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  • Another Thrilling Hoops Season

    Usually this space is reserved for a hodgepodge of extra quotes from several different teams that are under the umbrella coverage of SportsRappUp.com.

    However, the Ohio State basketball team made another deep postseason run this spring that included a Big Ten Tournament championship – the program’s third straight conference tourney net-cutter – and ended in Los Angeles a win short of the Final Four.

    Once again, Thad Matta took the Buckeyes to the end of March and basketball Buckeyes fans experienced a thrilling campaign – and some heartache at the very end.

    The action was so fast and furious we’ve let the dust settle and compiled some of the best quotes that were left behind as Ohio State made its journey through a palpitating 29-8 season that included contests with eight top-10 teams.

    The Buckeyes suffered preconference losses in high-profile contests with Duke and Kansas and endured embarrassing 20-plus-point defeats at Illinois and Wisconsin, but they also rose up to knock off rivals Michigan in Columbus and Indiana in Bloomington when each was ranked No. 2 in the country.

    Despite coming up just a hair short of a piece of yet another Big Ten title – which wasn’t decided until a Michigan layup attempt vs. IU rolled off the rim in the final seconds of the regular-season finale – OSU made its mark in Chicago with wins over Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

    That set up crowd-pleasing results in Dayton with wins over Iona and Iowa State and another nail-biter against Arizona in L.A. LaQuinton Ross’ game-winning three in overtime marked OSU’s 11th straight victory, but the balloon finally burst two days later in an Elite Eight loss to Wichita State.

    It was another memorable and exciting campaign, certainly worthy of its own Quote Me recognition.

    Here then are the hoops-related quotes of interest that almost got away through the course of the season, presented in semi-chronological order:

    Matta discussing Ross’ development heading into the 2012-13 season – “It’s getting him to understand what he has to do within his capabilities to help us win games. I think he’s had a great spring, he’s had a good summer in the weight room and that sort of thing. It’s going to be a little bit new to him but by the same token going through the same practices and having been in the arena hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”

    Former Buckeye great and current CBS analyst Clark Kellogg on his preseason assessment of OSU – “They will surprise on the high side. That’s my initial feeling, that they will not be expected to be as good as they’re going to be. I think Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft are going to come back determined to prove that Sully (Jared Sullinger) and Will (Buford) are gone but we’re still here and we’ve got stuff to prove ourselves.”

    Matta on the Nov. 28 mathup with Duke – “I hope in 25 years that our program is still at the level that it is, because that’s exactly what Duke has done. They’ve stood the test of time. There’s been a lot of great players rolling through there. We’ve had a lot of great players. Not as many because we haven’t been here that long. They recruit at the highest level; we attempt to recruit at the highest level.”

    Matta on how difficult it would be to stay at OSU as long and be as beloved as Mike Krzyzewski is at Duke – “(Lou Holtz) told me, ‘Don’t ever stay for more than seven years at a place because the longer you stay the more you fall in love with it but the more they fall out of love with you.’ It’s funny because my seventh year we were 34-3 and we won by 12 and people were like, ‘only 12?’ ”

    Matta on going to Cameron Indoor Stadium and a similar ACC/Big Ten Challenge road game at North Carolina in 2006 – “It had to be 120 degrees on the court because at halftime my pants were stuck to my leg.”

    Matta on Kansas’ Dec. 22 visit and his developing rivalry with KU head coach Bill Self – “Obviously he’s proven with the success he’s had. He is in an elite crowd in terms of coaches and his assistants have gone on as head coaches. I’ve got the utmost respect for him and the job that he’s done over the course of time.”

    Craft on the surprising effectiveness of sophomore center Amir Williams vs. Kansas – “It’s in him (to play like this every game). He is growing and just needs more experience. He needs to continue to be consistent in these big game situations. He can come in and make an impact immediately.”

    Kansas guard Ben McLemore on Shannon Scott igniting OSU off the bench – “He surprised me with his speed. He can get up the floor fast. Thankfully, we slowed them down in the second half in transition defense.”

    Self on the Jayhawks’ 74-66 win, Kansas’ third over OSU in the course of a year – “The first time we played last year, Sullinger didn’t play. The second time we played, they controlled the game and we made some plays late in the game. Today’s probably the best we’ve played against Ohio State in three games.”

    Matta on the same subject – “The first game we played them was hard just because we weren’t at full strength. To be honest this game was a lot like the second half of the Final Four game in New Orleans where the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket for us. The leadership they have … I haven’t had four seniors in about eight years. And Ben McLemore is as good as any player in the country.”

    Ross on his off-court personality – “I’m a real laid-back guy. I’m not too much into parties. I’m a real gentle guy, laid-back and goofy. I’m the one sitting back and cracking jokes.”

    Ross on Scott – “He’s like a little pest. He’s like the brother that you didn’t want.”

    Matta on if he planned to go out and celebrate the pay raise the university granted him in January – “Not with these new tax laws.”

    Matta on the school recognizing his efforts since becoming OSU head coach in the summer of 2004 – “One of the things I’m most proud of is what we built here. We were at Ground Zero nine years ago in terms of the uncertainty of the future of our program, and we’ve been very, very fortunate with the teams that we’ve had and the job that the coaches have done.

    “For me personally, I’m a lot more proud of that than I am with a contract. I feel as blessed as I can be to be at Ohio State. I love this university and I’m extremely grateful in terms of what they’ve allowed me to do and how they’ve taken care of me throughout the time I’ve been here.”

    Gangly freshman guard Amedeo Della Valle on being a fan favorite – “I like it a lot. I really see myself being like a regular student and most of the students maybe see themselves as me, because maybe I don’t look like a basketball player. They can tell I’m working really hard to try to be successful.”

    Matta on Sullinger’s rookie season with the Boston Celtics being cut short because of back surgery – “I haven’t talked to Jared. We’ve texted back and forth, and the first thing I texted when he got out of surgery was, ‘Please tell me you can move both your feet.’ You hate to see it, but in talking his agent, David Falk, he broke it down for me, why they did what they did, and I think long-term it was definitely the right thing to do.”

    Craft on his rematch at Michigan with fellow Ohioan and UM point guard Trey Burke – “He comes from a great family and they definitely keep him grounded. That’s what it takes. I’ve seen him be very successful at just about every level. It’s great to see another guy we kind of grew up with having some great success.”

    Scott on another Ohio-based point guard, Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson (son of former Buckeye great Jim Jackson) – “I played him like a couple times in AAU, not too much. With the game against Minnesota where he got the last shot, he probably has great confidence and he’s playing great basketball right now. I think guarding him is going to be a great challenge for me, but I believe that I’ll be ready for it.”

    Sophomore and Chicago-area native Sam Thompson on going back to familiar environs before the team’s trip to Northwestern – “It’s weird. We fly into the airport and drive through downtown Chicago, going past things I’ve seen for the last 20 years. I can’t go home and I can’t do the things I normally do in the city. So it’s kind of a weird feeling. But it’s definitely fun to go home and play in front of my family and my friends.”

    Matta on the team getting hot after an eye-opening 71-49 loss at Wisconsin on Feb. 17 – “There’s going to be ups and downs. I remember two years ago we got to 24-0 at one point and in there after the game we’d be all upset at how we played, and (assistant coach) Dave Dickerson, who just left Tulane, would be like, ‘Hey, fellas, I only won nine last year. I’m having the time of my life. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ ”

    Craft on losing his title as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, which went to Indiana forward Victor Oladipo – “Victor did a great job of coming out and having a great year. I don’t think it’s a knock on me. I think it just attests to what he was able to do, and he did a lot. He’s that guy out there you’re always worrying about on the defensive end and you’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”

    Thomas on Craft being listed as a candidate on ESPN.com’s Most Hated Pool – “I voted for him.”

    Craft on the same subject – “I would love to win that one, too. I do know that I have a higher seed in that tournament than (OSU video coordinator) Greg Paulus. I just like to make sure to let him know I continue to beat him at various things. But I’ve got a tough matchup with Joakim Noah. That’s a tough one, but we’ll try to pull the upset.”

    Craft on the comparison to Paulus, a former Duke point guard – “It is what it is. I know I wasn’t the fondest of Gregory when he played and I’m assuming it’s probably similar to what’s going on right now with me. Greg’s one of the nicest guys I know. I didn’t know him (then), I just chose not to like him very much.”

    Matta, at the Big Ten Tournament, on the notion that a league team needs to win a national championship soon to confirm its reputation as an elite basketball conference – “Yeah, it’d be nice. That team we had in ’07 was as good a basketball team as I’ve ever seen but wouldn’t you know we’re playing the defending national champs with five starters back. There’s a lot of things that happen and a lot of it is matchups and who gets rolling. I think there are some teams in this league who have a legitimate shot to win it this year.”

    Matta on hearing the news that 13-year Northwestern coach Bill Carmody had been let go by the school – “I think Bill Carmody maybe has the best offensive mind of any coach I’ve ever seen in my life, and I think he could be the most unlucky with the injuries just in the time I’ve been here with nine years in the league. It’s amazing to see the things that have happened to his team.

    “We’re No. 1 in the country a couple years ago and John Shurna runs into a basket support and has a concussion and can’t play against us – and we go down to the wire. Who could win and keep coaching those guys and stay competitive with what he lost this year?

    “He’s one of the greatest human beings and he coaches as well as anybody.”

    Matta on his preference for OSU’s soon-to-be-announced NCAA Tournament bracket – “Dayton hasn’t been real kind to us so I don’t want to go there. We haven’t fared too well there – 1 and 2.”

    Matta on going to the postseason – “Ohio State, the thing I’ve learned – and I like it about it – people either love Ohio State or they hate Ohio State. There’s no gray area.”

    OSU assistant Jeff Boals on the “one-way conversation” between the coaches and players after the loss at Wisconsin – “You look at the tape and you could see it wasn’t normal Buckeye basketball. Our guys understood that. Thad did a great job of making them understand that the next two days in practice. We watched a lot of tape, did a lot of talking, and they corrected it.

    “They always say the tape doesn’t lie, and these kids have personal pride and team pride. When you let your teammates down, that’s when you feel the worst.

    “He made it clear that’s not acceptable. We told them they embarrassed the university, embarrassed the team and embarrassed themselves. That’s not what he stands for, and wasn’t going to let it happen.”

    Lenzelle Smith on Ohio State shooting a high percentage and getting to empty the bench in the NCAA tourney blowout of Iona – “It does a lot. A lot of guys got to see the ball go in, which is very good. They can relax a little bit and the pressure is not really on their shoulders anymore.”

    Senior Evan Ravenel on the Gaels coming into the game with no apparent fear of the Buckeyes – “When someone’s talking trash to you or saying stuff through the media, you kind of want to take your game up to another level. It does add fuel to the fire.”

    Boals after the Buckeyes nipped Iowa State to return to the Sweet 16 – “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, and our three guys off the bench – Ravenel, LaQuinton Ross and Shannon – are all giving us something different. It’s different from game to game, it’s different things at the defensive end and different things at the offensive end. When those guys started playing that’s when we kind of lifted off.”

    Arizona coach Sean Miller on preparing to face OSU and his good friend Matta – “It’s not like they’re a bad team on offense. I think they’re really good. They’re not as talented, maybe, as some of the most recent Ohio State teams, but they make up for it with really unselfishness and togetherness. They have a guy that gets 20 every night, Deshaun Thomas, who from a scoring perspective, is as good as it gets.

    “They play together on both ends of the floor. Aaron Craft is exceptional at what he does. Deshaun Thomas is equally exceptional at what he does, and they have a lot of other good players that play Ohio State basketball.”

    Thompson, after the loss to Wichita State, on the exit of Ravenel – “It’s been a great honor to play with Evan these last two years. I wish him the best of luck wherever life may take him. My hat is off to him for a great Ohio State career. He did a lot of good, he’s a great teammate and I love him to death.”


