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March 21, 2010
Ohio State Â– 75
Georgia Tech - 66
DENNIS KRAUSE: We'll have an opening statement from Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta and then questions for student-athletes Evan Turner and Jon Diebler.
COACH MATTA: Well, I think, obviously, extremely proud of our players and the way the game started. We couldn't put the ball in the basket. And credit Georgia Tech with their defense. We kept telling them, look, the law of averages, we've got to start making shots. I thought we did a great job of keeping the composure. We were sloppy, you know, with some turnovers, but we kept defending.
We had a stretch there from probably the 12 to probably at the moment of the first half where I thought our defense was really, really good.
We came in at halftime. We just talked about trying to get on a run there in the first four minutes, and these guys did a great job with it. And you knew Georgia Tech was going to make a run back at us, and I thought we did a pretty decent job making free throws down the stretch, meeting the passes, and taking care of the ball. As I told these guys, we got what we came for, on to St. Louis.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Evan, just how important was it at that first half where it was just kind of a tough game for both teams back and forth, very physical game, for you guys to get out and transition and get some layups and easy shots, and as Jon was part of that, made a few 3-pointers in there. Just both of you address how important that run was for you to start the second half?
EVAN TURNER: We were just trying to get momentum. Tried to start off the second half with strength. It's like a new game since we're only up two points, and definitely just wanted to get the first four minutes of the second half, just definitely get the momentum going our way and trying to control the game.
JON DIEBLER: I also think teams are worried about our speed, and when we get out, get some easy buckets, they're focusing on getting in transition, and we're very confident in executing our offense in the half court.
Q. Evan, last game it was very physical for you, no frustration in this game, maybe less physical, no frustration. You were able to play different and have a better game. What was the adjustments coming in today?
EVAN TURNER: I was just trying to take what the defense gave me. I was trying to go at the right time and definitely just try to try my best to make plays and get everybody involved and definitely concentrate a little bit more on finishing shots.
Q. For Evan and Jon, Evan, in the first half you had the scoring load, but then, Jon, you had 17 or 20 in the second half, and Dave got going a little bit. Talk a little about, Evan, your carrying it scoring-wise in the first half. And then, Jon, everybody getting involved a little bit more scoring-wise in the second half.
EVAN TURNER: They were pressing us. We definitely -- we just definitely tried to push the ball up the floor as best we could. We were just attacking. Once we got past their back court and into their front court, we thought we could attack, and definitely it caused for some one-on-one transition type stuff.
In the second half, they didn't really press as much, that's when we went to our half court offense and we ran our plays.
JON DIEBLER: Yeah, and, again, I think because Evan was so aggressive the first half, he drew so much attention and that allowed for some open shots for us and for us to have driving lanes. Again, I think we missed some good looks early on, but like you said, Evan, he kind of kept us in the game with his aggressiveness. And that's why I think we're such a dangerous team, we're a very good basketball team, because he is going to draw so much attention and that just leaves for some easy shots for us.
Q. You played against Shumpert in grade school, didn't you?
EVAN TURNER: He was my point guard. I was the shooting guard.
Q. What was it like being up against him today? I assume you've scrimmaged him before, and how did it feel to play against him?
EVAN TURNER: You know, he's definitely gotten stronger, defense has gotten a lot better. He's a leader. He's always been a leader. But pretty much the same. He's probably seven years older, and he's definitely a competitor and he's coming out to win.
Q. Evan, continuing off that question, a lot was made of that matchup given that both of you guys were from Chicago. Did you get a chance to talk to Shumpert at all coming off the court, and how often have you kept in touch with him since then?
EVAN TURNER: Actually, me and Iman talk a lot away from basketball. Like before, we even knew we were going to play against each other. We talk a lot on AIM and also on Skype and stuff and Facebook. So when we're at home we usually see each other for the most part. We're definitely friends. And we just thought it would be fun to go up against each other. And it was a great game.
Q. Another question about the run-outs in the second half. You did a pretty good job in the first half defensive rebounding but you didn't have the run-outs. I wonder what changed that gave you those opportunities?
JON DIEBLER: I think in the first half they were really focused on pushing up on Evan. And I think by us getting the rebound and being able to just kind of go with it, again, I think maybe they got a little tired and their pressure died down some as a team.
But I think just -- it's kind of hard to tell, because they are such a physical basketball team, and they were kind of being physical with him the whole game. But, again, he did a great job of really pushing the tempo there in the second half.
Q. This is for Evan and Jon. You have work to do yet. But can you talk about moving on into the Sweet 16 with two games out of the way?
