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March 23, 2013

Thad Matta

Shannon Scott

Sam Thompson


THE MODERATOR:テつ We're now being joined by Ohio State student‑athletes Sam Thompson and Shannon Scott.
Now we'll open the floor for questions for our student‑athletes.

Q.テつ Did you watch the Notre Dame‑Iowa State game yesterday?テつ I just want to know if you guys are prepared for the physicality of their inside game versus the outside game.テつ Notre Dame seemed to think they were going to shoot 3s all night, and they ended up beating them inside.テつ How are you going to prepare for that?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ We know that Iowa State is a tough, physical basketball team.テつ I know they're experienced and they've been here before.テつ We think the rigors of the Big Ten season have prepared us well for a physical game, and we feel if we match their intensity, good things will happen for us.
SHANNON SCOTT:テつ Just like Sam said, a team like Michigan State, just like them.テつ We know we've played against physical guys before.テつ We've just got to play the same way that we did against them.

Q.テつ The run that you've been on, this nine‑game winning streak, what's been the key?テつ Has there been a player that has stepped up as a vocal leader?テつ Was it the coaches who stepped up and you guys are actually following what they asked you to do all season long and you've won nine straight?テつ What's been the key?
SHANNON SCOTT:テつ I think as a team we're all doing our roles now.テつ We're not trying to do one‑on‑one basketball now.テつ We're all playing together, and that's really helped us out a lot.
Coach Matta talked to us about this, playing our game, and we know what we've got to do to win.テつ So we're focusing on that a lot better.
SAM THOMPSON:テつ Like Shannon said, we know what we have to do to be successful.テつ Every guy on the court and on the bench is buying into what we have to do to win basketball games on both sides of the ball.
These past few games, these past couple of weeks, good things have been happening for us.

Q.テつ What's the difference mentality‑wise for your roles last year in the tournament versus this year?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ We know that last year we were mainly the support guys, mainly in there just to give guys breathers, if someone got into foul trouble.テつ Last year versus Syracuse when Lenzelle had to get stitches, so I came in for a couple of minutes.
We knew we were basically holdover guys last year.テつ This year we have a much bigger role.テつ We're really called on to make plays on both sides of the ball for our team, and it's a fun position to be in.
SHANNON SCOTT:テつ Just like Sam said, last year we were there for support really, make sure the team'sdoing what we've got to do to win.テつ This year we've got to take a bigger role, but it's a lot more fun doing that.

Q.テつ For both of you guys, confidence‑wise, is your confidence at an all‑time high, both of you, for what you've been asked to do and what happened yesterday?
SHANNON SCOTT:テつ I think of course our confidence is at an all‑time high now.テつ We're winning games the way we are.テつ Going ahead with great confidence.テつ When you're losing games, you wonder what you should be doing better.テつ Now the way we're winning, just helped our confidence a lot.
SAM THOMPSON:テつ Like Shannon said, whenever we have a team that's playing as well as we are right now, whenever we're executing the way that we are defensively and offensively, it definitely adds a little bit of juice to every guy's confidence.テつ If we continue to do the things that have gotten this far, I think it will be good.

Q.テつ What do you feel when you're flying through the air like that?テつ How do you even get up that high?テつ The crowd was amazed yesterday.
SAM THOMPSON:テつ I guess excited would be a good word.テつ I know that whenever we make an alley‑oop play, whenever I get a big dunk, it really ignites our team on both sides of the ball and really gives the other team something to think about.
It's always fun when I'm up there, when Shannon and Craft do a great job of getting into the teeth of the defense and just laying it up there for me.テつ I think it's a big play for our team.

