October 13, 2008

Becoming the leader

The 2008-09 Ohio State men's basketball team is going to look completely different than the 2007-08 team that won the NIT championship. With more new names than familiar ones and the departure of players like Jamar Butler there will be a new feel when the team laces them up for the first time in late November against Delaware State.

Of course the question that comes with a new team is where the leadership is going to come from. With David Lighty being the elder statesman as a third year junior it is more than obvious that this team is young but even with youth there are players that are ready to fill that leadership void that was created with the graduation of three key players.

"This year I guess you can I am really experienced," Lighty said. "I am a leader on this team… that is what they are saying. I am a junior now so it is on my shoulders I guess and I need to lead as much as possible."

Lighty joked on Monday afternoon that it seemed like yesterday that he was part of the famous Thad Five and now everyone is in the NBA and he is a leader on his Ohio State team. For a team with so many young players they will look to the junior guard/forward to show how things need to be done and head coach Thad Matta understands that Lighty will be the go to guy.

"The new guys probably look at David as a senior because he has been here the longest and we don't have any (seniors)," Matta said. "I can't define leadership but I know when I see it and David has been great with that really since the season ended last year."

If you ask Lighty's fellow returning starters they will all give glowing reports about how David has shown his ability to lead.

"He is just a good guy all around and just to see coach Matta hand the team over to him, I was really happy for him," guard/forward Evan Turner said. "I am just happy to play with him and he is really nice guy and a real blue collar guy."

"I think Dave is a great leader and we all believe in him," guard P.J. Hill said. "One thing he does more than anything is he leaders by example. (He is) the first one here and one of the last ones to leave and it is the little things that make a big difference. We all see that and he is getting better at being vocal and we are supporting him."

"I think Dave is going to be the person who leads by example," forward Dallas Lauderdale said. "When something is going wrong and you look at Dave he is going to be doing the right thing."

But don't look for Lighty to be a guy to get in the grill of one of his teammates. While Lighty is working on being more vocal his teammates know that Dave is who he is and it just isn't in his nature to be that kind of leader.

"That is not his personality so that is exactly why we all can't be scared to say anything," Lauderdale said. "His personality is to go hard, he is a tank and a beast. He only knows one gear and that is hard. He is not going to get in your face and yell at you, that is not him."

Is there anyone on the team that is capable of being that guy?

"I really don't think it is really in any of our personalities, we are all good kids and we really don't like doing that kind of stuff," Lauderdale said.

Matta has been impressed with Lighty to date but has kept pounding lessons into the head of the likely future captain of the team.

"The big thing I have been on David about all off-season has been don't lead when things are going well, we are good when that happens," Matta said. "I need someone to lead when maybe things are not going so well. (He) is a very perceptive, cerebral kid and he knows exactly what needs to be done."

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