For a coach who has been to seven Big Ten tournament championship games in his first 10 years as Ohio State's head coach, Thad Matta has a hard time coming up with reasons why his teams have been so successful in this one-and-done event.
“I don’t know," Matta said Wednesday when meeting with reporters to preview this week's Big Ten tourney in Chicago which kicks off today. "You need a little bit of luck and I think a lot of it is getting through that first game."
Matta said if you can get past that first game, you can start to get some momentum rolling in a tournament style setting. Of course, the 11th-year coach is hopeful he can ride that same philosophy in Chicago this week. The Buckeyes open play 9 p.m. Thursday against the winner of tonight's Rutgers-Minnesota game.
What Ohio State can't afford is a hangover. Coming off last Sunday's blowout loss to Wisconsin, Matta said he has liked what he's seen so far from his team in how it has responded.
“Things have been good. I think from the standpoint of just sitting down and just getting these guys to understand what lies ahead," Matta said.
- Matta continued his praise of freshman guard D'Angelo Russell and the way he plays the game, stating, “I think the thing you’ve probably noticed with D’Angelo, and I’ll swear to this, D’Angelo would probably rather average 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds and win than score 25 points and that sort of thing."
- Matta was asked if Sunday's result was at all concerning to him. He said the best way for the team to get over it is to forget about what happened and move forward. "For me, it’s more of just having the understanding that we can’t change what happened Sunday and that’s over with," Matta said. "We had one of those games, let’s don’t have another one of those the remainder of the season."
- Matta said he doubts Anthony Lee will be able to play in the Big Ten tournament because of a lingering groin injury that has kept him out of action since the Rutgers game back on Feb. 8.