One-man band Thomas tries to hold up Buckeyes

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 20, 2013 - 6:30 AM

Deshaun Thomas is willing to do it all, but realizes his team- mates need to chip in more.

hide

Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, left.

Photo: Jay Laprete, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

COLUMBUS, OHIO - In one breath, Deshaun Thomas is the star of Ohio State's basketball team.

He leads the Big Ten with an average of 20.1 points per game, a mark that nearly doubles any teammate. He's the highlight of every scouting report; he's what every high school player hopes to eventually be for a top-tier major conference team.

In the next breath, he's the culprit. With complementary pieces Jared Sullinger and William Buford gone from last year's squad, which grabbed a share of the Big Ten title, Thomas -- for better or for worse -- is the face of the program.

When the No. 18 Buckeyes knocked off then-No. 2 Michigan in mid-January and rolled to six victories in seven games, the 6-7, 225-pound junior forward was the heart and soul of a team on the rise. As Ohio State -- coming off three losses in four games, including a 71-49 stinker at Wisconsin on Sunday -- invites similarly struggling Minnesota to Value City Arena on Wednesday, turning things around falls on Thomas' broad shoulders, too.

Maybe it's not fair, but Ohio State is often looked upon as a one-man team.

"It's pretty hard," Thomas said. "In high school it was easy being that guy because you can get away with a lot of stuff. In college, you've got to make sure every possession is important and you get a stop when we need it. Being that guy in college -- it's good to have that [role], but it's kind of hard for me in the end because you know, a lot of people expect you to do a lot. A lot of people are watching you. It's a big target. It's a lot of pressure sometimes."

He said those words in a hallway Tuesday outside the Ohio State media room, where the typical day-before-game news conference was happening. Thomas, however, wasn't brought to the podium. Ohio State's communication department is trying to limit his exposure because the forward is doing so much otherwise.

Beyond his contributions, the Buckeyes are hardly an offensive powerhouse. They rely largely on hard-nosed defense and aggressiveness. As the leader, he wears those hats as well -- guiding the team in ways that might not come naturally, but are now essential.

"That's part of being that guy, too, just doing the little effort things to help your team," Thomas said. "I learned that a lot this year. Last year, we had Jared Sullinger, we had William Buford and we could just play off of them a little bit. But this year, it's just me, so now you've got to do that other stuff instead of just scoring 25 a night. You've got to get like 10 rebounds or you've got to get a big charge or a hustle play."

His supporting cast -- starters Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Sam Thompson and Amir Williams -- know they can't stay successful going forward with the weight all on Thomas. At Wisconsin, Thomas scored 18 points and added six rebounds, but with the entire team struggling on defense and only one other player scoring more than six points (Thompson with 10), the Buckeyes were exposed.

"You know Deshaun is going to score the ball, no matter what," Thompson said. "It's up to the other four guys on the floor to make the open shots that are there, to make the plays that are there and stay aggressive, not just jump on Deshaun's back to carry us."

Said Gophers coach Tubby Smith: "He's just a complete player, and he's a guy that looks for his shot. ... I've always been a fan of him, and I like the way he works."

Ohio State coach Thad Matta has prodded his star, knowing he is capable of the complete game Ohio State needs its leader to have on a nightly basis.

But Matta doesn't have to nudge him often, Thomas said. Win or lose, star or culprit, he accepts his role and finds challenges in it.

"I want to be that guy," Thomas said. "I want to be that guy who can stop somebody on defense, I want to be that help guy. I want to be that guy who will probably take that last shot, you know what I'm saying? I want to be that guy who will be there and be that leader."

  • GOPHERS AT (18) OHIO STATE

    6 tonight • TV: BTN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - D. Hutchison 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - M. Tanaka
Washington - S. Strasburg 12:10 PM
Miami - N. Eovaldi
NY Mets - J. deGrom 12:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Boston - J. Kelly 12:35 PM
Baltimore - M. Gonzalez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 12:35 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 12:40 PM
Tampa Bay - N. Karns
Cleveland - C. Kluber 1:10 PM
Minnesota - A. Swarzak
Detroit - R. Porcello 1:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Seattle - H. Iwakuma 1:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Los Angeles - J. Wright 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner
Texas - N. Tepesch 2:35 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 3:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong 3:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Arizona - W. Miley 3:10 PM
Colorado - C. Bergman
Cincinnati - A. Simon 7:05 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 12:30 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 4:00 PM
Washington
St. Louis 5:30 PM
Columbus
Calgary 7:00 PM
Edmonton
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 2:00 PM
Toronto FC
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close