Kyle Young’s ongoing recovery has presented Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann with an undesirable choice.
As the sophomore forward has worked his way back from a stress fracture in his lower right leg suffered Jan. 18 in a home loss to Maryland, the team’s training staff has presented Holtmann with this scenario: Young’s leg will allow him to either practice or play in games — but not both.
Given that, Holtmann and Young have opted for game action, using his pain level as a guide for how many minutes he can log. It’s a situation the Buckeyes have managed reasonably well, but one now exacerbated by the ongoing suspension of sophomore center Kaleb Wesson.
It also could be crucial for Ohio State in a game that would likely clinch their spot in the NCAA Tournament against a Northwestern team that, if it does anything well, can provide a physical post presence.
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“Much of our offensive game plan and attack from day one has been in large part centered around playing out of the post, because we felt that was going to be our best option this year,” Holtmann said Tuesday. “We’re just in the process of thinking through all that in terms of personnel and adjustments. It’s hard to make too many significant adjustments at this point, but we’re in the process of looking at all that.”
On Saturday at Purdue, Holtmann started freshman Jaedon LeDee in Wesson’s place to help better manage Young’s minutes. In the eight games since he returned from the injury, Young is averaging 17.8 minutes and scoring 5.0 points after averaging 22.0 and 7.3 in 17 games before the injury.
Young said he has been doing his best to keep his conditioning up, spending time riding the exercise bike or doing pool workouts. It’s just not the same fitness that practice provides.
>>Read more: Suspended Kaleb Wesson to miss second game
“It’s kind of tough, conditioning-wise, but you’ve still got to have the same mindset going in and competing just when it’s game time,” he said. “When that time comes, I’m just trying to leave it all out on the floor.”
The sophomore has described the injury as day-to-day and that he’s not 100 percent healthy. He isn’t at further risk for injury, Holtmann said, adding that the only full cure for the fracture will be four to six weeks of rest.
“Kyle had a willingness to want to play and we obviously needed to get him back in,” Holtmann said. “What has happened is the lack of practice time has really hurt him. It’s hurt his conditioning, his ability to play physically. It’s hurt our team. There’s nothing any of us can do about it, but it’s affected us for sure.”
In a 14-point win over the Wildcats at Value City Arena on Feb. 20, Wesson led the way with 22 points and eight rebounds. Young added eight and four, respectively, in 14 minutes, while LeDee did not record a statistic while playing just one minute.
In the rematch, the Buckeyes will need multiple players, including Young, to give them more.
“When you’re missing a big player like Kaleb, with how much he does for us, it’s everyone’s job to pick up the slack,” Young said. “I wouldn’t say in particular (I feel) any more pressure. I’ve just got to go out there, leave it all on the floor.”