Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann updates Kyle Young's status approaching NCAA Tournament

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State forward Kyle Young (25) drives on Purdue forward Trevion Williams (50) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Friday, March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

One day after a run in the Big Ten tournament came up three points short with an overtime title-game loss to Illinois, a raspy Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann held his weekly radio show Monday afternoon.

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

Ohio State basketball:Bruised Buckeyes processing Illinois loss before embracing joy of March Madness

Kyle Young update

After suffering a concussion during Friday’s game against Purdue, Ohio State senior Kyle Young missed the last two games and his status is unknown for the NCAA Tournament.

“I don’t have any new information for you right now,” Holtmann said. “He’s still being evaluated day to day. I think right now, we’re optimistic that he’s making progress. He was at the arena (Sunday) but we didn’t want to put him out among all the noise and the action. I think he’s making progress but in terms of what his availability will be, I’m optimistic and hopeful but not sure what his availability will be right now.”

Ohio State basketball:Duane Washington, Buckeyes play for Kyle Young, beat Michigan to reach Big Ten title game

The Buckeyes hung his jersey in the locker room for the Michigan game, and the team’s graphics staff hung a poster with his ripped jersey from the 2020 win at Michigan in the hallway as well.

“It’s not surprising knowing this group,” Holtmann said. “People understand how incredibly well-connected this group is, but it was still cool to see. It was their idea. Our graphics department, they had the jersey that got ripped, they had a picture of that blown up in the hallway. You’re looking for every piece of motivation, not like you need a whole lot given the context of that game.”

Preparation for Oral Roberts

A No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Buckeyes will play No. 15 seed Oral Roberts at Purdue’s Mackey Arena on Friday at 3 p.m.

March Madness:No. 2 seed Ohio State to face Oral Roberts in NCAA Tournament

“They’re one of the really, really talented offensive teams in the country,” Holtmann said. “They spread you out. They shoot a lot of threes. That’s really been their calling card this year. Obviously they have a guard who is single-handedly capable of winning a game. When you get to this tournament, everybody can play. Everybody’s talented.”

The coaches are going through Oral Roberts film today, Holtmann said, and the players will start diving into the opponent Wednesday.

“Our older guys are going to have to lead the way and get our guys focused on the next thing, and the next thing is rest (Monday) and the next thing (Tuesday) will be getting ourselves a workout, getting moving. The coaches are hard at work prepping for Oral Roberts and then who could potentially be next.”

E.J. Liddell “physically spent” by end of tournament

After battling the bigs particularly at Purdue, Michigan and then Illinois, sophomore forward E.J. Liddell saw his shots falling short as the game against the Illini wore on.

“I’m telling you, he went through an absolute battle without his sidekick for a good part of it,” Holtmann said, referring to Kyle Young. “He just battled, man. I’m really proud of E.J. He was frustrated (Sunday) but I don’t think he had enough legs to make a few of those shots. It’s not his fault. He could’ve drove Kofi (Cockburn) a few more times, but he was spent. He was physically spent with some of those battles.”

Liddell had a turnover late against Michigan where he tried to dribble the ball behind his back against Michigan’s full-court press. Hunter Dickinson nabbed it and scored. It was one of multiple tough plays by the Buckeyes in late moments in all four games.

“You want your guys to play loose and confident late,” Holtmann said. “Now there’s a difference between playing loose and careless like going behind your back 70 feet from the basket. I do not mind E.J. handling the ball, particularly against a big guy. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to get open, be strong with it, be fouled. I was OK with him bringing the ball up the floor. He just made a careless play. We want to finish with two hands.

“He’s a sophomore. He’s one of the best players in the Big Ten as a sophomore. That’s saying something. There are going to be some learning experiences for him, but an elite kid and player and such an elite future.”

Justice Sueing battles through injury

One week prior to the Illinois game, fourth-year junior Justice Sueing underwent an undisclosed procedure after dealing with a groin injury. Throughout the tournament, he had a towel on his legs and groin while on the bench, and yet he finished with 22 points in 42 minutes in the loss to the Illini to cap a strong showing for the Cal transfer.

“He really competed this week,” Holtmann said. “He was a major reason for us making our run and certainly put us in position to win it. Physical, aggressive, good on the glass. He’s got to be a good defensive presence for us, or else we’ll have a quick exit in this tournament.”

Seth Towns breaks through after talk

Holtmann and graduate transfer Seth Towns had a talk following Ohio State’s win against Minnesota, a game that saw him play only two minutes. Afterward, Holtmann said he was confident Towns would start to make a more pronounced impact sometime in the near future.

“I thought afterwards he was in a really good place and I could see him playing well in this tournament or the NCAA Tournament, it just so happened it was the next day,” Holtmann said. “Hopefully he can keep that approach. He’s a great young man.”

Musa Jallow’s ankle healing

Add the fourth-year junior to the list of players still recovering from injury. Jallow injured his ankle in a win at Penn State and has been somewhat limited since, but Holtmann praised his versatility and recovery.

“I think he feels like he’s moving better,” Holtmann said. “I don’t think he feels like he’s moving like he was before and still feels a little gimpy on it. We need his versatility defensively. We need his ability to move and guard different guys. I think his ankles have bothered him for a couple years, but he’s feeling closer to 90, 100%.”

Among his challenges in Indianapolis: guarding Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu.

“He’s probably best with bigger, stronger wings,” Holtmann said. “Ayo’s a little bit different because he’s a little shiftier. We had our best week of the season defensively this week. Now it’s on us to see if we’re going to continue to be that team. That’s why we performed at such a high level. He’s a big part of that but also Duane’s a big part of that. There are guys that CJ’s lack of size, it makes it hard for him to guard. We need our perimeter guys, Duane, Justice, Musa, Justin, we need those guys to be really good for us defensively.”

Ibrahima Diallo makes an appearance

Sophomore center Ibrahima Diallo made his fifth appearance of the season, totaling a minute of first-half action in the win against Michigan. He grabbed a rebound.

“In that particular game I probably could’ve used him in other stretches, but rebounding, defense, length, activity (is where he can help),” Holtmann said. “He did a great job with it. He can get overwhelmed physically by stronger post guys but he can really rebound the ball, he really can.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy