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March 17, 2011

Dallas Lauderdale

David Lighty

Thad Matta


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Ohio State student-athletes Dallas Lauderdale and David Lighty. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. I had a chance to cover you guys a lot in high school and all the way through college. You guys have played in a ton of big games. Can you talk about just how special it is to come back home, being a Solon and VASJ guy, to be the No. 1 team, to be the team that everybody's trying to come after and come back before your fans here at home and play in this kind of a tournament?
DAVID LIGHTY: It's special, especially it being our senior years, it's our last go-around. And coming back to where we all started, playing the game of basketball, in front of our family and friends and now to pretty much end our career with them being able to see us is something you really can't describe.
It's just a warm feeling just for them to be able to come and see.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Just to echo on what Dave said, it's definitely special. Ohio State was a place that was recruiting us when we were going to Solon and going to VASJ, and to be able to come back here and play 20, 25 minutes away from friends and family is very exciting. And it's very exciting. I don't know. I'm just ready to play.

Q. Dallas, for you, you've sacrificed so much this year with Jared coming in. Can you just talk about maybe what Thad maybe said to you when Jared was coming in and the fact that you've just accepted this role as a senior? I know it had to be maybe a little tough to you.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: He didn't say anything to me really. I'm a winner. I like to win games. Whatever I need to do to help my team win games, that's what I'll do. Whenever my number's called, that's when I'll be ready to play regardless of when it is, where it is, how it is. When No. 52 is called, I'm going to step on the court and play hard at all times. We're winning games and that's all I can ask for being a senior. Playing time doesn't really matter.

Q. We all know you guys represent the Ohio State University, but you guys really do. It's very rare that this school has so many in-state players in this day and age who are seven -- eight of you guys are from Ohio. How important is it? Do you ever talk about it? Is it a lot of fun? And do you make Deshaun feel inadequate?
DAVID LIGHTY: I mean, for us, I don't think we talk about it too much. I think our game kind of shows when we go out and play. You can kind of see it, just from us knowing each other for so long, playing against each other from AAU to high school games.
And the recruitment process of coming to Ohio State, we've known each other before we even got to Ohio State. So that relationship just grew and grew as time went on.
If you have a good relationship off the court, it's just that much better on the court knowing what players like to do and don't like to do.
So it's something that's great for us. Like you said, we're not just doing it for ourselves; we're doing it for our towns and our state.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: I think the biggest thing that I want to comment off of what Dave just said, we knew each other before we came to Ohio State, whether it would be through AAU circuit or through playing each other during high school days.
I think that's what made the commitment to Ohio State a lot more easier and gave us the spirit to keep playing with each other, keep knowing these people.
And I think it just speaks volumes to what kind of people are on this team, because the relationships we've built have been more than just basketball relationships.

Q. You guys have a lot of factors in your favor, obviously, for this game. I don't think a 1 seed has ever lost to a 16. The last line you saw you were 22-, 23-point favorites. David, what would have to happen for you guys to lose this game? What circumstances would have to unfold?
DAVID LIGHTY: I mean, anything is possible in the tournament. If you're not ready to play, you'll end up getting beat. Every team is in the tournament for a reason. They wouldn't be here if they weren't great.
So us not coming out ready to play and with a high intensity on the defensive end and offensive end, it just wouldn't be a good part on us.
I mean, they can come out and put a big run on us, and things could never turn into our favor. So it's just about us being focused on executing the game plan that Coach drew up for us.

Q. David, you were recruited for football, too. How did either one of you feel about playing in a school that's one of the brand names in football? Is basketball overshadowed there? Did you think about that at all?
DAVID LIGHTY: I mean, I love it. Like you say, I was recruited for football. I'm a football guy as well. I love the atmosphere of being in Columbus and going to the games at the 'Shoe on Saturday afternoons. It's exciting and crazy and wild.
So that was just something else that drew me into being an Ohio State Buckeye. But I think the basketball team is kind of speaking for itself. We're the No. 1 team in the nation. You can't ask for too much more.
But as long as we continue to build from here on and continue to make runs deep in the tournament and kind of build our resume, we'll probably catch up to the football team.

Q. Dallas, did you ever even consider playing at Marquette or Xavier? That's obviously the big sport at their school, probably Syracuse?
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Actually, coming out of high school that was my top three, Ohio State, Syracuse and North Carolina. The biggest factor for me to make me choose Ohio State was not how much basketball notoriety it had but the factor that it was so close to home. That's what really made me choose it. It wasn't really about it's the basketball school. It's a football school. It's just a great school.
And I think that right now the things that we've been doing the past couple of years is turning it into an all-around school, football and basketball and academically.

