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BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 16, 2013


Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

Deshaun Thomas


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Ohio State テや 61
Michigan State ‑ 58


THAD MATTA:テつ Well, I thought, like all Big Ten games, that was a high powered college basketball game.テつ I thought our guys did a good job of keeping their composure.テつ It was a game of runs.テつ They got up on us, we got up on them.
Down the stretch I thought Aaron and Shannon did a good job of controlling the tempo, but once again, I think our defense, especially there in the second half, getting our hands on the balls, challenging shots, they made adjustments, we had to make adjustments on the fly.テつ And I thought our guys did a good job of that.テつ Great win for us.

Q.テつ Aaron, what sort of mentality did you come out of the locker room with as you came to the second half and really were aggressive early?
AARON CRAFT:テつ Just trying to believe in myself.テつ I think we have a lot of plays that we can execute that either get me open shots or I can help create for somebody else, and tonight I found some openings and was able to knock down some shots and that definitely opened up other things for, whether it was Deshaun or guys like LaQuinton that can knock down shots, as well?

Q.テつ Aaron, the first half the offense just looked like you couldn't get any avenues to drive into that defense.テつ The team settled for quite a few more threes than you guys average.テつ How did you guys manage to open up Michigan State's defense in the second half to allow you to get inside?
AARON CRAFT:テつ I think we just needed to have that better understanding of what's a good three and what's a three we can pass down to maybe get another pass and really try to find ways to get into the lane.
At times we have really good spacing that really opens up avenues and lanes for myself and others to drive in, and those are good threes, kind of outside looking in type threes, and knock down some pull‑ups, that always helps, as well.

Q.テつ Aaron, when Michigan State played you in Columbus, you talked about some things you had noticed in the first game you could exploit.テつ Were there things you noticed from that game that you exploited tonight or some of the same old things you did in Columbus?
AARON CRAFT:テつ We definitely knew they were going to try to change the way they guarded the ball screens in general, obviously with the number of lay‑ups that we were able to get in the second game.
In the first half you definitely kind of saw them plugging more, getting in the gaps more, and things like that.テつ In the second half, we just tried to do a better job of spacing and getting them to move side to side and getting them out of those gaps.テつ And we were able to get inside of them.

Q.テつ Deshaun, everybody writes about your scoring, but it's your rebounding the last couple of minutes, a couple of critical rebounds, and it sounds strange, you're the team's leading rebounder and nobody ever writes about that.テつ Why do you think that is?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ I really don't know.テつ I'm just being so aggressive.テつ Coach always preaches rebounds against this team.テつ We have to rebound.テつ They've got great bigs, athletic, especially Payne, who gets a lot of rebounds.テつ And I just attacked the rim and was just aggressive on the boards, blocking out, and make sure we get the ball.

Q.テつ Deshaun, a lot of what you were getting offensively in the first half was threes, and they weren't going down.テつ In the second half, I don't think you took your first three until there was ten minutes left.テつ What did you try to do in the second half compared to the first to try to be more effective scoring?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ Really it was all this guy right here, just space out and let him go to work.テつ I was being patient, and coach said you're going to knock one down, just to be patient.テつ I got one off the dribble, pump fake, because I knew he was supplying at me, Payne.テつ So I got shot fake, pull up off the dribble, and I knocked it down.

Q.テつ Aaron, I know you made a lot of outside shots against Gonzaga last year in the tournament, but were you in the zone today?テつ And also for Deshaun, talk about the shot that used up a lot of rim but went down and clinched the game.
AARON CRAFT:テつ I had felt pretty good today.テつ First shot I had was an air ball so that wasn't the most ideal start to the game.テつ We did a good job of regrouping and staying focused.テつ Going down one at half, that's a good position to be in.テつ We thought we could put the ball in the basket a little more.テつ It always helps getting to the rim.テつ And then with the way they were guarding, we got some open mid‑range shots, able to knock those down, and it just helps our team as a whole.
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, that shot I hit, that was a great play by coach and great screen by Evan Ravenel.テつ It was one of those just being ready to shoot.テつ Listening to coach on the sideline when we were running up and down, he said you're going to knock one down, just be patient.テつ Finally I did, and it went in.

Q.テつ Deshaun, everybody talks about Aaron's defense, but what does this performance say about what he's capable of doing offensively?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ It's great.テつ It helps this team a lot.テつ The way he can penetrate, make the defense collapse to him, he can kick it out to shooters.テつ It's very important.テつ And by him being aggressive in a score like that can really help.テつ And it helps our team to the next game and the next game by his aggressiveness.

Q.テつ Deshaun, if the game with Wisconsin was the low point of the season earlier this year, does this give it a little more juice going into tomorrow, getting them a third time?
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ I mean, it is.テつ It's a little juice.テつ All we've got to do now is study it on film.テつ We know what we've got to do and get our rest tonight and get ready to play.テつ We've got to be ready from the tip off against them, because last game we weren't kind of ready.テつ But now we've got to be ready and focused because we know Wisconsin is going to hold that ball and try to run the clock to the end.テつ Every possession is a key, and we've got to be focusing on that.

