Postgame Notes: No. 10 Ohio State 50, No. 22 Wisconsin 43
March 17, 2013
Thad Matta: Well, as I told the team afterwards, I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a basketball team in terms of you look at this tournament and you look at this league, and we've gone 21 straight games, and to be standing atop of it today, last college basketball game of the regular season, incredible. I mean, that was a hard-fought basketball game. I thought both teams were exhausted. We were challenging our guys every timeout to tell them you've got one more gear, you've got one more gear, and fortunately for us, we made some big plays and finally knocked a couple shots down.
The defense was as good as it could possibly be, but great, great win for our program, great win for our university, and I'm elated.
Q. When you were down 24-15 at one point before the half, how much did it help to get that run to just cut it down to one and how much did that help you carrying that into the rest of the game?
Deshaun Thomas: Yeah, we didn't freak out. I mean, we got in the huddle, we took a deep breath, and we stayed with our system. I know last month we probably would have freaked out and forced a lot of things, but we stayed in it, and we kept our head in it, and we made a nice little run.
Q. Aaron, your role as sort of a floor leader on the court, going into the NCAA Tournament, is that role even more important to make sure guys are focused and concentrate?
Q. Where this team was eight games ago, and I know you guys won this as freshmen, but from where you came from, does it make this one a little sweeter, that tournament title?
Aaron Craft: Yeah, just where we came from and what we've been through this year, and having no one else really on our side and no one really believing in us except for the guys on the team and the coaching staff, it really makes you appreciate and really -- what we accomplished, it's a great, great feat, but at the same time hopefully there's still more basketball to be played.
There's a lot of time after the season is over to be very celebratory, but we have to enjoy this, but at the same time hopefully we can find ways to get better by next week.
Q. Aaron, how difficult was it to try to raise the tempo against a team like Wisconsin, and how were you finally able to do it?
Q. You got off to a real slow shooting start. Did you get any encouragement from your team, keep shooting, and about your importance?
Q. Considering what you guys lost a year ago with Sully [Jared Sullinger] and Will [Buford] and so on, to be able to match what you guys did a year ago, 13-5 in the league and actually do better, win a championship, how has this been able to add up? How have you guys been able to add up?
Q. Thoughts about playing down the road in Dayton, and also did you know anything about Iona, and did either of you watch the five-overtime Notre Dame game with Louisville?
Aaron Craft: I mean, they're a great basketball team. There are no bad basketball teams left. If you make the tournament, you know you have to be ready to go. We know they like to get up-and-down a little bit, obviously they like to score the ball a lot. Transition and things like that are going to be very important. And playing in Dayton, you can't have anything better. We're going to have -- Buckeye Nation travels very well, especially when it's an hour down the road.
Q. Kind of a low-scoring defensive battle like today was, what was the difference that allowed you to separate yourselves in the final few minutes there?
Aaron Craft: I think down the stretch we talked to each other and said, hey, shots might not be falling, but our defense is going to win us this game, and whether it was forcing a questionable shot or grabbing a big rebound, that's how you win big basketball games, and that's what we have to tip our hat on, and we were able to do that tonight.
Q. Could you talk about the play by LaQuinton Ross, a huge second half to help extend you guys' lead.
Q. You seem to be getting more and more comfortable and more and more willing to go with a small lineup, not just to counter but to dictate as these games go on. Why was it working or why was it the thing maybe that turned the game your way today?
Q. Why have you been able to or how have you been able to put the pieces together this year considering what you lost a year ago?
We knew. I knew, there was going to be ups and downs to the season. There always are. But I honestly think it's a testament to who they are as kids. We talk about it frequently, just in terms of representing the university. This team is extremely close. It's very unique to watch a group of guys come together and what they've done, and I love that about them, and I told them that's probably been the difference in terms of us playing our best basketball right now when we need to.
Q. Does it surprise you how they've been able to come together?
Q. Is there a certain tempo, particularly in the Big Ten, of play that you guys feel a little bit more comfortable playing, especially moving on outside of the Big Ten into the NCAA Tournament?
Q. As good as the Big Ten has been this year during the regular season, what should expectations be in your opinion league-wide heading into the NCAA Tournament?
And sometimes it just happens that way. I remember sitting in this building six years ago, seven years ago, and when the drawing came up and I saw we were playing Xavier in the second round, I was like, oh, no, that's not a good one for us. I knew Xavier. I don't know Notre Dame or Iowa State that well.
So I think as a coach you know, and I haven't looked at it to say -- you know what I mean? But I know this: All teams are battle tested. All teams have been through every conceivable situation. I mean, you look at just the last month, at the last three minutes of basketball games, and some of the things that have happened have been crazy. I mean, today with a minute to go or whatever, I think we're up four or five, whatever it was, and I'm saying to myself, oh, geez, this could be another highlight moment for something, and I think that's what this league does for you.
Q. You see Ross as something of an X factor? He seems to be very confident, and also you don't get to start at the Q this time, but you don't have Carolina and Kentucky in the bracket when they were Carolina and Kentucky.
In terms of going to Dayton, I'm not a big traveler so I love it. We're 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament and we beat Davidson and lost to Georgetown one year and then Siena got us in double overtime. So we've got to change our luck in that regard, and like I said, we've got to play great basketball.
