Chris Holtmann sizes up his veterans and new players at Big Ten media day

Adam Jardy
Ohio State men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann. [Adam Cairns]

CHICAGO — Chris Holtmann opened his appearance at Big Ten men’s basketball media day Wednesday by cracking a joke.

Seated next to emcee Satvik Patel, the Ohio State coach looked at his gold-and-black suit coat, smiled and told him that his Buckeyes would tell him they liked his “drip,” or style.

Laughter ensued, and Holtmann’s 10-minute period at the table was underway. Five days removed from the start of practice, Holtmann said three injured players remain out of action but are on their way to getting into practice.

“Justin (Ahrens) and E.J. (Liddell) have had limited work in noncontact drills,” he said. “Musa Jallow is out and will remain out probably for certainly the next week or two. So obviously we want to get those guys back as quickly as we can. I believe that E.J. and Justin will begin to go full practice here in the next few days, as long as their test results come back positive.”

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Earlier in the morning, junior center Kaleb Wesson was announced as one of 10 members of the league’s preseason all-conference team. He joined Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. as the three unanimous selections for the team. He is in Chicago to represent the team along with senior Andre Wesson and junior CJ Walker.

Holtmann said the next task for Kaleb Wesson is to play with better consistency, starting with practice.

“Obviously it begins there,” he said. “And then his play, and then beginning to adjust as to how teams are playing him. His biggest issue even as good a year as he had last year was he has to play smarter in terms of his fouls. We've got to help him with that as a coaching staff. He's got to take the next step there. And we're anxious to see if he will.”

Walker will share time with freshman D.J. Carton, and Holtmann said the two will play together at times.

“That position, it's exciting to us because we have some experience, obviously, in C.J. Walker and in D.J. Carton, a young guy who is really gifted,” he said. “So we'll play those two together, as well. So we don't always look at it as an either-or situation.”

Holtmann described Liddell as a player who can immediately provide offense.

“He's one of those guys that is just a difficult matchup when he's really playing well, and he's going to go through some ups and downs and bumps and bruises,” Holtmann said. “But what we loved about him was his ability to obviously impact the game on both ends, but really he's got a unique skill set at that size. And he's one of those guys that you coach, guys that they're kind of wired to score. They can roll out of bed a little bit and score, and that's what E.J. can do. He's got to get healthy, got to get in better shape, but we're excited about his year.”

And as for his “drip,” Holtmann said he’s got work to do in the eyes of his players.

“You know, I just ran into them, and they were pleased (with my wardrobe),” he said with a laugh. “They were pleased. I didn't get the drip comment like I did after one of our games last year, so maybe I need to step up my game.”


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