Basketball

Chris Holtmann Provides Updates on His Backcourt, Previews Purdue

Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann spoke with reporters Monday afternoon to provide some updates on his basketball team and also to look ahead to Tuesday home game against Purdue. The Buckeyes lost the first matchup with the Boilermakers 67-60. Here are the highlights of everything that Holtmann had to say.

— This is a big week as always. This week they play two of the best teams in the country with Purdue at home and then at Wisconsin. Purdue is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. They have some impressive road wins. They’re playing really, really well. They are really physical. The first meeting was one of the most physical teams Holtmann’s Buckeyes have ever played against.

— Purdue has skill and an elite big. Also a young big. Both provide problems in the post. Quick turnaround with a change in the date, so they’ll need to be ready.

— The Buckeyes have looked different without their point guards. “I would not say better.” Just different. Have had to attack things differently. The way Purdue pressures, it will be a bit like what you saw in the second half against Illinois. Adding Justin Ahrens to the lineup makes things different as well.

— CJ Walker is still out for tomorrow’s game. Jimmy Sotos is game-to-game.

— Why no January swoon right now? “I don’t know. I think a lot gets made of that.” The first year they won almost every game in January. The last two years they struggled. Nothing to point to specifically that they did or didn’t do. “We’ll see.”

— “In this league you’re going to get beat up some. You just have to have short-term memory loss.”

— EJ Liddell is such a talented young man that when it comes to his development, you’re just pushing on him to maximize each and every day. There is a process to this and it’s understood. He’s still a young guy. But he got a lot of skill work done in the offseason. Liddell gets a little frustrated at times when his shot doesn’t fall because he did put so much work on improving his shot.

— This is the first time since 1961 that Kentucky, Duke, nor North Carolina are not in the Top 25. “That is wild. It speaks to the consistency of those programs.” It also speaks to what you’ve seen in college basketball in the last number of years. There are a lot of really good teams. There is an overall balance in this game that is different than other sports. There are blue bloods, but there is more parity.

— We’ll see what this team has learned from their last outing against Purdue. The Buckeyes have gotten better, but so have the Boilers. This PU team in particular is just so physical. “We’ll see how we handle that.”

— When you play a team a second time in a season you do look back at the previous game tape to see how the opponent attacked you and how they played against your lineups. You do try to work on yourself as well because your focus can’t exclusively be on the team.

— Big Ten play is a completely different level than non-conference play.

— Give Justice Sueing credit. He has played through some mistakes now at point guard, but well before that he had to get used to the physicality of Big Ten play. That will be the same thing tomorrow night, “we’ll just have to handle it better.”

— The injuries have impacted Ohio State’s defense, but before the season they saw there were going to be some struggles defensively because of the personnel.

— EJ Liddell will need to have his best defensive game against Purdue. “I can say that about all of our post guys.” Purdue is the most physical team they’ve played in the last couple of years and it begins with Purdue post player Trevion Williams.