About Thad Matta - Can we Talk Seriously?

baddogmaine's picture
January 4, 2013 at 9:22a
107 Comments

I had some time to kill before the Fiesta Bowl so put on ESPN2 hoping to see the Wildcats make a basketball game of it. All during the early portions of the broadcast - which was as long as I could bear to watch AACC cruising - the announcers were absolutely gushing over the scUM sophomore point guard. And truth to tell Trey Burke deserves it - he is playing at a very high level. At this point there is no question who the best point guard in the B1G is, and it isn't Aaron Craft.

Burke is a really depressing story for a Buckeye fan and not just because he is making our enemy so good. What is really tormenting is that Burke is from Columbus. Columbus Ohio. And the biggest reason he is not playing his college ball in Columbus is that OSU did not recruit him. Not an offer, not even a serious look. Recruiting is an imperfect science: there are five stars who turn out to be frauds; there are no stars to turn out to have game. Burke could have been a high school ugly duckling who turned out to be a swan. Only he wasn't. He was the 2011 Ohio high school Mr. Basketball and a PARADE All-American. He signed with Michigan before that, but also before that he was already a major part of one of the country's best high school teams. In Columbus. He was on national radar. And Matta ignored him. (At least that is how I remember it. If I'm wrong please correct me. But a Columbus kid with connections to Sullinger does not give a verbal to Penn State and end up in Ann Arbor as Burke did if he is being pursued by Ohio State.)

There are only so many spots on a roster and a coach can't get everyone. We already had Aaron Craft and had no need to replace him quickly. But still, how do you let a player like Burke walk away without trying to get him? If Burke doesn't mind playing behind Craft why should Matta mind? You don't think the Buckeyes with Burke would be better than the Buckeyes without him? You don't think that stopping a Columbus to anyplace-but-Columbus pipeline before it gets started isn't a good idea? Matta just flat out blew it.

Matta knew for a 100% certainty that after the 2011 season he was going to need to replace Buford. He knew to a 95% certainty that he would need to replace Sullinger. And he knew that no one he had brought in off the bench in 2011 had been an adequate back-up for Craft. And Matta's response was to bring to Columbus but one player - an Italian kid who could hit threes if no one else was in the gym but had never learned defense, never played the kind of physical ball he would be facing in America, and now appears to be almost a complete bust.

The current roster has but one senior on it, and Evan Ravenel came by transfer. No one Matta recruited for the class of 2013 is still on the roster. Where are they? either they left and we don't miss them, in which case they probably should not have been recruited in the first place; or they left because they were unhappy, and player unhappiness is at least in part due to coaching.

After this year Matta knows 100% that he will need to replace Ravenel and 95% that he will need to replace Thomas. He has questions at center. Next year's team has some serious needs. So far the only good news for 2013 recruiting seems to be a 6'2" shooting guard who will add scoring which is good, and may well be the Burke he is not letting get away, which is good, but in terms of size Williams duplicates the only spot where the team is solid. Matta has a lot of work to do if he wants the 2013-4 team to be competitive.

Matta is touted as a great recruiter but it's not clear that that has ever been true.  Give him credit for attracting Conley, Oden, Kosta, Mullens and Sullinger to Columbus. Yes, these were GREAT recruits. Over the years he has also brought in the  Dieblers and Lightys - guys who were not spectacular but who contributed to strong starting fives. These were really really good recruits. The Buckeyes have had strong starting fives during the Matta years. But what we haven't had is much past the starting five. Few coaches at an elite level have traditionally used as few players as Matta.  Buckeye rosters have too often been filled with players not good enough to play at times when they were needed. Smith became a good starter in 2011 but the year before he was mostly unusable. This year is still quite young but so far no one off the bench except Scott has proven to be more than adequate, and not even whoever Matta starts at center has been better than adequate offensively.

Nor is it clear that Matta's player development has been all that good. Right now only six Buckeyes who played under Matta are in the NBA. Kosta, Conley and Sullinger were going to be pros whoever they played for. Maybe Matta made them better, maybe not. Cook and Mullens saw little playing time while in college, their success has little to do with Matta's coaching. Only Turner was turned into a pro by Matta. Lighty, Buford, Diebler - four years of Matta coaching did not make any of them good enough to stick, and Lighty did not even get drafted.

Matta has unquestionably made the team consistently better than it had been before him. This is not a close call. The question is what kind of success one is looking for. A few weeks ago I suggested that Brad Stevens is doing a better coaching job than Matta. They both have Butler experience and Stevens has a better record there than Matta had. Matta has brought wining basketball to a "football school," but that football school has the second biggest sports budget in college; is part of a premier conference with premier competition; and gets steady television exposure. Getting top talent to Columbus is relatively easy. Stevens was in a league with no exposure, weak competition, a school without great amenities; has never had a one-and-done, has had few players who were heavily recruited coming out of high school - and has molded teams of unknowns into two national championship game participants, one that had the last shot to win.

I also suggested that Florida might have football and basketball coaches at least as good as OSU's and was told that Matta's record is better than Billy Donovan's. True, but Donovan has two rings. One of them obtained in a head-to-head battle against Matta. Is it enough for Buckeye fans that our teams win 77% of our games? Is it enough that we win the B1G? Do those outweigh early exits in the NCAA? It's a matter of taste.

Why we lose early can be a difficult question to answer definitively but one possibility is that Matta simply is not flexible. He has a preferred style of offense and sticks with it - and with the players implementing it - however well prepared for it the opponent is, however poorly a player is doing. Jim Boeheim gives up his beloved zone defense more often than Matta moves away from his beloved offense. Sports Illustrated columnist Seth Davis often lets his ego get in the way of his objectivity but I think his recent assessment of OSU is spot on: "This is as good a perimeter defensive team as you will find, but Ohio State's lack of offensive versatility is putting too much pressure on its D." He thinks the wheels are about to come off.

This is not about whether Matta was a good hire - he was. This is not about whether Matta is a good coach - he is. This is certainly not a call for his firing (I'm still trying to understand the mindset of Chicago Bears ownership who fired a coach that got them 10 wins. What proven winner is on the market? That to me looks like a team ready to implode completely.) This is about whether he is maximizing potential, whether OSU basketball under Matta is as good as it can be. I think Matta is a good coach, a very good coach. But I don't think he has earned a right to be above criticism. I'd gladly give up a few B1G wins for an NC ring or two. I'd even settle for playing in two NC games in five years. I'd like to see hustling role players learning teamwork. I'd like to see more Turners, who come to Columbus rough and leave as professionals. Those to me are how to measure elite coaches. And wanting such things does not mean I am never and will never be satisfied - they mean that for all Matta's successes I think he is falling short of what an OSU coach can accomplish. And I'd like to see those things accomplished.

Comments

buckeye_baker's picture

Diebler isn't spectacular? Big Ten 3 point record? Big Ten single game 3 point record? You have pretty high standards.

"I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying." -Woody Hayes

Buckeye2005's picture

It looks like Bad Dog's standard is success in the NBA.  And using that as a standard, Diebler isn't spectacular. 

baddogmaine's picture

First of all success in the NBA is not my only criterion. As I state clearly I value programs that take kids who never had a chance of becomming a pro and help them to improve, and getting a chance to see how they do in games. What do you think my comments on Brad Stevens and Butler mean? But from that standpoint I am troubled by a coach who seemingly does not help to develop everyone. Year after year OSU box scores list only seven names once conference play starts - why is that? Not every player on the roster is going to be good, but everyone recruited to a school that can be selective about who it takes should be good enough to get some playing time. And if not then that says something about who Matta selects. Matta's approach is to focus fairly quickly on a startuing five and a sub or two and leave the rest of the roster as cheerleaders. He does this to a greater degree than do other coaches at "elite" schools. A lot of players transfer away from OSU - why? Alex Rogers is a junior who generated no statistics before this year, and this year has 15 minutes of playing time. On a team that is playing cupcakes and blowing them out. Jake Lorbach is a sophomore who generated no statistics before this year, and this year has one minute of court time, though there has been "junk time" in most of our games. Della Valle has 74 minutes of PT in 13 games - that's less than 6 minuts per. McDonald has 84 minutes - that is 6 minutes per.   And this is with a short roster and more use of the bench than typical for Matta - in other years half the roster or more see little or no PT. Is that what college basketball should be?  (And again, if these guys really are no good and should transfer to a worse school what does it say about Matta's recruiting that half his kids are busts?)
But neither is NBA success irrelevant. The One-and-dones go to college because they are not allowed to go directly to the pros. Many of the rest go to college because at least to some degree they hope that the coach and environment they have selected will give them the necessary training that at the end of four years they will be good enough. You think playing in the NBA was irrelevant to Diebler or Lighty or Buford? All of them had pro potential. And yes, Diebler's college career as a shooter was spectacular. But for some reason all of them left OSU not good enough. I'm quite certain that if professors in the law school or med school kept turnig out students who did well in college labs but could not pass entrace exams they would be considered less than excellent as professors.

Smanpoint10's picture

Rogers and Lorbach are walk-ons. can you name one school where walk-ons get significant playing time?

