Postseason Inside Front Cover
Postseason Inside Back Cover
Postseason Back Cover
2008 Big Ten Tournament Notes
2007-08 Ohio State Player Bios
2008 Big Ten Tournament Bracket
Ohio State (19-12, 10-8)
Date: March 14, 2008
Opp.: No. 17 Michigan St. (24-7, 12-6)
Site: Conseco Fieldhouse (18,345)
Game Time: 2:30 ET
TV Talent: Brent Musburger (P-by-P), Steve Lavin (Expert Analysis), Erin Andrews (Sideline)
Radio: OSU Radio Network (59 stations)
Local Radio: WBNS FM-97.1 AM-1460
Radio Talent: Paul Keels (P-by-P), Ron Stokes (Expert Analysis)
BUCKEYES, SPARTANS MEET AGAIN
Michigan State will face the Buckeyes for the second consecutive time this week at the 2008 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Ohio State evened the season series with a 63-54 win in Columbus Sunday to end the regular season. Raymar Morgan leads MSU in scoring with nearly 15 points a game with senior Drew Neitzel is second with about 13 ppg. Goran Suton is the leading rebounder with 8.2 a contest.
BUTLER, TERWILLIGER LEAD IN EXPERIENCE VS. SPARTANS
Matt Terwilliger and Jamar Butler have both faced Michigan State seven times over their Ohio State careers with a record of 4-3 in those games. Butler averages 12.0 points to lead the Buckeyes in the series. Senior Othello Hunter is the leading Ohio State rebounder against the Spartans with an average of 4.5 boards in four games played. Butler is 26 of 26 from the foul line and has made 51 percent of his field goals (23-45) and 39 percent from 3-point range (13-33) over an average of 36.3 minutes per game.
THE MICHIGAN STATE SERIES
Thad Matta is 4-3 all-time against Michigan State as the head coach of the Buckeyes, including a winning streak of three games before the loss in East Lansing earlier this year. Overall, Michigan State leads the all-time series 55-48 and 0-1 against the Buckeyes on a neutral court. Ohio State if 5-12 against the Spartans when they carry an AP Top 25 ranking into the game. The Buckeyes’ win Sunday was the first over a ranked MSU squad in Columbus since 1992, a 62-46 victory for the No. 7 Buckeyes over the ninth-ranked Spartans. The last time an unranked Ohio State team defeated a ranked MSU squad in Columbus prior to the 63-54 win Sunday over the No. 17 Spartans was during the 1958 season when the Buckeyes knocked off No. 8 MSU 70-56 at St. John Arena.
BUTLER, KOUFOS RECOGNIZED WITH HONORS
Senior Jamar Butler was named 2008 First Team All-Big Ten by the league media and to the second team by the conferences coaches Monday. Butler ended the regular season averaging 14.6 points and 6.0 assists to lead the Buckeyes. He made 84 3-pointers to become Ohio State’s all-time leader in that category along with his school record 545 career assists. Koufos, a third team All-Big Ten selection (coaches and media) and All-Freshman Team honoree (coaches), contributed 13.7 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds a game. He also blocked 57 shots on the year to lead the Buckeyes and had a team-high 174 field goals. Another Ohio State freshman, Jon Diebler, was selected as the Buckeyes’ Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
BUTLER CLAIMS WEEKLY LEAGUE AWARD
Jamar Butler was named the Big Ten Player of the Week last Monday after he led Ohio State to a pair of wins over ranked opponents to close out the regular season for the Buckeyes. In wins over No. 15 Purdue (3/4) and No. 17 Michigan State (3/9) Butler averaged 22.5 points while making 58 percent of his field goals (11-19) and 100 percent of his foul shots (16-16). He also connected on 7-of-12 3-pointers (.583). Butler tied the Ohio State record for games played (133) in the start vs. the Spartans and will break the record when Ohio State takes on Michigan State again in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. The weekly honor is the second of the season for an Ohio State player. Freshman Kosta Koufos earned the honor in November.
SENIORS RECOGNIZED FOR CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Seven members of the Ohio State men’s basketball program were recognized before the final home game of the regular season against Michigan State Sunday. Othello Hunter, Matt Terwilliger and Jamar Butler along with managers Anthony Calo, Levi Robinson, Kevin Rohrbacher and Matt Ullmer took part in pregame ceremonies along with members of their respective families. Over the last four years, the senior class has won a school record 100 games, two regular-season Big Ten titles, the 2007 Big Ten Tournament title and has appeared in two NCAA tournaments, including the 2007 NCAA National Championship game.
