March 19, 2009

 

OHIO STATE QUOTES

THE MODERATOR:  Joining us today are Ohio State student athletes Jon Diebler, Evan Turner and Dallas Lauderdale.  Questions for the student athletes only, please.

Q.  Evan, how long after you found out you'd be facing Siena were you told that they upset Vanderbilt in the first round last year?

EVAN TURNER:  Probably 15 seconds later.  And we were aware they're a good team and we knew in the past what they did.  We watched the tournament a little bit last year.  And I mean, once it comes to this point I don't think it's an upset, I think it was just a win.  A lot of teams prepare to win and have full faith in their system and their program.  So I really don't think it was an upset, I think it was a basketball team.  And I think the tougher team won that day.

Q.  Can you guys talk about Siena's style of play and how you feel you match up to that?

JON DIEBLER:  I just think like Evan says, unique style of basketball, but we're very confident in our defense.  We know we'll have to stop them in transition, but, again, we know they like to get out and run and shoot and get to the lane.  So it's going to be contrasting styles, but, again, I think both teams are going to stick with what they do.

DALLAS LAUDERDALE:  I think they're great in transition.  They have great guards.  I think it's an advantage/disadvantage type game, because the advantage we have is obviously we have size on them, but then the advantage they have is they have quickness on us.  So I think it's going to be a great college game.

Q.  I know you guys are disappointed not making the NCAA field last year, but what did the NIT experience do for you?

EVAN TURNER:  I think as underclassmen with the two people sitting next to me I think it helped us get better.  We played some great teams in the NIT.  We just realized what it takes in order to stay focused and survive a one game elimination tournament and it helped out a lot; helped out tremendously and it gave us confidence.

And just for the simple fact that we missed out last year, just makes you a lot more grateful to be a part of the tournament this year.  And we're just taking full advantage of it and laying everything on the line.

JON DIEBLER:  I think it was kind of a wake up call for us, just because not having that name across    just because we're Ohio State doesn't mean we're guaranteed a spot in the NCAA.  But like Evan said, it gave us confidence coming into this season, but I think it also gave us a lot of motivation to work hard in the offseason and capitalize on our opportunities early on.

Q.  After seeing film and going over the scouting reports, does this team remind you of any team you faced already this season?

DALLAS LAUDERDALE:  I think they might be the best transition team we've seen this season.  We know Michigan State in the Big Ten, they're a transition team.  But the way the guards in Siena, the way they push the ball and their bigs, we're going to have to focus on getting back in tomorrow's game.  I don't think they're comparable to any team we've played this year, though.

Q.  The Big Ten's kind of taken a national beating both in basketball and in football, mostly from the press.  How do you guys think the Big Ten's going to do this year in the tournament?

EVAN TURNER:  Just having full faith, I think all our teams in the tournament will do fine.  I think we have a strong understanding of basketball.  Our competition    our competition level is pretty high.  I think we play great defense in the Big Ten.  I just think everybody's trying to seize the opportunity and the moment and try their hardest.

Q.  Do you think the conference gets a bad rap?

EVAN TURNER:  Depends on what you like.  I mean, sometimes it might be boring to watch or score 50 points, win a game by 2, 50 to 48, makes you tough here.  Once you play nonconference teams makes things a lot easier.  My teammates and I are fortunate enough to be in the Big Ten and get better every single game and play against tough defense and competition as opposed to other conferences that might not play as strong of defense or they might just be offensive minded.

Q.  What do you guys expect just fan wise you guys are pretty close and so is Louisville and Pittsburgh within driving, are you expecting pretty pro Ohio State crowd?

JON DIEBLER:  Definitely, I think we'll have a pretty good following.  I think all the games will actually    Louisville I think they'll bring a good following just because there's so many good teams playing down here, I think there will be a lot of fans coming to watch great basketball.  But I think we're hoping we're going to have a lot of Ohio State fans out here.

Q.  Dallas, you're going to have a size advantage.  Do you think this is a team you'll be able to be physical with?

DALLAS LAUDERDALE:  Definitely, we have to be smart in our physicality, because we can't get in foul trouble or the advantage won't be to any use.  We want to    me and B.J. and Evan and Kyle want to play our physical game, but we don't want to do anything stupid that will hurt the team.  But we're going to go hard, we're going to go hard.

