Two days removed from a 35-point loss at Purdue and two days before a road game against Northwestern, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann held his weekly radio show Monday night.
In case you couldn’t listen, here are the highlights.
*Holtmann didn’t offer much in the way of an update of suspended leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson, who did not play at Purdue.
“We’ll discuss more on that tomorrow,” he said. “No updates right now.”
A specific game length to Wesson’s suspension has not been announced, but he will return this season. His absence was clearly felt in the loss to the Boilermakers.
“Obviously we wouldn’t have won the game either way if we were at full tilt,” Holtmann said. "I just don’t think we were good enough on that given day. I don’t know how much that factored in. it quite possibly could have factored in more than I thought it might. We built our transition game and our offense really around playing through Kaleb.
“That’s a pretty seismic change, and the fact that defensively he’s just more advanced. His ball-screen defense has improved significantly. His interior defense, his help, his length, that’s where he’s so far advanced from our other guys right now.”
Holtmann said the staff tried to be “direct and honest” in discussing Wesson’s situation with the team and stressed keeping it in-house.
*Right out of the gate, Holtmann was asked how many times he re-watched the Purdue game, if at all.
“I did watch it,” he said. “I had an NBA coach say, ‘Burn it,’ but I did watch it. I watched it a time or two, but it was one of those where we just weren’t very good and we’ve got to find a way to be better. Obviously it’s unique without your leading scorer or rebounder, but we played a team that was clearly more ready to play and that’s ultimately on me.”
*Three of Holtmann’s five starters at Purdue were freshmen: Justin Ahrens, Jaedon LeDee and Luther Muhammad. That’s not likely to be the lineup Wednesday at Northwestern.
“Looking back on it, I think I made a mistake by starting three freshmen,” he said. “In that environment, some of it is we didn’t have other options because of Kyle’s injury, but it’s too much. I think Izzo said after playing at Purdue that his freshmen needed diapers. That’s his way of putting it. It was too much for too many young guys.”
LeDee started in place of Wesson.
*After exploding for 29 points against Iowa, Ahrens had just one shot and did not score against Purdue.
“Justin’s a tremendous kid,” Holtmann said. “That’s part of learning what this game is all about. I was preaching to everybody, ‘Pump the brakes on the six threes a night and where was that and it’s going to be this every game.’ It’s the Big Ten, people. No offense, but Iowa was the worst defensive team in the league. We had them at our place. They give up open shots, and Justin took advantage.
“He’s got to remain confident and aggressive. I think he’ll do that. He’s got to figure out how to contribute in other ways, too. His activity was not nearly what it needed to be in the Purdue game, and that’s why he didn’t play as much.”
When recruiting Ahrens, Holtmann said he was most struck by the fact that he loves Ohio State “because not everyone feels the same way. The ones that do, that can play, we really want those guys.”
*Holtmann gave an update on exactly what Kyle Young is dealing with as he recovers from a stress fracture in his lower right leg.
“Our interior depth has been an issue,” he said. “Obviously many know that Micah (Potter) transferred early in the season, before we played a game. Kyle, during the Maryland game, aggravated a stress fracture. He was out for a while, came back quickly, but what they’re trying to do is really monitor and make sure that we don’t lose him for the rest of the season. He’s not been able to practice. Unfortunately what that’s done to Kyle is affected his conditioning, his confidence, his timing, his finishing. We’re going on three weeks of not being able to bang in practice.
“They’re basically saying we can have him for practice or we can have him for games. It’s affected our team, no question. We don’t win the Penn State game without him, but we really noticed it the last game, the accumulation of not practicing has really affected him but that’s the situation we’re in right now. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a situation where we’ve been this thin on the front line before.”
*Holtmann said he’s not changed his in-game strategizing to try and affect the NET rankings, but he is aware of them.
“Our NET ranking is good,” he said. “It’s 43, as of today. We’ll see how we finish here, but right now that’s good and probably good enough to get us into the tournament now but we have to finish well.”
*A submitted question asked about sophomore Musa Jallow trying to turn being a strong athlete into a strong basketball player.
“Pretty good eye there, because he is a good athlete,” Holtmann said. “The area he has to grow in is the basketball side of things. It’s a lot of skill. He was injured all summer so he didn’t have a great summer in terms of skill development. A really willing learner and tremendous kid.”
Holtmann said it was Jallow who initiated the process of reclassifying and graduating high school a year early.
*Asked about the throwback uniforms the Buckeyes have worn twice this season, Holtmann said, “The throwbacks have been really, really well received. They flew off the shelves for the Cleveland State game. Not being a uniform guy, when I saw those I said, ‘Wow, those are really cool.’ We may do it again, we may bring those back.”
*Monday was Ohio State’s 93rd practice of the season.