirt junior Billy Price return up front for OSU. They’ll be looking to lead a group of unheralded, or perhaps even unheard of, Buckeyes who will try to fill sizable holes. Elflein is moving over to center from his previous stake at right guard, while Price is set to slide over from left guard to right.Junior Jamarco Jones is thought to be the replacement at left tackle for possible first-round pick Taylor Decker, who manned the position for the past three years. At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, the former U.S. Army All-American has not yet had a chance in the spotlight despite being ranked as the No. 4 offensive tackle by 247Sports in his class.For the last two spots on the line, true sophomore Isaiah Prince, true freshman Michael Jordan, redshirt sophomore Demetrius Knox and redshirt junior Evan Lisle are all aiming to start on first-year offensive line coach Greg Studrawa’s front line.Prince was the first member of the 2015 recruiting class to lose his black stripe, granting him rights to practice with the team. Prince, Jordan, Knox and Lisle all were consensus top 100 players in their respective recruiting classes.Although it’s not a real game, the live action that the young offensive linemen will see should be valuable for Meyer to assess what the best five-man unit will be in the regular season. LinebackerOnly one member of Luke Fickell’s starting linebacker corps returns for the 2016 season. With two-year starters Darron Lee and Joshua Perry both gone, junior Raekwon McMillan — already named a team captain — mans the middle for the Buckeyes this season, while young, unproven talent is competing for the two outside linebacker positions.Two former Ohio Mr. Football candidates — Dante Booker, who won it in 2014, and Justin Hilliard, a finalist the year after — were highly touted recruits who haven’t had a chance yet to shine. Expect the two to consistently earn playing time all year, as Meyer has shown he likes to rotate a lot of bodies into the mix at linebacker. Booker, who had 22 tackles last season as a two-deep linebacker, is an early favorite over Hilliard to earn a starting job.The other linebacker who is expected to receive plenty of first-team reps is redshirt junior Chris Worley. Along with Booker in 2015, Worley played on the second group and recorded 17 tackles last season.Wide receiverLast season, Thomas was without a doubt the most talented pass catcher on the field. Now with Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller leaving empty spots, Meyer’s offense is desperately looking for someone from the inexperienced group of receivers to emerge.Returning from a broken leg last season against Indiana is redshirt senior wide receiver Corey Smith. However, as he only collected 25 receptions and 317 receiving yards in a year and a half with OSU, it’s worrisome for Meyer to count on Smith for big numbers this season.Also recovering from a season-ending leg injury, this one suffered in fall camp, Noah Brown has a much-anticipated 2016 campaign ahead considering all reports out of the 2015 camp were positive from Meyer and his team. At 6-foot-2, the 222-pound wideout has great size and control in the air. The redshirt sophomore is known as a physical receiver, which has been a staple in Meyer’s spread offense. If healthy enough to go, Brown will be a heavy favorite for a starting receiver position.Dontre Wilson is another member of the unit who could be looked to for big production in 2016. Yeah, remember this guy? Playing a lot his freshman campaign in 2013, the 5-foot-10 speedster from Texas enters his senior season with his career thus far been marred by injuries. Only at 180 pounds when he arrived on campus and now listed at 195 pounds, Wilson has one season to live up to the hype OSU fans had for him when he first entered the OSU facilities.Finally, if you’re going to watch one skill position player in Saturday’s game, look out for Austin Mack. The early-enrollee freshman has very impressive athleticism and knowledge of the position for a player who is just 18 years old. Mack is a U.S. Army All-American who showcased his skills impressively against future OSU talent in July at OSU’s Friday Night Lights high school showcase event. Don’t be surprised if Mack emerges as the standout in this year’s spring game. read more

