Matta has long history at UD Arena


Ohio State coach Thad Matta gathered a few of his players at one end of the UD Arena court before their 40-minute practice Thursday and drew laughter as he shared how the highlight of his college career occurred in that very spot.

The NCAA tournament always has its signature send-off on CBS-TV, playing “One Shining Moment” through some March Madness highlights. And as he told the media a little earlier, Matta’s one shining moment as a Butler reserve came in a one-point win over Dayton.

“I can take you through it,” Matta said, recalling that 25-year-old memory with great clarity. “We were down seven with like 1:56 to go. Coach (Joe Sexson) calls timeout and said, ‘We need some 3’s.’ I come down and hit a 3, and we’re down four,” Matta said.

“We stop them, come back down, and I hit another 3. We’re down one. We get a turnover with like 20 seconds to go. The coach calls timeout and said, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do.’ “

Matta said Sexson named four players as various options with no mention of him.

“I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Hey wait a minute, I got us back into this game,’ ” Matta said. “The play breaks down, they threw it to me, and I hit a left-handed runner as the horn went off. Literally, I scored eight points, and they were all in the last two minutes. That was the highlight of my playing days at Butler. That was it.”

While Matta may have fond memories as a player at UD, he’s had mixed results as a coach at the arena, going 3-1 while the head coach at Xavier and 1-2 in NCAA tourney games with Ohio State. But he’s led the Buckeyes to two Final Fours in his eight seasons, and many believe this year’s team is capable of reaching those heights again.

OSU (26-7) plays Metro Atlantic champ Iona (20-13) at 7:15 p.m. today, followed by a game between Notre Dame (25-9) and Iowa State (22-11). The winners meet Sunday.

Although playing three games in three days to win the Big Ten tourney title in Chicago last week was a grind, the Buckeyes should be well-rested. They didn’t arrive in town until Thursday afternoon, preferring to practice at OSU and then bus down.

“We got back as a staff and tried to plan the week out and said, ‘OK, we’ll leave Wednesday night and go to a high school here (in Dayton) and practice on Thursday.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, why don’t we just stay Wednesday night? We’d all like to sleep in our own beds one more night,’ ” Matta said.

“We told our guys, it keeps us in the routine we’ve been in. Everything has sort of stayed status quo. Our guys are creatures of habit. We’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

How LSU’s commitments fared in Week 13
How LSU’s commitments fared in Week 13

LSU’s commitments took the field this weekend as Friday night under the lights continued. The Tigers hold 18 commitments in their 2018 recruiting class and seven in their 2019 group. Members of both classes enjoyed memorable performances. SEC Country will provide weekly updates on each LSU commitment, including statistics and highlights...
How Arkansas’ commits fared: Sean Michael Flanagan scores 5 TDs in playoff win
How Arkansas’ commits fared: Sean Michael Flanagan scores 5 TDs in playoff win

Several of Arkansas’ commitments in the 2018 class were in action this weekend. Some had big statistical performances while others made crucial plays to help lift their respective teams to victory. Throughout the 2017 season, SEC Country will provide weekly updates on the performances of as many Arkansas commits as possible. Here&rsquo...
Mason Rudolph not happy with performance against Kansas State
Mason Rudolph not happy with performance against Kansas State

Nobody is harder on Mason Rudolph than the man himself. The Oklahoma State quarterback didn’t have his best game against Kansas State on Saturday. He threw two interceptions and went 32-53 passing. His quarterback rating was 48.1, nearly 40 points lower than opposing quarterback Skylar Thompson. Scott Wright of The Oklahoman wrote...
TCU’s win over Texas Tech marks historical first for Horned Frogs in series history
TCU’s win over Texas Tech marks historical first for Horned Frogs in series history

TCU and Texas Tech had met on the football field 59 times before the Horned Frogs emerged victorious in Lubbock, Texas on Saturday. The lopsided win marked a historical first in the series for TCU. The Horned Frogs earned victories in consecutive road trips to Lubbock for the first time ever on Saturday with the 27-3 triumph...
If Florida wants Chip Kelly, it needs to make final push sooner rather than later
If Florida wants Chip Kelly, it needs to make final push sooner rather than later

With the Florida Gators logo on a TV screen behind him during a SportsCenter segment on Sunday, Chip Kelly answered the question he inevitably knew was coming. “What kind of interest do you have in the Gators head coach opening?” In the early goings last week, Kelly was linked to Florida’s vacant coaching job. There were...
More Stories