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, guys.

Coach Matta, welcome.  If you'll begin with an opening statement.

COACH MATTA:  Well, obviously always great to be back in Dayton.  I think as a coach and as a player who spent a lot of time in this building, and for our guys to be an hour away, it worked out well for us because of what we've been through this week.  You play three games last weekend and get back at 10:00 at night and guys got finals the next morning.

We were able to get through those and as we head into playing Siena tomorrow night, obviously a tremendous basketball team with great experience.  I think that the challenges that we have trying to get our guys ready and understanding how fast Siena wants to play and finally be something that I think we'll see, and we've seen with a couple of teams this year, but, like I said, it's a great challenge when you're in the 8/9 game, it's going to be a war.

Q.  When your team's playing a mid major team that they may not be familiar with, how much of a selling job do you have to do with your team so they realize that this is a real deal game, a real deal opponent?

COACH MATTA:  Well, honestly the selling job is just watching tape with them, and our guys have a great understanding with what they did last year in the NCAA Tournament, with the win over Vanderbilt, that is immediate respect right there, and the schedule they've gone out and played.

I think our guys have a very good appreciation and understanding.  And I think that I've been on both sides of that fence of where they draw the line of labeling you.  And the one thing I've learned in this tournament, there is no low major/mid major/high major.  It's about two teams going out there and competing.

Q.  You've taken young teams far in the tournament before.  But with this group, do you worry about them feeling a sense of accomplishment that they've gotten here now?

COACH MATTA:  You know, I would have if we would have won Sunday, had we beaten Purdue, maybe, and winning the Big Ten Tournament championship.  The thing I love about this team and its youthfulness, they don't know.

And I think that's one thing that's really helped this team from the standpoint of everything is new to them.  And that's helped us in a lot of regards with practice.  Guys don't know what it's like to practice, practice in college, and we've been able to I think get a lot better throughout the course of the season.

And every team is a little bit different.  I've never coached a team that's been this young, but it's been a very, very enjoyable year, because of the innocence, and when you lose a guy like David Lighty in December, and that was the one rock, that was the one guy I could say, "Hey David, make sure they understand this."

To their credit and the sophomores, they've done a very good job of kind of accepting the responsibility and leading this team.

Q.  We posed this to the players and pose this to you, does this Siena team seem reminiscent to any team you've already played over the course of this season?

COACH MATTA:  One is UMASS, very similar, guard oriented, push the ball fast.  But in regards to all the pieces that they have, I wouldn't say that there's a direct correlation.  I think certain pieces you could pick and choose from a Michigan State or a Miami, Florida or Notre Dame, those types of teams I think can sort of symbolize who they are.  But it's not verbatim any team that we've gone against like that.

Q.  Your point about Lighty, seems like your team was searching for an on the floor leader when he did go down.  Has Evan Turner now developed into that over the last couple of weeks?

COACH MATTA:  I think he has, and I think he and Jon Diebler, the two cagey veterans, the sophomores have done a very good job of stepping up and assuming more responsibility and trying to help the younger guys through it.  And that's the one thing that I think has helped this basketball team.  They're a very close team.  And they have an appreciation for each other and they're listening to what's being said.  But I think Evan and Jon have done a great job of that, of saying, All right, fellows, this is what we need to do and this is how we need to do it.

Q.  You hear us talk a lot about experience being an asset come tournament time, especially tournament experience.  Why do you say that?  And secondly, what do you have to do as a coach when you're dealing with a team that doesn't have a lot of that experience?

COACH MATTA:  I think first and foremost, where the experience helps is you have guys that have been through the length and the challenges of a college season.  And as you get into post season play, maybe guys that have been in this environment just having maybe more of an understanding of you lose, you go home type of mentality.

And with a young team trying to build the experience, I think the greatest thing that's helped our team is we played, would it be 21 straight games of very, very competitive basketball in the Big Ten, and the environments that we have to go into, just the power of those teams, I think, has helped us.  We're talking behind the curtain there, I want to say all but maybe two games in our Big Ten season have come down to like maybe the last two minutes of the game.