Womens soccer Ohio State defeats No 16 Virginia Tech on the road

OSU women’s soccer players celebrate during a game against Indiana on Sept. 26, 2014. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe Ohio State women’s soccer team defeated No. 16 Virginia Tech, 2-1 on Thursday in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Hokies suffered their first loss of the season, and the Buckeyes improved their perfect season to 5-0-0.For much of the first half, neither team converted on shot attempts, but after 33 minutes, senior forward Lindsay Agnew received a cross-field assist from junior midfielder Nikki Walts and scored the first goal of the game, putting OSU ahead 1-0 through one half. It was Agnew’s third goal this season, making her the highest scoring Buckeye thus far.In the 58th-minute senior defender Morgan Wolcott managed to send the ball to the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage, padding OSU’s lead over the Hokies.The Hokies quickly cut the Buckeyes’ lead in half just six minutes later with a goal from senior forward Murielle Tiernan. For the final 26 minutes, the Buckeyes played an aggressive defense backed by senior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker, who made seven saves during the game propelling OSU to a top-25 victory. OSU now sets its eyes on the West Virginia Mountaineers for a match in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sunday. read more

Block O tattoo signified early commitment from Buckeyes new quarterback Braxton Miller

Discussing when in the recruiting process he gets a sense a recruit will be joining Ohio State, co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said he’s not usually comfortable until he sees that player’s signed letter of intent. That wasn’t the case with Braxton Miller. When Miller, who is ranked as the No. 2 quarterback in his class according to multiple recruiting services, announced in June that he’d be joining OSU’s 2011 recruiting class, he left little doubt in his future coaches’ minds about his level of commitment, as he showcased an OSU Block “O” tattooed on his left shoulder. Though he announced his intentions months ago and has been taking classes for weeks as an early enrollee at OSU, Miller was officially introduced as a Buckeye on Wednesday at a ceremony introducing OSU’s 23-member recruiting class. Wearing his new No. 5 OSU jersey, along with a retro-style Buckeye hat, Miller said he’s still getting the hang of college life. “The first week was hard to adjust to,” he said, “but I’m cool now.” With OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor suspended for the first five games of the upcoming season, OSU coaches say they are hopeful that Miller’s ability to adjust carries over to the football field. With the 15 extra practice sessions Miller has received from enrolling during Winter Quarter, he likely will compete with Joe Bauserman, Ken Guiton and Taylor Graham to fill the temporary void Pryor will leave. Miller said he’s excited for the opportunity to compete right away but that it’s too early to get caught up in the competition. “It’s just an opportunity,” he said. “Just got to get the job done, do the work and see who wins it out.” OSU quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano agreed that it’s too early to see when, or if, Miller will contribute in the upcoming season, but he acknowledged that Miller’s decision to enroll early only improved his chances. “That’s all going be determined to how fast he adapts to what we do on an offensive standpoint — our play-calling, our formation setups and all those things,” Siciliano said. “Any time you’re here from any position, it gives you an advantage to play football a little bit more. I think that really is an advantage for a quarterback, to be able to get 15 extra days of snaps.” Like Pryor, Miller has displayed an ability both to throw and run the ball. In his senior season at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, Miller passed for 2,167 yards and 17 touchdowns and ran for 658 yards and 17 touchdowns. Miller led his team to the Division I state title game. As a three-year starter at Wayne, Miller compiled a 31-7 record. Enrolling early gave Miller the opportunity not only to practice early with his new team but also to bond with Pryor, whom he’ll attempt to replace either this season or the next. “He’s a cool dude to hang out with,” Miller said of Pryor. “I figured I’d learn from the best.” read more

