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Good article from by Rick Alonzo on Yahoo Sports.

Discussion in 'Buckeye Basketball' started by crazybuckfan40, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. Buckeyes thrive in spite of banBY RICK ALONZO, Pioneer Press

    Ohio State coach Thad Matta didn't know how the Buckeyes would handle the school's self-imposed ban on postseason play this season, and worried his players might write off the season or lack motivation.

    That hasn't been the case.

    Matta's squad has jumped to an 11-2 start this season and enters Wednesday's Big Ten Conference opener against No. 1 Illinois with a six-game winning streak.

    "I think these guys understand that every game is vitally important for us," Matta said Monday during the Big Ten weekly media teleconference. "The prize at the end, we have to create that prize for ourselves because we don't have the opportunity to hear our name on selection Sunday or be rewarded by playing in the NIT. I give our guys a lot of credit."

    Matta said he tells his players they can't waste any practices or games. The three seniors, he said, make every day count. And the younger players fall in line, building for the future.

    Junior center Terence Dials is averaging 23.2 points and 10.3 rebounds a game during the winning streak.

    The Buckeyes finished 14-16 overall and 6-10 in the Big Ten last season under former coach Jim O'Brien.

    "I think they've had to play this season with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder," Matta said. " 'We've got to go out and prove ourselves right and the doubters wrong.' I've been pleased with their effort."

    Ohio State imposed a postseason ban for 2004-05 after it was determined O'Brien committed an NCAA rules violation. He was fired last summer for giving improper cash benefits to a recruit who ultimately did not play for the Buckeyes.

    Tuned out: Illinois coach Bruce Weber said he's leaning toward turning down ESPN's request to film his program for the reality series "The Season." Weber said he's concerned the television cameras would cause a distraction for his team, perhaps turning his players into "rock stars." Illinois already is under the spotlight because of its No. 1 national ranking.

    "But I'm going to talk to the players and see how they feel," he said. "If it's a big deal for them, and they think they can deal with it, then maybe we'll do it. Right now, I would say my inclination is to say no."

    Wisconsin was featured in the show last season.

    Admiring Illinois: Count University of Minnesota coach Dan Monson among the fans of Illinois' play this season. Monson said he has shown tape of Illinois to his players because he's "amazed" by how well the Illini move the ball.

    "It's been an inspiration to every team, I think, how unselfish they've been and how hard they play," Monson said.

    Quick turnaround: Purdue's Charles Davis, a 6-foot-6 tight end on the football team, gave the Boilermakers an emotional lift in his first game with the basketball team Sunday. Just two days after catching a touchdown pass in the Sun Bowl, Davis scored four points and had two assists, two rebounds and a steal in just eight minutes in an 87-67 victory over Eastern Illinois.

    "He proved that basketball is a simple game — pass, catch and make layups," coach Gene Keady said.

    Patience pays off: Iowa junior center Erek Hansen leads the Big Ten in blocks (3.92 a game). He averaged 14.4 minutes a game during conference play as a sophomore after Jared Reiner was lost for the season with an injury and Sean Sonderleiter left the team. "So many kids today think that if they're not playing the first game of their freshman year, they need to leave or do something different," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "We've been very fortunate that Erek has hung in there. He's waited his turn and now he's playing very well."

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