So there you're getting experience and the gun's pointed at your head, which is probably the best teacher.

Q.  Again with Lighty, was there a point after that when you kind of realized things would be okay, or it wouldn't damage your season; that you guys would still be successful?

COACH MATTA:  Until I saw him practice yesterday.  And I'm like, Golly, if we only had him.  I think that after he broke his foot against Jacksonville, we won the next game and we went against a very good West Virginia team and got beat bad at home.  And I remember kind of saying, uh oh, we've got to get this thing turned around.  And the hardest part when you lose a guy like Dave is more along the lines of I think as a coach we've always tried to take October and November and December and really tweak and twist and turn and get everything kind of set for your conference race.

And we were headed there.  We had the No. 1 defense in the country when he went down.  Our offense was getting better.  We saw signs of execution getting good, then all of a sudden you take a guy averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds, and I think David is one of the best defenders in college basketball, and now you're kind of like, geez, we've got to start moving guys here and there and changing what we're doing offensively.

So that was probably the biggest adjustment we had to go through.

Q.  Playing so close to home is quite a reward for a No. 8 seed.  Were you shocked that they sent you to Dayton?

COACH MATTA:  I wasn't from the standpoint of this tournament    I can't even fathom what those people go through in trying to put teams, and I think there's so much more that goes into it of as you're trying to take care of the higher seeds, where you don't cross paths again with teams that you've played.

And if you really look at the seedings, you could see why we might be here.  And I think it's great to be here.  The state of Ohio, obviously, we've got tremendous backing here.  And I know even in the Dayton area there's a huge alumni base here.  And being an hour away is good for us.

Q.  Diebler's shooting percentages have gone up this year.  Seemed like he got off to a bad start last year, never seemed to have recovered.  This year it seems he got off to a good start, is it just momentum with him or did he do anything to get better?

COACH MATTA:  I think with Jon last year coming in, there were times where being the all time leading scorer in the state of Ohio, every time he shot the ball, the 19,000 people like in the Schottenstein Center would suck in like, Uh, he's going to make it.  And started moving the ball around in the arena (Laughter).

No, I think there was so much, Jon put a lot of extra pressure on himself.  And we would see himself shooting the ball every day in practice, and last year people would say throughout the course of the season Jon's shooting 29 percent.  I'm like he's shooting 59 percent in practice.  I know he can do it.

I think the other thing in looking at Jon, we made a couple minor alterations with his shot preparation, and one of the biggest things it's always funny to put a tape in from last year, you're going through and scouting, and you just look at the change in his body and how much stronger he is.

And I think with Jon's size and his athleticism, he's got a pretty quick release.  But I think he's really slowed things down in his mind and just understands.  And we set some goals for him in the offseason last year.  And he's definitely exceeded those.  I've just been as pleased as I can be with the progress he's made and what he's done for us this year.

SIENA QUOTES

THE MODERATOR:  Joining us today are Siena student athletes Ryan Rossiter, Kenny Hasbrouck and Ronald Moore.  Questions, please.

Q.  All you guys, what was your first reaction when you saw you were going to play Ohio State in their own backyard?

RYAN ROSSITER:  You know, I thought it was going to be a tough matchup.  They have a lot of fans coming close around here.  They're going to have a lot of support, and it's going to be just like any other game, so it should be a lot of fun.

KENNY HASBROUCK:  Honestly, I still see it as a road game for both of us because it's not their home floor.  We're not used to the court yet, either one of us.  They'll just have more fans than us.

RONALD MOORE:  They're going to have a large fan base coming out to support them.  We played a lot of tough teams on the road this year, and I definitely think that going through that during the regular season we'll be ready for it come tomorrow.

Q.  Ronald, talk about the importance of dictating tempo in this game and how Siena will want to keep it an up tempo game?

RONALD MOORE:  Definitely will be very important.  It's something that we really look to do every game, not just for this game, but really want to control the tempo, make it a fast game and getting out in the floor and easy buckets, just only limiting them to one shot on the offensive end.

