Presser Bullets: Chris Holtmann, Jim Delany, Big Ten Coaches Discuss Upcoming 2019-20 Season

By Colin Hass-Hill on October 2, 2019 at 11:41 am
Chris Holtmann

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Football might be taking most of the attention in Columbus right now, but that doesn't stop basketball season from approaching.

Big Ten hoops media day kicked off Wednesday morning in Rosement, Illinois, with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and each of the conference's head coaches addressing the media with a 10-minute press conference.

A bullet-point summary from Delany and each of the coaches follows:

Chris Holtmann – Ohio State:

  • He says he wishes he had more answer than he has right now. "We're focused more on the bricks than the wall right now."
  • On the energy from the football program: "As I've said to a lot of our local media, I think it's a tremendous asset to have a program like our football program ... I'm so happy for Ryan (Day) and his staff and how they're playing."
  • On his players: "I just ran into them, and they were pleased."
  • Holtmann says Justin Ahrens, Musa Jallow and E.J. Liddell aren't in contact drills. Jallow will remain out for at least the next week or two. Ahrens and Liddell have done some non-contact drills, and he thinks they'll go full-go in the next few days.
  • He says the depth of the conference makes the Big Ten special. He thinks the conference is as deep or deeper than last year.
  • Holtmann calls Liddell a "mismatch issue." He says he'll go through some ups and downs, but there's excitement about his season. He compared him to Lamar Stevens of Penn State.
  • On Kaleb Wesson's improvement: "I think the next step is more consistency, both in practice and then his play and beginning to adjust to how teams are playing him." He says Wesson has to play smarter in terms of his fouls.
  • He says Ohio State will let the point guard situation play out. There's excitement, he says, about the point guard situation with CJ Walker and DJ Carton. "I think there will definitely be times where they play together."

Jim Delany – Big Ten commissioner: 

  • He says he had dinner with the coaches last night: "Everybody's undefeated, and it's an exciting time for them."
  • Delany says the growth of Big Ten Network has greatly aided the conference's basketball programs.
  • "I think you're going to see more conferences playing 20-game schedules." He says the Big Ten has done a good job spacing out its games.
  • "I think if you're not trying to make basketball relevant from the middle of November to the middle of December, you're not doing your job." He references a few of the Big Ten's best non-conference games.
  • Delany says he's proud of the Big Ten coaches that they had the fewest mentions among conference coaches "in sort of the FBI rap sheet." He says it'll be interesting to see how the NCAA will handle it. "That was an unfortunate but not a shocking revelation."
  • Asked about the California bill that could allow players to make money for their name, image and likeness, Delany says he'd like players who are ready for the professional ranks to allow them to go pro, whether it be to the G League or elsewhere.
  • He says he doesn't see much difference between "name, image and likeness" payments and "pay to play." He says he doesn't think the opportunities of the "great many" should be sacrificed for the "1 percent."
  • "Essentially, college sports is a national undertaking." He says it's beyond his imagination to have different states pass different laws about how to have players earn money. He thinks there ultimately needs to be a national policy rather than states passing their own laws. "I view it as a national undertaking."
  • Delany thinks there should be a similar system to baseball, where players can leave for the MLB out of high school.
  • "It's not the NBA. It's not the WNBA. It's an educational arrangement. Full-time students playing basketball or football."
  • "Once we're beyond the cost of admission, we're in pay for play." He says there are many unintended consequences to having players earn money for their name, image and likeness.

Greg Gard – Wisconsin: 

  • "For us, obviously it's been an uncharted territory the past three, four months." He references the tragedy involving assistant coach Howard Moore, who lost his wife and child in a car crash. "There's not a manual for how you handle those things." He says he's received great advice throughout his career, but "there's not a road map for that."
  • He says Wisconsin has always had a tight group and a feeling of togetherness, but since a "real life experience that everyone's having to walk through," it's taken that to a different level.
  • "I'm always in favor of trying to enhance the student-athlete's experience." He also says "it's such an uncharted territory" to have players earn money for image and likeness that it's difficult to know where that leads to.

Richard Pitino – Minnesota:

  • On having lost a large amount of contributors from last year's team: "It's a good opportunity to reintroduce ourselves and start over."
  • Pitino on the California bill that allows players to earn money for name, image and likeness: "I think it's progress." He calls it a "good idea." He says it's important to get everybody on the same page and working together, but he's "all for" helping student-athletes.
  • He says players can't be blamed for transferring or going pro if they view it as beneficial to them: "I think a lot of us coaches would do the same."

