OSU's Chris Holtmann talks injuries to Kyle Young, Justice Sueing and more on radio show

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes forward Kyle Young (25) rests momentarily after failing to collect a rebound during Sunday's NCAA Division I Big Ten conference basketball game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on February 28, 2021. Iowa won the game 73-57.

One day after a 73-57 home loss to Iowa that gave Ohio State a third straight defeat, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann hosted his weekly radio show.

In case you couldn’t listen, here are the highlights.

Injuries: Kyle Young, Justice Sueing and more

Like most teams, the Buckeyes have been beaten up plenty by this point of the season. And although they are off until Saturday’s game against Illinois, Holtmann said it’s not a given that everyone will be back to full practice work by then.

“Justice (Sueing) has a groin injury, Musa Jallow has an ankle injury, the one he had at Penn State that kept him out. Kyle (Young) is getting back and feeling better following his concussion. We’ve had a couple other guys that have turned ankles.

“CJ Walker got his hand kind of reinjured, but he’ll be fine. It’s the balance between those guys getting better, and yet at the same time their reps are going to have to be limited or in some cases they’re going to need to take an extra day off practice. We’re trying to find that balance right now with the medical staff.”

What the Buckeyes miss without Kyle Young

He missed the Michigan State game with a concussion suffered in the prior game against Michigan, and although Young returned against the Hawkeyes he didn’t look quite like the same player as he tried to shake off the rust.

“He wasn’t (the same guy),” Holtmann said. “He was cleared. Kyle’s such a tremendous kid and absolute warrior. Whether it was the week off or not being in the same rhythm … he was different. What’s to explain for that exactly, I’m not sure. I give him credit. It was his choice. He was cleared. He felt fine. I think his legs feel OK. I think his wind wasn’t great.”

Young was off for seven days before being cleared to participate against the Hawkeyes.

“Hopefully we can get him back to feeling like the same Kyle,” Holtmann said. “I think in this team this year, what I’ve noticed is Kyle’s presence. We finished (last) season so strong going 9-3 and Kyle was out a number of those games because of his ankle injury against Maryland. We felt it, but you had a guy like Andre Wesson who was able to do a lot of similar things.

“With this team, what we’ve noticed is we miss his energy his athleticism his fats twitch when he doesn’t play. And his game’s evolved. We do feel it, at least that’s what I’ve sensed. We feel his absence much more than we did last year.”

Focus on Iowa while moving forward

After the loss Sunday evening, Holtmann said he would be meeting with the team and reconvening later that day. Monday, the plan was for more one-on-one video work as the Buckeyes start to prepare for hosting Illinois on Saturday.

“It’s a balance there because this has obviously been a brutal stretch in terms of the schedule in general,” he said. “I do think it can help us if we can recognize those areas we have to improve in. The video will probably be more individual one-on-one meetings rather than team stuff. We have something else planned in terms of our team session today (Monday).”

Health, too, is a big concern.

“We’ve got to get healthy,” Holtmann said. “We’ve got to get back to work. Our whole team needs rest and we’ve got to get healthy. We had basically a third of our team that wasn’t able to really practice much at all last week, or at least very limited. We’ve got to get, as much as we can, healthy and get back to practicing and then move forward and recognize and own those things we’ve got to get done better collectively.”

Working with Justin Ahrens

Junior wing Justin Ahrens hit a three in the loss to Iowa after not making any in his prior two games. He also came off the bench after a lengthy stretch in the starting lineup. Life has gotten more difficult for Ahrens as he tries to get his shot off, but Holtmann said he has no issues with what the junior is doing.

“I’ve got no problem with how he’s playing really on both ends,” Holtmann said. “I just think he’s gotten a lot of attention. He’s got to find some opportunities in transition. Our guys have to help him find those and in some screening actions. As I told him, he’s got to stay aggressive. He’s got to really hunt opportunities without forcing things. I’ve got no problem with how he’s playing right now. He’s just not getting as clean of looks as he did a month ago.”

Ohio State men's basketball:Photos: No. 9 Iowa 73, No. 4 Ohio State 57

Holtmann was asked about trying to get Ahrens more looks early in games to get him going.

“Some teams just aren’t leaving his body,” the coach said. “When they’re doing that it creates other opportunities. He’s just got to stay aggressive and stay shot-ready, which he’s done a nice job of. Collectively we’ve got to continue to do a better job of that.”

CJ Walker starts, Ahrens to the bench

Senior CJ Walker started against Iowa, sending Ahrens back to the bench. Ahrens had moved into the starting lineup when Walker went out with torn ligaments in his right hand and blossomed before running into recent struggles.

Holtmann said the lineup change was due to Ohio State’s plans to guard Iowa.

“It wasn’t anything to do with Justin,” he said. “I felt like we needed more ball pressure at the point of attack defensively and Duane and Justin and Justice have not necessarily been able to provide that. I thought that was going to be critical with the way they play. It could stay like that for the rest of the year. We needed a little bit more bite as a group defensively, but Justin will play a major role going forward.”

Looking for Duane Washington to respond

After carrying the load in last week’s loss to Michigan, Duane Washington Jr. had only seven points and four turnovers in the loss to the Hawkeyes.

More:Former coaches loved working with Ohio State's Duane Washington Jr., 'Headaches and all'

“Duane’s tremendous at taking feedback and moving forward,” Holtmann said. “Duane understands he’s got to make better decisions with the ball. He’s got to be better defensively. He’s got play better for us to play well. Duane understands he’s put together a really good junior season, but we’ve got to do a better job as coaches getting him to play better and he’s got to embrace that and move forward. I’m confident he’ll do that.”

Ibrahima Diallo checks in

The sophomore center was on the court for one second in the Michigan State game, his first appearance in months after a knee injury sidelined him for much of the season.

“(He) has done a good job getting back to feeling like he can play in a game and medical staff has cleared him,” Holtmann said. “It’s been good to have him back at practice. He’s gotten his wind back a little bit.”

Trim the rotation

Diallo wasn’t among them, but the Buckeyes used 11 different players in the Iowa game while the Hawkeyes used eight.

“We’re going to have to look to trimming the rotation a little bit,” Holtmann said. “Typically when we’ve been in a little rut, the case the whole season has been our bench has really helped us. Of our 18 wins, I could probably point to half of them where our bench was critical. I’m confident the guys we go to in the future will be ready to make more of an impact.”

Senior day to include Musa Jallow

In addition to Walker and Young, Holtmann said Saturday’s senior day will also feature fourth-year junior Musa Jallow, who has already graduated and has a year of eligibility remaining.

The festivities will likely be livestreamed, Holtmann said.

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy