Chris Holtmann’s been here before.
Ohio State’s four-game losing streak is the fourth of Holtmann’s tenure in Columbus. His Buckeyes have responded before, though, most recently in their run to the Big Ten Tournament championship game following four straight losses to end the 2020-21 regular season.
But Holtmann said at Monday's press conference that there aren’t many concrete lessons he can imbue on the 2022-23 team that directly stem from previous bounce-back efforts amid similar skids. The Buckeye coach simply believes Ohio State must make adjustments and put a better product on the floor.
“Not necessarily, other than you’re playing in a really good league. We looked at it a couple years ago after we struggled in January, but we’ve also been really good in January last year and struggled late,” Holtmann said. “We’ve had times where we’ve been really good late and struggled. So I don’t know if there’s a specific pattern or factors other than we just need to play better.
“Like anything, it tests the character of your group and the resilience of your group. That gets tested in these moments. We’ll see how we respond. Obviously it’s a significant remainder of the Big Ten season to go, there’s a lot in front of us. I think your leadership, your resilience, the tough-mindedness of your group gets tested. And again, that's the case for a lot of teams around the country and a lot of teams in leagues where there’s just a lot of good teams.”
Buckeye veterans Justice Sueing and Zed Key both spoke to media members following Holtmann’s Monday interview, and the former said the fact that Ohio State has lost all four games by seven points or fewer is a positive indicator.
“The most encouraging thing is that all the games we’ve lost is by a possession or two. Those little things that matter in this conference,” Sueing said. “As far as a player-led locker room, it’s our responsibility to make sure that guys are able to move on, able to continue to push and make sure that we’re continuing to get better so that when it comes down to those final possessions, we’ll see growth in the games to come.”
Sueing also said Sunday’s 68-64 overtime loss to Rutgers was a “step forward” for the Buckeyes after a lackluster effort against Minnesota at home last Thursday.
“The losses, obviously it’s gonna hurt because everyone in that locker room is not a loser. Everyone in there, they’re trying to get the job done the best that they can,” Sueing said. “I think last game was a step forward, but just came up short. We can’t let that make us think that all the work we’ve put in so far or even in the past week has been for nothing. We've seen the strides we can make and we just have to continue to make them.”
The Buckeyes will try to put an end to their losing streak on the road against Nebraska at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.