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Ohio State Basketball Will Offer a New Look Under Gary Williams

November 16, 1986|RUSTY MILLER | Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There is a new look on the Ohio State sidelines, with Gary Williams taking over as head coach.

Likewise, there is a new look at St. John Arena, which no longer resembles a World War II hangar. The court is now bathed in bright colors and championship banners now hang from the balcony.

The most recent men's basketball banner is from the 1971 Big Ten Conference championship. It may be a little longer until they have to make room for another one.

With the 1986-87 season a layup away, Williams has no lofty hopes for his first Buckeye team. He has little patience with those who say he inherited a National Invitation Tournament championship team, one that has a future pro in Dennis Hopson.

"We're picked eighth in the Big Ten by most sources, so somebody must think that its going to be a rebuilding year," Williams said. "Our problem is we don't have any inside players with experience.

"The Big Ten's supposed to be a very physical league inside, and we're in a situation where Brad Sellers (the 7-foot NIT most valuable player and now a Chicago Bull) has graduated and (Clarence) McGee left Ohio State.

"The problem is that Sellers played 37 minutes a game; it's not like he only played 20. So one-fifth of your minutes are gone. We've lost a lot of experience and talent inside.

"Plus with a player like Sellers, it's a lot easier for a Dennis Hopson or a Jay Burson to do some things because obviously the defense is going to try to stop Sellers first. And now he's gone. So not only do you lose his 20 points and 12 rebounds, but you lose that decoy inside."

The lack of an enforcer inside isn't the only thing ailing the Buckeyes, 19-14 a year ago. The bench is paper thin, the guards are all short and the schedule looks like a who's who of the Top Twenty.

The starting lineup will most likely consist of the 6-5 Hopson, 6-10 John Anderson, the 6-0 Burson, 6-5 Jerry Francis and 6-1 Curtis Wilson. Anderson started three games last year, Burson five and Wilson seven.

Hopson has the credentials to be an All-America. He averaged 20.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game a year ago, shooting 55% from the floor and 78% at the line.

"The player who can compete with anybody is Dennis Hopson," said Williams. "We may have some mismatches at the other four positions, but he will be difficult for anyone to stop."

Anderson is coming off a year of injuries in which he played in only 11 games, shooting 25% from the floor and averaged less than 2 points and rebounds in 11 games. Further, in 323 career minutes he has never blocked a shot.

Burson scored 6 points a game last year as a freshman but was often overmatched physically against guards such as Antoine Joubert of Michigan and Bruce Douglass of Illinois.

Francis was a bright spot during his freshman season, starting 27 times while averaging 6 points and 3.3 rebounds a game.

Wilson could be the key. The former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary All-Ohioan is tough, plays good defense and can score (7.5 points per game). He scored in double figures in all five NIT games and averaged 6 assists. But he, too, is no match for the Big Ten's big guards.

Six-one point guard Kip Lomax, a starter under former Buckeye coach Eldon Miller, will be the sixth man.

After that come 6-9 Joe Dumas, 6-9 Tony White and 6-4 Scott Anderson, who combined for 53 points all last season.

"People say we return some players, but really only Hopson and Francis were consistent starters last year," said Williams, who came from Boston College. "You have to remember, too, who they beat in the NIT. You go past the top 70 teams in the country to get to the NIT teams.

"This year the Big Ten's picked as the best conference in the country. Every other night we're going to be playing No.2 or No.6 or No.11. And you have to play them."

Williams promises an up-tempo approach to the game. The offense will be more wide open to utilize the skills of Hopson and Wilson in the open court and the defense figures to be two part Bobby Knight basics and one part karate.

"In order to get the crowd excited, you've got to play exciting basketball," Williams said.

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