JON DIEBLER: It's a good feeling, obviously, because, I mean, this is what you play for. It's what you condition for in the off-season. So I thought this team has done a very good job of focusing one game at a time and four minutes at a time in a game. So, again, a lot of people are probably saying, well, the No. 1 team in your region lost. We're not worried about that. We're focused on playing Tennessee, and I think that's why we're being so successful right now, because we haven't been looking ahead.
EVAN TURNER: Definitely, we've just been trying to focus on one game at a time. And attack and run our system and just compete every time we're out there on the floor. And it's good to get a win out of the way and now you just have to focus on the next one, you can't really spend time celebrating.
Q. Jon, you missed your first three shots in the first half, and then obviously came off huge in the second half. Can you talk a little bit about what your mindset was at halftime and then basically what you were able to do the rest of the way? And Evan, could you comment on what Jon was doing in the second half?
JON DIEBLER: I think just being ready for the basketball and using my legs more. Coach Matta is just telling me to get more lift on my shot. And, again, my teammates, they have all the confidence in the world in me. So does the coaching staff. So I have a lot of confidence in my shot, and shooters shoot to get hot.
So I think they just did a good job of finding me when I was open, and I started knocking shots down. We're a great basketball team, because it really opens up things for everyone.
EVAN TURNER: I just think, you know, the first half all of us shooting, you know, we started off missing a lot of shots. We were speeded up, they sped us up and we definitely let them have control of the game. I think once we got control of the game we slowed things down, we started playing how we wanted to play. Everybody was, for the most part, comfortable. And for one thing they really couldn't chase them around because our posts do such a great job screening, and he does a great job being open. And we have a lot of threats on the court. So sometimes he was the hot man.
Q. I was wondering, what was your initial reaction to Kansas getting beaten, and whether you guys feel there's a lesson for Ohio State in it?
EVAN TURNER: It's possible any team can get beaten, and we just try to focus on making sure we take care of business. I didn't see the whole game, but at the same time it's March. Anybody can beat anybody. You can't take any team lightly. That's pretty much it. You're just going to have to focus in and do what we need to do for 40 minutes to win the game.
JON DIEBLER: Obviously, I was shocked probably like everyone else was. And, again, just from watching what we watched, Northern Iowa is a great basketball team. And like Evan said, this is the NCAA tournament. There's no given that you're going to win just because you're the No. 1, No. 2 seed. We've seen that throughout the whole tournament so far. This team hasn't really needed a wake-up call because we know what we have to do. So it is what it is to us, because right now we're focusing on what we need to do to win the next basketball game.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Thank you. Questions for Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta.
Q. In the second half, regarding the run-outs that you got, did you make an adjustment or tell the guys at halftime to take it upon themselves to push the tempo instead of putting it in Evan's hands and try to get something going that way?
COACH MATTA: You know, I thought, once again, through our defense, but they switched up the press that they had. And I thought we did a good job of finding the second cutter off of that, which was something we talked about last night coming into the game.
When they got behind, they started sending more guys to the glass. And as I told them at one timeout, I said, look, if you get the rebound and you look up and nobody's back, we've got to go with it. I think that was probably the biggest thing. We told them let's convert if we can, we'll try to strike quick, and they did it. I thought coming up with the rebounds and just them changing the press probably helped us in that regard.
Q. Did you have a chance to see any of that KU/Northern Iowa game and what was your reaction? And secondly, given what Cornell has done today and Saint Mary's and, et cetera, et cetera, as far as "mid-majors" are concerned, what do you think that does as far as the context of the tournament going forward?
COACH MATTA: I'm assuming Cornell beat Wisconsin and Saint Mary's. They played yesterday. They beat Villanova -- I've said this: I don't think there's the mid-major anymore when you get to the NCAA tournament, and it's like Coach Hewitt and I were talking before the game, just from my perspective I've got five guys in the NBA that have been drafted in the first round that should have been playing today. So the parity and like what we've had to go through last year and even the year before, that when we won the NIT, I mean we had freshmen and sophomores running around out there.
And I think as you look at it -- and Butler is a great example, they've got a ton of juniors and the success they've had over the course of time when they went to the Sweet 16, they had five fifth-year seniors. So those things start adding up and it makes it all even. You get on a neutral court, the parity in basketball today is incredible.
And probably, most importantly, matchups, and I've always said this: The draw, whether you're a 2; a 3, a 1, wherever you are, I'm more concerned about who we're playing and how we play and how we matchup. And I think that's what you see probably more than the upset, it's the matchups.
