In what will surely be the first of many honors this postseason, Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann was named the 2017-18 Big Ten men’s basketball Coach of the Year on Monday.
The situation surrounding Holtmann coming to Columbus was a strange one. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith essentially fired former head coach Thad Matta in June, months after that type of move would normally be made. From there, according to Smith, Holtmann was their first choice, but he initially balked at the offer, sending the Buckeyes on a search elsewhere.
However, eventually the former Butler coach agreed to become the 14th men’s basketball coach in Ohio State history. From there, things didn’t get any less strange, although it was in a much more exciting way for Buckeye fans, as Holtmann led his team on an unbelievable inaugural season, including two wins over top-three ranked teams.
His 24-7 record marks the most wins by any first-year coach in program history, and Holtmann earns the conference Coach of the Year honor for the program’s ninth time, following Eldon Miller (1983), Randy Ayers (91, 92), Jim O’Brien (99, 01), and Thad Matta (06, 07, 10).
While this is Holtmann’s first CoY award leading the Buckeyes, it is his third as a collegiate head coach, following the 2013 honor from the Big South Conference as the coach of Gardner-Webb, and last year’s Big East Coach of the Year award while at Butler.
No matter what happens in this week’s Big Ten Tournament, things are looking good for Holtmann’s squad in the NCAA Tournament, as he has one at least one game in the Big Dance in each of the last three seasons. He will look to extend that streak next month.
Congratulations to Coach Holtmann on the incredible turnaround, and the well-deserved honor.