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March 18, 2011

William Buford

Jon Diebler

Thad Matta


Ohio State – 75
UTSA - 46

THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by Ohio State student-athletes Jon Diebler and William Buford and head coach Thad Matta. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH MATTA: Well, it was obviously a unique game from the standpoint of those guys holding the ball, and the biggest thing we were talking about in time-outs was we had to keep our focus, keep our concentration. And I thought we did that.
Probably the biggest thing we did that I liked in the game was I thought we did a great job sharing the basketball and taking good shots. With this team, I mean, that's when we're at our best. I think, as I told them, I think Sunday will be a completely different style of game.
So we've got to get back to our half court defense the best we can.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Could you talk about how surprised you were that maybe they stuck with the slow down considering how well you guys were shooting the ball from the outside?
JON DIEBLER: We were pretty surprised. I think with the film that we watched in the short period of time that we had, we didn't really see that much.
But, again, we have to be ready for whatever the way teams will play against us. I think for the first 45 minutes we weren't, but after that we kind of picked it up, like Coach said.
WILLIAM BUFORD: Like Jon said, we came out with a slow start but picked up our pace and clamped down on defense. They tried to take us out of our pace, but we stayed with our principles and came through with the victory.

Q. William, can you talk about the spark you provided to the team there early on in the first half?
WILLIAM BUFORD: My teammates, they were giving me the ball and shots were open, so I was just taking good shots and I was able to knock them down, and opened up the floor for me and everybody else.

Q. The atmosphere here today, did it feel like a home game, and how much of an advantage is that for you, not only today, but when you come back on Sunday?
JON DIEBLER: It was awesome today. I think if it's possible to get the amount of fans, Ohio State fans again for the next game, that will be great. It helped us out a lot and felt like a home game. We've been saying all year we've got the best fans in the country. And being fortunate enough to play in Cleveland and our home state, it's good for us and I think it helped us out a lot today.
WILLIAM BUFORD: Like Jon said, you know, it was wonderful. We was feeding off the home crowd, and, like he said, our fans, they were just wonderful today, and we were fortunate to be here. So we just hope they'll be like that on Sunday.

Q. As well as you folks shot today, almost 55 percent from the field, how impressive was defense? Melvin Johnson came out, 29 points, and he was five points with 1-for-9 shooting.
JON DIEBLER: Obviously I think he was one player that we kind of focused on, obviously with him and the other guard. Gibson played really well. But we knew the game that Johnson was coming off of, and he was the guy that we knew we couldn't let get going.
So, again, I think for the most part we did a pretty good job on him. But I think we just need to do a better job on the team defense on Gibson. I think we left Aaron and Will out to dry a little bit. But overall I thought we did a good job on Johnson.

Q. You guys had 26 assists out of 29-made field goals. I'm wondering what was going on. What do you attribute that to today? Did it take a while to figure out their zone? What allowed you to have that kind of success?
JON DIEBLER: That's honestly been something we take a lot of pride in. It's something we've been doing all year. It wasn't really any different. I think we just really did a good job of moving the ball. With their zone, they're really extended, and we did a good job of getting in the middle, getting the ball to the middle. And with Dave in there, he did a great job of finding guys. And the same with Will.
So it was just overall great game. Very unselfish. That's how we've been playing all year, and that's how we plan on doing the rest of the year.

Q. William, the equation is sort of pack Jared down and lock up Jon a little bit. Do your eyes light up when you see teams doing that early in the game knowing you'll have some opportunities to knock it down and break things open?
WILLIAM BUFORD: Absolutely. They're two great players. And when they came on them two, it opened up the game for me and Dave to showcase what we can do. The bigs are able to set the screens for us, and I was able to shot knocks down, like I said before.