Dr. House's picture

At the risk of being down voted
Butler's Alex Barlow 
 

Smanpoint10's picture

i am not sure if he is still a walk on and if he is he has been in the program for a couple years.

Bolt's picture

Is this a joke? Lorbach and Rogers are walkons...walkons don't play at any school. If they do it's some kind of bizarro scenario. Name me a coach you respect then. You clearly cannot respect John Calipari, Coach K, Roy Williams, etc. Those coaches pull in the top recruits in the country every year based on their school's name. Every player that comes to play for UK, Duke and Carolina should go pro. Clearly those guys aren't maximizing their players' potential. They don't win the national title every single year despite bringing in these top players so they're clearly not good and overrated coaches. Roy Williams' greatest player, Tyler Hansbrough, it can be argued made no progress over his 4 years and even statistically regressed in some degrees, so he's terrible at player development. Also, none of these coaches progressed their walkons into starters and contributors, which for some reason means they're not doing their job well enough. 
How many players have transferred away from Ohio State? Did you see how bad Jordan Sibert turned out to be? He was supposed to be a shooter and couldn't hit a thing. That was not just Thad picking a bad player...he was a consensus top 50 player by everyone. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Weatherspoon was brought in as an athletic project. It became clear that we had players come in and were just as athletic and better basketball players. The writing was on the wall, he transferred unfortunately, because he wanted to be a significant player which he would never be in the Big Ten. Noopy Crater? That guy was a total a-hole who didn't get along with anyone, thought he should be the star player from day one and left when Matta told him he's not "the man". He later left and fell off the map into obscurity. He was also a top 100 recruit by almost everyone, so don't say Thad just picked a bad player. Della Valle and McDonald are two players that are not quite ready to play at the Big Ten level. Not every player turns out to be a one and done stud. In the NBA, college and high school basketball not every player on the squad plans out 1-12 and not every player is a stud. You have some guys that will sit the bench, grow, develop and contribute later on. 
We don't have the luxury of having the name UK, Duke, UNC, Kansas, etc. already set up for Thad. When Thad got here the name Ohio State had no significance in college basketball. Now Ohio State might not be at that very pinnacle of those other blue bloods but we aren't far behind and that is all because of Thad Matta. Give him time and he will likely join that level of elite bluebloods where Ohio State can just sit back and recruit off of their name.

d5k's picture

While I agree down votes for "opinions" are overused, I think this is an exception.  Criticizing Matta for not playing walk-ons is blatant trolling.

AndyVance's picture

Diebler was a one-dimensional player, unfortunately. Legendary 3-ball shooter? Check. Competent defender? Not in a million years. Being a longball specialist is a notoriously streaky task, but when Deebs was off his game, his whole game fell apart.
I'd wager that if you went back and figured the point differential between what Deebs scored and what he allowed his opponent to score, you'd be very surprised at just how bad he was on the other end of the court.
(This in and of itself neither supports nor disputes the OP's hypothesis, btw, just my humble observation on this one player.)

d5k's picture

Ugh, you are completely ignoring the contagion effects from having the threat of Diebler.  Sullinger and Turner had POY type years partially because of Diebler's +/- effect.  And he wasn't as bad a defender as you suggest.  Diebler's senior year he was the #1 efficient offensive player in the country.

OldColumbusTown's picture

This.
I don't have enough time or patience to really respond with all my thoughts about the OP's orginal argument, but I do want to point something out that apparently not everyone can comprehend.
Matta has a system he likes to play.  YES.  Every single successful college basketball coach is the same.  Thad recruits players who fit into that system.  He tried like crazy to get that post presence in last year's recruiting class (Coleman, Parker, and so on), but could not.  It happens sometimes, especially when you're competing with Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, UCLA, and what is now possibly the toughest recruiting opponent in CBB history, Kentucky.
Therefore, he currently has a group of young and mostly inexperienced players who may not completely fit his system at this time.  If Sibert had panned out as the shooter to replace Diebler, and Sullinger was still here or Matta had nabbed somebody else as that low-post presence, we'd be hearing a different tune right now.
He plays the 4-out, 1-in system on offense.  He likes aggressive, switching, man-to-man defense.  This year's team, defensively, is exactly what he wants.  Offensively, not so much.  But again, it is so hard when you "miss" on a kid who you expected to play a vital role on your team.  Diebler was the perfect, perfect player for that in his last 3 years at OSU.  He spaced the floor for Sullinger as a post man, and for Turner, Lighty, Buford as slashers.  He made it so much easier for others to score by occupying a help defender.
I could continue to ramble, but I won't..

Bolt's picture

No kidding. Diebler was not the quickest but he was a solid defender based on his knowledge of the game (something that is coached) and his competence on where to be and when. I remember reading nationally published from SI or ESPN talking about how Ohio State was probably the best defensive team in the country and that Jon Diebler, even though he doesn't look like it based on appearance is actually a strong and smart defender and averaged like less than a foul per game or something ridiculous like that. Players that are out of position or simply cannot keep up regularly commit fouls. Diebler's defense isn't likely to transfer to the NBA because it's more of an isolation one on one game than a help and rotation game. 
Also consider that our offense was as strong as it was that year just because of having Diebler on the floor. He was a veteran senior who didn't turn the ball over much and Thad always raved about his abilities as a post entry passer. Go back to any game that season and you'll see any time the would go to a post entry play to Sullinger it was Diebler entering the ball both because he was an excellent post entry passer and his man could never leave him for a split second. I found it extraordinarily annoying when people would talk about how much Sully regressed last year when it was more so that he just started taking on double and triple teams that weren't there all the previous season...most of which because Diebler's man could never ever leave him for a second. He was a total game changer on offense and was more than competent on defense.

Bolt's picture

This might be the worst analysis of Jon Diebler I've ever heard. Your assessment of Diebler is even more one dimensional than your perception of him, unfortunately. I challenge you to go look up that stat you just mentioned because you will surprise yourself. Also, being over 50% from the 3-pt line is not streaky. Considering how many 3s he shot, that is historically great.

AndyVance's picture

My point is simply that the 3-point game is notorious for being streaky because they are such high-risk, high-reward shots. Wataching Deebs over his seasons, it appeared to my apparently untrained eye that when he wasn't sinking his shots, he was far less effective in every other aspect of his game.
No one - me included - questioned the amazing success in aggregate with which he sank 3-point shots.

d5k's picture

Uh, untrained eye.  Yes.
Amazing success, also agree.
By your definition of streaky, every non-dunk, non-free throw in college basketball is streaky.  Diebler made highly contested 3's more consistently than some of our current guys make 10 footers.

AndyVance's picture

Life lesson learned for the day: questioning the legend of Deebs is tantamount to telling someone their baby is ugly or that Gordon > Earnhardt. Good to know.

btalbert25's picture

People weren't in love with Diebler his jr year.  I remember people on here complaining about him all the time.  His senior year he turned out being really good for the team.  Evan Turner, though, did not have a player of the year type season because of the threat Diebler presented from the 3 point line.  That year Diebler just wasn't that good.  Everyone remembers senior Deebs but doesn't acknowledge what came before that. 

AndyVance's picture

For the latter part of the Tressel years, I was frustrated a lot because I love Tress, and I had a few friends who complained about him all the time. I couldn't see what there was to complain about - we were awesome, and while losing to Florida and LSU hurt, I still thought these friends were crazy.
Now I sort of get their problem, because while Matt's is clearly one of the most wildly successful coaches in the game, there are things I see as a fan that big me, and I think he could be better; I don't think he's Bobby Knight or Bill Self yet, in other words. Simply sharing that opinion, though, obviously makes me and idiot or worse in the eyes of some otherwise rational folks, I guess.
I think it ultimately comes down to this: we become fans of something, be it a player, a team, a coach, a NASCAR driver or a brand of sports car (Mustang vs. Camaro vs. Charger, anyone?), and we don't want to hear anyone else bad mouth our choice. I get that, because it's a perfectly natural reaction.

Bolt's picture

DON'T YOU TALK ABOUT DALE LIKE THAT!

AndyVance's picture

For the record, I would always say:

  • #3 > #24
  • Camaro > Mustang
  • Deere > Case IH

...and for good measure, M*ch*g*n still sucks!

Bolt's picture

You might as well be speaking Greek to me, my man. 
Eff Blue.

Poison nuts's picture

Well I agree on Dale & Deere but.....Mustang rules dangit!!!
Also - Ttun bad.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

Donovan had one phenomenal recruiting class. Notice he hasn't been near the same since. Matta has had 2 great classes (Oden/Sullinger) and I beleive he will have more. I'm not convinced Donovan will ever sniff the Final Four again (and it wouldn't break my heart in the least bit). I believe Matta has another Final 4 run in him. Maybe 2. The Buckeyes are always competitive under him. Florida has had some mediocre seasons under Donovan. Doesnt mean Matta is bad a coach.
And Diebler, once he started turning it on after his freshman year, was the most exciting shooter I've ever seen at OSU. I think the B1G would beg to differ with you on the "spectacular" comment. And didnt Diebler torch Florida at Florida in 2010-11?

