Ohio State men’s basketball has dominated sports headlines over the past week, beginning with the swift dismissal of head coach Thad Matta. It was an emotional week for current and former players, along with local high schools coaches -- but Athletic Director Gene Smith assured Buckeye fans they’d have a new leader in place by the end of the week.
With rumors abound, the team ultimately announced the hiring of Butler head coach Chris Holtmann. The new Buckeye coach took to the podium Monday to speak to the media after being formally introduced as the newest head coach.
Holtmann opened by expressing gratitude to all of the people he’s come across in his career that lead him to this opportunity. He thanked several of his mentors and former coaches who have helped him throughout his career. He went on to thank the fans, players and staff at Butler.
Holtmann also spoke about Thad Matta, and the importance of that relationship, which helped to bring the Butler coach to Ohio State. Holtmann went on to say that Matta is a man of great character and that he loves Ohio State, noting that it was very important to him that he had Matta’s blessing to take the job.
What are the plans for the current roster?
- Holtmann specifically pointed out the current Buckeye players who were attending his press conference, and thanked them for being there to support him and this transition. The new coach said it was important to him to see them there and to begin establishing a strong relationship with them.
- The new coach said that one of the things that he loved most about his initial meeting with the players was their connection to the Buckeye players who have come before them. The players emphasized how much they loved when former players come around, which will be a big focus and priority for Holtmann at Ohio State.
- When asked about the current state of the program, Holtmann said it’s good, but obviously needs a bit of work. He again pointed out the current players, saying the reason that he is excited about the potential in Columbus is because of the guys in the locker room.
- He said that he knows that when taking a position at a university like this, a program like Ohio State, you know that the expectations are high, but Holtmann isn’t going to shy away from that.
What will recruiting look like?
- Holtmann is dedicated to closing the borders and keeping Ohio talent at Ohio State. He and his staff will work everyday to get the best talent from around the state and country to play for the Buckeyes.
- He was asked when he planned on getting started with recruiting. Holtmann claimed that within the first hour of being eligible to reach out to recruits, he was on the phones. He wouldn’t mention who those calls went out to, but did reaffirm his focus on Ohio.
- When asked about how he will handle one-and-done type players — something he hasn’t faced too much of at Butler — he said he’s still working through what that looks like. Ultimately, he is looking for Ohio State guys. He doesn’t want to put parameters on what that looks like just yet, but his priority is getting Ohio State guys.
- “This place is incredible,” Holtmann repeated. He went on to talk about how people understand what this place is about, and thinks they’re going to have a great opportunity with recruits.
How will Holtmann fit in with Ohio State?
- The new head coach said that this was a decision that he had to “work through”, but said that Gene Smith was “aggressive and persistent” to get him in the door. He knows that there is some work ahead of him, but that the combination of the university, passionate fanbase, athletic resources and recruiting territory was too hard to pass up.
- Holtmann said, “I have a pretty good feel for our rival here”. He went on to say that he loves this school and the Big Ten, and feels comfortable with his history and experience with the program.
- He’s embracing Buckeye fans off the bat, saying he’d love for people to say “Hi” if they see him out at the grocery store. He’s embracing every part of the Ohio State program, including the fans.
What happens to Jent, Paulus, etc...?
- Holtmann said that the assistant hires will be coming in days or weeks, but it will be done quickly. He didn’t get into specifics, but he noted, “We’re going to build an incredible staff. I’m extremely excited about that”.