Basketball

Chris Holtmann Provides Summer Updates for Buckeye Basketball

COLUMBUS – Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann spoke with reporters on Tuesday to provide some updates on the latest with the Buckeyes. Holtmann discussed EJ Liddell’s return, Duane Washington’s departure, and much more. The highlights of everything that was talked about can be found below.

  • It’s been a unique summer. There have been some minor injuries that players are working through.
  • Kalen Etzler is going to redshirt this year.
  • They didn’t get to much team work until July because they did more individual stuff until this month. They were also allowing Duane Washington and EJ Liddell to go through their respective processes.
  • Guys improve every year and a big reason for that is the work in the summer. They work on shooting and the improvement is inarguable.
  • Excited about what this week could potentially be for Duane Washington. The summer was always important for his development as well.
  • Advice to Jared Sullinger as a coach? “If he’s thinking about going into coaching, I’d ask him to reconsider. I’m kidding.” He’s tremendous. He would need to finish his degree, but he brings a wealth of knowledge. He’s getting good experience in the TBT. “I think he’s got a really bright future if he does decide to be a professional, college or high school coach.”
  • EJ Liddell will be almost exclusively at the 4. Zed Key had a really good freshman year, so he will be able to give them good minutes at the 5 next year.
  • The feedback from the NBA on Liddell was the need to improve his perimeter game and ball handling.
  • Liddell will still be able to play to his strengths and have advantages at the 4 like he did when he played the 5 last year. There will still be 5s who defend Liddell next year based on what the Buckeyes do and how teams want to defend them. “I think he’s going to be hard to guard again.”
  • The decision to redshirt Kalen Etzler has been a conversation since they were recruiting him.
  • Meechie Johnson was really helped by playing last year. “He’s had a good summer.”
  • The guards are going to be young. They will go through growing pains. But he’s excited about them.
  • Seth Towns and Jimmy Sotos have both been out most of the summer with health-related things. They are both just getting back now to when they are full cleared.
  • Really excited about freshman Malaki Branham. He still needs to get stronger. He’s a tremendous kid. Has good size and length. 6-9 wingspan. Ball skills continue to improve. He’ll be a guard/wing primarily. He will look like a freshman at times, but at other times will look like a guy with a tremendous future.
  • On grad transfer Cedric Russell, he’ll need to step up to the challenge of this level. He can score and he will provide experience. He will arrive after he graduates.
  • Holtmann is watching the conference alignment. Asked if he has any thoughts: “Would they listen to me?” They talk about it in the office, but those are high-level decisions. At some point he’ll talk to Gene Smith about it.
  • CJ Walker is a big loss. Jamari Wheeler has been really good in the workouts. He has brought an intensity that the team needs.
  • The fall will be big as they continue to work on their defense and focus on improving it from last year. Holtmann wants to be careful not to overcorrect because last year wasn’t a pattern, it was just an off year defensively. They will make some changes. There were some personnel issues. The buy-in on defense needs to be greater.
  • They were recruiting other possible transfers but they felt Cedric Russell would be better because he wasn’t as ball dominant as the other guys they were looking at.
  • He is interested to see how much the loss to Oral Roberts becomes a motivator for this year. There were a lot of guys who were a part of that experience. “You have to lean in to extreme disappointment in life and use it.”
  • This will be the most seniors he’s ever had on a team. “I think old matters.” Experience always helps. “We won’t ever have another roster like this.” The roster was always going to be veteran, but then the addition of super seniors made it even older.
  • Legacy matters. It mattered to Duane Washington, EJ Liddell, and Kyle Young in each of their decisions. Liddell and Young weren’t ready to call their respective legacies a wrap.
  • It would be tremendous if Kyle Young could avoid elbows or see some of them coming this year. His legs feel the best they’ve felt in a couple of years. They could operate some load management with him this year.
  • Name, image, and likeness will benefit players and could potentially make a decision to leave even tougher.
  • JT Tuimoloau question comes up. Holtmann is surprised it took this long. He expected it to be the first question. They have no seen him live. They have seen him on film. “We’re a ways away from him stepping on a court.” He and Ryan Day will have talks. He met with Tuimoloau when he visited. They had breakfast. But he’s not going to stand in the way of a national championship or the No. 1 pick overall.
  • The basketball staff always has conversation with football prospects if the football staff asks them to. They met with somebody recently, in fact.
  • EJ Liddell could make a decent tight end, right? “Yeah, that’s not happening.”
  • Jake Diebler has been fantastic. He’s been a tremendous hire. He really likes his coaching staff right now. Very excited about the addition of Tony Skinn.
  • “Keep your Twitter fingers handy in the next couple of days.” There may be some news coming on the recruiting trail.
  • With everyone they’re losing after this year, they need to bring in a solid recruiting class. “I’m excited about that. Really excited about that.”
  • Hosting Duke this year during Coach K’s final season? Great opponent, excited about the atmosphere, and obviously one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.

