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The Ohio State men’s basketball team leaves for New York Monday for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Preseason Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. The Buckeyes take on Syracuse in the second NIT semifinal at 9 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2). Ohio State then faces either Washington or Texas A&M Friday. The NIT consolation game will be played at 4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN. The title game will be televised by ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

Thad Matta, Ohio State head coach
On Ohio State
“I’m battling right now because we are a younger basketball team than last year. We need to get our system in place and work on developing each player each and everyday of practice. Facing tough competitors is a good thing. For us, going to North Carolina and Florida without Greg Oden was a great teaching tool for us because you learn different scenarios and situations going up against good players. It helps us get the guys ready for conference play.”

On Syracuse
“Syracuse is a talented basketball team and is off to a great start because they are playing great basketball. Their threat is that they can score. Donte’ Greene and Jonny Flynn are both off to a great start. Flynn seems to have great command of the team and what they are running already while Greene has found different ways to score.”

On Kosta Koufos
“Kosta (Koufos) is more of a face up player that can handle, shoot and pass the ball well so he can do a little more offensively for us than Greg (Oden). I think time will tell if he is a one year and done player. My dream was for him and Greg to play together for at least a year because we felt he had the skills where they could be on the court at the same time. When the dust settles after this year we will sit down and look at what is best for his family. He’s a great, intelligent young man. One of the biggest things with Kosta is getting him to understand the need to pay attention to detail with footwork and ball placement. But he’s easy to coach because he wants to be a great player. As with all freshmen, he has a long way to go because the strength and overall conditioning needed for college basketball is going to take him time to adjust to.”