Men's Basketball

Morning Constitutional: Is This Season Already a Success for Ohio State Basketball?


Today’s Topic: Is This Season Already a Success for Ohio State Basketball?


If a season is a failure when a college basketball team misses the NCAA Tournament, does that make the season a success when a team makes the field of 68? Especially when they actually win their first-round game?

Well, it depends on the team and it depends on the circumstances.

Ohio State made the tournament this season when not many expected them to do so. Then they went ahead and beat Iowa State, which even fewer thought would happen.

It may be difficult for some to call Ohio State’s current 20-14 record a success, but context needs to be considered.

Head coach Chris Holtmann took over a program that had missed the NCAA Tournament two years in a row after seven-straight years of tourney bids.

Last season was very much a success, as the Buckeyes surprised everybody and played their way into a 5-seed. Veterans Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate led the way as two of the best players in the Big Ten in their respective final seasons in the Scarlet and Gray.

Ohio State was not equipped to replace either Tate or KBD this year, let alone both, and let alone four seniors in total, and Holtmann knew it going into this season.

“We’ve never coached a team where it’s been this number of new faces and you’re trying to figure out with each passing day who we are and who we’re becoming,” Holtmann said this week. “And that’s been the challenge. And listen, it’s been a challenging year in a lot of ways, but to see your name come up is pretty special.”

When trying to decide if this season was a success or not, ask yourself if you thought they’d be here at the start of the season.

Holtmann was asked that question and his answer tells you that he believes this season was very much a success, despite how difficult things have been for much of the year.

“I thought we would have to play well [to make the NCAA Tournament],” he said. “I did. I thought if we played well, I thought it could be very, very close. If we had guys step into new roles and increased roles, which we’ve seen with a number of guys. Kaleb [Wesson] is better. Andre [Wesson] is better. Keyshawn [Woods] has helped us. The freshmen have helped us. Kyle Young stepped up.

“I thought if we had some of that, we would have a chance. But no, I didn’t look at the projections. How can you when we lost what we lost? And those four seniors were all very impactful. Beyond their play, one of my biggest concerns was their overall leadership.”

Holtmann believed his team would have to play well just to make it a close call. He was right about the close call, so maybe he was right about the rest of it too.

When he says the team would have to play well, it’s a relative meaning. This is not Holtmann’s most talented OSU team. In fact, it will likely be quite the opposite. But he has them as close to their potential as they could probably get, which is really all you can ask of a team. That’s what makes the season a success, and anything beyond that is a bonus.

Holtmann certainly appreciates what this team has done in just getting to the tourney.

“When you do this, you certainly understand that it’s not an entitlement, getting to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “It’s something that has got to be earned. And it’s hard. It’s hard to earn those, and it’s hard to consistently earn those. When you look back at our storied history, different times, in the 60s four times [to the tournament], one of those obviously being a national championship. Our only national championship.

“The 70s one time. The 80s five times. The 90s four times. Then 2000-2010 seven times. And 2011 and counting, it’s six and counting. But never more than three years in a row until Coach Matta went seven years in a row from 2009 to 2015. So when you think about how hard it is to consistently – a program that has had a number of really good plays, and number of really good coaches – until that 09-15 stretch, we had never been more than three-straight years. It’s a reality check on how hard this is to consistently get there.”

And what does it mean to make it in each of Holtmann’s two seasons in Columbus?

“Very meaningful,” he said. “I think it’s meaningful to me. I think you just can’t explain how happy you are when you see your seniors’ faces happy. Keyshawn, the reason he came here was to play in the NCAA Tournament. It was the reason. It wasn’t me. He basically came here and said, ‘Hey, I’m putting my faith in you that I can get there and play.’ I don’t know if I can overstate how important it is. It’s so much better than the alternative.”

The Buckeyes will now get to play a second game in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, and not many would have believed that was possible just a few weeks ago.

When you’re doing the near-impossible, that has to be a success, right?