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

btalbert25's picture

I hate Billy Donovan, but he's done more than just had one great recruiting class. It was his Florida team that MSU beat in the title game with Mateen Cleaves and Moe Pete.  Also, the last 2 years they've made the elite 8.  Last year Louisville made a huge comeback to take the game  at the very end.  So, I don't think it's true that he won't sniff a final four again.  Back to back Elite 8s is pretty good. 

kareemabduljacobb's picture

Yeah, 3bler was the man!  So he missed on Burke, he landed Shannon Scott who was supposed to be the better PG and not sure we would want 3 PGs on our team.  Remember, Burke was originally committed to PSU so he was still under the radar.  Doesn't really matter though, you can't expect to land everyone from your home state... and basketball wise, I'd much rather scour the nation for talent then the state of Ohio most years.

d5k's picture

Shannon Scott was much higher rated when he committed.  Burke didn't emerge as a blue-chip until his senior year after Sully left Northland.  He was committed to Penn State at the time when we got Scott's commitment.  Once Craft emerged as an all-B1G caliber PG, there was not a place for Burke given Scott's commitment in the same class and Craft only being 1 year older.
Look at Matta's record compared to every other OSU coach in history.  Look what he inherited and how quickly he turned it around.  He is so far above this sort of criticism that this blog post is a complete joke.

btalbert25's picture

That was my thought, they had Craft on board, who is a very good PG, and Scott was a McDonald's All American.  I don't have as bleak of an outlook for Ohio State's near future.  I was thinking while watching them the other night that the future is pretty bright.  Sure Thomas is gone, but I think Amir, Scott, Craft, Thompson, Ross, and Smith is a pretty nice core of players coming back next season.  
I know in the current climate the UK's of the world are the benchmark in recruiting.  We want guys to come in and just dominate from the get go, but it's just not always in the cards for some players.  Jr and Senior led teams with a lot of experience are very valuable to have.  I really believe things are looking pretty good.  This team has some improving to do this season, but it's still pretty early, and they could shape up to be a pretty nice squad. 
 

d5k's picture

Matta had a great comment the other night that recruiting classes should be judged based on meeting what the team needed that season.  We only had a couple scholarships and added 1 guy last year mostly because we weren't 100% that Sullinger was leaving.  We again have 1 senior and have a solid 2 man class coming in with 2 solid 4 star recruits.  Depending on the 2014 class, we could have a bunch of solid seniors (this year's sophomores) with some stud freshmen at that point.  So yea, we may not be a final 4 team next year but we will be competitive and poised to be even better the following year.
This program only trails the blue bloods in Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UConn and UNC (Michigan State about the same) if you look at tournament performance the last decade, other than Florida's 2 year NC run.  If you asked any OSU bball fan in 2003 "if the next coach is in the conversation with those teams in terms of success over the next decade, is he above petty criticisms?" I think the answer would be "YES!!!!!"
 

btalbert25's picture

I totally agree, and I actually think the potential is there for a 2013/2014 final four run.  Just depends if some of these fine sophomores improve and we get some real playmakers out of the guys.  That's what this team is struggling to find right now, that guy who can step up and help Deshaun out.  Someone could emerge this year and help take this team to the next level.  Next year, when this team is loaded with a seniors and jrs plus a couple quality recruits, they could be a VERY VERY good team. 

Bolt's picture

Exactly. One of the biggest problems Thad has had is player turnover year after year. He's never been able to establish any continuity in his program, which every year in my eyes makes a pretty darn good coaching job when its. Almost every year Thad seemingly has to start over with his team. We're seeing potentially for the first time Thad have a full class that will stay through their senior year with that soph class, which was a top 10 class itself. This sophomore class is going to be the core of the team for the next 3 years (this year included) along with certain recruits being sprinkled in. He's still going to recruit very good players to fill any voids on top of it in the coming classes.

btalbert25's picture

If you look at NCAA champions and final fours in general, it's typically the teams with experience who win it all.  Even last year's UK with 2 great young players wouldn't of won the title if not for Lamb, Jones, and Miller.  2 sophomores and a senior but all 3 of those players were on a final four team the year before.  Even that UK final four team was lead by Miller, Liggins, and Harrelson.  If not for the contributions of those 3 guys, that UK team may not have even made the tournament much less the final four. 
UConn wasn't the most talented or best team in 2011, but they had tough upperclassmen (Kemba Walker didn't hurt either) 2010 Duke was lead by guys like Scheyer and Singler.  UK was far and away the most talented team, but they depended on the contributions of 4 freshman and a sophomore.  We witnessed what happened when an incredibly talented freshman led team faces a team full of experienced guys who had played together for years.  Oden and company were great, but they couldn't get past that Florida team that was so talented and experienced.  The honestly didn't have a prayer in that game. 
I'm much more excited about having a guys from a great recuiting class coming back for a 3rd and 4th season than landing 4 guys who will be gone after one season. Talent and experience win titles, not just talent.  It takes a really really special bunch to win a title with only the contributions of freshman, and it's impossible to sustain success when you depend on turning over your roster every season.  

d5k's picture

Matta has recruited 3 high school players of the year (Oden, Mullens, Sullinger) but his 2 NCAA players of the year were outside the top 75 recruits (Evan Turner, David West).  Guys like Laquinton, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott are going to improve a lot by next season in my opinion.

baddogmaine's picture

But Thad hasn't really had a huge problem of player turn over, has he? First of all, I think there is a difference between players who leave because they are unhappy and players who leave for the NBA. Attrition due to unhappiness is a coaching issue or a recruiting issue (as in, should not have been recruited). And I think there is a difference between losing guys known to be One-and-done and guys who leave after second or third year - the former the coach plans for right from the start. Matta had a really good idea that he would have Conley, Oden, Kostas, Mullen and Sullinger for just one year each. As it happened, I expect  he got a year more out of Sully than he was counting on. What hurts a program is the guys who don't enter as stars and leave early - Cook and Turner are two who come to mind. And even Turner could not have been a real surprise, only Cook left Matta unprepared. Maybe Conley. And Conley and Cook were five years ago.
And so there has been a good amount of continuity. The team that lost to KY was senior-laden. Turner's team that lost to TN had been playing together for a while. Last year had only one senior but two others in their second year of starting (Craft came off the bench his freshman year but he had been the real starter) and Thomas who had had a lot of PT his freshman year - Matta only needed to fill in one hole in the starting line-up. Am I wrong?

Bolt's picture

Please tell me about this vast list of players who have left Ohio State because they're unhappy as opposed to going to the NBA. And if you include players like BJ Mullens and Kosta Koufos going pro because they were unhappy you're flat out wrong. They never had any intention of playing college ball, they just had to for a year. Even Mark Titus said as much in his book, saying everyone knew those guys didn't care about the team and were just biding their time until they could leave for the NBA. Koufos and Mullens also definitely were not ready along with Cook. Conley was a top 5 pick (and most definitely not considered a top 5 recruit, but what does it matter because Thad's terrible at development), so as long as you're a top 5 pick I'd say you're ready to go. 
Sibert and Weatherspoon didn't even leave due to unhappiness. In fact Thad very very clearly gave them opportunities that they did nothing with. He and those players spoke and they both felt it was in everyone's best interest to move on because neither was going to be a Big Ten caliber player.
Yes, Thad has had a lot of player turnover. It used to be the national perception that Thad had to keep starting over with a new mix of players, new stud young player because there'd be so much turnover and change. The team that lost to UK was certainly senior laden...but they were also the consensus #1 team in America all season. So you get to see what Thad can do with a core of 4 or so guys that stick around. That team was upset by UK because of a cold shooting night. That happens and that's the pitfall of a one and done tournament. That year Butler and UConn played for the title. Neither of those schools were anywhere near the top two teams in the country but benefitted from a one and done tourney. What can Thad do about shots just not falling one night? That team was by far the best in the country and should have won the title. In bball the best team often times doesn't even get to play for the title.
The last couple years, while we haven't had that one top 5/top 10 stud recruit, we have a core class of players that are actually all going to be sticking around and will allow Thad to develop the lineup for years. By the time the soph class are seniors along with other solid classes Thad brings in behind them, that is going to be a very strong and deep team that will push for a nat'l title. And for your final question, yes you are wrong. We had to fill the shoes of the two best scorers on the team (both of which were starters, not only replacing one starter). One of which was a national player of the year candidate and the undisputed key and identity of the team. They had to turn around this year and come out with a totally different gameplan, a totally different play style etc. These weren't just any players that we lost from last year.

