Holtmann Provides 2017-18 Outlook

By Jeff Rapp, September 28th, 2017

Ohio State basketball Media Day occurred Wednesday without Chris Holtmann – he didn’t join returning Buckeye players because of a pressing recruiting assignment – but the new head coach addressed several topics during the OSU-Oklahoma game on Sept. 9.

The following are some of his comments.

On the football game atmosphere – “This is my first Ohio State football game. I picked a good one, huh?

“It’s an incredible environment. It’s electric. We were down on the field before the game. Great atmosphere. We obviously have a lot of recruits down there.”

On embracing school traditions – “We’re learning the fight songs. We’re going to sing ‘Carmen, Ohio’ to the student section after games this year. We actually sung it together, which was a good rehearsal.

“It’s been great.”

On the power of OSU football and head coach Urban Meyer – “I think we use it as a strength. For me, being around it, it adds so much to the university. And I love picking Urban’s brain. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with him. Well before I was hired, I asked a national sports media guy, ‘Hey, give me a name of a couple of football coaches,” because I wanted to study them because there is a carryover in sport. The first name he mentioned was Urban. I think I can make that happen now.”

On returning guard Andre Wesson being full-go after dealing with an undisclosed medical issue – “Obviously the depth is important for us, and Andre had some good moments as a freshman last year. I was limited in what I could say, but he was out all summer, and we just weren’t sure what it was going to be for him. First and foremost, we were making sure he was in good health.

“He needs to get in shape, but that will happen. He’s done a really good job just sort of coming back and working with our training staff and our strength and conditioning coach. We had a team workout today and he was able to do some things, and it was great to have him out there.

“He had a skill workout the other day and I took about a 10-second clip of it and sent it to his dad and mom, and said, ‘Boy, it’s really good to have him back out,’ and I know it was good for them to see him back out as well. Andre wants to do everything right now. We want that, too, but we need to be smart right now.”

On former players such as Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and Mike Conley coming back to campus and being at the OU game – “It’s really special. One of the things that has been most impressive to me in my short time here, just in three months, is this connection between current and former (players). It really is.

“We’ve tried to foster that, but a lot of it has been me taking a step back. They are around a lot. The impact that so many guys have had. They can talk to recruits on campus. It’s been a really cool connection. We several out watching the team work out today.

“I asked a couple of them if I could suit them up, but it was great to have them there.”

On expectations for 2017-18 season – “I’ve been asked that a whole lot but I’m still learning. We added six of our 14 guys since June when I was hired, so I’m still learning. But I think if we can stay healthy I’m excited about this group. I think we have a really good group of young men. Obviously we have some depth issues at certain positions. There’s no question. They’re getting to know us; we’re trying to get to know them. But I’ve enjoyed it.

On incoming freshman Musa Jallow – “Musa is a very ambitious kid and terrific student, and he wants to do everything really well.

“For him, as with all our freshmen, everything is coming at him fast right now. But I’m really excited about those three freshmen we have. I can’t explain to you how important it was to add a group like that as we begin this process.

“Obviously, we had Kaleb (Wesson), but to add Kyle (Young) and Musa is critical to our progress moving forward.”

On what he’s seen from returning starters Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams – “They’ve been really good. Listen, I’m different from Coach (Thad) Matta, so that’s an adjustment for them. I don’t think you can rush into relationships. It’s going to take some time. I really like this group. I really like our upperclassmen and what they can be, and we’re just kind of taking it day by day.”

On the assets of forward Keita Bates-Diop, whom he labeled as the team’s most versatile player – “He can guard at three or four positions. That’s really exciting for me. His approach is outstanding. His buy-in to what we’re doing has been outstanding. I’m really excited about him.

“Bottom line is he and JT are going to have to have very good years for us to compete in the league we’re competing in. They need to be really good, and I think they will be.”