Q. As seniors, how much have you guys led the freshmen with Sully and Aaron and Thomas by talking to them? We see you guys out on the floor, but away from the court, how much have you guys talked to those guys about the pressures of being No. 1 and handling this grind?
DAVID LIGHTY: I think we talked to them a lot or we talked to them when we need to. I think them willing to listen and come in and learn as much as possible and take everything that they're hearing in stride and just playing hard was giving us so much success, them not being selfish and trying to do things that they're not called on to do just playing their roles and helping out as much as possible is what's gotten us to this point so far.
But just us talking to them and being in their shoes before and knowing where they're coming from is pretty much the best way to help them, just telling them just stick to the game plan, stick to what everyone is telling around you in our circle, not the guys outside of our circle, because that's when you start to mess up.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: I actually think that they're so mature that we really don't have to say that much to them. They understand. They understand the importance of winning every game, every possession, every four-minute war. They understand the importance of that, and I think that comes from them playing together during AAU and being No. 1 during AAU. Everybody was after them during the AAU run, so they know the feeling. So they know every single thing is important.

Q. David, when you were recruited, it was still possible for someone to go directly to the NBA. I'm not saying that you were that person. But my question is this: Can you imagine not having had the experience you've had, particularly the one you've had? It's been a tremendous up and down, injuries and championship game as a freshman, and here you are now in this circumstance. Can you imagine missing all these things?
DAVID LIGHTY: Not at all. I wouldn't change it for the world. I mean, going through my whole five years here at Ohio State is something that's pretty much making me the person that I am. I'm about to graduate on Sunday. A lot of people can't say that. So I'm going through my whole college, basketball career and lifespan pretty much at Ohio State, has changed me for the better. So changing that or trying to change it is pretty much something that I would never try to do.

Q. Has Coach ever brought up that Western Carolina game that he was part of, that 16-1 that almost happened?
DAVID LIGHTY: Actually, he talked about it a little bit a couple of days ago. He just talked about -- he's been on the other side before. So he knows what it's like and what's going through guys' mind. So just telling us how we have to be focused and prepared coming out ready to play.

Q. You mentioned a four-minute war, Dallas. Is that the mindset of this basketball team; that there are X amount of four-minute wars and you've got to win each four-minute war? Is that the way you guys have approached this season and each and every game?
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's what we leave the huddle saying, let's just win this war, and that's what we come back wanting to know, whether we won the war or not. We don't worry about the final score of the game until the final of the game. We worry about from the 20- to the 16-minute mark, and then from the 16- to the 12-minute mark, 12 to the 8 and so on. And I think that's how we approach every game. That's how we approach everything that happens in our season, just one step at a time.

Q. David, is that the same since you've been here? Is that the same way it's been, or is this something new?
DAVID LIGHTY: No, it's nothing new. It's been this way pretty much since day one since I got here, and just sticking around and being here for four years just becomes a part of us.

Q. Sullinger seems pretty unflappable. Have you been amazed about how calm he's been through this whole thing and how much do you think that your influence has had on him?
DAVID LIGHTY: Like Dallas said, the freshmen we have are so mature that it pretty much doesn't surprise us or shock us anymore. Maybe going through the first couple of games you might have been, my goodness, we're on the road, 20,000 people against us, and got ice in his veins. But, no, their season, they've been through everything that you really can go through in a college season.
So their maturity and, like I said before, their willingness to listen to everyone around them has helped them out a lot.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Obviously Jared is a great player, and I think he's been a great player his whole life. He's been in hostile environments already. And he's been doing this before college even began for him. So he's just so used to everybody being against him. And I think that's what makes him so special, because he's used to it already.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. We're joined now by Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH MATTA: I think this being at Ohio State, it's very exciting to be in Cleveland. And I love the fact that we're here, and I know there's a ton of Buckeye fans up here, and it's exciting to see it come up on the screen that we were going to be here.
These guys have done an incredible job throughout the course of the season to put us in a position to be here. And I think it was funny, when you come off of three games in three days ending on Sunday evening, we were a little bit tired, beat down, and I was shocked when we got together again just how excited they were to be here.

Q. Thad, have you talked to the players at all about what has happened already today or will you with Louisville going down, a couple of buzzer beaters, and the crazy things that can happen to you on the other end of a 1-6 team? Have you mentioned that or will you?
COACH MATTA: I really don't have to. They know. I think that the biggest thing that we've tried to do and really from day one with this team is just keep our approach the same. And it's like going through a conference race. I always tell them as we're going, I don't care what happens in other games. I don't care who beats who or who plays well. We're going to focus on the 40 minutes that we've got at hand. And these guys have done a great job of doing that now.
I know they're sitting in their rooms watching, which is probably a good thing that they see it. I did mention to them the fact that I've been a part of a 1-6 team, down-to-a-wire game, and I know what those guys are definitely thinking over there.