baddogmaine's picture

Bolt, what is it you are trying to prove? You and your cronies can downvote me till the cows come home and you can't get rid of me, you only prove that you are too lazy to read or think. My post says CLEARLY that Matta took Kosta and Mullen knowing they were one and done. CLEARLY.
Second, I'm not talking about a vast list of unhappy players, I am distinguishing them from one-and-dones (though I am curious what  happened to the players who should be seniors, none of which were one-and-dones). My point is that Matta has NOT suffered an inordinate amount of turnover due to factors other than graduation. I have listed the players who contributed who I could think of who left early. Who  have I left off? I have offered my opinion that few of those departures should have taken Mata by surprise, he knew when he recruited them that he would need to be replacing them the next year. What about that is controversial?
If you're giving Matta a free ride for his losses then you need to adjust his wins for luck too. In which case Matta may be a very very lucky coach but not necessarily a good one. I don't take that position but it is what follows from using luck as an excuse.
If Matta is so good at recruiting talent and developing it then why did he get only four minutes out of his bench in the KY loss? I know we almost won without a bench but in that situation almost doesn't count for much.  Matta either couldn't or wouldn't sub for a guy who was destroying his team. Give me a reason fo rBuford staying on the floor for 37 minutes as attrociously as he was playing that makes sense other than "Thad must have known what he was doing" and I'll stop accusing Thad of not maximizing the 2010-11 team's potential. It's quite possible that that squad would not have won the NC but it sure as heack should have won more than two games!
We do not yet know how Matta will do with the 2012-13 team (I don't consider either the losses to two top 5 teams or wins over cream-filled patries illuminating) but answers will start being provided soon. I've made no predictions, please don't announce to the world what I think.
And we will soon know who will be on the roster for 2013-2014. If that roster looks to be stronger than I had been aware I am very glad to hear it.
 

d5k's picture

I know lots of people don't understand probability, this is not a sarcastic or critical comment.  But luck referring to a handful of games is different than luck referring to hundreds of games.  Flip a coin once and you have a 50% chance of being lucky in the sense that the result is better than what you expect (100% success rather than 50%).  But if you flip a coin 300 times, you are extremely likely to have very close to 150 heads and 150 tails.  In other words if you adjusted Matta's total wins for luck it might be 225 or 240, hard to tell but it isn't 150 or 300 (that would be a small fraction of 1% probability).  But if he was 75% to win against Kentucky, there is a 25% chance of Kentucky "getting lucky" or Thad getting "unlucky".  
As I love to do with probability I will make a poker example.  You have the coaching equivalent of pocket aces and you are basically being results oriented to the point of questioning the way you played pocket aces due to a handful of times where you lost your money with them.  In the long run a coach as good as Matta will have lots of success, but the tournament's single elimination structure will lead to years where we go farther than expected and years where we go less far.  You don't have enough sample from a statistical perspective to determine that Matta performs worse in the tournament than in conference for example.  So please just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Bolt's picture

I'm trying to prove that Thad Matta has done as good or better job as anyone could've given what he inherited. I'm debunking this idea that he's not quite doing a good enough job. I believe he's doing a fantastic job. 
I also have not downvoted you a single time. Because while I disagree with your criticisms, they are your opinion and I would not downvote for that.

Bolt's picture

I never said that you did say Mullens and Koufos, if you bother to read my statement. I'm just trying to figure out who the heck you're talking about when you talk about players that left because they were unjappy because Thad wasn't developing them properly. I just said please let me know who you're talking about, please explicitly tell me who...and it better not include both Mullens and Koufos as examples. We've had several key players leave early mixed in with a few transfers that affect depth and graduation as well. We've only had about two years out of Thad's entire tenure where Thad returned most to all of his key players. That happens in college basketball, I understand...especially when you're recruiting with the big boys. Honestly there really have only been two teams of Thad's that he was able to carry over style and strategy-wise from the previous year and have the luxury of continuity and not have to start over with a fresh crop of key players. I'm not saying this is some kind of shock or surprise...but one thing Matta proved is that he can hang with the Dukes and UNCs of the world by having national player of the year candidates move on and still be a 20-30 win team the following year. That's phenomenal. Not everyone does that. A very select few elite coaches and programs do that...and I don't think the name Ohio State is really up there as elite with all the other bluebloods.
As for the school of thought on Buford. Some coaches would argue that you ride your best players and you encourage them out of a slump, rather than just benching them. Given that Buford was a very solid shooter and was a veteran junior at that point I'd err more on the side of having trust in him than benching him. I have a feeling that if he were to bring in someone else and they were just as cold you'd be criticizing Matta for not leaving Buford in and letting one his best shooters work through his slump. The players Thad had to bring in were Jordan Sibert, Lenzelle Smith, Deshaun Thomas, or JD Weatherspoon. Sibert turned out to be a bust, it happens. Thad gave him every opportunity and he never did anything with it. Lenzelle was hurt most of the year and really just had to play catch up much like Q Ross last year. The only other option that leaves is Thomas...because Weatherspoon was an athletic project and just not ready to go. Thomas was just a freshman and was prone to freshman mistakes and hijacking the offense at times with bad shots. That's what freshmen do. Thad's actually done a phenomenal job coaching Thomas to the point where he is now, as he now plays hard on defense, makes good passes and has refined his shot selection...all things we couldn't even conceive of him doing his freshman year. I digress. Anyway, that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes in college bball. Some years you've got veterans that are so much significantly better than the true freshmen sitting on the bench that you don't use as much depth. This is unfair to say to Thad that he didn't develop these guys or didn't recruit well enough. It was a big freshmen class and it was a very highly rated one, but you can't blame Thad for not having a stable of NCAA tournament ready players coming in from day one, because they're freshmen. Some are studs and good enough to play right away. Some need a couple years to develop. 
Another point that I'd like to share is that it is actually quite common to tighten your rotation in the postseason. Coaches do it all the time in the NBA, NCAA and high school. You want your best and most tested players on the floor as much as possible. Most teams cut their rotations down to 8 players at most come playoffs/tournament (of course barring foul trouble and other unusual roster circumstances).

AndyVance's picture

Your point about comparing Matta to every other coach in history is absolutely valid. I went back in a discussion on another thread and compared Matta to Fred Taylor, and the stats are quite favorable for the current head coach. Where I tend to part with this line of thinking, and tend to agree with the OP, is that Matta appears to have a ceiling - though a very high one - that is keepign him from cracking into a National Title.
Recruiting, I'll submit, is part of that. The number of big-time recruits is self-evident, but the criticisms of his limited use of the bench are fair. I've often remarked that somewhat like John Cooper, Matta does not win the big games (Duke, Kansas this year, Florida in the big game, etc.) at the rate he should with the talent he has.
He will win 20 games a season every year until doomsday. Will he win us a title? I'm skeptical.
The question is, at what point does winning 20 games not become enough? Are we happy with merely being consistently good, rather than being consistently great?

d5k's picture

I would argue that you don't have a big enough sample size of these so called "big games".  And he also has won LOTS of big games in conference where you have a bigger sample size. 
I can also think of lots of counter-examples such as Syracuse, Memphis in elite eight games, Georgetown in 2007, Duke last year, Florida on the road.  I think the "win the big games" criticism is often just bad luck and the better teams statistically win more "big games" and if they are evenly matched then it is closer to a coinflip on average.  In other words, 'what % of the time do you expect a 1 seed to make the final four, what % of the time do you expect a 1 seed to win the national title?' are questions you should evaluate statistically before you start criticizing Matta.  We got a tough draw in 2011 as #1 overall seed, and we were a Brandon Knight miss on a contested jumper or a Buford make on a contested jumper away from beating Kentucky.  Last year we were probably the 3rd best team that made it to the final four or even with Kansas and it played out like that.  But making the final four last year doesn't mean last year's team was better than the 2011 team or that Matta coached better last year. 
My point is essentially every team every year is an underdog vs. the field going into the tournament, so you have to have very good teams over many seasons to realistically expect a national title.  If Matta keeps the team as good as he has for another decade, he is likely to bring home a title or at least contend for several.

AndyVance's picture

It's a fair argument, and the unfortunate truth is that Jim Tressel got the same "unfair" scrutiny due to the string of SEC losses and National Championships not won, despite the fact that he was by all indicators the most successful head football coach at Ohio State since the legendary Woody Hayes...
I think the point is that because Matta has performed so well, he has inherently raised the expectations for the program, and for his own performance. My personal feeling - so take it for what it's worth, one man's opinion - is that Matta is a very good recruiter who will always net the talent necessary to win 20+ games per season and compete for a Big Ten title. He will get in the NCAA tournament 9 years out of 10, and the one year he doesn't, he'll win the NIT.
The second part of that belief is that Matta is not the best "bench coach" in the universe, and that his weakness is not extracting every last ounce of potential from the blue chippers he nabs. Jim O'Brien did the opposite - medicore recruiter who yielded above-average results with the talent. Urban Meyer is the best of both worlds: freakishly good recruiter, and insanely good at getting the talent he has to yield lights-out results.
I'm not one to say "off with his head" when it comes to Matta, but I think it is fair to ask the question "what now?" relative to how the program continues to develop and grow. We're clearly on the right track after the Ayers and O'Brien years, and it is perfectly fine to ask what Matta and company need to do to continue improving.

d5k's picture

Since Matta's head is hitting the freaking ceiling in terms of what a college basketball coach can accomplish I'm not sure what he can do to improve.  So good question.  I guess.

