Ohio State's Gene Smith: 'Chris (Holtmann) is our coach of the future'

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

The 2022-23 season has been a struggle for the Ohio State men’s basketball team, but athletic director Gene Smith has no concerns about the direction of the program.

Standing courtside roughly an hour before the Buckeyes hosted Wisconsin on Thursday, Smith told The Dispatch that he believes in coach Chris Holtmann and where the program is headed. A roster with five freshmen, four of whom are playing significant minutes as key members of the rotation, has lost eight of nine games and is at 11-11 overall and 3-8 in league play.

“I’m confident in what Chris is doing,” Smith said. “Chris is our coach of the future. He’s doing an outstanding job."

Holtmann, in his sixth season, signed a three-year contract extension during the spring that has him under contract through the 2027-28 season. The Buckeyes have won at least 20 games in each of Holtmann’s first five seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament during each season in which it was held but have not advanced beyond the second round.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, left, shakes hands with Chris Holtmann after naming Holtmann the new basketball coach on June 12, 2017.

Last season, freshman guard Malaki Branham became Holtmann’s first one-and-done player and was taken by San Antonio in the first round of the NBA draft. This year, Ohio State is being led in scoring by freshman Brice Sensabaugh, who is being projected as a potential first-round pick, while freshman point guard Bruce Thornton has started all 21 games as classmates Roddy Gayle and Felix Okpara have assumed rotation roles.

“These are young guys,” Smith said. “I really look forward to them continuing to grow and get better. There’s a lot of games left. We’ve just got to keep getting better.”

The 2022 recruiting class was rated No. 8 nationally by The Buckeyes have signed a four-man class for 2023 that is ranked No. 6 nationally.

As has been the case during his tenure, Smith said he didn't want to dissect a season that is in progress. Monday, Holtmann shared the same viewpoint while expressing hope that better things lie ahead for these Buckeyes.

"Let the story be written," Holtmann said. "Let’s see how much better we can get and grow and how much better we can improve. That’s our focus right now. I certainly wouldn’t want to do an autopsy of the season with 11 games to go."


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