Ohio State men's basketball | Chris Holtmann says on call-in show he's working on players' confidence

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes Kyle Young (25), Maryland Terrapins Aaron Wiggins (2) and Kaleb Wesson (34) scramble for a rebound in the first half of the NCAA men's basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Maryland Terrapins at Value City Arena on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. [Tyler Schank]

Two days before the Ohio State men’s basketball team hosts Purdue and three days removed from a fourth straight loss, coach Chris Holtmann hosted his weekly radio show Monday night.

If you couldn’t tune in, here are the highlights.

*With the losing streak growing, Holtmann said he’s not gotten a lot of sleep lately.

“I think the hardest part is making sure that your guys stay with the right mind-set, the right approach,” he said. “There is a degree of coaching a little bit different in this streak. I was probably more challenging to our guys when we were 12-1. We’re still coaching them and coaching them hard, as we should, but I think right now there’s a level of guys searching a little bit. More than anything the challenge if we’ve got to find a way to be better in 3-4-5 possessions a half than we’ve been in things that we can control. That’s what our challenge has been.

“Right now we’re trying to give them confidence. We are just trying to stress as much as possible what’s the quality of the shot. If it’s a good shot and a clean look and we’ve moved the ball and moved the defense, we’re confident guys will rise up and make them.”

*Holtmann credited Kaleb Wesson for staying out of foul trouble for most of the game against Maryland.

“He did a good job early and then he has a pocket where he can get them bang-bang,” he said. “I thought he was more attentive and played smart. I thought he played really aggressive and hard early. We tried to trap the post a little bit more, which we thought could keep him out of some foul trouble, and because of Bruno’s effectiveness. It did create some open looks for them. He did a really good job just being smart. He’s got to continue to do that for all 25-30 minutes a game.”

*The big question is who, aside from Wesson, is going to start making shots for the Buckeyes. After watching the film multiple times, Holtmann said he thought Ohio State “got a lot of really good looks” against the Terrapins.

“At this level you have to have balance in terms of how we play inside and out and we need guys to step up and I’m confident they will,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re continuing to get our best shot.”

Wesson took seven shots against Maryland.

“I think there was a couple times where we missed him, but Bruno (Fernando) only took six,” Holtmann said. “It was a game where both teams were trapping the post a little bit. They did probably a little better job of preventing Kaleb’s catches. I think Kaleb did a good job of kicking it out when he had the opportunity. I think everybody knows where our offense is focused. We just need more balance. If I could sit and watch film with you, I would show you clip after clip after clip where he’s posted and there’s literally a guy in front of him, a guy behind him and a guy pretty close to him.”

*One player not afraid to shoot is freshman Duane Washington Jr.

“He’s good at making challenged shots, too,” Holtmann said. “A couple of his misses were wide-open. His makes were challenged. I thought with Duane, this has got to continue, he was better in his defensive awareness and his details than he had been the prior couple games. That has to continue for him.”

*On the injury report, Holtmann said, “We’ve had some things crop up here of late. Right now, we’ve got to continue to try to keep guys’ bodies as fresh as possible here. Injuries are part of it. We hopefully can stay as injury-free as possible."

*It’s been an interesting calendar for the Buckeyes, who played Friday night.

“I prefer Saturday,” Holtmann said. “I think most people would, but you know how it is. You don’t really have a say anymore on anything when it comes to that. The Saturday slate is more appealing to me.”

The Buckeyes then practiced Saturday afternoon, which included a lengthy film session, and had a mandatory day off Sunday before having a Monday morning weightlifting session followed by an afternoon practice.

Along the way, Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon were recruiting at the “Flyin’ to the Hoop” high school basketball event in Dayton. It was impacted somewhat by the winter storm that hit the region Saturday and Sunday.

“I was recruiting a little bit on Saturday and came back right when it was really coming (down),” he said. “It took us a good two hours to get where it would normally take 45 minutes to get to.”

Monday was a lot of “working on us,” Holtmann said, and Tuesday will be a heavy day of practice in terms of game plan and focusing on Purdue.

*Holtmann provided an update on Keita Bates-Diop, a rookie with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Keita has done what a lot of players do in terms of he’s played with some of the G-League team as well as played with the Timberwolves,” he said. “I think he’s got a great approach. He got basically a first-round contract, guaranteed deal. Three years, two guaranteed. It’s a credit to how people felt about him. He’s in a good organization that I think people believe in him. Keita comes from such a terrific family that he understands there’s a process to this and as long as he keeps improving, things are going to come his way. I think he’s got the physical tools and dimensions that people want.”

*When he needs to get a break from coaching, Holtmann said, “I try to run. That’s my escape. (Sunday) I did have a moment to watch both of those (NFL) games with my family, and those were incredible games. Wouldn’t you know it, not 30 seconds after the Patriots won, I got a text from Scoonie Penn because we were talking about that game.”


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