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March 24, 2011

Jon Diebler

Dallas Lauderdale

David Lighty

Thad Matta


THE MODERATOR: We are joined right now by the Ohio State student-athletes David Lighty, Jon Diebler and Dallas Lauderdale.

Q. This is for David: Since you're the elder statesman, you've seen, you have seen a lot of these big men, amazing big men that come through there. What makes Jared so special? How does he compare to over guys OSU had?
DAVID LIGHTY: I think every big man we had here has been special and different in their own unique way. But for Jared with his size and ability, you know, to just read the defense at the age coming in, being a freshman and not forcing things, letting the game come to him, is something that's, you know, really helped him out. I think he plays beyond his years and that's something that is special and pretty much separates yourself from others.

Q. Just overall thoughts on Kentucky and biggest concerns going into this one tomorrow.
DAVID LIGHTY: I mean, they are great team. I mean, they are athletic, they get out and run, they push the pace. They have bigs, they have wings, and they have a guard who can pretty much do it all. So if we don't come ready to play, it's going to be a long night for us.
JON DIEBLER: With what Dave said, we have to focus on rebounding. They have a lot of guys that are big inside, especially on the perimeter, they like to crash the glass. We just feel we have to really control the boards.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Just to echo off Jon and Dave. Rebounding and defense is important. They have threats at every position and I feel that it's going to be a battle down there on the offensive and defensive end of the court.

Q. For David and for all of you, can you describe your impromptu graduation ceremony last week? Who gave you the diploma? Was there music and any details you give us?
DAVID LIGHTY: This lovely lady right down front, Miechelle Willis. She had the ceremony put together for us and called out our names. We kind of walked up, shook her hand and got it. It was something it special for us since we couldn't make it down to Columbus and be with the rest of our classmates. For them to do that was real special.
JON DIEBLER: It definitely caught us by surprise. It is something we didn't know was going to happen. It was a pleasant surprise. It was kind of crazy to get that diploma, but it was very nice for Miss Michelle to do that and the University. We didn't get to walk with our classmates. For them to take the time to do that and be thinking of us means a lot.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: Yeah, it was very special. Graduating is very important to the Ohio State program. Again, getting your schoolwork doing and having the grades acceptable to be able to play out on the court are very special. And the music was playing in my head as I was shaking my classmates' hands. So it was fun.

Q. Dave and Jon, quickly your impressions of Brandon Knight as a freshman floor leader for them.
DAVID LIGHTY: Yeah, a great point guard. I mean, he has speed, he has size. And I think he plays under control. And I think he pushes the tempo when they need it and sets up his teammates when they need it as well. And I mean, he can score many different ways and shooting the ball with pull-ups and threes and getting to the basket when he needs it as well.
JON DIEBLER: Yeah, again, there are aren't many scoring point guards and that's the one thing he does. He can really score the ball. Obviously he will be someone that we have to pay a lot of attention to. And like Dave said, we really have to control the transition because they like to run. And as a freshman point guard he does a good job of controlling the tempo.

Q. For any of you guys, you've discussed what Kentucky looks like to you. Do they remind you much anyone you've played either this year or in past years? I don't know if it would be Florida State or maybe Tennessee or who do they look like?
DAVID LIGHTY: I say kind of like a Tennessee last year, playing against gem with bigs that they had and, you know, them pushing the tempo as well. And the wings who get out on the break and finish at the basket. So like I said, they played different from them, but size and athleticism-wise they are similar.
JON DIEBLER: Yeah, I agree with Dave with how athletic they are on the perimeter and the bigs that they have down low. They are very comparable to Tennessee last year and I think that's why we've put the emphasis on rebounding so much in this game.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: I think my perspective on opinion is they like to block shots. They were talking on the comparison between how many shots we blocked on them this year and how many shots they blocked. When you brought up Florida State, they sort of remind me about the way that Florida State played us when we played up there. So we have to finish strong and pump fake.

