Two-Minute Drill: Inside Ohio State’s Postgame Locker Room
By Brandon Castel
BOSTON — The Buckeyes have not yet reached their ultimate goal, but they were able to do a little celebrating Saturday as they punched their ticket to the Final Four.
Jared Sullinger scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes as Ohio State held off No. 1-seed Syracuse to advance to New Orleans, and matchup with the winner of Sunday’s North Carolina-Kansas game.
Here’s a look at what the players and coaches had to say after the game.
Matta’s Best Coaching Job at OSU?
* Talked to OSU assistants Jeff Boals, Dave Dickerson and Greg Paulus after the game about Thad Matta. All three called this his best coaching job.
* Boals said the 2007-08 team was the hardest one to coach for Thad, but what he did with this team was more impressive.
* Dickerson said Matta always stayed positive, even when things were rocky. He came to practice every day determined to make it work.
* Dickerson also said after the loss to Wisconsin, Matta pulled the team together and had them get back to the fundamentals of half court defense.
* Dickerson said Matta's handicap has actually been a positive for this team. He shows up everyday and doesn't complain. How can anyone else?
* William Buford said Matta's patient style and hands-off approach really worked with this team.
Sullinger Tipping His Hand?
* Sullinger: "Amir always had talent. Unfortunately he's playing behind me and Evan, so next year, watch out."
* A writer tried to establish whether Sully will return (as he talked about Amir): "I ain't making no promises."
* Matta joked after the game that Sullinger will be even better his junior and senior years at OSU.
Turning Things Around
* Buford said there was a time early in the B1G season where he thought this team might come unraveled, but Thad wouldn't allow it.
* He knew this team had Final Four potential, but everything was going to have fall in place at the right time.
* Boals also admitted Jared was really off for a few weeks. Let the refs get in his head and stopped playing with energy and enthusiasm.
* Boals said the main thing they talked to him with was playing with more energy and being aggressive while having fun.
Off to the Final Four
* Buford said he was definitely going to enjoy this moment. He said "there's still more to play for, but this feels good."
* Aaron Craft said this was the first time he cut down the nets since his freshman year of high school. They lost in state semis that year.
* Paulus said Craft has really been an extension of the coaching staff this year, in practice and in games. Never takes a day off.
* Paulus also said that it was tough with so many young guys, but Craft and Sullinger are such winners. Rubbed off on everyone.
* Lenzelle Smith said he got 4 stitches in his head and that it hurt a lot after the game, but he was all smiles.
* Smith said he asked coach Matta for the challenge of guarding Dion Waiters today. Waiters finished 2-8 with 9 points and 5 fouls.
* Deshaun Thomas said the biggest thing he had to do this year was learn to trust his teammates.
* He said it took him half the year, but eventually he realized he was getting everything he wanted—minutes, points, wins—so why not trust them.
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