Presser Bullets: Jake Diebler Anticipates Ohio State's Jamison Battle Will Be Available For Nebraska, Sees "Huge Opportunity" Against Huskers

By Andy Anders on February 28, 2024 at 3:41 pm

The aura around Ohio State has shifted.

With massive wins against No. 2 Purdue and at Michigan State, the Buckeyes are now looking to sustain their newfound elevated level of play under interim head coach Jake Diebler.

To continue riding the wave, however, they'll have to take down Nebraska on Thursday, a team that is likely NCAA Tournament-bound. Diebler said he sees a "huge opportunity" for his team against the Huskers and that maintaining the defensive success his team found against the Spartans, particularly in the halfcourt, will be key.

Ohio State should get a boost on the opposite end of the floor as well, with Diebler indicating that star forward Jamison Battle, the Big Ten's top three-point shooter and the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer, should be available vs. Nebraska.

Diebler also gave his thoughts on the controversial topic of fans storming the court after a win, saying he sees both sides of the discussion.

  • On the challenge of navigating rotations during a game: "It takes a whole staff to do that ... but a lot of that is feel and instincts. ... There's a lot of different thoughts that go into that. ... We had some unique lineups last game and some of that was, I talked to the staff partway through the game and said, 'Be prepared, because we may do this.'
  • On how much lineup rotation can be planned and prepared for in practice: "I'm leaning on things that I've seen work. ... We can't over practice right now, either. There has to be a freshness physically and mentally come game day. ... You've gotta trust guys. It's our job to help us be in a position to succeed."
  • Diebler said the team isn't focused on NCAA Tournament hypotheticals and is instead excited for the opportunity Nebraska presents. "As long as there's a Big Ten Tournament, we're not out of the picture. ... Our guys have done a great job the last few weeks of being in the moment, not being too far ahead, but we've also talked about each opportunity as it's presented itself, and tomorrow night is a huge opportunity. It's an NCAA Tournament team."
  • On improving his team's perimeter defense after the Huskers shot 14-of-26 from three last time out against Ohio State. "Nebraska probably has five or more players that are capable of scoring 20 or more points on a given night. ... But our defense is improved. ... We need to continue to be about the stuff we've been about these last couple of weeks and guarding the ball, keeping the ball in front, our ball-screen defense, all of that's gonna be important. And we need to guard the three-point line."
  • On signing Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Darius Garland as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt: "I'll never forget sitting there and him saying he wanted to come play for us at Vanderbilt. ... We built such a relationship that it was an exciting time. ... Last couple of weeks we've certainly had, what I would call, some emotional moments. Darius is great. ... As good as he is on the court ... he's an even better person. And I'll never forget being at the draft, hearing his name called."
  • On Battle's availability: "I think Jamison is progressing well ... I don't anticipate any issues there. He deserves a ton of credit. He worked so hard to try and come back. ... It just felt like, for Michigan State, we just didn't have enough time."
  • On why Bowen Hardman isn't playing more minutes: "Bowen, he can really, really shoot. ... In the last couple months, he's grown in some areas that he really needed to. ... He's an example of a guy who has gotten stronger and he's moving better. ... I anticipate him making some big shots and knocking down some shots throughout the rest of the season. Some of this is just the flow of the game and trying to determine, on the fly, what we need in the moment."
  • With court storming being a controversial topic after the injury to Duke's Kyle Filipowski during a court storm, Diebler said that there needs to be better care for player safety, but he also doesn't want to see the phenomenon completely disappear. He added that he'd like to see it become rarer, reserved only for victories over truly elite teams. "I think we can all agree that what happened at Wake Forest, that situation, we've gotta find a way to prevent that. People were on the court too fast. ... There's an element of courtstorming that, you don't want it to go away. ... I think reserving it for those really special moments, that's probably something that students remember for a long time.
  • Diebler said he has to "lead by example" in terms of not dwelling too much on the achievements of the past two weeks. "I'm not trying to minimize how great these things are, we just don't have time to sit back and think about it right now. ... I just have to stay focused on the task at hand."
  • On the emotions of running on the court after Dale Bonner's buzzer-beater: "My initial reaction was to thank God, then one of the coaches grabbed me and said, 'There's still time on the clock!' ... Going all the way down the bench, Terence Dials almost dancing in place ... just the overall joy and seeing our guys celebrate, that's just so powerful. ... It makes you feel good that those guys get to experience that. ... They've earned (the right) to be able to feel that way."
  • Diebler said that the teamwork between he and the rest of the coaching staff has been there since the season began, and that they deserve a lot of credit for the team's recent success. "We've had great chemistry all year. ... We all love Holt, and he's meant so much to all of us. So we've had to process this, certainly, but we've stayed together. I think our players have seen that. ... There's input coming from a lot of different directions. ... The most important thing is, they're focused on serving these players and this program as well as they possibly can the rest of this season. ... Our staff cares about our players so much."
  • On Devin Royal: "We're starting to see the game slow down for him a little bit, both sides of the ball. ... He's always been tough, he's always had good feel. ... We've been spoiled here the last couple of years with what freshmen have been able to accomplish, and that's not the norm. ... He's playing with a great deal of confidence, we have a great deal of belief in him. I hope he feels that. And he has been critical in some of these games."
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