This weekend, Ohio State's Thad Matta will return to the Final Four for the second time as the head coach of the Buckeyes. It's been five years since his last trip, however, and plenty has happened in Matta's life since then. Prior to Ohio State's Sweet 16 game against Cincinnati last Thursday, there was a widely-circulated story about the handicap Matta now deals with after complications from a back surgery that took place right after OSU's last run to the Final Four. Matta discussed the decision to go public and cooperate with the story on radio today with 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis:
"My wife kind of talked me into it from the standpoint of letting people know that have a disability that you can go on and do things. ... I didn't want to do it and I told him no several times. ... I'm kind of glad I did it because it let's people know that have a disability that hey, they can go on and do things in life. If one person's helped by it, I'm happy."
It was the first time that many Ohio State fans were even made aware of the disability, as the coach has hid it well in public.
On Saturday, Matta will look to match the success that 2007 team had and advance one more round to Monday's title game. To get there, he will have to face a Kansas team the Buckeyes lost to in the regular season while playing without Jared Sullinger. He discussed the challenge of facing the tall front line of Kansas
"They pose a lot of problems with their size. They've got guys that can make plays off the bounce. Once again, we're going to have be as sound as we possibly can. But the thing, the last three games, I think they're averaging 17 offensive rebounds a game, so we've got to come up with the first-time rebounds."
To match the Jayhawks' bigs, Ohio State cannot afford to get in foul trouble as they did against Syracuse. Both Sullinger and backup Evan Ravenel played less than six minutes in the first half against the Orange after picking up two early fouls.