Scrapping Along

Today the OSU basketball team won their first game of the season against a ranked opponent, beating Indiana 82-70.  It’s a nice win, but it sure took a while to get it — a lot longer than we’ve come to expect during the Ohio State career of Coach Thad Matta.

This year’s Buckeyes squad has had a scrappy journey so far.  The Buckeyes have three key seniors — Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott, and Amir Williams — and many fans have been disappointed in their play.  Williams, in particular, has been hard to figure out; he’s got the size, but seems to lack the competitive fire that has characterized some of Coach Matta’s other products, like David Lighty and Aaron Craft.  It is noteworthy, perhaps, that today’s win came in a game where Williams did not play at all.

Coach Matta is trying to mix the seniors in with some stellar freshman that include D’Angelo Russell and Jae’Sean Tate, who led the Buckeyes in scoring today, redshirt freshman Kam Williams, and sophomore Marc Loving.  It’s fair to say that the Buckeyes are a work in progress, and the gears don’t really seem to be meshing yet.  Trying to make the pieces fit and motivate the players who don’t seem to be giving it their all, and win a few more key games in the process, will be one of Coach Matta’s toughest assignments.

The Buckeyes’ next game, against a pretty good Maryland team, will tell us a lot about whether today’s result was a fluke — or maybe the start of something better.  We’ll see whether Coach Matta can pull another rabbit out of a hat.

Into The Big Blue

Tonight Ohio State and Kentucky face off in Newark, New Jersey for the right to move along into the Elite Eight.  Ohio State will hope to avoid the kind of upset that has knocked out Duke and Pitt, and Kentucky will try to beat Ohio State for the first time in an NCAA tournament.

Brandon Knight

Late starting time aside — the game is projected to tip at 9:45, which probably means after 10 p.m. — this should be a terrific contest.  Kentucky is one of the most storied teams in college basketball, with a jaw-dropping tradition that features 51 NCAA tournaments, 13 Final Fours, and seven national championships.  The Buckeyes are currently the consensus number one and are looking to build on the tradition that has developed since Coach Thad Matta arrived.  Both teams are hot and have come to the NCAA tournament after winning their conference tournament.  Both teams feature an exciting mix of freshmen — in the Wildcats’ case, guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrence Jones, the two leading scorers — and upperclassmen.  In Matta and Kentucky’s John Calipari, both teams have coaches who have taken different teams deep into the NCAA tournament.

Every game in the NCAA tournament seems to turn into a game of matchups, and this game should be no different.  Kentucky fans believe Knight will be the best guard Ohio State has faced this season; Buckeye fans hope that Aaron Craft can display some of his defensive prowess and hound Knight into turnovers and bad shots.  Ohio State fans think Jared Sullinger should be able to dominate inside; Wildcats supporters are confident that 6-10 senior Josh Harrelson (known as “Jorts” for some unknown reason) will be able to hold Sullinger in check.  Kentucky wonders who will guard the 6-8 Jones, who can both drive and launch from the outside, and Ohio State asks who will be matched against lanky William Buford.  Other questions abound.  Can David Lighty penetrate and dish?  Will Kentucky try to play an up-tempo game or slow it down?  Will Jon Diebler be hot from behind the arc?  Will early foul trouble set one team back?

Fans of both teams seem to be complaining that this great tilt is happening this early in the tournament.  I think it is one of the things that makes the NCAA tournament such a terrific event.  Whichever team advances after tonight’s game will feel like it has really accomplished something.  I’m hoping that team will be Ohio State.

 

Next Up, The Wildcats

The Ohio State Buckeyes rolled on to the Sweet 16 today.  Next weekend, they will play one of the most storied teams in college basketball — the Kentucky Wildcats — for the chance to move on to the Elite Eight.

Tonight the Buckeyes pulverized a game, but totally outmatched, George Mason team.  After falling behind 11-2, the Buckeyes came roaring back behind the outside shooting of David Lighty, the inside toughness and rebounding of Jared Sullinger, the dunking prowess of Dallas Lauderdale, and the pinpoint passing and defensive intensity of point guard Aaron Craft.  With Jon Diebler making a signature buzzer-beating three-pointer, the Buckeyes led at the half 52-26.  The lead never dropped below 20 points thereafter as William Buford heated up, and the Buckeyes ended up winning 98-66.  Every player on the team saw significant action, and senior guard Eddie Days had a chance to play and score.

