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March 18, 2015

Thad Matta

Shannon Scott

Amir Williams


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by student-athletes from Ohio State. At this time the floor is open for questions.

Q. There's been a lot of questions about what VCU has to do to stop you guys. Have you thought about what you have to do to stop VCU players?
AMIR WILLIAMS: They're a pretty up-tempo team. We got to try to limit their transition points, get back on defense. We watched a lot of film over the past couple days and we see what they're going to do offensively as far as pushing the ball. We have to try to make things uncomfortable for them on the defensive end and keep them out of the paint.

Q. Shannon, as a ball handler, what is it like looking at VCU and their pressure defense?
SHANNON SCOTT: I mean, they're a team that likes to pressure a lot. My biggest thing is to stay in control, not really try to get rattled. They're going to want to speed me up, get me going places I don't want to go. I have to remember to stay cautious, not force anything. Just let the game come to me.

Q. Shannon, VCU shot 41% in the A-10 tournament on three-pointers. There's a big difference in the regular season and tournament play. You guys are 33% defense against three-pointers. What do you have to do to limit VCU's points from long range?
SHANNON SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, we have to find them early in transition, like Amir said. They're spotting up a lot of threes a lot, we have to find that. In the halfcourt defense, we have to dock our guys. As soon as they catch the ball, we have to have to a man there and try to stop that three-point shot from there.

Q. Shannon, as an upperclassman, what is the best advice you could give D'Angelo going into his first NCAA tournament?
SHANNON SCOTT: D'Angelo is a great player. We try to tell him to play his game. Don't try to force anything. Basically just play like it's another basketball game. It's the NCAA tournament. He understands that. But, I don't know, just got to make sure he plays his game. He'll be good.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. We appreciate it. Coach Matta is here and ready to take questions. He won't be making any opening statement. The floor is open for questions.

Q. What jumps out at you when you see VCU on tape?
COACH MATTA: You know, obviously their style. It's a unique style both offensively and defensively. There's not a lot of teams that play the way that they play in terms of the defensive pressure, for 40 minutes, the pressing, the trapping. Offensively they're going to spread you out, shoot a lot of threes. I think over 40% of their field goal attempts this year are threes. Then probably their depth. They got a lot of guys, they're nine deep. I think also one thing was very obvious, they're a team of runs. You've got to be able to stop the run. When they get hot, they really get going.

Q. A lot has been made of how VCU has to stop D'Angelo Russell. What do you have to do to stop Melvin Johnson, Treveon Graham, Mo Alie-Cox?
COACH MATTA: I think obviously the first thing is those three guys are terrific players. I think it has to be a team defensive effort. I think you've got to have great awareness because they do a really nice job of moving those guys around and creating angles for them to not only shoot, but to drive the basketball. It's got to be five guys defending the basketball, as we hope our system is.

Q. There's been some talk out of the NBA about potentially bringing the draft age back down to 18. As someone who has had players go one-and-done, do you have a reaction or opinion? Do you have an ideal of what you would prefer?
COACH MATTA: When you say 18, like out of high school?

Q. Yes.
COACH MATTA: I think, A, I don't have a solution. I've thought about it for years. We have been hit. We were kind of the first school there back from '07 to '09, where we were losing freshmen. I do think this: I'm one of these guys, I'm in this for the kids. I think basketball is a unique sport. It's a unique opportunity. Your body is your ticket to your life. With that said, I've always been in favor of letting those guys go, you know, from the standpoint if they're good enough to go out of high school. I know the NBA doesn't want to mess with high school guys anymore. I understand that completely. From our perspective, getting guys in, I'd kind of like to see it be a two-year at least deal if they do come to college. Simply it would keep the vultures away for a year. It would keep a kid committed because he knows he's got to come back for the next year. I think that would buy us time as a coaches. We deal with things that people have no idea what's going on behind the scenes. It makes it difficult, it really does. Quite honestly, I don't think it's fair to the kids in terms of them enjoying their experience while they're in college.

Q. Have you had much contact recently with Greg Oden? How is he doing?
COACH MATTA: He's doing great. It's funny, I see Greg every day. He's back in Columbus. Comes in, works out. I don't know quite honestly if I've ever seen Greg as happy as he is right now in terms of everything is going great in his life. He's made a lot of personal commitments to change. Having him around literally every single day and spending time with him, there's no greater feeling. I'm excited for him.

Q. Coach, since you see Greg all the time, is your sense that he's still got some NBA left in him? Is his career over?
COACH MATTA: I tell you what Greg is doing right now, he's probably been six months of high-level conditioning, training in the weight room, working out on the court. Our coaches work him out. I think he's right now trying to gauge how the body feels. There is a possibility he may make another run at it. He looks great. Probably about 280 pounds right now. I mean, quite honestly I haven't seen Greg look this good since when he played for us back in the day at Ohio State. Like I said, his attitude is off the charts. He went through a lot. You look at Greg's life, how difficult things have been. I know that he is a kid that never wanted to let people down. The injuries, you know, none of us can prevent those. I know there's part of him that wishes that stuff couldn't have happened. I still swear he was going to be one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA just from the year I was with him.

Q. You made a reference that VCU was like 40% of their shots came from three. In the A-10 tournament, they made 41% of their three-pointers, which was a difference from the way they've been shooting. Your three-point defense is 33%. What do you need to do to make sure they don't hit 40 against you?
COACH MATTA: They did put on a clinic in the A-10 tournament. They had that one stretch against Davidson, I don't think I've ever seen a team catch fire like that. Looking at that, quite honestly, we've got to do a great job of defending the three-point shot. With that said, they've got four guys out there at a time that can really drive the basketball and finish. So it's tough. That's why they're a great team. But I think, you know, challenging the three and being ready to guard the drive is what we need to do. Like I said earlier, they get on those runs, like the Davidson game, I think it was four or five in a row, it was incredible.

Q. D'Angelo gets a lot of attention and has pressure on him. What's impressed you most about the way he's handled that as a freshman? Are you curious to see how he'll react on this stage?
COACH MATTA: From the first time I began recruiting him, meeting him, then getting him to campus, he's a very mature young man. I think from the standpoint of how he views things, you know, the success that he's had this year, he didn't see it coming. We thought for sure kind of a two-year type guy. But I think that's why he's been so successful, because he doesn't let that get in his head. He's been a very committed teammate. He's been very committed to Ohio State. Quite honestly, he's a pleasure to coach. You sit down and you can have a conversation with him outside of basketball. He's one of those guys that just knows a little bit about everything going on in the world. He actually teaches me things that I didn't know.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you very much.

COACH MATTA: Thank you.
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