Q.テつ The Big Ten is now 7‑1 in the games that have been played so far, as Michigan won earlier today.テつ How much did that brutal schedule and the teams that you played week in and week out, twice, sometimes three times this year, prepare you for this tournament?
SAM THOMPSON:テつ I think it really did prepare us well.テつ The Big Ten conference was an unbelievable conference this year in basketball.テつ It was the best basketball conference in the country, and when you're playing against the top talent in the country night in and night out on a weekly basis, it really prepares you for what you're going to see in the postseason.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Sam and Shannon, thank you.
We're now being joined by the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Thad Matta.テつ Coach, if you'd like, make an opening statement, and after that we'll open the floor for questions.
COACH MATTA:テつ Obviously, it's good to be back at the podium.テつ It means you've advanced.テつ I think in terms of trying to prepare our team, and we've got a quick turnaround, as Iowa State does, we're playing a very talented, talented basketball team.
Our guys are well aware, they've got a couple of Big Ten guys on their team.テつ They've got a pretty good appreciation for how Ohio State wants to play and the job that we have to do, as it's supposed to be in this tournament.
We've got another great challenge ahead of us.

Q.テつ From the outside, we can tell your team has even ratcheted it up defensively more in these past few weeks and has gotten some secondary scoring outside of Deshaun Thomas.テつ But internally, has there been anything that's been different that has sort of spurred you guys along in this last month or so?
COACH MATTA:テつ I don't think so.テつ We've had a very good rhythm from practice to film to meetings to games, and it's ironic how it's worked itself out.
These guys have done a very good job of, and I say this, committing to each other.テつ It's one of the biggest things you always strive for as a coach, and to see them uniting over the last month to the level that they are, I think that's probably been the biggest difference.テつ The fact guys have stepped up, as we said, early in the season.テつ We had moments we just weren't as consistent as we needed to be for 40 minutes.テつ We knew guys could do certain things.
Now it's putting them in the position to play their best basketball, and that's what we're attempting to do.

Q.テつ During this winning streak, are there a couple things you can point to that have been kind of consistent for you from start to finish of it?
COACH MATTA:テつ I think our defense has been really, really good.テつ I mean, statistically, that's kind of a fact there.テつ I think that we've done a better job of taking care of the basketball, executing offensively.
I think that guys coming into the game, we've gotten great sparks off the bench from Shannon, Q (LaQuinton Ross), Evan.テつ That's probably made us more of a complete basketball team just in terms of maybe some guy's having a bad stretch, a bad first half or whatever, and guys have kind of picked up on it and answered that, if you will.テつ That's ultimately what you're looking for in team basketball, which is what we preach.

Q.テつ Coach, what's the preparation looking like for tomorrow's game?テつ Are you prepared for the inside game as well as the outside game?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, and that's the thing, Iowa State does a great job of spreading you out.テつ They've shown that they can hurt you in both ways.テつ As we've told our guys, it's kind of a do‑both type game.テつ We've got to guard inside.テつ We've got to guard outside.テつ We've got to guard in between.テつ They've got midrange players.
It's definitely, definitely going to be a great challenge.テつ I view these guys as offensively‑‑ there's a lot of ways‑‑ they put a lot of points on the board, and obviously transition defense will be paramount.

Q.テつ Have you played a team this season that's similar to Ohio State in the way they're sort of totally committed to five out and Niang handles the ball a lot?テつ Has there been a team on your guys' schedule that plays that sort of spread‑out style?
COACH MATTA:テつ Michigan does a little bit.テつ They'll move their bigs around in pick‑and‑roll.テつ Probably the biggest difference is their bigs can pick and pop for 3s as opposed to Michigan with the spacing, they're usually rolling those guys very effectively.
I can't recall anybody that's just kind of that far out.テつ We've had teams that have tried to do that to us.テつ It wasn't a staple of what they do.テつ Our one game against Iowa this year, they went with like a guard and four forwards and tried to do that.
Haven't seen a ton of that.

