Ohio State men's basketball | Chris Holtmann talks Ohio 'Crossroads Classic,' high-profile tournaments on schedule during call-in show

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann looks down the court at his players in the first half during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Value City Arena in Columbus on December 2, 2018. [Samantha Madar]

Two days removed from a win against Bucknell and one day before hosting Youngstown State, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann held his weekly call-in radio show Monday night.

If you couldn’t listen, here are the highlights.

*The topic of scheduling in the coming years yielded some interesting insight into where things might be headed.

One submitted question asked about last weekend’s Crossroads Classic, played in Indianapolis, and where things stand regarding bringing such an event to Ohio.

“It is something that gets continually discussed and broached among the other teams,” he said. “I think we’re a ways away from it. We would really need to get all four schools on board with location, opponents, all of that. Having coached in the Crossroads, it’s a Final Four environment, it’s in Indianapolis, you get a police escort to the game, it’s a big deal. The fanbases come and it is a phenomenal environment. It’s like a regional final in a lot of ways. If we could do something like that, I would really like that, but I just think the logistics of it, we’re not there yet but we have enough fans that continue to ask for it. Perhaps we’ll try to make it happen.”

He did mention three other schools as being in the mix: Cincinnati, Dayton and Xavier. The Bearcats and Musketeers’ annual rivalry game complicates things somewhat, Holtmann said, because the teams obviously wouldn’t be able to play each other in a Crossroads-type of game.

“The biggest pro is what it does for your state,” he said. “I think it’s great for the state, because it makes basketball really important on a weekend. That’s the other thing is you’ve got to figure out when to do that with the college football presence here and some of the other scheduling stuff going on.”

*Then there’s the prospect of potentially playing in a prominent Thanksgiving tournament. Holtmann wouldn’t name it, but Ohio State will be in one two seasons from now.

“We are going to try to do some of those things in the coming years,” he said. “We have a couple of them scheduled where we’ll be gone for 4-5 days to hopefully a warm location and we’ll be doing that. We’re scheduled for one two years from now and it’s one of the better ones out there, so we’re excited about that. If we do something like that, we’d love to have a large segment of our fans to come.”

*When Ohio State turned the ball over up by two points with about 14 seconds left against Bucknell, Holtmann said the Buckeyes came back to the huddle a bit deflated. Asked how to prevent the turnover, he said, “We did not make a very strong, aggressive move towards the ball. It’s something we looked at on film with C.J. I think our spacing could’ve been better. I need to do a better job getting them into the spots in those situations. C.J. has to do a better job of attacking that ball.”

The Buckeyes had an idea what Bucknell would run because of a scouting report put together by assistant to the coach Mike Netti that details opposing late-game tendencies.

“I was real nervous,” Holtmann said. “I was about to exit right and just go back to the locker room and pray. In that situation, you don’t’ know the mind of the opposition but obviously when you make 12 threes and can have four 40-plus-percent three-point shooter son the floor, you anticipate they could run something (for three). We anticipated what they were going to run. You don’t always have time to go through it with your guys. They run a similar action to their end-of-game action. Keyshawn really picked up a key part of it in that game and he took it away and forced them to go to their counter.”

*On the injury report, Holtmann said Andre Wesson “is on the mend here” after having three teeth busted. “All of our guys have mouthpieces. I should probably encourage them all to wear it more than they do, but ultimately that’s their choice. Andre showed great toughness coming back.”

*Kaleb Wesson continues to grow as a player, but Holtmann said he must cut down on turnovers while dealing with post traps and double teams.

“I told him you have too good of vision to have an even assist-to-turnover ratio,” he said. “He’s seeing a lot of different bodies and traps. Not a whole lot of single coverage. He passes it at times like a point guard. He’s got to find other ways to impact the game. His defense, particularly his ball-screen defense, is improving. It’s not there yet. His shooting is continuing to grow and get better. Offensive rebounds and then his ability to pass and get others involved. We don’t want him to just be a low-post, back-to-the-basket scorer.”

*Holtmann said the Buckeyes debated scheduling the Bison when putting together the 2018-19 schedule, “Because some of it was we felt like we had a pretty good non-conference schedule. You play a team like Bucknell and we know how good they are; can you get that communicated to your team? You always worry about that with young teams. It’s not like winning at Cincinnati, but it’s also look at as a quality win. The other thing was what can we learn and take from it?

“You never want to be in a final-possession (situation) but we were. Our guys were pretty deflated when they came to the bench after the turnover and we had to quickly turn the page to, ‘Let’s go win the game with our defense.’ ”

*Freshman Jaedon LeDee has seen spotty playing time this season, and Holtmann was asked how he approaches the situation with players in such situations.

“You try to encourage when you can,” he said. “Part of it is the process every freshman has to go through. Kyle Young had more DNPs than any of our freshman at this point last year. He’s starting for us now. There’s an understanding of the normal process. You also lean on your older guys to communicate that.”

*A submitted question asked Holtmann what stands out about Ohio State that he didn’t know before he got there.

“I probably didn’t fully appreciate the scope and the reach of The Ohio State University,” he said. “The number of alumni and the number of alumni in really well-known positions all over the country and all over the world. I also have really enjoyed getting to know our fans and Buckeye Nation. I don’t know if I knew how powerful that was. There’s a lot of people that care about sports and certainly football but other sports. It’s a really smart fanbase in terms of understanding the game and how it’s played.”

*Holtmann was asked if the coaching staff has any policies on tattoos or facial hair.

“I don’t have a policy on tattoos,” he said. “I think our guys are careful of what they’re adding. In terms of hairstyles or facial hair, if it looks to the point where it’s getting out of control, that’s usually when we’ll have a one-on-one conversation. I think I’ve had one conversation in the last couple years in terms of facial hair.”


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