Chris Holtmann wasn’t pleased with Ohio State’s effort in practice leading up to Tuesday’s matchup with Illinois.
It resulted in one of the Buckeyes’ worst performances of the season, as Ohio State trailed by 17 in the last few minutes on the road before cutting the Illini lead to nine at the final buzzer. Ohio State assistant coach Jake Diebler said Friday that practice has been better as the Buckeyes prepare for Saturday’s contest at Indiana, but only after some serious conversations took place behind closed doors.
“We actually had a much better day of practice yesterday, and I think there had to be some – and there's been – some very honest and real conversations that have continued to have to take place,” Diebler said. “And our guys were made aware that the way we played, it wasn't so much about how the game ended, but the way we played throughout the course of that game was not acceptable. It was not a good representation of, certainly what this team is capable of, but what we're about as a program. And so that had to be brought to light. And our guys responded well yesterday, and we have see that consistently.”
Offensively, Diebler said some of Ohio State’s recent struggles have centered around shot selection. Diebler said the Buckeyes have settled for two many contested mid-range shots and need to look for more clean 3-point attempts. He also said opponents have seemed to scout Ohio State well and are giving the Buckeyes issues that they might not have experienced earlier in the season.
Asked about Zed Key, who is shooting 57% from the field for the season but just 36.8% in the past four games, Diebler said injuries have impacted his efficiency. Key’s dealt with a shoulder sprain for much of the season, and recently suffered a knee injury at the end of last weekend’s win over Iowa.
“Zed's banged up and he's dealing with some injuries and I think that's absolutely affected his efficiency. Kind of look over the course of his career, I don't know that he's quite ever gone through a stretch like he has recently,” Diebler said. “I think he deserves a ton of credit because he's a tough kid. And he's worked really, really hard to get back as quickly as he could. I think it's only a matter of time before he gets back to being the Zed that we know we can be.”
Ohio State heads to Bloomington this weekend for an 8 p.m. tip-off against Indiana at Assembly Hall, where the Buckeyes will try to build back some momentum after dropping six of their last seven games.
Check out everything Diebler said in his Friday interview session in the video above.