There were plenty of talking points after Ohio State opened the season with a lopsided win against overmatched Robert Morris on Friday night. With so many questions about this year’s team and the direction of the program under first-year coach Chris Holtmann, one of his biggest concerns was how the Buckeyes would approach a short turnaround with such a new team.

The basic answer came in the form of an 82-72 win against Radford that by most measurements wasn’t that close. Ohio State led by as many as 26 and was ahead by 23 before the Highlanders closed on a 13-1 run against the Buckeyes bench in the final three minutes.

But so much about this part of the schedule is going to be about learning what kind of team this is and not just about the final results of games. So the question is, then, how do the Buckeyes feel they handled the quick turnaround after an emotional, season-opening win?

“I thought it can be better,” Holtmann said of his team’s approach to this game. “I’m not saying it was completely unacceptable but I think it can get better. What we’re trying to do is we are trying to play to a standard on every single possession, offensively and defensively. That’s really what good teams do. That’s what good teams understand. They have a great awareness of what they’re trying to do offensively and defensively and they have a standard of play and a benchmark they are trying to hit. I think that we are too inconsistent with that right now. That’s on me.

“Having said that, I think this group wants to do the right thing. We’ll continue to challenge them with that. I have to understand too, I keep saying we’re a work in progress and I think I’ve got to tell myself that in the midst of the game because I don’t always treat it like we’re a work in progress. I want it to come faster than it’s going to come, and it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

That much was proven against Radford, which opened the game with a 7-2 lead, had a 12-5 run later in the first, had a 9-2 run midway through the second and closed with the aforementioned flourish. Holtmann said that he specifically addressed C.J. Jackson and graduate transfer Andrew Dakich during Saturday’s practice about needing to be more vocal.

“We can definitely get better,” Jackson said. “We started off slow and ended up the same way. That’s what we’re going to take away from this game and move forward. We know we’re not going to play perfect. We’re all still trying to learn basically each player and coach. That’s where we are right now.”

And for now, that’s probably good enough. The Buckeyes are 2-0 against teams they should be 2-0 against. How they handle it will determine what happens when the schedule picks up.


As a team, Ohio State shot 35.6 percent (211 for 592) from three-point range last year. Its top two three-point shooters were, surprisingly, JaQuan Lyle (40.7 percent, 33 for 81) and Marc Loving (38.2 percent, 58 for 152). Both of them are gone.

The Buckeyes were 5 for 18 (27.8 percent) against Robert Morris. Today, they were 8 for 27 (29.6 percent). That equates to a season percentage of 28.9 percent (13 for 45).

Holtmann was asked the question: is this a good three-point shooting team?

“I think time will tell,” he said. “I think we’ve got some capable guys. C.J. is a guy that can really make open shots. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. Keita can obviously shoot the ball. Musa (Jallow) has shown the ability to make shots. He was in foul trouble today and struggled with that a little but I think what we will have is a variety of guys that can make open threes. Right now we’re taking a lot of threes and we have a lot of guys coming in the game taking threes. We’ll work through that a little bit. We had some of our bench guys take some. Micah (Potter) can make shots. He’s just missed a couple open ones.

“Are we taking more than I’d like? In some situations we did today, but I want our guys to be aggressive from behind the line.”


Video! The #Buckeyes starters are introduced for the Radford game.

A post shared by Adam Jardy (@hoops_and_scoops) on Nov 12, 2017 at 11:30am PST

Holtmann didn’t mention Kam Williams, who is 3 for 9 (33.3 percent) and has the biggest reputation as a shooter on the team, but I’m chalking that up to an accidental omission. He did credit Williams, who finished with nine points in 27 minutes, for having played an effective game, and he did it without being prompted.

“I thought Kam, despite not making some shots early, I told him how alert he was at times was really good,” Holtmann said. “It was good to see him make some shots there and get rewarded because he had a really good awareness at times.”


Radford created some problems for the Buckeyes with some full-court pressure. Even though the Highlanders like to press, Coach Mike Jones said that the Ohio State roster’s absence of true point guard depth made the decision to pressure a no-brainer.

I’m going to look into this more when I can rewatch the game, but it was effective. And if I had to guess, Holtmann got a glimpse of a big reason why at times this could feel like a long season for the Buckeyes.

“We always want to attack pressure,” Holtmann said of playing against a press. “Obviously we’re not a pressing team so we’ve not seen it a whole lot in practice so this was a good chance to go against it. I thought at times we were good. We just want to attack for what we say is our team’s best shot every time. There were a couple plays where we threw it down the floor and attacked and made attacking plays, but these games are important because this group has to play together in those situations more. At times I’m reminded there’s a difference between having a team out there that’s played together in similar roles for an extended period of time and a group that isn’t that way. That’s why we need to play in these types of situations.”

Added Jackson, “We’ve just got to be aggressive. Attack the press to score is pretty much our motto and that’s what we have to do. Once we get on the other side of half-court we have numbers, so we’ve got to take advantage of that.”


* Keita Bates-Diop finished with his second consecutive double-double, making it the first time in his career that he’s done so. After opening with 19 points and 11 rebounds against Robert Morris on Friday night, he went for 22 and 10 against the Highlanders.

*Ohio State is 2-0 for the 14th straight season. The last time the Buckeyes didn’t open with at least two consecutive wins was in 2003-04, when they opened the year with a loss at San Francisco 76-65 and then lost to San Diego State 83-61 as part of the Maui Invitational.

*Freshman Musa Jallow’s AAU program, Team Blaze, was on hand for the game. He had 11 points in 19 minutes in the opener but finished with just one in 16 minutes of foul-riddled action. He finished with four fouls.

*The Buckeyes had 15 turnovers after committing 19 in the season opener. I’ll have more on this topic in the coming days.


“I’d have recruited everybody in the locker room. I feel really good about this group. When I say we’re a work in progress, we very much are and there’s some things we need to clean up and do better but I feel very good about the kind of guys that we have in the locker room. I look at them as all our guys right now. We owe that to them. We are not thinking at all about down the road, we are thinking about how can we make this team the best because certainly our older guys deserve that.” – Holtmann