Commentary

Matta has something going at Ohio State

Updated: September 15, 2009, 12:13 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When you take a look at the basketball landscape, many of the elite programs have been hit hard by early departures on star talent.

North Carolina has won two championships in five years, yet Roy Williams has lost several players to early entry. That is why the former Kansas coach is in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

Let's talk about another program that has been hit hard by stars leaving early. I am talking about guys with potential, potential, potential, and they left Buckeye Country early for the shot at the green, the lure of NBA money, baby!

I am talking about Thad Matta and Ohio State. Has any school lost more quality big men in recent years? Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos and B.J. Mullens all left early for the pros. Then throw in guys like Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook and you see what could have been if these guys stayed four years ... wow!

Ohio State simply reloads and puts a quality team on the court, year in and year out. Fans in Columbus have a lot to be proud about when looking at this program. The Buckeyes play solid defense and work on getting good shots on the offensive end. Matta makes no alibis and competes in the Big Ten.

That discipline in shot selection and defense always gives Ohio State a chance to make it to the winner's circle. It will be no different this year.

The Buckeyes return one of the premier players in the Big Ten in Evan Turner. He has talent and multiple skills, plus he has shown improvement from day one stepping on the court in Columbus.

Matta will also count on big things from guard William Buford. He showed a world of potential last year and he will get better with experience.

The bottom line is, it starts with the leadership on the sidelines. Matta gets the most out of his people. When talking about coaching, isn't that what it is all about, getting the maximum from its talent, getting the players to perform up to their potential.

That fits Matta to perfection. He has developed a lot of talented assistants too.

In the Big Ten, people are talking about Michigan State and Purdue dominating. Schools like Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota are getting solid reviews. The Wolverines could be a top 15 team under John Beilein this season. Bo Ryan always has his Badgers well-prepared.

This conference will have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, bringing a smile to the face of commissioner Jim Delany. My friends, don't forget about Ohio State in this equation. Matta will have the Buckeyes fighting and clawing; his leadership skills will get Ohio State into that upper echelon of the league.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.