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March 13, 2011

Jon Diebler

Thad Matta

Jared Sullinger


Ohio State – 71
Penn State - 60

COACH MATTA: Well, obviously very excited for our team and what they accomplished today. Any time you come into a three-game tournament or a three-day tournament and survive and advance, I thought our guys did a tremendous job of weathering the storm of Penn State's runs at us today. We made the plays we had to make and we were able to open it up there, and once again I thought our defense really saved the day. Obviously shot the ball a lot better in the second half, which was big for us.

Q. Jared, can you just talk about being the No. 1 overall seed, what does that mean, what's that say about what you guys have accomplished during the regular season?
JARED SULLINGER: It's something special, but at the same time we've still got a lot of work to do, so it doesn't stop here.

Q. Jon, what does it mean to win this tournament just for this team's confidence heading into the big dance?
JON DIEBLER: This is a very exciting time for us. This was one of our goals when we met in the summer was to come out and first of all win the regular season, then to win the Big Ten Tournament. We're happy we accomplished this. We're going to enjoy it tonight and then get back to work.

Q. Jon, can you talk about what are three or four things you do really well that lead you guys to believe you're a team capable of making a nice NCAA Tournament run?
JON DIEBLER: I think we're very hard to match up with for other teams for their defense. We've got a lot of guys who can make plays offensively and it's really hard to focus on one guy.
And I also think -- I don't think we get enough credit for our defense at times. There's times we can play pretty good defense for a couple stretches there, and also I think if we continue to rebound, we should be fine. But obviously we didn't play perfect, we've got a lot to work on still.

Q. Jared, your first NCAA Tournament, just talk about the thoughts after winning this tournament. What are your thoughts heading into the NCAA and what do you want to accomplish?
JARED SULLINGER: It's one and done now, so you've just got to take it one game at a time and focus on your opponent. And at the same time you just want to win. I mean, everybody has a mentality of winning on this program.

Q. Jon, what did you notice about the Big Ten that was different than maybe in years past? Looks like they're going to get seven teams in?
JON DIEBLER: It's very competitive. It's very hard to win on the road in the Big Ten, I think especially this year. There's not a bad team in the Big Ten. I think to get hopefully seven teams in is a great accomplishment for our league, and obviously we're proud of what we did to be able to have the Big Ten record that we had with how competitive it is. But again, there's a lot of great teams, a lot of great players in our conference. It's just unbelievable the amount of talent here, and I think the Big Ten should have a good showing in the tournament.

Q. Jon, he asked you to name three or four things that you felt would propel you. How about the guy sitting right next to you, and what commodity does he give you that maybe very few Big Ten teams have ever taken into the NCAA?
JON DIEBLER: Jared is -- I'm trying to think where to start.
COACH MATTA: I think you were talking about me, weren't you? (Laughter).
JON DIEBLER: Coach is a force inside. He's a force inside. (Laughter).
I mean, Jared, what doesn't he do? Just how he affects the game without having the ball, and even when he does have the ball, he draws so much attention that he creates for all of us on the perimeter. So when you have a guy like that, obviously it makes things easier for us on the perimeter because he's such a force inside, and the one thing that I love about Jared is how he rebounds. He just takes so much pride in his rebounding. And he's just a great teammate to have, very unselfish. You know, I can honestly say we probably wouldn't be here without him and how he's performed this year.

Q. Can you just talk about being the No. 1 overall seed? What's it mean and what do you take out of the fact that that means you obviously accomplished a lot during the regular season and in this tournament?
COACH MATTA: Well, I think it's a tremendous honor, you know, from the standpoint of the parity in college basketball today. You look across the country at all the great teams, I give our guys a lot of credit. They came ready to play now for 34 games, and probably the hardest thing I think we've found this year was the effort that teams give to beat you each night. You know, I think that says something about these guys.
In terms of our program, we've been there seven years now, and we've been a No. 1 seed twice and we've been a 2 seed twice, and to get the overall No. 1, I think it's a great honor now. As I'll tell those guys, when we get back to Columbus, it's not only score a point for us or get a rebound for us, now you've got to go out and defend it.

Q. Can you just talk about the thought of getting 7 out of 11 teams in the tournament?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, I think that's -- obviously it's a tremendous feat. You know, for this league, I think over a two-year span we've gone 36 and 6 in a two-year span now. You look at the parity, you look at the players as Jon alluded to, the coaches, the fans. I'm excited for the Big Ten, and I think it's great for our league.

Q. Some other coaches have slyly commented comparing the Big Ten to the Big East. How do you think the two match up?
COACH MATTA: You know, it's funny, just looking at our bracket, I'm going to have to watch a lot of Big East basketball hopefully, but I haven't seen a whole lot of Big East games.
My focus, I can tell you a lot about the Big Ten, but I don't know a lot about the Big East. You could probably give me about an hour up here and I don't know if I could name all the teams in the Big East. But it's obviously a lot like our league, you've got great players, I do know that, you've got great coaches. They're probably very similar to us where you go in and you slug it out for two and a half months, and at the end you hope your head is above water. I think on paper the two best leagues in the country this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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