“This man can coach and he’s a great person and he’s all about family atmosphere, respect, playing the game the right way.”
Former Ohio State guard Jim Jackson on Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch
The fact that head coach Chris Holtmann has led Ohio State to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons with the school is pretty incredible considering what he walked into. Holtmann didn’t take the Ohio State job until June 2017, putting him at a disadvantage compared to other coaches when it comes to recruiting. While Holtmann did have veterans like Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate to lean on, the job he did in his first season in Columbus earned him honors as Big Ten Coach of the Year.
With Bates-Diop and Tate having moved on to the professional ranks, Ohio State took a bit of a step back this year, but still were able to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Holtmann didn’t take home Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for a second straight year, but the job he did this year might even be more impressive than last year. Ohio State didn’t have as much talent on their roster this year, and a three-game suspension of Kaleb Wesson didn’t help matters. Still, the Buckeyes were able to grit their way into the tournament.
With two NCAA Tournament appearances at Ohio State already in his pocket, the future is only going to get brighter for Holtmann in Columbus. Not only does Holtmann have the players currently on the roster playing the right way, but a top-10 recruiting class is on the way to Ohio State. While this year was a struggle to the Buckeyes into the NCAA Tournament, a mixture of veteran leadership to go along with the talented recruits coming in should make things easier next year for the Buckeyes.
“Keyshawn, the reason he came here was to play in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn’t me. He basically came here and said, ‘Hey, I’m putting my faith in you that I can get there.’”
Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann on graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods via Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire
After stops at Charlotte and Wake Forest, Keyshawn Woods decided Ohio State was where he wanted to play his final year of college basketball. Woods had been productive at both Charlotte and Wake Forest, averaging at least 8.4 points per game in his three seasons of college basketball. While Woods made the NCAA Tournament with Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons lost in the First Four, so the guard didn’t get the true NCAA Tournament experience.
Ohio State interested Woods after the Buckeyes made the tournament in Chris Holtmann’s season in Columbus. After a strong start to the season, the Buckeyes struggled down the stretch. Heading into the Big Ten Tournament, Ohio State had lost three straight games, but Woods starting playing his best basketball of the season to ensure he would get another shot at “The Big Dance”. Woods scored 18 points in a crucial win over Indiana in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, and followed that performance up with 16 points in a tough loss to top-seeded Michigan State.
Woods and the Buckeyes will take on Iowa State tomorrow night in Tulsa. The road to the NCAA Tournament was filled with struggles at times for Woods and the Buckeyes, but the hard work they put in paid off in the end. Even if tomorrow night is the final game of the Ohio State season, Woods and his teammates can be proud of the work they put in.
“Let’s not take for granted the fact that we did what no other team did this year in the country in regard to qualifying [all 10 wrestlers]. But also, it is Ohio State, and we can attract the best, and we are all seeking perfection and that’s what we are after.”
After two straight years of finishing second to Penn State, Ohio State wrestling heads to the NCAA Championships with wrestlers competing in all 10 weight classes. The Buckeyes are the only team in the country with the ability to gain points in all 10 weight classes, giving them a leg up over the competition.
Out of the 10 wrestlers Ohio State is sending to the NCAA Championships, five of the wrestlers earned top-5 seeds. The only Ohio State wrestler to earn a top seed in the tournament is Myles Martin, who is the top ranked wrestler in the country at 184 pounds. Martin enters the NCAA Championships as just one of 12 wrestlers in the country with an undefeated record.
Ohio State senior Joey McKenna is the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the country at 141 pounds, and he is looking for some revenge to go along with a national title. McKenna has lost just two times this year, and last week he was able to avenge one of those losses—defeating Penn State’s Nick Lee at the Big Ten Championships. Now McKenna will set his sights on Cornell sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis, who is the top ranked wrestler in the country at 141 pounds.
Micah Jordan at 149 pounds and Kollin Moore at 197 pounds, are Ohio State’s other No. 2 seeds in the NCAA Championships. Both Jordan and Moore have only lost two matches this season. The duo will be looking to help Ohio State win their second national title in school history, as well as keep Penn State from winning their eighth team title in nine years. The NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championships run through Saturday in Pittsburgh.
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