Ohio State’s lineups are going to be fluid this season. It’s been a consistent theme in coach Chris Holtmann’s press conferences during his first preseason with the team, and with that in mind it’s not easy to draw too many conclusions about the Buckeyes after Sunday evening’s 88-63 exhibition win against the visiting College of Wooster.
All recruited scholarship players saw at least 12 minutes of playing time, and nobody played more than 24 minutes. Holtmann alternated his substitution patterns from the first half to the second, going with a complete line change in the first to more individualized substitutions as the second half unfolded.
Each of the freshmen – Musa Jallow, Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young – saw significant playing time and showed flashes of potential along with the rawness that comes with being months into a collegiate career. It all added up to a win that wasn’t particularly satisfying, even if it doesn’t really count for much.
“They exposed us in a lot of ways,” Holtmann said. “They were quicker to loose balls than we were early. I thought we just were, at times they knocked us around and got to loose balls quicker than we did. We beat them, certainly, to our share, but I thought they did a good job. I didn’t think we played through contact really well today, whether it’s getting a loose ball or finishing or finishing a defensive rebound. I just didn’t think we played through contact quite as well as we needed to. That was good for us to see. They tried to spread us out. I didn’t think we had great awareness on their shooter, 14. We knew about him.”
That shooter, Simon Texidor, finished 5 of 9 from three and tied for a game high with 17 points.
More than I thought, the Buckeyes played with a smaller lineup featuring Keita Bates-Diop as the de facto center. He looked smooth and collected after missing all but nine games last season and taking a medical redshirt, allowing the game to come to him but not being too passive.
“I do think he may have a little bit of rust but he’s maybe a little further along in some of those areas than I thought,” Holtmann said. “I tell you, he’s had a lot of good moments in practice and these first two games. He’s going to need to. He and JT (Jae’Sean Tate) are going to need to be consistently very good for us to have a chance to close games out. He’s been pretty consistent with that. Had very few bad days, very few.”
Tate looked as dangerous as ever with the ball on the block and acquitted himself well at the point in limited action there (more on that later). C.J. Jackson, playing a bigger role than ever anticipated when he transferred into the program last year, struggled with his shot and let some of his woes carry over to other aspects of his game.
Micah Potter showed off his athleticism, coming up with a steal and a fast-break dunk and also slamming home an underneath-out-of-bounds lob. He also had a few passes slide through his hands, a common problem a season ago. His counterpart, freshman Kaleb Wesson, looked skilled and promising, scoring 16 points and adding 7 rebounds, but fouled out in 15 minutes.
Jallow looks athletic and quick, and although the speed of the game looks to still be an issue he finished with six points including a high-flying dunk but also fouled out in 21 minutes of time. Andre Wesson again showed his strong court sense but only played 12 minutes, and Young showed explosiveness and power driving to the basket.
What does it all mean when the games start to count? We’ll find out Friday.
I was clearly wrong with one of my in-game tweets. I offer the evidence, from sometime during the second half:
Seems clear to me that, based on this, Andrew Dakich is the No. 2 point guard for the #Buckeyes behind C.J. Jackson, not Jae'Sean Tate.— Adam Jardy (@AdamJardy) November 5, 2017
For the game, both Tate and Dakich saw 24 minutes of action. Of Dakich’s time on the court, though, 14 of those minutes were in the second half compared to eight for Tate.
In three seasons for Michigan, Dakich averaged 4.1 minutes in 49 appearances before redshirting as a senior. I asked Holtmann what he thought of the graduate transfer logging so many minutes.
“He did some really good things,” he said. “He’s a great communicator out there. Part of the reason I played him that much was I didn’t want to put JT back in there as backup point. We don’t have another point guard on the roster, so he had to carry that last 10 minutes or so. He’s got a really good awareness of things defensively and a pretty high attention to detail. I did not think consistently our attention to detail was as good as it needs to be tonight. It’s an area we have to improve on for sure. Great communicator on the bench. Sometimes I’ve got to tell him, ‘Hey AD, we’ve got it man.’ That’s his strength. That’s who he is.”
He finished with a game-high five assists and no turnovers but was the only player not to score for the Buckeyes, going 0 for 3 from the floor.
During the first half, with Dakich and Tate on the court for a time, they alternated running the point.
“We didn’t play JT probably as much at the point guard tonight as we will moving forward,” Holtmann said.
The game against Wooster came about due assistant coach Ryan Pedon, a Bexley native and Fighting Scots alumnus now on the Ohio State coaching staff as one of Holtmann’s assistants. It marked the first meeting between the two programs since Dec. 16, 1939, then Ohio State won a regular-season game 64-35.
Counting this exhibition (which really, we shouldn’t), the Buckeyes are now 8-4 all-time against Wooster. Their last loss to the Scots? A 28-24 defeat on Feb. 6, 1909, at the hands of what would become a familiar face. Wooster’s coach for that game was L.W. St. John, who of course would go on to be so impactful at Ohio State that its arena would be named after him.
As part of a new tradition, Ohio State sang "Carmen Ohio" on the court after the game. Watch it here.
To hear from Holtmann during his press conference, click here.
Dominiq Penn, a point guard in the class of 2020 from Dublin Coffman, was seated behind the Ohio State bench during the game. Penn, whose father, Scoonie, is the director of player development, landed a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes on Nov. 29. He’s rated as a top-10 in-state prospect for his recruiting class.
“I told them in there (postgame) the reality is teams are going to make runs on us and we’ve got to respond the right way. I think we were a little bit slow to respond the right way in some situations. I thought it was good for us. As much as anything you get a chance for some of your young guys to play. I’m still figuring out the combinations that fit us best. I guarantee you we’ll have a fluid starting lineup throughout the year. I think our guys understand that and need to accept the fact that’s going to happen. We’re going to have multiple guys in and out of the starting lineup throughout the year.” – Holtmann, on his message to the team.