Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann spoke with the media on Friday. He previewed the Buckeyes’ upcoming game at home Saturday against Iowa. He also looked back a bit at Wednesday’s win at No. 3 Purdue. Holtmann provided some personnel updates as well, including the current state of Kam Williams’ indefinite suspension. Here are the highlights.
+ This will be a quick turnaround for an Iowa team that is playing as well as anyone in the league right now. They had a chance to beat Michigan State in their last game in the last two weeks.
+ The last time Iowa and Ohio State played, the Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes in the second half and controlled the game with their physicality and size.
+ Iowa’s system makes you guard a lot of “different stuff.” They are the best rebounding team in the B1G.
+ Forward Tyler Cook is a fantastic interior player. Center Luke Garza is a load inside. The guards rebound it as well as any backcourt. “We need to be ready.”
+ The Buckeyes needed to get some rest from the late night Wednesday and need to have good prep on Friday.
+ “It’s been a while since we played Iowa and they’re much different now.” They are much harder to play, and they were hard to play the first time. “I think of having an understanding of that is going to be really important.”
+ On Kam Williams’ suspension: “No update as of now. Maybe at some point we will. No further updates right now.”
+ Earlier in the season he began to see that a smaller lineup could be effective. Basketball today, not everybody plays a true low-post center anymore. Look at Golden State. Holtmann believes offense and defense needs variety and versatility in the attack. If you don’t have that, coaches and teams are too good at figuring out where to pick you apart. This is where the game is evolving, but the Buckeyes do have a true center in Kaleb Wesson as well.
+ Holtmann has always believed in the use of small lineups because they pose problems for defenses. It also allows the Buckeyes to switch defensively, which makes life tougher on offenses.
+ They went with Andre Wesson in the post against Purdue because they like having Keita Bates-Diop to come in and trap the post.
+ Iowa had injuries earlier in the year and they are healthier and playing well right now. They are one of the deepest teams in the Big Ten. They are difficult to guard and they have length and size on defense makes it difficult to score on them. They have some very gifted interior guys and their guards play hard. “I think they’re playing with a great spirit right now.”
+ The most surprising thing about the way this season has gone…”there’s a lot, I don’t know if I can pinpoint one thing.” He hasn’t been surprised by the team’s resilience because you get to know the kids and their character, but he is still pleased with it.
+ He continues to remind the players that this is going to be a very difficult stretch of games and they will need to be resilient each time out.
+ Hopefully the guys understand that Iowa took it to the Buckeyes in the second half last time out. Thursday was about getting the focus on Iowa and that’s what Friday is as well. Can’t look back at Purdue.
+ There is familiarity with Iowa, but they are still very different than they were the last time. It’s almost like there has been an entire season played since the last time they were on the court together.
+ “I hope we have a mature group. If we don’t come out ready, they will make a very quick run on us.” Iowa is going to come at them like Penn State did. They can’t be put back on their heels. “I hope our guys would appreciate the fact that if we don’t come with the right approach, it’s going to be a long night for us.” There is always a worry that this message may not get heard heading into this game considering the number of wins they have at the moment, but they will continue to send that message.
+ Iowa is a “way better rebounding team than Purdue.”
+ Holtmann thinks maybe he put Kaleb Wesson in a bad spot mentally when he told him before the game that he wanted him to get to the 10-minute mark with just one foul. He thinks that may have taken away some aggression.
+ If you’re going to have a good season, you can’t just win one way. You’re going to have to find a way to win in different ways. The bench got it done against Purdue, which hasn’t been the case every time this season. The good teams find a way to win when they aren’t looking their best. They hang around and make the necessary plays late. The bad teams can’t put stretches together and they can’t adjust and they can’t hang around.
+ Fans should arrive early. “We do need everyone loud. As loud as they’ve been.”
+ The renewed fan interest is great. The players have earned that, but you have to earn it every time out.