SCHEDULE STACKED DOWN STRETCH
When Ohio State takes on No. 17 Michigan State for the second time in less than a week, it will mark the fifth ranked opponent in six games for the Buckeyes. The stretch started with No. 11 Wisconsin Feb. 24 (L 58-53). No. 12 Indiana (L 72-69) followed Feb. 26. Ohio State then traveled to Minnesota (L 71-57) and then returned home for wins over No. 15 Purdue (80-77 OT March 4) and No. 17 Michigan State (63-54, March 9). Ohio State ended the season vs. five ranked foes in seven games a season ago.
OSU BIG TEN TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Buckeyes are 9-6 all-time in Big Ten Tournament play since the event began in 1998. The Buckeyes will be the No. 5 seed in 2008 and have won five of the last six league tournament games.
|Year (seed)||W/L||Opp. (seed)||Score|
|1998 (11)||L||Indiana (6)||71-78|
|2000 (1)||L||Penn State (9)||66-71|
|2003 (8)||W||Iowa (9)||66-64|
|W||Mich. St. (5)||55-54|
|2004 (9)||L||Indiana (8)||69-83|
|2005 (6)||W||Penn State (11)||72-69|
|2006 (1)||W||Penn State (8)||63-56|
|2007 (1)||W||Michigan (8)||72-62|
BUTLER, TERWILLIGER SET SENIOR CLASS WINS RECORD
Jamar Butler has played in all but one game in his Ohio State career, a total of 133. Senior classmate Matt Terwilliger has made 112 appearances during his career. The pair will go down as the winningest Buckeyes all-time with 100 victories and Butler is on pace to appear in more games than any other Buckeye in history. Seniors on the 1963 team finished with 98 career wins for the second-most wins in school history, three NCAA championship game appearances, the national title in 1960 and four Big Ten titles, which includes three outright titles from 1960-62. Seniors on the 1964 and 1992 teams each finished their careers with 89 victories. The 1964 seniors also had four league titles (two outright in 1961 and ’62) to go with two NCAA title game appearances those same years. The 1992 veterans had two Big Ten titles (one shared) and made three NCAA tournament appearances. To date, Butler and Terwilliger have back-to-back outright league championships and two NCAA tournament appearances, including an NCAA title game experience and school-record 35 wins a year ago.
|Total Wins||4-year Career||*Seniors|
|100||2005-08||Jamar Butler, Matt Terwilliger|
|98||1960-63#||Richard Reasbeck, Douglas McDonald|
|89||1961-64#||Donald Flatt, LeRoy Frazier, Donald DeVoe, Gary Bradds|
|89||1989-92||Jamaal Brown, Steve Hall, Chris Jent, Bill Robinson|
#Freshmen were not eligible during period
*4-year players in Ohio State program (Freshman and Varsity rosters)
FUTURE BUCKEYES NAMED ALL-AMERICANS
Two future Ohio State men’s basketball student-athletes were named to the 2008 McDonald’s All-America squads Feb. 27. William Buford and B.J. Mullens will represent Ohio State and the nation’s top high school recruits March 29 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis. Buford, who will be a freshman guard for the Buckeyes next year, will represent the East team in the McDonald’s event in 2008. The 6-5 guard currently plays for Libbey High School in Toledo, Ohio. Mullens, a 7-1 center from Canal Winchester (Ohio) High School, will represent the West. Mullens also signed with the Buckeyes last November and will be a freshman next season. Thad Matta, Ohio State head coach, has added a total of five McDonald’s All-Americans to the Buckeye men’s basketball program in his four years in Columbus. Twelve past and future Buckeyes have been associated with the annual event. Four McDonald’s All-Americans were a part of Ohio State’s 2006-07 squad that finished 35-4 overall, 15-1 in Big Ten Conference play, won the league regular-season title outright and played for the NCAA national title vs. Florida last April. Ivan Harris, Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., and Daequan Cook, all former McDonald’s All-Americans, played for the Buckeyes last season. Clark Kellogg (1979), Perry Carter (1987), Treg Lee (1987), Jim Jackson (1989), Charles Macon (1992) and Greg Simpson (1992) all played for Ohio State after playing in the McDonald’s All-American game. Harris played in the 2003 event while Oden, Conley Jr. and Cook played in the 2006 contest.
