NCAA tourney: Ohio State's David Lighty

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In a way, David Lighty has been there from the beginning.

A member of the Thad Five recruiting class that resurrected the Ohio State men’s basketball program, Lighty has remained a constant during five seasons with the Buckeyes. He’s the only player left from the team that lost to Florida in the 2007 NCAA finals — and is a driving force behind OSU’s run to this year’s Final Four.

Over time, his numbers improved to 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. His defense followed suit. After a foot injury kept him out most of his junior year, he grew stronger and wiser, becoming a leader for a group of freshmen stars.

The elder statesman shared more before suiting up against Kentucky in the East regional semifinals.

You werepart ofOhio State’s run to the2007NCAA finals. How did thattournament prepare you for this one?

I think it prepared me just going through it all and knowing that any game could be your last. Especially with that team. We almost lost in the second round. It was a tough overtime win. And then the next game, we’re down 20 at halftime, and we come back and win. [It’s] just knowing that you have to be prepared to bring your A-game for every game that you have.

In a lot of ways, the current squad looksquite different from the 2007 team. Do you see similarities between them?

Most definitely — especially with the young guys and the older guys, mixing the two groups together. Putting on the season that we have so far goes back to my freshman year. Just going with all the weapons that are around the big man with the guards that we have — it pretty much goes back to my freshman year.

You guys rolled over University of Texas at San Antonio and George Mason.In your opinion, what’s the strongest thing about the team right now?

The strongest thing, I would say, is us being confident in ourselves and in the system — believing in the system and trusting the system. I think our team is being unselfish. Moving the ball around and getting great shots every possession is something that’s helped us out to be successful.

Is there a difference between being confident and overconfident?

I would say so. Going through the season — understanding our roles on the team and understanding what Coach expects of us game in and game out — is something that makes sure we don’t pass that line.

You stepped up quickly as a freshman and developedinto a leader. What advice do you give to the younger players?

Just coming in with an open mind, being willing to listen and being open to everything that’s told to you from older players, from coaches, from members who used to be here before.

And giving it 110 percent in everything that you do. People understand that you’re young, you’re going to make mistakes. That just comes with the territory. But as long as you continue to work hard and put in extra work — after practice, before practice, in the off-season — it shows on the court.

What’s the No. 1 thing you’ve learned during your time at Ohio State?

On the court, I would say having confidence and being a student of the game. There’s a lot of things off the court that help you when you play on the court. Coach always says, “If your mind is right, then your game is right.” Preparation for the game is a big key of how you perform on the court.

Your game has changed a lot since 2006. What do you think your greatest strength is right now?

My versatility to do a little bit of everything is a strength in itself. I create when I need to — whether it’s just shooting or getting to the basket and making plays to get my teammates open. And especially on the defensive end, that’s what I pride myself on. If you’re out there on the basketball court, you don’t want to have just one main thing that you do. If you can do a variety of things, it makes you that much more dangerous.

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Kentucky Wildcats

9:45 p.m. Friday, March 25 on CBS

Name: David Lighty

Year: Senior

Hometown: Cleveland

Position: Guard/forward

Height: 6 feet, 5 inches

Weight: 220 pounds