Presser Bullets: Chris Holtmann Discusses Ohio State's Exhibition with Dayton, Importance of Mental Health

By Andy Anders on October 17, 2023 at 1:45 pm

Ohio State basketball is still 20 days away from its official opening, but the public's first look at the squad comes in just five.

The Buckeyes take on Dayton on Sunday in a contest centered around promoting mental health awareness.

Chris Holtmann expects to do plenty of experimentation and learn plenty about his team from the scrimmage, which Holtmann feels will only be a "really positive thing." He also discussed the importance of the charity component of the exhibition, which is for adolescent and young adult suicide prevention. 

  • Holtmann opened his press conference by discussing the opportunity that both teams get to spread mental health awareness in Sunday's exhibition game.
  • Holtmann said that the matchup with Dayton will have a "spring game" feel, in football vernacular. "The game will be very much an exhibition. We'll play different rotations, different lineups."
  • "We're really excited about this group, they've been working extremely hard."
  • Injury updates: "Taison (Chatman) is still going through his recovery from his procedure ... there's no real update on his timeline. Austin Parks has returned to practice. ... We're going long, we're hitting pretty much every day right now. ... We'll taper back a little bit as we get close to games."
  • On the impact of experiencing a hostile environment during an exhibition: "I think it's great. That will be an environment that mimics what a Big Ten road environment will be like. ... Going on the road and doing it, we look at it as a great opportunity."
  • On what the team can do to help further the cause of mental health: "The university and the athletic department, really, was ahead of the curve in terms of making this a priority years ago. ... We have the resources to make that a priority. ... It's important to have dialogue about what mental health looks like, what taking care of yourself looks like."
  • Holtmann feels that "Having some older guys, been really pleased with our three transfers that we added. ... We have some really good leadership."
  • On whether he would have benefitted "I can't imagine going to my coach and asking him if I could see a therapist. That's how far we've come. I just couldn't imagine doing it. ... It was not normalized in any way. It's come a really long way, and again, I give our athletic department a lot of credit for it."
  • Holtmann said Roddy Gayle's finish to last season was very important for his development. "We saw glimpses of it in practice. Now for him, he's got to take the next step as a player. ... For us to be good and what we believe we can be this year, Roddy has to take a real, consistent step forward this year."
  • On Dale Bonner: "I anticipate him playing a bigger role that what he did at Baylor. ... He gives us a speed that we haven't had. He's the fastest player we've had here in terms of end-to-end."
  • On Scotty Middleton and Devin Royal: "Scotty, right now, of our freshman (has the biggest) ability to come in and impact both ends. ... I think Devin's shown real improvement here in the last couple of weeks in terms of his conditioning and his fitness."
  • The relationship between Ohio State's football and basketball programs remains vital, and Holtmann feels close with Ryan Day. "I think there's a commonality in terms of being in this place, and I think it's grown beyond a working friendship, it's grown into a friendship."
  • On Dayton's fanbase and arena: "Love their arena, love the size of it and I love ours as well. ... For decades, that place has been really passionate. I think they have one of the great basketball fanbases in the country."
  • There are a ton of benefits to playing an opponent the caliber of Dayton in an exhibition, Holtmann said. "Any time you're going into this, you only look at it as a coach as a really positive thing, because you get instant impact that you can take back."
  • On Felix Okpara: "I like a lot about him. He impacts the game in a lot of ways, and I think for us, he's going to need to be able to play a lot of those (20-25 minute games)."
  • On determining the mintues for Okpara and fellow center Zed Key: "We'll play the best players the most minutes."
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