March 14, 2014
COACH MATTA: I told our guys at halftime, I said, Look, with the nine turnovers we had, why don't we just go out and give them the ball nine times and let them try to score. And they took me literally, so we were down 18 points.
But I'll tell you what, I'm very proud of these guys and the effort that they put forth. They were thinking the game at a level down the stretch that we needed to be thinking the game all the way through. Proud of these two guys here. Shannon's [Scott] first half was not good, challenged him at halftime. He did a great job. Amedeo [Della Valle] plays with no ego. He just plays with a love for the game, and just did a tremendous job for us, and his defensive presence was as good -- it was the difference in the game, to be honest with you.
Like I said, we fought, we clawed, and found a way to win the basketball game.
Q. When you're down 18 in the second half, what are you thinking? How are you going to get back in it?
SHANNON SCOTT: We know there's no 20 point baskets, so we've got to take every possession one at a time. We've got to get a stop. And once we started doing that, we really got pride in our offense, and that really got us going.
AMEDEO DELLA VALLE: Yeah, I think we played with more energy when we saw that we were actually down 18, and we started picking up full court. They turned the ball over a couple times, and with that we got our confidence back, and we kept going.
Q. Amedeo, was this your best moment in a Buckeye uniform?
AMEDEO DELLA VALLE: Probably, yeah. I think the best moment was when I decided to come here, when I committed here. But, definitely, one of the toughest games for me, but I'm glad we came out with the win.
Q. Amedeo, you missed those two free throws with, whatever, 5:40 or something to go. And then you come down the stretch and they fouled you and you made four. Can you just -- was there any thought to the missed free throws, and did you just put that behind you, or what happened?
AMEDEO DELLA VALLE: Yeah, I think I didn't release the ball well at all on my first two free throws. And to be honest, I don't really like the ball. I hate the ball.
After I missed those two, a little pressure went off, so I was ready to knock the other two free throws down and then the last two.
Q. (No microphone)
AMEDEO DELLA VALLE: Yeah, I got my misses off, my misses out of my body, and I was able to make some.
Q. Thoughts on Michigan as a basketball team?
SHANNON SCOTT: We know they're a tough team. Back at our place, we had them down early in the game, and they were more physical than us, had more toughness than us, and they came out with a win. With that in the back of our head, we know we've got to have our A-game to win the game.
Q. Thad, with the trouble you were having with their zone for a long time, was that the reason you decided to go with Amedeo, thinking he could make shots, or did you just put him in out of routine and see if he had anything to give you?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, at that point we were looking for anything we could find, just in terms of finishing and -- we opened up the second half and we had three fouls in two minutes and ten seconds, and we missed four straight free throws. You know, just -- Aaron [Craft] missed a lay up, Trey [McDonald] missed an attempt to dunk, and it was like, my gosh. They were down there making the plays, and yeah, so when we inserted Amedeo [Della Valle], it was just like, Hey, I told him, just give us something out there. The biggest thing, like I say, I know he had 12 points, but his defense was incredible: Three blocked shots, two steals. Wow, was he good.
Q. You're 20-5 in Big Ten tournaments since you've been at Ohio State. Do you prepare the team different when you come into March? Is there anything different you do compared to the regular season?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, we do a lot of things -- no, we stay the same course. I think in this tournament, as you saw, players make plays. Even for Nebraska, some of the plays those guys made were, wow.
But I think that you hope, at this point of the season, all the work you've done dating back to this year, September 28th, it can come into fruition. You see it across the country. There's been a lot of ups and downs in these tournaments. But in terms of different meetings or different film sessions or different pregame talks, it's basically the same.
Q. Thad, Amedeo had a pretty good game against Nebraska the first time he played. Is that just a coincidence?
COACH MATTA: You know, as I went back last night and watched the game, I was saying to myself, Hey, if we can get Amedeo [Della Valle] going, and even out there he had a decent game. He had some great looks that didn't go down for him.
Yeah, I don't know, but the timing was perfect today, that's for sure.
