Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann updates schedule, Seth Towns' status on radio show

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann and his coaching staff watch the game against against UMass Lowell River Hawks during the first half of their game at Covelli Center in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 2020.

Two days after a scheduled game against Alabama A&M was canceled and one day before 

the first road game of the season, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann held his first call-in show of the season.

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

*Saturday’s cancelation was something that Holtmann said was disappointing but not unexpected given the realities of trying to play games amid a pandemic.

Plans are in place to try and schedule a replacement game in order to get the Buckeyes the maximum number of 27 games on the schedule this season, but Holtmann said it might not be for a week or two before something could get finalized.

“When the game got canceled Friday night, we were in the office well after practice for a couple hours,” Holtmann said. “We discussed 10 other opponents and a number of other dates. We talked about even Saturday or Sunday, but because of the testing protocols and the logistics of getting a team here or going to a place and following the Big Ten protocols, it makes a turnaround that quickly just not possible.”

*Holtmann got the news a few minutes before the end of Friday’s practice that the game had been canceled when director of basketball operations David Egelhoff told him.

“I acted like I didn’t hear him,” Holtmann said. “It took me a minute to process that. We finished practice and stretched and then met as a team on the bleachers in the practice gym. They were disappointed but we promised them we would work to find another game. We weren’t able to do it with such a quick turnaround.”

The Buckeyes practiced Saturday, but it was a tough one, Holtmann said, because guys had been expecting to play a game that day. Sunday’s practice went better.

*That rescheduled game could be in the midst of Big Ten season, even.

“What the Big Ten has done by starting Big Ten games earlier is they have more open windows (for games),” Holtmann said. “The reason for that is for if a Big Ten game gets canceled, to replace that game. We could schedule a non-conference game in January or February or March for that matter. I don’t know that it would be as late as March, but we’re limited in terms of the number of open windows in December because we’ve moved more Big Ten games in December. I could see us potentially adding a non-conference game of some sort in a small window once Big Ten season starts.”

*There is a process to a game being cleared to happen this season.

“The other team has to show a testing history and then test the day before the game and the day of the game and have completely negative testing and if that’s the case the game can go on,” Holtmann said. “We weren’t able to swing that that quickly but we’re working on it. You want to provide games for your players.”

*The latest on forward Seth Towns is that he is a “game-to-game, week-to-week” decision, according to Holtmann.

“It’s really going to depend on our conversations with him as to how his knee is feeling and where he’s at physically,” he said. “I couldn’t give a definitive one way or another. He’s going through what regular practice feels like for his body and his knee. He’s had some good days, some really good days, and he’s had some days where it’s been difficult for him. That’s part of the recovery process, the whole get back to health process.

“I’ve been really proud of his ability to move forward with this thing. I think he sees the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of getting back on the floor. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be the Seth of his sophomore year. He’s not there yet. That will definitely take a while.”

Holtmann said Towns is only about a week and a half into actual live practices.

*All players can have an extra year of eligibility this year, and Holtmann said those conversations with seniors won’t take place in any great detail until the end of the season.

“CJ Walker’s gonna want to begin his prep for his professional career,” Holtmann said. “He’s been in college now for five years. I think that’s the direction he’ll probably want to go. It’s a conversation that you’ll get in detail with after the season and then figure your roster out from there.”

*Junior Duane Washington Jr. has been asked to do more offensively and defensively this season, and Holtmann said he’s making progress in both areas.

“Duane, what we’ve seen with him as he’s evolved here is he’s grown in his ability to play with the ball in his hands,” Holtmann said. “His decision-making has to continue to improve. He’s not a kid who turns it over a whole lot. Some of his shots, he clearly has to read the game better, but he’s a real weapon with the ball in his hands.

“His attention to detail has gotten better (defensively). You can tell he’s made a real conscious effort to continue to grow in that area. Caring more has been a real growth area for him. There’s some details he’s got to continue to improve on. He’s got to get in elite shape. He’s not there yet by any stretch. As he continues to get in better shape and become a fitter athlete, you could see him guard some of the better perimeters for stretches of games and carry a heavy load offensively.”

*Holtmann said his team’s struggles against UMass Lowell’s matchup zone was his fault because they didn’t spend much time preparing for it.

*He’s not sure of the specifics, but Holtmann said the Buckeyes are expecting a road environment at Notre Dame. At the minimum, parents will be permitted to attend.

*Junior Justin Ahrens has only attempted three-point shots this season and Holtmann said he’s liked how he’s impacted opposing teams.

“He’s got to play to his strengths, and that is his strength,” Holtmann said of his shooting. “I think he’ll be able to attack some long close-outs. I think he’s got to be able to read that. He creates gravity on the floor. Teams pull to him because of his ability to stretch the defense. Having a guy like that, his contributions don’t always show up in the box score. His defense and attention to detail have improve. I want him to hunt shots when he’s on the floor. He’s had a really good offseason.

“He’s had some good health. He had a little bit of an issue with a minor injury for a couple weeks but other than that he’s in great health.”

*And finally, Holtmann said he’s still adjusting to coaching while wearing a facemask.

“I do my best not to rip that thing off or wear it as a chinstrap, but I can’t promise that it won’t happen this year,” he said.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy