Buckeyes Held Spartans Scoreless the Final 4:30
No. 22 Ohio State Held Illinois to 28.3 Percent Shooting
Buckeyes end four-game skid
LaQuinton Ross scores 25 points and pulls down 12 rebounds in victory.
LaQuinton Ross scored 19 points to lead the Buckeyes
Ohio State 107, VMI 69 - November 10, 2006 (photos courtesy of Associated Press)
Thad Matta (pronounced Mah-tuh) has done what he is used to doing as a head coach during his first two years in Columbus - win. The 13th head coach in Ohio State history guided his first edition of Buckeye basketball to a 20-12 campaign in 2004-05 and followed that effort with a 26-6 record and an outright Big Ten regular-season championship in 2006. In six years as a collegiate head coach, Matta has produced 20 or more victories each year, which includes three years at Xavier and one at Butler. His average record as a head coach is 25-8.
In two years as a Buckeye, Matta has more wins than any previous Ohio State head coach after two seasons on the job with a 46-18 record. Randy Ayers was 44-17 during his first two seasons (1990-91). Matta's two-year winning percentage of .719 is a close second to Ayers' .721 in his first two seasons at Ohio State.
Matta is one of just two coaches nationally to post 20 or more wins in each of his first six seasons as a head coach. The 2006 Big Ten Conference and USBWA District V Coach of the Year, Matta tied an Ohio State record for wins by a rookie coach (20) in 2004-05. Gary Williams, currently the head coach at Maryland, posted a 20-13 record in 1986-87. Matta (2005 and `06) and Williams (1987 and `88) are the only two Ohio State coaches to record 20 or more wins in each of their first two seasons in Columbus.
Matta, a finalist for the 2002-03 Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, began his duties in Columbus July 7, 2004. No time was wasted preparing for his first season in Columbus, which culminated in a thrilling victory over undefeated and top-ranked Illinois in the regular-season finale at Value City Arena before a packed house and a national television audience. The 65-64 victory became an instant Buckeye classic.
Matta, a native of Hoopeston, Ill., was 78-23 (.772) in three years at Xavier and is 148-49 (.751) in six years as a collegiate head coach. He coached one season at Butler, his alma mater, before taking the Xavier post. He led the Musketeers to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2004, the best NCAA tournament run in program history.
The Musketeers won 16 of their last 18 games in 2003-04. His Xavier teams were 19-4 in March from 2002-04.
Xavier compiled a 47-10 (.825) record against Atlantic 10 competition under Matta, including a 39-9 (.813) record in the regular season and an 8-1 (.889) mark in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Musketeers captured two regular season championships and two tournament titles with Matta at the helm.
Matta, the 2004 Columbus Dispatch Coach of the Year, led Xavier to three-consecutive 26-win seasons, back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championships in 2002 and 2003 and a league tournament title in 2002 and 2004. Xavier advanced to three NCAA tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2004 following two second-round trips. The three season totals of 26 wins are tied for the second-highest single-season win total in Xavier history with the 1987-88 team and trails only the 28 win 1989-90 "Sweet 16" season.
Matta's 26 wins for the 2002-03 season marked the highest win total ever for a second-year XU head coach. He also broke the school record for most victories by a Xavier rookie head coach. Xavier's 26-6 record in the 2001-02 campaign set the record.
Matta was named 2002 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, while leading the Musketeers to the top regular season finish in the league at 14-2 and an Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship. In addition, Matta became the only first-year coach in conference history to ever win both the A-10 regular season and tourney championships.
Matta is no stranger to conference championships. He now has four regular-season league titles in three NCAA Division I conferences in six years to go with three conference tournament championships as a head coach. He won regular-season conference championships, conference tournament championships and conference coach-of-the-year awards in each of his first two seasons as a head coach. Matta won all three in 2000-01 at Butler in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and duplicated that feat in the 2001-02 season at Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Matta was named 2000-01 Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in his one season at the helm at Butler after leading the Bulldogs to a school record 24 wins, while also being named National "Rookie Coach of the Year" by CBS SportsLine.com and College Insider.com. Matta had spent the previous three seasons as the top assistant to Barry Collier, who left Butler after the 1999-2000 season to take over as head coach at Nebraska.
Butler was 24-8 under Matta's direction that year with an 11-3 MCC record and a league regular season championship, a MCC tournament championship and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Butler won 13 of its last 15 games, including a 58-44 upset win at then 10th-ranked Wisconsin and a 79-63 bashing of then 23rd-ranked Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The win over Wake Forest was Butler's first NCAA tournament win since 1962. Eventual NCAA runner-up Arizona ended the Butler run in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Matta began his coaching career at Indiana State University as a graduate assistant under head coach Tates Locke in 1990-91. Matta served as an academic coordinator and administrative assistant at Butler (1991-94) before moving into the full-time coaching ranks. Matta took his first full-time assistant coaching position under Herb Sendek at Miami (Ohio) University in 1994-95 and helped Miami to a 23-7 record, a Mid-American Conference regular-season championship and a first-round win in the NCAA tournament.
The following year, Matta accepted a coaching position at Western Carolina University under Phil Hopkins and helped the Catamounts to a 17-13 record, the school's first winning record in 10 years. Western Carolina captured the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Matta returned to Miami under new head coach Charlie Coles in 1996-97 and helped the RedHawks to a 21-9 record, the MAC regular season and tournament championships and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Matta rejoined Butler's staff in 1997 and helped the Bulldogs to three-consecutive 20-win seasons. He established himself as one of the nation's best young coaching prospects during a six-year assistant coaching stint. In his three seasons as Barry Collier's top assistant, Butler compiled a 67-29 (.698) record, won two Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championships and one MCC regular-season title, made two NCAA tournament appearances and earned one NIT berth. He served as Butler's primary recruiter.
In total, Matta spent six seasons as a full-time assistant coach at three different universities, helping his squads compile a composite 128-58 (.688) record and make six postseason tournament appearances. He was on the bench in five-consecutive conference tournament championship games and won four league tournament championship rings. He was in the NCAA tournament five times as an assistant under four different head coaches and in the postseason NIT once.
A high school basketball standout at Hoopeston-East Lynn in Hoopeston, Ill., Matta was a two-year starter for the Butler Bulldogs in three seasons after transferring from Southern Illinois as a sophomore. He led Butler in assists (100) and 3-point field goal percentage (.433) in 1987-88 and in free throw percentage in 1988-89 (.872). He served as a team captain on Barry Collier's first team in 1989-90 and finished his career in sixth place on Butler's all-time list for free throw percentage (.800). He earned a B.S. degree from Butler in 1990. Matta enjoyed his Butler career high point total of 21 points against XU at the Cincinnati Gardens March 2, 1989.
Thad Michael Matta was born July 11, 1967 in Hoopeston. The 39-year-old coach and his wife, Barbara, have two daughters, Ali and Emily.