BUTLER ON PACE TO FINISH AMONG TOP 25 IN CAREER SCORING
Senior Jamar Butler moved to the No. 27 spot on the all-time scoring list at Ohio State with 20 points in the Michigan State victory last Sunday. With a minimum of two games remaining, he has a chance to move into the Top 25 to end his career. He averages just more than 14 points per game this season and has amassed 1,213 career points. Reaching his average over the next two games would give him 1,251 career points, good enough for the No. 24 position behind No. 23 Clark Kellogg (1980-82) with 1,285.
BUTLER IMPROVES ASSIST RECORD
Senior Jamar Butler set the career assist record at Ohio State with six helpers at Northwestern Feb. 13. At the 2 minute, 52 second mark of the second half, Butler fed freshman Jon Diebler for a 3-pointer that put Ohio State up 57-42. The bucket was Butler’s sixth assist of the game and No. 517 of his career (545). Kelvin Ransey (1977-80) is No. 2 with 516. Butler has connected on 222 career 3-pointers and owns the Ohio State record for made 3s in a career as well. He passed Brent Darby (2000-03) and Scoonie Penn (1999-2000) with a 4 of 8 effort from long range against VMI Nov. 25. Butler ranks No. 1 all-time in 3-pointers attempted (598) and No. 8 in career 3-point shooting percentage (222-598/.371).
MATTA REACHES 200 WINS, 100 AT OSU
Thad Matta has guided the Buckeyes to 100 victories in 134 games at Ohio State. In eight seasons as a head coach, Matta has never failed to reach the 20-wins plateau in one season at Butler (24 wins), three at Xavier (26 wins each year) and three at Ohio State (20, 26, 35). He has averaged 25 wins over his career for a total of 202 after a 63-54 win vs. Michigan State Sunday. With 19 wins to date this season he has eclipsed the 200 mark for his career and reached the 100-win mark at Ohio State, a total only four previous head coaches have reached at Ohio State of the 13 who have led the men’s basketball program (Fred Taylor/297, Harold Olsen/260, Eldon Miller/174 and Randy Ayers/124).
ANOTHER 20-WIN SEASON FOR MATTA WOULD TIE/SET RECORD
No Ohio State men’s basketball coach has won 20+ games in each of the first four years as head coach. Of the 13 head coaches in Ohio State history, nine have recorded tenures of four or more years. Only Fred Taylor (1959-76) won 20 or more games in four-consecutive years (1960-63/25, 27, 26, 20, respectively). Matta’s teams won 20 games in 2005, 26 in 2006, 35 a season ago and are 19-12 with at least two games remaining this season.
BUTLER 13TH NATIONALLY IN ASSISTS, TEAM DEFENSE IN TOP 10
Senior Jamar Butler rates No. 21 nationally in assists per game (6.0 apg./185 total). As a team, Ohio State is among the Top 10 defensive teams in the country. Ohio State is No. 8 in field goal percentage defense (.385) and rates No. 6 in fewest personal fouls committed per game (14.3).
BUTLER REACHES 1,000, FREE THROW STREAK SNAPPED
Senior Jamar Butler scored a game-high 21 points at Michigan State Jan. 15 to reach 1,000 career points as a Buckeye (1,213). He became the 43rd Ohio State men’s basketball player to reach the milestone. Brent Darby was the last guard to reach 1,000 points for the Buckeyes. He did so from 2000-03 and stands No. 21 on the all-time scoring list with 1,368 career points. Butler moved to the No. 27 spot in career scoring at Ohio State with 20 in the recent win over Michigan State. Next up is No. 26 John Havlicek (1960-62) with 1,223. Butler made the first four foul shots against Minnesota Jan. 26 before a miss ended a school-record streak at 38-consecutive foul shots, which broke the Ohio State record for consecutive makes set by Sean Connolly as a sophomore (25) in 2000-01. He has currently made 19-consecutive foul shots after a miss at Minnesota.
