Ohio State’s men’s basketball team is one-quarter of the way through the 2018-19 regular season, and coach Chris Holtmann held his first weekly call-in show this evening.
In case you couldn’t tune in, here are some highlights.
*As part of the injury report, Holtmann was asked about Luther Muhammad’s shoulder injury.
“He’s still day to day, week to week,” he said. “He’s showing improvement in his strength. It’s still day to day.”
Muhammad has made a little bit of progress, but Holtmann was non-committal about the Illinois game.
“Right now today he was able to do some non-contact stuff,” Holtmann said. “We put him through a workout, because we didn’t do a whole lot with our guys today. He’s progressing. I don’t know what that means for Wednesday night. This is the kind of game where you would like to have him because of his ability to put it on the floor and his decision making will be good, but we’ll see.”
Asked if it was up to the individual to decide when the pain had subsided enough play, Holtmann said, “No, because he needs to get the OK from our medical staff. The reason for that is they want to get it strong enough to where if it gets hit again it won’t pop back out. Our staff is being very cautious about that going in and out.”
*With Muhammad out, Holtmann was asked if he had talked more with freshman Duane Washington Jr. about having to take on greater responsibility.
“I just want them to be them,” he said of his players. “We really didn’t even say who was going to start until right before the game. I think most people understood in our preparation it was going to be Keyshawn. I wanted our guys to be confident and ready.”
As for the spark that Washington brings…
“He’s not shy,” Holtmann said. “That’s for sure. He is not bashful. We recruited him to be aggressive and confident and that’s who he is. We appreciate that about him. He’s got to continue to understand how to impact the game on both ends. He’s ready coming off the bench or starting.”
*Wednesday night’s game will give the Buckeyes a third straight opponent with a different defensive philosophy. “We have a team that zones for 40 minutes (in Syracuse), a team in Minnesota that plays fairly standard and then a completely different style in Illinois that we struggled with last year that’s going to be denial one pass away. Three unique styles.”
*Ohio State is 1-0 in the Big Ten after Sunday night’s win against the Golden Gophers. “Certainly better than 0-1, for sure. I think our guys understand most Big Ten games are going to go down to the last 4-5 minutes typically. That was atypical last night. We played well. Minnesota was also tired.”
*Holtmann took a submitted question about graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods.
“He steadies our team,” he said. “He’s done a great job. (Sunday) night was the exception. He’s been our best guy at making decisions out on the floor. It’s an area we’re challenging C.J. Jackson to continue to improve in. He’s been terrific with that. He’s really tried to do what we’ve asked. He struggled last night offensively but he still gave us good minutes.
As for what the Buckeyes liked about Woods as they recruited him, Holtmann said, “Feel and thought he was a really good kid to begin with. Liked his shooting ability, his scoring ability. When we were recruiting him, we wondered if his lack of athleticism – I don’t’ want to say he’s not athletic, but at this level you get challenged with longer athletes. He’s so smart. He’s really aware of what his strengths are. He’s really crafty. That’s enabled him to be a really effective player at this level.”
*Also in the backcourt, Holtmann said the Buckeyes are still looking for more from senior C.J. Jackson.
“I want him to get better,” he said. “He understands he needs to get better. His assist-to-turnover ratio is now here it needs to be right now. His percentages offensively have been just OK to start the season. We need to do a better job as coaches trying to get him to perform at a higher level.
“He’s taken some steps, but we need more out of him and I don’t think we’re expecting too much out of a senior. He can’t finish the year having an even a-to-t ratio. We have higher expectations for him.”
*Woods is the second straight graduate transfer to impact Ohio State. Holtmann said wading into the market isn’t the same for every school.
“It’s really tricky depending on the school you’re at because graduate admissions are different. Some places can’t add graduate transfers or their requirements are stringent. It’s a little more difficult to get graduate transfers in here than it was at Butler. Keyshawn had a solid grade-point average. We eliminated on the front end a lot of guys that didn’t have the GPA needed to get into graduate school.”
Holtmann added that he feels that within 10 years players will be allowed to transfer without sitting out a year regardless of their grade.
*Holtmann had a lot to say about Andre Wesson’s continued development.
“I think he got a better understating of what our expectations for him were (this year),” he said. “We don’t have the year we had last year without Andre. There’s no question he was instrumental for us. He’s in an expanded role in terms of what he’s going to need to do on both ends. His ability to be a guy that can have a few assists and get double figures on certain nights and can get some rebounds and also defend with versatility really 3-4 positions.
“He’s had a good start to the season. The only area we’ve challenged him with is his turnovers. That’s an area he’s got to improve in.”
*A foreign trip is likely to take place four years from now after going to Spain this past summer, Holtmann said.
*Holtmann’s tailor, the one who produced the salmon-colored suit coat for the St. John Arena game, hails from Bloomington, Indiana.