Q.テつ Thad, I wonder‑‑ I know you're locked in on your game preparation and all that.テつ Have you been aware of your bracket in the SE tournament?テつ You have 3, 4, and 5 seeds that have been knocked out.
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, I heard that.テつ I'm not sure who's what, but I get confused now.テつ Many years ago we'd all be in one and we all advance together.テつ So now like teams are playing all over the place.
As you said, my focus is on trying to get us a win tomorrow, as challenging as it's going to be.テつ I think at that point you sort of take a deep breath and say, all right, what's the next thing?テつ All we've talked about this week with our guys is the two games in Dayton.テつ Hopefully on the bus ride home, we're saying, okay, this is the next opponent, and these are the four teams that are there.

Q.テつ Coach, in the last 30 years, there's only been two Big Ten teams win the national title.テつ There are four, five, six teams from the Big Ten right now fighting for that.テつ Is this a year, with the talent that's there, that you see a Big Ten team winning?
COACH MATTA:テつ I think it's highly likely‑‑ I want to make sure I term this right.テつ I don't want to get the Big Ten in trouble.テつ I think there's a good chance.テつ I really, really do.テつ It's like I said, when I got in the league nine years ago, Illinois had just a phenomenal team, so did North Carolina.
You go back to '07, and this is how my luck goes as a coach, we had one of the greatest teams in college basketball history, and we just happened to be playing the team that won the National Championship the year before with all five starters back.
I do think that there's‑‑ you've got great teams.テつ There's no question in my mind.テつ I speak from experience.テつ Those teams are battle tested.テつ There's‑‑ like I said, there's a very, very good chance of it.テつ You get‑‑ the one thing about the Big Ten this year is you've got great players.テつ Obviously, you've got great coaches.テつ It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Q.テつ In a similar vein, do Big Ten‑‑ do you root for other‑‑ not in your part of the bracket.テつ Do you root for other teams in your conference?テつ Do you think it's‑‑ people have been keeping kind of a scorecard, the A‑10 is 6‑1 or whatever in the tournament, the Big Ten is so‑and‑so.テつ Do you think it's fair to evaluate leagues based on a tournament with this kind of format where matchups and one game any night anyone can win kind of thing?
COACH MATTA:テつ I don't think it's‑‑ I don't want to say fair, but I don't know how right it is because, quite honestly, we're all representing one thing and one thing only, and that's our university now.テつ I want the Big Ten to do as well as it possibly can, but I say that from the standpoint of I know the other coaches from the Big Ten, they're worried about one thing and one thing only, and that's advancing.
Maybe in the end, when we have our spring meetings, we can all high‑five each other because we had a great year, but I think for the most part it's CYOA or whatever that is.

Q.テつ I just wondered what you were going to do to try to make it seem like it's not a noon start for your guys.
COACH MATTA:テつ Wake‑up call will be a lot earlier.テつ No.
That's something that this team has done a great job of, and that is, learning its lessons.テつ If that's an issue tomorrow, I'm going to be highly saddened by that in terms of we're not ready to go, and we will be ready to go.
I'll be honest with you.テつ We have talked about a couple different things, just in terms of walking through in the hotel or playing dodge ball or something in the lobby, just something to get them kind of going.
They know that's not‑‑ we've talked about that a lot with them, and reflecting back, like I've always said, we practice in the mornings.テつ So hopefully that's not an issue.

Q.テつ Thad, the team you're playing tomorrow, they love to shoot the 3.テつ 42 percent of all their shots are 3‑point shots, whether it's the half court or in transition.テつ The defensive mindset, is it to force them to put it on the floor and take away the arc?
COACH MATTA:テつ Well, it's a little bit of both, as I said earlier.テつ It's kind of a do both because the problem is they can shoot the 3, but they can also go by you.
I think from a standpoint of we've got to challenge shots.テつ We've got to guard the basketball, keep it in front of us because the spacing.テつ They love to drive, kick, spray it around, but challenge shots, get rebounds.テつ They're a team, if you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay.
The thing we're trying to get our guys to understand, we have to be as sound as we possibly can, and you're not going to hold us scoreless, and we're not going to stop them from making 3s.テつ You've just got to go play after play after play and do the best that we can.

