Return to Thursday
Ohio State and La Salle are dramatically different physically. The Buckeyes are big and beefy. La Salle played four guards and Wichita State took advantage with its height and power.
The plan doesn’t change much, even when facing a team with seven players 6-foot-7 or taller. WSU wants to get the ball inside.
“It’s very important to get early (post touches) and try to get their bigs in foul trouble,” WSU center Carl Hall said. “It helps our team when I’m making shots down low. It opens the floor for our shooters.”
Ohio State presents several defensive challenges. It had held three NCAA opponents to 40.8-percent shooting, blocked 12 shots and recorded 19 steals. Center Amir Williams leads Ohio State with 46 blocks this season.
Ohio State played in the Final Four last March, giving the Buckeyes an edge in NCAA Tournament experience. They advanced to the regional semifinals in 2010 and 2011, giving it an 11-3 record the past four years.
WSU is playing in its second NCAA Tournament since 2006.
However, the Shockers have four seniors on the roster, compared to one for Ohio State. Forward Evan Ravenel, recruited by WSU out of high school in Florida, is a reserve who averages 5.0 points.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta believes experience can negate highly recruited athletes.
“You have to look at what Wichita State has in terms of seniors,” he said. “We have one senior on our team again this year.”
Time to talk
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall keeps asking the Shockers if they are satisfied and they keep answering the right way.
The players expect Marshall to return to that question in his pre-game talk.
“He’s good at that kind of stuff,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “I don’t know if he thinks about it, or if it’s natural, but he’s going to be ready.”
Under the spotlight of the NCAA Tournament, coach’s pre- and post-game talks with their teams become publicized. Marshall has a knack for finding the right words.
“I never know how he comes up with the right words, but it always gets us motivated,” freshman Derail Green said. “I guess when you’re a great coach it just comes natural. I think it just comes to him naturally.”
WSU needs one win to set a school record (30) for wins in a season.… Ohio State has won 11 straight games, five against ranked opponents. Forward Deshaun Thomas is averaging 18.8 points in that span, while guard Aaron Craft is shooting 51 percent from the field and averaging 11.8 points.… Ohio State is shooting 47 percent from the field and averaging 82 points in NCAA games. It is 23 of 46 from three-point range.… The NCAA Tournament is in Los Angeles for the first time since 1994. Thursday’s crowd of 18,232 is the largest for any NCAA game played in the city.
— Paul Suellentrop