COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann, along with redshirt senior Justice Sueing and junior forward Zed Key met with the media following the Buckeyes’ 91-53 win against Robert Morris in the season opener.
Here are the highlights of what was said immediately following the win.
+ This was a good opening night to experience playing against a veteran group. This was a good opportunity for them to go against a physical team with some athleticism. He is pleased with the defensive effort and Justice Sueing’s return but not the turnovers.
+ Sueing is going to have some rust that he has to shake off. They saw that in the scrimmage, he was just rusty in spots. But he was pretty clean tonight. He has to continue to improve defensively but he’s one of the better rebounding wings in college basketball and they need it from him.
+ When they take a big lead, Holtmann is still looking for the players to play to the standard that they have been coached to. Sometimes they try and get walk ons some baskets but they still have an expectation and standard.
+ They have about a nine man rotation right now with Gene Brown being out but he will have two or three of the freshman out on the court at a time. He told them they will have great moments, but also some head scratching moments.
+ Zed Key’s 3-point shooting is not going to be like E.J. Liddell’s where he will always take it, but if he’s wide open, he can take it. He has worked on it every day and they’ve given him the freedom to hit wide and open threes. It was good to see the ones he made in this game.
+ Holtmann said he will learn more watching the film but right now they are just taking information in from every practice, film session, and game. They saw some things they expected that confirmed but also some that were head scratching.
+ Isaac Likekele is an “anchor” for them because of his poise. He makes good decisions, has great leadership qualities, goes and gets the ball, and he plays bigger than he is.
+ The rebounding effort was better offensively but he wasn’t as happy with defensive rebounds. Justice Sueing in the game really helps with rebounds. But it will be a constant area of focus for them because they are not where they need to be.
+ Holtmann and Sueing had a moment on the bench where he told him how happy he was for him and how proud of him he was. Sueing adds a different element to the game. He has great ball skills for his size and he’s become a good shooter.
+ Sueing will have a tremendous influence on this team and positive effect. He’s not the most vocal player so they’ve challenged him with that.
+ “I shoot it a little bit,” Key said on the 3. He worked hard at it and it was one of his goals over the summer. He wanted to add that to his game. He put in the work but he wasn’t expecting the first shot of his to be a 3.
+ Justice Sueing being out there opens things up for them. It was good to have them back. “20 points, that’s what he’s going to do the whole year.”
+ Coach Holtmann has been emphasizing defensive rebounds, especially considering their size. He emphasizes that in practices and calls players out for it.
+ On having a lot of players contributing, Key said everyone is meshing really well on and off the court. They gel really well together and that shows up on the court. They have a lot of good players on the team and the Bahamas trip helped them bond early on.
+ Anyone on this team can go for 20 points any given night.
+ He felt comfortable on the court and it felt good to be out there heathy. It was emotional for him getting ready to play because he had a lot of hurdles to get here. “Did I look healthy tonight?” Sueing said he hopes to lose that injury attachment to his name.
+ They are a young but versatile group. “A lot of our guys can play. I’m excited to see this team grow.”
+ “When you’re part of an Ohio State basketball team, it’s not by mistake.”
+ The talent was displayed on the court and the team can sub three or four players out and pick up right where they left off. But there is still room for growth.
+ The freshman group is really special. They approached this game like it was another day of work.
Photo via Ohio State Buckeyes.