Kentucky will be a more severe test than George Mason.  The Wildcats were one of the best teams in the SEC.  They are led by talented and athletic freshmen, including excellent guard Brandon Knight, who scored 30 points in leading Kentucky to victory over West Virginia.  We’ll worry about the Wildcats later, however.  For now, those of us in Buckeye Nation will relish the fact that our team is still alive to play again next week.  We’ll also join Lighty, Diebler, and Lauderdale in celebrating both a big win and the fact that they received their college diplomas before the game today.

Kicking Some Badger Butt

It was very satisfying, indeed, to watch Ohio State crush Wisconsin today, 93-65.  The blow-out win was a fitting send-off to David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale, who will go down as one of the best — and certainly most beloved — senior classes in Ohio State hoops history.  It also was nice to see the Buckeyes “deal with it,” to use Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s deathless phrase.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta has molded together a really wonderful team.  It is staggering that the Buckeyes scored 93 points on the Badgers, who are one of the best defensive teams in the country.  Before today, Wisconsin had allowed only one team to score even 70 points.  But today, the Buckeyes beat the Badgers inside and beat the Badgers outside.  Jon Diebler led Ohio State in raining threes, as the Buckeyes shot a stunning 14 out of 15 from behind the arc.  Jared Sullinger, Dallas Lauderdale, and David Lighty also put up a lot of points in the paint, and the Buckeyes out-rebounded the Badgers as well.  Finally, Aaron Craft played a virtually flawless offensive floor game, dishing out 6 assists while having zero turnovers.  If Ohio State executes like that on the offensive end in the rest of its games this season, it will be a very hard team for anyone to beat.

On the defensive end, the Buckeyes shut down Jordan Taylor, who had torched the Buckeyes in Madison, and also took the Badgers’ excellent forward, Jon Leuer, out of his game.  The Buckeyes can play a suffocating man-to-man, as they did today, and their offensive efficiency also puts pressure on the opposing team’s offense.  When Ohio State is scoring on virtually every trip down the court, and often with a three, the temptation for the other team to come down and try to score quickly is difficult to resist — and often quick shots are bad shots.

The Buckeyes now need to put this very satisfying win behind them.  They move on to the Big Ten Tournament as the number one seed.  That tournament doesn’t mean much, except as a vehicle to cement an overall no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Buckeyes need to avoid injury, stay sharp, and let some of their back-ups play — and then they need to get ready for The Big Dance.

Looking To “Deal With It”

The Ohio State Buckeyes were undefeated until they traveled to Madison, Wisconsin to play the Badgers.  The Buckeyes built a 15-point lead early in the second half, but then Jordan Taylor caught fire.  He was unconscious for the rest of the game and, with some help from his teammates, he led Wisconsin to victory.

Losing is no big deal in college basketball.  There hasn’t been a undefeated team in decades, and there is no shame in losing at Wisconsin — where the Badgers lose only once in a blue moon.  But what made the loss memorable was that Jared Sullinger mentioned that he was spit upon as Wisconsin fans stormed the court and that, when Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan was asked about the incident a few days later, his message was that Wisconsin had won the game and the Buckeyes just needed to “deal with it.”  Ryan’s flippant comment has been seized upon by Buckeyes’ fans as a bit of a battle cry.

Ohio State hopes to “deal with it” tomorrow, when they play the Badgers at Value City Arena in the last regular-season game of the year.  It should be a great atmosphere.  Red “Deal With It” towels will be handed out to all of the students in the Nut House.  And there will be more on the line than just working to get some payback against Wisconsin.  It will be Senior Day, with Ohio State stalwarts David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Dallas Lauderdale playing their final home games.  And if the Buckeyes win, they will win the Big Ten regular season title outright.

The Badgers are on a winning streak against Ohio State.  In addition to their win over the no. 1 Buckeyes early this basketball season, they also beat the no. 1 Buckeyes in football.  Now the basketball Buckeyes are no. 1, again.  Let’s hope they turn the tables on the Badgers tomorrow.

