Date: Nov. 6, 2007
Opp: Findlay (0-0)
Site: Value City Arena (19,049)
Game Time: 7 p.m. ET
Television: Big Ten Network
TV Talent: Mark Neeley (P-by-P), Bill Hosket (Expert Analysis)
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)
Buckeye Frontcourt Foils Ashland in Exhibition opener
Centers Othello Hunter, a senior from Winston-Salem, N.C., and Kosta Koufos, a freshman from Canton, Ohio, each recorded double-doubles with 15 points and 12 rebounds in leading Ohio State to an 88-59 victory over Ashland on Halloween last week to tip-off the Buckeyes 2007-08 season. Sophomore David Lighty added 13 points. Jamar Butler handed out seven assists in his return to the point guard position after a season at the No. 2 guard spot as a junior. Ohio State handed out 23 helpers for the game. The Buckeyes connected on 56 percent (36-64) of their field goal attempts while holding Ashland to 37 percent (23-62).
Findlay Takes Dayton to the wire in exhibition
The University of Findlay men’s basketball team, ranked fifth in the initial National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) NCAA Division II poll, fell on the road to the University of Dayton 81-78 in an exhibition game Nov. 1 at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. Findlay made 16 of 32 3-point attempts. Dayton went to the foul line 31 times in the game, making 23. The Oilers connected on 8 of 9 foul shots.
Opponents ranked high in preseason
North Carolina (No. 1 in ESPN/USA Today and No. 1 in the AP polls), Tennessee (7/7), Michigan State (8/8) and Indiana (9/9) all are ranked among the Top 10 teams in both preseason polls. Ohio State also could face Texas A&M (T 14/16), Syracuse (rv/rv) or Washington (rv/rv) if the Buckeyes advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York Thanksgiving week. Other teams receiving votes for Top 25 consideration on the Buckeye schedule are Butler, Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois. The Buckeyes edged the Badgers in the home finale a year ago to claim the league title and met Florida for the national championship in early April. Thad Matta is a Butler graduate (1990).
Buckeyes return to St. John for single game this season
Ohio State will play 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, Ohio State will take on Virginia Military Institute at 8 p.m. Nov. 25 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 427-151 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.
Butler Picked to Preseason All-league team
Jamar Butler was selected to the 2007-08 Preseason First Team All-Big Ten squad by a panel of 22 media members who regularly cover Big Ten basketball. The honor was announced Oct. 27 at the annual league media day in Chicago. Ohio State was picked to finish third in the league race behind favorite Michigan State and Indiana. The Buckeyes are the two-time defending outright regular season champions and defending postseason league tournament winners.
Big Ten Network Men’s Basketball coverage debuts in Columbus
The Big Ten Network, in its first season showcasing the conference nationally, televised its first men’s basketball contest in Columbus when the Buckeyes battled Ashland in the exhibition opener for the Buckeyes Oct. 31. The network is schedule to carry a minimum of 13 Ohio State games with the possibility of several more late in the regular season and then in the postseason league tournament.
Value City Arena celebrates 10 seasons as home of the Buckeyes
Nearly 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 48 home wins in the last three years under Thad Matta, including a school record 18-0 campaign a year ago.
Home Win Streak Alive
Ohio State won all 18 home games in 2006-07 to set a school record for home wins in a season. The Buckeyes have won the last 25 games at Value City Arena, which will celebrate its 10th season as Ohio State’s home court in 2007-08. In three season, Thad Matta has directed Ohio State to a 48-3 record at VCA and to a 50-3 mark in Columbus. The Buckeyes have played one game each at St. John Arena and Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus over the last three years.
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, 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 Web played for the Chaparrals. He 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 this 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).
Butler for 3…Titles
Jamar Butler is the most experienced Buckeye on the 2007-08 roster after starting his first three seasons in Columbus in Thad Matta’s multiple point-guard offense. Butler led the Buckeyes to an outright Big Ten title as a sophomore and then teamed with Mike Conley Jr. to repeat the feat in 2007. Butler is among the top returning guards in the Big Ten and will again lead a squad primarily made up of newcomers when the season gets underway for his senior season. In 102 games as a Buckeye, Butler owns 360 career assists and is on pace to become a 1,000-point scorer (759 to date), the 43rd in Ohio State history and first since Terence Dials (1,566 pts. from 2002-06).
Matta closing on 200 wins, 100 at OSU
Thad Matta has guided the Buckeyes to 81 victories in 103 games at Ohio State. In seven seasons as a collegiate 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 26 wins over his career for a total of 183. Another 20-win season would eclipse the 200 mark for his career and 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).
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 to take on 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.
Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida are certain opponents for the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2007-08. Add possible meetings against Texas A&M, Syracuse or Washington in the Preseason NIT along with a road game at Butler and one can imagine why Thad Matta, a former Butler Bulldog (class of 1990), has had trouble sleeping this summer. Then there is an expanded Big Ten Conference schedule of 18 regular-season games, up from a 16-game schedule used from 1998-2007. All this after losing three student-athletes in the first 21 picks in the 2007 NBA Draft.
The Buckeyes have been here before. The team lost four starters after winning the 2006 Big Ten title and responded with another league crown in 2007 and a school record 35 victories. The constant from the situation in 2006-07 is point guard Jamar Butler, who helped lead the Buckeyes to back-to-back league crowns and an appearance in the NCAA title game last season. With four returning letterwinners and a slew of newcomers, the Buckeyes again hope to use the difficult non-conference schedule as a springboard to league and postseason play.