Pregame Notes & Quotes: Ohio State vs. XavierMarch 16, 2007

NCAA Tournament First Round
Ohio State Player Quotes
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Rupp Arena - Lexington, Ky.

#1 Mike Conley Jr., G

On Xaviers Drew Lavender&
Hes a great player and is very quick. He pretty much runs the team, and they run a lot of things through him. He causes problems on the fast break, so were going to have to get back in transition in order to contain him.

On facing Xavier in the second round&
Xavier wants to beat us, and there is a lot of history between Ohio State and Xavier. Its a big game, and were going to be well-prepared to play. We have to be mentally prepared, because Xavier is one of those teams that can beat anyone on any given day. We have to play all 40 minutes.

On ways Ohio State can improve&
I think we need to rebound better defensively. We have been out-rebounded offensively and defensively a few times this year. Rebounds really spark our fast break, and we like to run the ball. If we can do that, then it will make a big difference.

# 3 Ivan Harris, F

On Xavier guard Drew Lavender&
Drew Lavender is an excellent player. He is very quick with the ball. Hes a good penetrator that has worked really hard on his outside shot.

On how dangerous of a team Xavier is&
They are really dangerous. A lot of people looked at them as a very dangerous team in this tournament. We have to come out from the start and play our game. We watched the film and this is an excellent team and we are concentrating on trying to advance as far as we can.

#20 Greg Oden, C

On the upcoming game&
It is very important because if you lose you go home. Right now we are taking it all in and just playing some basketball and improving every game.

On his offense&
My offensive game just comes off my teammates. It helps when guys are hitting threes and I can go one-on-one and just play off of them. When guys are packed in I can just pass out to them and then they hit their jump shots.

On if he would have gone to Xavier had Thad Matta still been coaching there &
He is a great coach and a great guy. He was one of the first things that got me attracted to Ohio State so if he was at Xavier then it could have been a possibility.

On his broken hand healing&
As a basketball player it helps me out a lot offensively being able to go both ways. It means teams have to play me more than one way and have that threat to be able go with my right or my left.

#12 Ron Lewis, G

On playing another team from Ohio&
Each team always wants to win for the state. A victory (over Xavier) would go along way even if we dont play them again next year. You always want to have the edge over the other team.

On the keys to victory against Xavier&
We need to go out there and make plays. We know their plays and they know ours so it comes to what we do on the court. We need to do the little things like hustling after basketball and making the extra effort.

NCAA Tournament First Round
Ohio State Coach Quotes
Friday, March 16, 2007
Rupp Arena - Lexington, Ky.

Ohio State Head Coach Thad Matta

Opening statement&
Obviously, were happy to be here in the second round. Tomorrow, well be playing a great basketball team in Xavier. I think when you get in these situations when you have a short turnaround, the guys have been good with the preparation. Well lace them up tomorrow and hopefully come out and play well.

On his friendship with Xavier coach Sean Miller&
Sean and I shared an office at Miami of Ohio, and I consider Sean one of the best friends I have in life. Like Ive said before, hes talked me off buildings before, and Ive talked him off buildings before. I think its unique, but when youre in this profession long enough, situations are going to arise when you coach against friends.

On seeing Xaviers seniors on the opposite side&
Its going to be tough, but when the ball goes up, I dont see faces. You see more actions. The one thing I have for (Xaviers) seniors Justin (Cage), Justin (Doellman) and Brandon (Cole) - is a tremendous sense of pride in the careers that theyve had, watching those guys come in and watching them over their careers and just the improvement that theyve made. I have known Justin (Cage) a long time, and Im excited for those guys to have the opportunity to play us in the second round. Im happy for them. Im happy for us to be in this situation.

On leaving Xavier the way he did
The great thing is that when I left Xavier, I knew it was going to be in great hands when Sean (Miller) was going to get the job. I felt we made that program better from when we got there, and as long as Sean was taking over, I felt great.

On being the Goliath in the David vs. Goliath battle
At this stage of the season, I dont know if there are advantages or disadvantages. If theres an advantage for our team I think that its the places that weve played, the schedule that weve played. As we set our schedule coming into this year, it was to get into some crazy environments on the road. And you just hope at that point the preparation for 33, 34 games has put you in a situation to play well tomorrow.

On the Xavier vs. Matta storyline
First of all, thats a sad approach to a storyline because it takes away from the players. Xaviers had an incredible season. I think were a very good basketball team. I think that weve had a great basketball season. The fact that were meeting tomorrow, its another game. Were not changing the way we approach a game because I used to coach at the opponents university.

