The Ohio State Buckeyes have endured an uneventful season thus far and since the injury to Keita Bates-Diop, the team has been going more downhill.
The last time he played for the Buckeyes was on New Year’s Day against the Illinois Fighting Illini, where he suffered his season-ending leg injury.
Bates-Diop will have surgery on his left leg to repair that stress fracture and head coach Thad Matta hopes to be able to redshirt the junior forward, which will give him two more years of playing eligibility after this season, according to Cleveland.com columnist Bill Landis.
So, now that he’s been gone, what does that meant for the Buckeyes?
Well, we’ve already seen a recurring snippet of what this movie will look like since the injury on New Year’s Day.
Although the Illinois game was the Big Ten conference opener, at that point, the Buckeyes had a solid 10-4 record. Since his absence, the team has put together a well below .500 record of 3-6.
In those three wins against Minnesota, Michigan State and Nebraska, the Buckeyes won by a combined total of 12 points. The Buckeyes best game during this stretch was probably their one-point loss the the top 25 ranked Purdue Boilermakers. That was one game where the Buckeyes looked like a team in desperation, which they are right now.
Now, some might say the Bates-Diop injury may not have anything to do with the direction the Buckeyes seem to be going in terms of record or the roster, which could be true. But his injury does impact the team and the obvious reason is because the Buckeyes need all of the help they can get from anybody hat can produce.
Before the injury, he was averaging a formidable 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds-per-game while shooting 50-percent from the field. So, losing the junior forward adds to the Buckeyes’ visible problem in the lack of depth on this 2016-17 roster.
His numbers are far from eye-popping, but for his role on this team as a 6-foot-7 stretch forward is something you can see that they surely miss.
So, what does his injury actually mean for the Buckeyes?
It just makes it that much more difficult to win games and if you look at the minutes distribution Thad Matta is playing five guys over 22-plus minutes every game. It also means their chance of potentially making a run into March Madness continues to diminish.
When you’re a team who doesn’t have the top talent or a great player like a Purdue, Kentucky, Kansas or etc. then depth plays a major role in winning games. The Buckeyes could not afford to lose anybody, especially a key player of this season’s short rotation.
The team’s next game is on Saturday Feb. 4 on the road against arch-rival Michigan. They’ll continue to look towards someone else to fill Bates-Diop’s void because the next time we’ll see him on the court is most likely in the 2017-18 campaign.