Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
For whatever reason you want to chalk up, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas and Evan Ravenel seemed at ease taking questions from reporters at an otherwise mundane Friday press conference-even with a road trip to Michigan State looming.
The two, though, wore wide grins for most of the session. Thomas even postulated the notion of what would happen if he and sophomore forward Sam Thompson combine their skill sets into one super player.
“With my skills and his athleticism-man,” Thomas said, his eyes lit up at idea of such a thing. “It’d be crazy.”
It seemed to establish the tone of the day which also saw Thomas assert that Thompson would be like Los Angeles Clippers standout Blake Griffin if he 20 pounds heavier.
Maybe it was because they, and the rest of OSU’s No. 11-ranked men’s basketball team, notched their first win over a ranked opponent this season.
Maybe it was because, in the process, they’d ridden themselves of the stigma that supposed them hapless against teams of their own athletic prowess.
Maybe it was because said win was against then-No. 2 ranked and previously unbeaten Michigan.
But like OSU (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) coach Thad Matta, though, Thomas and Ravenel agreed that a win like that might be best served with a short-term memory.
Anything less could be cause for concern against a Spartan team (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) undefeated within the vaunted confines of the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
And even as the power structure in the Big Ten has changed in recent years, Matta said MSU’s house of horrors is as intimidating as any other place to play in the country.
“I’d say it’s still right there in terms of toughest venues to play in,” Matta said. “It’s a great college environment.”
Ravenel said OSU’s toughness, inevitably, will be tested.
“I think Michigan State is probably one of the most physical teams you’ll ever get to play against in college basketball,” he said. “And that’s a credit to their coaching staff.”
A coaching staff that has essentially assembled a program that Matta said has stood the test of time.
“They play a certain way,” he said.
And while Matta said the Spartans would have “certain alterations” in their game plan against OSU like they would for any other opponent, there’s certain things that the Tom Izzo-coached teams do exceptionally well.
“You’ve got a team that is solid, they’ve got guys that can shoot, they’ve got guys that can rebound, they’ve got a strong low post game,” he said.
Defensively, Ravenel said the teams are, in fact, actually quite similar.
“The way that Coach Izzo gets his guys playing physical, lockdown defense, it’s just the way we do. We play physical,” he said.
Whichever team can play more physical might be the game’s crux.
OSU is set to take on MSU Saturday at 6 p.m. in East Lansing, Mich.