Q.  Kenny, what have you guys seen from Evan Turner that makes him a tough guard?

KENNY HASBROUCK:  He's a great driver.  He has a lot of moves.  He's 6 7 with a strong build.  He's just a legit scorer.  But if somebody helps up, he knows how to pass very well, too.  So he's just an all around player that we've seen on film so far.

Q.  Kenny, you hear a lot about experience in the tournament, being a great benefit.  How has last year's experience helped this year's team not just getting here but now that you're here?

KENNY HASBROUCK:  I think we're going to be more focused than we were last year.  We won't be worried about the excitement of the first time being in the NCAA Tournament; more just me trying to handle business and making it further than we did last year.  We're just going to need to take it one game at a time and understand every possession is a very big possession for us.  And I think this group knows that going from last year when we lost to Villanova.

Q.  Ryan, what do you guys have to do against their size inside, and specifically Mullens when he's in there, and in general, what do you have to do when you're facing a 7 footer who is clearly taller than you are?

RYAN ROSSITER:  He's a great player.  Seen a lot of him on film.  And Lauderdale is also a great player.  Main thing is to keep him as far away from the basket as possible.  Keep them off the glass.  They're good rebounders, stay between them and the basket, and try to get the rebound before they do and we should be successful.

THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, guys.

Coach, if you would please begin with an opening statement.

COACH McCAFFERY:  This is a very exciting time for our players to have this opportunity to represent Siena in the NCAA Tournament.  Obviously we're facing a very, very good team with great tradition.  And I feel like we're prepared, we're ready, and we're excited.

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Does their zone remind you of anything you've seen this year and what kind of things do you have to do to counteract that?

COACH McCAFFERY:  It's different than any we've seen.  The only other one like it was Holy Cross.  Holy Cross plays a similar matchup, but this is    it's really active and obviously they've got a lot of size, size that we don't typically see in our league, so that presents other problems when you think about Lauderdale and Mullens in particular, and how much bigger they are than our post players.  The other thing that's different is their wing people are long and 6 6 and 6 5 and 6 7, and that's the power forwards in our league.

So when you go up against that for the first time, sometimes the length can be problematic.  You think you're open or you think you can get the shot off or you can get into a gap and then it's harder because of how hard they play and how well they play it, and then because of the size of the players.

So hopefully we'll do a good job attacking it.

Q.  Can there be such a thing as an upset in an 8/9 game?

COACH McCAFFERY:  I suppose, if the 9 beats the 8, I guess.  I found it interesting that when you look at what a lot of people are saying about this game and if you think here we are getting ready to play Ohio State University, one of the best programs in the country annually and had a phenomenal season.  But everybody seems to think we have a really good chance.

And I think that's great.  But at the same time we recognize just how hard that's going to be.  We know what we're going up against.  I've watched a ton of film these last couple of days, and it's a team that started out the season young and they don't play that way now.  They are really playing well.  I think you saw it clearly in the Big Ten Tournament.

A lot of players doing some amazing things, and they play together.  They share the ball.  And I think that's why they're winning.  So we have our hands full.  But I think we'll have a solid game plan, and I think we'll come out ready, having been through it last year, I think we'll be under control and we'll try to do what we need to do to win the game.

Q.  I don't know how much tape you've seen of Turner, but what are your impressions of him?  He's really stepped up his game here the last couple of weeks.

COACH McCAFFERY:  You look at his numbers and you say, boy, he's a good player, and you watch him.  I think the thing that's impressed me about him is he's really a good late game player.  He is one of those guys that he can be quiet for a while and then just take the game over in the last seven minutes, six minutes.  Because he does so many things.  He's not shooting the ball that much, then all of a sudden he'll hit three jumpers on you.  He gets to the rim.  He can offensive rebound and put it back in for you.

But he also does a great job of finding his teammates.  So even if they give him the ball because he doesn't usually start with the ball in his hands but he usually ends up with the ball in his hands, he makes plays for other people.  They're the toughest kind of guys to stop.

