COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters on Monday to preview Tuesday’s game against Iowa. He also provided personnel updates on the Buckeyes, including the status of point guard CJ Jackson. Brothers Kaleb and Andre Wesson also spoke with reporters. Here are the highlights of what was said.
+ What stuck out to him most about the first Iowa game is letting up in the second half. They led at the half and thought they had the game won.
+ The last time against Iowa there were too many unforced turnovers.
+ Holtmann told the team that every game moving forward is the biggest game of the year. They need a big win down the stretch.
+ Wesson was happy for Justin Ahrens getting in the starting lineup. He brings a lot of energy and shooting to the team.
+ Iowa seals really well on offense and they get the ball to their post players. They have post players who have touch and can shoot from outside, which makes it a more difficult matchup than most post players who stay in the paint.
+ Kaleb said he hasn’t seen Andre throw down a reverse dunk since high school. “I didn’t think he still had that.”
+ It’s a blessing to be on the same team with his brother.
+ They still have to work on being a smarter team, but they have taken steps since the last Iowa game in making that happen. Fewer fouls and turnovers have helped.
+ Justin Ahrens brings great energy to the bench and to practice. His shooting ability also helps the team.
+ There has been plenty of emphasis on these last few games in regards to the NCAA Tournament. They have to play hard and smart down the stretch.
+ Ohio State as a defense varies from game to game in terms of their quality. They have been more consistent since the first game against Iowa, but they still have room to grow. They try to hang their hats on being a good defensive team.
+ He and Kaleb have talked about playing together since they were kids.
+ Iowa is a terrific team that is having a terrific season with a lot of veteran guys.
+ Iowa has a great core of guys. They play 8-9 guys and they all have a great feel for their respective roles, and they play those roles at a high level.
+ Iowa also has some young guys who have helped them.
+ CJ Jackson has been able to practice, so unless he has a setback he will play against Iowa.
+ Holtmann isn’t sure they can always count on shooting threes well. They have very capable shooters, and Kaleb’s passing has opened some things up. They made some shots against Maryland that don’t always fall. It was good to see their fight.
+ Teams can get smarter over the course of the season and it’s the coaches’ responsibility to take steps forward in that area. Holtmann believes they have in terms of some of the fouling and with fewer turnovers. He’s still not satisfied in those areas, but it has improved.
+ You improve on getting smarter through filmwork and experience. They learn what they can and can’t do through their experiences. This deep in the season — and in some careers — they aren’t as young as they were, so they are smarter.
+ Iowa is big, physical, and strong. They also have good shooting around their physical post players.
+ Justin Ahrens’ situation in the lineup is fluid. “We’ll see if he continues to make the right plays on both ends.” That position will be fluid the rest of the year.
+ There are several players this season who have had stretches of play where Holtmann has seen them noticeably be better. The Wessons, Kyle Young before his injury, Justin Ahrens, Duane Washington, and Luther Muhammad have all made strides this season. It gives him optimism that their growth will continue next year as well. It has been good to see Washington fight through struggles and make an impact of late.
+ Why haven’t the Buckeyes been able to upset anybody in conference play? Holtmann doesn’t know. He’ll leave those statements to the media to make. He doesn’t know what that says about his team. He knows this is going to be a very difficult closing stretch. This is an opportunity. They will get what they earn. “That’s the exciting thing. You have an opportunity here.”
+ Duane Washington has an infectious personality on and off the court. Same thing with Luther Muhammad and Justin Ahrens. Jaedon LeDee is a little quieter. Sometimes they can get too excited on the court and it plays itself out in mental errors.
+ Musa Jallow has been fine since Justin Ahrens has taken some of his minutes. He is still playing plenty hard when he is in the game. They constantly encourage him to rebound because that’s an area where he can impact the game.
+ Holtmann hasn’t been happy with all of Luther Muhammad’s shots over the last four or five games, but he’s had a lot of good looks. The shots will eventually fall again. He has had a tremendous impact on this team.