There is an end date in Chris Holtmann’s mind as he works to add a new assistant coach to his staff.
What that new addition will look like is still in flux. Wednesday, the Ohio State men’s basketball coach touched on a wide variety of topics at a press conference at Value City Arena intended to both put a bow on the 2018-19 season and start the process of looking ahead to next year.
That meant the process of replacing assistant coach Mike Schrage, who was named the head coach at Elon University a week and a half ago, was among the top topics to be covered. As he looks to add a full-time assistant for the first time since he hired Schrage at Butler three years ago, Holtmann said he hasn’t decided if he will promote from within the program or bring in someone from outside.
“I’m looking for someone who can bring a level of experience in recruiting as well as on-the-floor coaching and who’s shown the ability to do that effectively,” Holtmann said. “We certainly would like to have somebody by the first AAU weekend, which is the end of this month. There’s some human-resource stuff that has to happen as far as advertising the position. Certainly I’d like to have somebody added by that weekend.”
In the interim, staff member Mike Netti has been handling some of Schrage’s duties. Schrage rejoined Holtmann at Ohio State when he took the job and was given the title of special assistant to the head coach. Prior to that, he had been a full-time assistant at East Carolina for four seasons and, before that, for three seasons with Holtmann at Gardner-Webb.
He’s a candidate for the job, Holtmann confirmed. The same goes for Scoonie Penn, who has been the team’s director of player development for the last two seasons. Penn does not have Division I on-court coaching experience, although he had a lengthy professional career after establishing himself as one of the Ohio State’s all-time great players.
“We have a tremendous staff that I feel really good about,” Holtmann said. “You have Mike Netti who has been an assistant at a high level, has experience, was at East Carolina. We worked together so I saw him recruit guys and he brings a level of experience being an on-the-floor assistant and on-the-road recruiter. Obviously Scoonie Penn who has been a tremendous asset for us. I think we all love Scoonie and we’ve loved having him around and a part of our program. Those two guys are always guys you’re looking at and evaluating.”
Holtmann said he’s been preparing to lose at least an assistant or two for some time now.
“These last couple years I’ve expected that,” he said. “You’re mindful of that in terms of building relationships with guys that you feel like could be potential replacements. Having said that, I’m not close to making a decision on that.”
There are two potential outside candidates who have ties to Holtmann’s past. Former Nebraska assistant Michael Lewis, who was with Holtmann at Butler before joining the Cornhuskers, is searching for a job after Tim Miles was fired. Likewise, Wofford associate head coach Jay McAuley, who was a Holtmann assistant at Gardner-Webb, is viewed as a candidate to replace the departed Mike Young (who took the Virginia Tech job) but otherwise might become available.
It’s not clear if either have expressed interest in the job.
The good news for Holtmann is that he only has one position to fill. When the season ended, Holtmann had said it was possible he could have to replace one or two assistants and Wednesday said that came close to fruition.
“I thought potentially we could lose one or two guys, and that almost happened,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that for now, but super happy for Mike.”