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NCAA MEN'S 2ND & 3RD ROUNDS: DAYTON


March 21, 2013


Aaron Craft

Thad Matta

Deshaun Thomas


DAYTON, OHIO

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're now being joined by student‑athletes Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas.

Q.テつ Maybe what do you guys see behind the scenes that makes Thad so effective a coach for you?
AARON CRAFT: テつI think the biggest thing is Coach is one of the hardest workers that I've ever been around, and that really kind of sets the tone for everyone else that's around him, whether it's watching extra film, whether it's getting in extra shots, just kind of being at the gym.テつ That's who Coach is.
He never wants to take any handouts.テつ He wants to work for everything that he's gotten, and he's earned everything that he's been able to receive.テつ He's just a great guy to be around.テつ He's a players' coach.テつ Can't say enough about him.
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ Coach, he's a hard worker.テつ He's so competitive.テつ I'm pretty sure he'd be out there practicing with us if he could, showing us little moves or out there diving on the floor.
That's the great thing about him.テつ He gets us ready and get our minds right for any game and for watching film.テつ He's always zoned in like we are.テつ He's just like a player like us, just so competitive and wanting to win.

Q.テつ For both you guys, just wondering‑‑ you guys are obviously an elite team with a strong history.テつ I was wondering how much you guys knew about Iona when the bracket was announced.テつ Is that a team you knew anything about?テつ I'm sure you've watched film since, that kind of thing.
DESHAUN THOMAS:テつ We knew they were a good team.テつ They made it to the tournament.テつ They're a fast‑break team.テつ They put up a lot of points, average like 81 points as a team.
We just watched film on them.テつ They've got great scorers.テつ They're very active on defense.テつ So what we need to do is just run our offense with pace and hit the open shots and hit the open man and just play hard and play with a lot of effort.
AARON CRAFT:テつ Yeah, I don't know a ton, but like D.T. said, you always hear them as one of the teams that likes to score a lot of points.テつ Obviously, you hear about Lamont Jones and how he's able to put the ball in the basket.
What you don't hear as much before you do a lot of scouting is they have a bunch of guys that can put the ball in the hoop.テつ It's not just one guy.
Like D.T. said, we've done a good job of learning a lot and really kind of honing in on who can do what for them, and hopefully we can take some things away.

Q.テつ Can you guys talk about just playing so close to campus for your first round.
AARON CRAFT:テつ Yeah, this is amazing.テつ We practiced this morning in our own gym, which is great, got on the bus and got over here really quickly.テつ It was a lot quicker than I thought it was going to be too.
Buckeye Nation always travels really well, and being only about an hour away, it can only help.テつ We're just really excited to see what kind of crowd we can get out there.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Any further questions?
AARON CRAFT:テつ You guys are great.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Aaron and Deshaun, thank you for your time.テつ Good luck tomorrow.
We're joined by the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Thad Matta.テつ Coach, we'll start with an opening statement.テつ And after that we'll open the floor up for questions for Coach Matta.
COACH MATTA:テつ Obviously, this is a great time of the year.テつ It's a great time for college basketball.
For us, being here in Dayton first round, guys are very, very excited.テつ Playing what I consider a great basketball team in Iona, and I like where our team is today.
We'll find out tomorrow night what we're made of.

Q.テつ Thad, you have a lot of history in this building, going back to your time at Xavier.テつ What do you feel when you come here and maybe reminisce about some of your memories.
COACH MATTA:テつ It goes a little bit further than that.テつ When I was a player, I may have had my greatest game ever in this building.

Q.テつ Really?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yes.テつ I say that jokingly, but I hit a last‑second shot.テつ I think I only had 2 points for the game, but we won the game.
Like I said, I've always been kind of a fan of Dayton, even at Xavier.テつ When I was in college playing, we were in the MCC together.
I like the fact that it's in Ohio.テつ I know this:テつ Dayton has had for the last 50 years great basketball fans.テつ I think that's why the NCAA keeps coming back here.
I've had some tremendous battles in here, if you will.テつ It's an exciting‑‑ it's a great basketball venue as well.

Q.テつ Your last two times here at the NCAA Tournament didn't maybe work out as well as you had hoped.テつ Do you feel like this team is better equipped for maybe a longer run in the tournament?
COACH MATTA:テつ I hope so.テつ You go back, the first time we played Davidson in the first round, and then Georgetown got us, got us good in that game, and the Siena game in '09, I think it was, double overtime.テつ That was one of the NCAA classic type of games.
But different team, different opponents, and we'll see what happens.

Q.テつ Can you just speak to how much of an advantage it is just logistically being able to practice on your home court and then come down here for the tournament, that kind of thing?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, I think as we got back Sunday night and Monday morning, we met as a staff and trying to kind of plan the week out.テつ We were saying, okay, we'll leave Wednesday night and go to a high school here and practice on Thursday.
Wait a minute, why don't we just stay Wednesday night?テつ We'd all like to sleep in our beds one more night.テつ We had a great practice this morning in Columbus, and an hour and 15 minute ride over here.
I like it from that standpoint.テつ And the other thing I told our guys, it keeps us in the routine we've been in.テつ We had kind of an odd ending with the Big Ten.テつ Seems like we always had five days leading into a game, so we're kind of there again.
Everything has sort of stayed status quo.テつ Our guys are a creature of habit, and we've been fortunate to be able to do that.

Q.テつ And the game when you hit the game‑winning shot, how much of that game is still really clear in your brain?
COACH MATTA:テつ I can take you through this.テつ We're down 7 with like 1:56 to go.テつ I think I was a sophomore then.テつ Coach calls a time‑out and says we need some 3s.
So I come down and hit a 3.テつ We're down 4.テつ Stop them, come back down, hit another 3.テつ We're down 1.テつ We get a turnover with 20 seconds to go.
Coach calls a time‑out:テつ Here's what we're going to do.テつ We're going to run this play and get the ball to Tucker.テつ If we can't get it to Tucker, get it to Fowlkes.テつ If we can't get it to Fowlkes, get it to Littrell.テつ If we can't get it to Littrell, get it to Karaffa.
And the horn goes off.テつ Wait a second, I'm in this game.テつ I came down the court at the horn and threw it up.テつ And I told you I scored about 8 points the entire game.テつ That's what type of player I was.テつ That was the highlight of my playing at Butler University.

Q.テつ What year was that?
COACH MATTA:テつ It was Coach Donoher's last year.

Q.テつ '88, '89?
COACH MATTA:テつ Probably.テつ Please don't make a big deal out of that.テつ That's my one shining moment in college basketball.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Any questions for Coach?
COACH MATTA:テつ We can talk about my high school career.テつ I was a better high school player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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