[Header photo courtesy OhioStateBuckeyes.com.]

18 Responses

  1. When fans of Ohio State accept extreme mediocrity, and, label it “success”, we’re staring a program and potentially an institution on the down turn, square in the eyes.

    Players out of control, pathetic on court play for the entirety of the Big 10 season with few and far between consistent games.

    Basketball amounts to more revenue for the athletic department than even football does. It’s too bad that the performance level doesn’t come close to even sniffing success, but some deem it as such. When you accept mediocrity, the chance of rising above it are slim to none. If demanding exceptionalism from the Basketball program, including coaches and players isn’t our battle cry…..we’re as pathetic as this years team is.

    1. Saying that Holtmann got as much out of this team as he could is not accepting mediocrity, it’s acknowledging it and the job he did with it. But this won’t be acceptable three years in a row. It wasn’t for Matta either.

      1. Mediocre is mediocre. 8 wins and 12 losses in the Big 10 doesn’t resemble successful anything.That puts Ohio State in the back half of the Big 10. Sorry Tony, but, you can’t spin the 2018 – 2019 basketball team into anything other than what it is. Pathetic.

        I like Chris Holtmann and really want him to succeed but, this season was a failure from top to bottom, and it starts with him.

        1. BTW….I got the point in your first sentence. My issue is that there are 46 teams who don’t belong in the tournament to begin with. Participation trophy seekers is all they are. That a team is on the bottom edge of the worst of the participation trophy seekers screams failure through mediocrity.

  2. Success? If one takes this team’s potential and asks if it was maximized, then yes. I thought the best it could be was middle of BIG, with a 2 game ceiling in the ncaa. Coach got all he could out of this limited team. If they beat houston, they went beyond any reasonable expectations.

  3. Whoa there, pump the brakes…lots of pretzel logic and qualification in your attempt to define “success” (and plenty of Kool Aid, too). OSU is very fortunate to have an excellent coach and staff; however, the on-court results (they do count, right?) are less than impressive. How about that little part of the season AFTER the 12-1 start? Getting whipped by Northwestern, who had lost 10 in a row? Scoring less than 20 points in the first half of multiple games? Free falling into the NCAA tourney? Before all of you get in line to bang on me, remember it was YOU listing these same complaints in recent weeks on this very forum (and it wouldn’t hurt to wait until after the Houston game…)
    Will I root like heck for OSU against Houston tomorrow? Yep, you bet. The season as a whole, however, has been tepid at best, and frequently pretty painful to watch.

    1. Tony is spot on, too bad that you’re that a spoiled fan that can NOT deal with reality. I believe that if CW had not been suspended those whippings would not have taken place and we would have beaten NW and WI easily and it would have been a most closer at Purdue, the B!G regular season champ.

      Believe it’s you whose drinking the Kool Aid;

      1. Tony is spot on, most did NOT have OSU going to the Tourney this year. Did you take the time to read the article or just go off?
      2. OSU dumped ISU, (The big 12 tourney champ!) while it was closer, OSU was in control and just couldn’t find the gear to pull away.
      3. OSU’s record is rather good in what appears to be the best top to bottom league it the nation. BTW, what is the B1G record so far in this NCAA tourney? Compare that to all other conferences.
      4. This is all with a talented depleted roster.
      5. I picked OSU over Houston, don’t be surprised if that game is much closer than YOU expect.
      6. Finally, if you despise OSU so much, why not root for some else?

      1. Kurt- someone is off his meds this morning, eh? Take them and then read this (or have someone read it to you):

        1) The “reality” is that this team is 20-14. That means that, for every 5 games, they are 3-2 (including cupcakes).

        2) Your musings about the value of Kaleb W in the games he missed, are INSANE. Those games were whippings, Kurt. Your lack of credibility is showing…

        3) I don’t care about the record of the BIG, I care about OSU.

