COLUMBUS — Ohio State went from beating the Blue Bloods of college basketball and looking Final Four bound to a team that is now 1-2 in conference play and riding a 2-game losing streak.
It’s not that their hopes and dreams for the season are out the door, this is college basketball, after all. But this loss was different and it certainly hit different for Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann.
Holtmann was a man of few words in his post-game press conference following the loss to Wisconsin on Friday night.
Though he will certainly have a lot to say to his team before they face Maryland on Tuesday, after the loss, he had no explanations for what just happened. He was struggling to find the right words and a lot of his responses were ‘I will have to look at things.’
One reporter acknowledged that Holtmann didn’t seem like himself at interviews on Thursday and asked if he saw anything in preparation that led him to believe that they would have a night like they did. Holtmann said he might have just been thinking about Kyle Young’s adjustment and that was it.
But after the game on Friday, he clearly wasn’t himself and was extremely distressed.
“It’s incumbent upon us as coaches and players to figure it out and get better with it,” Holtmann said. “Obviously no one likes this feeling.”
Not only was he brief and short in his responses, but it was evident in his mannerisms that he was frustrated and angry with the loss. He maintained his polite and respectful behavior, but there was no hiding the defeat that he felt.
His anger was felt in his stomp-like walk into the post-game press conference room, the crossing of his arms and hands at the podium, and how he shoved the chair in and sped out of the room after an Ohio State spokesperson said ‘Thanks Coach.’
Wisconsin was a winnable game for the Buckeyes and Holtmann knew that it was a must-win for his crew to get back on track and avoid the January that his team had last season. But even when his team was doing well and was winning consistently earlier on in the season, Holtmann warned of the growing pains and the challenges that come along with having a young team and playing in the Big Ten.
This feeling, though not pleasant, is not uncommon for coaches.
Tough, heartbreaking losses happen to even the best of teams, especially in the Big Ten. Holtmann showed afterward that the Wisconsin game was definitely one of those losses that just hurts a little more than the others.