Butler’s Made FT streak
|Coppin State (12/10/07)||1-2*|
|Cleveland State (12/18/07)||0-0|
|at Illinois (1/3/08)||8-8|
|at Purdue (1/12/08)||4-4|
|at Michigan State (1/15/08)||6-6|
|at Tennessee (1/19/08)||3-3|
*Made second attempt // # missed fifth attempt
MATTA TEAMS PLAY FOR TITLES
Making the NCAA tournament is almost a sure thing when Thad Matta is on the bench. In six seasons as an assistant coach, Matta was part of five NCAA tournament appearances at Miami (Ohio), Western Carolina and Butler. The 1998-99 Butler squad played in the postseason NIT, advancing to the second round. As a head coach, Matta’s teams have played in the NCAA event in six of seven years and every year the teams he has coached were eligible for the annual postseason event. The 2004-05 Ohio State team, Matta’s first in Columbus, was held out of the event by the university but nonetheless finished with a 20-12 record and a win over No. 1 and previously unbeaten Illinois in the regular season finale.
When it comes to conference tournaments, Matta’s teams regularly play in the title game. As an assistant, Matta helped Western Carolina to the Southern Conference title in 1996 and Butler to the Mid-Western Collegiate Conference championship in 1998 and 2000. As a head coach, Butler won the MCC in 2001 with Matta at the helm. Xavier won the Atlantic 10 in 2002 and 2004 and in three chances at Ohio State, Matta has directed the Buckeyes to the title game twice, winning the 2007 event.
Matta has been associated with nine regular-season conference champions, including five as a head coach.
BUTLER’S DOUBLE-DOUBLE A FIRST
The Buckeyes have had at least one player record a double-double in 10 games this season and are 7-3 in those games. Ohio State is 526-250 alltime when a player records any combination of 10 or more points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocks. Ohio State is 128-51 in games when at least two Buckeyes manage a double-double (3x this year vs. Northwestern, UMBC and Tennessee) and 14-1 when three Buckeyes do so in a single game (once this year vs. UMBC). Senior Jamar Butler handed out 11 assists and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds in the Northwestern win Jan. 6 (62-51). It is the first time an Ohio State player recorded a double-double without scoring 10 or more points. According to Stats, Inc., Butler’s double-double without scoring a point has not been done in Division I since the 1996-97 season.
DOUBLE-DOUBLES LEAD TO SUCCESS
In four seasons at Ohio State, Thad Matta’s Buckeyes have had at least one player record a double-double in 49 games. Ohio State is 41-8 in those games, including victories in 32 of the last 36. Two players managed double-doubles four times vs. Davidson in 2006 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament when J.J. Sullinger (13 pts./13 rebs.) and Terence Dials (19/13) led Ohio State to a 70-62 victory and this season against Northwestern (Jan. 6) when freshman Kosta Koufos (17/12) and Jamar Butler (11 assts./10 rebs.) helped secure the victory (61-52); at Tennessee (Othello Hunter 17 pts./14 rebs; Evan Turner (21/10) and at Michigan (Koufos 18/11; and Turner 16/11). Ohio State had a rare outing vs. UMBC earlier this year when three Buckeyes (Hunter, 13/10; Butler, 22/12 assts.; Koufos, 22/12) recorded double-doubles in the same game, a feat accomplished just 15 times in OSU history (14-1 rcd.).
BUTLER’S EFFORT EXTRAORDINARY
Jamar Butler turned in one of the better individual performances in Ohio State history with his 32 points, a career high, at Illinois Jan. 3 in a 74-58 Ohio State victory. He scored 15-consecutive points in the second half to turn an Ohio State deficit (37-36) into an insurmountable lead (51-39). Butler’s 15-consecutive points scored in a game are the most since Michael Redd scored 17-consecutive points in a 30-point effort at Wisconsin Jan. 2, 1999, a 78-74 Ohio State victory. Butler followed the Illinois effort with an 11-assist, 10 rebound double-double in the home win (62-51) vs. Northwestern Jan. 6.
MATTA OWNS TOP WIN PERCENTAGE AMONG OHIO STATE COACHES
Thad Matta, now in his fourth season as head coach of the Buckeyes, has an overall win percentage of .746 (100-34) after 134 games at Ohio State. That winning mean is the highest among the 11 head coaches in the history of the Ohio State men’s basketball program with three or more seasons on the sidelines. Matta’s 45-21 record in Big Ten regular-season play (.682) also has produced the highest winning percentage in conference play among any previous Ohio State coach. Fred Taylor (1959-76) is second in both overall win percentage (.653/297-158) and Big Ten win percentage (.608/158-102) in 18 seasons.
