Men's Basketball

Ohio State Postgame: Chris Holtmann, Buckeyes Talk 91-88 Loss to Illinois in Big Ten Title Game

COLUMBUS – Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann and C.J. Walker met with the media immediately following the Buckeyes’ 91-88 loss to Illinois in the Big Ten title game on Sunday afternoon.

Here are the highlights of what was said.

Chris Holtmann

+ He wants to congratulate Illinois. It was a well-played, hard-fought game. “Give them credit on winning the tournament championship and a great season.”

+ They are a disappointed emotional group right now but he expects nothing less from this group. They will bounce back, get in a good place mentally and physically, but “it was a heck of a college basketball game.”

+ He is really proud of this team. It was an emotional locker room. Coming this close is disappointing but he is not disappointed in their effort.

+ Illinois made shots and made plays. They were difficult to guard.

+ “We needed more bite on both ends.”

+ On playing some of their best basketball in Indianapolis after a tough stretch, Holtmann said they needed this run. The Minnesota win was important to start feeling better and they carried that momentum. The players tasted the opportunity to win a championship and it was important for them to play well. They have to find ways to continue to do that because every game is a challenge in the tournament, there are no easy ones.

+ On being picked in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten to now being a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Holtmann said he has given that some thought. The opportunity to play for a championship was really important for them as a group. He will wait to make too many comments on the season, but he is well aware of that. “I feel really good about this group but we are still climbing and are trying to stay in the moment as much as possible.”

+ “When you have an opportunity be in games like this, it only makes you hungrier. It elevates everybody in the locker room.”

+ He has no update on the status of Kyle Young. He was with them in the locker room today.

+ ” Words like resiliency and toughness and grit get used too much, but this group has it. We don’t play perfect or coach perfect, but we do have that.”

+ He learned more this week because of how difficult the closing stretch of the season was. “We all learned more about their ability to respond and stay in the moment and win the moment right in front of us. And that takes tremendous character, obviously really good players, but tremendous character and the ability to grow in that area doing hard things as the season goes on and embracing that.”

+ They need to get the team in a good place physically. “We’ve gotta get ourselves right and rested.” That is priority number one for them right now.

+ “I love this group, I absolutely love them.”

+ They had a lot of emotional players and coaches in the locker room.

+ They played some of their best basketball in these games.

+ The teams knows what’s in front of them.

+ He is glad the Big Ten is well-represented in the NCAA Tournament.

C.J. Walker

+ He doesn’t regret anything. They fought hard, stayed together and were connected. He is hurt because this was a dream and a goal for them but he is proud of this team.

+ The team is grateful for being able to bounce back in the Big Ten tournament and to go into March Madness as a 2-seed. They are ready to bounce back and go win a National Title.

+ Recovery is one of the most important things right now. “We’re going to need everybody to contribute at a high level.”

+ They learned a lot about the team the past few days. They learned they are able to scout a team quickly and adapt in games. “We got better in the Big Ten tournament.”

+ On facing Oral Roberts, Walker said he does not know anything about them but in March they have to respect each and every team. “Every team has respect and we will prepare for each and every game.”

+ The emotions will kick in later tonight but they know they have another game coming up. “You don’t feel the emotional drain until after.”

[Photo via Ohio State Hoops Twitter.]

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