Basketball

Chris Holtmann Wraps Preseason, Previews Robert Morris

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters via Zoom on Thursday to wrap the preseason by answering questions about his team and previewing Monday’s season opener against Robert Morris. The highlights of everything that Holtmann had to say can be found below.

  • Freshman forward Brice Sensabaugh can help the team with rebounding. That will be important. He’ll have some up-and-down games scoring. He’s a natural-born scorer, but he’s got to let it come to him and not necessarily force it like he did in the exhibition game. “I don’t worry about his scoring.” He needs to be able to rebound and defend at a high level as a freshman. That’s what they’re asking from him.
  • They have not been able to see any video on Robert Morris yet this year. Just stuff from last year. It’s going to be a good first game for them against a veteran group.
  • Rebounding issues didn’t show up in the scrimmage, but it did in the exhibition game. You have to project what team weaknesses might be and then you have to drill down on those things, so he knows they will need to be focused on rebounding, so it was disappointing that they didn’t rebound as well as they’ll need to against Chaminade. “I think that’s going to be a focal point all year.”
  • Felix Okpara is coming along. “I think we’re going to see moments that are exciting.” As is the case for all four freshmen. The fans will see some exciting play. Okpara’s combination of size, length, and athleticism is special. But he’s just so young in this process as a big kid. Been pleased with his attitude, approach, and growth.
  • Consistency is going to be key for Tanner Holden. He struggled in the scrimmage, but was better in the exhibition. He is mature and they are going to lean on him and he understands that and accepts that challenge.
  • He is not sure if Justice Sueing or Eugene Brown will play in the opener on Monday. He’ll know more this weekend.
  • He has to remind himself and his staff throughout the preseason that this is both a young team and a team with new veterans. There is a balance between approach and what they want the team to be. This is going to be a learning process for the freshmen and they will be relied upon. Same with the three transfers and the returning players. They are all being asked to do new things, and most of them are being asked to do that on a new team.
  • This team is excited to get the season going. They have been waiting for this moment. The freshmen had some nerves for the exhibition game and they’ll have nerves for Monday night. They are excited about wearing the uniform. They understand the privilege. He is excited, nervous, anticipatory, all of that. More of all of that wrapped up all in one. He has had other teams where he knew what he was going to get from his guys. There is more mystery this year.
  • What does he need to learn about his team in these first three games before playing Duke? A lot. Basketball is a long season, so they need to understand what they can grow into, but you can only do that by focusing on each day. You learn something new about your group every day when you have this many new faces, which is exciting for a coach.
  • It’s always a challenge to stay in the moment for him as a coach. It’s a challenge to not project too far to what this team could be. There is a mental discipline required for that that isn’t easy for coaches.

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