Bolt's picture

He's hitting his ceiling as one of the nationally elite coaches coaching at a school that hasn't had any consistent national significance in basketball in recent memory. If Thad could simply recruit nationally off of the name of the school like Bell Self, Roy Williams, John Calipari (although Cal, himself is probably the best recruiter in the game as well) he would win several nat'l titles. I believe he will eventually get one at Ohio State, but he's got a much tougher job than those guys. 
Thad's career arc is actually looking pretty similar to Roy Williams. Roy was constantly at the top but just couldn't get that last step done and win the title and took so much criticism for being overrated and he eventually bolted for an even better job at Carolina. Now he's got multiple nat'l titles to show for it at UNC. I hope that doesn't happen to us with Thad.

OldColumbusTown's picture

So a coach that has led his team to a national runner-up finish, and a second Final Four, now has a ceiling below that of a national championship?  Let's not forget two other Sweet Sixteen appearances, including one with the best team in the country that year.
The best team does not always win the national championship.  Until people can really, really understand what that statement represents, it's hard to have an actual conversation on this.

Poison nuts's picture

Oldcolumbustown, I wish there was a way to give you 100 votes at once for what you said there...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Bolt's picture

Doesn't win the big games? I mean he blew out both Florida and Duke last year. He beat top notch quality teams night in and night out in the toughest conference in America. Thad has won so many big games it's ridiculous. I mean his very first year on the job he beat the best team in America with a group of guys that Jim O'Brien was going .500 with. Yes, that would be the year we beat an undefeated Illinois team in the last game of the season. Thad has played and beat top 10 teams in the Big Ten EVERY year and every team you beat in the tournament is a quality team. We're not just a 20 win team. We just went to the Final Four last year for christ sakes. We have been in the elite group of great teams in the country since Thad got here. He's been right there every year. One of these years as long as we're haning around the top we'll get things to bounce our way and we'll win the whole championship. 
Thad doesn't win big games is a flat out lie. He's got countless big wins at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State. He's lost some of those big games as well...but for god sakes you can't win them all. Hell, even Duke doesn't win them all. He lost two this year and everyone forgets about everything else he's done. You don't have the amount of success that Thad's had without winning big games. All of the conference championships, the conference tournament championships, two Final Four appearances. You don't do that without big wins.

Clmm297's picture

What he said ^^^
I'll go a step further.  Please compare his record since he arrived at OSU (not just wins and losses) to whatever "elite" coach you want and you will see how ridiculous this blog post is.  Check the final four appearences, check the NBA draft picks (not his fault if they fail in the league), check the number of McDonalds All-Americans, check the number of first team All-Americans, etc......Whatever your criteria for judging Matta, I'll bet you find he has done it as good or better than any other "elite" coach.  And please do not compare him to Calipari.  We all know that when the dust settles, because the past tells us so, Kentucky will be forced to vacate wins and championships because he did it the wrong way!

AndyVance's picture

No one serious about comparing coaches will compare anyone with Calipari for the reasons you mention.

Bolt's picture

The only thing Matta can be criticized for is not winning a nat'l title. Give him time and he likely will. Somehow Roy Williams is considered a top flight coach but he never won a title with KU after the 15 or whatever years he spent there. He had all the resources and recruiting ease (based on the school's name) he could ever hope for. Give Thad time and he will win one. He's only been unfortunate so far but he's been right there.

Clmm297's picture

Completely agree....all of these "couch coaches" who post negativity on this and other sites are so out of touch with the reallity of the situation.  We have a guy who does nothing but win, and win without even so much as a sniff of impropriety.  And still he faces constant criticism from people who have not once stepped into the locker room, never ran a practice or coached a game.  We all should be very thankful to have Matta as our coach, whether he wins or loses this Saturday.....

btalbert25's picture

I think Thad has done a brilliant job at every stop.  Brad Stevens has exceeded him at Butler, but maybe Thad should get some credit for building Butler up, and having a guy like Stevens come out of his coaching tree.  Thad put Butler on the map in my opinion.  He took Xavier to an elite 8, which was the first time Xavier had ever gone that far, then when he left, another of his protege's took over that program and led them to another Elite 8.  
Then there's his time at Ohio State.  Since 2004, the Buckeyes have gone to 2 final fours.  Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Louisville have all be to 2 in that same time period. In the B1G only Michigan State has made more with 3 appearances.  
I'm not totally discounting your post.  I get that there have been teams that haven't met up with expectations and players that haven't panned out.  I will say though, Thad has also made this program one of the premier programs in America.  He's had All Americans, a player of the year, and a number 1 overall seed.  Maybe a lot of the guys haven't developed into great NBA players, but that's really not on Thad.  He has recruited guys who are great college players, what happens after that is not Thad's fault really.  He's made it kind of cool to follow basketball at a Football school.  
It's also worth mentioning, in the history of Ohio State hoops they've only won 1 championship, and that was 53 years ago.  I'd argue this is the most successful the Ohio State program has been since that stretc of 60-64.  I guess my answer to your post is YES, we should absolutely be satisfied with winning 77% of the games, and making it to 2 final fours every 6 years.  If they win a title so be it, if not that's fine too.  Who could Ohio State have hired in 2004 that would of been more successful than Thad has been?  I have a good friend that is a Xavier fan and he laughed when Thad left X.  He said X is a better basketball program, other than money what is he thinking?  He was right, at the time X was a better program.  That's how great of a job Thad has done.  

Bolt's picture

Brad Stevens is, in my opinion, one of the best coaches in America right now. But you're correct, without Thad's progress to stand on top of from the start, he wouldn't have had the same kind of success to this point.

btalbert25's picture

Brad Stevens is great and once again he has Bulter playing really well. 

Bolt's picture

I've never seen a guy have so much success both in recruiting and on the court and get so much criticism. First of all, Shannon Scott was considered unanimously by EVERYONE to be a better recruit, considering he was a McDonald's AA and all. Our basketball fans really really don't seem to understand that basketball recruiting is a totally different animal than football recruiting. Basketball recruiting is so much more a numbers game...you can't just go out and bring in as many players as you want and then the best players pan out, like is seemingly true in football. I'm sure if we could've just recruited 12 players per class we would've found a way to pull Burke in. I know we've had a lot of turnover with one and done players taking off, but the last couple years we've had essentially no one leaving. I still can't believe how much people were nailing Thad for not pulling in a top 5 recruiting class last year...even though he was only able to recruit with one available scholarship. More people wound up leaving (NBA and transfers) but you can't recruit assuming players will be gone. We are only losing one player for sure this year as well, so no...we can't expect a monster class. While we can't expect another top 10/top 5 recruiting class (which Thad's already had plenty of) this year, we will be able to bring back pretty much everyone for the second straight year and have some continuity which Thad's never really had here.
The guy has been the most successful coach in the most successful conference in America since he's joined said conference both in recruiting and on the court. If you want to go back to the Jim O'Brien days where we had a coach that was cheating to put a mediocre product on the floor, too bad. I'll go for having one of the most successful coaches, by far, in Ohio State history.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

It's good to see that Baddod is picking up the pace again.
When the Buckeyes football team was scuffling at the beginning of this past season, barely beating the likes of Cal and Purdue, Baddog regulary regaled us with his incisivize criticisms of the Buckeye team and coaching staff. The highpoint was perhaps when he asked why Ohio State football did not resemble what he witnessed in the Baylor versus West Virginia game. As the Bucks football team kept winning and improving, though, for some reason Baddog's posts decreased in frequency.
Lo and behold, the Buckeyes basketball team lost to Duke and Kansas and Baddog's incisive criticisms once again appear on this site with greater regularity. If I didn't know any better, I might almost suspect that Baddog's keyboard is happiest when the Buckeyes are struggling. Note: I don't mean to suggest that Baddog the Buckeye fan is happy when the Buckeyes are scuffling (certainly he is not); only that Buckeye struggles seem to be good for his creative juices. More likely, though, Baddog's recent increase in activity is merely coincidental.    

Bolt's picture

Haha, I remember that Baylor/WVU post. That made me laugh for a while. Really? You're depressed because you think Ohio State should be more like West Virginia and Baylor??

LouGroza's picture

We are lucky to have Matta. He has spoiled us. He is at the top of any coaches lists of wins, percentages, you name it. Love the guy.

d5k's picture

As Matta continues to produce quality contending teams maybe people will realize that it is impossible to make the final four every time you have a top 2 seed.  That seems to be the irrational expectation for some fans.  Upsets happen.  Duke has had so much success because coach K has them in contention every year, he doesn't make a deep run every year that he has a team capable of a run.  I felt like Matta was disrespected nationally last year when he was an afterthought among the other 3 big time coaches in the Final four when he should easily be on their level with what he has done in his career.  I guess they all had a national title, or at least Calipari does now.  I honestly think Matta has been unlucky in the tournament overall with the draws in particular.  But even then he has had great success with the 2 final fours and sweet sixteens and even the NIT championship in his ONLY rebuilding year after losing basically his whole team to graduation/NBA.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Duke has had so much success because coach K has them in contention every year, he doesn't make a deep run every year that he has a team capable of a run.

