DAYTON, Ohio - In a recent New York Post post article the headline said it all with, "Confident Iona: We will beat Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament", and that created a buzz on the Ohio State message boards and talk radio. The issue is that the headline may not have been completely true to the quotes.
Every team goes into games feeling that they can win, if not then what is the reason of playing the game. Iona did deliver quotes after a recent practice that did show that the team felt that they had a shot of winning but far from making any concrete declarations.
"I feel like we're supposed to win, and if we win, it's not going to be like, 'Oh, we beat Ohio State.' It's, 'OK, on to the next round and let's get this,' " Iona guard Lamont Jones told the Post. "I honestly believe like we belong. I honestly feel like we can win. We're going to play the best game we can possibly play."
Do the Buckeyes view the talk of by Iona as being disrespectful or something worthy of going on the bulletin board? Don't count on the veteran Ohio State team to give anything to go on Iona's bulleting board.
"I definitely heard about the story," forward LaQuinton Ross said. "I actually brought the little paper today to show the whole team. They are just going to have to go out there and do it tomorrow and we are going to have to do the same thing."
The Ohio State players all admitted they were aware of the piece but understand that it is just part of the game but they are not going to completely overlook that it was said.
"It is not a shocker, I would hope they would expect to win but we are not going to let them and just hand it to them, we didn't do everything that we just did to just give it away," forward Evan Ravenel said. "As a basketball player you expect to win every game that you play."
Iona head coach Tim Cluess was not happy with the way that the story was presented but doesn't want his team backing down from a belief that they have what it takes to win.
"It wasn't interpreted, they made up the headline" Cluess said. "Our players never said anything like that. Our players sat there and talked about how we had to play real well and that we had the hopes if we played really well that we would have a chance. They asked us if we had confidence that we could win and yes, we have confidence that we have a chance to win and we are hoping to play on Sunday."
Ohio State is aware of how confident the MAAC Champions are and won't take them lightly, especially after losing to a team from the MAAC the last time they played in the tournament in Dayton (loss vs. Siena).
"It is what it is and they have a lot of confidence," guard Aaron Craft said. "I think we have cause to have a lot of confidence too. We have been playing really good basketball and hopefully it continues."
The Ohio State players are focused on what they can control and are sure that Iona will focus on what they can control. Regardless, it will be two driven teams when things tip off on Friday night.
"We definitely will remember them saying that," guard Shannon Scott said. "We don't want to take it personal and we just want to go out there and play our game and not let them get into our heads."
Cluess understands that traditionally No. 15 seeds don't have a lot of success against No. 2 seeds but two 15's won last season and if his team came in just ready to roll over and let Ohio State walk over them that there would be no point in playing the game.
"Our players handled it the right way and they have nothing but respect for Ohio State and everything that they have done," Cluess said. "We know that we are playing a great opponent but we are not going out there and saying, 'we have no chance'. So yes, we think we have a chance, it might be a small one but stranger things have happened on the basketball court."