Dials, Matta Named Big Ten's Best

Winning the outright Big Ten championship has allowed Ohio State to rake in the postseason accolades. On Tuesday, OSU senior center Terence Dials was named the conference's Player of the Year, and Thad Matta was named the Coach of the Year. Also, Je'Kel Foster was selected to the second team by the coaches, and third team by the media. Jamar Butler made third team media, and honorable mention coaches.

To the victors go the spoils.

Ohio State captured the outright Big Ten championship on Sunday with a 76-57 win over Purdue. And now, as expected, the postseason awards are beginning to roll in for the Buckeyes.

On Tuesday, senior center Terence Dials was named the Big Ten's Player of the Year, and head coach Thad Matta was named the conference's Coach of the Year.

The 6-9 Dials averaged 15.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the No. 7 Buckeyes (23-4) during the regular season.

Dials, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, became Ohio State's fifth Big Ten player of the year and the first since guard Scoonie Penn claimed the honor in 1999. Dennis Hopson was selected in 1987 while Jimmy Jackson won the award in both 1991 and '92. Hopson and Jackson were both forwards.

Ohio State last had a student-athlete earn first team All-Big Ten honors in 2002 when Brian Brown made the squad. The last Ohio State center to make the league's first team was Ken Johnson in 2001.

Dials finished the regular season ranked No. 15 in Ohio State history with 1,492 points. He also is No. 6 in career rebounding with 834. His .564 career field goal shooting percentage rates No. 3 all-time in OSU history.

"It feels good," Dials said of the POY honor. "I just take it more as a team accomplishment, just from the simple fact that we won the Big Ten and everybody played a part in it."

Dials was asked where he was when he found out, and what his reaction was.

"I was actually in (sociology) class and somebody text messaged me and let me know," he said. "It was a good feeling. I was just surprised. … It feels real good. Just a lot of hard work and dedication throughout my career. I've got to give a lot of credit to a lot of different people. Our coaches number one, and my teammates second."

And all the while, Dials did not disrupt his class. Even the Big Ten Player of the Year doesn't want to get on the bad side of his professors.

"Nah, I leave (my phone) on vibrate so I don't get in trouble," he said.

Dials reflected back to the Big Ten's preseason media day in Chicago last fall when he told reporters that he could win awards if OSU's team played well.

"Yeah, I knew just by what happened last year with (Illinois') Dee Brown getting (player of the year)," Dials said. "You look at his numbers and they weren't gaudy or anything, but his team was winning and they won the Big Ten championship outright. Traditionally, it goes to the player who helps his team get to the Big Ten championship. So, I told you early on, as long as you win, good things come along for everybody on this team."

Matta directed the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title with a 12-4 league record. He also reached the 20-win plateau, which he has done in each of his six seasons as a head coach. Only Mark Few of Gonzaga (7) has accomplished that feat among active Division I coaches.

Matta has now won coach of the year honors in three NCAA Division I conferences. He was the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) Coach of the Year in 2001 as a rookie coach at Butler, his alma mater, and the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 2002 at Xavier. Matta has directed four teams in six seasons to regular-season championships. He also has three conference tournament titles to his credit. He won the MCC title in 2001 and the Atlantic 10 postseason championship in 2002 and 2004.

"Honestly, it's a great honor because you look at the Big Ten and the coaches in this league," Matta said. "I'm only as good as the people that surround me and I think we've got the best staff in the country. It will be shared, that's for sure."

Ohio State's Je'Kel Foster, a senior guard from Natchez, Miss., was a second team honoree in the coaches' balloting. Foster and sophomore guard Jamar Butler, from Lima, Ohio, were named to the third team by the conference media. Butler was an honorable mention selection by the league coaches.

Foster was Ohio State's second-leading scorer with 13.3 points a game while leading the Big Ten with 66 steals, which is tied for the fourth most in Ohio State history for a single season. He was named to the all-defensive team.

His senior season 3-point shooting percentage of .447 to date is the best for a single season at OSU. His career shooting percentage from long range of .438 is second best all time at Ohio State.

Butler has been among the top two point guards all season in assist-to-turnover ratio (plus-2.7). His scoring also has improved significantly to 10 points a game, all while drawing the opponent's top offensive threat on defense.

"I'm very happy with what I got," Butler said. "Just to be considered with a group of upperclassmen – the guys I've watched the past couple years – it's a great honor. With the great talent in the Big Ten, it's just an honor to be on the All-Big Ten team."


 

 


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