Q.テつ Do you as a coach have to be aware of or be prepared for your team maybe trying to match them in a 3‑point shooting contest and get away from what's got you the nine wins in a row?
COACH MATTA:テつ Some teams I would be, but this one I'm not.テつ Our guys have a pretty good understanding of what we're trying to do.テつ We've grown in that area.テつ I think from the standpoint of these guys knowing going into the game that Iowa State is a team that relies heavily on 3‑point shooting.
Like I said, it's that possession after possession of attempting to challenge shots, but we've played some teams this year that have shot a lot of 3s against us, and we never fell into that trap.

Q.テつ Thad, with Sam's development coming on here late in the year, could you see him start to ask for the ball, and would you be okay with that?
COACH MATTA:テつ Yeah, I think that Sam has really developed, just in terms of everything he's bringing to the table.テつ The one thing nobody talks about with Sam‑‑ they talk about his dunks or his eight straight free throws or shooting the ball‑‑ but, boy, has he become a great defender.
That's the thing I love when I see Sam out there.テつ Sam is‑‑ I will say this.テつ All Sam Thompson wants to do is win, and I think that he's comfortable in how he's playing and what he's doing for this basketball team.テつ I don't see him running around with his hands out calling for it, but I think that he has a good sense of what we need him to do and when we need him to do it.

Q.テつ There's been a lot of focus the last month as your defense has gotten better and better on Shannon getting more minutes and being responsible for a lot of what's going on.テつ In your eyes, as you watch this defense play as a whole, what's better now than it was a month or six weeks ago?
COACH MATTA:テつ I think that we're more purpose driven in terms of guys‑‑ I use this term‑‑ being connected and covering for each other and just more active and probably prideful in what we're trying to get accomplished with the defense.
The Big Ten forces you to do that.テつ You can't win in the Big Ten if you're not playing really, really good defense, and that's probably been, I think, the thing that these guys have adapted in their minds of, hey, if we want to win, we've probably got to listen to the old coach and try to guard somebody.

Q.テつ That one‑way conversation you had after the Wisconsin game, was that the first time you've had to do that since you've been here at Ohio State to really get guys to buy in to the way they should play for you?
COACH MATTA:テつ No, no, those are, honestly, things that transpire for every team in college basketball.テつ There comes a time when‑‑ you know what I'm saying?テつ You've got to like, all right, let's spell this out, the black, the white of who we are.
That just seemed like the perfect time to do it, to be honest with you.

Q.テつ Are you at this point in a strange way without that loss?
COACH MATTA:テつ You never know, but it probably helped us just in terms of heightening our awareness.テつ We weren't ready to play that day, so we had tremendous ammunition from film, from how we warmed up that day, those types of things, to kind of open our guys' eyes, and the reality saying we're not that good.テつ We're not a team that can just show up and win basketball games.
So that probably helped propel us in terms of trying to establish an identity of, hey, we've got to be the team that comes ready to play.テつ We can't take our foot off the gas.テつ We can't not prepare.テつ We really need to know scouting, those types of things.

Q.テつ You may have addressed this before I got in here, but does Iowa State compare to anybody, as far as their style, compare to anybody that you're familiar with either this season or last season?
COACH MATTA:テつ I did.テつ You can grab a copy of the notes.テつ It will be on Page 2.
I said this.テつ Michigan could be a team that they resemble, the difference being the five men don't pick and pop for Michigan.テつ They're more of a roll dominant.テつ They're trying to roll off the screen and roll.テつ Duke, with the way they spread you out, space you out.テつ Kansas was a little bit like that.テつ They've had three tough battles with Kansas.
But I would say those would be the teams‑‑ Indiana with kind of the push, the high‑powered offense coming at you in transition, but if it's not there, they're going to do a good job of executing their offense.テつ I would say those four or five teams would be the best parallel we can draw for our guys.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thad, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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