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November 15, 2012

Buckeyes prepared for Hall of Fame classic

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Six days removed from its season-opening win over Albany, the Ohio State basketball team will head to Connecticut on Saturday to take part in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. Thad Matta and members for the fourth-ranked Buckeyes met with the media on Wednesday to preview the upcoming event, and talk about current happenings around the hoops program.

Two days, two games

After missing out on its original season opener last Friday due to condensation issues aboard the USS Yorktown in the Carrier Classic, OSU has guaranteed itself the chance to play in two games in as many days in this weekend's mini-tournament, the first of which will come against Rhode Island.

Having played against the Rams during his time as a player at Boston College, current Ohio State center Evan Ravenel has a good idea of what the Buckeyes can expect on Saturday.

"Typically they're long, athletic. They play hard," Ravenel said. "They don't really have a tradition center. So I think we're gonna have a team that kind of matches up with our athleticism a little bit."

Depending on the outcome of their meeting the Rams, the Buckeyes will then face either the winner or loser of Saturday's game between Washington and Seton Hall on Sunday. OSU guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. is unsure of what to expect from either the Huskies or Pirates, but is confident that his coaches will have him prepared by Sunday.

"I know our staff is gonna have us ready and prepared," Smith said. "I'm really not worried about it."

Battle tested

Two games in two days may seem like a daunting task to perform, but if there's any team prepared for playing on short rest, it's the Buckeyes, who are just seven months removed from their run to the Final Four. Smith said that playing in this unique setting and format can be advantageous for the Buckeyes down the road, as playing away from the comforts of home can help a team grow.

"That's probably one of the main things that I like about playing away on the road. It's in a location you're not familiar with," Smith said. "Most of the time when you're playing on the road, you have to find different ways to win. You have to do extra stuff."

Matta said that not only could this weekend's slate of games help his team down the line, but that what the Buckeyes accomplished last spring could payoff for them in Connecticut.

"With the guys that we have back, it's a little of a Big Ten Tournament type feel, NCAA Tournament type feel," Matta said. "Doing this early, two games in two days on a neutral site, I think it will tell us quite a bit about our team."

Signed and sealed

Wednesday was also marked the beginning of college basketball's signing period, with Matta inking two players to his 2013 recruiting class.

The No. 63 player in the nation, Marc Loving has been committed to play for the Buckeyes since the summer of 2010, and is joined in the class by four-star guard Kameron Williams out of Baltimore, Md. Matta expressed excitement about having join his program, and expects each of them to contribute as soon as next fall.

"Marc has been committed to us for a long time. He's one of those guys that you like in recruiting because when he committed to us he was about 6'6, he's almost 6'9 now," Matta said. "When I first saw Kam this summer it was kind of like, that's exactly what I was looking for. Just a guard that finds ways to score the basketball."

Having missed on recruits such as Tony Parker and Nigel Hayes, some fans have been left wondering why Ohio State hasn't been able to bring in a big name recruit since Jared Sullinger's arrival in Columbus two seasons ago. Matta, however, is confident that his track record speaks for itself.

"From the standpoint of what's been accomplished in this program, there's a reason for everything," Matta said. "You like at the last six years, I think we're three in total wins in college basketball history. We're trying to get our fourth straight Big Ten championship, trying to get to our fourth straight Sweet 16. We know what we're doing."



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