Since he took over the Ohio State men’s basketball program, Chris Holtmann has consistently been asked about how he will approach scheduling future games and seasons.
In an interview this morning on WBNS-FM (97.1), Holtmann said so has an occasional change in venue. The potential of playing in St. John Arena, the program’s former home, has been discussed, he said.
“It’s already been brought up,” Holtmann said. “People have brought it up to me. I’ve brought it up. There are some issues with it that make it challenging and difficult, but I will continue to keep that on the front burner. I don’t have much control over this year’s schedule. Playing at St. John’s has been certainly something that’s come up and I’ve considered, whether it’s an exhibition or an early non-conference game. I’ll continue to broach the subject and see if we can make some progress on it.”
The Buckeyes will unofficially begin the season Sunday when they host the College of Wooster for an exhibition game at 4 p.m. The game will be played at Value City Arena. In the 15-minute interview, Holtmann said he’s been impressed with the quality of players he inherited when he took over for the fired Thad Matta in early June.
“When we got here … (we had) a couple guys injured and a couple eligibility issues, one of which is no longer on the team,” Holtmann said. “I had a roster at one time that we were sitting with seven eligible scholarship recruited players and there were some health issues that limited that. We added two freshmen and we’re really excited about this 2017 recruiting class. I also spent some time getting to know our upperclassmen. I’ve been really impressed with Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop. They’re great players and exceptional people. We have some older guys that have not played significant roles. We have guys who are going to be asked to play new roles. CJ Jackson, Kam Williams and many others are guys people are really going to enjoy.”
Asked further about Tate, Holtmann said, “He’s the kind of guy that you’d say, ‘Hey, I’ll go back and play with that guy.’ I told him yesterday, ‘You know the phrase greatest strength/greatest weakness? Your greatest strength is the emotion and passion you play with. Sometimes that can get the best of you,’ but his passion is second to none.”
And along those lines, Holtmann was asked about adding former Ohio State star Scoonie Penn to the staff as director of player development. The Buckeyes also offered a scholarship to his son, Dominiq, on Sunday. He’s a member of the class of 2020.
“First and foremost, (Scoonie has) an absolutely pure love for this place,” Holtmann said. “He and his family love Buckeye Nation, they love Buckeye basketball. I’m sitting at the football game the other day (against Penn State) and I could barely control him. He’s up and down hollering and yelling. His affinity for this place and his feel for (it helps). A lot of what he does is relationships with former players and he’s a connection point.
“We talk all the time about we are team No. 119. When we say that as a group, it connects us to all those who came before and Scoonie represents that.”