COLUMBUS – Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann met with the media following Ohio State’s 94- 67 win against Illinois State.
Justice Sueing and E.J. Liddell also answered questions from reporters.
Here’s a summary of what was said.
+ It was a good first start for the guys. They had good energy and they were ready to play and were anxious to get out there. He gives the seniors a lot of credit.
+ It was really different playing in that environment. “The scrimmages gave them a bit of a feel, but nothing fully prepares you for what it feels like.” But they were really excited to be there to together. They got the text about 8:30 AM that both teams cleared the protocols and they knew it was on.
+ They set a tone for how they wanted to play early on and that was good to see.
+ On Justice Sueing, he thought like he had played like he did in a couple of their scrimmages. He was their leading scorer in some of those, he has a variety of ways he can attack, and he is pretty powerful. His size, his ball skills, and athleticism, he’s a versatile wing forward that is really valuable. He is a good player.
+ He’s grateful they got to play a real game. He was also excited that they played a number of guys, when they are able to extend the rotation.
+ On the good start defensively, he felt good about the defense overall. They did not finish the first half well, he was disappointed with that, they allowed them too many easy and clean looks. But overall their defensive effort was sharp, the attention to detail was sharp, and they competed well. “That is going to have to be who we are. We are going to have to have a tremendous connectedness and buy-in every night.”
+ Zed Key had a good first outing. There was a stretch he didn’t play hard enough but he is a tremendous kid. He’s gotten better with every day and week of practice. He has a physicality to him, and has good length. “He will go through some freshman bumps but he will definitely help this group.”
+ E.J. Liddell is tremendous, he accepts coaching, you can challenge them in areas. He’s got a unique game with his size and length. The biggest thing is his fitness level and conditioning and consistently playing hard. He’s an unselfish kid, sometimes too much. They will continue to move him around the floor.
+ From Musa Jallow, you saw some rustiness today that is natural for not playing for so long. He’s another big versatile wing, defensively he has to be terrific. He is excited about seeing what he can be as he shakes off some of the rust.
+ Duane Washington Jr. was locked in defensively. He has to get in a little better shape. C.J. Walker was steady as always, and led the group.
+ It was great to be out there with his guys, it was a long time sitting out and he can’t wait to see what they can do this year.
+ As soon as he was out there, it was easy for them to play off of each other and they gelled really well. Even with no fans they played off of each other’s energy.
+ His favorite dunk was the one that E.J. Liddell threw him and he got it in the middle with one hand.
+ On his impact on this team, he is just trying got do what it takes to win.
+ Last year he got in tune with the culture at Ohio State. It’s all about getting better and the coaches pushed him to be the best he could be. He was a better player today than he was the last time he was on the court. It was a lot of work and he’s glad to be on the floor showing it.
+ On the 22-0 run to start the game, Sueing said they knew shots were going in and could feed off of that. They stayed together and did some good things.
+ This shows how good they can be. They just scratched the surface with this one.
+ They were sharing the ball well. It was great to be back in a jersey, playing against another team, it had been a long time. He felt like they played together.
+ On getting back out there, Liddell said it felt like they “let the dogs out of the cage.”
+ On playing in an empty arena, Liddell said he felt like they were emphasizing bringing their own energy. They knew the bench would have to bring a lot of energy.