Q. You hear so much about AAU players, heavily recruited ones, the entitlement mindset and everything. In the time you've been at Ohio State, not that we know of, there have been no incidents or anything like that. Yet, you've had a number of one-and-done players. Is there a recruiting profile you use to manage to avoid some of those pitfalls?
COACH MATTA: Well, I think the biggest thing -- it's funny, as time goes and you learn more and more about your university. One of the biggest things I look for is guys that appreciate how great the university is and that has an understanding that the university is a lot bigger than a guy putting on the scarlet and gray.
In terms of a module or all -- it's funny, at the end of every recruiting year I sit down and I say let me think this through, similarities to the past or whatever, and there never are any. And I think that just trying to get great kids and guys that come from winning programs is one of the big things that we definitely look for.

Q. Is there a consideration?
COACH MATTA: Not really. I think that that's something that sometimes is unavoidable and just great kids that have been raised the right way by one or two parents.

Q. As was mentioned, you've had some really remarkable freshmen come through. I'm wondering, how much have you relied or how much have they helped you guys, like Dallas and maybe more so even David, having been through the years and just rely on them in the locker room when you're not there?
COACH MATTA: You know, it's funny because I've always said this. There's no drills in practice to teach experience. And when you see the guys that come back and just watching them develop, I remember Jon Diebler as a freshman at this time of the year. And he lost so much weight he probably weighed about 145 pounds and couldn't keep his head up, to see where he is today.
And the biggest thing I see is just the maturity that the guys develop over a course of time of being there and an understanding. When this team got together in June, I told the freshmen, I said, There's a lot of tradition here. There's been a lot of winning, a lot of nets cut down, and you guys need to understand first and foremost you haven't done one thing to help that, and what I want you to do is follow the lead of the three seniors and William Buford.
And I said that with confidence because I knew they'd lead them the right way. Exactly what we're saying, they've been in the program and they understand it.

Q. (Question Off microphone.)
COACH MATTA: A lot of it is by example, how they come into practice, how they come in to watch film. They know the system. I can remember first couple of practices seeing guys with their arm around freshmen and talking to them and saying, Hey, if he cuts this way, we're going to go this way, what Coach was saying was this. And I think it just makes a huge difference.

Q. Certain schools will always be associated first and foremost with football. You're one of them, Alabama, Texas. When you're on the outside looking in of other schools and before you went to Ohio State, did you wonder what it would be like at one of those schools? And now that you are at one of those schools, is the treatment of the basketball program exactly what you thought it would be? Better? Worse? What is it?
COACH MATTA: I had often -- as funny as this is, when I was at Xavier, I was probably the biggest college football fan you could ever find, because there was nothing to do on Saturdays. And that was back in 2002 when Ohio State won the national championship, I think, in Jim's second year.
And I became the biggest Ohio State fan. I had never been to a game in the 'Shoe. And I still remember the first game I went to, Cincinnati kicked off to us and we went four and out, and when the punter was running on the field, 105,000 people were booing. And I remember saying to myself what have I got myself self into.
I would say that football has helped us and my relationship with Coach Tressel and all the things that he has helped me through in my time at Ohio State has been extremely advantageous. I think in the seven years that we've been at Ohio State, just seeing the changes that have been made with our program and the support has just continued to escalate.
I love where we are as a, quote/unquote, football/basketball school. I think it's the perfect combination. And I do remember we were in Coach Tressel's office one day, maybe my first year there, we were with a recruit and he said our goal is to win the national championship in football and basketball the same year. And I was like, yeah, that's going to happen. And I'll be darned, year three we both played for it and didn't get it done.

