Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann spoke with the media on Tuesday to preview Wednesday night’s game between the No. 14 Buckeyes and the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers. Holtmann spoke of the challenge ahead for his team, what this game means for the program, and whether senior guard Kam Williams will be back on the court for OSU.
+ Purdue is a terrific team with no clear, identifiable weaknesses. Like any elite team, they are great on both ends.
+ Holtmann has a pet peeve when basketball coaches say “both sides of the ball” because basketballs are round, so he’ll never say “both sides of the ball.”
+ Purdue has been the model of consistency this season, and for most of Matt Painter’s time with the Boilers. It’s a product of solid recruiting and very good coaching. They haven’t had a ton of transfers, they just have solid recruiting class after solid recruiting class, “and that’s how you have consistency.” You can’t have consistency when an entire recruiting class transfers, and they’ve done a great job of developing their players. “It’s a great challenge.”
+ This is a similar type of challenge to the Michigan State game, but this game is on the road. Purdue’s ability to shoot the ball “is at a completely different level.” That shooting is what gives them a chance at a great run in the tournament. Their three-point efficiency “is a joke” because it is so good.
+ This will be a bit of a different road environment than the Buckeyes have seen in conference play to this point. This stretch coming up is the most challenging in his career.
+ Is there somebody they are looking to try to take out of their game with a defensive game plan? If there was, Holtmann wouldn’t tell the media. They have multiple players who can command a double team. Isaac Haas’ efficiency is incredible and when he is in the game, their entire lineup is efficient.
+ There wasn’t much practice yesterday due to the wear and tear from Illinois. Andre Wesson has been even-keeled in Kam Williams’ place, and Holtmann expects that to continue at Purdue and beyond.
+ Is the Purdue game a barometer for the team? They may look at it in that respect, but Holtmann is more anxious to see how his team performs in a very hostile environment against an elite team. There will be good and bad.
+ Holtmann has never coached at Mackey Arena, but has been told it’s always loud there.
+ Holtmann is looking at this six-game stretch as being a final hurdle of finding out where this team is at. “We’re going to get knocked around, as you would expect.” But he is interested in seeing how the team responds.
+ There may not be NBA stars on this Purdue team, but they play together exceptionally well. It’s an older, talented team who have played together for a long time. There are four seniors in the starting lineup and you can tell they like each other. “They have very good players. I think they have multiple guys who are going to play in the NBA.”
+ After this game, Holtmann hopes Purdue makes a great run in the NCAA Tournament because they are what college basketball should be about.
+ Jae’Sean Tate enjoys playing the point and didn’t shy away from it when Holtmann asked. “Everybody wants to play the point.”
+ Kaleb Wesson has never had to defend a guy as big as Purdue’s 7-2 center Isaac Haas. This is a big matchup for him, literally and figuratively. On tape, Haas can be defended and you can’t even see the guy defending him because he’s completely blocked out by Haas’ frame. “He’s just that enormous of a man.” It will be a collective effort with Wesson, Micah Potter, and even Kyle Young at times.
+ The team is more excited than nervous about this game and this closing stretch. They’re anxious, but they recognize that this is a tough closing stretch. They have always talked about how fun meaningful games in February are, “and we’ve got a bunch in front of us.”
+ There will have to be a balance between going small and making taking advantage of quickness over Purdue’s size, and then also involving Kaleb Wesson because he is one of the team’s best players. They are looking at matchups and seeing who would have the advantages in certain situations. They will adjust throughout the game.
+ Kam Williams has classes that he needs to tend to tomorrow so he will not be making the trip. He has a project that he needs to finish up, then they will re-evaluate things on Thursday. Holtmann and Williams had a conversation before the game on Sunday and Williams accepts the situation and is intent on moving forward and hopefully he’ll be back playing soon.