One day after finding out that his team is a No. 5 seed and will play South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann joined the airwaves of 97.1 The Fan on Monday to preview the Buckeyes' trip to Boise on his weekly radio show.
Holtmann had no shortage of praise for the Jackrabbits, describing the team the Buckeyes will play on Thursday at approximately 4 p.m. as "really talented."
"Their personnel is really good," Holtmann said.
A roundup of what Holtmann had to say in Monday's conversation with Paul Keels and Ron Stokes:
- On Ohio State's selection show event: "It was great." Said the coaches had to get back to work quickly to prepare for Thursday's game against the Jackrabbits, but they enjoyed having the opportunity to share that moment with their fans.
- Holtmann said the video staff already had all the games of all the teams they could potentially play, including South Dakota State, cut up so that the coaches could immediately get to work as soon as the matchup was announced. "It's a quick turnaround, obviously, so you want to try to get the information as quickly as possible." Holtmann said he had already watched two-and-a-half games of the Jackrabbits on Sunday night and four games of the Jackrabbits on Monday.
- A high-major coach who has faced the Jackrabbits this year told Holtmann that South Dakota State's Mike Daum is "the closest thing to Larry Bird since Larry Bird." An NBA scout told Holtmann that Daum is the best prospect he's seen this year.
- Holtmann acknowledged that the Jackrabbits, playing in their third straight NCAA Tournament, have more experience in the Big Dance than the Buckeyes do.
- "The Team Up North" is the most similar team to South Dakota State that Ohio State has played this year, Holtmann said.
- Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. has elevated South Dakota State to "a whole another level," Holtmann said, "'cause he can go get 25 (points in a game) as well."
- Holtmann said that while Gonzaga will be favored over UNC Greensboro, he doesn't have a preference about which team Ohio State would play next if it beats South Dakota State: "You know if you advance in this thing, you're going to play a really good team." Holtmann said there would be an advantage in preparation for Gonzaga in that the Buckeyes already played them earlier this year, though he acknowledged that the Bulldogs beat them soundly (86-59) in their first matchup.
- Holtmann said he hasn't looked at the entire NCAA Tournament bracket, focusing only on what's directly in front of his team. "I don't even know if I know what region we're in. I just know who we play, and I know we're going to Boise, and I know that we play at 4." (The Buckeyes are in the West region.)
- Holtmann said he has been to Nampa, Idaho, where he played in the NAIA tournament while playing for Taylor University, but has never been to Boise.
- Ohio State director of player development Scoonie Penn and assistant coach Terry Johnson, who coached in Final Fours at Butler, have shared their experiences of being in the NCAA Tournament with the team.
- Holtmann said the Buckeyes will hold a private 45-minute practice session, to work on specific game planning, at a different location in Boise before their open practice session at Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday.
- How has making the NCAA Tournament helped Ohio State's recruiting? "I think the whole year has helped our recruiting ... we've gotten really good feedback."
- All four of Ohio State's 2018 signees – Luther Muhammad, Jaedon LeDee, Duane Washington and Justin Ahrens – had "outstanding" high school senior seasons, Holtmann said.
- Holtmann said it works out that the Buckeyes are on spring break this week, because they don't have to miss class to prepare and go play in the NCAA Tournament, but "hopefully we give them a reason to miss class next week."
- On assistant coaches Johnson, Ryan Pedon and Mike Schrage: "I think they're outstanding. I think they're all three going to be head coaches, at some point, for sure."
- On preparing for quick turnarounds in tournament play: "You're always working in advance. You're always ready for the next opponent you could play in these tournament-type settings."
- When you look at Andre Wesson's body now compared to where he was early in the season, "it's like night and day," said Holtmann, noting that Wesson was unable to do anything basketball-related for three months while dealing with an offseason medical issue.
- On Andre and Kaleb Wesson: "They have a brotherly feel for each other ... It's fun to see that with those two guys."