Fred Hoiberg – Nebraska

  • "Of our 16 players, 14 of them are brand new." He says Nebraska doesn't have much production coming back, which is a bit of an understatement. 
  • "I like this group. They play extremely hard."
  • "We're going to be undersized at every position." He says playing hard and getting out in transition will be important.
  • Hoiberg touts the Nebraska basketball fan base, which sold out an event the day at its arena before the football team faced Ohio State: "I think more than anything, fans just wanted to see what our players look like."
  • On Rick Ross performing at the Nebraska basketball event: "I'm a huge fan." That happened due to an Adidas partnership. He says he has a pacemaker and the bass was so loud he thought it would explode.
  • On players being able to make money for their name, image and likeness: "As a former student-athlete, I would have loved to be compensated for my likeness." He says it's "progress." 

Steve Pikiell – Rutgers: 

  • "We're very versatile. We're going to have 6-7s, 6-8s across the board." 
  • Pikiell, speaking with confidence, says there's hope that Rutgers can "do something great" this season.

Pat Chambers – Penn State:

  • "For the first time in our tenure at Penn State, we have an experienced team." He says Lamar Stevens and his family made a powerful statement by deciding to return to college. "That's a leader. That's a pioneer. That's an outlier."
  • Chambers says he's been talking to Stevens about "Mamba mentality." He wants him to feel like he has to win at everything he does. 

Mark Turgeon – Maryland:

  • He says Anthony McFarland made the decision to return and "have a legacy." He says McFarland wants to "win at a high level." 
  • On Jalen Smith's body transformation: "We don't call him sticks anymore. We call him logs."
  • On players being able to make money for their name, image and likeness: "I think obviously it's a very complex issue. As a coach, you always want more for your student-athlete ... You want them to be comfortable. There's a lot of pressure on them." He says everybody wants an even playing field, and it'll be "interesting" to see what happens.

Tom Izzo – Michigan State:

  • On players being able to make money for their name, image and likeness: "I'm embarrassed to say this, but I had my SID get all your articles on it, and I tried to read up on it... So I had nine articles and they had nine different opinions. Mine was probably the 10th."
  • "I sure as hell don't think it's a politician's job to get involved in this."
  • Izzo says he thinks college basketball has to get in front of this rather than being so reactive.
  • He says he's for players getting as much as they can get that keeps the playing field even and everybody happy, and he says it's difficult for that to happen.

Fran McCaffery – Iowa:

  • He calls Michigan State the "clear favorite" in the Big Ten.
  • McCaffery says seven or eight weeks ago, he would've said Iowa will play without Jordan Bohannon this year due to injury. He now thinks there's a chance for a return, though he emphasizes they're not pushing for that to happen.

Juwan Howard – Michigan:

  • "This is a dream come true for me to be able to come back to my alma mater, the University of Michigan."
  • "I'm proud to be able to call myself a Michigan man."
  • He lists off a few of the returners and says it's a "dream to have those guys in the trenches with you."
  • Howard says he was preparing himself for eventually becoming a head coach when he was with the Miami Heat. He used to visit John Beilein at Michigan, often having what he termed a "career workshop day." He says he won't try to be like Beilein, but he respects him.
  • When asked about the California bill that allows players to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, Howard says he won't comment because he doesn't know enough about it.
  • On assistant coach Philip Martelli: "His name is the godfather."

Matt Painter – Purdue: 

  • He rattles off a bunch of non-conference matchups, including Virginia. "They're very stingy on defense. Very efficient on the offensive end."
  • Painter says High Point graduate transfer Jahaad Proctor is trying to learn the system right now: "We run a lot of stuff." He says the Boilermakers added him due to the loss of Carsen Edwards. 

Brad Underwood – Illinois:

  • He says it's refreshing to have returners this season. "We have what we feel are outstanding perimeter players."
  • On having experience and increased expectations: "I think we have a different swagger." 

Chris Collins – Northwestern:

  • He says he used he used to feel good about being the best player among Big Ten coaches, but with Fred Hoiberg and Juwan Howard now in the league, he no longer feels like that's the case.
  • "I feel good about our young talent. We just have to grow." He says the Big Ten can be a "tough training ground" for young players.
  • "The Big Ten is going to be murderer's row again."
  • Collins says he felt his team "was in" almost every conference game last year even though the record doesn't reflect that.

Archie Miller – Indiana:

  • When asked about the California bill that allows players to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, Miller says that "if you're not evolving and you're not forward thinking, you're standing in cement." He says it's important to provide the student-athletes with as much as possible while protecting the game and the product.
  • Miller says the strength and experience of the team begins with size, which he hopes can lead to playing an "inside game."
View 10 Comments