BUTLER CLIMBS STATISTICAL CHARTS
Jamar Butler is the first Ohio State guard to reach 500 assists (545/school record), 200 made 3s (222/school record) and 100 steals (131). He reached 1,000 career points (1,213) and became Ohio State’s 43rd player in the 1,000-point club with a 21-point effort at Michigan State Jan. 15. He currently is No. 27 all-time in career scoring.
UPPER SANDUSKY RETIRES NO. 23 TO HONOR JON DIEBLER
Upper Sandusky (Ohio) High School retired the No. 23 during ceremonies Dec. 8 to honor star guard Jon Diebler, a freshman on the Ohio State men’s basketball team. Diebler led the nation in scoring as a senior in 2006-07 with 41 points a game. He owns the career-scoring record in the state of Ohio with 3,208 career points.
NOTING THE MICHIGAN STATE GAME
The attendance at the Ohio State vs. Michigan State game in Value City Arena Sunday was 19,049, marking the ninth sellout crowd and seventh-consecutive for Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes are 6-3 in sellouts this year and 45-10 all-time in VCA sellouts.
Ohio State honored its seniors – Jamar Butler, Othello Hunter and Matt Terwilliger – before the game. During their tenures at Ohio State the Buckeyes senior class (Butler, Terwilliger) is 100-33 overall, with two outright Big Ten titles, a Big Ten tournament title and were NCAA tournament runners-up in 2007. With 100 wins this Ohio State senior class is the winningest class all-time.
In his career with Ohio State, head coach Thad Matta is 4-0 in his final regular-season home games. In 2005 the Buckeyes defeated previously undefeated No. 1 Illinois, in 2006 the Scarlet and Gray knocked off Purdue to claim the outright Big Ten title and in 2007 Ohio State defeated No.1 (AP) Wisconsin to claim back-to-back outright Big Ten titles.
With the victory, Matta increased his win total at Ohio State to 100. Matta is fifth of the 13 OSU head coaches who have totaled 100 or more wins while leading the Buckeyes.
Matta has guided the Buckeyes to 10 regular-season wins in Big Ten Conference play. It’s the third-consecutive year with 10 or more wins in league play for Matta. Fred Taylor led Ohio State to five-consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins in conference play from 1960-64. Randy Ayers (1990-92) and Harold G. Olsen (1944-46) each won 10 or more league games during their careers.
Butler tied the record for games played by a Buckeye by playing in his 133rd game in the Scarlet and Gray. Butler led the team in scoring with 20 points while going 8-of-8 from the line. Butler has made his last 19 free throw attempts on the season. In his career against Michigan State Butler is 26-of-26 from the free throw line.
The Buckeyes drew the game close in the second half with 12-5 run starting at 11:06 to 7:27. During the run Ohio State forced three Spartan turnovers.
The Buckeyes had four players in double figures led by Butler (20). Hunter (13), sophomore David Lighty (12) and freshman Kosta Koufos (11) also scored in double figures. Lighty earned his 11 points going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
After allowing Spartan senior Drew Neitzel to connect on two 3-point buckets in the first 1:23 of the game, the Buckeyes held him scoreless the rest of the way.
With the win Ohio State is now 31-1 when Terwilliger scores at least four points. The win also avenges his only loss when he scored four points or more earlier this season at Michigan State. The game Sunday was also the first start of Terwilliger’s career.
The Buckeyes forced Michigan State into a season high 21 turnovers. The Buckeyes turned those 21 giveaways into 28 points.
After a hot 3-point shooting first half (5-of-7, 71.4 percent) by the Spartan’s, Ohio State clamped down in the second half not allowing a 3-point basket (0-of-5).
After shooting 44.0 percent (11-of-25) in the first half, Ohio State was 12-of-21 (57.1 percent) the rest of the way, including going 14-of-18 (77.8 percent) from the foul line.
Ohio State is 5-12 all-time against ranked Michigan State teams. The Buckeyes won for the first time in Columbus vs. a ranked Spartan squad since 1992, a 62-46 victory for the No. 7 Buckeyes over No. 9 MSU.
The last time an unranked Ohio State team defeated a ranked MSU squad in Columbus was in 1958, a 70-56 victory over No. 8 Michigan State in St. John Arena.
KOUFOS EARNS FIRST POW IN BIG TEN
Kosta Koufos, a freshman forward from Canton, Ohio, led Ohio State to a 2-1 record the week of Nov. 26, which included a win over No. 21 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in New York. Koufos averaged 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and recorded six blocks for the Buckeyes to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors. He set a career high with 24 points against the Orange and then recorded his first-career double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds in a home victory over VMI at St. John Arena Nov. 26. Koufos connected on 50 percent of his shots from the field for the week and hit 69 percent (9-13) against the Keydets.
