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October 13, 2016

Thad Matta

Washington, D.C.

THAD MATTA: We can go ahead to questions. I'm obviously excited to be here, get the season rolling.

Q. You've talked a lot about there being a new era around the program and having a pretty enjoyable off-season. I wonder how that's translated to practice and what you've seen from the guys so far?
THAD MATTA: I think that we've got a pretty good vibe right now in our program, just in terms of the mindset, the energy in practice, the cohesiveness that we're competing every day. But I think from the standpoint of just making sure that we've got a higher level of maturity about us and a better understanding of what it takes to compete at this level, that's kind of been the biggest thing.

But I do like where we are today.

Q. I know Ohio State added a few players a little late in the recruiting cycle, in the last class. Are you planning on red-shirting any of them for this season?
THAD MATTA: Too early to tell right now. I really, really like what the new guys have brought. Just simply they're doing what they're supposed to do. They're embracing their roles. Each guy brings something a little bit different to our team that I really like. I don't know just yet what we're going to do in terms of that. But in my mind today I think all of them can contribute in one way or another.

Q. Bryan Colangelo, NBA executive, has been Executive of the Year a couple times. He said a lot of guys in his position no longer look at positions one through five. They look at guards, wings and post players. Are you starting to think that way? Do you see that mentality trickling down to college basketball or not?
THAD MATTA: I do. I think from the standpoint, and I laugh. A friend of mine, Jay Burke [phonetic], and I were talking the other day, and how when I came into the Big Ten 13 years ago, most programs had like two bookends down in the post, and it was very common how everybody played. We, coming from Xavier where we use like a stretch four, we kind of brought that to the Big Ten. Just basically it was out of necessity. It's all we had, and we used Matt Sylvester and Ivan Harris and those guys. I think you look at how the game has changed, and you go back to two years ago and sort of revolutionary when Golden State and Cleveland were in the playoffs, it was like, whoa, what position is anybody on the floor right now? Everybody seemed to be interchangeable. I think you've seen more and more of that in the college game.

Q. Thad, you've got the core of your team back. How are you coaching now differently as opposed to where you were a year ago when Vince and everybody was new?
THAD MATTA: You know, it's funny, because we're still -- I don't know, we were third, fourth or fifth youngest basketball team in the country last year. And now we've elevated to where we have one senior. We've got a lot of guys that are returning, but I think there's more of a sense of urgency.

Last year, whenever you lose five seniors and you lose the best guard in college basketball, that's a hard adjustment when you go into practice. We were more along the lines of trying to feel our guys out, get an understanding of what they can do and how they can do it and who plays well together, where this year the mindset is just a heck of a lot different in terms of just do it or you won't play.

Q. After several players transferred out of the program recently, are you and your coaching staff changing the way that you evaluate future recruits or change your recruiting strategy to prevent something like that in the future?
THAD MATTA: Well, yeah. I think that you constantly are analyzing recruiting. But the one thing that I've found in recruiting, however long I've been recruiting, 20, 25 years, whatever it is, I've never had two recruits go the same way in terms of the process of the recruiting.

It's like I told our guys when we started the season this year. I said, hey, somebody may transfer. I said it's an epidemic in college basketball. But you look at the top 50 greatest NBA players of all time. One guy transferred out of the top 50. And I think that there's a commitment level. You know who that was? Technically, he didn't transfer, but I think from the standpoint of you've got to get guys that got both feet in and are committed. Because as a young player, you're going to have more bad days than good days in the beginning, and if you're looking for the door if things don't go your way, you're probably not going to be the type of player that you want to be. I think right now I like the guys. I think we've got guys that appreciate this university. And I think those guys have done it. But I like who we've got in the program today.

Q. You had said before the season that you wanted Marc Loving to play like a senior this year and not shy away from the moment. When you look back at the guys you've coached, who do you think has done that? Who do you point to as making an example that has played like a senior?
THAD MATTA: I tell you what, I know I've got to get off here, but I would start with Tony Stockman, Brandon Fuss-Cheatham, Matt Marinchick, my first year here, when you go back to those guys. You go to the second year of J.J. Sullinger, Terence Dials, Matt Sylvester, Je'Kel Foster, those guys, in my opinion, exemplified how you want seniors to play. And we've had guys throughout the course of their careers that I think have done a tremendous job of that in terms of understanding like, hey, you better be burning the candle at both ends because it's going to go out shortly. Hopefully, getting back to Marc, he understands that. He's had some great moments at Ohio State, but we need him to play like a senior, and every night he's got to be as consistent as he possibly can.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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