Ohio State Basketball: Media Day Notes

By Kyle Rowland on October 10, 2013 at 7:00p
The 2013-14 Buckeyes.

Thad Matta is entering his 10th season as Ohio State’s head coach, and at media day on Thursday, he took a moment to reflect on the trajectory of the program. He said he remembers telling recruits soon after his hiring that the Buckeyes were at rock bottom. It didn’t matter, though, because Matta had a vision.

During the past nine seasons, Ohio State has won five Big Ten regular-season championships, four Big Ten Tournament titles and advanced to two Final Fours. The momentum that helped lead to that success began just months after he was hired.

The Buckeyes won 20 games during Matta’s first season, including a win over undefeated top-ranked Illinois. One of the best recruiting classes in college basketball history was signed shortly thereafter, and as they say, the rest is history.

This summer, the players that played under Matta at Ohio State hosted a surprise party for the coach. He called it one of the greatest days of his life. Nine years later, Matta prides himself on elevating the Buckeyes into a national power and doing so the right way.

In less than a month, Season 10 gets under way.


  • Matta said Lenzelle Smith needs to be a more consistent three-point shooter and improve on his assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Ohio State has two true freshmen this season – Marc Loving and Kam Williams. Matta said he was taken aback at how adept each of them have been in practice. Sam Thompson said they’re better scorers than defenders at this point. Added that they’ve already shown great improvement in two weeks.
  • Matta classified himself as very excited for the upcoming season. Aaron Craft said he believes the team could be better than last year’s squad that advanced to the Elite Eight.
  • With the loss of Deshaun Thomas, there’s a lot of focus on who will replace his scoring. The top candidate is LaQuinton Ross. Matta said he would prefer one guy takes over that role. He said it’s easier than having a scoring by committee offense.
  • Matta said he likes the flow of the offense in practice. He believes Ross needs the right attitude to be the player everyone expects.
  • Craft completely overhauled his shot during the offseason. Chris Jent and Greg Paulus were his sources in the project. Craft said it was an intense spring and summer, but he feels much more confident in his shot.
  • Practice has been chippy at times. Craft said he loves that, though. It shows the guys are competitive.
  • One year from now, Craft said he hopes to be playing in the NBA.
  • Thompson said he shot “a bunch of shots” every day to improve his shot. He’s a guy that will be called on on offense this year, and he knows it. Thompson said he’s always been confident in his shot.
  • Ross said he put on weight over the summer. He’s up to 225 from 215 last season. Ross said the Big Ten requires you to play physical, so he needed to bulk up.
  • Ross said he’ll play with his back to the basket to create mismatches. His primary position will be a stretch 4, but he said he’ll play the 5 some when Ohio State goes to a small lineup.
  • The most consistent player during the first two weeks of practice has been Amadeo Della Valle, according to Ross.
  • Smith said it was frustrating last season at times when he’d play great defense for 35 seconds only to have Thomas shoot the ball four seconds into the shot clock. He said as good as Thomas’s offense was, it created good and bad.
  • When Ross gets the ball inside the three-point line, Smith said he can be unstoppable. Said he has a spin move that’s almost unguardable.
  • The team defense could be outstanding this season. Smith said they’re already putting in presses. A lot of that is due to having so many veterans. Smith said it’s noticeable guys know what’s going on this season. Most veteran team OSU has had since 2010-11.
  • Amir Williams is still in the 240ish range. Looks skinny. He said he’s prepared for the physical Big Ten, though. Williams said having a full season under his belt as a starter helps. Now he knows what to expect each night in the conference. Sometimes they call fouls, sometimes they don’t. He said playing through contact is the most important thing.
  • Williams said he’s totally confident in the post. He worked on his conditioning during the offseason, because he figures the offense will play very fast.
  • Williams called Craft the “heart and soul” of the team.
  • Year 1 in Columbus was extremely hard on Della Valle. He said he was close to going back to Italy because he didn’t feel like he’d compete for Ohio State.
  • This summer was a big confidence booster. He hit multiple game-winning shots in the Euro Championships and led Italy to its first gold medal in 30 years.
  • Della Valle said it really changed his demeanor and made him excited for the season. Said he’s been working with teammates since he arrived back in Columbus.


Seattle Linga's picture

Q is going to have the season of dreams in 13-14

skid21's picture

I can't get past the fact Matta has been here 10 years. Wow, how time flies. I love the guy and think he will bring us a NC.

ibuck's picture

Skid, from your lips to God's ear !

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

bucksfan92's picture

I know he will bring us a Title as well. Quite possibly multiple titles.  Matta has finally acheived the consistency that we have been wanting for so long.  No more down years in between the good ones, just steady, great to fantastic seasons.  And between regular season and the B1GT, he has 9 B1G titles in 9 years.  Think about that for a minute.  
I am very excited for basketball season, the first game is less than a month away!

bergy22's picture

I think this team will be very good defensively again. Might struggle to score points though. Hopefully Lenzelle, Craft, and Williams all have better offensive years to take some of the scoring pressure for Ross.
This team has a good makeup of length, athleticism, and attitude. Good mix of veterans and younger players. Could be a special year!

