For the first time in five years Ohio State’s men’s basketball team will bask with the best. OSU competes this weekend in the NCAA Final Four tournament in New Orleans. Coach Thad Matta and his counterparts at Kansas, Kentucky and Louisville have their teams fully prepared, except for a possible last second shot. From Ohio Public Radio member station WOSU, Tom Borgerding reports.
At this point in the college basketball tournament a few things ARE certain.
“I mean you’re going to see a lot of ridiculous basketball.”
Dunks, sticky defense, blocked shots, fast breaks, rainbow three pointers, Kentucky coach John Calipari says its all part of the college game. All part of the excitement. Remember the last time Ohio State played this deep into the tournament. The 2007 trip to the Final Four hinged on a last second shot.
Knowing a tightly contested game this week-end could be decided by a shot in the final seconds, all four head coaches want as much shooting practice as possible before Saturday night tip-offs. Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
“Just make sure you get used to the dome.”
Borgerding: What is that practice in the dome is so important?
Pitino: “You know, it is depth perception, no question about it. Its the wide open space. But, its something that you just need to get a little practice in, get used to, and then I think you’ll feel comfortable in it.”
Louisville plays Kentucky in its semi-final. Kansas coach Bill Self and Ohio State coach Thad Matta say they too will take most of the allotted court time for shooting practice so players can get used to the dome before the teams face each other in the late game on Saturday.
“I think its a factor, I think sometimes coaches can make too much out of it, like altitude or something like that. You know, but it is different and I do think you have to get used to it.” Self says.
“You know we’ll get to work out down there on Friday. Get a game day shoot-around on Saturday and y’know you hope for the best.” Matta says.
Matta says the game against Kansas will be the team’s first in a dome.
Those CBS highlights we heard earlier are music to the ears of basketball analyst and former Ohio State player, Clark Kellogg. He says the arena and surroundings are definitely a factor.
Kellogg says for a player, getting used to a dome is much like getting used to a playground court.
“Some courts have nets, some have bent rims, some have rough spots, you just have to deal with it.” Says Kellogg.
And, Kellogg adds with only seconds on the clock and the game on the line, most players want the ball. He says the players who block out distractions or thoughts about what can go wrong are usually the most sucessful.
“So, as a player, you want to have chances like that and typically the most confident and free-flowing players are the ones that come through.” Kellogg says.
Ohio State this week-end will try to win its second national championship in men’s basketball. But, it will have to beat Kansas and the winner of the Kentucky, Louisville game to bring home the trophy.