Q. Jon, growing up with a high school coach, how much did that help your transition to college basketball and when you have a game like today where another team's holding the ball? Do you hear some of your dad pounding away at you?
JON DIEBLER: I was just very fortunate to have two older brothers, and obviously my father. I played for him for four years. I've always been around a basketball court. And they've taught a lot to me. And my dad he's always been very supportive of me. He doesn't really say much now. He's more of a fan, and he's just enjoying this.
So it's kind of cool to see him in that role, I guess.

Q. Guys, 1-16, you're supposed to win by this margin. How good is it for the locker room, the players to come out and actually do this and accomplish what a lot of people thought you should and maybe send a message?
WILLIAM BUFORD: It was real big. Like you said, we wanted to send a message out today and let people know we're here to take care of business and not to play around. We just want to keep doing what we are doing and execute the game plan and listen to the coaches.
JON DIEBLER: I think just to get that first game under our belt was big for us. Obviously we weren't happy with the way we started, but it was kind of a weird game, like Coach said.
But, honestly, we haven't really been paying attention to what people are saying. Obviously with the 1 versus 16 seed, Coach never really mentioned it to us. And what Will said, we're here on business. And I think we're going to stay focused.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Coach, how much of a compliment is it when a team goes away from their complete modus operandi in an effort to stop you?
COACH MATTA: I guess it is a great compliment. And I give them credit. They stuck with the plan even when we started making some runs.
And I give our guys credit, because I think out of the gate we had obviously prepared them wrong. We thought it was going to be up and down, not completely out of control game, but we thought they'd shoot a little bit quicker than they did.
And like I said, once we got through the first time-out we were down. I thought our guys did a good job of responding and really keeping the focus. Because a lot of times I think -- I don't know for sure -- the design of doing that is to slow a team down on the other end.
And I thought our guys did a pretty good job of -- once we crossed half court, had good intensity to us.

Q. Coach, Jared had two tipped inbound passes for turnovers. He beat triple teams multiple times. In the beginning he was stuck in their zone to clear up the perimeter. Can you talk about all the different things he does for the team?
COACH MATTA: He's extremely productive, and I think that just with what he's done now over the course of 35 games, he commands a lot of respect. You kind of gotta choose what you're going to do. And I thought he was very effective today when we threw it down to him early on of finishing around the basket.
He's a great player.

Q. Are you almost glad that they threw a curveball at you to see how your team would respond as you make this march which you hope to be a six-game march?
COACH MATTA: I'll be honest, I think you never know exactly what you're going to get in the NCAA Tournament. I have said coming out of the Big Ten tournament playing Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State in a three-game period there's not a team in the country that's had to defend farther in the shot clock than we did in the 120 minutes. We come in and now it's 160 minutes. So our guys had a pretty good feel for that of what we had just gone through last week in Indianapolis of teams kind of holding the ball on us.
And we've seen that other times throughout the course of the year where they slow it down. I was glad we made the adjustment. We finally started getting the intensity we needed with under 10 on the shot clock.

Q. Brooks Thompson said the same thing a lot of coaches have said or the same kind of strategy: stop Sullinger first, Diebler second. When you hear that and see that, do you kind of think, well, they're going to get William Buford and I don't know why teams keep doing that?
COACH MATTA: I think with this team, you know, the biggest thing for me is 29 field goals, 26 of them assisted. The one thing we've always preached, take care and share the ball and play unselfishly.
And what I like is I've seen throughout the course of the season with this team is we've had one game where Will has 17 points in the first half and Dave has 19 in the second half.
And hopefully we can continue to do that throughout the course and, you know, play team basketball. I think that as you get into these games, and it will happen on Sunday, you've got to look and say okay, defensively what are they trying to take away, what are they trying to do, and we adjust accordingly.

Q. When they come out like that, Coach, what are you talking about during the first timeout? Is it staying patient? Or what gets you through when they're throwing you a curveball like that and what do you like about how your guys responded?
COACH MATTA: The biggest thing that we were talking about was really trying to focus in the last 10 seconds. And it's funny, we got a little bit impatient. We gave up a couple of layups and a backdoor, and Dave switched out when he didn't need to switch out, gave another layup.
But the big focus was keeping the intensity and not letting them steal our momentum on offense. And that's what I liked; that we were -- I think we had 30 possessions in the first half and 37 points. I don't know what we ended up for in the game, but that was big for us.

