Oct. 16, 2014
THAD MATTA: I’m a little bit upset that we only get eight minutes for this. They cut it back this year so I’ll try to talk quick. I think from the standpoint of a lot of questions about our basketball team, from the standpoint of losing three starters, I’ve told people we’re going to be a different team. We’ll play a little bit different, but I’ve been very pleased with one week down now in the season with the direction we’re heading.
Q. Obviously, the Big Ten has been a strong league for a number of years but hasn’t wan a national championship since 2000. How do you think that has affected perceptions of the conference?
THAD MATTA: Well, I haven’t really thought about that. I think from the standpoint of — you look at the teams that have won national championships, I think from the year 2000, we’ve had — the Big Ten has had some great, great basketball teams. I’ve always said this, kind of how my luck goes. I get a great team in ’07 and we’re playing a team that brought everybody back that had won it the year before, which doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t think that you can judge the conference per se by that we haven’t won. I think you look at the overall success that we’ve had just in the time that I’ve been in here, since ’04 or ’05, whatever it is, I’m very pleased with where Big Ten basketball is, and yeah, I’d love to see one of us win one, that’s for sure.
Q. What are real expectations in your mind for D’Angelo this year? I know there might be a lot of expectations for how he can help carry your offense?
THAD MATTA: Yeah, I think with D’Angelo, all I can say right now is I’m very pleased with how he’s playing in practice, the strides he’s making. He’s doing a great job of kind of taking the court over every time he steps on the court. How does that factor into once we start playing games, the lights are on? He’s played in some huge basketball games throughout his high school career, AAU career. And he’s come up — two high school national championships with Montverde is impressive. He’s going to have some ups and downs, but I like his demeanor. I like the things that he can do on the court, and we’ve got to keep coaching him and keep him as healthy as we can.
Q. With the addition of Anthony Lee, in addition to Amir and Trey McDonald, what’s that dynamic been like? Are you going more two bigs on the floor?
THAD MATTA: Yeah, we’re still playing with that. I think that’s one way we can go. We can go with some skilled 4s. I’ve got four or five guys that can play that position, which is what I like about this team. I think with the addition of Anthony and David Bell and even Trevor Thompson, who — Trevor can’t play this year — the competitive nature in practice has been probably something we haven’t had in a while, and Anthony definitely factors into that in terms of what he’s bringing to the table. Those guys now know if they don’t come to play, they’ll get embarrassed in practice.