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March 31, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to Ohio State. We will ask Coach Matta to make an opening comment, then we'll ask that the first questions be directed to Mike and Greg.
COACH MATTA: Well, we beat, no question, one of the best basketball teams we've played this year. You know, I thought that coming into the game, one of the biggest keys when you play a team like Georgetown is preparation. We were fortunate to have six days to prepare. Couldn't be prouder of our guys for executing the game plan.
You know, I think Greg goes down with two fouls, got three minutes in the first half, and once again our guys did a tremendous job of stepping up. Michael was tremendous. You know, into the second half, as I told Greg at halftime, he should be well-rested. I thought he stepped up, made some huge plays.
The big key was the defense down the stretch. It led to some easy opportunities, probably the difference in the basketball game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Greg, how tough was it to watch most of the game in the first half? How much better to be out there in the second half?
GREG ODEN: It was real tough in the first half, just sitting there, because I wanted to contribute. But my teammates, they stepped up. They did a great job. They didn't let them get a lot of offensive rebounds.
In the second half, I just wanted to go out and play hard and rebound the ball.
Q. Could you talk about, first of all, looked like when you did get back in, they went right to you in the post several times? Then playing against Hibbert, what that was like for you?
GREG ODEN: Just that they wanted to have him go at me and me get some more fouls so I could get out the game. The things with me, I just had to keep my hands up. He got a couple shots over me that he hit. The thing was me being out there, being able to contribute in other ways. He's big, that's how he got those shots.
Q. Mike, a lot of the questions that you guys got going into the game concerned Georgetown's size on the inside and how you were going to have to overcome that. How important going in dealing with that was the way you guys played defense, trying to get the steals and trying to get out in transition to beat their size down court?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Yeah, we knew if we played a halfcourt game, you know, we were playing into their hands. They have a big front court. They can block a lot of shots. We didn't want to have to deal with that throughout the whole game.
You know, our kind of style of play is to get up and down. Once we got our style established. I think that really helped us out.
Q. Everybody, including you, Greg, said a million times about you and Hibbert, don't get in foul trouble. In four possessions, you make two offensive fouls. Did your adrenaline take over? What goes through your mind?
GREG ODEN: What happened? The ref blew the whistle (smiling).
It was just me being out there and being excited. I mean, I can't lower my shoulder. I can't move setting ball screens.
Q. Mike, could you expand on y'all's speed of the game, how your transition offense kept them on their heels, created a lot of lanes for you to the bucket?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Well, we saw in the North Carolina game, North Carolina, you know, got in them the first half with a lot of transition buckets. It really hurt them. We felt if we could do that, establish that in our game, we'd be better off and have a better chance of winning the game because they like to play, you know, a halfcourt style of game, run their offense. If they get you in that kind of style, you can definitely be beat.
Q. Mike, once Greg went out with fouls, did you take it upon yourself to step up and get the job done? You played together so long, you're a star in your own right. Do you feel everyone talks about Greg, giving you some love, too?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: When he came out of the game, all of us had that mindset that we had to step up our level of play. Without him in the game, you lose a lot. We had to pick it up the best we could. I felt I did that the first half.
The second question, I don't really think about it too much, about me being overshadowed or anything. I just go out and play. Greg is deserving of all the attention that he gets. You know, I'm happy for him. I'm happy where I'm at. It's gotten me right here.
I can't complain.
Q. Greg, you had just come in the game. It's tied 44-All. Hibbert goes out. You score right away. I think you came up with back-to-back transition baskets. That little spurt gave you that lead again. Can you talk about how important that sequence was.
GREG ODEN: If I can remember it, I really don't. It was just us going out there and playing hard. We wanted to take advantage of big Roy going out, so we wanted to go inside, get some shots over their defense because I'm bigger than their other guys, except for big Roy. We wanted to attack on the inside.
Q. Were you a little bit surprised that Jeff Green wasn't more aggressive with the basketball?
MIKE CONLEY, JR.: Well, you know, we were pleased with the way he wanted to play that game. He could have took over the game any time, any point. I think it's some credit to the way we played defense and the way we had our game plan focused around him.
Q. Speaking of his lack of aggression, Greg, can you tell me, you were pretty aggressive, especially on that dunk attempt. Can you tell me about that?
GREG ODEN: I was out for 17 minutes. I wanted to get in there and just tear the rim down, you know (smiling).
Q. Greg, even though you're happy with the victory, are you a little disappointed you weren't able to go man-to-man against Roy for more minutes to see who would do what to who?
GREG ODEN: Not really. I mean, he shot over me a bunch of times, so you seen what he can do. All I care about is we won. That's really all that matters.
Q. Sitting for 17 minutes in the first half, how do you stay mentally engaged in the game so that you're not just completely sort of floating around there when you get out there in the second half?
GREG ODEN: Well, I got Danny, Joe and Mark Titus yelling in my ear the whole time. I can't really miss anything. Just trying to be there for my teammates, just be a cheerleader out there.
