*taps on screen* Is this thing on?
It’s been several months since we’ve had an open media session with Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann, but we got just that on Monday afternoon. Holtmann spoke alongside Malaki Branham in April when the then-Buckeye (now Spurs) guard announced he would stay in the draft, but that session was focused solely on Branham. On Monday, it was an open forum with the media ahead of Ohio State’s five-day trip to the Bahamas from August 4th-August 9th.
The Buckeyes will face the Egyptian and Puerto Rican national teams at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, there will be no way to watch or stream these games.
Holtmann spoke for about 18 minutes before practice began, and talked about the health of his players, which guys are taking leadership roles, his recent contract extension, and the odds of him wearing a flowery Hawaiian shirt during the Maui Invitational this November. Here are some of the key takeaways and Holtmann quotes from Monday’s press conference.
- “We have everybody practicing right now in some capacity. We have Justice (Sueing) and Seth (Towns) who are practicing, but they’re somewhat limited in what they can do. Justice and Seth will not play in the two games in the Bahamas — they won’t be fully cleared. We do expect them to be fully cleared by September.”
- “Gene (Brown) may be on a minutes restriction. Aside from that everybody is pretty much ready to go.”
Gene Brown has been dealing with a groin injury.
- “We’ll be playing the Puerto Rican National Team and the Egyptian National Team (in the Bahamas), and they’ll both be really good.”
- “Coaches can script who they play during these trips. I might have a coach tell me ‘I wanna play two teams who we’re definitely going to beat so our team has great confidence.’ I am not concerned about that. We’ll just play who we play and go from there.”
- “We’re asking guys to go for an hour and 45 minute practices this week when that’s really not what they’ve done since late March. But the tempo and intensity is different (from practices during the season).
- (On his contract extension): “I’m really excited for the future. Grateful for the trust of the administration. I love being the head coach at Ohio State. If you’ve spoken to our freshmen, in their mind I don’t know if it was a question in their mind one way or another (if their decision was based on Holtmann staying long-term or not), but to have that I’m sure makes them and their families feel good.”
- “I think Zed (Key) and Justice are two guys who we’ll look to for leadership going forward. Justice has gotten back into workouts lately but he needs to get back into consistent and be able to really impose his leadership in a way that I think is going to be really important. But we’ve also had some new guys step up — Isaac (Likekele) and Sean (McNeil) have been able to be everyday guys and exert a level of leadership that’s going to be important for us going forward.”
Sounds like Zed Key and Justice Sueing are the “betting favorites” to be team captains, based on that comment.
- “I think both Nick (Kellogg) and Jack (Owens) have both been great, they’ve blended in well. Obviously, Jack has been here for a bit now, he’s been instrumental in a recruiting class that we hope is really good here and has some excited finishing touches here, hopefully, we’ll see.”
Four-star forwards Devin Royal and Scotty Middleton are both announcing their college decisions this week, and both have Ohio State in their final three schools.
- “Hawaii (Maui Invitational) has already given us Hawaiian shirts. You could pull it off, I could not pull it off, nor will I. We’ll see, we’ll see.”
- (When asked if he was a beach guy): “Oh I love the beach. Oh yeah I really do. There’s a reason why with some of these events that we join.... there’s a reason why we go to sunny places. If I have control over it, that’s where we’re gonna go.”
- (Brice Sensabaugh) is a great kid. He is a natural born scorer with the ball, he just is. And he can do that at an elite level right now. He needs to work on other aspects of his game, including his fitness and his conditioning. But he has some natural gifts offensively.”
- “Four of the freshmen that we expect to play have all had really good moments at practice.”
This sounds like Bowen Hardman may be redshirting this season.
- “You need to have an elite point guard, and I’m really excited about the young fella we have here, I think he’s really good.”
Clearly referring to Bruce Thornton
- On Zed Key expanding his range, back-and-forth with a media member:
I know you said you wanted Zed to expand his range a little bit, is that something that’s been going on right now?
“Oh he’s shooting ‘em”
“A couple. *laughs* We are actually encouraging him to shoot a lot. We’ve told him to keep shooting. I asked him when he came back from the Kingdom League ‘How many threes did you take?’
- “Tanner (Holden) has been good. I think Tanner needs to continue to adjust to the length and the speed of the game. We’re excited about his continued growth. We think there will be some transition elements for sure.”
- (On Felix Okpara) “There’s a level of patience with any freshman big guy, there’s room for growth. He’s done some really good things, he still gets the ball slapped away from him at times. There's some things we need to work on with him. But he’s legitimately 6’11”. He can almost reach the top of the square on the backboard. He’s a terrific athlete, he moves really well at that size. He’s almost up to 220 now, but he is going to have some growing pains this year, as all those guys are for sure.”