March 14, 2010

Rest versus momentum

INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes won't have to deal with any sort of long layoff from the tournament championship game against Illinois and NCAA Tournament first round game against UC Santa Barbara.

Ohio State came out by all account rusty during the start of the Big Ten Tournament and it took until Sunday afternoon for the Buckeyes to show that they deserved to be mentioned in the same breath with the nation's elite teams. And while the bracket makers didn't do Ohio State any favors with its draw they did give Ohio State one bit of good news when the locations were announced and that Milwaukee (Wis.) is a Friday/Sunday region.

Potentially the Buckeyes could have only had three days of preparation if they would have drawn a Thursday/Saturday draw and coming off of a grueling weekend that would not have been good for potentially tired legs.

"I think having that extra day helps because it gives us that extra day to prepare," guard Jon Diebler said. "Obviously in the tournament you don't have much time to prepare for teams because it is back to being a game, a day off, a game."

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta was also pleased with getting the extra day to drill his team in all of the nuances of UCSB and a program that doesn't get any play outside of the Big West conference area. But there also was another reason why having the extra day helps when it comes down to coaching student athletes.

"We will take the rest because one thing that probably anyone knows is that our guys have finals tomorrow morning," Matta said.

Every single player agreed that preparation is going to be key when it comes down to the tournament and they have faith that the coaching staff will be able to get them ready for seldom seen opponents.

The Gauchos have been in the tournament three times and have one win on their record including a win over the University of Houston in 1990. The Buckeyes will not allow themselves to come into the game unprepared especially coming off of a one-and-done run in the 2009 tournament.

"We need the preparation because when you go into these kinds of tournaments it is all about preparation," Ohio State guard P.J. Hill said. "You have got to be prepared because that is the only thing that is going to set you apart every day."

But after a slow start in the Big Ten tourney Matta joked that he is not going to let any of his players develop any of the aforementioned rust.

"The one thing that I am going to do is starting Wednesday and Thursday we are going to practice these guys so hard like a game because it seems like on the third day we finally show up to play," Matta said. "I think the rest will be good and from this stage on the excitement and atmosphere of college basketball elevates. Sitting in there on Thursday watching games and upsets and great wins and all that stuff your guys are very tuned to what is going on."

Is there any fear though that the extra day off could not allow the team to strike while the iron is hot?

"We obviously need the rest but I think the iron is hot," Ohio State forward Dallas Lauderdale said. "The iron is still going to be hot and we are ready."

And nobody's iron was any hotter than tournament MOP Evan Turner and the Naismith Award finalist will gladly take the extra day before starting what he hopes will be a deep run toward April.

"We played a hard 130 minutes this weekend and we definitely like a couple of days off a little bit but when it is time to go it is time to go," Turner said.

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