Q. I would say most coaches would have probably sat LaQuinton for a little bit after he got his T. Did you put him back out there because he might be the only guy that could make some shots for you?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, I'll be honest, I didn't see. I got blocked on what happened. He said he got hit in the face on the drive. We're working with him on that.
But yeah, he definitely played at a high level today.
Q. Amedeo, at one point, smacked the ball out of the hand of an inbounder. I don't know what your reaction was to that, but is that kind of thing acceptable because of his fire, or does that say anything about him? What was going on there?
COACH MATTA: Yeah, what I saw -- I literally started laughing when I saw it because that was his Euro style there. I think he thought they were going to quick inbounds and he just knocked it out of the guy's hands. It was just a warning, and we told our guys not to do it again. He said, Yeah, I did it. Not a big deal.
Q. 47 fouls in the game; tough to get into a flow with that many fouls?
COACH MATTA: Yes, but fortunately for us, like I said, the way we started the second half was just -- that's not a -- we don't foul a lot. I think we're pretty high up in the country in not fouling. I took the timeout when Shannon [Scott] got the hand check out there with 3:03 to go or whatever saying, Hey, we don't want to commit those. Aaron [Craft] had a couple down the stretch that we -- those are the ones we don't want to pick up if at all possible.
Q. You've had a few rallies at Ohio State since you've been here. I mean, Xavier in the NCAA Tournament comes to mind. Is there anything that rivals this one in your mind that you can think of at the moment?
COACH MATTA: You know, obviously, the Notre Dame game this year was down eight with a minute to go. What were we, down 18 with 10 to go today? This one was probably -- the stakes were high on this one. Now, you're going to make me think all the way -- but no, this one is definitely up there, no question about it.
Like I say, because I think we were playing a great basketball team and a team that, gosh, I hope we don't see them in the NCAA Tournament; that's for sure.
COACH MILES: Well, unfortunately, I thought that we beat ourselves. I know you have to credit Ohio State with their pressure late. The last 13 minutes they really did an excellent job of getting us rattled. Their physical defense out front I thought really got to us, too. But really at the end of the day, when you have a lead like that, you should be able to hold it and keep it and find a way to win, but unfortunately we weren't able to.
Credit them, but at the end of the day, I'm going to put this one on us and me and not finding a better way to attack their pressure.
I thought we had practiced it relatively well during the week, had plenty of reps, but it's hard to simulate, and you never know how physical the game gets. [Aaron] Craft and [Shannon] Scott were so physical the last six minutes of the game that it just gets you out of your rhythm. There's no doubt about that.
Q. Shavon, you guys were up 18 in the second half with ten minutes left. What changed from that point to the rest of the game?
SHAVON SHIELDS: Just they were turning us over, speeding us up, getting us out of operating areas. And we weren't executing on offense, weren't making plays on defense, giving up offensive boards, and we just kind of fell apart. It was just really embarrassing on our part and unacceptable, and that's really what happened the last couple minutes of the game.
Q. Can you talk about their physicality on defense? Seemed like there was a lot of contact every time you got in the lane. How much did that play into that second half rally there?
TERRAN PETTEWAY: There really was no excuse. They play physical, we know that about Ohio State. That's their identity: Play physical and hard. We just had to take care of the ball, and we didn't. I mean, that cost us the game.
Q. When Tom Izzo was building Michigan State, he said the hardest part was when he got a team, that they learned how to win. Is that the next step in rebuilding Nebraska for you?
COACH MILES: I think our inexperience in being in a game of that magnitude, that high caliber, where you've got to just fight it out definitely hurt us. Hopefully, it's something we don't re create. Hopefully, it's not a symptom of something that's a larger problem, that it was just one of those experiences that we weren't quite ready for. It's hard to replicate in practice. But Coach Izzo is right. He usually is.
It's just such a disappointing day for us.
Q. Do you think the kids went in thinking, Okay, we need to win this to lock up an NCAA Tournament berth? Do you think there's any pressure like that?