He's clearly multi dimensional.  When you have a guy like that, then you surround him with the shooters they have.  It makes it hard to guard this team.

Q.  People talk about Turner a lot, but how much is Diebler going to present a problem for you guys because he's making 43 percent from 3 and he's 6 6?

COACH McCAFFERY:  He's really an amazing player when you watch him because he never stops moving.  And he's one of those guys, he's way more athletic than he first looks.  He's quick, and he's got    he may have the quickest release that I've ever seen.

You think you're on him and it's gone in your face.  And he's also got range.  I think the thing that helps him is they don't have one shooter    a lot of times no matter how good a shooter you are it's easy to stop a team that has one shooter.

This team doesn't have one shooter.  Buford can really shoot the ball, and Simmons can really shoot the ball.  And Turner is a scorer, and Hill's playing real well, and they can pound it in if they have to, and they may do it a little more against us than they may against Michigan State.  So that gives them another option maybe that they wouldn't utilize at the Big Ten as much.

So they have your defense spread out because they have so many different weapons.  And Diebler is a concern because not only is he one of those guys that can put up a big number, he can put three or four in a row on you in a minute twenty and blow a game open.

He can also be off for 18, 20 minutes and then hit four in a row and blow the game open.  So you always have to pay attention to where he is.

Q.  Have you seen any signs from your players, especially since you guys have gotten here, that they've been to the tournament before that maybe you didn't see last year when it was their first experience going into the Vanderbilt game?
COACH McCAFFERY:  I haven't seen a lot of difference in terms of how they've approached it.  Pretty much the same.

Q.  Similar to that, though, Coach what kind of confidence carry over did you see maybe heading into the season versus what the guys were able to do last year in the tournament?

COACH McCAFFERY:  I do think we came into the season as a confident team by virtue of how our season ended last year with the success we had and then we took a trip overseas in August and played together for a while.  So we sort of had this unit together for five games, and had some practices in the summer.  And then had, I think, a focus that was necessary because you look at our schedule and you say, wow, that's a pretty tough schedule.  The reason for that was I felt like we needed that to challenge this team on a daily basis.

We didn't have one game this year that we could sort of mail it in.  So I think that helped our focus and it made us a tough road team and we lost those three games down in Orlando, but they were two very good teams and we benefited from that even though we lost those games.

So I think this year with the so called target on our backs every night, they were able to focus and do the things necessary to win in terms of preparation and playing well, especially at the end of the game.  And obviously that's what you need in this environment.  The game's close, you have to maintain your composure and make plays down the stretch.

Q.  How important will it be for your team to be able to dictate the tempo in this game?

COACH McCAFFERY:  I think it's important in every game.  We're going to try to push the ball as best we can.  Now, that puts pressure on our defense.  We have to get stops.  We could run on makes and misses, but it's much better to run on misses.  If we can get some stops and goes, that would be great.  There's no secret in terms of how we play.  I would say this against the matchup, I don't think you really want to quick shoot the ball.  You've got to work the ball a little more.

So whereas we might try to up tempo the game as best we can, sometimes you have to take longer to attack the matchup and the score may end up being down in the 50s or 60s just by virtue of how they defend.

So it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Q.  You just mentioned your team is a good road team.  What kind of environment do you expect to see here tomorrow night?  As a No. 9 seed did you maybe expect something different from the committee as far as playing Ohio State in their own backyard?

COACH McCAFFERY:  Well, you know, last year playing Vanderbilt in Tampa, that was one thing.  And because we were heavy underdog, I think a lot of people kind of got behind us, and we recognize that will not be the case tomorrow night.

There will be a lot of red.  Hopefully maybe some of the Louisville people will jump towards us, but you don't know that.  Our fans travel extremely well.  We'll have a lot of people here in green and they'll be making a lot of noise.  But as you look at the building you're kind of expecting it to be essentially a road game for us.  That's kind of how we're looking at it, that it's a road game and it's going to be loud.  You're not going to be able to make play calls from the bench.  Stand up and say something, it's going to be so loud in there that you're going to have to really think and react
in the court.  And hopefully our experience throughout the year has prepared us for that type of situation.  We'll see.

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.