Following Ohio State’s 82-64 win over Iowa on Saturday, Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann began his press conference with some words on fallen Westerville police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, who were killed in the line of duty earlier in the day.
“Before I get into basketball stuff, I think all of us were impacted today,” he said. “I was, the coaching staff was, the team was, by the tragedy in Westerville with the two police officers. It is such a difficult thing and I hope that the community has time to heal, the families have time to heal, and I hope they know that our thoughts and prayers are with them.
“There are a lot more important things than the game here tonight. Certainly, it hits close to home for all of us, particularly because of where we’re located, and we have a couple of young men from that area. I just want everybody to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them tonight, with Anthony and Eric’s families.”
Just Drink It
During the second half of the game, Buckeye point guard C.J. Jackson had to be helped off the court with an apparent leg injury.
After the game, Holtmann said it was another case of leg cramps for Jackson.
“We’ve got to continue to address that,” he said. “We might actually have to have somebody watch him drink Pedialyte on a regular basis because he can be a little sneaky with that. He apparently doesn’t like the taste of it. But you know, when I was raising my daughter, I had to watch her eat things and drink things and we might have to do that with C.J.”
Preparation and Performance
The Buckeyes got a huge win earlier in the week at Purdue, which made this a dangerous game if Ohio State wasn’t going to take Iowa seriously. Chris Holtmann hammered home how good the Hawkeyes could be.
“We talked about it,” he said. “Just because it’s a home game, listen, we have one home game left. I want to give Buckeye nation a ton of credit for the turnout tonight. What an incredible crowd. I know our players appreciate it. We didn’t have quite the suspense in this one like we have in the past games and I’m not going to really apologize for that.
“I think we were aware that Iowa could really score the ball. They did that in the first half. They have a lot of stuff to guard and I do not think we were good defensively in the first half. I thought we were good offensively the whole game. We moved the ball, shared it, made the right passes at the right time. We had a few too many turnovers.”
A few too many turnovers? The Buckeyes had five turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and another five over the final 30 minutes — including three in the final 1:16 when the benches were cleared. But it is that same standard from Holtmann that has made Ohio State so good this season.
The One That Got Away
Speaking of the turnovers in the second half, one of those came from forward Kyle Young who threw a pass to an open shooter on the wing — or at least he thought it was an open shooter on the wing. In actuality, it was point guard Andrew Dakich standing up on the bench and coaching up his basketball team. Young’s pass hit Dakich right in the hands for the turnover.
“You can’t blame that on Kyle,” said Kaleb Wesson. “We’ve got to tell Dakich to sit down. He’s got to sit down.”
After the play, Dakich did sit down, especially after being told to do so by Holtmann. While teammates were laughing and telling him to stay seated, they also threw some towels at him.
The scene on the bench with teammates giving Andrew Dakich grief for the Kyle Young turnover is a good example of one difference between this year’s team and last year’s team. Everybody likes everybody and they all get along. Holtmann and his team will tell you that there are no egos involved. That is obviously a factor in OSU being so different from one season ago.
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery sees another factor as well.
“Different personnel,” he said. “Not to take anything away from the great coach they have because he’s terrific. I’ve coached against him for a long time and I have a lot of respect for Chris. Different personnel makes a big difference. That team is connected. They have an idea. They have the right attitude. They share the ball. They put winning above everything else. You put Bates-Diop on that team last year and they’re not winning 17 games, they’re probably winning 21 or 22 and they’re in the tournament.”
McCaffery went on to say that Jae’Sean Tate is one of the most underrated players in the conference, and C.J. Jackson has made great strides from last season as well.
With 2:11 remaining in the game, sophomore Micah Potter threw down a dunk to give Ohio State a 25-point lead. The basket was good for his ninth and tenth points of the night.
But it should have been more than that.
In the first half, Potter took a pass from Andrew Dakich on the break and went up for the dunk and got stuffed by the rim, missing the attempt with an emphatic “No” from the iron.
When asked about it, Potter instantly began to smile and shake his head (while Kaleb Wesson tried not to laugh.)
“Dakich set me up perfectly, I just didn’t want to get the ball stolen so I just went up from too far away and I just missed it,” Potter said.
The second-half dunk was some measure of redemption, but probably not enough for Potter’s immediate pride.
During a break in the first half action, some members of the Ohio State football team — including Chase Young, J.K. Dobbins, Jaylen Harris, and Gavin Cupp — participated in a dance routine with the OSU dance team. This has been happening for a few years now, which caused one reporter to ask Kaleb Wesson and Micah Potter if they’d be interested in dancing at the 50-yard line during an Ohio State football game.
“I’m all for it. Set it up,” Potter said.
“Sign me up today,” Wesson agreed.