KOUFOS, BUTLER LEAD WAY IN NIT, NAMED TO ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Freshman Kosta Koufos averaged 17 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two NIT Season Tip-Off games in New York. The 7-0 forward also blocked four shots and made 3-of-5 3-pointers. Butler, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, averaged 15.5 points while knocking down 55 percent of his 3-point attempts (6-11). He scored 13-consecutive points for the Buckeyes in the first half vs. Texas A&M Nov. 23 and led the team at the event with seven assists and four steals. Both Koufos and Butler were named to the all-tournament team.
YOUNG BUCKEYES EXPERIENCE HISTORIC VENUES In an 11-day stretch starting with the NIT Season Tip-Off games in New York, Ohio State’s roster of 13 players played in three of the most storied venues in college basketball history. The NIT games were played in Madison Square Garden, tabbed the world’s most famous arena and the host of countless college basketball games. The Buckeyes next played in St. John Arena, the home of Ohio State basketball from 1956-57 to 1997-98. St. John has hosted 579 Ohio State men’s basketball games in which the Buckeyes have won 428 (.739 winning pct.). After playing No. 1 North Carolina Nov. 28 in Ohio State’s current home, Value City Arena, the Buckeyes took on No. 16 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The facility was used to film the movie “Hoosiers” and has been the home court for the Bulldogs since 1928.
NINE BUCKEYE GAMES SELL OUT
Nine Ohio State men’s basketball games sold out for the 2007-08 season. Games vs. North Carolina (19,049), Florida (19,049), Illinois (19,049), Minnesota (19,049), Michigan (19,049), Indiana (19,049), Wisconsin (19,049), Purdue (19,049) and Michigan State (19,049) sold out.
BUCKEYES EARN 1ST PRESEASON NIT VICTORIES
Ohio State is 3-3 in preseason NIT appearances after the pair of victories in Columbus Nov. 12-13 and a split in New York (11/21, 23) to open the 2007 season. The Buckeyes first participated in 1989. DePaul downed Ohio State Nov. 15, 1989, 71-53. Ohio University defeated the Buckeyes 78-67 Nov. 16, 1994 in Ohio State’s last appearance.
MADSEN READY FOR GAME ACTION
Kyle Madsen, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, played in a game that counts for the first time in more than two years. The Dublin Coffman High School graduate played at Value City Arena in the 2005 Ohio High School Boys Basketball Tournament before going to Vanderbilt for the 2005-06 season. He redshirted in his first year in Nashville, Tenn., before transferring to Ohio State, where he had to sit out the 2006-07 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He played in both games Nov. 12-13 in the opening rounds of the NIT Season Tip-Off and scored a career best six points vs. Texas A&M in the finals.
SEVEN OPPONENTS RANKED HIGH
Ohio State opponents North Carolina (No. 1 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 1 in the AP polls), Tennessee (4/4), Indiana (17/18), Michigan State (18/17), Wisconsin (8/10), Butler (12/14) and Purdue (15/15) give the Buckeyes one of the strongest schedules nationally to date.
BUCKEYES SUCCEED IN RETURN TO ST. JOHN ARENA
Ohio State played one game this season in St. John Arena, the home court of the Buckeyes from 1956-57 through 1997-98. Because of a scheduled event over the Thanksgiving weekend at Value City Arena, Ohio State faced Virginia Military Institute (W, 90-57) at St. John in just the second men’s basketball game played at the venue since the opening of Value City Arena for the 1998-99 season. Overall, the Buckeyes own a 428-151 record at St. John for a winning percentage of .739. More than 6.6 million fans have witnessed Ohio State men’s basketball games in the historic venue.
VALUE CITY ARENA CELEBRATES 10 SEASONS AS HOME OF THE BUCKEYES
More than 2.5 million fans have passed through the doors at Value City Arena since the facility opened for business in 1998-99 for men’s basketball. Ohio State fans have ranked among the Top 10 nationally in attendance in five of the nine years the facility has played host to the men’s basketball program. Buckeye fans have been treated to 54 home wins in the last four years under Thad Matta, including a school-record 18-0 campaign a year ago.
