Coming off of back-to-back losses to Penn State on Thursday and Michigan on Sunday and preparing for another game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Rutgers, Ohio State men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann joined the airwaves of 97.1 The Fan once again for his weekly radio show.
In addition to giving his thoughts on how Sunday's game played out and previewing Tuesday's Senior Night festivities, Holtmann answered questions about a variety of other topics, including how his team has dealt with the compressed Big Ten schedule and how the Buckeyes adjust to the way each game can be officiated differently.
A summary of what Holtmann had to say:
- About 14,000 tickets have been sold for Tuesday's game as of Monday night. Holtmann said he is optimistic that there will be a loud crowd and great environment for the final home game of the year.
- Keita Bates-Diop has "got to continue to play through the physicality that he is being thrown his way" in order to get back on track offensively. Holtmann believes Bates-Diop has been fouled more than is being called and said he has tried to get that point across to the officials. Even though his scoring has been down in the past few games, Holtmann believes Bates-Diop is still performing at a Player of the Year level because of the contributions he is making on the game outside of scoring. "Keita's got so many strengths," Holtmann said.
- Holtmann's players were with Ohio State's training staff going through physical rehabilitation on Monday night as they prepare to play their second game in three days on Tuesday. Monday was a "big mental day" for the Buckeyes because the coaches could not afford to tax their players physically.
- Holtmann said he would "really have to search far and wide" to find positives from playing a compressed Big Ten schedule this year, but said playing the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden will be a positive, as could the rest and recovery the team will be able to have between the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
- Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is among the coaches Holtmann says he plans to call to pick his brain on how to manage the longer break between the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
- "We need to get more out of our guard play than what we got," Holtmann acknowledged in regards to Sunday's loss.
- On Jae'Sean Tate: "When he's playing like we know he can and plays hard, he's one of the best in the conference." Holtmann said he did not think Tate "necessarily played as hard as he needed to" against Penn State, but "responded and played really hard" on Sunday, when he led Ohio State with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
- "Everybody is healthy" going into Tuesday's game.
- Did Kam Williams' suspension and return upset the chemistry of the team? Holtmann said he doesn't think so, but he does think the rust of the suspension hurt Williams' play in his first two games back. He expects Williams' play to improve going forward.
- Michigan extended its defense more than it did in Ohio State's first game against the Wolverines, which the Buckeyes won 71-62, and set more post traps in Sunday's game.
- "It's really our responsibility as coaches and players to adjust to that," Holtmann said of the suggestion that each game is officiated differently depending on which officials are working the game. "You do a little bit of a scouting report on officials too, for sure."
- Should NCAA consider adding a fourth official for basketball? "I would like to think three could handle it. Sometimes, I'm not so sure ... The game's a fast game, so maybe you do need another one."
- Holtmann says a coach, he likes being able to communicate with the officials. He acknowledges that sometimes, he and his players need to do a better job in how they communicate with the officials.
- The reason why Micah Potter didn't play on Sunday was because the Buckeyes went with smaller lineups to account for matchups with Michigan, which also meant more playing time for Kyle Young.
- "I'm probably exhausted as I've ever felt in a year," said Holtmann, having hit the ground running since he arrived in June.
- Andre Wesson has "continued to work and stay with it, and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now." Holtmann said he is "really proud of him and pleased with what he's given us." Holtmann said Wesson gives the Buckeyes length and versatility when he's in the lineup. Holtmann described Wesson as "a really smart defender" whose offensive game is "rounding into shape."
- On C.J. Jackson: "We feel it when he may be struggling offensively ... He's got to play a little tougher ... I'm looking forward to seeing how he responds here." Bates-Diop has been "incredibly consistent," while Tate and Kaleb Wesson have also been consistent, but Holtmann said the Buckeyes need another guy who can consistently score.
- Holtmann said he thought the Buckeyes "had some great effort plays" against Michigan. "There were I think as many scrums in that game as I can remember, particularly early."
- Holtmann said the Buckeyes did a "really good job on the glass" against Michigan, and that's going to be "really important" against Rutgers.
- The Buckeyes gave Bates-Diop the option to go through Senior Day festivities tomorrow because he graduated this fall, and Bates-Diop decided to take that option. Holtmann said he believes Bates-Diop's sole focus is on helping the Buckeyes right now, and that Bates-Diop will make his decision on whether or not to go to the NBA after the season is over.
- "If he gets that opportunity to play at that next level, boy, that's going to be a thrill for us," said Holtmann on Bates-Diop's NBA prospects.
- On Ohio State's student managers, whose seniors will also be honored on Tuesday: "They are invaluable to your program. We have an outstanding student manager crew."
- "Every once in a while I see this 7-footer down there in the manager (pick-up basketball) games, and he somehow doesn't look right," Holtmann said, referencing student assistant coach Greg Oden.