Posted: 9:34 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013
By Brett Ludwiczak
After studying behind David Lighty in his first year in Columbus, the 6-4 senior from Zion, Illinois has done an admirable job of trying to fill the role that Lighty left needing to be filled after Lighty exhausted his eligibility in Columbus. While Lenzelle has always played with intensity on the defensive end, we might see that kicked up a notch this year with this being his last chance at helping the Buckeyes cut down the nets in April.
Previous Season Stats: 9.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, .430 FG% in 27.4 MPG
Offensively, 2012-13 was like a tale of two seasons for Lenzelle. The 2012 portion saw Lenzelle score in double figures in 8 of the Buckeyes first 12 games. When the calendar turned to 2013 and Ohio State entered conference play, the defenses tightened up and Lenzelle only hit double figures in 9 of the remaining 25 games. While Lenzelle might have had some problems finding a consistent scoring touch in conference play, when he was able to find his stroke from the floor, he made it count. The two games where Lenzelle hit over 20 points came within conference play. The month of February was bookended by big games for Lenzelle, when he went for 21 points in the win at Nebraska to start the month, and then finished the short month up with six three-pointers and a season-high 24 points at Northwestern.
While Lenzelle might have struggled to find consistency on the offensive end during the season, that wasn't quite the case defensively. One of the constants of last year's Buckeye team was that Lenzelle could be counted on to usually give the team 25+ minutes of tough defense and hustle. In six games last season Lenzelle pulled down eight or more rebounds, including back-to-back 10 rebound performances against Purdue and Michigan in January. Not too shabby work on the glass from a 6-4 guard.
Barring injury or a horrible dip in his play, Buckeye fans will see Smith start every game in his final season playing for the Buckeyes. Lenzelle does a lot of the little things well for the Buckeyes, and along with Aaron Craft, the senior leadership will hopefully rub off on the younger guys and be a guideline for how Thad Matta wants Buckeye basketball played. Last year after Deshaun Thomas, most of the times Lenzelle was your second scoring option, as LaQuinton Ross became more comfortable with his role on the team. This year will see Ross step into Thomas' role, but hopefully the growth of Sam Thompson and the #SWOON of Aaron Craft will allow Smith to only be needed as a third or fourth option on the offensive end. If Lenzelle can average the nearly 10 PPG that he did last year or even more, while being the third or fourth offensive option, the Buckeyes could be a very tough team to beat. While Lenzelle does leave more to be desired on the offensive end, his defense is just too valuable to see him sitting on the bench for long stretches of time.
Lenzelle isn't asked to do quite as much on the offensive end, which erases some of the inconsistencies last year. With more options on offense, Lenzelle doesn't have to force his shot quite as much, which allows the offense to come to him more naturally and he creeps over 40% shooting from behind the arc. He gives the Buckeyes the same grit and toughness on the defensive end that we've seen from him the last couple years, and helps Ohio State form one of the best perimeter defenses in the country.
LaQuinton Ross can't fill the shoes of Deshaun Thomas quite as expected which puts more pressure on Smith to shoulder the load on offense. As a result, Smith's defense take a step-back due to the energy he expends on the offensive end, and the Buckeyes bow out of the NCAA Tournament in the early rounds due to the issues on offense.