COLUMBUS — Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters on Wednesday to preview Thursday’s home game against Illinois.
Also speaking with the media were seniors Andre Wesson and Danny Hummber. Senior night will take place Thursday and both players talked about what the emotions will be like for each of them.
Here are the highlights.
Videos will be added shortly.
+ This is a big week for the Buckeyes with games against Illinois and Michigan State.
+ What wins in this league is veteran guys and tough-minded teams. That shows up on the road.
+ Thursday is a special night. It’s senior night with Andre Wesson and Danny Hummer. The 1960 national champs will also be honored and several will be in attendance.
+ Kyle Young is still day to day. His improvement has been incremental. He is anxious to get back and the team is anxious to get him back, but it was a significant sprain. He would add a lot of value against Illinois and Michigan State, but they have to weigh that with the long-term needs of the team this season.
+ EJ Liddell has responded well in the absence of Kyle Young. This is currently the shortest rotation Holtmann has ever had in his career.
+ Alonzo Gaffney is still out with an illness. “I can’t get into specifics on that.” He is still a part of the program.
+ Ibrahima Diallo could see time this week.
+ Ohio State is playing two of the better teams in the country this week. “There is never a break.” There will be no breaks in the postseason either. That’s the reality. You accept that and you embrace it.
+ Senior night festivities will take place after the game where players will address the crowd.
+ Playing against two teams vying for a conference crown means they have to match the opposing intensity. You also want to be playing as well as you can at the end of the season. “Our deal is to continue to try to build the momentum.” These are the games you want to be in.
+ CJ Walker has taken a step up in leadership and ownership. “He’s a tremendous kid. He’s going to be a really good coach.” He has settled into his role right now. Holtmann maybe understood some of the transition that was going to take place for Walker and how difficult it actually was.
+ Kaleb Wesson isn’t happy with how he is finishing, but Holtmann stressed how well he is playing defensively and his shooting outside has been effective as well.
+ Look at Andre Wesson’s stats over the years and you’ll see a guy who has worked hard to become a complete and efficient wing. When Holtmann recruited him at Butler, his hope was that he would end up being the player he’s become.
+ He’s enjoyed interacting with the members of the 1960 national championship team. “It’s been what you’d expect.” The stories are great. They are the lone national champs here, so he is trying to glean what he can. He hasn’t had any interactions with Bobby Knight in the past five or so years.
+ When Holtmann got the job at OSU, he showed Andre Wesson several of the texts that Wesson never responded to when Butler was recruiting him.
+ As a coach, you always feel bad for not being able to play walk-ons because those are some of the most passionate guys in the entire program.
+ Illinois is much different defensively than last year, but very similar on offense. They were unique defensively in the past, but they have changed to a more conventional defensive style. They have good defensive players with length. They protect the rim and they don’t foul.
+ Duane Washington’s defense is “getting there.” He has taken ownership of improving and they have seen that happen. This is going to be a big week for him to continue that improvement.
+ Illinois is a very good road team. Tough minded. They went through a lot last year and they are mostly all back.
+ He hopes he doesn’t cry tomorrow night.
+ It’s going to be bittersweet on Senior Night. His journey here is coming to an end. “It’s going to be special for sure.”
+ Have to push the emotions to the side and focus on getting a win that the team needs.
+ “I’ve definitely grown a lot over these four years. I’m always trying to get better.” That has been instilled in him since he was young.
+ “I’ve been through a lot these four years, not just injuries.”
+ It’s a dream come true to have been able to be a Buckeye and have his dad at his games. “To make my dad proud is probably my greatest accomplishment.”
+ Playing with Kaleb has been something he’ll never forget. The last game with Kaleb will be even more special than Senior Night.
+ He got scared when Holtmann showed him all of the unanswered texts because that was his coach now.
+ It’s been a long road. Tomorrow night’s game is important and it will be special to be out there with everyone who helped get him here.
+ Could he get the start? Maybe.
+ “I appreciate everything. My role is to come in every day with the same mentality.”
+ He doesn’t look for his shot when he gets into the game because that’s not his personality and he has the respect of his teammates and he knows he can play, so he doesn’t feel the need to fire shots up when he gets on the court.