Ohio State basketball's first ranked test of the season is on tap for Friday.
The Buckeyes welcome Texas A&M to town, a squad that features a talented, veteran backcourt headlined by guard Wade Taylor.
Holtmann addressed the media Thursday ahead of the matchup to break down where the Aggies' strengths lie. He also discussed Ohio State's 2024 recruiting class of Juni Mobley and Colin White, both of whom signed with the Buckeyes Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Prior to his press conference, guard Dale Bonner and forward Jamison Battle provided their own thoughts on Texas A&M and dove into some takeaways from Ohio State's season opener against Oakland.
- Holtmann opened by discussing some of Texas A&M's backcourt. "Terrific team. They've got a really good backcourt with Taylor and Radford. ... Really good offensive rebounding team ... it'll obviously be a big key. ... Defensively, they mix things up, they make things difficult. There's a reason they did as well as they did last year."
- On the early test at home: "You schedule them for a reason, you want to be tested." He added that as coaches, there should be a push for more home-and-homes as opposed to neutral site games, which the Buckeyes and Aggies are playing.
- Jamison Battle's drive to reach the NCAA Tournament is something Holtmann hopes bears similar results to a transfer from earlier in his tenure. "What strikes me about Jamison is just that he's a really good kid. There's a maturity there ... Hunger is really important. We had a kid a few years ago, Keyshawn Woods, who had never been to the NCAA Tournament, he was really hungry."
- As he did in his last press preview press conference, Holtmann pointed out the mix of styles Ohio State is seeing to start its season. "Our next game, Merrimack, plays one of the most effective zone defenses in the country. ... They play a lot of man-to-man, they do a lot of switching. ... There are a lot of different ways They've got good length, really tough kids. ... They will pin you in and flood to the ball. ... Their switching is a big part of what they do."
- On whether he's confident in Ohio State's 3-point shooting: "I do believe in our guys' abilities to make 3s, but I think that's something that we also have to answer. ... Roddy's shown the ability to make it more consistently than what he did the other night. ... Dale's a really good shooter."
- Texas A&M's offensive rebounding is often a team effort, Holtmann said. "They'll send, at times, four to five at the offensive glass. ... So it's really going to be a collective effort for us. It's a big part of what they do."
- On how Evan Mahaffey's foul trouble impacted things against the Golden Grizzlies: "We played a little bit smaller ... Jamison played more minutes at the 4 than he ever has. ... But it hurt having him off the floor with two fouls. ... Sometimes I play guys with two fouls, but at that point I just decided to get him to the half with two."
- On shortcomings against Oakland's zone on Monday: "I didn't think we were as aggressive. Some of that is kids just getting more comfortable with it ... I think we needed to be more aggressive, particularly in attacking the gaps. Bruce (Thornton) has got to do better with that, he will."
- On Ohio State's 2024 recruiting class: "Really excited about both Juni (Mobley) and Colin (White). This was and is always going to be a small class. ... You have the amount of youth we have right now, is it wise to have another young class. ... We were going to stick with one or two guys
- On Mobley: "Juni is as good a shooter as we've added since we've been here. ... He's maybe the best kid I've seen at his age shooting 3s off the bounce. ... He's just a fantastic offensive player and his defensive is going to continue growing."
- On White: "We just love what Colin is going to bring. ... He's going to really help our program. He loves Ohio State' We're really thrilled with both guys, we really are."
- On the delay in offering Colin White and his patience as an in-state prospect: "He was understanding. We were also very transparent with him during that entire process ... we said, 'Hey Colin, for us, if we're going to bring you in, we want you to be a guy that can impact our team and our roster.'"
- On Mobley's transfer to Wasatch Academy: "It certainly helps him. ... When you're a kid like those guys are, they're the best player on their team in high school ... and there's value in that. I think the value of going and playing against the kind of competition that Juni will play against, better coaching, but you're playing with other good players."
- Taison Chatman's timeline hasn't changed for getting back from injury, Holtmann said, but Austin Parks can be available Friday "if the team needs him."
- Ohio State is going to go through some games to see if it wants to add any more captains before announcing them publicly.
Dale Bonner and Jamison Battle
- Battle on what Ohio State is preparing for against the Aggies: "A&M's physicality, their physicality, the way they speed you up is something we've been preparing for."
- Battle said there are still things he can work on, but overall he felt his first game went well. "It was a good game. As a team, there's a lot more things we can do ... defensively there's some things I can improve."
- Bonner on his first game at Ohio State: "It was exciting, we got the win and that's the most important thing."
- Ohio State's freshmen need to be confident throughout their learning process, Bonner said. "Just continue to be confident. You've got to believe in yourself and believe that you're here for a reason."
- Battle said Ohio State's chemistry and the players' shared experience with disappointing seasons last year have made it an easy transition for him from Minnesota. "I'm 22 years old and I feel like a 20-year-old. That's one of the things I love about it."
- More on Texas A&M from Bonner: "They're very talented. Most of them have played together, it's just another tough battle."
- Bonner was part of two of Ohio State's best lineups in terms of +/- against Oakland, even if he didn't score any points. "Whether I'm making shots or not, I'm going to give my best effort. I'm going to fly around and do the dirty work ... just being a pest on defense."
- There was a nice collection of friends and family for Bonner in his first game back in Ohio, where he went to high school. "It was a good presence. My family was able to come."
- Bonner on his National Signing Day experience: "I was just grateful at the time to be going to college and being able to play at the next level. It was a dream come true."