COLUMBUS – Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann spoke with reporters on Tuesday to provide some updates on the latest with the Buckeyes. Holtmann discussed EJ Liddell’s return, Duane Washington’s departure, and much more. The highlights of everything that was talked about can be found below.

  • It’s been a unique summer. There have been some minor injuries that players are working through.
  • Kalen Etzler is going to redshirt this year.
  • They didn’t get to much team work until July because they did more individual stuff until this month. They were also allowing Duane Washington and EJ Liddell to go through their respective processes.
  • Guys improve every year and a big reason for that is the work in the summer. They work on shooting and the improvement is inarguable.
  • Excited about what this week could potentially be for Duane Washington. The summer was always important for his development as well.
  • Advice to Jared Sullinger as a coach? “If he’s thinking about going into coaching, I’d ask him to reconsider. I’m kidding.” He’s tremendous. He would need to finish his degree, but he brings a wealth of knowledge. He’s getting good experience in the TBT. “I think he’s got a really bright future if he does decide to be a professional, college or high school coach.”
  • EJ Liddell will be almost exclusively at the 4. Zed Key had a really good freshman year, so he will be able to give them good minutes at the 5 next year.
  • The feedback from the NBA on Liddell was the need to improve his perimeter game and ball handling.
  • Liddell will still be able to play to his strengths and have advantages at the 4 like he did when he played the 5 last year. There will still be 5s who defend Liddell next year based on what the Buckeyes do and how teams want to defend them. “I think he’s going to be hard to guard again.”
  • The decision to redshirt Kalen Etzler has been a conversation since they were recruiting him.
  • Meechie Johnson was really helped by playing last year. “He’s had a good summer.”
  • The guards are going to be young. They will go through growing pains. But he’s excited about them.
  • Seth Towns and Jimmy Sotos have both been out most of the summer with health-related things. They are both just getting back now to when they are full cleared.
  • Really excited about freshman Malaki Branham. He still needs to get stronger. He’s a tremendous kid. Has good size and length. 6-9 wingspan. Ball skills continue to improve. He’ll be a guard/wing primarily. He will look like a freshman at times, but at other times will look like a guy with a tremendous future.
  • On grad transfer Cedric Russell, he’ll need to step up to the challenge of this level. He can score and he will provide experience. He will arrive after he graduates.
  • Holtmann is watching the conference alignment. Asked if he has any thoughts: “Would they listen to me?” They talk about it in the office, but those are high-level decisions. At some point he’ll talk to Gene Smith about it.
  • CJ Walker is a big loss. Jamari Wheeler has been really good in the workouts. He has brought an intensity that the team needs.
  • The fall will be big as they continue to work on their defense and focus on improving it from last year. Holtmann wants to be careful not to overcorrect because last year wasn’t a pattern, it was just an off year defensively. They will make some changes. There were some personnel issues. The buy-in on defense needs to be greater.
  • They were recruiting other possible transfers but they felt Cedric Russell would be better because he wasn’t as ball dominant as the other guys they were looking at.
  • He is interested to see how much the loss to Oral Roberts becomes a motivator for this year. There were a lot of guys who were a part of that experience. “You have to lean in to extreme disappointment in life and use it.”
  • This will be the most seniors he’s ever had on a team. “I think old matters.” Experience always helps. “We won’t ever have another roster like this.” The roster was always going to be veteran, but then the addition of super seniors made it even older.
  • Legacy matters. It mattered to Duane Washington, EJ Liddell, and Kyle Young in each of their decisions. Liddell and Young weren’t ready to call their respective legacies a wrap.
  • It would be tremendous if Kyle Young could avoid elbows or see some of them coming this year. His legs feel the best they’ve felt in a couple of years. They could operate some load management with him this year.
  • Name, image, and likeness will benefit players and could potentially make a decision to leave even tougher.
  • JT Tuimoloau question comes up. Holtmann is surprised it took this long. He expected it to be the first question. They have no seen him live. They have seen him on film. “We’re a ways away from him stepping on a court.” He and Ryan Day will have talks. He met with Tuimoloau when he visited. They had breakfast. But he’s not going to stand in the way of a national championship or the No. 1 pick overall.
  • The basketball staff always has conversation with football prospects if the football staff asks them to. They met with somebody recently, in fact.
  • EJ Liddell could make a decent tight end, right? “Yeah, that’s not happening.”
  • Jake Diebler has been fantastic. He’s been a tremendous hire. He really likes his coaching staff right now. Very excited about the addition of Tony Skinn.
  • “Keep your Twitter fingers handy in the next couple of days.” There may be some news coming on the recruiting trail.
  • With everyone they’re losing after this year, they need to bring in a solid recruiting class. “I’m excited about that. Really excited about that.”
  • Hosting Duke this year during Coach K’s final season? Great opponent, excited about the atmosphere, and obviously one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.
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