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BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 12, 2015


Thad Matta

D'Angelo Russell

Shannon Scott


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Ohio State ¬Ė 79
Minnesota - 73


Q.  Just talk about how this last four or five days has unfolded and the importance that you guys put on coming up here and playing the best basketball that you could and really laying on the line tonight?
SHANNON SCOTT:¬† First off, we want to congratulate Coach Matta on his 298th win, becoming the all‑time Ohio State Coach winning percentage.¬† With us our main thing is we've got to play our best basketball now.¬† We've got to put the regular season behind us.¬† We ended the season the way we didn't want to end it, but we've got to move on now.¬† We've got to play our best basketball.
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:  Like he said, congrats to Coach.  Like Shannon said, also, if we're not playing our best basketball by now, I mean, it would be hard trying to pick up for the tournament and whatnot.  Like he said, we want to start playing our best basketball right now.

Q.  D'Angelo, what did you do to your left hand in the first half?  We saw you kind of get being stretched out on the bench?
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:  I just broke a nail.

Q.  Did it bother you for the rest of the game?
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:  No, I'm good.

Q.  D'Angelo, you've had an uncanny ability throughout the season to take over a game and hit the big shots, and even though you're 0 for 5 from three in the first half and they came back at the half, what allows you to make those big shots, especially today?
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:¬† Coach Matta thought I was playing around.¬† I give a lot of credit to him.¬† He told me ‑‑ he pulled me to the side and, he said, Yo, it's time.¬† And like I said in previous interviews, it just clicks¬† for me.¬† And I knew my teammates were looking for me and putting me in a position to score and capitalize.¬† Coach Greg Paulus was doing the same, and I was just making shots.

Q.  Shannon, you had a career high 21 points tonight.  Did you have any extra motivation or a different mindset after taking a big loss on Senior Night?
SHANNON SCOTT:  Not really.  I mean, our whole main purpose of this trip right now is just to play our best basketball.  That's the main thing I'm focusing on right now.  I can't think about the Senior Night loss.  That's behind us now.

Q.  The two possessions there at the end of the game where you were holding, trying to take as much time off, but then you got baskets at the end of each of those possessions, if you guys would talk about those two plays.
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:  Coach made a great call.  Amir set a great screen which you seen, and Shannon made a great pass and they I just made the shot.  I give a lot of credit to those guys for just making the play and coming to me when it was a crucial point in the game.
SHANNON SCOTT:  A lot of times when teams get up like that in late games, they try to hold the ball and don't take the right shot.  We found an opening, and we needed to take the shots, and we took them, so that's the main thing with that.

Q.  You guys have Michigan State now tomorrow.  Any thoughts on how that first game went and what you need to do to come out victorious in that?
SHANNON SCOTT:¬† Yeah, man, we lost to them in a nail‑biter but we're going to watch film on them tonight and tomorrow and figure out their actions again, and just get going from there.
D'ANGELO RUSSELL:  I mean, I give a lot of credit to them.  They beat us by a buzzer beater last time at their home.  Now it's a more hostile crowd.  We've got their crowd and our crowd, it's not a home game for them.  We look to keep the crowd involved and just keep energy.

Q.¬† Marc has struggled these past few weeks, kind of got him going tonight.¬† Tonight in particular how nice was it to kind of see him‑‑
COACH MATTA:  Well, yes.  I think it was huge to see that first shot go in for him.  We've been waiting for Marc to kind of come out of it, and tonight I thought he was really, really good.  Everybody thinks offense, but he really made some spectacular defensive plays from the help position, which was good to see, because a lot of times when a guy is not playing well offensively, he'll shut down defensively.  But I thought his energy, all that was great to see, and hopefully he's ready to go.

Q.  And then just going forward, how big would it be if he could kind of get in a rhythm and be another reliable offensive threat?
COACH MATTA:¬† Well, it definitely makes us a stronger basketball team.¬† It gives us a lot more options, and J.T. got‑‑ Jae'Sean got in some foul trouble early, and that's what you want at this time of year where the next guy comes in and fills his role and does a little bit more than that.¬† Like I said, I'm happy to see Marc play that way.