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  • Matta, Meyer Make Memories

    If you’re familiar with this section of the site, you know we compile the best leftover quotes that didn’t make it into the many SportsRappUp.com articles over the past few months. Think of it as little tidbits of interest all cooked together like a fruitcake grandma sent you – only you want to digest it.

    And since we last checked in, much of note has occurred, especially in terms of Ohio State football and basketball.

    Urban Meyer has put his stamp on the football program even with his actual OSU head coaching debut still months away. And he proved during the recruiting season and spring drills that he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

    Meanwhile, Thad Matta took us on another wild ride in March as the men’s basketball squad managed to earn a share of yet another conference crown, advanced to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament and then set off on an unlikely journey to New Orleans for the Final Four.

    And the women’s team endured another abrupt postseason but still made news with point guard Sammy Prahalis breaking records, earning notice as the Big Ten Player of the Year and selected with the sixth overall pick of the WNBA draft.

    SRU followed those stories and many others but still wasn’t able to use every comment of interest. So we present those to you now. Enjoy.

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith on the proposal of expanding the NCAA Tournament field from 65 teams to 96 – “I think it would be a great idea. When I first got in the business in 1978, ’79, there might have been 100 Division I teams. Now there’s 347. Just like football. When they increased, they increased the number of bowl games. So why not increase the opportunities for these student-athletes to participate and enjoy and be a part of March Madness? I think it’s long overdue, to be honest with you.”

    Meyer on his relationship with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller – “It’s awesome. He’s a really good kid, really a sponge, a guy that wants to do well. He’s a really, really athletic guy. It’s been nothing but positive, what he’s been doing.”

    Meyer on going to work for Earle Bruce as a wide receivers coach at Colorado State in the early 1990s – “That was my first exposure to big-time college football where we were not able to go home on weekends when we were out recruiting. So there were times I’d stay out for a month and a half at a time and my two girls were real young. Sure enough, I remember one time waking up after being out for a month and a half and I get up to take a shower and one of our kids had jumped into bed with us in the middle of the night, and she said, ‘Mommy, is that Daddy?’ That’s damn right that’s Daddy.”

    OSU defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs on the staff recruiting philosophy – “We’re recruiting the United States, and we’re going to recruit the United States incredibly hard – harder than anybody in the country. It’s the head coach’s passion, and we are going to be an aggressive recruiting staff.”

    Center Corey Linsley on a former lineman and staff member working closely with him – “Coach (Jim) Bollman always used to say Kirk Barton was the hardest working lineman he ever had. Kirk brings great intensity to the O-line. We all know him from playing here and we all have a great relationship with him. He brings a ton of tools and familiarity to all of us and really has the ability to get through to us. He knows our weaknesses a little bit better than Coach (Ed) Warinner does because he’s been here for a few years, and I think that brings a lot to the O-line.”

    Matta on the basketball savvy of the Kansas fans at Allen Fieldhouse after the Buckeyes played there on Dec. 10 – “When they deflected a pass and the ball went to half court, we still got it but their fans cheered because it disrupted our offensive flow. You don’t get that very often. Nothing really happened. Deshaun (Thomas) just bobbled the pass and had to run to half court to get it, and people were going crazy. I was like, “I thought I was the only one who did that.’ ”

    Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel on why he’s had early success in recruiting – “I think it’s just being honest. It’s easy to sell Ohio State. It’s not a hard sell job with our players and the people who are here. And it’s easy for me because I experienced it. It’s not like I’m trying to sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves. It’s pretty easy. This place is special and the guys we have around continue to try to make it important to be at Ohio State. It’s what makes this thing easy to sell.”

    Vrabel on if practices are harder than when he was a player – “When I was out here, that’s 15 years ago, so I really don’t remember. I remember I was hurt one spring so I didn’t practice. They’re intense, and I think the harder it is, the harder it is to walk away from. I think we’ve got guys that don’t want to walk away right now.”

    Jared Sullinger on comparing OSU’s loss to Kansas in the Final Four to last year’s loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – “It’s still tough, but we got farther. We got to a point where we were one of the last four teams standing. Only the best basketball teams at the time play here, and we just took a loss. It hurts.

    “If you talked about this team a month ago, everybody would have doubted us, said we couldn’t do this, we couldn’t do that. We overcame all that and I couldn’t be prouder of a basketball team than these guys around me.”

    Sullinger on the Buckeyes staying together through adversity during the 2011-12 season – “Even the guys that didn’t play, they had a contribution to us getting here. They were coming into practice every day and competing at the highest level regardless of playing time. Sometimes that can mess with some people’s heads and they can just cruise through practice, but these guys came in every day, played as hard as they can, everybody gave one another a challenge, and we got this far. So I’m very proud of this basketball team.”

    Former center Mike Brewster on returning to his home state of Florida for the Gator Bowl – “I’m very excited. I’m used to going to BCS bowls, but if we couldn’t do that this is definitely a team I want to play. All my friends are Florida fans and I’m from down there. It’s going to be a good time.

    “There’s a lot of anticipation because you’re focusing so much on one opponent and you’re watching so much film on them. By the time you line up against them you feel like you know them. It is different, and it’s usually a team that you never have played before. Bowl games are always fun.”

    Brewster on the players receiving iPod glasses as a bowl gift in the past – “That was a bust. That was no good. It was a good concept, though.”

    John Craft, father of point guard Aaron Craft, on when he saw the Buckeyes coagulate – “The turning point … I don’t know specifically but that second half at Michigan State is what sports is all about. Those guys were down 15 in the first half and everything fell into place. And everyone contributed. Jared was making good decisions. Rav (Evan Ravenel) came in and did well. It was just a perfect storm. That second half at Michigan State, I think, is where it really took hold.”

    Matta on his future becoming clear – “The day I played in college against the Indiana Pacers. When I was at Butler they used to come out and train with us and Reggie Miller, it was his rookie year, and I remember walking back to my dorm and looking back in the mirror and saying, ‘That’s not going to be your career choice. You need to go into coaching.’ So I was well ahead of my time on that.”

