Knight Lauds Matta, Meyer

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 12/21/2011 11:33 AM

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Men's Basketball
Bob Knight Lauds Matta, Meyer Combination
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During his halftime speech at Value City Arena Tuesday night, basketball legend Bob Knight praised the job Thad Matta has done at Ohio State.

He also said the hire of football coach Urban Meyer gives the Buckeyes the best 1-2 combination in the entire country, both in performance and in doing things “the right way.”

Archie Girffin and Bobby Knight
Photo by Jim Davidson
Bobby Knight

“I really believe very strongly that Ohio State has the best football and basketball staffs in the country,” Knight said.

“I'm so pleased at the job that Thad's doing. He's provided you with a basketball team. I love the way these kids play.”

Knight was on hand for Ohio State’s 8:30 tipoff against Lamar University, where his son Pat Knight is the head coach. His real reason for being in Columbus, however, was to be honored by the Ohio State University, where played under former head coach Fred Taylor.

“Had it not been for opportunity to play here, I'm not sure what I would've become,” Knight said after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

“I don't think it would've been a minster.”

Knight also called coming to Ohio State and being a student in Columbus “the most important thing in his life.”

That is quite a statement from a coach who amassed an astonishing 902 wins, three national championships, an Olympic Gold Medal and a 98 percent student-athlete graduation rate, among many other extraordinary accomplishments.

Born in Massillon, Ohio, Knight grew up in Orrville and was a key reserve on Ohio State’s 1960 national championship team, which featured a pair of future Hall of Fame players in John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas.

He graduated with a degree in history and government in 1962 and spent one year as the junior varsity basketball coach at Cuyahoga Falls High School in Ohio. He then enlisted in the Army and became an assistant coach in 1963 and the head coach in 1965 at the age of 24.

“The General” became the head coach at the University of Indiana in 1971 and coached the Hoosiers to 661 wins and three NCAA National Championships in 29 seasons.

He was presented his award by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who was playing for the Buckeyes under Woody Hayes while Knight was winning his first championship at Indiana.

“You could have played for me,” Knight told Griffin during the halftime ceremony.

“I wouldn't let you shoot, but you could have guarded.”

If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have played for Knight very long.

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