NCAA Tournament First Round
Xavier Player Quotes
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Rupp Arena - Lexington, Ky.

#24 Drew Lavender, G

On whether he believes size is overrated in a player&
Everyone has their own opinion. Some people think size is more important and some people think speed is more important. I am one of those people who feels like size is overrated.

On not being intimidated by being 5-foot-7&
Ive been the smallest guy on the floor since my ninth-grade year. Im pretty used to it by now.

#15 Justin Doellman, F

On Ohio States Greg Oden&
I know hes a really good player, but this is Ohio State-Xavier and were just looking forward to the match-up.

On the win over BYU on Thursday&
BYU is a very good team. Toward the end of the game, our leadership really stepped up and we were able to make big plays.

On Xaviers first NCAA victory since his freshman year&
That was so long ago in my freshman year. We are a completely different team right now. Were just looking forward to the match-up tomorrow.

#3 Justin Cage, F

On facing former head coach Thad Matta&
Its just like another game. Yeah, he was the coach at Xavier, but hes moved on and we have as well. There is no animosity, we just need to be focused on playing Ohio State. Its going to be a big game tomorrow.

On Coach Mattas departure from Xavier to Ohio State&
I dont know. Leaving the way he did is part of the business of college basketball today. You cant ride anyones coattails or anything. You have to go out there and play the next game. Were past it.

On being recruited by Coach Matta&
It was a good experience. I kind of knew him from Butler because I am from Indianapolis. It was kind of a big deal I guess when he left. [Ohio State] is a great team and theyre doing a great job. Im proud of him.

#33 Brandon Cole, F

On playing against someone like Greg Oden&
In college I havent had a chance to play against anyone like him, and Id really have to go back to high school and say the closest guy I played against was Eddy Curry. Odens just a heck of a player, and if he gets great position close to the basket, he almost unstoppable. Were going to have to push him off the block and stop easy baskets.

On added hype surrounding this game&
Its a lot of fun for the media with the storylines, with the situation of Coach Miller and Coach Matta being so close. But really its just two great programs and great coaches going against each other. Itll be a lot of fun. Both teams will be bringing their A game, and hopefully because weve got a little bit more of a veteran group, we can stay a little more focused, and be able to play our game.

On the support of fans&
We had great fans last night, some of which may have been Ohio State fans, which we appreciated. It was a lot of fun. As far as tomorrow, we know the support should be there, and our fans may have some animosity towards Coach Matta, which will only hype us even more.

#34 Stanley Burrell, G

On playing their game, rather than getting out of their game plan&
We cant change any of the things that we do. If we change, well be in trouble. We just need to concentrate on doing what got us here, which is playing good defense. If we can keep Oden off the block, we should be right there at the end.

On the keys to the game&
We need to stop Mike Conley Jr., and control Greg Oden the best we can. Conley doesnt get enough credit for what he does. If he gets chances to make everyone better, were in trouble. Drew (Lavender) should be up to the challenge of playing both ends of the floor, and if he does that, well be there in the end.

Xavier Head Coach Sean Miller

Opening statement&
Like everybody that is still playing, we are grateful to have advanced. I thought we beat a very good team last night in BYU. I have to give our players a lot of credit. Now we find ourselves with an immense challenge in Ohio State. Like everybody who has played them, we have our hands full. Looking at their three losses at North Carolina without Greg Oden, at Florida when he (Oden) was just finding his way, and at Wisconsin those are three pretty good losses when you consider they have 31 wins. We are going to have to play a perfect game to beat them. But nonetheless thats the great part of the NCAA Tournament. The best team does not always win; its the team that plays the best on that given night.

On how to defend Greg Oden in the post&
That is one of those things thats is a little bit of a misconception because I think the greatness of Greg Oden is not just in offense, its probably more on defense if you consider his shot-blocking ability, the presence he has around the basket, and just how easy it is for him to rebound. On offense, he is very unselfish. How many points he gets per game with his back to the basket is not the whole issue with him. Thats what makes them a great team.

On relationship with Ohio State Coach Thad Matta&
Thad and I have a great relationship. It started by us both being assistants at Miami University. We shared an office and ran camp together. When Thad first came on to staff at Miami, I was already there. I actually hired him to work our summer camp. He almost didnt show up. But once he came in it became clear what a great guy he was.

I look at my time with him as some as my best in coaching. I think a lot of him and his family. When I first came to Xavier, my family had no place to go. My wife was pregnant with our third son and we lived with Thad for about a month. So to say Im a fan of his and a friend would be an understatement.

-- Courtesy Kentucky