    Tailback Boom Herron on being named by his teammates as OSU’s MVP even after missing the first five games of the season because of suspension – “I was a little surprised. I actually didn’t vote for myself. I voted for Zach Boren. That’s my fullback. He kind of makes things happen for me. He just did a great job the whole year.”

    Left tackle Mike Adams on being recruited by Meyer and the University of Florida before opting for Ohio State – “Definitely as a recruiter he was always very confident and very proud of his university, but he always shared that he had those Midwest roots, which I thought was kind of cool. I think he’s a great coach, a great recruiter, and his resume speaks for itself. When you’ve got a guy coming in like that, a high-caliber coach, I think everybody is just excited to play for him.”

    Kansas coach Bill Self, prior to the Final Four, on the threat posed by guard William Buford – “People can say (he’s) erratic. Sometimes that happens when you have guys that score the majority of their points outside the paint. But to me, over the course of his career, he’s been a model of consistency as far as how he scores the ball and performs for Ohio State. He’s the fourth-leading scorer in the history of the school, which is remarkable, because they’ve had some hard-rockin’ guys come through there.”

    Meyer on both sports being elite at Ohio State – “There’s probably only a handful of schools in the country that have the resources and tradition. This is certainly one of them. Florida is one of them. Can you imagine being a student and the magic you could be part of? I joked around down there: Imagine being a student in 2006, four teams you could run out on the street and act like a nut. That’s what they do down there, just go out and run around on the street. And I imagine High Street would do the same thing.”

    J.D. Weatherspoon after the Buckeyes wronged their critics by beating top-seeded Syracuse to reach the Final Four – “It’s like we always say, the haters will be our biggest motivators, and that’s how we took it. We let everything just land and we play as a team.”

    Thomas on the same topic – “When people doubt you, you feel sad. But we came together and we were like, ‘Let’s shut everybody up.’ ”

    Lenzelle Smith on the Buckeyes blowing a big lead against Cincinnati in the Sweet 16 – “We got complacent. We got cool. The whole thing with Cincinnati is they’re big, tough guys who turn you over, and I think guys were thinking about that before the game. And at halftime we came back in here and started to think like, ‘Is this Cincinnati? What happened to the guys who make you turn the ball over 20 times?’ And we started to get cool and they came out to ball.”

    Freshman Trey McDonald on recording the first field goal of his college career in the Big Ten Tournament – “It felt good to get it out of the way, and it felt good to get into the offense and just get out there and get a feel for the game. To do it against Michigan was a bonus.”

    Sullinger on ruining Michigan State’s Senior Day – “Honestly, I’m kind of sad about it, because Draymond Green, he deserves everything he gets. I know it’s hard to celebrate that. It’s kind of tough.”

    Tayler Hill on the postseason outlook for the OSU women – “I think we’re tired of just going to the Sweet 16. Winning the Big Ten is great. It’s a great conference. Winning the Big Ten Tournament is great. You’re playing teams three times and it’s hard to overcome that and keep beating them. I think it’s a great accomplishment but we want to look further than that. We want to be on the rise.”

    Michigan coach Brady Hoke on Meyer being his new foe – “We don’t recruit negatively, I’m not going to mention 30 felonies in five years that happened in his previous program.”

    UM basketball coach John Beilein on Trey Burke calling a timeout vs. Ohio State while he was standing on the free-throw line – “I’ve never had that before. He wanted a timeout when he was shooting a foul shot. I didn’t ice him; he needed to get iced. He came over and he just needed to catch his wind. Because when you’ve got that ball in front and you’re being guarded by a kid like Aaron Craft, he can wear you out and get that heart rate up pretty good.”

    Luke Fickell to the media after he was relieved of his duty as head football coach – “I really do appreciate the way you guys have treated me all season. I know you have a job to do, but I really do. I don’t turn on the TV, I don’t listen, so if you said something bad, hey, that’s one thing. If you said something good, I don’t know that either, but I really do appreciate every week how you guys have treated me and the way you’ve handled things.”


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  • From Luke To Urban To Coach K

    Anyone who thinks college sports are small potatoes wasn’t hanging around Ohio State’s athletic programs recently.

    In the span of just a few days in late November alone, the Buckeyes heard from former coach Jim Tressel, played before the largest crowd in the history of Big Ten football in Ann Arbor, nearly pulled off a stunning upset of the ranked Wolverines, landed none other than Urban Meyer as their new head coach and announced that Luke Fickell would remain on the staff as one of Meyer’s top assistants.

    And that was just the football team. The night after Meyer was introduced, Thad Matta’s second-ranked roundballers took to the hardwood before a sellout crowd at Value City Arena and clobbered No. 3 Duke and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski to the tune of 85-63.

    All of those developments made national news – major national news – and also produced more quotes than even the rabid media could reproduce.

    Trailing back a few months it has been even more of a whirwind following the two top programs at The Ohio State University. The football team endured a topsy-turvy second half of the regular season and the basketball squad has been in the top-five spotlight practically since breaking camp in mid-October.

    SportsRappUp.com has been there every step of the way and has compiled for you some of the better quotes that got away. Well, almost go away. Enjoy.

    Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith just before introducing Meyer – “Urban and I go back quite a ways and have known each other for a while. Our first conversation about this job was on Sunday, November 20th. There were no previous conversations about this job until Sunday, November 20th.”

    Former Buckeye linebacker Chris Spielman on Meyer, his broadcast partner this season, and rumors of him joining the OSU staff – “If ever I were to coach it would be for him, because I believe in the guy so much and what he stands for. I think I serve the university in a more important capacity and involvement with the fundraiser for the Spielman Fund for breast cancer. And also I made a promise to Stef, I made a promise to my kids and a promise to people at Ohio State that this is what I’m going to do, and I intend to keep my word. I always do, I think. I try to. And I’ve got a 9-year-old and 10-year-old and I’m a single dad. It wouldn’t be fair to them, because I’m afraid what I’d turn into.”

