Ohio State basketball has gone through a renaissance under Thad Matta, but the coach also created something of a monster along the way.
Higher expectations are part of the deal when a coach takes a program to the Final Four in year two and wins five Big Ten championships in his first eight seasons.
The Buckeyes also had legitimate national title contenders in 2011 and ’12, but things haven’t been as rosy since as a couple of highly rated recruiting classes have not lived up to the hype. D’Angelo Russell turning out to be a one-and-done player also may have changed the trajectory of the past season.
It has all led to a distinct feeling the program has plateaued, and fans have not surprisingly gotten restless.
In a video published by ThisWeekNews on Thursday, Matta revealed he shares some of their frustrations.
Perhaps owing to the setting – a golf outing as opposed to a formal interview session with the local media – Matta was surprisingly frank about the upheaval his program faced last season.
Four of the five players he signed from the class of 2015 chose to transfer, including former Dayton Dunbar point guard A.J. Harris.
Not only was the coach expecting some changes in his program, he appears to have moved on even before some of his players did.
“Some of you are going to transfer,” Matta said he told his team after its season-ending loss to Florida. “You don’t know it yet. But whatever you do, don’t come see me. Just shoot me a text, cause I’m tired of looking at you.”
While the sudden exit of Harris along with forwards Daniel Giddens and Mickey Mitchell (guard Austin Grandstaff left early in the season) created what looked like a crisis for the Buckeyes at the time, Matta was apparently prepared.
He had already signed a pair of forwards – Derek Funderburk and Micah Potter – last fall and in the spring secured swing man Andre Wesson and JUCO point guard C.J. Jackson to replenish his roster.
On top of that, the Buckeyes were already returning most of their major contributors from last season anyway, so they were never exactly starting over.
“I’m tired of the B.S.,” Matta recalled telling his team. “I’m going back to coaching basketball, I’m going back to running this program the way we did when we got here.”
Will Matta’s reset result in a different team this fall?
It should be interesting to watch.