Saturday, March 31, 2007

Quality Minutes

Nobody's going to talk much about Matt Terwilliger's performance tonight, but he's a big part of the reason that Ohio State will play for the National Championship on Monday night. Terwilliger only played 10 minutes, and his numbers (three boards, one steal and two points) weren't overwhelming, but he came up big when it mattered.

With Greg Oden in foul trouble almost before the game started, the Buckeyes could've very easily dug themselves the kind of hole that it took a near miracle to get them out of against Tennessee last week. Terwilliger was one of the reasons they didn't. No, he didn't do anything special, and Othello Hunter and Ivan Harris made much more of an impact in the box score, but Terwilliger was the guy that Matta went to first, and he answered the call.

After Oden's untimely exit, the Hoyas went to Roy Hibbert on six straight possessions, and ended up with only two points to show for it. It wasn't all Matt Terwilliger, but he definitely played a big part in containing Hibbert during that critical stretch. Terwilliger made Hibbert work for his scoring opportunities, hustled down the court, set screens, and made sure that he put a hand in the face of every shooter. His solid, fundamentally sound performance helped make sure that when Oden sat down in the first half, the Hoyas weren't able to translate their personnel advantage into an advantage on the scoreboard.

The media will focus on Mike Conley's offense and playmaking, and that's appropriate, because he was terrific. But the simple fact is that national championships aren't won without quality minutes from guys like Matt Terwilliger. Sometimes, it's not about being a superstar; it's just about doing your job when the chips are down. That's exactly what Terwilliger did in the first half tonight, and as Buckeye fans celebrate this win, they definitely ought to remember to lift a glass or two for him.

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