The Ohio State football team is 10-0 and playing in its biggest game of the season. But don’t turn away too far from what is going on on the hardwood. The Basketball Buckeyes are actually ranked higher than the football team – 4th to 6th. On Saturday, though, all eyes will be turned to Madison.
At the same time, Thad Matta’s group will be taking on Rhode Island in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic in Uncasville, Conn. The Buckeyes play another game Sunday, against either Washington or Seton Hall.
When Matta met with the media earlier this week, he was excited about his recent early-signing recruiting class. Matta inked forward Marc Loving and guard Kamren Williams.
Matta said Loving was 6-foot-6 when he committed to Ohio State, but has sprung up to 6-foot-9.
When Matta saw Kam Williams play over the summer, he knew it was the guard he wanted. Matta said Williams did everything he wanted – scoring, penetrating, getting to the free throw line, etc.
There has been some criticism of Matta’s recruiting philoshphy the past couple years. His message was, “We know what we’re doing.”
Ohio State has one more open scholarship (and possibly two if Deshaun Thomas goes pro). Matta said they are likely to add one more player. It’ll more than likely be a big man.
Instead of just going after the best players, Matta said he goes after players that fit Ohio State. Talent alone doesn’t translate into every program.
This coming weekends game will test Ohio State early and tell him a lot about the team, Matta said.
Freshman sharpshooter Amadea Della Valle will be available to play this weekend. He injured his ankle last week and was wearing street clothes both games.
During the first few weeks, Matta said experienced teams and players have the upper hand because they know how to cover up their mistakes. But as the season progresses, cohesiveness and defense are the ingredients for victory.
Ohio State will have to shore up its defensive play to come close to expectations, according to Matta.
"If we want to meet the same goals we've met the last few years, we have to be the best defensive team in the country." –Evan Ravenel
Ravenel said Chris Jent has been working out with Ohio State’s big men. When Jent talks, players listen. He coached Dwight Howard, Shaq and LeBron in the NBA.
Working on defensive rebounding is key at the present time, Ravenel said. On offense, players want the ball so they can score. The effort hasn’t translating yet to the defensive side.
The Buckeyes are still without an identity, Lenzelle Smith said. But they are searching for it. Smith said the more they gel over the next few weeks, the more smoothly the offense and defense will flow.
Matta’s depth is always a popular topic. Just one game into the season, Ravenel said it’s a real thing this year. He said Matta is going to use the bench.