An Impressed Coach
After Ohio State’s 79-52 win over Rutgers, Scarlet Knights head coach Steve Pikiell was asked what he thought of the Buckeyes. He didn’t have to sit too long thinking before answering.
“They are good. They have a lot of weapons and they all seem to be playing their roles,” he said. “Jae’Sean Tate is a monster. He gets to the rim and makes big plays for them. They have Bates-Diop who can do a lot of things.
“Then they have some guys around them that really enjoy playing the roles that they have, and they have good shooters on the perimeter. They are a very difficult team to get ready for and they are very good defensively, so they don’t have any weaknesses there. They’re a good basketball team.”
KBD NBA TBD?
Earlier in the week when speaking with reporters, Chris Holtmann was already talking like they would be losing both Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop after this season. Tate is a senior, so he is obviously gone. Bates-Diop, however, still has another year of eligibility. Due to his stellar play this year, the odds aren’t great that he’ll be returning.
Tuesday night, he went through the Senior Night ceremony, but he says he hasn’t yet made a decision about his future.
“It was mostly because I graduated already,” he explained of his decision to take part in Senior Night. “We have not talked about it at all and I’m not thinking about it at all. We just talked about in the locker room how things can cloud your judgment and thoughts.
“Right now, the focus is winning. Now it’s Indiana. Then it’s the Big Ten Tournament, then the NCAA Tournament. We’re just trying to win games and that is what I’m thinking about.”
Being the final home game for the Buckeyes this season, there were a lot of festivities that would have to fit into a rather unpredictable window. Not the least among these plans is the need for a win, because nobody likes going through a postgame Senior Night ceremony after a loss.
The Buckeyes controlled the game, however, and each senior was given his opportunity to leave the game and get an ovation from the crowd.
“It was almost the perfect way to do it,” said Bates-Diop. “Leading up with only a couple days of prep, having a great game like that, and then giving our seniors that sort of walk off. That moment, we’ll remember that forever.”
And then after the game, each of the graduates and seniors spoke to the crowd, and to their teammates.
“Those talks at the end, that was real,” Bates-Diop said. “That was a lot of emotion. We were so glad JT went last. We were all almost there, and then he finally let out all the emotion that we were trying to hold back.”
Gotta Support the Team
On any given night at an Ohio State basketball game, there will be former Buckeye football players on hand. Last week, former receiver Santonio Holmes was recognized on the scoreboard, and tonight it was former quarterback Cardale Jones. Those are just two of a number of former OSU athletes who have shown their support to Chris Holtmann’s program.
Cardale with some young fans. pic.twitter.com/SZD8LsJgHD
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) February 21, 2018
“It’s great. I think we’re in this thing together,” Holtmann said after the game. “It’s great to have those guys here tonight. I think it means a lot to those guys. It means a lot to our program. It means a lot to me. Urban’s support of our program has been incredible since the moment I got here. All of our former players’ support.
“Kirk Herbstreit has been incredible all year. He texts me after a lot of games. His support means a lot. I think Buckeye Nation is big and strong, and they’re proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished, and they’ve enjoyed watching them. Hopefully that continues.”
Acute Right (and Left) Ankles
For the second time in a week or so, Ohio State freshman center Kaleb Wesson had to leave the game with an ankle injury. It wasn’t a significant injury because he was able to return, but it was serious enough for him to leave the game and get an x-ray.
With Wesson out of the game, Rutgers was able to close the first half in a strong manner. Once the second half began, however, and Wesson was back in the game, the Buckeyes again secured command of the situation.
Kaleb Wesson’s presence on this Ohio State team is significant, which is why a second ankle injury has Chris Holtmann at least a little concerned.
“Two in three games is kind of…let’s just hope it’s coincidence,” he said. “Kind of a freakish thing. You know, he’s big and guys are kind of flying at his feet. I think he’s going to be fine. The good thing is I don’t think either one has been severe. Our people do precautions and we get x-rays done. Everything’s turned out fine, he’s just a big guy.”