Commentary Decision to elect game captains unfair to Buckeyes proven leaders

Luke Fickell hasn’t even endured his first game as the head coach yet, but he’s already made his first mistake. After a summer full of speculation about which players would lead the team onto the field as OSU’s captains this fall, Fickell announced Tuesday that he would be departing from the program’s tradition of selecting season-long captains. Instead, Fickell said that the team will be choosing captains on a game-by-game basis. The reasoning behind Fickell’s decision is pretty clear; it would be tough to select OSU’s typical four to six captains without including one of four Buckeye seniors who are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving impermissible benefits. The decision to select captains on a game-by-game basis essentially rewards DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Solomon Thomas by giving them the opportunity to be selected after they return from their suspensions, but that’s not where I have a problem. My issue with Fickell’s decision is the indirect punishment for players who would likely have been season-long captains, regardless of the transgressions committed by the aforementioned players. Even if Posey, Adams, Herron, and Thomas had not been suspended for the start of the 2011 season, it’s almost certain that senior center Michael Brewster would be representing the Buckeyes at midfield for each coin toss this upcoming fall. Brewster committed to OSU during his junior year of high school in Orlando, Fla., but even before then, he was helping recruit a top-rated 2008 recruiting class to Columbus that would go on to be nicknamed the “Brew Crew.” Upon arriving at OSU, all Brewster has done is become a four-year starter and the face of a team who was in desperate need of one when turmoil struck last December. He could have been named a captain as a junior and nobody would have batted an eye. Now it appears he won’t even be a captain for all of his senior season. The absence of season-long defensive captains is even more absurd considering that the only suspended Buckeye on that side of the ball — Thomas — happens to be a back-up. So, thanks to the transgressions of a player who’s played sparingly throughout his time at OSU, a player like sixth-year defensive back Tyler Moeller, who’s bounced back from being the victim of an assault that cost him all of the 2009 season, and a torn pectoral that cost him most of the 2010 season, from being a season-long captain. Or what about senior linebacker Andrew Sweat, who is entering his second season as a starter at OSU and, despite having roomed with former quarterback Terrelle Pryor, has managed to keep his name out of the press for negative reasons?   You mean to tell me that he doesn’t deserve to be a season-long captain? I’ll grant Fickell that allowing players to vote for four (or in the case of last season, six) captains would have likely resulted in one of the suspended players — most likely Posey — being selected a captain, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t better alternatives than electing game-by-game captains. One option would have been for Fickell to simply select Brewster, Moeller, and Sweat as the team’s three captains and say “that’s that.” Just because former coach Jim Tressel allowed his team to vote for captains doesn’t mean that Fickell needs to do the same. Another option would have been to allow the players to vote on captains and if a suspended player were to be selected, he could either be absent or replaced by a rotation of players for the first five games. There’s even a precedent for this —  during the 2009 season, three defensive captains were named and were then joined by a rotating offensive player each week. Now more than ever, the Buckeye football program needs stability in its leadership. Not just in its coaching staff, but in its players too. The idea of different captains on a game-by-game basis is anything but that. Fickell said that season captains will eventually be named, possibly at the team’s postseason banquet, which will be a nice moment for deserving players like Brewster, Moeller, and Sweat, even if it comes a few months too late. read more