Q. You've played zone in the past, probably didn't want to, talked about how you didn't like it. Could you talk about what makes -- do you think it's more passive and eventually you might face the king zone in college basketball if you get to the regional final against Syracuse? Do you think you'll see this at least as a change-up from a lot of people?
COACH MATTA: We've seen -- especially throughout our non-conference season, we've seen a lot of different defenses, even in the Big Ten. I mean, we've seen 1-3-1, 2-3. We've seen triangle and two, box and one. And I think it's a matter of us recognizing and getting to what we have or what we're calling offensively.
For me personally, we have zone. We haven't used it hardly at all this year, but we do have it in our package. And I think dating back to the years that we did play zone, I was afraid we weren't going to be able to score a field goal in the games. So I wanted to spend more time in practice on defense -- excuse me, on offense. And ironically I think the one year we played zone was the lowest field goal percentage defense we've had in a season at Ohio State. So I probably need to revisit that.

Q. Deshaun Thomas, freshman coming off the bench, finishes with 13 points, eight rebounds, couple 3-pointers, working under the basket. Can you talk about his versatility and what he brings?
COACH MATTA: I think you forgot to mention the most important stat: He had three assists today. I think we've seen throughout the course that Deshaun can score in bunches. Defensively, I thought he was very good today. They had him out guarding on the perimeter.
He's a very talented player. And he really has a knack, as you saw today, for finding open areas, finding the seams. And him making the kick-out passes he did today was exciting. I was very happy to see him play like that in his first NCAA Tournament game.

Q. You mentioned the intensity the first five minutes maybe wasn't there. Game 1's in the books. From your experience, how much more does the intensity get turned up each game you play? And you as a coach, how do you make sure you keep turning it up with those guys?
COACH MATTA: Well, I think our guys, as we always talk about, every step you take in the NCAA Tournament forward, you're going to play a better basketball team. And our guys obviously understand that and know that. We knew with the George Mason-Villanova game, we thought it was going to be a tight game, as it was.
As I said yesterday, these guys are in the hotel. They're watching games. They're listening to everything that's being said. I think they know that the intensity heightens every step of the way. And, hopefully, as we've always talked about, having a great appreciation for it.

Q. You trapped a couple of times today. Is that impressing -- it would seem like it would be much easier to do out of a man-to-man. Did you do it much when you played zone?
COACH MATTA: No. Honestly, we just felt like we were going to get some free traps. And the one where we misrotated and they shot the layup, and I turned to the bench and I said, At least they shot it with less than five seconds off the shot clock. And I think that we have that in our defense. We've done it periodically throughout the course of time, and I think it's a great change-up for us.

Q. David was wondering if you're going to let him go down to Columbus on Sunday and get his diploma and make it back in time.
COACH MATTA: That's funny. Ms. Willis, she got a text before the game. All four of our seniors graduated and it's in the books. I don't think we're going to be able to get those guys back to get it. As I said earlier in the week, hopefully they're going to get their diplomas by mail this year. But I'm very proud of the fact that we've got four seniors on this team and all four of them have graduated.
That's very gratifying and exciting to me.

Q. Can you talk about having a couple of kids who are coaches' sons and how helpful that is as far as their transition to college basketball and helpful to you as well?
COACH MATTA: I love the fact. I was a coach's son myself. And I think the thing that you think about all the rides home after practice, sitting at the dinner table and what the topic is, as being a coach's son myself, I think that you learn a lot more because that's your father's job.
And both Jon and Jared, even Aaron's dad has done coaching, and I think those guys maybe have just a little bit more understanding. And I think the other thing is that they seem to listen a little bit better because they've heard it all their life and they appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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