It wasn’t something that Chris Holtmann saw Saturday that earned Duane Washington Jr. a first-row vantage point of Ohio State’s loss at Indiana.
It was something the Buckeyes coach didn’t see from his sophomore sharpshooter.
"I said to him, ‘I’m wondering, where are you? You’ve got to be more locked in than what you are. We need more from you right now,’" Holtmann said Monday.
The result was Washington playing a season-low 8:02 in the 66-54 loss to the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. He finished with two points — on free throws — and, for the first time in his Ohio State career, was not credited with an attempted field goal.
Ohio State’s second-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game watched the Buckeyes post their lowest scoring total of the season. In getting there, Ohio State shot just 30.8% on two-point shots, its seventh-worst mark in the history of college basketball website KenPom.com, which dates to the 2001-02 season.
While Washington has struggled to get back into the form he showed before sitting out two games to a rib cartilage injury, he almost certainly would have helped on the offensive end. But that’s not where his issues were, in Holtmann’s eyes.
During the first half, Washington checked into the game near the midpoint and, after giving up a drive that resulted in Kyle Young picking up a second foul, Washington was pulled after only 17 seconds and watched the rest of the half from the bench. He started the second half but was one of the first two substitutions Holtmann made, with 17:26 to play, and he would not return — even when sophomore guard Luther Muhammad fouled out with 6:28 remaining.
Immediately after the game, Holtmann said it was a coach’s decision to sit Washington and didn’t elaborate further. On Monday, he was asked again.
"I just did not feel like he was ready to play," Holtmann said. "I felt like he was not prepared to play in a tough environment on the road. I just did not feel like his mind was where it needed to be, and it was pretty evident even in the short minutes that he played."
Asked how that was evident, Holtmann said, "Attention to detail defensively. Effort. I thought his effort was really poor, and I thought his attention to detail was really poor."
Carton could start
With Washington’s spot in the starting lineup seemingly up for grabs, Holtmann said he is considering starting freshman D.J. Carton tonight against Nebraska either at point guard or shooting guard.
"Not necessarily sure," Holtmann said. "We’re always looking at lineups, but not sure what position it could be. Could be on or off the ball."
Carton has logged lots of time with junior CJ Walker, who has started all but one game at the point. When the two have been on the court together, Walker has primarily played off the ball so Carton wouldn’t have to learn multiple positions. Holtmann has said he would prefer freshmen not have to learn more than one position, particularly when that position is point guard.
The freshman had the ball in his hands for much of the Indiana game, particularly in the second half. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting in 28:31 off the bench, but he also had a season-high seven turnovers against a team-high three assists. Walker had seven points on 3-of-11 shooting with two assists and no turnovers in 27:45.
"The ball was in (Carton’s) hands a lot," Holtmann said. "We’ve probably got to find a way to, I don’t want to say protect him, (but) when the ball’s in your hands that much, he’s an aggressive player and it was an emotional game. He’ll learn from it. He did some good things as well."