Q.  Not that this is the biggest blip on your radar screen, but what's that record mean to you, standing there holding that shirt with 298 on it?
COACH MATTA:¬† You know, I think from the standpoint of‑‑ and I've said this, nobody ever remembers the past.¬† Nobody remembers where we came in or what we took over in this program with sanctions and visits and post‑season banned and all that stuff.¬† You know, I've always said this:¬† I give credit to Matt Marinchick, Tony Stockman, and Brandon Fuss‑Cheatham. They were our first senior class and they kind of helped us set the tone.¬† I.
Think, personally, for me, people ‑‑ it probably means the most for me is my wife and my two daughters.¬† Because I've gone probably‑‑ well, going on eight years with a disability, and they're the ones that have suffered the things that I can't do as a father.¬† I can't do as a husband.¬† And they've never wavered.¬† I have some really, really bad days in terms of coming home after games and they've got to help me get my shoes and socks off, and for them to stay the course with me, it means a heck of a lot more to me for them than it does for myself.

Q.  After that loss to Wisconsin, how important was it for you to kind of clear that away and win that game?
COACH MATTA:¬† Yeah, well, it was huge, I think.¬† You know, I give our guys a lot of credit for‑‑ I talked to them after the game Sunday and just said, look, as hard as this is for me to say this, we have to wash this game down the drain in the shower, and we've got to pick ourselves up and get ready to go again.¬† We had a couple great practices leading into this.¬† I talked about it before the game tonight, I think, in terms of the way we came out.¬† I was excited to see that.¬† I knew tonight's game was going to be a dogfight.¬† I think every year I've ever been in this tournament, the first game is always the hardest one.
But I'll give them credit because we got punched in the face and they got back up and fought tonight.

Q.  Could there have been lingering effects if you'd have lost that game?
COACH MATTA:  Oh, no question.

Q.  Going into the NCAA Tournament, you're coming off this and that?
COACH MATTA:  Yeah, you're limping in.  From the standpoint, that was something we talked about at the team meeting on Monday.  As Shannon said, really the only thing I asked them to do was attempt to play their best basketball and fight and claw.  I don't think we played perfect tonight by any stretch, but played well enough to win.  In the back of my mind I was thinking like, well, we really, really need this win for a lot of different reasons.

Q.  D'Angelo, this is his first postseason game in college.  Is there anything about him that surprised you how easy that transition was for him, and what is it about him that made it look so easy as someone playing in this type of situation for the first time?
COACH MATTA:¬† Well, he's obviously a very talented basketball player, and as he alluded to, he was not all the way dialed into the level that I wanted him dialed in.¬† And he and I had a conversation during the game, but I think from the standpoint‑‑ he's one of those guys that he wants people in the crowd.¬† He wants spotlights.¬† He wants competition.¬† He wants to play the best.¬† That makes him special.
I knew he was struggling the first half a little bit scoring the ball, but I had great confidence that he would get going, and sure enough, he did.

Q.¬† I'm pretty sure looking ahead a little bit you're an even .500 with Tom Izzo.¬† Seems like every match‑up with these teams is a tough, close games.¬† What is it about these programs that they just seem to match up so well with each other and have the same sort of games?
COACH MATTA:  You know, it is interesting.  I think from the standpoint of the battles over the years, that we've had, you know, honestly, tomorrow what we should do is just start with one minute on the clock and save ourselves because they always seem to come down to the last minute of the game.
I'll be honest with you, I have so much respect for Coach Izzo.  When I got to Ohio State 11 years ago, that was one of the programs I looked at and said, boy, if we could ever get this program to that level, I'd be a happy man.  He's stood the test of time.  He's had great players, we've had great players.  He's a heck of a coach.  I get lucky every now and then.
I think from that perspective, it makes it a lot of fun.  As crazy as it sounds, I actually look forward to tomorrow night because you know it's going to be a heck of a basketball game.

Q.  With Michigan State again tomorrow, how much of the next 20 hours do you look back at that regular season loss?
COACH MATTA:¬† We'll look at it.¬† We can walk right now into film‑‑ our guys are prepared through film and all that stuff.¬† I don't think they've changed drastically.¬† We haven't changed drastically.¬† You know, we'll take a look at that game, but it's all the other little things.¬† They're going to do what they do, we're going to do what we do, and hopefully we score more points than they do tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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