    Matta on speculation of the Meyer hiring and what he had heard about him from his good friend and current Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan – “Billy has always told me dating back to years when we would talk shop about my relationship with Jim and his relationship – I think they were neighbors – he always said he was just a great, great guy. So if that’s who it is that would be a tremendous get for Ohio State.”

    Outgoing senior center Mike Brewster on the football squad’s off-field transgressions and subsequent 6-6 season – “It’s hard. It just kind of shows you that the decisions you make can affect your teammates. That’s how it goes sometimes, but I think I’ve grown a lot this year. I’ve had to deal with a lot more stress and responsibility than in the past three years. But I think I’ve come a long ways and in the long run I think it will be good for me.”

    Krzyzewski on the Blue Devils’ inability to slow down Ohio State – “We couldn’t hit a shot. Their defense was outstanding. And then they got hot. They can score from a number of different positions. They had a great crowd. They had a lot going, and they took advantage of everything. They were just really good.”

    Krzyzewski on OSU’s dynamic duo of Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft – “When you have Sullinger in there, he’s just a man inside and he’s always an option. You can always get the ball to him and run offense through him or have him be the offense. That’s a big thing for their team. And Craft, he busts his butt. He’s a terrific player on a team that’s very talented.”

    Krzyzewski when he was asked to evaluate the play of OSU forward Deshaun Thomas – “I wasn’t focused on each one of their guys. I was trying to figure out how to not lose by 30.”

    Tressel, speaking to WTVN morning host Bob Conners on his final day at the mic, on Meyer – “Urban has done a great job wherever he’s been. He’ll come in and do a good job with a great group of kids. When you go through some suffering like (Ohio State) went through this year and you have the right kind of players in the program, you’re probably going to have some good things happen. So he will come in and do a good job. He knows how to coach the game.”

    Fickell on the key to attracting prospects to Ohio State – “You want to have them get on campus. You want them to see you in a different light. You want them to see you around your players. You want them to see how you react or respond in the general public. Unless you just talk to people over the phone in recruiting and you have some great sales pitch … to me, I tell parents you want to be able to see it, you want to look in that coaches eyes and feel how genuine he really is and see how genuine each coach on that staff really is and see the people that are in the program, because that’s what’s real.

    “That’s what I’ve told them all along since I’ve been here for 10 years. That’s the way I’ve recruited. It hasn’t been, ‘Come here because of me.’ It hasn’t been come here because of a different coach. It’s been come here because it’s The Ohio State University, all the things it has to offer and, most importantly, the young men and the people who are in the program. Those things will never change.”

    Defensive back Tyler Moeller on what he recalled about OSU’s loss at Purdue in 2009 – “I don’t really remember too much from that game just because I had a brain injury. I wasn’t at the game. I don’t really remember too much of that period of my life so it’s hard to comment. Weak excuse, I apologize.”

    Jackson State basketball coach Tevester Anderson’s assessment of Ohio State after his team was blown out at VCA – “We have played Florida, we have played Baylor. Coming here, I didn’t see a weakness at all for this team. They are strong, but they have good perimeter shooting. They also have good guard play, which is huge. I thought they were just as good as North Carolina coming into this season and tonight just reinforced that. They executed well and their chemistry is really, really good.”

    Anderson on Sullinger – “We have a big man at home that’s pretty good. He had to stay back because of an eye surgery, but I don’t think it would have made a difference against Sullinger tonight. He’s strong and he jumps so quickly. He moves like Charles Barkley. I had the chance to coach Barkley at Auburn. Sullinger is something special.”

    Matta on insulating his team from the media and distractions – “Honestly, you’d like to just sort of coach a basketball team in a cave, go out and play games and go back in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.”

    Senior left tackle Mike Adams, who was suspended for the first five games of the season, on being named a game captain against Indiana – “It was great. I’ll never forget it, being out there and being able to lead my teammates. It’s cool just to do the coin toss and all that stuff. It was a good experience.”

    Fickell after being told Boom Herron, who was suspended for the first six games of the season, was seen crying during the national anthem just prior to his 2011 home debut against Wisconsin – “We know what kind of passion Boom has. We would expect nothing different, whether it’s his play or how he reacts to the national anthem.”

    Fickell on why he believed Herron was deserving of being named a game captain – “Because there’s no one it means more to. We’ve all made mistakes in our life and we all continue to learn from the mistakes we’ve made. We’ve all paid the prices at times and we’ve gotten away with things at times. Eventually, you’ve got to forgive and move on. It’s not hard to do when a guy’s got the passion and the work ethic and he handles it the way in which Boom has handled it. There’s nobody that would bat an eye at making Boom Herron anything and that’s a tribute to the way he’s handled the situation, his maturity and what this place really means to him.”

    Matta on his affinity for Donovan – “It goes back … his coaching tree, my coaching tree. There’s some ties there from Herb Sendek. They were assistants together at Kentucky. Billy was coaching at Marshall when I was at Western Carolina. I don’t know. He’s one of the good guys, I think, and I enjoy being around him.”

    Fickell, on Nov. 3, on how he continued to keep the Buckeyes positive despite looming NCAA sanctions – “Once somebody knows something, I would much rather know. But until they do, I don’t want to speculate about it, I don’t want to waste any of our energy or of our time worrying about it. It’s always better to have things out in the open and know what the situation is, but until then we’re going to continue to move forward and go about our business.”

    Fickell on the versatility of fullback Zach Boren, who weighed as much as 280 pounds in high school – “Zach would be a good football player, I don’t care where you put him. You could put him at right guard and he would be one heck of a football player. You could put him at tailback and he’s going to be a heck of a football player. You could put him at linebacker.”

    Herron on smoothing over matters with fellow tailback Carlos Hyde after seizing the starting job at Illinois (Hyde tweeted his displeasure with receiving only a few late carries) – “We definitely talked. And I think he’s doing a lot better now. And like I told him, you know, when I first got here, I had a lot of guys in front of me, Beanie Wells, Brandon (Saine) and Maurice Wells, I told him he has a couple of years left. So his time is definitely going to come. He’s a great running back, and he’s always working hard, always doing a great job. So his time will definitely come.”