Q. The first couple of nights of the tournament the games seem to be taking an awfully long time. Could be because of extra long TV time-outs. Are you a fan of those? Some coaches think it can scrap your momentum when you're in the huddle for three or four minutes like that.
COACH MATTA: We've talked about it with our guys. And I've told them: The NCAA Tournament is set up to steal your momentum if you let it. As I pointed out to them the other night, you go on a 6-0 run and Coach takes a time-out, that's three minutes. Twelve seconds goes off the clock, ball goes out of bounds and you're sitting for three more minutes.
You've got to keep the focus, you've got to keep the attention span going. I'm one of these guys, I need fast pace. I need it moving. So it wears on me a little bit, but, believe me, I completely understand why we do it.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more, go into more detail about the game you played in and what you remember from that, your mindset, the team's mindset to think, yeah, we can win this game?
COACH MATTA: The 16-1. Western Carolina. It was funny, that team was so unique because we started the season I think 0-6. We lost to a Division II team. And they started to mold together. We had some really, really good players on the team and upperclassmen.
And, you know, going in, we felt like we had gotten what was conceivably the worst or the weakest of the top four seeds. And I remember when Kentucky went up there -- they're the team that won it the entire year -- our entire fan base cheered because we didn't have to play Kentucky.
Those guys, they just had a unique way about them. They're probably the most innocent team I'd ever coached. Western Carolina had never been to the NCAA Tournament. And they were just sort of, hey, let's go out and have fun. And they were a tough group of kids. They put themselves into a position to have a chance to win the game.

Q. Question about William Buford. Several times this year he's made a significant contribution and you've commented with a shrug of your shoulders of, well, Will's Will. And his coaches have said it since he was in the sixth grade. Since we're in the NCAA Tournament, can you elaborate beyond Will is Will?
COACH MATTA: I'll give you a classic example. We were going to play a game this year and we were picked to lose the game. Nobody was giving us a chance to win. So the day before we were leaving we were getting ready to start film and I wrote on the board, I said, Airfare, $25,000; hotel, 5,000, food, miscellaneous, and I made one of the guys in math class add it up. It comes up to $39,000. I said, Fellows, if they're not picking us to win, why wouldn't we just save Ohio State the 39,000 and we won't even go to the game?
And they're all kind of smiled. They said, No, we want to go. Will raised his hand. He said, Coach, let me ask you. If we don't go, can we split the 39,000 (laughter)? That's Will being Will.
But I think in terms of as a player, it's been great to watch him grow and develop. I used to kid with him as a freshman, if I were to stop the game in front of 19,000 people, walked out on the court, said, Will, what's the score and how much time is left, he would have said, I have no idea but I'm having the time of my life out here.
And now, as you see him develop and he's making the right reads, the right plays, he wants the tough assignment on defense. He just understands. I think the fact starting him at point guard and as much as he's played it this year for us has really made him even more of a well-rounded player.

Q. Follow-up to Bob's question, when C.M. Newton was at Alabama and was thinking about getting out of coaching, Knight said to him: You shouldn't quit before you go to a basketball school as a high major. Never crosses your mind as an Indiana fan as kid? Top dog?
COACH MATTA: It doesn't, just from the standpoint of I think, number one, the passion I have for the university. And I say this: I wake up every day and consider myself the luckiest guy to be the basketball coach there.
I think that you just you look over the time. I mean, our first year we were under sanctions. The second year we win the Big Ten. We're a 2 seed. The third year we win the Big Ten. We're a 1 seed, play for the national championship. We lost a lot of guys. We won the NIT the next year. Made the tournament. Last year -- I don't know what year I'm on now, but we were a 2 seed. This year we're a 1 seed.
I love where the program is and, quite honestly, that was the goal when we came seven years ago was to build a basketball powerhouse. And, I don't know, you guys are the ones that determine that, but I like the position that we're in.

Q. You've done such a good job recruiting some of the top kids in our state here in Ohio, and we know how tough it is to keep some of the best around. Just the way it falls this year and the way everything fell, being the top seed, coming to Cleveland, you've got three special kids, especially to the kids here in Cleveland with David, Dallas and Diebs. Could you talk about it's just something when you go walk in their living room to get them to come on your team, to come down to Columbus? You don't expect something like this to happen, but coming down the way it all fell down, could you talk about the experience for those three young men?
COACH MATTA: I think for those guys growing up -- it's funny listening to them. They're all Cavs fans, and to have the opportunity to play in here, like I said, I've recruited those guys for a long, long time, and for Dallas and David, a lot of trips up 71, dating back to when I was at Xavier, as crazy as that sounds.
And to bring those guys home and in the NCAA Tournament, I think it's very fitting. Because they've given so much to our program and they've given so much to the university that I'm excited for them to have that opportunity.

Q. Earlier this week Coach Tressel apologized for being a distraction to your team. I was just wondering what your comments were on that. And then, secondly, how much do you lean on Jim for advice and vice versa? How much do you guys talk?
COACH MATTA: In regards to the apology, he need not do that. He's helped this program immensely. And in terms of our connection, a lot of times day of the game text and every now and then if I have an issue I'll bounce it off of him.
But you know how football coaches are when they get from August to January, like they're in their cave and you never see them.
But he's addressed the team this year, and I know this: He follows everything that we're doing, and we're greatly appreciative for that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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