Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One week removed from its 74-66 loss to Kansas, the No. 10-ranked Ohio State men's basketball team (9-2) will return to the court tomorrow when it will host Chicago State in one last tuneup before the start of conference play. On Friday, Thad Matta and members of his team met with the media to preview the Buckeyes' upcoming battle with the Cougars.
While the OSU coaching staff gave its players three days to celebrate the holidays, it's likely that most Buckeyes have had more merrier Christmas. That's because Ohio State's loss the the Jayhawks was still fresh on their minds, with Buckeyes center Amir Williams saying that it was hard to get away from the painful memories of his last game, even in his hometown of Detroit, Mich.
"I couldn't escape it really. My dad was talking about it almost the whole time I was home. I had friends bringing up the game as well," Williams said. "It just came down to making shots and getting stops defensively."
Matta admitted that he doesn't have a preference as to whether or not his players dwell on their losses or not, since he knows that it's something that is out of his control.
"I know some guys will be thinking about it, I know some guys won't be thinking about it," Matta said. "That is what it is. Whatever they chose to do, it's on them."
Competing with the Cougars
In Chicago State, the Buckeyes will be welcoming in a 3-11 opponent out of the Great West conference. Regardless of their record, Williams said that OSU must be weary of the Cougars, especially when it comes to getting back on defense.
"They're a scary team," Williams said. "They can come in and they have a very good transition offense, which we've had a problem with the past couple of games is getting back in transition. It's just something that we have to key on."
Matta said that his team's success in transition defense won't necessarily come down to X's and O's, but rather talking to each other and figuring out who's where and who's covering what.
"Transition defense, you can never prescribe how it's going to be guarded or how it's going to come at you," Matta said. "It becomes about a three-second, high-level, communication of who has the ball, who has the basket, where are the shooters, where are the non-shooters."
New court, new strategy?
Tomorrow's game will also mark the first time that the Buckeyes play on their new court, which was installed immediately following their loss to Kansas. OSU guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said that aside from enjoying the floor's design- which features a shadow of the state of Ohio at center court- that the Buckeyes should have better spacing while playing on top of what feels like a larger platform.
"I like the new court. Not from the design standpoint, that's really nice, but it seems like the court is wider, it has more spacing on it. I don't know why," Smith Jr. said. "I feel like that personally when I step on the court, that the lanes are much deeper and wider."
While Williams agreed that the new court seems wider, Matta joked that he wasn't sure what his players were talking about, considering that it's the exact same size as its predecessor.
"Now you know what I'm dealing with," Matta said with a smile. "I don't know. I hope it does help our spacing. The color, it's a lighter tint, so it does maybe open it up. One of our coaches even said it looks like a bigger court, but I haven't noticed anything drastically different, but if it helps them, then it helps us,"
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