Thursday, October 12, 2006

29 Days 'till tipoff.

Ohio State media and picture day was today, and from the general feeling from reading the article, this is going to be one of the most highly anticipated seasons in Buckeye History. BuckNuts has some pictures up, and I'm sure the O-Zone won't be far behind.

The Thad 5 sportin' the new unis.

Some quotes from media day:

Matta on the new guys:

“You want them to get the feel for college basketball. We’ve got four guys on this team who have never played with a shot clock before. I think one of the challenges we have is molding them and getting them to think along the lines we want them to think. That is learning the system and trusting the system. I think that’s where the crash course comes with our practices.

“We are very competitive in practice and try to force the guys’ hands to learn as we compete. That’s going to be even a heightened level this year with the short time we have before we play.

“There is no question guys are going to get thrown into the fire early and they will have to develop quickly. Every second of every practice will be vitally important to this club."

Is a slow start inevitbale? I think so, and it almost sounds like Matta does, too.

Matta on the schedule:

“I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for us,” Matta said of the slate. “You look at some of the teams we are playing, even in the BCA Classic. VMI has all five starters returning. Loyola, in the second round, has all five starters from a team that won 19 games. Then you look at Carolina, Florida, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Those are going to be great challenges for us. With this team, we wanted to have as many challenges as we could.

“When we begin Big Ten play, we will be able to say we played in two of the toughest environments in college basketball with Carolina and Florida. We’re not going to see anything different when we go on the road in the Big Ten.”

I think one thing that needs to be addressed is the rough nonconference schedule. I do not expect Ohio State to go undefeated in nonconference play for the second straight season, and I think it may be a struggle to go above .500 in the marquee games (Cincy, @ UNC, @ Florida, Iowa State, Tennessee). Obviously, the two most notable games on there are the ones at North Carolina and in Gainesville. Will Ohio State win either of those games? Probably not. However, a loss early on could be the best thing to happen to this group of guys. As Matta mentioned, they will get an understanding early on of what it's like to play in a hostile environment, which will only help come March, and it will prevent a sense of complacency among the young guns. The last thing we need is these freshmen to enjoy instant success, assume that everything will come easy, and then get a harsh reality check in conference play.

Matta on the expectations:

“I don’t think people can comprehend how much pressure you put on yourself as a coach,” he said. “Quite honestly, I don’t know how this team is going to be. It would be quite foolish to speculate on what they’re going to be able to do. There are so many unknowns and college basketball has changed drastically.

“The opening thing is Greg Oden is not healthy. Is that Greg’s fault? Is that my fault? That’s nobody’s fault. That’s life. I think a coach once told me, ‘We’re all a sprained ankle away from mediocrity.’

“But we’re going to work as hard as we can and we’re going to try and mold this thing into the right direction. We’ve got guys who love the game of basketball. We know we’re going to go through some ups and downs, but I think that will help you in the end.”

Matta is mostly concerned with where this team ends up and the daily lessons it will take them to get to that spot.

“As I’ve told the guys, the only microscope we’re going to be under is our own,” he said. “That’s how we have to operate. There are so many unknowns. It is a youthful team and, quite honestly, this is a day-by-day process with these guys. We want to play our best basketball in March, knowing we have a ways to go and a feeling out period. We have some tremendous challenges ahead of us early on. Those things should only strengthen us for February and March.”

When did Jim Tressel start coaching basketball? This is great, I'm loving it. If these basketball players can buy into Matta like the football team has bought into Tressel, only good will come from it.

By the way, the new unis look alright. I was a bigger fan of last season's silver shoulders (Home jerseys only), but these are servicable. Definitely not a fan of the shorts, though.

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