GABuckeye's picture

Thompson will be scoring double digits this year..... 

RedStorm45's picture

I'm not sold on this team (compared to others in the Matta era).
There is absolutely nothing to get excited about down low.  I see a lot of one or two dimensional guards everywhere.  Maybe it works.  But who are you confident in scoring when you need a bucket? The list is pretty short.

GOSUBUcks's picture

You're only thinking offense. Our defense is what excites me. Everyone who was productive on defense last year is returning and they are all veterans. They should be able to keep us in every game unless the offense just absolutely doesn't show up

ibuck's picture

I like balanced scoring, so the opponent's defense can't just key on one guy. So I don't understand this comment:

With the loss of Deshaun Thomas, there’s a lot of focus on who will replace his scoring. The top candidate is LaQuinton Ross. Matta said he would prefer one guy takes over that role. He said it’s easier than having a scoring by committee offense.

I can understand preferring one go-to guy when you need the tying or go-ahead shot. (But usually there's a plan B if they double- or triple-team that guy.) Is that what Matta meant?

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

ibuck's picture

Follow up from Doug Lesmerises / Cleveland.com

Thad Matta said Thursday what he says every year, that he prefers a balanced offense with lots of guys who score. So Ross doesn't need to score nearly 20 per game, as Thomas did.


Ross should get plenty of chances to prove that. It'll help his team if he doesn't take more than his fair share of chances.
“If they come with the double team, it's just a simple pass, pass the ball,” Ross said. “I'm not going to be a (black) hole down there. I'm not going to force anything this year. I'm going to take the shots I'm given and hopefully knock them down.”

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

bdegroff's picture

I would like to see if Amir's post game has improved. I hope he is able to catch the ball and finish with out fouling. It would be nice to see him get more than two minutes into a game.
Craft working on his shot is encouraging! Ross gaining 10 pounds is very encouraging.
Hopefully the team runs more press D. Easy points off of turnovers!

German Buckeye's picture

I don't want to see any stat lines this year on Williams of 0 points, 1 rebound and 3 TO (like happened too many times last year). Hope he worked on a LOT of things this summer. 

Deadly Nuts's picture

There is a very, very good chance we are undefeated going into B1G play... Our only threat is Marquette. 


thatlillefty's picture

Not sure when B1G play starts, but we also play Notre Dame some 'round Christmas. That would be a good win for the schedule.

buckeyewiseman's picture

I think the league winner is going to have 3-4 BIG 10 losses, like the past couple years. It's just SO hard to win on the road night in and night out with fan bases like we have in this league! I definitely think the Bucks can win the conference though for sure.

sb97's picture

I would like to see Della Valle get a real shot at PT this year.  I would hate to see him leave because Matta plays a short bench.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Matta didn't really play a short bench last season, though.

Urban Ohio's picture

Q down low and DV3 from downtown, I'm starting to get excited about this Buckeye team.

Newcomerstown Trojans between Woody and Beaver.

chicagobuckeye's picture

Why is there a white guy in the middle? We're definitely going to lose every game because of it.
EDIT: Also, funny to see how everyone reacts to team pics differently.

captain obvious's picture

Looks like we could use another true Big

I'm a friend of thunder is it any wonder lightning strikes me

skid21's picture


Smith said it was frustrating last season at times when he’d play great defense for 35 seconds only to have Thomas shoot the ball four seconds into the shot clock. He said as good as Thomas’s offense was, it created good and bad.

Nutinpa's picture

While I understand the point Smith is making, considering the number of bricks LSJ put up from the perimeter, he should have been glad that Thomas was shooting as much as he did.
There were times DT was the only guy on that team who could score for big stretches of time until Q found his rhythm late in the season.

Buckidelphia's picture

Great article, thanks!

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Love Matta and love the kids on this team BUT ... think the bucks are going to be offensively challenged (Smith, Thomas and Craft are just not consistent scoring threats) aside from Ross and unless Williams made a HUGE leap in confidence and ability over the summer we may have problems down low.  MacDonald plays with a lot of heart but is far from a true center.  Would be nice if Della Valle turns out to be a Diebler kind of player and knocks down a lot of three's this season.  Can't wait for the season to start, will attend some of the games, watch all of them, and I bet this will be one of the best lock-down defensive units in the country.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

edr4225's picture

this team is gonna be very good defensively, but just like last year, it needs offense.  hopefully mattta opens up that bench and gets loving, williams and Della Valle some miinutes.  

lets go bucks!!

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

I have a feeling Della Valle will be a contributor this season. He played very well in Europe and in the picture above he looks much stronger.

theOSUdug's picture

Couldn't be happier with Thad as a coach and mentor for these young Buckeyes.  Man, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that party the OSU basketball alums threw for Thad.....

OSUFlash's picture

Viva Italian!