Scene: The basketball court at the Value City Arena, an hour before tipoff. Rap music blares idly from the PA system. The Ohio State Buckeyes are shooting around and stretching. Some Hawkeyes are around as well, but they're preoccupied with wandering around the empty seats. Thad Matta exits the home locker room to greet Todd Lickliter, who coached for and with Matta at Butler. The two grin and earnestly shake hands.
Thad: Welcome to Columbus!
Todd: Thank you, sir! How are things going this season?
Thad: Pretty darned good! 11-3, not perfect, but we got revenge on Florida last month. Lots of kids I'm excited about. How about you?
Todd: Oh, you know. Rebuilding.
Thad: Part of any job, right?
Todd: Yeah. You ever see the kids?
Thad: Mine? Um, yeah, Todd... they live with me.
Todd: No no, the Bulldogs.
Thad: Oh, Butler! Yeah, they smoked us earlier this year!
Thad: Man. 65-46, I wanna say.
Todd: So they're... things are okay there?
Thad: They're outstanding, Todd. 14-1. You did a great job with them.
Thad: What's that smell? It's foul.
Todd: 14-1, you said?
Thad: Yeah. You left a heck of a better team than I did, that's for sure!
Thad: Todd... I--I think I smell gin on your breath.
Todd: Really? Huh. (digs idly in his pocket for 30 seconds, somehow unbuckles belt) Shit. I think I'm out of gum.
Thad: Jesus. (to a nearby trainer) Hey Jeff, you wanna get a bottle of Gatorade over here?
Jeff: Sure thing! (jogs to the locker room)
Todd: So you ever think about, like, going back?
Thad: What? To Butler? Ha! I loved it there, but this was such a step up, I couldn't refuse. You think I could have gotten to the title game last year at Butler?
Todd: Not even one bit?
Thad: Of course not. Todd, this is the Big Ten. We make a lot more money. This is a good thing. Most people would kill for our jobs.
Jeff: (jogs up breathlessly) Powerade's okay, right?
Thad: Of course. Here, Todd.
Todd: You're a life saver, Thaddo.
Thad: No problem. You seemed a little--
Todd: (empties rest of flask into bottle)
Todd: Hang on a bit. (to his team) Seth! Put the football away! Where's Cyrus??
Seth: He went to Dairy Queen, Coach! He said he'll be back in like an hour.
Seth: Did you want anything?
Todd: (turns back to Thad)
Todd: Senior leadership.
Thad: Y'know... how about I take out the starters at the half?
Todd: You're a good friend. Mind helping me get these pants back up? If I bend over, I promise you I'm going right through that scorer's table.
Thad: No prob. Good luck tonight.
Todd: You too Ray.
Todd: (nods off)
I can't promise we'll be doing any liveblogging tonight, folks, but feel free to leave some thoughts here as Iowa gets mercilessly beaten at OSU tonight. And someone please call a cab for Coach Lick.