Not to break any man laws, but your astute probabilistic thinking sent my heart fluttering. Hope I'm not developing a bro crush . . .

d5k's picture

And I feel like I have to debunk the using the bench theory yet again... in Evan Turner's POY season we literally used every scholarship player we had.  We lost so many to 1 and done restrictions mostly due to OSU being on the quarter system that we had basically 7 scholarships. 
The year after we bring in a solid recruiting class and lose Turner to the NBA and 2 seniors.  Getting 3 freshmen to produce in a recruiting class sufficiently to create a #1 overall seed team is not something to complain about.  Also, Lenzelle came in with an injury.
Then last year we had the sophomores who underperformed (ended up transferring) and the freshmen who were not ready to play on both ends of the court.  Amir is only now showing signs of adding more value than Ravenel so not playing a 3rd center made sense last year.  Thompson got minutes as a defensive role player.  Scott got periodic minutes despite Craft and Lenzelle's solid play.  Buford was a 4 year starter, why would we take him out for a less touted freshman when Buford is a better player on both ends of the court.  In short, Craft, Thomas, Sullinger and Buford were so much better than their backups that a tired version of them was a much better option against a tough opponent.  Anyone who disagrees must be blind.  Also, is there a single fan that would not love to have Buford on this team right now?  Something keeps being mentioned about not having a #2 perimeter offensive option to take pressure off Deshaun.  Buford needed someone to take pressure off of him last year.

Bolt's picture

The only times Thad hasn't used a ton of players off of his bench are the years that he just hasn't had the quality players he can trust to bring in. This isn't because he doesn't recruit well enough, as the OP suggests, on the contrary it's because he brings in players that are too good and move on early from Ohio State. We bring in players that are going to be very good players but just might not be quite ready as freshmen. Due to players leaving early for the NBA or whatever, the only players on the bench are the freshmen that aren't ready to play. Thad, in fact, plays deep into his bench in most years. 

sb97's picture

Apologies if this has already been pointed out but...
From the OP:
"At this point there is no question who the best point guard in the B1G is, and it isn't Aaron Craft."
Trey Burke and Aaron Craft have had three head to head matchups.  In those thre games Trey Burke has gone 12/36 shooting and has turned the ball over 16 times (Numbers stolen from UMHoops.com).  I would say he got the best out of Craft once in three tries.  We don't know much about Shannon Scott because he has to play behind Aaron Craft but he looks like the same kind of player as Craft to me.   It is pretty well known that Matta prefers defense first guys.  I know Craft is a better defender than Burke and I am pretty sure Scott will be as well.  Sure it would be nice to have Burke but I am comfortable with Matta's choices.

Killer nuts's picture

It's fascinating to me how Matta receives the same criticism as our football coaches but only a fraction of the fan support. The man has done wonders for our basketball program and has turned it into a perennial contender. I challenge the OP to try and remember Ohio state basketball before Matta and see if he had the same expectations then

baddogmaine's picture

I challenge Killer Nuts to read what I actually said:

Matta has unquestionably made the team consistently better than it had been before him. This is not a close call.

Bolt's picture

Man, I keep going back and reading some of this and just cannot disagree more with some of these points. Most of these points even contradict each other within each inidividual paragraph. No one is above criticism as long as we all have opinions, sure. That doesn't mean that every criticism is valid and justified. I really start feeling like some Ohio State fans just don't understand how different basketball is from football. The recruiting, the tournament, the turnover of star players...yet people seem to judge it by football standards. Thad's biggest letdown in my opinion is that '10-'11 team losing to a good UK team in the Sweet 16. Well guess what? That happens. Players, no matter how good they are or how well they're coached have off nights. Bill Buford had the most awful shooting game of his life and everyone else just had an off night. This is a pitfall of a one and done tournament. By your standards, Coach K is struggling at Duke because he had an early exit from the tournament last year and didn't maximize his team. It's extremely difficult to win a national title in basketball because of the tournament. The best team in the country doesn't even get to play in the title game a lot of the time. In football its a format where typically the best teams will get to the title game and physically the best teams overpower the lesser teams. In bball it can be the unlucky/lucky shooting that can undo you in one game regardless of how superior you are. Thad's been right there for the last 10 years. Unfortunately we ran into one of the best teams of the last 20 years in UF once and have had some misfortune in other years.
I almost wish Thad would move on and take another job because I just want all of Matta's dedicated critics will see that the grass is most definitely not going to be greener on the other side. 

brylee's picture

Some people, no matter what, just want to BITCH...and this bigdogmaine dude bitches ALOT!
Oh by the way, that kid from Italy...just showed up this year, thus cannot be part of the equation.

baddogmaine's picture

I don't know where your football analogy came from, I never compared the details of coaching college basketball to the details of coaching football.  I don't know whether Coach K is struggling according to my standards. I don't want to make that analysis, if you care to please use the big picture I have painted and don't focus on just the detail of early exit from a tournament. Buford did have a horrendous game against KY, but he doesn't get to 2 of 16 unless the coach lets him. And I never said that Matta does not develop players at all - I said that he has not done a good job of developing players for the NBA - which, as a college coach, should be one of his objectives; I said that he does not develop everyone on his roster; and though I did not say it here I have said before and will say again that in my opinion if Matta did a better job of developing role players his teams would not be so often in situations where luck could be the difference. (Though, to give but one example, losing in the second round by 18 points as a two-seed in 2006 was not luck, it was serious underperformance.)
Bolt, you and Run_Fido_Run simply dislike me and react negatively to everything I say, seemingly without thinking about it. Rather than taking my posts as personal attacks try seeing them as opportunities for dicussion, as invitations to look at ideas or subjects that get taken for granted but perhaps should not be. When I make a mistake correct me  (I apologize, Scott was more highly regarded than Burke coming out of hs, my bad) but just getting snide does not help the level of dialogue in Eleven Warriors. I happen to love the Buckeyes, and it is possible that I have been following them for longer than you have been alive (I don't know how old you are but I do know my 30 years of tracking the Scarlett and Grey puts me at the upper end). Just keep that in mind when you find yourself reaching for your poison pen.

d5k's picture

The draw is part of luck when you talk about 2006 and 2011.  Drawing one of the only big men in the country (Hibbert) who could shut down Dials was unlucky.
And the developing role players is the most ridiculous comment.  HAVE YOU HEARD OF EVAN TURNER?  OR BIG TEN 3 POINT RECORD HOLDER JON DIEBLER?  OR DAVID LIGHTY?  How about Jamar Butler?  Or Ron Lewis?  Craft began as a role player as well.  Lenzelle. 
You can't just say "I like Thad Matta but..." and then eviscerate him completely illogically and think that you are in the right.  You can have an opinion but your assumptions and "facts" you use to support your opinion are flawed or just plain wrong.

baddogmaine's picture

Lenzelle had a total of 91 minutes of playing time in 200-11. He went from being almost an afterthoiught to being a starter. It was a fabulous transition, but that he did so well last year suggests that he had been seriously underutlized the year before, given how badly Buford was playing by the end. Craft started from almost the first game - Lauderdale was on the floor first but Craft was the point guard, he never was just a role player. Of course I have heard of the other players you mentioned.  Once more, I have never said that Matta has not developed role players, I have said that he has not developed enough of them. A team *can* win with no subs, but it is high-risk strategy, and I also think not really part of a college program.
Losing by 18 (eighteen) to Georgetown in the second round when we were a #2 seed was quite a bit more than unlucky. With one of the best starting five ever to grace a college basketball court (yes, I do give  Matta credit for that) draw should have been irrelevant in 2011. Losses do happen, but they happen to Matta teams before they should fairly regularly.
I don't eviscerate Matta completely. Please read the last paragraph of my original post.

Killer nuts's picture

Lenzelle as a freshman came in with a wrist injury which caused him to miss practice time and set him back, he feel behind in PT much the same way Laquinton did last year because he was missing out on practice time. His not playing does not mean he was under utilized. Perhaps he was not ready and his ability to contribute the following year and this year is evidence that Matta does a nice job developing his skill set and maximizing his ability. You do not know what happens behind closed doors at practice where most of the coaching and development happens. There is no basis for saying he was under utilized. Trust the coach. His results speak for themself

baddogmaine's picture

This is a fair way to respond to me - it's based on facts. I'll take your point about Smith being injured to start the 2010-2011 season but by tournament time he was healthy (wasn't he?) and after a year of listening to Matta and many many months of practicing he was available for duty in the NCAA tournament. Against UTSA he got 5 minutes. Sibert got 9, Days got 1 (Buford played 31). In the second round Smith got 4 minutes, Days 3 and Sibert 8 (Buford 29). In the third round Buford had one of the worst shooting  games in OSU tournament history, he also turned the ball over twice and collected only 2 rebounds. And he was part of a defense that alowed Kentucky to shoot 45% and outrebound us. Do you remember how many minutes Matta goty out of his bench that day? Not counting Craft who subbed for Lauderdale (as he did every game that year) but was no more a bench player than Buford was the answer is four - three by Thomas and one by Lauderdale. Nine months later Smiuth and Thomas were both starting for a team that would start out hot and make it to the Final Four, but on a night when Buford was single handedly killing us he was kept in for 37 minutes and Smith never left the bench (and neither did Days or Sibert). There is something wrong with that picture. Perhaps the difference between us is that when I see something wrong and can't find an explanation I'm willing to blame the one in charge, and you just trust the coach that there was an explanation, even if it avoids detection. My way is not a complete evisceration of Matta, it is an accusation that he is humanly flawed.
Whether your last sentence is good or bad for Matta depends on whether you are satisfied with winning 20 games or winning the B1G, or want us to play in March up to seed. Either way Matta's results do speak for themselves, with the last measurement not one Matta can be proud of. http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/tournament/history/_/team1/7012

d5k's picture

he has actually won 30 a few times. He has had us as a top 2 seed 5 times and made the final four twice. That is not a bad record if you use any realistic probabilities. If we are lucky to have him another decade these stats will normalize with him having a year where he makes the elite eight or final four as a 3rd or worse seed. Unless he continues his run of being a top ten team almost every year.

