Buckeyes win player, coach of year honors
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Terence Dials said last weekend that a season-long feeling of being disrespected by outsiders drove the Ohio State men’s basketball team to win the Big Ten championship.
The Buckeyes need a new motivational vehicle for postseason play.
Their first outright conference championship in 14 years earned Dials and coach Thad Matta the Big Ten’s top individual awards yesterday. Dials was voted player of the year by coaches and media and Matta was voted coach of the year by the media. The coaches do not give an award to one of their own.
"I’ve got to give a lot of credit to a lot of different people. The coaching staff probably ranks No. 1 and my teammates second," said Dials, a fifth-year senior who made the All-Big Ten first team for the first time in his career.
"Talentwise, there are probably guys that are better, but for what they meant to their team, obviously they didn’t win the championship and maybe they didn’t do as well as a team. That’s why it’s probably more of a team award than anything."
Dials, a 6-foot-9 center, had a streak of five double-doubles in points and rebounds as Ohio State won eight of its past nine Big Ten games to win the championship by one game over Illinois and Iowa. Dials finished ninth in the conference in scoring (15.3 points per game), fourth in rebounding (8.0) and third in fieldgoal percentage (.581).
"For Terence, you can look and say this is a great lesson in life," Matta said. "When you’re a real good guy, good things are going to happen. The teammate that he is, his teammates put him in a position to win that honor. All the hard work he’s done, it’s good to see it pay off for him."
Matta, 38 and in his second season at Ohio State, led the Buckeyes to a 12-4 record in conference play. They are 23-4 overall, ranked No. 7 and the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament this week in Indianapolis.
It is the third such award for Matta in six seasons as a head coach. He also was honored after winning regular-season and conference tournament championships at Butler in 2001 and Xavier in 2002.
"He knows how to motivate kids and get you to play one game at a time and not look past anybody," Dials said. "He took (the season opener against) Chicago State just as seriously as he took Michigan State in preparing to win. That’s one of his mottoes: ‘Never get tired of preparing to win.’ When you see a coach watching tons of film on Chicago State and taking them as serious as (any other team), you’ve got to respect that and go out there and work hard for him every day."
Guard Je’Kel Foster, the Big Ten leader in steals and one of its top three-point shooters, was voted second-team all-conference by coaches and to the third team by the media. Coaches also voted him to one of five positions on the all-defensive team.
"I’m glad my defense is getting recognized," Foster said.
If anyone can still play the respect card, it is point guard Jamar Butler. He was voted to the third team by the media and honorable mention by the coaches despite having the secondbest assist-to-turnover ratio in the Big Ten, one of the best three-point shooting percentages and winning almost every matchup he had against other point guards in the conference. Coaches also did not vote him to the all-defensive team.
"I’m happy for Je’Kel because (defense was) one of our main focuses going into this season," Matta said. "I was hoping a guy like Jamar would have a crack at that (team) as well, but as I told him, he’s still got to prove himself."
Butler said he was "a little surprised" he did not make the all-defensive team. "But I’m only a sophomore and I have two more years to play in this league. Hopefully, I can get it my junior and senior year."
Ron Lewis would have been the favorite for the newly created sixth man award but started one game too many (six) to qualify, Matta said.
A former teammate of Lewis’ at Brookhaven High School, Jamelle Cornley of Penn State, was voted freshman of the year.