COLUMBUS — Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann and players C.J. Jackson and Andre Wesson spoke with reporters on Wednesday. The Buckeyes will next take the court Friday at 6:30 pm against the winner Northwestern and Penn State. Holtmann and his players talked about what lies ahead of them. Here are the highlights.
Chris Holtmann Updates
+ They’ve got a couple days of prep here leading into the tournament. He’s not sure if the media is as tired of hearing him talk as he is of talking. He doesn’t expect anything other than a really difficult game. Whoever it is they play, will pose a challenge. It got close at Northwestern, “and I don’t have to review our struggles with Penn State.”
+ The layoff before the NCAA Tournament will be an issue. He has reached out to other coaches about having such a long layoff. Brad Stevens called him to talk about what he did in the Horizon League. “He gave me some good ideas.”
+ The vibe from the players is good. “I’m sure they’re going to be anxious to want to play well.” They are excited about what is to come after this, but they are focused on the BTT right now.
+ Playing teams who need quality wins to get into the tournament can be difficult. It happened last year in the Big East for Butler against Xavier. Xavier was seventh in the Big East and they needed another quality win.
+ Nebraska and Penn State are better than any bubble teams OSU has faced this season. “I’m hopeful that our league is well represented.” Holtmann said he isn’t trying to be a shill for the league.
+ The lack of depth on the scoring side of things probably made it easier for teams against OSU the second time around, as opposed to any familiarity since OSU was also familiar with their last five opponents down the stretch.
+ The deeper teams are harder to prepare for this time of year. OSU doesn’t necessarily have the guys coming off the bench that opponents have to focus on in their preparation.
+ They won’t prepare any differently for playing in Madison Square Garden. There is a little concern about playing a team on Friday that will come in with a win already under the belts. “It’s a fun venue and it’s New York City.”
+ The team was off yesterday, which was good for everyone. The coaches have been under the weather. We’ll see today how the team looks. They need to have a good physical practice today. It’s hard to tell how rested they are until they get into game action.
+ Jae’Sean Tate is such a warrior. He has had a consistent effort all season long. He’s a good player whether he plays hard or not, but the separator for him is his motor and energy and how hard he plays. If he’s just average in that area, it’s pretty noticeable because he has areas in his game that he has to improve on. But when he’s playing with a high motor, he’s one of the best players in the league. “Most of the year he’s been that.”
+ It’s a tricky deal giving the team rest and also keeping them active and getting them prepared for two tournaments. They will do significant amounts of scrimmaging after the Big Ten Tournament with a long layoff. “I don’t know what kind of factor it’s going to have.” They are going to have a lot of live, game-type action next week.
+ They better have confidence going in, but they also need to keep the chip on the shoulder that they have used this season. The focus always remains on moving forward, however. There are plenty of questions about what they can be and what they can do. They could be a quick out in both tournaments because of what they lack. Holtmann hears it from people who know basketball. He understands that and hopefully the team plays with the necessary chip that’s required.
+ They need Kam Williams to be an offensive threat. “It makes us a completely different team. He needs to stay aggressive and he needs to stay ready.”
+ If they play Penn State again, you go back and look at the previous two games and seeing if they can come up with a better game plan and better attack. Holtmann has been told from others that Penn State is the second-most talented team in the B1G next to Michigan State. They have to play harder than what they did in the previous two games as well. They won’t try to reinvent the wheel, but they’ll look for things that they didn’t do well enough as coaches in those two games. And at the same time they’ll be preparing for Northwestern as well.
C.J. Jackson and Andre Wesson Updates
+ Jackson feels refreshed. It’s been a week since they’ve played almost, so he’s ready to play. He feels 100%.
+ Jackson has the Rutgers game from last year’s Big Ten Tournament in his mind, but they have to be prepared for whoever they face this year and know that any game can be a trip up.
+ The Indiana game-winner has sunk in for Jackson, but he’s ready to move on to the next game.
+ Everybody in college basketball is tired this time around, so you have to be mentally stronger than your opponent as well.
+ Wesson didn’t get a regular season ring, so he feels cheated and still wants one.
+ Can’t take too much time off during these breaks. Have to stay in the gym and stay sharp physically and mentally for each tournament.
+ Wesson says they want to win the tournament, but you have to take care of the game ahead of you or else it doesn’t matter. It hurt missing out on winning the Big Ten and letting it slip away. Jackson said it was on OSU for not handling their business. They controlled their own destiny and let it get away.
+ Wesson believes this team should be favored to do well in the BTT. Jackson isn’t sure if they’ll be favored or not, but he knows they need to keep playing with the chip on their shoulder that got them to a No. 2 seed.
+ Wesson believes teams were more prepared for them the second time they played, especially in the way they keyed on Keita Bates-Diop.
+ Jackson said that as competitors, you always want to play the teams that have beaten you, but Penn State will have a tough task against Northwestern.
+ They can use the doubters in the BTT as fuel this week.
+ Wesson said it was great to see his little brother Kaleb make it on the All-Freshman Team.
+ Jackson is excited about playing in Madison Square Garden with this team and guys who get along so well.