Q. Going back to what you talked about just now about evening things up, are schools from mid-major conferences at an advantage by playing their tournaments the weekend before the big conferences play theirs? Or does it work either way?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, I go back and forth on that, because what we just had to do last weekend, we were still playing seven days ago at this time. And we had the last second shot from half court, double overtime win, then a tough battle against Minnesota in three games in that 72 hours is tough.
And fortunately for us we got until Friday before we had to play. We had to do a Thursday -- and I think Ohio State, many years ago, had to go to Thursday like 11:00 in the morning game or something. But I'm thankful they gave us the Friday just to give us a little more rest.
Q. How much of a different team is Georgia Tech when you've got Lawal and Favors and couple other guys in the foul trouble that they had, and what did that allow you guys to do?
COACH MATTA: Big difference, because I think that going into the game we were consumed with those two and what they were capable of doing. And Derrick is a guy, last ten games, he's averaged 17 points, nine rebounds a game. Seemed like he was coming into his own. Watching the Oklahoma State game, they seemed engrossed in pounding the ball inside. We knew they were going to try to do that to us today. When they're not on the floor, they're definitely, definitely a different basketball team.
Q. You've had a pretty good series of games against Tennessee the last few years. You've got them again next week in the Sweet 16. Just a thought on playing them again.
COACH MATTA: Coach Pearl and I have laughed in the summers, I think. The first one was a one- or two-point win by us. The second one was a one-point win by us, and they beat us by three or four, whatever it was. So the margin in that three-game series has been incredible.
And I haven't seen them a lot. I talked with John Groce last night, and he said he's got some stuff for us or whatever, but they just played them. So it will be always an interesting -- I know they're a very talented team. I know they do a tremendous job there.
Q. Thad, as the train picks up momentum and passengers it's going to be more and more Evan Turner and Ohio State. Evan Turner and Ohio. Number one, what did you think of his weekend here? And number two, moving forward with all the attention he'll draw in terms of pre-game story lines, is it a help or hindrance?
COACH MATTA: It's unavoidable. And Evan's not really into it. It's been amazing, and I've said this in Columbus. It's like pulling teeth to get him to come down and talk to the media. He's tired of it. I remember last year in Dayton, we were only there for a little while. The one thing he said is, "I hate having to do all those. Can't we just play basketball?" That's who Evan Turner is and why he's so good. But he also is smart enough to know that it comes with the territory.
I think our guys have a great appreciation for how good he is, and the better he plays, the better we play, which I think definitely helps things.
But, you know, for him trying to keep him as away from it as much as we can, but, you're right, it won't become a hindrance. I'll stop it before that happens.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the 18 turnovers, nine of them from Evan Turner today? How concerning is that going forward?
COACH MATTA: You know what, I think that as I said earlier, we were sloppy with it, for Evan with the nine. As long as he gets me 24 and 9 and 9, I'll leave with it. Obviously, we'd like it to cut down. In that type of situation we're going to put the ball in his hands a lot and he's going to make decisions. And at this particular juncture of the season, it's hard to go out and work on things to cut down on the turnovers, it just sort of happens.
I thought when the time was needed, he delivered for us.
Q. Jon Diebler said this team hasn't needed a wake-up call and isn't the type of team that needs a wake-up call. When you looked back at the season getting to this point, were there certain moments where maybe they did have one, or is this just a steady group that doesn't really need moments like that?
COACH MATTA: These guys, first and foremost, they're great kids. And I've said this character-wise and just who they are as people. You love being around them. Days off have killed me with this team, because I enjoy going to practice and being around them.
I think they've done a very good job of remaining focused. And I don't know what it is, but once Evan got back and really got healthy -- I know he played the Minnesota game, which we lost -- and I think we've only lost two games since then. One was at West Virginia by five or six and one was at Purdue at home by three.
These guys, in my mind, sort of take my mentality of all right what's next. We don't get too high or too low. It's just on to the next thing. And we only -- asking about all the upsets and all that stuff, we can't really control any of that. I focus them on what we're capable of controlling.
Q. You were mentioning Evan's turnovers, one of the few flaws in his game. Could it be that he just played so many hard minutes and he was covered so tightly and aggressively that he was just wearing down?
COACH MATTA: You know, could be. But it's irrelevant to me. He knows that. I love him being out there -- a lot of times just for the defense. I think everybody only watches him on offense. But he gets his hands on so many balls and 6'7" with his wing span, he was challenging shots at 24 feet that you really don't notice. And then when that thing goes up, a lot of times he's coming up with the rebound, and he does a great job in that regard.
DENNIS KRAUSE: Thank you.
End of FastScripts