SITUATION FAMILIAR FOR MATTA
Thad Matta is familiar with the situation he finds the Ohio State men’s basketball team facing in 2007-08, his fourth in Columbus as head coach of the Buckeyes.
One starter returns from a record-setting 2006-07 season that ended with Ohio State winning a school-record 35 games, advancing to the program’s ninth Final Four, appearing in the NCAA title game, winning its second-consecutive outright Big Ten regular-season title and the program’s first postseason league tournament championship.
Senior Jamar Butler, who guided the Buckeyes to an outright league title as a sophomore in 2005-06, is the lone holdover among the starters from a year ago. He was in a similar position as a junior and will be sufficiently equipped to lead the Buckeyes again this season.
Butler will have support from three other returning letterwinners. Seniors Matt Terwilliger, Othello Hunter and sophomore David Lighty all are back after significant contributions to Ohio State’s run toward the NCAA title a year ago.
For the second-consecutive season, Thad Matta has recruited one of the nation’s top incoming freshman classes. Five Buckeyes will be playing as rookies on a college campus. A sixth, sophomore Kyle Madsen, is eligible to compete after spending his freshman season as a redshirt at Vanderbilt and a transfer year at Ohio State a year ago. He will have three years of eligibility in Columbus. Another newcomer, junior college transfer P.J. Hill, also will have three seasons to play as a Buckeye.
Matta attracted a mix of size and skill in the 2007 class.
Jon Diebler, a 6-6 guard from Upper Sandusky (Ohio) High School, is the most prolific scorer in Ohio High School history. He led his team to the state title game as a senior after winning the championship as a sophomore. He scored 3,208 points as a prep standout. His average of just over 41 points a game as a senior not only led the state of Ohio but was the top scoring average nationally a year ago.
Kosta Koufos, a 7-0 post player from GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, gives the Buckeyes several options. He can perform well in the paint but is equally comfortable shooting 3-pointers, a rarity for a player of his exceptional size. His rebounding and ability to block or alter shots also will contribute significantly to Matta’s game planning strategy this year.
Dallas Lauderdale will play center at 6-feet-8-inches. His size, strength and general physical build is expected to add depth to the Buckeye frontcourt, which will be much deeper this season. Lauderdale, who competed against Koufos on several occasions while playing for Solon (Ohio) High School, has the size and strength to handle the rigorous Big Ten battles down low.
Evan Turner is a 6-6 guard from Chicago, where he starred for St. Joseph’s High School, one of the premier high school programs in the state of Illinois. With long arms and a wiry frame, he adds rebounding assistance as well as a scoring touch and an ability to get to the basket.
Eric Wallace was the last freshman recruit to commit to the Buckeyes for this season. He is likely to become a fan favorite with his exceptional leaping and acrobatic dunking ability. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Wallace also will be looked upon to rebound and contribute defensively. He played at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy a season ago.
P.J. Hill, a junior college transfer from Minneapolis, joined the Buckeyes during the summer and will have three years of eligibility in Columbus. He played for one season at Midland (Texas) College, the 2007 National Junior College Athletics Association National Champions.
Hill (6-1, 160) was a point guard for the 29-8 Midland squad that won the NJCAA title for the first time since 1982 when Spud Webb played for the Chaparrals. Hill averaged 6.5 points and nearly three assist a game a season ago. He played his high school basketball at Minneapolis North.
LIGHTY THE INTERNATIONAL CAPTAIN
Sophomore David Lighty spent part of last summer playing for the United States Under-19 World Championship team that traveled to Serbia in July. Lighty was named team captain before the team began play in the event. The U.S. squad won the silver medal going 8-1 overall after a loss in the final (74-69) to tournament host Serbia.
Lighty started all nine games, averaged 23.7 minutes, second on the team, and shot 69 percent (31-45) from the field. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in his first international competition. Lighty is the only sophomore returning from the 2006-07 squad that featured three Ohio State freshmen drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft (Greg Oden, No. 1/Portland, Mike Conley Jr., No. 4/Memphis and Daequan Cook, No. 21/Philadelphia).
Ohio State will make four trips to the state of Indiana in 2007-08. Traditional trips to West Lafayette and Bloomington to take on Big Ten foes Purdue and Indiana, respectively, will be supplemented by a pair of trips to Indianapolis against Butler (Dec. 1) and to participate in the Big Ten tournament in March (13-16). Indianapolis will be the host city of the annual league postseason tournament for the next five years.