Thad Matta Radio Show: Ohio State's Final Push, Playing Two Point Guards and Preparing for Penn State

By Eric Seger on February 27, 2017 at 7:02 pm
Thad Matta call-in show recap Feb. 27.

Thad Matta's Ohio State men's basketball enjoyed an off weekend after grabbing its biggest win of the season, an 83-73 dumping of No. 16 Wisconsin on Thursday. Not only did the Buckeyes thump one of the Big Ten's best teams, Matta coached his 457th game as Ohio State's head man. That is a program record.

Two games remain on Ohio State's 2016-17 regular season schedule. The Buckeyes play at Penn State on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. and host Indiana on Saturday for Marc Loving's Senior Day.

Matta joined Paul Keels and Ron Stokes on 97.1 The Fan on Monday evening for his weekly radio show.


  • Tuesday's show was prerecorded on Monday, as the team traveled to State College that evening.
  • Matta said it was "a great thing" to see his team excited in the locker room after the win over Wisconsin.
  • "That was the first time we put it all together ... I told our guys that for the first time, we were able to take blows and answer them."
  • Ohio State's decision to trap the post defensively caught Wisconsin a little off guard, Matta said. He added that rebounding early when the shots weren't falling at the start of the game showed that his team was in the flow.
  • Matta joked that Wisconsin had "about 83 points against us the first time we played and I think 87 of them were in the paint" as the reason they elected to double the post on Thursday: "I give our guys credit: I thought we did a good job scrambling out of that.
  • Tim Horton's Coffee With the Coach Question from D.J. in Upper Arlington: Does Matta think Ohio State has the potential to make a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament? "Yes ... If you look at the Big Ten, we've been there in pretty much every game and stretches like that often have to do with matchups as is normally the case in March. I think the Big Ten Tournament is going to be an amazing five days of basketball."
  • On the outside shooting success of C.J. Jackson against Wisconsin, who went 4-for-4 from deep: "He's a young man that when I say he cares about the welfare of this team, he definitely does. I think that's why he's playing so well right now."
  • Matta said the four new players in the program — Jackson, Derek Funderburk, Micah Potter and Andre Wesson — have made "tremendous" progress this season in their development this season.
  • On playing Jackson and JaQuan Lyle at the same time but the former being a starter: "Hopefully that lights a fire under JaQuan, but I thought he played very well. We need those guys clicking for us."
  • Matta is pleased with the production Lyle is giving off the bench. It helps him as he continues to get fully healthy from his sprained ankle.
  • Does the play of each point guard help monitor how many minutes each plays? "I think so. They each did plenty of great things, playing hard. The ability to play those two and have the consistency is huge for us."
  • Matta wants Lyle to become a better on-ball defender.
  • On Trevor Thompson: "Engagement is the biggest thing for Trevor."
  • On Bronson Koenig's huge night against Ohio State: "He's a heckuva player ... He hit some really, really tough shots for them."
  • Matta said Kam Williams was most effective against Wisconsin defensively, rotating correctly and rebounding: "He just played an all-around really good game."
  • Elk & Elk Injury Report: Nothing new to share.
  • Ohio State practiced on Saturday afternoon, Sunday in addition to Monday. Saturday was a practice predicated on conditioning, Matta said.
  • Matta said he hasn't given much thought to changing up his starting lineup at the season nears its end. He said he likes the flow that Ohio State has right now, especially with regards to the way it starts the game and then can bring Lyle off the bench.
  • On players staying after practice for extra work: "Some guys do, some guys don't. The guys that usually do play the best. At this point in the season, you're not practicing that long ... so when you have a shorter practice and have guys stay afterward it is an encouraging sign."
  • Wesson's recent rise has Matta beaming: "He doesn't say a whole lot but he's always engaged ... I've been very pleased with how he has played."
  • Matta said he feels "very very strongly" on Micah Potter's game and growth. Potter's biggest thing is being too hard on himself at times.
  • On having Greg Oden around the program and working with the post players in practice: "It's a great thing ... you're talking maybe about one of the top-10 college basketball players of all-time and he's in there and humble and willing to help guys out."
  • Matta said Jae'Sean Tate "did what he should have done" when he tried to get the Wisconsin player off him even though it resulted in a technical foul: "I told the official, that's what happens when you let them grab our arms the whole game."
  • Matta added that he was very pleased with how the guys that were still on the court were able to keep the lead where it was even without Tate on the court.
  • More on Oden: "I would jump in front of a bus for that guy ... it is really comforting and I think the essence of coaching when you see guys like that come back. He was one that put everything he had into Ohio State."
  • Matta noted that Penn State is a guard-oriented team that likes to put its head down and get as deep as possible into the paint. The Nittany Lions like to run a 1-2-2 zone, play man-to-man and even some 2-3 zone.
  • Penn State's guards play somewhat like how Nebraska's do, with the exception that they don't shoot as many outside shots: "But they'll make them against us. You can be sure of that."
  • Penn State's team is very similar to the one Pat Chambers had last year. Led by junior Shep Garner, Matta said the Nittany Lions have "a little east coaster driving mentality" to them. Penn State is 14-15 overall and 6-10 in Big Ten play.
  • "Every time we go in there, it has been a battle until the end. Hopefully, our guys understand what we have at stake and get themselves ready to play."
  • Tuesday is Senior Night for Penn State: "One year I remember we hit like eight Senior Days, the warmups get messed up and you just have to adjust."
  • Matta said he and his staff has told Thompson "the harder you play the less you foul." Thompson did show signs of growing to avoid touch fouls, however.
  • More on foul trouble, Matta said there are multiple factors that go into whether or not playing someone who has two fouls in the first half or three early in the second. For example, the player has been effective, which player it is, matchups and if an offense-defense situation can be enacted.
  • As he has multiple times, Matta said he wishes college basketball would adopt the NBA rule of fouls with six.
  • Matta said he told Jared Sullinger, David Lighty, Greg Oden and others that they weren't allowed to get in early foul trouble, either in the first or second half.
  • Matta said it excites him to see the success the women's team is having: "Kevin McGuff is doing a great job and Kelsey Mitchell is unbelievable."
  • Matta said he used to joke with former coach Jim Foster about if the women's game would ever adopt a one-and-done rule: "He'd look at me dead serious and say, 'no I hope not.'"
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