PharmBuck's picture

Diebler is Ohio high school basketballs all-time leading scorer and was also Mr. Basketball his senior year, safe to see he wasn't really under the radar...

"You're pissed because we went after a committed guy? Guess what, we got 9 guys who better go do it again," said Meyer. "Do it a little harder next time."

Killer nuts's picture

I think the issue people are having is you're making a lot of emphatic anti-matta points that seem in large if not entirely unsubstantiated by evidence. I've fought the urge and don't have the time to go through point by point to show you what I mean so I'll highlight a few high points.
To say we ONLY have 6 players in the NBA is a little ridiculous. Prior to Matta we would put one or two players in the NBA per decade it seemed. Under Matta we had a 4 years strecth where the only school that produced more first round draft picks than us was Kentucky.
The lack of Burke being recruited is entirely based on the fact that we had Shannon Scott committed who was a much better player coming out of high school.
Saying that Conley was detined for the NBA regardless of the coaching he got is not accurate when you consider he was passed over on the recruiting trail by lots if big time schools, including his home school Indiana, which is in large part the reason Matta was able to steal he and Oden from the state of Indiana.
When you talk about next year's recruiting class you say the only bright spot is a 6' 2" guard we are bring ing in (Kam Williams). Yes, he is going to be good. So is Marc Loving, the 6' 7" top 50 player that we have committed that you've chosen to ignore.
I could go on but the point is, yes, we would all love a national championship in basketball. And the fact is we are much closer to achieving that goal than we were prior to Matta. You mention early NCAA exits and ignore his multiple trips to the final 4. He say he is stubborn and doesn't adjust his style but he wins 20 games every year so it must be effective. The big ten is a great basketball conference and Matta wins it more than any of his counterparts. We are not entitled to these championships, the hard work and of the players and coaches is the reason we get to enjoy them. Matta has done a spectcaular job in his tenure at Ohio State and deserves better than this off base criticism

d5k's picture

I didn't even get to "doesn't adjust his style".  That is so incredibly ignorant.  Think about the styles of offense and defense we have played since he has been here.  Think about the 1-3-1 zone we played with Greg Oden, the no point guard offense with Evan Turner running the show, the inside-out post game with Sullinger and Diebler/Buford, and now this run and gun and pick-n-roll centric attack with Deshaun.  He does nothing but fit his style to maximize the talents of his players.  Please pay attention.  This man can coach.

Statutoryglory's picture

Exactly.  Matta has a different offense every year it seems because we have a different core due to departing or emerging talent.  But some of the "great" non-Matta coaches don't really adjust their styles - See Boeheim on defense.

Bolt's picture

I never said you did explicitly. I just meant to illustrate that people seem to look at basketball through a football colored lens. If Thad had benched Buford because he couldn't hit a shot in favor of some freshman that proved all season that he couldn't make a shot do you think that would've been a wise decision. I, for one, do not. In fact, I'd venture to say that Thad would get crucified for doing so. And you can't just tell a guy, you're going to stay in the game but just don't shoot anymore. If you think that's viable then you have no sense of playing and/or coaching basketball. You can't just do that. 
I do not know you, how could one say I don't like you? I have this argument with a small faction of constantly dissatisfied Ohio State fans all the time. I would actually say that I'm reacting in a positive manner after your negative posts. I'm going to explain very clearly why I disagree and why something is simply not correct. Anyone can just sit there and say, "why aren't we better?" I do agree that we aren't perfect basketball-wise, but things surely aren't all doom and gloom and Thad Matta is doing his job here as well as anyone else out there could possibly given the exact same situation/scenario Thad came in under.

baddogmaine's picture

If Thad had benched Buford because he couldn't hit a shot in favor of some freshman that proved all season that he couldn't make a shot do you think that would've been a wise decision

If Smith had not been able to hit a barn door then no, putting him into the KY game for any length of time might not have been a good choice, though Matta could still have taken Buford out for a minute here and there to settle him down and made clear to the others that Smith was option #6; and a non-shooting Smith would not have been obviously worse than a shooting Buford . But on the  year Smith had shot 45%, made his FTs, and collected a RB every six minutes - he contributed when was allowed to. He committed a TO every 11 minutes which isn't good but if he's used completely for defense and setting screens that can be neutralized to a degree. He made no statistical mistakes in the NCAA first round; in the second he had a TO but also a steal so that was a wash. In other words, nothing in his 2010-2011 record said he could not have been used in a limited role against KY. If you want to fall back on "Matta knew what he was doing" fine, but to me once a player is at 2 for 13 almost anyone else you replace him with can't be any worse.

but things surely aren't all doom and gloom

"PLEASE*  read the last paragraph of my original post.

Smanpoint10's picture

A college coaching job is not to put people in the pros. It is to win games. If that happens to put players in the pros than that's a side perk

baddogmaine's picture

Actually, I'd argue that a *college* coach's job is to teach. That's what college is about. The best college coaches both teach everyone in their class (the roster) and win.

Killer nuts's picture

I just went back and read this for a second time also and I struggle to find a single sentence that I agree with. You say he doesn't develop talent then you say lenzelle wasn't good his freshman year and is all of a sudden a good starter. Wonder how that happened? The sense of entitlement in this is off the charts, making it seem like being the coach at Ohio State is easy and Matta can have any high school player he wants. You'd "settle" for two title game in 5 years?! Yikes, this is a little absurd to post in my opinion

buckeyestu's picture

thad matta has greatly improved the basketball side of things. i wouldnt trade thad for anyone, not  coach k, not  the syracuse coach, not  calipari, nor pitino. TOSU never use to be ranked in the top 20 as much as they have been since thad has been the coach. maybe randy ayers should become our coach? or jim obrien?

d5k's picture

I agree, the only comparisons to Thad's 8 year resume come at blue blood basketball schools with inherent advantages in recruiting.  OSU is no slouch in terms of advantages but it is easier to win big at Kentucky, Kansas, UNC and Duke (Coach K built it but still).  Like others said, you can take these "criticisms" and direct them at the coaches at those four schools at some point.  Like why did Kentucky just now win a national title despite having John Wall and Brandon Knight in previous years?  Why has Self only won 1 national title despite having so many first round studs at Kansas?  Why has Duke had so many early exits as a 1 seed?  Why did North Carolina not make the final four the last 2 years when they were in position bracket-wise to do so?
All of these questions are ridiculous but no more ridiculous than this thread.

Smanpoint10's picture

I find it ironic that this blog post was made a couple weeks after an article about matta having a quote from lou holtz saying not to stay more than 7 years at a school because they won't love you as much as they once did

AndyVance's picture

Holtz had a point, for sure. How many folks started piling on Tressel after the shortcomings against SEC foes and in BCS Title games?
There is clearly a tipping point, though. Holtz never stayed anywhere long enough to "settle down" and have his legacy inextricably tied to one school (Notre Dame being the default affiliation by virtue of the fact that it's Notre Dame), and the Tressel and Matta experiences illustrate his point about the restlessness of the natives and their relatively short memories.
On the other side of that tipping point are legends like Hayes and Bryant who stay successful enough long enough to become a part of the institution, and truly become beloved. What is that tipping point? Mark Richt has been at UGA for more than a dozen years; Tressel was with us for 10; Miles and Saban are on 7 each, I believe... I'm not sure what the tipping point actually is, but I'm guessing it's somewhere between 10-15 years, after which fans want you around more than they want you gone.
My gut tells me Matta isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but I think he has room to grow yet - and we should expect him to keep doing so.

d5k's picture

I remember watching an OSU bb game with some family members that constantly ragged on Tressel in 2009 as he was winning Big ten titles and relevant in the national title discussion every year. 
These people kept inventing reasons why our #1 basketball team in the country was flawed.  Arbitrary crap like "well they are just going to go cold like they always do" after a 10-0 run or whatever.  I held my tongue somehow but I just think these types of negative fans are ridiculous.  Why root for a team if you can't appreciate when that team is successful?  I'm excited as a Bengals fan to finally have rebuilt into a repeat playoff team even if it is only the 6 seed.  I don't think if they win the Super Bowl I would ever say anything bad about Marvin Lewis even if he has his flaws.  Particularly if he made it to the playoffs every year and often with a first round bye which would be the comparison to what Matta has done.  Going along with the NFL comparison, I think the easiest comparison is Eagles fans, who may now go through a decade of misery after forcing out the best HC in their history.

