For the first four minutes and change of Ohio State's matchup against William & Mary on Saturday, it would have been hard to predict the game Keita Bates-Diop would have.
For much of the first few minutes, Bates-Diop looked out of place defensively and his shots on the offensive end were falling flat, as the Tribe took an early 12-10 lead on the Buckeyes.
At the first media timeout, Bates-Diop received an early hook from head coach Chris Holtmann, who subbed in sophomore Andre Wesson to replace Ohio State's leading scorer. The quick benching seemed to work, as Bates-Diop returned to finish the game with a career-high 27 points, converting on 11-of-14 shots as Ohio State rolled William & Mary, 97-62.
Holtmann said after the game that Bates-Diop wasn't doing anything wrong schematically, but needed to improve his effort on both ends of the floor.
"He is such a tremendous kid. He is an adult. Guys know it, and I was ready to put him right back in the game, but I just wanted to see a little bit more stuff from him," Holtmann said. "He is such an impressive kid in terms of how much he wants to get coached and be better."
Despite arguably being Ohio State's best player, even Bates-Diop knows he isn't immune to a quick stretch on the bench if his play isn't up to Holtmann's standards. He agreed with Holtmann after the game that his effort was not where it needed to be, adding that the quick talk on the bench helped propel him to an improved performance.
"I wasn't playing well in the first three or four minutes, and he treats us all equally so he pulled me. Then I got back in there and picked it up," Bates-Diop said. "It helped just to kind of reset my mind. I obviously wasn't ready to play in the first few minutes, so taking me out helped me reset my mind and then I was ready to play."
Part of the reason Bates-Diop was able to put together a career performance might be attributed to his expanded role against the Tribe. With Kyle Young and Micah Potter out with ankle injuries, Bates-Diop was forced to play more minutes in the post.
His ability to stretch the floor and defend multiple positions helped him succeed against William & Mary, Holtmann said.
"He is just such a weapon out there. We play him at the five sometimes, and he is a really hard matchup at the five. That is where he can get loose a lot. He is a hard matchup at the four as well, but especially at the five because of his ability to stretch the defense and drive it."
Moving forward, Bates-Diop could be asked to play more minutes in the post. Holtmann said after the game that he is hopeful Young will be able to return to action against Appalachian State next Saturday, but added that Potter's injury has taken longer to heal and did not comment on when the sophomore center might be available to play again.