Carrier Classic Preview – Thad Matta

Pre-Carrier Classic sound from Thad Matta, head coach of Ohio State. Apologies for the white noise in the audio. A full transcript can be found below, courtesy of Marquette Tribune Sports.

Did you have to be convinced or have any hesitation when this opportunity came up?

“I think from our perspective, coach (Jim) Foster committed to it first and then were approached. From my perspective, it didn’t take long to think about it. Our fans and players will have the opportunity to walk out of here tomorrow night with the experience of a lifetime. There is a billion dollar industry with college basketball and for our players to understand that there are people fighting for your freedom and for us, it’s our chance to pay them back.”

What are you expecting for the first game?

“I want to see if our guys can function eight out of 10 plays because the conditions and circumstances are unique and it’s not going to be like this again. I want to see if they can stay cohesive and have an effort, rotation-wise defensively and have some semblance of attempting to execute our offense. Those are the things I’m looking for. When I was a player, we didn’t start playing our season until after Thanksgiving. So I think everybody at Marquette, Notre Dame, both of our teams, it’s still early for us. So there’s a lot of things you look to evaluate but the effort and cohesiveness, those are things you can look at.”

Deshaun Thomas had concerns about Aaron Craft falling off the ship diving for loose balls.

“I will say the one end is a little intimidating. I didn’t know it would be that close to the edge of the ship. Hopefully we have some extra basketballs in case we toss one over the side. We try to get our guys today in practice, we went about as hard as we could possibly go in 45 minutes and wanted them to not think about the conditions. I think one time they looked at what I have for hair and saw it was blowing sideways, but it’s good.”

Ohio State’s following in South Carolina?

“I think that’s the beauty of Ohio State. You go back to that game last year in December (against South Carolina), I remember the players came in before tip off and they said ‘Coach, it’s like a home game out there.’ That is the power. We have over 475,000 active alumni around the world and there’s obviously a great base here in South Carolina, so we’re really proud to be back.”

Will it be weird starting a game without Jared Sullinger and William Buford?

“It will be weird. It’s like I told some of our big guys, the last two seasons, the greatest motivation I had as a coach is when our opponents shot, I knew Jared would get the rebound. That was kind of my motivational ploy. I’m very proud of what he’s doing right now with the Celtics. Maybe it will take them a second, but I think our boys are ready to play the game without him.”

Does being a better shooting team allows the outdoor elements effect Ohio State more?

“I don’t know. Forty five minutes today probably wasn’t enough to gauge. Winds were gusting up there today at practice. Hoping they’ll be toned down a few knots by game time tomorrow. Coach Foster may have a little better time playing at 4:00 than us at 7:00, it may be a little warmer for them, but I’ve told our guys to just shoot the ball and shoot with confidence and hope for the best.”

Matta on what this means to Aaron Craft, having a brother overseas.

“Aaron talked to his brother two days ago, he said he’s home in nine days. The ironic thing is when he was taking off; we were playing Syracuse to go to Final Four last year. To be at Ohio State, being a part of this, I know his brother and father are as elated as you can imagine. I said to Aaron the other day, I told you a lot of things in recruiting, but the one thing I forgot was you get to play a game on a battleship.”