Enjoying The Show

Tuesday night some friends invited Kish and I to watch the Buckeyes play Illinois at the Schott.  We had a great time watching the Buckeyes beat up on a traditional Big Ten power.

Jared Sullinger and William Buford

I don’t know what will happen for the rest of the season or in the NCAA Tournament.  I do know, however, that this is one of the most entertaining basketball teams I’ve ever watched.  They play great defense.  They rebound well.  They can get out and run with anyone, and in David Lighty they have one of the best finishers in the college game.  They can play a slow-down game and fire away from the outside, with Jon Diebler and William Buford.  They can work the ball inside to Jared Sullinger, one of the best post position players in America.  And, with Aaron Craft, they can break a press, break down a defense on a drive down the lane, and unmercifully harass the opposing point guard with in-your-shirt defense.

Tuesday’s game was a great example of the enormous entertainment value of this team.  In the first half, Illinois shot the ball about as well as a college team can reasonably expect — at one point, the Illini were 8 of 9 from three-point land — and still the Buckeyes led by 15 at the half.  They did so because they forced turnovers and were ridiculously efficient at the offensive end, with William Buford leading the way.  In the second half, after Illinois closed the gap to 6 points, David Lighty grabbed the game by the throat and simply wrestled it into submission.  He hit threes, he made steals that led to breakaway dunks, and he took the ball to the rack, and the Buckeyes pulled away.

I really enjoy watching these guys play.  Thad Matta has produced another great team.

The Badgers And The Buckeyes

Wisconsin has a rare opportunity tomorrow.  A few months ago they ruined Ohio State’s perfect season in football with a convincing win at Camp Randall Stadium.  Tomorrow they have the chance to do the same thing in basketball.  The very idea sends a collective shudder through Buckeye Nation.

The odds favor the Badgers.  They have a well-coached, talented team — and Wisconsin is ridiculously hard to beat at the Kohl Center.  Bo Ryan’s record there is absurdly good.  Thad Matta, who has a fine Big Ten road record since he began coaching the Buckeyes, has never beaten Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.  And if, like me, you are a Buckeye fan who believes in karma, your heart must have sank when you saw Wisconsin recently pull out a gritty road win against Iowa in a game where Wisconsin simply could not knock down a shot.  That probably means that the Badgers will be lights out tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s game should be a real treat for college basketball fans.  Both teams play solid basketball and sound defense.  Both teams have experience and players who are in contention for all-conference honors.  In Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin has two players who would be welcome on any team in the country, and they are backed by a complement of players who can shoot the 3, crash the boards, and run Wisconsin’s deliberate offense to perfection.  Both teams have great coaches who are perennial winners.  If you are Ohio State, you are hoping that Jared Sullinger plays at the same high level he has displayed all season and that David Lighty and Jon Diebler, as seniors, help the Buckeyes navigate through the rough patches that undoubtedly will occur before the screaming Kohl Center crowd.

This will be a huge test for this year’s Ohio State basketball team.  Win or lose, it is the kind of tough game that will be good experience for the Buckeyes when the NCAA Tournament rolls around.

 

Burying The Gophers

Ohio State rolled on today, beating the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis 82-69.  Every member of Buckeye Nation of a certain age feels a great satisfaction when Ohio State beats the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, on a floor that saw the worst incident in the history of college basketball.  In this case, the victory was a true team win, with every starter scoring in double figures and the Buckeyes defense throttling the Minnesota offense until the game was out of reach.

Ohio State remains the only undefeated team in college basketball and leads the Big Ten conference race by three games.  The Buckeyes now get a few days off until their next game, which is on Saturday at Wisconsin — a place where the Badgers seldom lose.

There will be a lot of analysis of the impending Ohio State-Wisconsin matchup in the days to come.  For now, every Buckeyes fan should take a moment to appreciate this tough and unselfish team.  Starters David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale, Williams Buford, and Jared Sullinger, and principal reserves Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, play a very hard-nosed style that is a pleasure to watch.  They move the ball around on offense until they find the hot hand.  They rebound well.  Their fundamentals are sound, and they usually end up getting a good shot.  On defense, they stick to their opponents and don’t let up.  There is a reason why these guys are unbeaten and no. 1, and I’ve enjoyed being along for the ride.

