Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann exceeds expectations in annual job review

Adam Jardy
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann watches practice at the practice gym inside Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio on October 16, 2019. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

Ohio State men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann was judged to have exceeded expectations in his second year with the program according to his yearly performance evaluation obtained by The Dispatch in a public records request.

The evaluation, conducted by athletic director Gene Smith, states that Holtmann “did another exceptional job in 2018-19 leading our Men's Basketball program.

“The academic performance of the team was outstanding,” Smith wrote. “He continues to develop a culture of character, compliance, and focus of on the total development of his student athletes. His staff continues to be aligned and stronger (despite) losing a talented assistant to a Head Coach position. The (competitive) performance of the team exceeded expectations especially considering the adversity with player absences.”

After losing four key upperclassmen including Big Ten player of the year Keita Bates-Diop following his first season with the Buckeyes, Holtmann led them to a 12-1 start and endured a five-game midseason losing streak before securing an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. There, Ohio State upset Iowa State in the first round before losing to Houston and reaching the second round for a second straight season.

Holtmann called it “a difficult and yet rewarding year” in the conclusion portion of his self evaluation.

“Our players, and in particular our upperclassmen, allowed our team to work thru some things and finish in a very positive way due to the quality of people they are,” Holtmann wrote. “The BIG 10 Season was difficult between injuries, not playing well and the suspension at the end. The league was tremendous and we clearly struggled for the majority of January.”

The coach listed the Big Ten tournament win against Indiana that clinched an NCAA Tournament berth as well as the upset of the Cyclones as season highlights while also expressing disappointment that none of his players were named to all-conference honors. Sophomore center Kaleb Wesson earned honorable mention all-Big Ten.

“Hopefully in the future we can have the kind of success that will lead to our players earning all-conference selections,” Holtmann wrote. “Overall this was a very rewarding group to coach.”

During the self-review section, Holtmann listed his accomplishments as reaching the tournament, winning a game, going 12-1 in nonconference play, earning a top-25 national ranking, achieving a perfect APR score and having a cumulative team grade-point average of better than 3.0.

Opportunities for improvement focused on both the team's Big Ten and season record. The Buckeyes finished 20-15 overall and 8-12 in league play. Contributing to that, he said were struggles with offensive efficiency and overall production. Defensively, the Buckeyes had “very good numbers … on the whole” but were “too inconsistent especially in (Big Ten) play.”

In the final portion of the self-evaluation portion, Holtmann described a few opportunities for development.

“Need to continue to develop our youth, staff development (especially our young guys), improving our overall system of play,” he wrote. “We need to continue to add quality depth in each recruiting class. Need to manage and balance our roster given the climate in our game today.”

In 12 core competencies, Holtmann self-rated himself as having met expectations in 11 of them and exceeding expectations in one: academic success of program.


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Basketball podcast: