From special assistant to assistant, Ohio State's Mike Netti ready for new position

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Tue., Mar. 1, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; The Ohio State Buckeyes bench watches as the Nebraska Cornhuskers maintain their lead late in the second half of a NCAA Division I men’s basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Value City Arena.

For the last five years, Mike Netti has had a seat on the Ohio State bench. Often, it’s been wedged in between the players and Quadrian Banks, the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

That changes this year. After half a decade of serving as special assistant to the head coach, Netti has formally been announced as the final full-time member of Chris Holtmann’s coaching staff. The move is a continuation of a relationship between the two that dates back roughly two decades and one Netti said he’s ready to take on.

When the 2022-23 season opens, he’ll be in a different seat with different expectations and duties. Not everything will change, though.

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“The biggest change will be is now I can coach our players,” Netti told The Dispatch after his promotion was officially announced Thursday. “I’ve been able to coach the coaches. I’ve been able to continue to give basketball insight as a special assistant and now that mentoring, that leadership will now be for our players.”

This isn’t Netti’s first time as an assistant. He’s filled the role at Gardner-Webb, both alongside and then under Holtmann, and had been at East Carolina for four seasons before signing on when Holtmann was hired in 2017. In doing so, Netti gave up his whistle for a job that involved a lot of time behind a computer, helping assist Holtmann and the coaching staff in myriad ways.

As special assistant, Netti was able to help mentor guys off the court and provide academic assistance. In coaching staff meetings, he was able to provide another informed voice to the discussion after diving deeply into video and helping craft game plan strategies.

Now, he’ll be in front of the team alongside Holtmann, associate head coach Jake Diebler and new assistant Jack Owens trying to bring it all to life.

“It’s exciting to have more of a role on the court coaching,” he said. “I believe in our staff. I believe in our program. I believe in our players. It is a healthy culture, and the staff has been connected and unselfish and that’s allowed this move to be really easy.”

In a statement, Holtmann praised Netti for his climb through the coaching ranks dating back to his days as a junior college coach. Netti has worked “in nearly every aspect of a college basketball staff,” Holtmann said. “Mike has great contacts across the country and is terrific at skill and player development. We are excited about this new role for him.”

He got a taste of the role last season when Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon were forced to miss a Jan. 9 home game with Northwestern after testing positive for COVID-19. In their absences, Diebler was elevated to interim coach and Netti assumed in-game assistant coaching responsibilities as the Buckeyes went on to a 95-87 win.

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Netti said he was so engrossed in the offensive play calling that he was surprised to look up at the first media timeout and see that E.J. Liddell had scored 17 points in less than six minutes.

“That game, moving up a seat, just doing my very best in a role that we needed that night was natural for me,” Netti said. “I’ve been in that seat before, and so coach (Holtmann) trusted me on that night and coach Diebler obviously did a great job running the program, running the team that night. I think the execution of that game plan, delivering the game plan and then obviously trusting our guys on that night, that was a fun night to be a part of.”

Speaking with reporters after freshman Malaki Branham declared for the NBA Draft on April 27, Holtmann said he had an idea how he planned to divvy up coaching responsibilities on his staff but declined to share it. Netti said the bulk of his time has been spent recruiting and that in-game responsibilities will be finalized at a later point.

This wasn’t the first full-time assistant job Netti had been considered for since arriving at Ohio State, but this time he said the situation felt right to make the move.

“The timing was perfect right now,” he said. “We’ve got a really strong staff. I think this move just happened organically and it was the perfect time.”

And while the title is different, Netti said his reasons for the job don’t change.

“I’ve always coached because of the love of the relationships,” he said. “The reason that you try and get your players to be their very best is because you love them, you love them as a person, you want them to be their very best but you want a lifelong relationship with that individual.

“It takes time, and it has to be genuine. We believe in those relationships.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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