“There was as much in this season in terms of just stuff this team had to go through and deal with. I’ve never had that with a group... I’ve never had a year that’s had these many opportunities, for us, to kind of pack it in.”
-Chris Holtmann via Stephen Means, cleveland.com
If you would have told me five months ago that the Ohio State men’s basketball team would win 20 games, be ranked in the top-15 at one point, and would win a game in both the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, then I would have signed up for that in a heartbeat.
This season was never expected to be more than a transitional year to get the Buckeyes from the remnants of the Thad Matta era to fully ingrained in the Chris Holtmann regime. But while hindsight can see the 2018-19 basketball season as a success in overachievement, it was rough to live through, apparently for players and coaches — as well as fans.
In our podcast conversation last week, 610 WTVN’s Lori Schmidt talked about how even Chris Holtmann’s young daughter could see that the season was impacting her dad. But, as the coach said in the article, neither he, nor his team, gave up on the season.
It would have been very easy for this squad to pack it in when they lost five in a row to start the calendar year. It would have been very easy for this squad to give up when Kaleb Wesson was suspended for the final three games of the regular season. It would have been very easy for this squad to pack it in when they lost by 35 to Purdue.
But throughout, this mishmashed group continued to fight, even when their best simply wasn’t enough to win. Whether it was forcing overtime after being down by 20-plus in the regular season finale against Wisconsin, or overcoming another 20-point deficit against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, this team showed an incredible resiliency that normally befits a championship-level team.
See a lot of folks in the timeline talking about lack of heart from this team. While you can accuse them of lacking enough talent, size, depth, experience, etc., I don't think it's fair to say they've quit, or they don't care. They are just out-classed without their best player.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) March 10, 2019
While their talent might not have lived up to their heart, what this season should show people — fans, Big Ten teams, coaches across the country, recruits, media. etc. — is that Chris Holtmann is not a good coach, he is not a great coach, but an elite coach, who is building a program in Columbus that should very shortly rival any in the country.
From his focus on fundamentals to his ability to develop players in season to getting the most out of his squad, as more and more top-line recruits pick the Buckeyes (and they are), things are going to be a lot of fun on the hardwood for OSU.
“Kamryn Babb deserves a break at some point, but the talented, cursed-luck wide receiver is going to have to keep waiting for at least one more season. For the third year in a row and the fourth since he was a sophomore in high school, the four-star recruit has suffered a knee injury that will keep him off the field...”
-Austin Ward, Lettermen Row
It’s been a difficult few years for Ohio State wide receiver Kamryn Babb. After a rough go in high school and missing his true freshman year at OSU in 2018 due to a torn ACL, it appears that his 2019 season is in jeopardy as well. The news that Ryan Day and Brian Hartline will likely be without the former four-star wide receiver recruit comes on the heels of last Friday’s report (confirmed by Day over the weekend) that Babb’s classmate L’Christian Smith would be leaving the program at the end of the semester next month.
While neither WR played last year, with three major pass-catchers gone from 2018’s roster, Hartline will be looking for some fresh faces to step up in his position group come this fall, and in the past four days, those options have slimmed dramatically. However, as Ward notes, neither receiver being unavailable will likely impact Ohio State’s main rotation, at least not for now.
With the likes of K.J. Hill, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Chris Olave still in the fold — and early enrollee Garrett Wilson ready to make an impact right away — Ohio State will likely have enough game-changing options on the outside to do whatever it is that the new offensive braintrust comes up with.
But the question becomes, what happens if one, two, or — heaven forbid — three of the above receivers get hurt between now and September, or prove unproductive once fall arrives? With Babb and Smith now unavailable, behind these five primary pass-catchers, Ohio State is almost completely left with nothing but walk-ons and tight ends.
Say if Hill and Olave both get hurt leading up to, or against, Cincinnati in the season opener. Will the Buckeyes have enough weapons to make full use of Justin Fields’ talents?
If things go sideways with the projected top-five receivers, who do you trust most to fill in the void?
This poll is closed
“Ohio State practiced for just over two hours on Saturday morning... and included a pair of highly touted second-year players taking first-team reps for the entire practice in place of sidelined players...”
-Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors
While much of Buckeye Nation’s attentions were focused on the NCAA Basketball Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend, big things were happening back home in Columbus.
Day and the football Buckeyes took to the field on Saturday as part of the annual Student Appreciation Day during spring practice. In addition to all of the current OSU students who attended, there was quite the collection of high-profile recruits on site as well.
Before we get to that, one of the most interesting things from Saturday to me, is who had the opportunity to step up in some key positions with guys injured.
Nicholas Petit-Frere practiced with the first team offensive line with Thayer Munford out due to back surgery, and Joshua Alabi under the weather. Branden Bowen flipped from right tackle — where he has been working all spring — to left, in order to fill in for Alabi. Petit-Frere took over the right tackle spot. Gavin Cupp, Josh Myers, and Wyatt Davis completed the first team offensive line from left to right.
Veteran linebacker Justin Hilliard was carted off the field during practice, joining Baron Browning and Tuf Borland, both of whom Hope indicates were out for precautionary reasons. This allowed Teradja Mitchell to get some time with the first team defense.
Aside from Fields replacing Dwayne Haskins, there are no position groups on the Buckeye team that need an infusion of talent like the offensive line and the linebacking corp. The o-line is replacing most of its talent from last season, and whether or not the linebackers had any talent last season or not is up for debate.
Both Petit-Frere and Mitchell are two of the most exciting young players in their position groups, and while you never root for injuries, especially for projected starters, these two second-year players getting first-team reps should give them the opportunity to prove their worth as backups, and if the situation arises, as starters.
In addition to what Hope talks about on the field, he also gives a good run down of who was in attendance; from the 2020 class, five-star wide receiver Julian Fleming — whose recent interest in OSU is raising eyebrows — four-star corners Henry Gray and former Buckeye commit Lejond Cavazos, and four-star running back Michael Drennen. From the 2021 cycle, WRs Emeka Egbuka and Beaux Collins and QB Miller Moss were on hand.
We love you, Joey!
With love, #TowelGang forever.— Joey Lane (@JoeySmoke14) March 25, 2019
Justin Fields is now officially a Buckeye football player
⬛️ Congratulations @justnfields for losing your black stripe!#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/oRiLQwEGoJ— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) March 25, 2019
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