The Freshman Connection

Ohio State football’s current freshman class might hold a go-to offensive duo that Buckeye Nation could enjoy for years to come in quarterback Braxton Miller and wide receiver Devin Smith.Miller and Smith have combined for three touchdowns through the Buckeyes’ first four games, and at least one OSU coach expects the first-year duo’s productivity to continue.In both players’ first game in Scarlet and Gray on Sept. 3 against Akron, Miller found Smith in the end zone late in the contest for his first career touchdown pass. Smith’s catch, which went for 14 yards, was his first career touchdown as well.The two freshmen didn’t stop there.On Saturday against Colorado, Miller linked with Smith on a 32-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.Smith described that play as “too easy” for he and Miller.“(Colorado) played a little outside on me,” Smith said. “And I ran a post on that play and I was wide open.”The next time the players connected for a touchdown — a fade by Miller in the third quarter, which required Smith to catch the ball and drag his feet in the end zone — was evidence enough to suggest that the two players might be developing an on-field relationship, which players and fans alike can rely on.“(Smith and I are) comfortable in practice in the things we do,” Miller said. “We take time out to throw the ball.”Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman said he hadn’t initially considered the burgeoning relationship between Smith and Miller.Bollman said it makes sense that the two players would be helping each other succeed.“Well, it’s interesting because I hadn’t thought about that at all,” Bollman said. “Naturally, both players coming in together at the same time, you can see that situation evolving between receivers and quarterbacks who are getting some opportunities to play early.”Of the five passes Miller completed against the Buffaloes, Smith caught three for a total of 64 yards.Smith said the relationship fans see between he and Miller on the field extends far beyond Ohio Stadium and the practice fields.“(Miller) is sort of quiet, funny a little bit,” Smith said. “We walk to class. Everybody’s asking him questions and stuff like that, he’s real cool about it. I think that’s what makes him a great kid.”After Smith’s three catches for 64 yards on Saturday, he is now tied for the team lead in receptions with eight and leads in team in receiving yards with 183.And how’s this for a relationship — the night before the Colorado game, Smith even said he dreamt about catching touchdown passes from Miller.“That’s what I was thinking about the whole time,” Smith said.Other freshmen, including receiver Evan Spencer and linebacker Ryan Shazier, have seen playing time for the Buckeyes, but Miller and Smith have set themselves apart from their classmates.Bollman is optimistic the Miller-Smith partnership will evolve as the team moves into conference play.“It’s good to see, no question about it,” Bollman said. “We hope (they) continue to improve.”Miller agreed.“We (Smith and Miller) are getting a connection on the field,” he said. “(We’ll) just keep working for the next game.”Miller and Smith will attempt to continue their shared success on Saturday when OSU hosts Michigan State in its Big Ten opener. Kickoff at the ‘Shoe is set for 3:30 p.m. read more

Blue Jackets fall to Stars 42

Blue Jackets’ interim coach Todd Richards said he was pleased with the way his team battled back in Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars, but it wasn’t enough in the end. “The problem was, we weren’t ready from the start,” he said. The Blue Jackets got second period power-play goals from center Vinny Prospal and left-winger Rick Nash, but came up short, losing, 4-2, against the Stars, at Nationwide Arena. The Stars used left-winger Jamie Benn’s two-goal effort to hold on for the victory. Defensemen Stephane Robidas and Alex Goligoski added the other markers for the Stars. Curtis Sanford stopped 31 shots for the Blue Jackets as the team attempted to go on its first three-game winning-streak of the season. “We really wanted to get that third win in a row,” said left-winger R.J. Umberger. The scoring started just 1:35 into the game after Benn spun around in the slot and fired a shot that beat Sanford high to the glove side. Things didn’t get any easier for the Blue Jackets. Just less than three minutes later, Blue Jackets’ defenseman Marc Methot was on the receiving end of a puck to the face. Stars’ center Tomas Vincour fired a shot from the slot that, after striking Methot in the face, fell to the crease for a tap-in by Goligoski to put the Stars up, 2-0. “The first five minutes really killed us and put us in a big hole,” Umberger said. Methot did not return to the game after suffering a broken jaw, Richards said. “To get hit like that is fluky,” Richards said. Methot was not the only casualty of the game as right-winger Jared Boll left the game with a broken foot, Richards said. “It was a tough night body-wise, as far as injuries,” Richards said. After giving up an early power-play goal in the second period to the Stars, the Blue Jackets finally took some of the momentum back and responded with two power-play goals of their own. With Stars’ defenseman Sheldon Souray off for roughing later in the second period, defenseman Fedor Tyutin fired a low shot from the point that Prospal redirected into the net for the Blue Jackets’ first tally, at 8:32. Then at 12:12 during another Stars’ penalty, center Derick Brassard slid a cross-ice pass over to Nash who buried it for his 18th goal of the season. Richards called the play “textbook” and said it was what the team worked on in practice. Nash said the power play was “definitely positive” and the team could take that away from the game. The Blue Jackets added sustained pressure in the third, but were not able to find the back of the net again. “It was tough in the third,” Nash said. Benn added an empty-net goal with less than 10 seconds to go to seal the victory for the Stars. Nash, despite complimenting the Stars’ execution in the third period, felt it was still up to his team to tie the game. “It was good play by them, but we’ve got to find a way to get chances in the third,” Nash said. Nash was still optimistic about the team’s play. “We’re giving ourselves a chance to win and it seems like we’re following our system a lot better,” he said. Umberger agreed that the team just needs to persevere. “We gotta keep fighting, keep playing hard,” he said. The Blue Jackets travel to Minnesota Saturday to take on the Wild at 8 p.m. for the final time this season. read more