COACH MILES: No, I just think we wanted to win the tournament. We wanted to win the Big Ten Tournament. We wanted to do in three days what Michigan State took two and a half months to do. The tournament is going to be what it's going to be. It's out of your control. I don't think they felt any pressure. They didn't play like they did until Ohio State pressured us.
Q. How big have the transfers been for you this season? Has that been the biggest difference?
COACH MILES: Definitely. Those are guys who are our best athletes and I think they have a really good skill level, too. And Walter [Pitchford] did a really nice job, I thought. He started out in frustration a little bit, but ended the game really well. And then Terran [Petteway], I thought, just got frustrated and ended up taking himself out of the game mentally. We just can't have that. He's too good and too valuable to let that happen. I didn't do a good job putting them in great situations either. We just have to go back and look at this and keep trying to get better for wherever we play next week.
Q. Kind of building on that, how much of a learning process has it been this season just to come as far as you have, as quickly as you have, and did you see anything in the body language of your guys at the end of the game where you thought maybe they don't believe that they can get this?
COACH MILES: Well, I think when we threw the lob and the kid tried to reverse it and missed it -- we set two records: One in the first half and one in the second half for worst shot ever. That's usually not a record you want to set in the Big Ten Tournament.
It seemed like that really bothered us, and we got guys in foul trouble: Benny [Parker] and Shavon [Shields] got in foul trouble, and we had other guys that came in that honestly looked scared. They were like, Oh, boy, this is a big moment, and they really made their run. And then we just couldn't get them -- they scored, what, 10 of their last 11 possessions probably, I think it was, and we just couldn't get anything going.
And you have to credit their defense and then look at when we quit scoring. When this team scores, they really defend. But, then, when we quit scoring sometimes we worry about that. And I think that's a mark of immaturity, not in a bad way, but just understanding how you win. Can you win shooting 36 percent against a team like Ohio State when there's a lot at stake? Tonight we couldn't, and it's unfortunate because it was right there until the last minute.
Q. You got down eight in the first five minutes or so and then kept clawing your way back. Any reason for that slow start? Was it just
COACH MILES: I think that when you sit there for a week, whatever you try and do in practice, you kind of lose that competitive spirit. Same thing here. And we play -- what day is it, Friday? Was it Friday? So we play today, and then maybe we don't play again for another week. Maybe we play Tuesday, who knows. But just sitting here for a week and all you do is practice and talk about the potential game, you're used to playing every three days. And with the Big Ten schedule, sometimes you might play five in eight days. So you're used to a regular diet of games, and I just think it took a little bit of time.
Last year we hopped on them pretty good when we had beat Purdue and then saw them in the quarter. And we were right there late in the first half, and we were the aggressor and, finally, they got their act together and run us out of the gym. But I think not playing that first day, sometimes it takes a little bit to get yourself going.
Q. I know it's not up to you, but are you guys an NCAA Tournament team? And how quickly can you put this loss behind you and start shifting towards the next tournament?
COACH MILES: I'm a Catholic, we're not putting it behind us. We're going to live in it for a while.
I think we're a tournament team. I think we're a team good enough to win in the tournament. I mean, you just look at our body of work -- and even, we lost to Illinois who was playing lights out and just lost to a great Michigan team. And other than that, we haven't lost many games recently in the past two months.
I know that early we weren't the team we are now, but I know they have to consider your full body of work.
Q. As you said earlier, it's out of your control now, but what are the next two days going to be like for you knowing what that would mean if your name does get called?
COACH MILES: I'm trying to debate my options, and none of them are good or healthy. One thing I think we'll do is get the team together tomorrow just so they're not sitting around all day. So we'll do something tomorrow with them, whether that be shoot or whatever, and just -- that's always a healing process. The child psychologist takes the kid in the sandbox, gets the Tonka trucks out, and we get them in the gym and give them a ball and that sort of thing.
We need a little salve on these wounds, so we'll probably kill a day doing that, like shoot for 11 hours. I don't know, is that against the rules? We're on spring break, aren't we? We're going to be. We'll break the rules. I'm kidding, I'm kidding, I'm kidding.