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As wins pile up for Ohio State, Chris Holtmann’s trust in his team grows

After coming into the season with low expectations, the Buckeyes are currently sitting on top of the Big Ten in Chris Holtmann’s first year.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

“I had plenty of doubts. Maybe I need to start trusting him.”

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann on Keita Bates-Diop during Ohio State’s last possession in the 64-63 win over Purdue via Dan Murphy, ESPN

Even though Keita Bates-Diop has had an outstanding season so far, it’s easy to understand why Chris Holtmann had his doubts heading into the Buckeyes’ final possession on Wednesday night. Not only was Ohio State down by a point, they were on the road in a hostile environment against the third-ranked team in the country, who was riding a 19-game home winning streak.

Wednesday night’s game was a game Ohio State had no business winning. The Buckeyes were without Kam Williams, who was suspended for the game, and Kaleb Wesson spent most of the game dealing with foul trouble. Isaac Haas and Carsen Edwards of Purdue were dominating the action, and the Buckeyes looked all but out of it when the Boilermakers went up 14 points in the second half.

This year’s Ohio State team has some fight in them that Buckeye teams of the past few years didn’t have at all. Despite being shorthanded, Ohio State battled back and found a way to take the Big Ten lead in a year where many had projected them to finish in the bottom of the Big Ten in Holtmann’s first year with the Buckeyes.

It’s not that Holtmann didn’t have trust in Bates-Diop and the rest of his teammates to win this game, but for the head coach and the rest of Buckeye nation it is just hard to believe how much this team has improved over the last year. Now Ohio State has wins over Michigan State and Purdue, and if people weren’t taking them seriously before last night, they certainly are now.

“I checked their scores all the time. I checked their statistics. I’ve been watching film on him. The minute we offered him the job, he had a handful of job offers right on top of it and obviously, he picked the right one.”

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on new assistant Alex Grinch via Tim Bielik, Northeast Ohio Media Group

In this year’s college football coaching carousel, one of the best moves was Ohio State adding Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to their staff. Originally Grinch was being brought in to be the 10th assistant on Ohio State’s staff, but the addition of Grinch is even more important now that cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has joined Mike Vrabel’s coaching staff with the Tennessee Titans.

In just three years in Pullman, Wa., as Mike Leach’s defensive coordinator, Grinch transformed Washington State’s defense into one of the best in country. After the Cougars were ranked 84th in defense in 2015, Washington State moved up to 16th in the country this season under Grinch’s guidance.

With Grinch’s background, this move makes plenty of sense. Not only is Grinch a Grove City, Ohio native, but he also played college football at Mount Union. With the loss of Coombs to the NFL, Ohio State needed a high-energy guy on the defensive coaching staff, which is something Grinch will bring to the table.

Even though defensive coordinator Greg Schiano announced he was staying at Ohio State, despite rumors he was leaving to take the vacant defensive coordinator position with the New England Patriots, it seems like Schiano is either destined for a college football head coach job or a return to the NFL in the future. With the hiring of Grinch, Ohio State could have found their defensive coordinator of the future. Not only is Urban Meyer winning on the recruiting trail, but he is also winning when it comes to the coaching carousel.

“It’s tough to beat people. There’s a lot of great teams. It’s a great year for the Big Ten, and it’s just a tough conference to go through.”

Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff via Andrew Erickson, The Columbus Dispatch

A tough task for Ohio State got a little tougher recently due to injury. On Saturday against Wisconsin, Makayla Waterman suffered a strained neck after a scary incident in the 68-55 win over the Badgers. Tonight the Buckeyes take on Rutgers, but it is unknown whether Waterman will be available against the Scarlet Knights. If Waterman isn’t able to play tonight against Rutgers, even more would be asked from Stephanie Mavunga and Alexa Hart, who would be the only two post players available for Ohio State.

Even with the injury concerns, Ohio State will have to be ready to take on a Rutgers squad who just beat Michigan on Sunday, which marked their first win over a ranked team this year. While Ohio State likes to run and is averaging over 80 points per game, Rutgers likes to slow the tempo down, and is allowing opponents just 57.1 points per game this season. With or without Waterman, the Buckeyes are going to face a tough test tonight.