Chris Holtmann Keeping Perspective Following Comeback Win Over Michigan

By James Grega on December 5, 2017 at 10:10 am
Chris Holtmann

Ohio State's first 10 games have already featured a number of highs and lows for Chris Holtmann's first Buckeye team. 

The Scarlet and Gray have experienced blowout wins, a blowout loss and injuries. The Buckeyes have also blown a pair of double-digit second-half leads in losses to Butler and Clemson, only to answer with a blowout victory over Wisconsin and an emotional comeback win over Michigan on Monday night. 

Throughout all of that, Holtmann said he is trying to keep himself and his team from getting too high or too low following big wins or tough losses.  

"One of the things you try to do as a coach is not be a prisoner of the moment. We try to keep a pretty level plane," Holtmann said. "I don't want to make too much of this two-game stretch or the prior two-game stretch. We are just trying to focus on what we can do to gradually improve."

If recent games are any indication, one of those focuses will continue to be on the defensive end. While Ohio State has struggled in stretches on offense this season, its defense has kept it in games. 

The Buckeyes have struggled to shoot the ball from three-point range this year, converting on just 34.4 percent of their three-point shots and did not convert an attempt from beyond the arc in the second half of a 71-62 win over Michigan on Monday. 

Holtmann said Monday that in order for Ohio State to continue to win close games, the Buckeyes will have to rely on their defense rather than their perimeter shooting. 

"I think that was the lesson out of Clemson for us. If we think trading baskets is going to work for us for 40 minutes, we’re not going to beat anybody that’s any good," Holtmann said. "Our commitment on the defensive end has to be at the highest level. That is where we have potential as a group. When you make shots, it can certainly take us to another level. 

"We can make shots, but we are not going to win shooting contests with a bunch of elite teams. We have to be committed defensively."

In the second half against Michigan, playing committed defense is exactly what Ohio State did. The Buckeyes limited the Wolverines to just 17.2 percent shooting from the floor in the final 20 minutes, helping spark the furious comeback win. 

In addition to its defense, Ohio State will continue to lean on its veterans as the season moves forward. Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate scored 18 and 14 points respectively against Michigan, leading the comeback. 

While Holtmann is keeping Ohio State's two-game win streak in perspective, he acknowledged that the Buckeyes' recent success is beneficial for the younger players on his roster. 

"Maybe as important as anything is, our players have been able to see success," Holtmann said. "I think that’s important for a new coaching staff and a new group early in the season just to feel like some of the things we are working on and communicating can be successful if we stay committed to that. Certainly, that could have been questioned after a couple of rough games.

"But when you have people like Keita and Jae’Sean leading the way, that I think ties our group together and that is going to be important for us as we continue to go through ups and downs."

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