    Wide receiver Philly Brown on the game-winning touchdown toss from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith against Wisconsin – “We were scrambling … and they didn’t give us a play or nothing. So we’re out there just running playground routes. I think I ran a deep out or something like that. And Braxton said he pointed at me to get the safety to run over (so he could) throw it to Devin. So on his part, that was like a veteran move.”

    Craft on the temptation for team members to produce another video showing off their singing, ahem, skills after last year’s memorable stab at “Party in the USA” – “As of right now, I don’t think so. We went that route and realized that maybe it wasn’t the best thing to do. But it was exciting, I enjoyed it, and I still like the song. You never know.”

    Fickell on whether wearing black made him feel tougher –Al Davis thought so, I think. For me, it’s just what we wear. People ask why you wear that. We wear black, just to be the signal guy. It’s not anything history-wise. Unless they have something back in the archives, I don’t know that we’ll be changing that uniform much.”

    Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio on why he put a moratorium on player interviews the week of MSU’s visit to Ohio State – “I just wanted Kirk Cousins to have fun, and all of our players. I just didn’t want them stressed about being interviewed. That’s what I decided to do. I know it wasn’t really popular but I thought that it allowed people to step away and deflate a little bit. Sometimes you have to be able to do that. You have to deflate.”

    Sullinger on Will Buford deciding to return for his senior season after the heartbreaking loss and a poor shooting night vs. Kentucky in the Sweet 16 – “He didn’t come back just to waste his time. He doesn’t want to lose. He wants to win just like everybody else. We’ll see how that goes. It’s burning. If someone says, ‘Kentucky,’ he always says, ‘Forget you, man.’ It’s motivation. Will knows everybody is going to look back on that game until he steps back on the floor and shows what he can do.”

    Fickell on former teammate Eddie George being honored at halftime of the Wisconsin game for his recent election into the College Football Hall of Fame – “Eddie George is probably to me one of the best stories that I’ve ever been around here at Ohio State, from a guy that came in, things didn’t go his way to start with. For the next three years, he was the hardest-working guy on the team. I’ve told guys that story several times.

    “People see the Heisman Trophy, figure he was a big thoroughbred guy that was a big running back from the get-go. I don’t know in my time here that there was anybody that out-worked him. That’s why he is where he is today. That’s why he’s going into the Hall of Fame. That’s why he has a Heisman Trophy. It’s not just on the ability. It’s on the person, the character, the work ethic that he had to get better.”

    Meyer on several players having legal troubles on his watch at the University of Florida – “I know there’s been some issues that we’ve had that I’ve had to deal with, not that we’re proud of. We have a set of core values. Honesty, respect. Number one, treat everyone with respect. Number two, no drugs, no stealing, no weapons. Those are core value issues.”

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  • Doing A Little Spring Cleaning

    It would be wonderful to proclaim that spring has sprung but it sure doesn’t feel like it unless you consider the wettest April on record in the Midwest as spring.

    Even so, we have moved past basketball season and through spring football, which means it’s time to take a breath and catch up. And one way to do that is to go back a month or two or three and sift through the quotes that got away.

    SportsRappUp.com was there for the Big Ten basketball regular season, the league tournament, the NCAA Tournament, women’s basketball and other Ohio State sports, the Jim Tressel/Tat Five scandal, and much, much more. But even in the process of providing thorough coverage, not every interesting tidbit found it’s way onto the website.

    And that’s the beauty of Quote Me. So here are some of the quotes that got away recently:

    Basketball walk-on and senior Eddie Days on scoring his first career point on a free throw vs. George Mason in the NCAA Tournament – “It’s just good to get it out of the way. I don’t have to think about it anymore because people have been giving me some grief about it. I was just concentrating on getting that first one down, and I was so happy I wasn’t even concerned about the second one.”

    Deshaun Thomas, prior to facing Kentucky, on whether it bothered him that UK guard Brandon Knight beat him and Jared Sullinger in the McDonald’s All-American Game with a last-second shot – “Not really. We were there for the Ronald McDonald House and the kids. It was all for them and it was a good experience. That shot didn’t really bother me. We were just there for the kids.”

    Purdue coach Matt Painter comparing the 2010-11 Buckeyes to the 2006-07 team that advanced all the way to the national title game – “They had good skill, obviously, with Greg Oden. Mike (Conley) was a guy who could break you down through the ball-screen action. They did more ball-screen action with that group than they do with this group, even though they do it at times. They had shooters. They had a guy in the first round come off the bench for them. That’s pretty good when you have first-rounders – in that year. Sometimes two or three years later you have a guy who’s a first-round pick, but in that year they had a guy come off the bench for them that got drafted in the first round in Daequan Cook, so it kind of says something about their talent and skill.”

    William Buford on Aaron Craft’s record-tying 14-assist effort against GMU – “He gave people the ball in their hotspots. He knows where people’s hotspots are, he knows where your hands are going to be and he gets you the ball. That shows off his quarterback skills from high school.”

    Buford on how many “hot spots” he has on the court – “I guess everywhere.”

    Dallas Lauderdale on George Mason players woofing during a hot start (and an eventual 98-66 OSU win) – “We don’t respond by talking trash. We respond by upping our play a little bit and getting stops, and our offense took off from there. That was all the talking we had to do.”

    Jon Diebler on if he feared his diploma wouldn’t arrive on time – “I’m good in that aspect. I’ve paid enough money to the transportation and parking services, so I think I’m done with that.”

    OSU head coach Thad Matta on Diebler, Lauderdale and David Lighty finishing up their schoolwork at the outset of the NCAA Tournament – “The guys that I don’t have to worry about academically are the guys who usually play the best for us. These guys, honestly, tomorrow it’s a great honor to coach them knowing that they’re college graduates. It’s very, very exciting. I couldn’t be prouder of them and just who they are as people. You take the basketball side out of it, you’re proud that all three are going to graduate here in a week. It’s tremendous.”

