Chris Holtmann Talks Buckeyes, Previews Huge Illinois Game

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters on Wednesday to provide updates on his team and also to look ahead to Thursday’s trip to Illinois to face the No. 15 Fighting Illini. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • This is a quick turnaround against a tough team. First time playing them at Illinois with fans in a few years.
  • Some guys have felt a little bit under the weather the last few days but no change to the injury report as of now for Justice Sueing.
  • Illinois center Kofi Cockburn is a tremendous player and finisher. He runs the floor. OSU has had success against him in the past because they have done a good job of their defensive positioning and they try to keep a body on him at all time. “He’s going to get some of his.” You can’t stop him completely but you try to make him work.
  • They physical game against Indiana may help in this one, but the Iowa game may have been the most physical of the year. It helps prepare you for more physicality.
  • Holtmann didn’t want to get into which significant Buckeye was ill in the last game.
  • Is the Illinois game more of a challenge or opportunity? It’s both. They’re only playing once. Would love to play them home and home but in a league this big, it’s not possible.
  • Holtmann is still focused on the present and what needs to improve. He’s not looking at the league standings more than he needs to. You focus on what you think matters as the head coach. “There’s still a lot of games to be played by a lot of teams in our league.”
  • His impression of scouting Gene Brown in high school was that he was a long, versatile defender. They also liked his ability to shoot. They also loved his family. He comes from a tremendous group of people. He did a great job against Indiana. He took advantage of his opportunities and was ready on the catch.
  • Gene Brown comes from a coaching family and he’s basketball smart. He knows it’s more important to finish a game than start it. They try to identify that kind of maturity in recruiting as much as possible. “Gene’s a great kid. He’s a really, really smart kid. He’s an excellent student.”
  • Holtmann forgets sometimes that they have two sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup.
  • Illinois is more than just Kofi Cockburn. They’ve got a five-year starter in Trent Frazier at guard. He’s as key to them as anybody. They can all shoot. “They’re very old and obviously Kofi anchors things.”
  • How do they avoid the lulls against teams now that have something to play for? Just have to stay focused and work on the things they’ve identified that need worked on. Guys understand there are ebbs and flows. An 11-point lead at the 10-minute mark is not a safe lead and they realize that. It’s about continuing to play possession by possession and they will focus on that.