Finishing Strong

Ohio State won another tough Big Ten battle tonight, beating arch-rival Michigan 62-53.

The game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Buckeyes were out of sync offensively.  They turned the ball over and could not hit open shots.  They scored 23 points, had several defensive breakdowns, and went into the locker room trailing after what was surely their worst half of basketball this season.

In the second half, the Buckeyes successfully pounded the ball inside.  Jared Sullinger again was a man among boys, pulling down strong rebounds and somehow getting the ball in the bucket despite being double- and triple-teamed.  Aaron Craft bounced back from a sloppy first half to make some key inside buckets, William Buford knocked down some key shots, Jon Diebler played tough defense and ably fed the post, and David Lighty again showed his athleticism with great rebounding and defensive play.  All of the Buckeyes displayed their stamina in the second half, too, because Coach Thad Matta did not make a single substitution.  The Buckeyes scored 39 points in the half, pulled away from the overmatched Wolverines, and would have scored even more had they not been thoroughly mediocre from the free throw line.  Free throw shooting and fatigue will be a concern for Ohio State fans as the team comes down the stretch of the Big Ten season.

Ohio State now stands at 23-0.  Equally important, they have swept the season series with the Wolverines — and beating The Team Up North never gets old.

One Game Does Not A Season Make (But It Certainly Was A Wonderful Game To Watch)

The Buckeye Nation woke up whistling a happy tune this morning.  The Basketball Buckeyes crushed the Purdue Boilermakers, 87-64, in what was easily Ohio State’s most complete and dominating game of the season.  The Buckeyes pulled away from a solid Purdue team from the opening tip, never trailed, and inexorably increased their lead, which at times exceeded 30 points in the second half. With the win, the Buckeyes opened up a two-game lead in the Big Ten conference race.

This was a game where Ohio State was hitting on all cylinders.  The team played lockdown defense on the Boilermakers throughout the game.  Although Purdue’s ace center JaJuan Johnson scored 22 points, the rest of the squad was neutralized and seemingly baffled by the Buckeyes’ tough defense.  The Buckeyes beat the Boilermakers like a drum on the boards.  Ohio State’s hustle and grit, at times, seemed to catch the Boilermakers flat-footed, such as when Jon Diebler rebounded a miss on the front end of a one-on-one as the Purdue players napped.

Offensively, the Buckeyes rained in three-pointers, took Purdue defenders to the rack, and watched Jared Sullinger work his magic on the blocks.  The game continued the season-long coming out party of Ohio State’s excellent freshmen — Sullinger, Aaron Craft, and Deshaun Thomas, each of whom made mighty contributions to the victory — and saw the Buckeyes outrebound and consistently outbattle the Boilermakers.  David Lighty, Diebler, and William Buford, who together form the heart of the Buckeyes’ steady corps of experienced players, also had tremendous games.

The rout was a complete team effort that must have warmed the hearts of head coach Thad Matta and his staff.  As impressive as the win was, however, it is only one game.  The challenge for Coach Matta and his assistants will be to continue the development of their talented players and to challenge and inspire them to reach even greater heights during the rest of the Big Ten schedule and into the NCAA tournament.

Next up for the Buckeyes is a road test Saturday against Northwestern.  It will give Buckeye fans some time to savor a very satisfying win.

A Tough Challenge In Champaign

The undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes are moving into the meat of the Big Ten schedule.  They visit Illinois today for what should be their toughest challenge yet.

Demetri McCamey

Every Buckeye basketball fan remembers “The Shot” by Matt Sylvester that catapulted the Buckeyes to an upset win over no. 1-ranked Illinois in Thad Matta’s first season as Ohio State’s coach.  This year, the roles are reversed, with the Buckeyes carrying the no. 1 ranking into the game, but that is where the similarities end.  Illinois is a far more talented, experienced team than the upset-minded Buckeyes of six years ago.  The Fighting Illini are led by Demetri McCamey, the sturdy senior guard who leads the team in scoring and assists.  Another senior, Mike Tisdale, anchors the Illini in the middle, leads the team in rebounding, and likes to shoot from the outside.  Illinois also has lots of depth and recently beat always-tough Michigan State behind 20 points from sophomore guard Brandon Paul.

