Although fall sports have already seen their demise, Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann provided an updated look at how the basketball season may shake out. https://t.co/ujOtPjvSww— The Lantern (@TheLantern) August 27, 2020
With the 2020 Big Ten football season already have been delayed to January at the earliest,—if it will even be played at all—now Ohio State will turn their attention to seeing basketball played this winter. Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann and the rest of the coaches around the Big Ten are working together to put together a plan that will allow for college basketball to be played, even though it will look completely different from what we are used to.
Holtmann is extremely optimistic we will see college basketball in the Big Ten this year because he has been working with other head coaches in the conference on a plan that would see teams in a natural bubble after students on campus leave after Thanksgiving, and those teams would stay in the bubble to mid-January.
What has the plan moving forward and working to figure out more of the logistics and questions that will arise is support from players and administrators. At least it sounds like there is momentum towards playing college basketball this year, which is especially welcomed after not only being denied the NCAA Tournament in the spring, but also college football this fall.
The NBA, NHL, and The Basketball Tournament have already shown this summer that bubbles work when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and sports. Putting a college basketball team in a bubble is a lot easier than bubbling a college football team, especially considering the size of a college basketball team compared to a college football team.
No matter the protocols the Ohio State basketball has to follow when it comes to COVID-19, the team is going to have quite a different look from last year. Gone are Kaleb and Andre Wesson, D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney, and Luther Muhammad. To fill some of those holes, transfers Seth Towns, Justice Sueing, Jimmy Sotos, and Abel Porter will be looking to make an instant impact.
A few returning players who have made big strides in Holtmann’s eyes over the summer have been E.J. Liddell, C.J. Walker, and Justin Ahrens. Liddell will likely try and fill some of the production lost by the departure of Kaleb Wesson. Liddell showed improvement late in the year, and many thought he was primed to carry that momentum into the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament, had the COVID-19 pandemic not canceled those events.
With a team that is going to feature so many transfers and underclassmen, Holtmann is going to need experienced players like Walker and Ahrens to lead the team. Even though Walker has only had one year of eligibility when it comes to playing with the program, he does garner some respect for his previous experience with a tough Florida State team. Walker will undoubtedly be one of the players Holtmann leans on on the court, especially in close games.
The news about Ahrens being the breakout player of the summer for the Buckeyes is especially intriguing. So far Ahrens has been a threat from behind the three-point line, but not really anywhere else. If Ahrens has been able to add more to his game inside the arc, it could open up the offense for the Buckeyes, which is needed when considering how tough the Big Ten is defensively.
Hopefully we get a chance to see the improvement of Ahrens, as well as how the new pieces fit on the court for the Buckeyes. Chris Holtmann teams always come to plan, no matter where and when they have to play. All Ohio State needs is a chance this year to show their talent, and it sounds like their head coach, along with the other coaches around the Big Ten, might make that happen.