Killer nuts's picture

Is this real life?

RBuck's picture

Or is this just...Nah, not doing this again.l

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Bolt's picture

I guess at this point I would just like to challenge the OP to name me a coach that was (at the time Thad was hired)/is available that could've come in under the circumstances and same situation Thad Matta came into and do a better job than he has done. Thad Matta took over a basketball team that had a postseason ban and had been a mediocre .500 teams for years. Ohio State was irrelevant nationally. Fast forward 8 years and we are nationally a household name (maybe not the elite blueblood level...but that usually takes DECADES to get to that level) as far as basketball. We have sent several first round draft picks into the NBA. We have made the Final Four twice. We've been the most successful team on both the recruiting trail and on the court since the day Matta got hired in the most successful conference in America. I personally am thrilled with the job that he's done and will continue to do. He has not won the nat'l title yet and that's the only thing you can really take away from him, but honestly he's been right there. Coaches that have their team right there long enough will eventually get the job done (Roy Williams comes to mind). Even based on the OP's criticisms of Matta you can make most the exact same criticisms of all elite coaches at elite programs when you try to spin things negatively. So, yes, no one is above criticims. I just challenge to name me someone who would do/would have done a better job than what Thad's done with what he inherited. He's at the top and has been there and one of these days the luck will bounce our way and we'll win the nat'l title.

baddogmaine's picture

Bolt, you're acting like a kid throwing a tantrum on the playground. This is what I actually said in my original post:

This is not about whether Matta was a good hire - he was. This is not about whether Matta is a good coach - he is. This is certainly not a call for his firing (I'm still trying to understand the mindset of Chicago Bears ownership who fired a coach that got them 10 wins. What proven winner is on the market? That to me looks like a team ready to implode completely.)

My post was not about how Matta compares with other mythical coaches, it is about whether Matta can be better than he is. You believe not, I believe yes. So be it.

Bolt's picture

A kid throwing a tantrum on the playground? What in that post was comparable to a kid throwing a tantrum? Because I'm trying to figure out your point here? So now your point has devolved into Thad was a good hire and has done a good job but can do better? What's the point of criticizing someone for the sake of just criticizing them at that point then? Well, sure we can all do better. Coach K could do better. Michael Jordan could've done better. Adrian Peterson can do better. You can do better.

AndyVance's picture

For everyone with their shorts in a wad over any criticism of Coach Matta, I ran some numbers this afternoon comparing him with legendary coaches including Coach K, Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and John Wooden, and then running the same stats for the 6 coaches in the current AP Top 10 in their current position for the past 8 seasons. I think it adds some interesting data on the argument.

Bolt's picture

Well rounded work, sir.

Buckeye2005's picture

I personally enjoyed reading bad dog's take.  I think it's fun to have a lively debate and his article sure did start one. 
This analogy comes to mind...you know how your sibling can bug the heck out of you and amongst other siblings you'll critize them.  But if someone outside your family, say your friend or one of their friends, criticizes them then you are the first one to defend them?  This is what his argument reminds me of.  I'm wondering if bad dog wouldn't be the first to defend Thad and the Bucks to anyone up there in Maine (I'm guessing that's where he lives) but amongst fellow Buckeyes he poses this argument/topic specifically geared towards talking about how our already high caliber program can possibly continue to raise the bar? 
 
 
 
 

Toilrt Paper's picture

Talk to Sully, he hand picked Craft to be his point guard. He played with Burke in HS and played with Craft every summer. Sullinger might have been being selfish, knowing Craft was better at feeding the post than Burke. And knowing Burke would take points away from his scoring average. What's Matta gonna due, tell his PRIZED recruit, THE best big man in the country, he couldn't have who he thought was by far the best PG between the two. Sullly saw 100 times more minutes of both PG's than Matta did.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I hope Thad raises the bar.  And I hope all fans exercise some patience in the meantime.  A national title will come at some point under Thad.  I can feel it.

Class of 2010.

gbdawg's picture

In Thad we trust, remember the years before him.

JKH1232's picture

Well, is Matta maximizing his potential?  He has a winning percentage of .775.  Coach K at Duke has a winning percentage of .788.  Clearly, Matta's a goddamn slacker.
But, when I play Duke in NCAA Basketball, I win every game by 40.  So, Coach K's a joke, too, compared to a theoretical maximum. 

baddogmaine's picture

When I started graduate work I was at a school that didn't have very high standards and I picked up some bad habits, so when I transferred to a better school I got politely but publicly rebuked for doing (I still remember this, 30 years later) jello. That's what is happening here - people are so frenzied about proving that I'm an idiot that they are abandoning reading to the end and thinking about what was said and "debating" at a level that would get publicly mocked at a school valuing criticalk thinking.
I NEVER said that a coach's entire evaluation should be based on winning percentage alone. If that is how you, JKH, evaluate a coach then you have indeed proven that Matta is good though you have not *proven* that he is among the best.You also are wrong - neither you nor Matta beat Duke by 40 every time.
Stop doing jello work JKH and start looking at controversial questions and suggestions in a way that shows that an OSU education is worth something. Though you may get upvotes there is no real glory in acting like Beavis and Butthead (which is probably showing my age, but if you don't know who they were look them up).

d5k's picture

I think I have approximately 5.7 million times more factual evidence and reasoned analysis in my replies actually. More seriously, we have essentially countered all of your critiques with facts and now you are left attempting to discredit our replies by claiming we are somehow being mean or unfair when we lambast you for suggesting Matta doesn't play walkons enough, for players choosing to transfer, for his multiple first round draft picks failing to become max salary all stars yet, and for winning a metric crapload of games but 'only' making 2 final fours in 7 eligible seasons.

JKH1232's picture

... Who said I have ever attended a class at Ohio State?
 
Jello work, indeed.

rightfield's picture

Here are the facts that most stand out to me today.
 1)We just experienced the best 8 year run in OSU bball history and entered this season in the preseason top 5.
 2) We put more players in the NBA the past 8 years than the previous 30 combined.
 3) No longer is a 20 win season a big accomplishment for Buckeye basketball but it is a every year occurance sometime in January.
 Sometimes we don't realize just how good we have it as fans of the Buckeyes. Don't let the little white cloud ruin a sunny day and for the record we are having a h*ll of a beautiful day.
 
I will be there the day they unveil  Matta's statue in front of the Schott. It will be within the next 10 years, guaranteed.  

Its good to be the king

klfeck's picture

I'm not sure what the problem is or if it is a combination of two factors:
1. OSU does not get the same talent that UK, Duke, etc haul in year after year.
2. Matt's is a good coach but not good enough to reach elite status.
In defense, it's hard to be elite when you don't have the same consistent level of talent. It's the same as when some FCS teams play our football buckeyes. They can hang for a few quarters cause their 1s are close to our 1s. The problem is that their 2s are no where close to our 2s talent level. I think Matta would look like a world beater if he had the talent that UK and Duke have.

Kevin

OH!!!!!

Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

AndyVance's picture

You're definitely on to something, but it becomes a chicken and egg conundrum... To achieve the dynastic status of a Duke or Kentucky, you have to win championships. To win championships, you need Duke-like talent... To acquire Duke-like talent over Duke, you need to win big games, etc., etc., etc.

gobucks5413's picture

This stuff is absolutely mind blowing. Ohio State has been a top 10 program since Thad took over. Granted, the game Saturday was one of the worst I've seen from the Scarlet and Gray, I think this post is completely unfair. For one half against 2 top 5 teams, we looked superior in every way. Now a loss is a loss, but this is basketball, not football. You have a chance to learn from losses.
If this becomes a trend rather than an anomoly then we can start trashing Thad. Until then, lets all just relax. This is an explosive team that has looked REALLY good at times, and REALLY BAD at other times. Let them grow, see how they respond from the butt kicking they took on Saturday, and see what happens.
 
I will say...It's amazing how much we were able to hide Craft's offensive struggles with all of our weapons the past 2 years. Its so obvious that he hurts us on that side of the floor when we have a lack of capable scorers besides DT. Even though he still is fun to watch on the other end.
We only have 3 losses, its January, so prepare yourselves now for a few more. Everything is gonna be okay....
 
Go Bucks

AndyVance's picture

You're right that one game does not a trend make.
What you're seeing with threads like these, though, is fans who were never sold on Matta as a great "bench coach" in the first place pointing out the cracks in the armor absent multiple draft-picks on the floor.
The question, to me at least, is simple: has Matta's success at Ohio State been because of his coaching, or purely because he recruited insanely talented players? They are not the same thing, and they are not mutually exclusive.
One hypothesis says that Matta is a freakish recruiter, but a subpar Xs and Ox coach who succeeded years 1-8 because he had amazing players on the floor who got by purely on their innate abilities. Without that calibre of talent this year, the warts are showing.
The counter to that argument, obviously, is that even legendary coaches like K and Roy Williams have down years with lesser talent on the floor, so one year is an outlier and should not be viewed as the end of the discussion.