Aaron Craft

The Illini will be the best team the Buckeyes have played so far, and Assembly Hall clearly will be the toughest venue the Buckeyes have visited.  Although previews of the game have focused on how Illinois will defend Jared Sullinger, I think the bigger question is how freshman Aaron Craft will fare bringing the ball up court in the din created by the Illinois student section.  In the Big Ten, the good teams usually feature battle-tested seniors who know what it is like to play in hostile environments on the road.  Craft has been excellent this season, but he has not yet faced a crucial game played in a deafening arena.  Another interesting question will be how Coach Matta uses defensive ace David Lighty, and whether we will see Lighty defend McCamey.  And I expect that the Buckeyes will need good outside shooting from Jon Diebler and William Buford to loosen up the middle for Sullinger.

The tip is at noon today.

Edited to add:  In a fantastic game of runs and counter-runs, the Buckeyes overcame a second-half deficit, tightened up their defense, knocked down their free throws down the stretch, and came out on top over Illinois.  Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft were huge contributors, as was Deshaun Thomas, who came off the bench to spark the Buckeyes in the second half.  Ohio State is now 20-0, but the task doesn’t get any easier.  Next up is Purdue on Tuesday night.

The Buckeyes Begin The Big Ten

The basketball preseason is over, and now the real season — that is, the Big Ten season — is beginning.  Ohio State plays its first conference game tonight, traveling to Bloomington to play the Indiana Hoosiers.

The Buckeyes are undefeated, 13-0, and are ranked second in national polls.  The team clearly has a lot of talent and a lot of promise.  The core of the team is four experienced players — David Lighty, Jon Diebler, William Buford, and Dallas Lauderdale — and they have played well so far.  Those four players give the Buckeyes  firepower from the perimeter, a player who can take the ball to the rack, tough defenders, and a shot blocker.  And Ohio State’s freshman class — particularly Jared Sullinger — has made a huge contribution, too.  Sullinger appears to be a complete package post player who knows all the post moves, rebounds well, and can dish when he is double-teamed.  His classmates Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas also have made their mark and have given Ohio State both depth and a spark off the bench.  Coach Thad Matta and his assistants have worked hard to experiment with lineups, spread playing time among the talent, and get the team to play tough defense, which will be crucial during Big Ten crunch time.

The big question for this team, right now, is “how good are they”?  The Buckeyes really haven’t been tested yet, and while they have played some quality teams — Florida, Florida State, and South Carolina among them — they have not played a down-to-the-wire game yet.  That will happen in the Big Ten, and the jury is still out on how the team will handle the pressure.  In the meantime, the Buckeyes will need to take it one game at a time.  They cannot afford to stumble on the road against a team like Indiana, which has struggled and should have difficulty matching up against the Buckeyes.

Carving Up The Gators

Tonight Ohio State’s men’s basketball team passed a tough early-season test, and did so in impressive fashion.  The Buckeyes carved up the Florida Gators in the second half and won going away, 93-75.

The first half was entertaining.  Ohio State played well on offense but was soft on defense, and Florida took advantage.  It seemed like every Florida player made a hook shot from the low post, and Florida ended the half ahead 41-38.  The second half was a different story, and the story started on defense.  Ohio State pressured the ball and stepped out on Florida players all over the court.  The Buckeyes forced some turnovers, and then put on a clinic on offense.  Jared Sullinger and David Lighty sliced up the Gators down low, and William Buford, Jon Diebler, and Aaron Craft knocked down open shots.  In all, Ohio State scored 55 points — 55 points! — in the second half and notched a very memorable win.

What can we take from this early season game?  I wouldn’t draw too many definitive conclusions, but some things seems clear.  First, Jared Sullinger is good.  He doesn’t play like a freshman, and his presence will help Jon Diebler and William Buford get more open shots.  He seems to have the full package of low-post moves and displays a nice, soft shot.  Second, David Lighty had improved tremendously during his collegiate career, and he is just a fun player to watch.  He hustles, he plays great defense, and he is fearless taking the ball to the rack.  Third, Aaron Craft doesn’t seem to play like a freshman, either.  Florida threw a variety of presses and traps at him, and he handled them well.  Get this — Craft played 29 minutes bringing the ball up against a pressing defense in a hostile arena in his first away game as a college student, and he committed only three turnovers.