DAngelo Russells 32 lead Ohio State mens basketball to 58point win

Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell (0) passes the ball during a game against Sacred Heart on Nov. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 106-48.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State men’s basketball game against Sacred Heart was delayed for a matter of minutes because of a lighting conflict, but it didn’t keep the Buckeyes from lighting up the scoreboard once the game tipped off.The Buckeyes shot 56.4 percent from the floor in the first half and didn’t let up as they defeated the Pioneers, 106-48, Sunday night.The Buckeyes were led by freshman guard D’Angelo Russell, who scored an OSU season-high 32 points, coming up eight points shy of the school freshman single game scoring record.Jared Sullinger holds the freshman record with 40 in a game against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in December 2010.Russell said after the game he wasn’t trying to make up for only scoring six points against Marquette.“The last game was behind me at the end of that game. I didn’t think about it at all. The beginning of this game, I just tried to prep for it,” Russell said. “I didn’t honestly know who the opponent was, I just prepared the best way I could and I just told myself whoever was guarding me, I was going to destroy him.”Russell executed his plan well, as he added nine rebounds and shot 57.1 percent from the floor.Senior guard Shannon Scott, who compiled 25 combined assists in his first two games of the season, recorded a double-double and broke the OSU single game assist record as he tallied 16 helpers to pass the previous record of 15 set by Aaron Craft in 2011.After the game, Scott said that the record isn’t significant if the Buckeyes don’t continue to win games.“It doesn’t mean a lot, I mean it’s good to say that you have it, but I can’t really hold my head on that,” Scott said. “We want to win a lot more games and you can’t really focus on just having a record right now. We want to be the best team that we can be. We can kind of put the game behind us now and get ready for the next one.”OSU had 24 assists as a team, which coach Thad Matta said he was pleased with.“We did a great job of sharing the basketball,” Matta said after the game. “Shannon, 16 assists and whatever he had the other night, he has got a great command right now in terms of his demeanor and finding guys.”Matta put it as simple as he possibly could after the 58-point win.“That was a heck of a performance by our starting backcourt tonight,” he said.The Buckeyes never trailed as they opened up a 25-point lead at halftime as Russell, sophomore forward Marc Loving and senior forward Sam Thompson all scored in double figures in the opening 20 minutes.Thompson got the crowd of 12,941 at the Schottenstein Center out of their seats early with a trio of alley-oop slams in the first half, the last coming at the first-half buzzer off a lob from Russell.Russell said he gets just as much, if not more, excitement when his teammates make a play as compared to when he does.“They are both a crazy feeling. Sam is a crazy athlete,” Russell said. “Just throwing it up to him, knowing he is going to dunk it, I think it is more exciting when he is dunking the ball than me (scoring).”Thompson finished the night with 12 points on six-of-eight shooting.OSU shot a sweltering 56.9 percent for the game from the floor as all nine Buckeyes that played scored at least four points.Redshirt-senior forward Anthony Lee got his first career start as a Buckeye with senior center Amir Williams sitting out Sunday’s game with a sore right knee. Lee finished the night with six points and four rebounds.Matta said after the game that Williams was held out as a precaution, but could have played if needed.“It’s just been a lingering problem. I felt like we probably needed to hold him out one more night. He told me during the game, ‘Just so you know, I am playing on Wednesday,’” Matta said. “It’s nothing structural or anything like that. We have just been monitoring it and thinking big picture for him.”Senior center Trey McDonald led all players with 14 boards and added eight points in extended minutes with Williams out.Sacred Heart freshman center Filip Nowicki led the Pioneers with 10 points to go along with nine rebounds.The Buckeyes are set to return to action Wednesday against Campbell University. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more