Today’s Topic: What Should the Goal Be For Ohio State Basketball Next Season?
For the second year in a row, the Ohio State men’s basketball team ended its season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Each time, the Buckeyes got further than expected when the season began.
With head coach Chris Holtmann now headed into his third year at Ohio State, and with a roster that will be mostly his players, it is time to start ramping up the expectations for the Buckeyes.
But what is an acceptable expectation?
I’m not one of those people who thinks a national championship is a realistic goal in college basketball. The NCAA Tournament is simply too hard and the matchups too random to expect anything more than a deep run.
Just look at Duke this past weekend. Most of the nation has them winning it all, but they were a blown alley-oop away from being sent home by UCF.
Next year the Buckeyes could have the best team in the nation, but they may find themselves matched up against a dude who is 7-foot-6 and guard who is impossible to stop.
These things happen and it’s why we all love the Tournament.
That’s also why I think the expectations should be more focused on the regular season, as opposed to a six-game stretch in March and April.
The Buckeyes will return eight of their top 10 scorers next season, losing point guards CJ Jackson and Keyshawn Woods. They will add redshirt junior point guard transfer CJ Walker, 5-star point guard DJ Carton, forwards EJ Liddell, and Alonzo Gaffney (can we call him “AJ” Gaffney?). Ohio State is also one of two finalists for 7-footer Ibrahima Diallo.
Add the new faces to a one-year-older 2018 class of Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad, Justin Ahrens, and Jaedon LeDee, and you’ve got a very intriguing group of talent. All three guards had their moments this past season, and it was a tremendous learning experience. I expect all three to be much better and more consistent in all facets next season.
Another year of practicing against Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young is going to help LeDee immensely as well. And speaking of Wesson and Young, if Young can improve his offensive skill set, you’ll see more of the two-big lineup Holtmann used a bit down the stretch.
This is also the season that Kaleb Wesson contends for All-Big Ten accolades. His brother Andre will be a senior leader who has the ability to provide the Buckeyes with anything they may be missing at any given moment. That doesn’t mean he will, it just means he is capable.
There is enough new blood and old blood to make this group one to watch, and we’ve already seen that Holtmann can get the most out of his players. With an uptick in skill, and the glue guys like Young and Musa Jallow getting better, there are more viable parts to this team than there’s been in the past.
With the talent coming in, if Holtmann gets the most out of this next group coming up, Big Ten contention isn’t too much to ask.
The 2019-2020 Buckeyes should be setting their sights on a Big Ten regular season championship. Twenty conference games is a long, drawn-out test that has no false positives. It gives an accurate reading of just how good a team is.
Yes, it might be too much to expect right now with the unknowns at point guard, but Holtmann has shown us that he doesn’t really follow along with expectations, so why should we?