Matt Terwilliger has spent most of his Ohio State playing career searching for a role, but that search has come to an end.
In his final season as a Buckeye, a mature Terwilliger has finally found a role to embrace – doing whatever he can to help the team succeed.
"I've grown, I don't want to say completely out of personal goals, but I put team goals ahead of it, and whatever I need to do to help this team win is what I'll do," Terwilliger said.
Terwilliger admits that he didn't always have that attitude and said it was a process that began early in his career.
"During my sophomore year, it kind of changed with that run we had," he said. "Freshman year, we couldn't go to the tournament and we didn't do as well as we would have liked. Sophomore year, I saw what happened when I did what needed to be done and that's when I realized if everyone sacrifices something, in the outcome everyone wins."
The process continued last season as Terwilliger again dealt with a changing role to make room for highly touted freshman center Greg Oden.
"During the beginning of the year, it was a little different because Greg was (injured) and I knew what my role was," he said. "When Greg came back, it was kind of like, ‘Where do I fit in now?' It took a few games to figure it out because it's hard to go from playing 25 minutes to playing 10."
Late last year, Terwilliger seemed to carve out a niche as a defensive enforcer, but as has been the case throughout his career, his role won't be the same this season thanks to a retooled roster.
"It changes every year because you have the new players in and things like that, but I'm going to try and look to do the same things as last year," he said. "I'm going to try to play a little more solid defense than I did last year with a few less fouls. I want to knock down the perimeter shot with a little more consistency and grab a few more rebounds."
Terwilliger said he is more than ready to contribute significant minutes but made it clear that the team comes first.
"I feel I can (play major minutes)," he said, "but it all depends on what we need."
While Terwilliger is still unsure what he will do on the court to help the team this year, off the court he said he understands he must take on a leadership role because the Buckeyes need the newcomers to contribute to have a successful season.
"I think we have the senior leadership and experience from last year's tournament run that as long as the freshmen listen, we will be able to get things going," he said. "I try to help them all, but especially Kosta (Koufos) and Dallas (Lauderdale) just because they're bigs. Othello (Hunter) and I have worked with them."
It took four years, but Terwilliger knows where he fits in on the team. Now he is again relying on his past experiences, but this time to help his new teammates.
"We've been as far as we can go," he said. "We came up eight points short, but you can't go any farther than where we went. We took what we learned last year – we're not forgetting the loss – but we took what we learned and try to give it to the freshmen so that when they step in on Oct. 31, they're ready to go.
"I try to tell them stuff that's going to happen down the road. I tell them, ‘Don't do so much of this now because it could lead to this later.' I kind of feel like the dad."
Terwilliger Happy To Play Father Figure
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