        4) I don’t despise OSU, I have rooted for OSU for decades. I despite intelligence- depleted lemmings like you. I’ll continue to root for OSU and discuss their results OBJECTIVELY with anyone capable of doing so.

        5) Multiple OSU wrestlers are on the sport’s biggest stage- maybe look to them for some indicator of “success”? Maybe? Or does that require too much work on your part?

        1. Sorry for the jabs.
          1. BE NICE!
          2. I’ll take your responses one at a time as you did not give logical or factual reasons why Tony or my responses are analytically wrong! (I’ll wait for that!) We got insulted but not by wisdom or facts.
          A. OSU is talented depleted in the front court, losing KW was gigantic. Holtz has a remedy for that next year. We only got whipped a few games during his absence. I really believe that with KW we would have beaten WI and NW. What happened when KB returned; Beat IN and ISU and lost to the B1G champ, 2 seed MSU by 7!
          2. True, 3-2, but we beat CINCY there and were 8-10, in which many believe is the deepest conference in America. The NCAA Selection committee took that into consideration, much like the CFB Play off committee does with injuries.
          3. Read Tony’s article a few more times.
          4. Of course, I care about OSU’s as do you, but records do have meanings. That’s why their kept, that’s why they are referred to. If you don’t care about records then why mention that OSU averaged 3-2 over the season. Remember, this season anyone was capable of beating anyone else in B1G play!
          5. You will find that probably 99/100 posters on this site would agree with Tony and me. Tony and my response required a lot of work, your seemed to be a knee jerk reaction.
          6. Have a good day, respond with thought, logic, facts and reason. I’m really objective.

          1. I’m with Kurt 100%. I go back to Frank Howard and Robin Freeman playing at the Fairgrounds so I guess I could be called a longtime fan as well. Given our talent level, this season was a huge success. We have only one big man who can shoot and only a couple good outside shooters and they are spotty. We don’t have a single player who can drive to the basket and hang in the air to get a shot or draw a foul. What we do have is a bunch of guys who play great defense and who will give their body for the team.

          2. Kurt- where to begin? I guess I’ll go missed point by missed point:

            1) “Sorry for the jabs” and “BE NICE”?- I think you meant you are sorry I defend myself, and that I am the one who needs to be nice, not you of course…nah, I think I’ll reject those terms. (And, for the record, I was “nice” about the coaching staff while being actually correct).

            2) My ENTIRE reply was filled with facts! Geesh, McFly- anyone home? The last twenty one games this team has been 8-13, including a number of clunkers that were basically unwatchable. OSU’s losses vs NW and Purdue were HORRIFIC, not remedied with one more player. Kaleb W is NOT Wilt, for heaven’s sake.

            3) OSU’s record in BIG was 8-12, NOT 8-10. This is another “fact” which you missed and which defeats your bizarre remark that MY reaction was knee-jerk.

            4) Records have meanings, Kurt? Um, yeah…thanks, well said.

            5) Your response was a soup sandwich that required ZERO brains- which is part of my point. I am the only one in this 2 person train wreck who brought thought, logic, facts, and reason to the table.

            6) Don’t much care how your day goes. This basketball season has been largely forgettable, as evidenced by the results from 34 games thus far (ie, NOT “knee jerk”). It’s been a “wait til next year” theme for the fans. If OSU can muster a win vs Houston it helps, of course; however, that’s a TOUGH ask. I’ll root for the win of course.

            1. Well you got me on a few of my mistakes, but missed the boat with the rest. Have a good day.

              1. Yeah Kurt, just the crushing screw ups that totally invalidate your argument- that’s all I got you on. No passive aggressive wishes for a “good day” from me to you, partner. You lost this one.

                1. Classic retorts from the Longtime Moron! Great job once again on not letting one hint of of a rebuttal go unanswered…..and emptying the chamber!!!! No off season for you!

                  1. Or you, Bill? Your involvement in this exchange was, what, exactly? Pot, meet kettle… (short version- you are an idiot).

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