Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann talks West Virginia, Kyle Young's status and more on call-in show

Adam Jardy
With a 92-81 win against Iowa, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann became the first OSU coach to open his Big Ten career with three straight wins. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

One day after a 67-59 loss to No. 22 West Virginia at Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann hosted his weekly radio show Monday at noon.

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

*News will be coming on the status of junior forward Kyle Young, who returned to Columbus while facing a diagnosis of appendicitis.

“Kyle was having some stomach issues right before the game and (it) was really bothering him,” Holtmann said. “We weren't sure if he was going to play. He said he could go. It shows the kind of warrior he is, but he was having some stomach issues. Our medical staff spent some time with him after the game. He couldn't play his normal minutes.

“I don't want to get into the specifics right now but he's under a close eye with our medical staff and we'll probably release something here shortly.”

Later, in discussing having lost first Andre Wesson and then Duane Washington to injuries earlier in the season, he added, “Now there's some potential with losing Kyle.”

*Ohio State turned it over a season-high 22 times in the loss to the Mountaineers.

“There were 8-10 of them where we just have to be better than what we were in that area,” Holtmann said.

When issues get too significant, Holtmann said, coaches will consider taking the ball out of guys' hands or playing a slower tempo. Both options are on the table.

*After Andre Wesson hit a three-pointer with 4:40 to play that gave Ohio State a 54-53 lead, the Buckeyes gave up the lead and would not reclaim it. Asked about his team's late-game execution, Holtmann had a few criticisms.

“We took three poor shots in the last four-minute stretch,” he said. “There was a part where I thought about calling a timeout in a specific situation but I think as a coach there is part of your thinking where I want to see how our guys respond in this moment when they're forced to make plays in the last few minutes. What we learned is we've got to coach them better and we've got to be better offensively and defensively in those situations because our quality of shot was poor after Andre's open three.

“We really did not get a quality shot until Kaleb's open three (with 51 seconds left), which was another set call from the bench.”

*A factor in the loss to West Virginia: neither team was able to practice on the court because there was a hockey game in the arena the day before they played. Holtmann said that impacted his players because they ended up taking roughly half of their three-pointers from beyond the NBA line and not the college line.

“We took too many long, NBA threes in the game when we didn't need to,” he said. “That was the biggest thing looking back on it. That was a factor.”

*Ohio State's players returned to campus the day after Christmas and practiced the night of the 26 th to start preparing for West Virginia. The next day saw the Buckeyes practice twice, and they then practiced once on the 28th before driving to Cleveland for the game.

*Kaleb Wesson is up to No. 37 in Ohio State history in career rebounds.

“You look at his mobility, how much that's improved, it's impacted his rebounding,” Holtmann said. “He's got tremendous hands for a big guy. It's a credit to his work ethic and the work he's put in.”

*Holtmann said the in-between game is the next stage of development for the big guy.

“He's doing a good job of shot-faking and attacking, but the play after that, he's got to get a little more control to his game,” the coach said. “He can really shoot it so bigs fly at him, but once he gets by them he's got to read the second line a little better and be under control. He's got good shot mechanics right now, really good footwork.

“He's not a blur. People are going to slide over and take charges, which Minnesota did. We've got to practice those situations and get better at those.”

*Holtmann said the Buckeyes watched Saturday night's football game together.

“I had a coaching friend say to me, don't ever schedule a noon game after a late playoff game again,” he said. “The reality is we don't have any control over that. Andrew Dakich went and checked on them as soon as that game got over and said, 'Lights out.'

Ohio State had an 8 a.m. wake-up call the next morning.

*As for the game itself, Holtmann said he thought the season was an incredible success.

*The experience of playing in Cleveland was better than Holtmann said he had expected.

“I know tickets sold more than we even anticipated,” he said. “West Virginia, they always draw very well and they travel, but we had a lot of Buckeyes up there, too. It was a really loud. I felt like it's one of those second-weekend NCAA Tournament feels where there's a lot at stake and a lot on the line. You're really angry and frustrated after the loss but a takeaway is you put yourself out there against a good team after Christmas and that's a good thing.”

*Holtmann described West Virginia as playing the best basketball at the moment of any team the Buckeyes have played yet this season.

*When junior CJ Walker and freshman D.J. Carton are on the court together, Carton is the point guard and Walker the off guard – for now.

“It's hard to teach freshmen more than one position, so there are certain situations where we'll play D.J. off the ball,” Holtmann said. “It's a challenge right now with how we want to play to teach a freshman point guard the 1 and the 2, so because of that, CJ in most cases will play off the ball. There are some scenarios where we flip it.”

*Today is a mandatory day off for the Buckeyes. Tuesday will be a film session that Holtmann said will be a lot to go over, and then there will be practice and lifting.

*Holtmann said Andre Wesson's three-pointer in the final minutes came thanks to a strong screen from Kaleb Wesson and that he made the right read to shoot the ball rather than force the ball inside like the play was designed.

*The Buckeyes have a couple sellout games coming up, Holtmann said.

“We've already got a couple sellouts on the schedule,” he said. “Friday night's game, tickets are filling up quickly. We're close to that one being sold out. We've got a couple games later in January that are sold out. It's pretty exciting with the number of tickets we've got sold coming up here.”


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