Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thad Matta hopes to enjoy it


The last time Thad Matta guided an Ohio State basketball team to the Final Four, he learned a valuable lesson that stuck with him.

This time, when his squad invades New Orleans this weekend to face Kansas University at 7:49 p.m. Saturday, Matta vows to take five minutes to look around and enjoy what he and the Buckeyes (31-7) have accomplished.

“I’m excited,” said Matta, whose OSU squad lost to Florida in the national title game in 2007. “I think six years ago, I probably didn’t enjoy the moment as much as I wanted to or needed to. But truth be told, I probably won’t enjoy this one, either. We’ll get down there and try to play our best basketball.”

Although his team entered the preseason ranked in the top five, Matta said during a Monday teleconference of the four coaches in this year’s Final Four that he knew his team had a “long, long way to go.”

Reaching New Orleans always was the goal, but there were stretches during the season when many outside the program began to doubt whether that was possible. The Buckeyes opened the season by winning eight straight, a run that propelled them to No. 2 in the national polls. But then came a loss at No. 13 Kansas in which the Buckeyes played without big man Jared Sullinger, and their unbeaten streak was over.

OSU won 13 of its next 15 games — losing at Indiana and at Illinois — before encountering a nightmarish stretch in February in which the Buckeyes lost three of five Big Ten games, including two at home. Although the tough losses hit the Buckeyes hard, Matta made sure to emphasize that his team’s late-season rough patch may be responsible for his team standing where it stands today.

“I don’t know if I could be prouder of a basketball team in terms of everything that they’ve been through,” Matta said. “We never lost two games in a row. And if you look at the losses we had this year, hard-fought games. I think the thing that makes me the most proud is these guys kept getting better.”

Added Sullinger, who Monday joined KU’s Thomas Robinson in being named an All-American by the Associated Press: “I appreciated that everyone doubted this basketball team. I want to thank y’all because, through all the adversity, we constantly pushed through that.”

That much was obvious by the way Ohio State finished the pre-NCAA Tournament portion of its season. First the Buckeyes crushed Purdue and Michigan en route to a match-up with Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament title game. The Buckeyes lost that game, 68-64, but took a lot of confidence away from it and into the East Regional, where, seeded second, they knocked off top-seeded Syracuse, 77-70, Saturday to advance to the Final Four.

OSU won its four tourney games by an average of 12 points per game, including back-to-back victories over Big East squads Cincinnati and Syracuse. With a trip to the Big Easy next up on the schedule, Matta said he would emphasize having fun along the way.

“Well, I think New Orleans is a celebration-type town,” he said. “So we’re just going to keep rolling right in there. I’ve been a head coach (at OSU) now for 12 years, and the one thing I’ve always tried to do was enjoy the special moments. We’re going to enjoy (this). I think taking the time to celebrate is something that they deserve.”


cklarock 9 years, 8 months ago

"Thad, son of Thad, son of Motta, of the Mountain Clan."

Robert Murphy 9 years, 8 months ago

Why should we listen to you with those awful final four selections? Got anything on the Kentucky derby.

RJ King 9 years, 8 months ago

Why should we listen to you with your picks hidden under the clock of invisibility???

Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

Pretty interesting story about Matta over the weekend. He has a handicap that he kept hidden for years. He played college ball, then maintained that level of fitness until about 5 years his back froze up, he had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with a permanent condition called 'drop foot'. He has to wear a brace on one leg, but his mobility is permanently severely limited.

bradynsdad 9 years, 8 months ago

Wow I didn't know sullinger didn't play in our first game against OSU. That's weird. You think if he didn't play someone would have mentioned it by now. That's two things that have surprised me today, the other was I found out Vitale loves Kentucky and thinks they will win the title. What a day for groundbreaking news.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Glad to see your sarcasm font is still in fine working order !!

ajhk 9 years, 8 months ago

I'm so sick of Thad making sure everyone knows Sullinger didn't play the last game. It wasn't in this article but I think I've heard him say it about thirty times.

We also need to remember the total lack of disrespect Thad displayed at AFH when he told Bill, "Merry Christmas." As if he was giving us the game by not playing Sullinger.

Look, you put the team you can out on the floor and give it your best. Like Carolina, they were still stacked with top recruits.

This guy has never given us any respect for that game. He really thinks he'd crush us with Sully. Really?

“I appreciated that everyone doubted this basketball team... -Sully I call Bull. They played their way into any doubt. After losing to us, they still remained #2 the next week because they were given a pass without Sully.

Thad- Enjoy the last win Kansas 'cause with Sully we'd kick your butts.

Ok boys, slice that up into cold cuts, place in hoagie, and let's watch him eat that at the next post game presser.

kcn18 9 years, 8 months ago

Even halftime of the KU-UNC game while the CBS crew was interviewing him he had to throw in they were without Sullinger that game.

Matt Bowers 9 years, 8 months ago

He really reminds me of Coach K. Nice pinup AJ, you hit the nail on the head.

Rock Chalk

JD Roth 9 years, 8 months ago

Ohio State didn't drop because that game didn't count since Sullinger elected not to play. Just like the Midwest Regional Final didn't count in ESPN's eyes because Marshall didn't play. Lowly KU is going to the Final Four though. I'm anxious for the excuses if, as I expect, KU knocks off OSU Saturday night. What will be to blame when KU reaches the National Championship game? Bill Self is preparing the troops for two more wins and the title!!

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 8 months ago

The question is has OSU or KU improved more since our December meeting.

I believe without a doubt that both teams have shown a little bit of inconsistency; however, I think KU's upside is higher than OSU's upside.

Basically, if both bring their A games, KU wins. I wonder if the Superdome will sound like AFH?

Ann Oneill 9 years, 8 months ago

It's hard to believe that Matta is only 44 years old. Looks like he's in his 60's.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 8 months ago

Post your picture so we can judge how you look too please :)

Hail_To_Thee 9 years, 8 months ago

Even though we are only a 2.5 underdog, I think its gonna be a fairly easy win. I watch OSU often throughout the year and I just dont see the heart that KU has. I give it an 11 point spread at the buzzer with KU on top. I'm just not nervous about this game like most FF games.

Now, if UK gets passed Loui, and we get passed OSU, then i'll be nervous about UK. But I also feel that if we play our game, we can take Kentucky as well. Will be a hard feat, but is very doable. We have to have a flawless game.

Sally Presson 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't think one man can make you or break you. Last time I knew it's a team effort and we've got the team. I'm sick of hearing how Sullinger wasn't at the game and Roy whinning about his broken wrist guy not playin. Come on coaches--you got beat by a very good team of "team" players who really LIKE each other and play team ball. We can beat OSU I know we can!

Tyshawn, don't worry about the 3's in the dome, you did so many really good moves and scored enough points to get us the win. Just relax and do what you do best! Play really good basketball

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

Thad Matta has Lo-hio State playing a pretty good imitation of Self Ball. Matta began imitating it almost completely last season. This season its pretty much second nature to the players. I have a hunch that we will see Matta add the diamond and two for this game, if he hasn't already been using it. He's not original, but he's a quick and complete forger.

So: how do you beat the diamond and two?

You can bet Thad Matta is talking to his mentor, Herb Sendek, and maybe Barry Collier, too.

And I suspect Bill has a call in to either Larry Brown, or Eddie Sutton, which ever talked him into using the triangle and two.

And I suspect Bill is saying, "Okay, smart guy, its worked pretty well for us, but now this copy cat Matta is going to throw it in our faces. He's stolen everything else I do. It inevitable. How do you attack this cockamamie defense?"

Unleashing new defenses in basketball is like being the first to use mustard gas in WWI. You better be ready for your enemies to start using it ASAP.

Ben Howland made hay with the hack'n'slap before guys like Self copied it and beat him at his own game.

Self ought to be prepping for either Lo-hio State, or UK, to show this defense to KU.

Its clearly a pain in the butt to play against, not only because it keeps your bigs at home, but because its so darned hard to tell when you're actually playing it.

But let's say you opponent plays it. How do you attack it?

Let me count the ways.

  1. If have bigs that can shoot even 15 footers, you run your wings to the corners, your point guard to paint, and move your bigs out to 15 feet from wing to wing and shoot wide open shots, or shots contested by guys a foot shorter than your bigs.

  2. If you have a big that can pot the triceratop, run all your perimeter players into the paint, and send out one big to take the trey.

  3. Send your bigs to baseline, feed them, then send your wings slashing to the basket to receive a pass from the big on the baseline to the slashing wing.

  4. Bring both your bigs outside to set ball screens on the wings and let your three point guys go crazy.

And on and on.

Frankly, I'm amazed that opponents are having so much trouble attacking it, but that's the way people are, when they haven't seen something for awhile.

Self also might spring another gimmick defense now. It would really infuriate and panic Matta, who will have been working all week to copy the triangle and two and to learn to attack it.

How about a 1-3-1 where the three guys on the transept are actually playing man to man? :-)

Go, Bill, go!!!

RJ King 9 years, 8 months ago

Diamond and two? I'm ignorant. That sounds like six players. Is that a real defense, or did I miss the sarcasm font?

jaybate 9 years, 8 months ago

No, I goofed. I was thinking about how to play diamond and one as a meta gimick and forgot to use the dick head font. "sarcasm font"





nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thad Matta hopes to enjoy it

I hope he enjoys it too. Watching the Championship game between KU and Louisville on Monday night.

Enjoy the crap out of it Thad.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

If the game comes down to coaching, warm up the bus, Ohio State, you've got a long drive home!!

If the game comes down to mascots. Big Jay and Baby Jay will kick that little nutty ball all around the Dome.

If it comes down to Sullinger vs TRob....welcome to Mr.Robinson's neighborhood.

If it comes down to Tyshawn hitting three pointers....let's hope it doesn't come down to that!!!

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Dang it Oakville - I was all fired up until that last sentence !!

Oh well, like he said - he don't like domes, but domes love him because they keep winning.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Dang it Oakville - I was all fired up until that last sentence !!

Oh well, like he said - he don't like domes, but domes love him because they keep winning.

Joel Thomas 9 years, 8 months ago

No doubt I'm worried about this game. However, while most critics are quick pass OSU along to sacrifice before UK, I think KU has a pretty good chance. One, at least we're not playing UK in the semifinal. Let them get all fired up about their hated rival and enter the final emotionally drained despite the pressure still mounting - anything less than a championship for this team is a failure. Or maybe they're drained but don't know it because they're over-confident - all anyone ever says is how really good they are. There must be some weaknesses coaches are paid to find. Anyhow, back to the semifinal. Yes, it was in AFH and yes OSU was without Sullinger, but KU controlled that game and led wire-to-wire. Is he worth 11 net points? (Is Kendall Marshall worth 13 net points? White wasn't terrible.) Maybe it's too hard to judge because we have to consider ebb and flow, but never trailing and winning comfortably... can't ask for more. Craft is really good but I don't think our guards are inferior. KU won gritty games against underrated teams (Purdue kenpom rating 21 and Hummel going bananas; NC State kenpom 34 but hot and KU cold; UNC kenpom 7), and OSU essentially matched them, but I liked their matchups.

Not that I expect victory.

psamaras 9 years, 8 months ago

Did any of you know that Thad Motta was a Cornjerker in High School -- look it up!

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