One day after Ohio State improved to 11-1 in the Big Ten with a home win against Illinois and hours after climbing to No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann hosted his weekly call-in radio show.
In case you couldn’t listen, here are the highlights.
*Suspended senior guard Kam Williams is unlikely to make the trip to Purdue on Wednesday.
“It looks as of now that Kam will stay home from the Purdue game,” Holtmann said. “That suspension is still in place. He’s got class back here he needs to attend to.”
*Holtmann took a submitted question who asked about getting scoring off the bench.
“When we’ve gotten that this year, it’s been a different guy,” he said. “Sometimes you have that on a team where there’s multiple guys, that’s what they do. Our guys come off and impact the game in different ways. Having said that Micah Potter had 13 off the bench against Northwestern. Andrew Dakich against Maryland. Kyle Young at times, Musa, Andre Wesson who’s now starting. They all have had moments.”
*Wesson made his debut in the starting lineup when the Buckeyes hosted Illinois, but Holtmann said they didn’t have to talk with him about having a different approach compared to coming off the bench.
“It was kind of just, be you and do what we’ve coached you to do and what you’re very capable of doing,” he said. “That was it more than anything. Last night was a unique game where they allowed Keita (Bates-Diop) to get his in a lot of ways and Keita just played the game and got a lot of points. Andre didn’t need to score much. He’s been really consistent with his defensive effort and his rebounding and his ball handling.”
Wesson was out for the summer with an undisclosed medical condition, and Holtmann likes his potential for next season.
“He never had a summer,” he said. “He basically didn’t have four months. I’m excited to be able to spend a summer with him and continue to work with his overall skill development. He’s made some really important shots for us. He’s handled the ball better for us and defensively he’s been outstanding.”
With Wesson on the court at the same time as Jae’Sean Tate and Bates-Diop, Holtmann pointed out that the Buckeyes have three guys who can switch on everybody.
*Jallow played 13 minutes against the Fighting Illini and Holtmann lauded what he provided even if he hasn’t scored in nine straight games.
“It’s going to come,” he said of his offense. “I didn’t even know it had been that long. It’s not a stat we really pay much attention to. It’ll come. His opportunity will come. Part of this with guys is I think sometimes when you’re watching a game, guys impact the game in so many other ways than just scoring and Musa’s done that. Certainly his best offensive days are ahead of him and I think he’s going to have some really good days moving forward.”
After graduating early from high school, Jallow turned 18 on Saturday.
“Last night he passed up a baseline drive where he could’ve finished,” Holtmann said. “He gave us really important minutes. Sometimes we forget, we sang happy birthday to him a few nights ago. He came here as a 17-year-old freshman. He’s doing things at 18 I’m not sure I was doing in my 20s. It’s a credit to him.”
*On the injury report, Holtmann said Bates-Diop’s back “is probably hurting him because he’s been carrying me all season.”
He then went on to say similar things about Tate.
“I’m on the Jae’Sean Tate bandwagon, too,” Holtmann said. “He does so much for our team that can go unnoticed at times. He helps in so many different ways. If we continue to have some success and he doesn’t get any kind of all-conference mention, I’m going to drive to the Big Ten offices because he deserves so much credit for how this team has performed. I’m hard on him. I have high expectations from JT. He’s been so invaluable and I’ve had coaches say he’s such a better, more complete player for us this year.”
*As for Purdue, Holtmann had plenty of good things to say about the Boilermakers.
“Well, they’re clearly one of the elite teams in the country,” he said. “They have elevated their play. They lost a great player to the NBA, but they’ve got an older group. Coach Painter and his staff have done a great job building a roster. They just don’t really have any deficiencies. They’re clearly a Final Four, national championship contender. I’ve not coached there, but I’ve heard that it can get quite loud.”
*In watching film, Holtmann said the coaches often point out to players that they’re not doing a good enough job of always looking for Kaleb Wesson the post, particularly when he seals his man off.
*Kaleb Wesson’s wingspan is the biggest on the team, beating out Bates-Diop by just a hair, Holtmann said.
*A caller asked about adding players from the junior college route to add depth in the post.
“We have thought about adding another,” he said. “I do think we need to add probably some more size. We do have a young man coming in from Texas who’s going to provide some size for us that plays on the interior. You do not see too many rosters that are loaded up with 6-9 to 6-10 guys, just because it’s become such a mobile big man’s game. Versatility across the board is really important, and that’s what we’re trying to get on the front line is versatility.”
That incoming freshman is Jaedon LeDee, a 6-9 forward. He also mentioned freshman Kyle Young as a post player with a versatile future.
*Holtmann said the Buckeyes considered taking a day off in preparing for Illinois but needed three full days of practice to get ready for Illinois’ system, which doesn’t allow teams to reverse the ball. It’s only the second time Holtmann said he’s coached against a team like that, and the other was when he went against Eastern Kentucky while at Gardner-Webb.
He worked with assistant coach Ryan Pedon to come up with extra plays to run against that defense after a particularly bad day of practice preparing for it, Holtmann said.
*At one point during the season, Illinois held a players-only meeting to address a losing streak. Holtmann was asked what impact he sees such meetings have on teams.
“I haven’t had that happen a lot in my time as a head coach,” he said. “I think it’s probably a good thing, all in all. You want your team to be player-led this time of year. We’re fortunate because we have guys like Jae’Sean and Keita and an older guy like Andrew Dakich that have been through some stuff and can speak the right things.”