Q. What happened with Sam [Thompson]? Was it a leg injury or what? And also -- ankle?
Q. After you were able to put him back in, it seemed to make quite a difference on Dekker, who was starting to get off before Sam went back in the game.
Q. I was going to ask you, did you have to talk to him or make any adjustment? It seemed like they went after him a little bit because he was giving away 20, 25 pounds on some of their front line. Did that force you to do anything differently? Did you talk to him about that?
Q. It's such a grind in the Big Ten. I know your team is based on defense, but do you see maybe some more free-flowing offense out there now that everybody is not going to know everything you want to do and all your sets?
An Interview With: COACH BO RYAN, MIKE BRUESEWITZ, RYAN EVANS and TRAEVON JACKSON
BO RYAN: Well, I thought we had a chance to run the gauntlet, but just didn't have quite enough in us. I know our guys got them to take some pretty tough shots for the most part. You look at a stat, and you say a team goes 1 for 16, and you go, wow, you've really got a great chance. So you know, we tried to get them to take contested shots. Didn't get the rebounds off of some of them. We got beat physically inside a little bit, so I think that told a lot on the offensive glass. But I really liked the way we got after it. We paid for the miscues, and we still have to make shots, man.
Q. I know today's game didn't know how you wanted it to, but overall impressions of the weekend. Do you feel pretty good about where you guys stand as you get ready for the NCAA Tournament?
TRAEVON JACKSON: Yeah, I mean, Mike just said it best. We didn't make enough plays personally. I didn't make enough plays down the stretch. I didn't put our team in the right position to score, and we only scored six points combined for the end of both halves, and that falls on the point guard. Just got to learn from it and move on.
Q. I know you're going to have a quick turnaround to get ready, but I know this championship, a chance to win it, meant something for you guys. How disappointing is it to not be able to get this one in the books?
MIKE BRUESEWITZ: Yeah, you play every game to win. Just disappointing.
Q. Ryan, like coach said, you guys played some great defense, forced some tough looks. How much of an emphasis did that put on rebounding and the few offensive rebounds that they got that really extended some key possessions?
Like I said, every one counts. They were able to get their hands on a couple loose balls, and that could have been the difference in the game.
Q. Ryan and Traevon, the last seven minutes you guys went without a field goal. Just wondering, did you notice something change or some of them rattled in and out, but what was the biggest difference in those last seven minutes where they kind of took control?
RYAN EVANS: Looking back, when shots don't fall, you just try to go inside or get to the free-throw line, drive a little bit and maybe get something going. Looking back, we probably didn't do that enough. But shots fell in the other games, so just one of those things.
Q. This question goes to the seniors. I know every year is different, but can you remember this year's tournament being the most physically demanding on your guys from the standpoint of fatigue?
RYAN EVANS: Yeah, like Mike said, this is the farthest we've been since we've been here, and it was definitely physical. We took down the Michigan team and the Indiana team, so we know we can beat anyone in the country moving forward. So like we said, we're looking forward to the selection show, see what our seed is.
Q. Ryan, following up on that, people might look at your record and say there's 11 losses there. What do you see in this team that makes you think that it can make a long run in the NCAA Tournament?
Q. Ryan and Trae, Ohio State didn't end the game shooting particularly well when you look at the final numbers, but how would you rate your overall defensive performance as a team today?
RYAN EVANS: Yeah, I think we played good defense, as well. They might have played a little bit better defense. In a game like this, only 50 points being scored by the winner, it's a defensive game. Shots aren't falling. So they had the edge on a couple easy possessions there on a couple loose balls, and that's what got them the win.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about how physical this tournament was. Is it a benefit getting this far in the Big Ten Tournament? Does it help going in or not?
Yeah, I'm talking about practice. (Laughter).
Yeah, we've come in and lost the first game and kind of humbly went home and got ready for the next, and fortunately we get the third season. We got pretty far here in the second season and not far enough, but I'd rather be playing. Playing is good. Depends on how fast our turnaround is, where you go, that type of thing.
Q. What did you think of Frank's [Kaminsky] performance throughout the weekend? He was pretty efficient all around?
Q. [Ohio State head coach] Thad [Matta] has been using his small lineup more and more the last part of the season. I wonder if you could talk generally about how that affects the game and also the effect that LaQuinton Ross had in the last few minutes of the game today?
That wasn't in the last through minutes. But Trae was honest. He missed the block-out assignment there. He had him. So they made us pay, so that's an opportunity basket there that he took advantage of, but it wasn't because -- because of the way we were exchanging, size for them didn't matter to us because there are times where George [Marshall] was blocking out [Evan] Ravenel if you remember, especially in the first half. So that didn't affect us. We went small, too, for a while. You know, Ben's [Brust] three off the curl and catch, and Mike's [Bruesewitz] three, they were two pretty good shots when it was a four-point game. I thought Mike's was in. That ball was halfway down and out. You get one of those to go, who knows.
But I thought we matched that pretty well. I mean, you can't force a team that shoots threes the way they do into one for whatever without working. I mean, you have to work to make teams take tough threes, to shoot that number. But look how much better we were than them; I mean, we were 3-for-18.
Q. Going into the NCAA Tournament, what do you feel most confident about your team and what perhaps concerns you the most about your team going into that tournament
Q. How many Big Ten teams do you think have a chance of winning the national championship?