Matta Looking for Answers in Exhibition vs. Walsh
By John Porentas
The Buckeyes play their first exhibition game of the season tonight against Walsh. The game tips off at 7:00 PM at Value City Arena.
This will be OSU's first game of the season while Walsh comes into the game having played one exhibition and two games. They were 83-81 losers to Division I Akron in the exhibition. The Cavaliers have averaged just over 90 points per game in their three outings.
The Buckeyes hope to avoid the embarrassment they suffered last season when they lost their first exhibition game to Findlay College. Returners David Lighty and Evan Turner have not forgotten that game.
"I think everybody from last year will have that in the back of their minds, not wanting that to happen again," said Lighty.
Turner, who was a freshman last season on a team that had to rely on freshman, said the OSU newcomers just didn't understand how competitive college basketball was going to be.
"I thought it was just a tune up for the season. I had no clue to tell you the truth. I really had no clue at all," said Turner.
Turner said he and his teammates had fallen into the trap of thinking that talent level was the end all in determining the outcome of college basketball games. They got a rude awakening against Findlay, but the lesson served them well the rest of the season.
"The college level is not about what players you have but how you use those players and how hard they play," said Turner of the lesson learned vs. Findlay.
"Walsh is coming in here to try to beat us. If they beat us they don't think it's an upset," Turner said.
Turner hopes this year's young team can learn the lesson of last season without suffering the embarrassment of a loss.
"I think it's kind of similar to last year as far as how young we were and how much talent we had, but we really didn't know how to use it," he said.
"Our freshman, our new players, are still learning how to play hard on every possession or how to become mentally focused every single day. I think the exhibition game will serve well for them to see how high the level of competition is."
Matta will be watching his team with some very specific questions in mind that he hopes to have answered.
"How we execute both offensively and defensively. Do we play together, do we play off of each other? How hard do we play? How do we handle adversity? Are we able to have some resiliency to us? Walsh is a very good basketball team. If they hit six-straight points on us where do we go from there? Who takes charge at that point and says 'This is what we need?'" said Matta ticking off the points he will be watching for in the exhibition.
The Buckeyes will be without the services of baseline player Dallas Lauderdale. Lauderdale has suffered an injury of his left shoulder in the preseason and has not been taking part in practice drills, though he continues to work out with the team.
"Dallas has probably done the best job I have ever seen of being injured and staying involved," said Matta.
"He's been tremendous, from his cardio work to film sessions to weight room to shooting. It's his left shoulder, so he can shoot," Matta said.
OSU's other options at forward are slim. Nikola Kecman could play in the scrimmage but will not be eligible to play for 12 games due to an NCAA penalty for having played on a team in Europe that also had professional members on it. The Buckeyes will probably opt to go with a smaller lineup with David Lighty getting the call at forward.
"I'll probably play a lot of it because we really don't have a four right now. I'm used to it. I started the first seven games of my career at the four. It's nothing new to me," Lighty said.
Probable OSU Starters:
PG Jeremie Simmons 6-2 Jr. (junior college transfer)
G Jon Diebler 6-6 So.
G Evan Turner 6-7 So.
F David Lighty 6-5 Jr.
C B.J. Mullens 7-0 Fr.