    Lauderdale on who taught him to throw down the vicious one-handed alley-oop dunk he displayed in the postseason – “God. He gave me the height and the athleticism. No on really taught me how to do that. I was just blessed with height and athleticism. When you’re up there you want to throw it in the hoop, break the rim down, something.”

    Women’s coach Jim Foster when asked what the television executives wanted to do with his team’s matchup with top-ranked UConn – “TV executives? I’d be surprised if there are any TV executives out there who know that women’s basketball exists.”

    Tailback Boom Herron on tying the OSU record for longest run, 89 yards, with 1942  team member Gene Fekete after his long ramble against Michigan – “That’s kind of crazy. Wearing the 1942 uniforms today and setting that record today, I’m very thankful for that. The dream is to come to Ohio State, play against Michigan and beat Michigan. Everybody wants to do that who comes here. To set records, that’s just like a plus. You can’t be happier than that.”

    Tressel on the controversy surrounding the Buckeyes before they headed off to the Sugar Bowl – “There’s pluses and minuses to every situation. When we’re in that situation, I’ll think it’s the best one in the world. That’s just the way we look at things. Right now it’s not the situation and this is the best one. You remember the old quote, ‘Paradise is where I am,’ and we’re in paradise right now.”

    Matta on trying to slow down guard E’Twaun Moore in a 76-63 loss at Purdue – “We cut it to four there with a few minutes left and he came off and bobbled it and still shot it in. I knew it probably wasn’t our day at that particular juncture.”

    Matta on Moore ripping OSU for a career-high 38 points a week after Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor popped for 27 including 21 in the second half – “Those were, when you think about, maybe two of the best performances in college basketball this year. And as is just my luck, I get a first-row seat to watch it.”

    Lighty on former teammate Evan Turner coming back to campus over the NBA’s All-Star weekend – “He’s still the same old Evan – eating Waffle House all the time, sleeping everywhere and just chilling.”

    Buford on Lighty’s presence – “He always brings energy to the team. He’s the most talkative guy on the floor. He’s the heart and soul to the team.”

    Matta on Lighty’s worth to the program – “What Dave has done the last five years, I hope he goes down as one of the greatest all-time players ever to play here.”

    Matta on the Buckeyes bypassing a 6 a.m. shootaround before the game at Wisconsin – “The example I gave them was, ‘Hey, the Globetrotters just show up and play and they’ve never lost before,’ and they all thought, ‘Hey, that makes a lot of sense.’ ”

    Sullinger on tough love – “There’s no compassion with this team. If you all could see and look at our practices, there’s times when we argue, times when we yell at each other, cuss each other out. It’s a tough basketball team. But once we get outside that box, or that rectangle I should say, it’s a pretty good basketball team as a group.”

    Matta on a pair of students a few rows behind the team bench who regularly dress up like and emulate the mannerisms of energetic assistant coach Jeff Boals – “They need to go on to the players. Having faces and dressing like the coaches, we need to go another direction there.”

    Tight end Jake Stoneburner on the Buckeyes rallying to win all their November games – “Words really can’t explain how we feel. This has been our goal the whole season, winning the Big Ten championship. We wanted to win it outright, but still winning it, you can’t complain about that. Knowing six straight may never be done again, it’s great. I think we deserve it and we worked hard for it.”

    Matta on Buford dealing with back spasms during the season – “I was told he was going to be fine, he’s good to go. I texted him late last night and said, ‘Shoot me straight, how do you feel?’ and he said, ‘I’m a little sore, dot, dot, dot.’ And I told him today, ‘you don’t “dot-dot-dot” me.’ So we had a long conversation.”

    Foster, a native of Philadelphia, on his memories of Madison Square Garden – “When I was in high school I would jump on the train and I would go to New York for the postseason NIT, and one day I’m walking through the hallways and I ran into my science teacher, who I had for my first class the next morning. He made me very aware of the fact that I better not be late – and he drove. I took the train.”

    Lighty on how often he thinks about playing football again when he watches Tressel’s Buckeyes – “Every game. I just want to score a touchdown in there and hear 100,000 people go crazy.”

    Lauderdale as his career was winding down – “I honestly can’t believe I’m a senior. I still remember the first outfit I wore to my first class as a freshman. It just went by just like that. People always say cherish the college days because they go by quick and I didn’t believe it, but they were right.”

    Lighty on Turner’s early adjustment to the NBA – “That’s the first thing he said, that in practices that Elton Brand is a horse and you can’t get a rebound from him. Evan had a transition coming from high school to college. He really wasn’t doing what he was doing in high school. It’s pretty much going to be the same way once you get to the next level.”

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  • The Overlap Of OSU Football & Hoops

    With college football’s regular season now complete and basketball season well underway, it is time to sweep up the loose quotes that remain – but didn’t slip through the grasp of SportsRappUp.com.

    This edition is heavy on extra quotes from the second half of the Ohio State football season, which included the Buckeyes’ rally from a loss at Wisconsin, another strong closing run in November as well as a seventh straight win over Michigan and sixth straight Big Ten title.

    Meanwhile, the OSU men’s basketball team opened in the top five of the rankings and quickly moved up to the No. 2 spot, much like Jim Tressel’s football squad. Thad Matta’s hoopsters posted a pair of big wins in the Sunshine State, at Florida and Florida State, thanks to outstanding play from veterans such as David Lighty and eye-opening contributions from freshmen Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft.

    Also, as usual, a few injuries came to light, most notably Tyler Moeller on the football team and yet another NBA season-ender for former Buckeye Greg Oden.

    Not every entertaining quote made it into the many SportsRappUp.com articles that accompanied those events, but thankfully we still have reason to unveil those missed bites here in Quote Me. They follow:

    Matta on if he sensed a buzz about the Buckeyes after they dominated No. 9 Florida –
    “You guys would know that better than I do. Starbucks, the Schottenstein Center and my house is really all I see. I hope there is. I hope people are excited as we are, as our guys are.”

    Lighty on if the team will be able to replace popular walk-on and blogger Mark Titus – “No, not at all. That’s a legend right there. Mark is going down as a legend. It’ll be a while before someone replaces him.”

    Dallas Lauderdale on if the basketball squad goes out to eat as much now that Evan Turner is departed – “Our whole team likes Genji. We really don’t do Waffle House. That was definitely Evan.”

    Zach Boren after his older brother, Justin, played in his last home game for the Buckeyes – “It’s kind of tough. We’ve still got one more, the bowl game, so I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. But he’s a great guy, the best big brother you can have. He’s always looked out for me and helped me so much since I’ve been here with getting to know the offense and stuff like that. I know we’re going to miss him next year.”

    Matta on what he said via phone to Oden the day before the 7-0 center left for Vail, Colo., for yet another season-ending surgery – “It’s hard to say … you don’t know what to say. It’s only the fourth time I’ve called him at a time like that in a couple years. You hate to see that happen to anybody, but a great kid like Greg, I just want him to get healthy and get a chance to do what he wants to do, and that’s play in the NBA. When he left here I had no doubts he was going to be at this time, four years in the NBA, one of the best centers in the league. It’s unfortunate. He was in great spirits. He was more excited that we won the night before, as only Greg would be. Eventually it may weigh on him, but it’s what he has to do to get where he wants to go. You look last year he was averaging 12 points, 9 and a half rebounds, four blocked shots a game before he went down. Then he has the injury. So it’s there; it’s just a matter of getting him healthy.”

    Miami (Ohio) basketball coach Charlie Coles on Matta, who served two stints as an assistant under Coles – “They’ve got a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful coach. Me and Sean Miller used to always say when we see each other, you talk about all the guys and Thad’s name would come up, we’d say, “Aw, gawd, everything that guy touches turns to gold.’ I don’t know if there’s a coach that’s had his type of success at different places. That guy went to Western Carolina and they went to the (NCAA) tournament – and they were about 9 and 50. For three straight years he went to the tournament as an assistant. It was like eight years, and in his ninth year he had a team that didn’t go to the tournament because of probation. So he’s one of the greats, and I’m not just saying that because I know him. He’s just one of the greats. I mean that. Ohio State’s great and he just recruits his butt off, and he coaches his butt off, too.”

    Matta on the Buckeyes practicing on Thanksgiving – “Thursday we’ll practice, I’m not sure what time, and then they’ll come out to my house for dinner, so I’ve got to start cooking early. Hopefully we’ll have a better practice than we had a couple years ago. I think my wife left 19 voice mails saying, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’ but we weren’t getting practice the way we wanted, so we stayed for four hours and we were a couple hours late for dinner. The veteran players will remember that, that’s for sure.”

    Lighty on the same subject – “We might eat at the gym.”

    Tressel on announcing to the football team that Moeller’s request for another year of eligibility had been approved by the NCAA – “It was a neat thing. He’s had a couple tough things happen and he’s persevered, and usually when you persevere good things happen. So he has an opportunity to play more football, which he loves.”

    Lighty on the idea of quarterback Terrelle Pryor joining the basketball team – “He was a good player. I played against him in AAU. I think we could find a spot for him. I think Coach Matta probably wouldn’t mind that at all. You know, give up a couple fouls for us and play a little defense. I don’t think Tressel will let him so it probably doesn’t matter.”

    Matta on dealing with freshman apprehension – “It’s like the time Greg Oden called me right before he was getting ready to come to college and he says, ‘Coach, what if the other guys on the team don’t like me?’ And I said, ‘Well, they won’t be here then.’ ”

    Tressel on the contrast of the first half against Penn State as compared to the result of the second half – “I remember we were down 17-3 in the national championship game when I was at Youngstown and we came back and won. That was a contrast. I probably wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t won.”

    Justin Boren on hearing boos at the end of the first half against PSU – “They’re our fans. They probably just weren’t happy with what they saw. To be honest with you, I don’t blame them. We didn’t execute very well.”

    Defensive lineman Dexter Larimore on OSU rallying from a 14-3 deficit against the Nittany Lions and winning 38-14 – “It’s a little scary when it’s happening but it is a lot more fun when you win those kind of games because you’ve shown yourself you can handle those adversities. That’s what it’s kind of all about. As a team, if you can come together, understand what’s going wrong and be resilient and come through with a victory, that’s a lot more fun after the game than just pounding a team.”

    Larimore on Tressel’s impassioned halftime speech that afternoon – “Since it’s so uncharacteristic it really gets you pumped up and ready to go. He can kind of came out and said, ‘Hey, we need to play with some heart. We need to come out and attack. We need to get after these guys,’ and he’s speaking loud. It’s a little bit different than what he kind of normally does. I think it helped give us a spark.”

    Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on interest from other schools – “Am I being recruited? The Arena League called me about seven or eight years ago about long snapping.”

    Linebacker Brian Rolle on if the Buckeyes were ho-hum about winning a sixth straight Big Ten title – “Winning doesn’t get old. It doesn’t get old at all. And if they say that, I don’t know what sport they’re playing.”

    Matta on freshman point guard Aaron Craft, who wasn’t even a top-100 recruit according to some services – “I think Aaron is going to be a heck of a basketball player. I don’t know if he’s a one-and-done. I hope he is.”

    Tressel on good friend and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio lobbying for a spot in the BCS, which would have come at the expense of Ohio State – “I’d be disappointed with Mark or Michigan State as a whole if they didn’t stand up and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what about us?’ ”

    Tressel at his Dec. 5 press conference on if he received any special gifts for his 58th birthday that day – “Yeah, the Sugar Bowl. How many people got a Sugar Bowl for their birthday? That’s pretty cool. I haven’t been home yet. I’m hoping to get maybe a tie.”

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From time to time, we will take a look back at some of the more interesting remarks we came across, funny quips or meaningful statements that may have been bypassed. Here is a sampling:

 
 
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