Q.テつ Thad, your teams always look like they're ready to go at this time of the year, which is obviously the most crucial point.テつ What role has Aaron played in this team's ability to hit its stride right now?
THAD MATTA:テつ You know, it's hard to put into words, and just in terms of‑‑ you look at what he has accomplished thus far in his career at Ohio State and just the wins, the big plays that he's made, in coaching you don't get to coach a lot of guys like him just from A to Z and everything he stands for.テつ He kind of makes us go on both ends of the floor, obviously when he's making shots, but a lot of people panicked when he wasn't scoring in the middle of the season, and I'm like, I don't have a problem with it, it'll come.テつ He loves these type of games, there's no question about it. テつHe's big for us.

Q.テつ At the Columbus game and this one, your players have talked about things you picked up on in Michigan State and were able to exploit.テつ When you talked coming into this game, what were those things that you saw and you really hit with them on that we can exploit?
THAD MATTA:テつ Well, I'll tell you, with the quick turnaround we had, it was transition defense, rebounding, and having a flow to our offense.テつ They were switching a lot, we wanted to try to make them make decisions, and that was‑‑ there were other little things through the scouting.テつ But we had to rebound, get them back in transition, not give them anything easy and be precise in what we were trying to do offensively.

Q.テつ The one thing you didn't mention was stopping Derrick Nix, so I imagine‑‑
THAD MATTA:テつ Well, because we didn't stop him.

Q.テつ You figured that out at halftime, obviously.テつ He had seven shot attempts and ten points in the first half.テつ I think he had one shot attempt and all free throws in the second half.テつ What did you do to‑‑
THAD MATTA:テつ Well, you know, what's funny is they kicked out, and that was one of the adjustments we had to make because he and Payne‑‑ I mean, Payne had three assists today.テつ They were kicking out and they hit a couple threes on us.テつ I think Appling had one and Harris had one.テつ We didn't pull the trigger where we needed to on both of them.
But late game they went back to him, and boy, he's just such a load down there and has such a great touch, a great feel.

Q.テつ I guess early January you're coming off a loss to Illinois, I don't think at that point you had any wins that people would maybe describe as quality wins and some questioned whether your team was equipped to do anything of significance this year.テつ Did you wonder that?
THAD MATTA:テつ You know, I didn't.テつ I think when you lose what we lost last year, okay, we've got one senior on this team, and he doesn't start for us.テつ I thought it was going to be a process.テつ I thought that in some of the games we played early in the season we had some great stretches, but we weren't able to put it all together for‑‑ I don't know if anybody plays perfect for 40 minutes, but we were playing 22 minutes‑‑ at Duke we played a solid 32 minutes, but we couldn't get the last eight minutes. テつEven Kansas we had some great runs through the stretch there.
And I think that was my biggest focus, like if this team can put it together I think we've got a chance to be pretty good.
The hard part of going through 18, now 20 games in the Big Ten is it beats you up.テつ I mean, this is as brutal as I've ever gone through.テつ But very proud of how these guys have finished and understood, and they've gotten so much better in practice and paying attention.テつ They've gotten so much better in watching film, just the questions, that sort of thing.テつ And as a coach that always gives you hope like, okay, I think they're getting it.

Q.テつ (No microphone).
THAD MATTA:テつ I don't know.テつ I think that when we stay connected, both offensively and defensively, when we don't panic, when things don't go well‑‑ I think we can play with anybody in the country.テつ I mean, to win whatever we've won in a row right now in this league and some of the things we've had to do, I thinkthat's probably the thing that I'm most proud of, and we're not done yet, I know that.テつ But as I told them when our backs were against the wall, you've answered the call for a while here.

Q.テつ You've had some battles with Northwestern lately.テつ I imagine you've heard that Bill Carmody was let go.
THAD MATTA:テつ They told me that before the game, yeah.

Q.テつ A few thoughts on him not coming back?
THAD MATTA:テつ Well, I'll tell you, I've said‑‑ two things:テつ Number one, I think Bill Carmody maybe has the best offensive mind of any coach I've ever seen in my life.テつ And the second thing is, knock on wood, I think he could be the most unlucky with the injuries just in the time that I've been nine years in this league.テつ It is amazing to see the things that have happened to his teams, and they happened in such a timely fashion.テつ I mean, I think we were No.1 in the country a couple years ago, and John Shurna runs into a basket support and has a concussion, can't play against us, we go down to the wire, and he was playing at such a high level.
You look at who could win and keep coaching those guys and stay competitive with what he lost this year, it's mindboggling.テつ I think Bill‑‑ you get to know guys, I think he's one of the greatest human beings, and like I said, I think he can coach as well as anybody.
But unfortunately that's kind of, I guess, how this business goes.テつ But I hate to see it.テつ I hate to see that happen to anybody.

Q.テつ One of the first things you mentioned at IU was the points off turnovers.テつ The margin was just about as great tonight.テつ Was that a decisive thing?
THAD MATTA:テつ Yeah, the great thing is first we didn't turn it over and give them opportunities.テつ Yeah, I think our ability to take care of the basketball was probably the difference.テつ I know we had a couple‑‑ looked like the keystone cops running around down there in transition.テつ We had two turnovers in transition.テつ We've got to clean that up.
But that was something that was huge.テつ Aaron's steal on the inbounds going down lane and up was big.テつ We needed to convert when we had numbers, that's for sure.テつ Aaron made a great read on that one.テつ He went back to his football days.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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