Addition by Subtraction
Buckeye fans have watched the Ohio State basketball teams for the last few years with increasing levels of frustration flowing through their veins. Lack of effort and foolish play were two of the hallmarks of the recent past.
Those hallmarks are now long gone. The graduation of Marc Loving and the departure of Jaquan Lyle may have cost the Buckeyes two of their top three scorers from a season ago, but after seeing the team first hand against his Spartans, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo noted the addition by subtraction.
“Give Chris [Holtmann] a lot of credit, but I also say that last year when we played here, they had a player that was talented, but maybe not as good a team player,” he said. “And those two stars tonight weren’t playing half of the year. As much as I give Chris credit, I think Thad [Matta] did the right thing getting rid of who he got rid of. And then to have those two guys back, this team has got some juniors and seniors on it that are damn good, and Chris has done a good job with them.”
A New KBD
Keita Bates-Diop played in nine games last season as a junior before being shut down for good with a leg injury. He averaged 9.7 points per game, which was good for fifth-best on the team. Now as a redshirt junior, however, he is leading the B1G in scoring with 20.0 points per game, and his 8.8 rebounds per game are also a career high.
Statistically, he is better across the board in every category than he’s ever been. His shooting has never been better, and he is handing out more assists, racking up more steals, and blocking more shots than ever before.
So what’s the deal?
“I think it’s just a little bit of everything,” he said. “I think the mindset is a big thing. I was out for six or seven months, I couldn’t play. So just sitting back and learning the game, rewatching the film, watching us play last year, learning what to do and what not to do. And the coaching staff came in and made us all feel very comfortable, and I think all of that played a part in how I’m playing this year.”
Time to Move On
Now three days removed from their win over No. 1 Michigan State, the Ohio State Buckeyes are assumed to have moved on and are now getting ready for Thursday night’s game against Maryland.
Immediately after the game, however, it was impossible for Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann not to soak it in.
“It’s a little surreal I think at times. For sure,” he said. “I think you go into the year not sure what to expect. Very rarely do you have a chance to even play a No. 1 team in the country on your home floor, and that’s a credit to Michigan State. So to have that opportunity, it doesn’t come up a whole lot.”
But that also doesn’t mean they will be resting on these laurels.
“This is a moment that our fans and our players will remember for a long time,” Holtmann said. “I think they will. They’ll take parts and pieces of it. It feels really good, but I think as a coach, I hate to say it, it’s going to sound Belichickian, but we really are going to try to move as quickly as possible on to the next thing.”