If the Florida game is any indication, Ohio State’s inside-outside game will pose some real challenges for its opponents.  But the season is young, so we shouldn’t get carried away.  In the meantime, we’ll just enjoy the sweet taste of some fresh Gator meat.

The Basketball Season Begins

Tomorrow night the Ohio State men’s basketball team plays its first game, against North Carolina A&T.  It will begin what is likely to be one of the most interesting Buckeye basketball seasons in many years.

Ohio State fans celebrate last year's Big Ten championship

Evan Turner, the junior stud who led Ohio State’s team last season, is gone to the NBA.  He leaves behind four experienced players — Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and William Buford — who were Iron Men in last year’s run to the Big Ten championship.  They will be joined by a number of highly touted freshmen.  (It is a Thad Matta-coached team, after all!)  The freshmen include Jared Sullinger, a 6′ 9″ forward who was a consensus high school All-American, Aaron Craft, a multi-dimensional point guard, guards Jordan Sibert and Lenzelle Smith Jr., and forwards Deshaun Thomas and J.D. Weatherspoon.  The task for Coach Matta and his staff will be to fit the talented pieces together and get the team ready for a schedule that includes games at Florida and Florida State and a Big Ten that features hard-nosed, veteran teams like perennial Final Four contestant Michigan State and Illinois.

Ohio State’s freshman class is impressive, but you win in the Big Ten with toughness and experience.  Ohio State’s four returning starters bring those qualities to the team.  Last year I was particularly impressed by David Lighty’s fearless ability to take the ball to the bucket and break down the defense; Ohio State fans will be hoping that he continues to do so this year and manages to avoid the injuries that have dogged him during his career.  William Buford and Jon Diebler also displayed real talent — Buford, as the silky scorer and able defender, and Diebler as the long-range gunner who threw many a three-point dagger at opponents.  Lauderdale was the dogged shot blocker on defense.

In prior years, Coach Matta has shown a great ability to blend new players into a strong rotation.  This year, he needs to identify a true point guard.  The Buckeyes will be hoping that freshman Aaron Craft can handle the ball at the point — an assignment that asks a lot of a youngster who is facing hostile Big Ten venues for the first time.  They also will be looking to Jared Sullinger to contribute scoring, ball-handling, and passing from the low post.  If Craft can get the ball past the half court line and Sullinger can suck the defense down low before feeding Lighty, Buford, and Diebler, Ohio State could have a season to remember.

Thanks For The Memories

Last night the Buckeyes fell short in their bid for the Elite 8, falling to Tennessee 76-73.  It was a tough, back-and-forth game, but ultimately Tennessee’s outright dominance of the boards, free throw shooting, and flypaper defense on Buckeye sharpshooter Jon Diebler carried them to a narrow victory.  The Volunteers deserve credit for playing a tough game, beating a very good team, and earning their first trip ever to the Elite 8.

The Buckeyes and fans celebrate after beating Illinois

As for Ohio State, we hoped they would win, but they didn’t — and now their season is suddenly over.  Although it ended with a loss (a result that will happen for all but one team in the NCAA Tournament) that fact should not detract from an excellent season.

Evan Turner, who played his heart out last night, clearly is one of the best players in the country. Buckeyes fans will long remember his excellent play this year and his gritty and speedy return from a serious back injury; we will recall with special relish his last-second three-pointer to stun Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.  William Buford and David Lighty both stepped up their games this year, on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court, all the while playing virtually every minute of every game for the short-handed Buckeyes.  Dallas Lauderdale also improved his game and was an intimidating shot-blocking force on defense.  And although Jon Diebler had a difficult game last night, his pinpoint three-point shooting  was a key ingredient that helped propel Ohio State on its end-of-the-season run to a share of the Big Ten regular season championship, the Big Ten Tournament title, and the Sweet 16 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Kudos, too, to Coach Thad Matta and his staff for producing an exciting season and a team of young men who were fine representatives of The Ohio State University.  Coaching at the major college level is not easy — Coach Matta just makes it look that way.