THE MODERATOR: Mike and Greg, thank you very much. We'll let you go.
Questions for Coach Matta.
Q. Could you describe your defense, particularly as it related to Jeff Green.
COACH MATTA: Well, I don't know if I've slept worrying about him and what he -- his capability. Last night I met with the four guys I felt we could guard him, showed them about a 10-minute edit of Jeff Green. I knew we weren't going to be able to stop him from scoring. But just having great awareness.
I thought that everybody that guarded him did a pretty good job. He's so talented because he can beat you with the pass. He can beat just so many ways. He was such a focal point of what we were trying to get established defensively.
Q. To some degree you're getting a little used to this with Greg being in trouble. Can you talk about, in particular, Harris and Hunter and Terwilliger rebounding, block shots, defense, for that long period of time?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, you know, those guys collectively did a magnificent job. They were active. Like you said, they rebounded, they altered some shots, they blocked some shots. Just did a great job. Ivan with five offensive rebounds.
I said this, I hated the fact we played the first seven games without Greg. But today is another example where it probably helped us because those guys never skipped a beat. They just came in and got the job done.
Q. The points off turnovers, you had 22 to 10. I think it was 13-1 at one point. You only turn it over eight times. Talk about the guard play, what you got out of transition when you were forced -- when you were able to turn them over.
COACH MATTA: That was obviously a key to the game, I think. We weren't sure if we could turn them over. We did a great job of covering down the way we wanted to and scoop some balls up, got out, advance passed.
I thought our guys did a nice job of finishing in the transition zone. That was one thing we thought we could do, and wanted to do, was try to speed the game up and get them playing up and down.
Q. First half looked like you probably switched defenses more than you had all season. Looked like Georgetown was having quite a bit of trouble figuring out what you were doing. Second half, looked like you went man-to-man mostly. Was creating confusion with them and maybe getting them to plan for a zone at halftime, then coming out in man, was that a big part of your defensive game plan?
COACH MATTA: Yeah. You know, we felt that the zone was pretty effective in the first half. We lost Wallace two times. He was two for two, six points. You know, they made an adjustment on the last play of the first half. We talked about it at halftime, said they're going to step the big guy out. Sure enough, they sliced us up there to start the second half. We got out of it, went to the man-to-man.
Quite honestly, I knew we were going to go to the man. We had worked so hard this week in breaking down their actions, cuts. Honestly, I don't know if we've ever spent as much time as we did preparing on the, you know, Princeton, Georgetown type actions.
I thought our guys really did a nice job of taking away the back doors, being active when they caught the ball in the post.
Q. Could you talk about your philosophy of having a big guy in foul trouble? You've been very patient throughout this tournament when Greg has been in foul trouble. Seemed to pay off when Hibbert got his fourth. Talk about what that's like having to sit him.
COACH MATTA: Yeah, you know, honestly I think people think a lot of times I've got this master plan in my mind. And it's a gut feeling. You know, the other night we put him back in in the first half down in San Antonio with two fouls. It's really kind of time/score situation.
You know, the way those guys came in, the job that they did tonight, I had never honestly thought about putting him back in in the first half.
You know, it really is more of a feel. It's more of a match-up. You know, we were -- we had planned when Hibbert went out of the game and Greg was in the game to go zone regardless of where we were.
You know, he guarded Green for a little bit. Then he went on Ewing. He did a heck of a job for us.
Q. Green only had five shot attempts. How much of that was what you were doing to him? Since the game is over now, can you tell the laymen part of what that was?
COACH MATTA: You know, I don't know if we did anything exceptional to only give him five. Let me put it to you this way: we were very aware and keyed to contain him. I knew we were not going to stop him. He's one of the best players I've seen in college basketball this year.
But it was, you know, just basically force him out, try to take him out of rhythm on his three shot, know that he's going to drive. He likes to spin. He's going to post. We knew what shoulder he wanted to go over. We wanted to dig it out because he liked to dribble before he did it.
Michael Conley was tremendous off the ball today. Ron got his hands on some balls. Did a great job with it.
Q. Just about Mike Conley, he's a freshman point guard, committed one turnover. I can only think of maybe one or two situations where he actually maybe didn't make the right call. What is it like as a coach to have that kind of leadership, speed, all the intangibles there in the back court as a freshman as well?
COACH MATTA: Comforting (laughter). You know, I said this a million times this year. I think from the first time I saw Michael Conley play, I thought he was the perfect point guard for our system. The job that he's done reading this team, I mean, he has such a basketball IQ.
He did some things today through scouting that I can't explain. I mean, it was amazing. A fake, when he knew they were going to do something on the other side.
When he gets the ball in his hands, like you said, he makes great decisions, he makes great reads. He has a feel of when to go, when not to go.
I love honestly watching him play. He's been a joy to coach. But the biggest key with Michael Conley, last one to leave the practice floor every day. As a coach, you love nothing more than for those guys to play well.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Matta. Thank you very much. Congratulations.
COACH MATTA: Thank you.
End of FastScripts