Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann and junior guard Duane Washington spoke with reporters on Tuesday to provide some updates on the health of the team and also to preview Friday’s NCAA Tournament game against Oral Roberts. Here are the highlights of everything that was said.
— Yesterday was important for the guys to get some rest and recovery. That will continue to be the case today. Obviously playing a really good team that can shoot and score. They have the leading scorer in the country. They play through him at a really high level. “They’re a good team.” They have played four or five tournament teams in non-conference and most of them were close. “Should be a great challenge.”
— No updates on Kyle Young. Won’t expect an update on him “for a little bit now.”
— Does lack of tournament experience on this team concern him? You are aware of the fact that most of them have not played because the tournament didn’t happen last year. That would have been good experience for this year too.
— He believes Duane Washington is mature enough not to get into a shootout with Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas who is the nation’s leading scorer. “But it is an ongoing process.” He is a gifted offensive player, but what they’ll really need for him is his defense and to be smart and confidence. “He’s supremely confident as we all know, sometimes that’s gotten him in trouble.”
— Oral Roberts is one of the best shooting teams he’s seen on film. Max Abmas can pull up from everywhere and will do it at anytime. They have positional size, but no 7-footer. Their pace of play allows opponents to score, but it’s been successful for them.
— They will need to pick up Max Abmas sooner than any other player they’ve faced this year. Anywhere over halfcourt he will let it fly, so they have to get up on him quicker.
— This team wasn’t as shook during their losing streak as people thought they were. He felt they were in a good place going into the Big Ten Tournament. Now they need to get rest and get into a good place for this game.
— “I don’t get the sense that our guys are fatigued about being in the bubble or being fatigued about the hotel life.” Yesterday was a bunch of Zoom classes and very little meetings. It is interesting being in this environment. It’s a unique situation.
— “I hope [the Big Ten season] really prepares us. The one thing you can’t have is the fall sense…” that you deserve something or that it guarantees something in the NCAA Tournament. But tough schedules and tough leagues help. It has in the past, but you have to be careful to think it guarantees you something, “because it certainly won’t.”
— He will be sure to remind his team that the gaps between a 2 and a 15 aren’t as much as there used to be. The seedings mean less than they ever have because teams are more equal. It still comes down to how you are playing and your matchups. “If you get in this tournament, you’re a really good team.” “I think they understand that.”
— Super-excited for the team to attack the tournament with 100%. Emotions are high right now to finally be here again. His freshman year he only played a few minutes. This year will be different. His role is different. They talk about how important it is to stay together. He’ll bring energy, playmaking, and shotmaking.
— If he pulled up just past halfcourt like Max Abmas does and took a three, Holtmann would put him on the bench and ask him what he’s doing. You have to defend him wherever he is on the court and get a hand up.
— He has struggled with smart shots over his career and settling for bad shots. He talks to coaches about it. He’s talked to his father about it. You have to understand what is settling and what is taking what the defense gives you. They are different. You can get a three at any point, the key is getting a good look in the flow of the offense.
— “The guys are doing better…” after the emotional loss. It was Justice Sueing’s 22nd birthday yesterday so that took their mind off of it and they played some cards and had fun.
— Playing in Mackey Arena is nice. It’s familiar. Not sure how the fans will show up but he’s hopeful for some Buckeye fans.
— The Big Ten Tournament reminded him of an AAU tournament. You do everything you can to win. “I left it all out there.”
— The Big Ten is the best basketball conference in the country. No other conference can get you ready for the NCAA Tournament, but it can also mess you up if you lose four in a row. But they know they are the same team that was winning during the regular season and in the tournament.
— Why is he elevating his game right now? He just believes in himself and has been doing the same thing over and over and over again. You have to trust the process and give yourself to it. Greatness will slowly come, “and that’s all I want as a player and that’s all I want for the team.” He also has a great support system.
— Being in a bubble right now is one of the coolest things he’s ever been a part of. Like AAU back in the day. Obviously, there is scouting that goes on, but at the end of the day it’s still basketball. Even though this team doesn’t have a lot of NCAA Tournament experience, there is still familiarity in being gathered together as a team and playing a bunch of games in a short amount of time.