Things are trending in the wrong direction for Thad Matta's Ohio State men's basketball program. Losers of their first three Big Ten games — something that hadn't happened under Matta until this season — at Illinois, home against Purdue and Sunday night at Minnesota, the Buckeyes visit No. 18 Wisconsin on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Ohio State is 10-6 overall. Matta joined Paul Keels and Ron Stokes on 97.1 The Fan on Monday for his weekly radio show to discuss the week that was, Keita Bates-Diop's injury what is next for his team.
- "There was good, bad, pretty ugly, all that stuff." — Matta on Sunday's 78-68 loss at Minnesota.
- Matta credited Ohio State's defense in the early portions of that game but was not pleased how it relented when the offense struggled: "Every possession is so important on both ends of the floor."
- Matta said Nate Mason and Amir Coffey make the Gophers dangerous in the Big Ten. The two guards combined for 31 points on Sunday.
- Tim Hortons Coffee With the Coach Question is on replacing Keita Bates-Diop in the lineup. Bates-Diop is out for the season with a stress fracture in his right leg. Matta likened Bates-Diop's versatility to that of David Lighty, especially on defense: "When you lose a guy like that, kind of a jack-of-all-trades defender, it's tough to handle ... We've gotta be better top to bottom in order to combat that."
- Matta said Bates-Diop "hurts" for not being able to play and help Ohio State: "I think he hurts for his teammates but think he also hurts because he knows he could help this team."
- Bates-Diop has an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday where they will schedule his imminent surgery.
- "I tell the guys all the time. You don't always feel good in life. You have to make your own breaks." — Matta on the recent struggles of his team.
- Matta said the bottom line is Ohio State "has to play better": "Wherever an individual's mind is to do that, needs to happen."
- Ohio State shot 11-of-21 from the free-throw line against Minnesota: "Free throws are free throws and I was blown away by that because we had shot so well in the last few games from there." The Buckeyes went 17-of-20 against Purdue and 9-of-11 at Illinois.
- Walk-on Jimmy Jent has an ankle injury and has missed the last week with the sprain: "When you lose those guys, it really makes it difficult in terms of your practice and scout team."
- "I think Andre's coming, he's practicing at a really high level right now." — Matta on freshman Andre Wesson.
- Matta notes that Wisconsin "has everybody back" from last season. The Badgers are "very physical" and notes how transition defense will be key: "We made some mental errors [Sunday] night on personnel ... we closed out on non-3-point shooters and gave up layups."
- Matta said he hasn't seen much different in Wisconsin under Greg Gard, who took over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season.
- On Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig: "He makes them go. I remember when Traevon Jackson got hurt a few years ago and he had to step in and they never missed a beat."
- Matta said Trevor Thompson is playing better defensively in terms of ball screen shows and recovers: "Pretty pleased with how he is playing right now."
- Matta said he wasn't happy with all of Kam Williams' 10 shot attempts against Minnesota. Williams finished 1-of-10 from the field: "He had a couple drives where he just over-penetrated and got his shot blocked ... We need Kam to score. We need Kam to shoot a higher percentage. I know that he can."
- Matta said he and his staff have "tried everything" in terms of getting their players ready to deal with crowd noise and everything else that goes with playing on the road. He said he used to play the Florida fight song every day in the practices leading up to Ohio State's game there in 2011 and David Lighty was singing it when they boarded a plane for the game because he had heard it so much. The Buckeyes won that game, 81-74.
- Jae'Sean Tate was credited with seven turnovers against Minnesota but Matta claims he really only had three after watching the tape because some were from offensive fouls he felt were borderline: "They were odd turnovers with two or three offensive fouls ... Those are things we can get corrected."
- Matta admitted his players are going to have to log extra minutes with Bates-Diop being out with his injury: "It's challenging. You've gotta train for 40 [minutes] but a lot of times guys don't want to come out. You still have to be smart about it, though."
- Matta said he felt his team had a good plan offensively against Minnesota but got stagnant too often early: "We held the ball too much and let them off the hook as opposed to continuing to grind and move it."
- "We got that thing to three and could just never get the possession we needed to get ... that's sort of where we are right now in terms of making those plays that need to be made." — Matta on the Minnesota game.
- Matta finished the show rehashing all the past matchups with Wisconsin: "There have been some unbelievable battles against them."