News and Notes from Media Day

By Kenny Roda

Practice begins today for Thad Matta’s squad, which will be one of the youngest teams in college basketball this season with only (1) senior in William Buford and (1) junior in Evan Ravenel. There are (6) sophomores, (4) freshman and (1) transfer player who must sit out this year. Because of the youth, Thad Matta will rely on sophomores Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft to provide leadership along with Buford.

The four freshmen will all battle for some playing time, much like last year’s freshmen did. The “diaper dandies” are: 6-1, PG-Shannon Scott, 6-7, F-Sam Thompson, 6-11, C-Amir Williams and 6-8, C-Trey McDonald. A 5th freshman, 6-8, F LaQuinton Ross will not play for the team after the NCAA ruled he had not qualified academically. That’s somewhat of a blow to this class. Scott and Williams could see the most time of this group.

Jared Sullinger has dropped 20 pounds and 4% of body fat. Last season Sullinger played at 285 with 16.7% body fat. His playing weight to start practice today is 265 with just 12.1% body fat. He told me it has made him quicker and faster and will allow him to get up and down the court better.  One other area that Sullinger worked on a lot this off-season was his range.  He feels he’ll be able to step out further and shoot his jump shot with more confidence.

More Sullinger: When I asked him if last year’s 62-60 loss in the Sweet 16 to Kentucky has been, and still is being used as motivation for he and his teammates, he told me that he has a picture of Brandon Knight’s game winning shot up on his mirror in his bathroom so he sees it every day.  I’ll take that as a yes!  When I asked Thad Matta the same question, he said he’s going to focus more on the 34 wins from last year more so than the 1 loss.  But all of the returning players feel like Sullinger, it will continue to motivate them.

How’s this for a non-conference schedule? At Home: Florida, Valparaiso and Duke. On the Road: @Kansas and @South Carolina. Matta feels this will help get his team ready not only for Big Ten play, but also the NCAA tournament.

Thad Matta, who enters his 8th season as head coach for the Buckeyes has added two new members to his basketball staff, former Duke guard Greg Paulus and returning to his alma mater (class of 92), to run the offense, is former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach, Chris Jent.

Matta in 7 full seasons at O.S.U. has posted a winning percentage of .770, which is the highest in school history. He is 10 wins shy of 200 at O.S.U., posting a 190-57 record,

He has led the Buckeyes to 4 Big Ten regular season crowns, 3 Big Ten tournament titles, won the NIT title in 2008, 5 NCAA tournament appearances, 3 trips to the Sweet 16 and played for the National Championship in 2007.

Important dates: The Buckeyes tip off the 2011-12 season November 11th at home vs Wright State. Florida comes to Value City Arena on November 15th. The Duke Blue Devils visit “The Schott” on November 29th.  Ohio State plays at Kansas on December 10th and Big Ten play begins on December 28th at home vs Northwestern.

2011-12 Pre-Season Polls: Ohio State has been picked 4th in the A.P. poll and 5th in the Coaches poll.

ESPN 850 WKNR is your home for Ohio State basketball all season long.  So follow the Buckeyes with us, as we bring you the games, player and coaches’ interviews and news and notes when they happen. In case your wondering, the Final Four this year will take place at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, with the Championship Game slated for April 2nd.

Follow Kenny on Twitter @RoadmanWKNR



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