Q. Following you on the other question about the graduation: Dave, for all of you, talk about the advantages of staying all the way through it in college and what you got out of the experience.
DAVID LIGHTY: Well, graduating, all of my other classmates that I came in with, they have a couple more years to go until they do that. It is just an honor pretty much. I mean, you grow as a person, on the court and off the court. And all experiences that I had, you know, here at Ohio State is pretty much making me the man that I am today.
JON DIEBLER: I think the great thing is we're going to leave college without any debt (laughing), so that's nice. Like Dave said, getting your degree is just an awesome feeling. It is a great honor to go through that, especially as an athlete, just with the amount of time that we spend in our sport. And then on top of that, you know, spending all the time you need for schoolwork it is very time consuming and it takes a lot of work. A great accomplishment for all of us.
DALLAS LAUDERDALE: It is kind of tough to be the third person to answer. They said everything I want to say. It is definitely a blessing. I don't want to repeat everything they said. I'll say the same thing.
THE MODERATOR: All right, fellas, thank you very much.
We have the head coach of The Ohio State University, Thad Matta.
COACH THAD MATTA: Well, obviously, you know, stating the obvious, we are glad to be here. And, you know, I think as we told our guys every round you advance in the NCAA Tournament the opponent will get tougher. It is definitely the case as we go in our game tomorrow night. I know being in this position last year in the Sweet 16, our guys have a good feel for what this is all about and what we have to do to have an opportunity to win the game.

Q. Your impressions on Brandon Knight as a floor leader, what you have seen.
COACH THAD MATTA: Well very impressed with his ability to run their team. You know, I think that he's got the ability to not only score, but he makes players better around him. You know, for his size as a point guard he is long, he is athletic, and, you know, he showed in the Princeton game things -- he didn't shoot the ball particularly well in that game but he makes the game-winner. With as young as they are, I think he has done a tremendous job of coming in and learning the system that they are trying to play. And, you know, he is a heck of a player. He is a challenge to guard.

Q. Thad, you mentioned that being in this position last year, our guys have a good idea about what this is all about and what you have to do to win the game. In your mind saying that, what's the difference when you get to this point, the third game of the Tournament, versus the first two?
COACH THAD MATTA: I think it is just the heightened awareness of how good your opponents are. I think that these guys have done a much better job of not buying into all the, I used this word a couple of times this week, the hype that goes along with this. I think they have a better understanding of, you know, regardless what happens in tonight's game or the first game tomorrow night, if we don't come to play well it's all irrelevant. It's one of the things we tried to do with our guys is really tune out the best that they can everything that's going on around the outside and just concentrate on what's on the inside and the things that we can control.

Q. The guys mentioned seeing a lot of similarities in Kentucky as they did with Tennessee last year. Do you see some of those as well?
COACH THAD MATTA: You know I do. Number one, they are both in the same conference. I'm kidding.
I think that Tennessee last year was long. They were athletic. You know the wings were big, a lot like Kentucky is. I think that they're interchangeable. They were interchangeable as Kentucky is. And I kind of view Kentucky a little bit like us, they can make some adjustments and play a couple of different ways. So I think, you know, from that standpoint where, you know, Kentucky will push the ball, they will try to score quick. But if it's not there, the one thing we really noticed is they will take the air out of the ball if they get a sizable lead and really slow things down and go into the half-court offense, a lot like Tennessee did.

Q. Thad, as you know, some of the players were talking earlier in the week about bringing a different mindset into this game compared to last year, and what you just said concerning, about trying to tune out everything around you. As you look back at last year, with these guys being in the Sweet 16 for the first time, did they kind of get their eyes opened a little bit by I don't know if bright lights is the right analogy, but were they just a little bit, I guess, awestruck by being in that situation?
COACH THAD MATTA: You know I don't know exactly, or I don't recall exactly what the mindset was of that team. I think quite honestly, we've really tried to create a mindset for them coming in here. You know, the thing in last year's game and we had ample opportunities to win that game, you know we just didn't finish it off. We are up at halftime and Dave plays eight minutes, even in the second half where Dave picks up a cheap one early on in the second half. So I think it's more of, you know, you were in that position last year. What can we change? How can we think different as we prepare is probably more what we're after. And, you know, a lot like this year's team. Last year's team was very attention-to-detail-oriented in their approach of scouting and that sort of thing. These guys may be the best I ever had in that regard of watching film and asking questions and, you know, wanting to know as much as they possibly can.
THE MODERATOR: All right, Coach Matta, thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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