COLUMBUS — The Ohio State men’s basketball team opened the season with a 91-53 win over Robert Morris Monday night. The Buckeyes were led by the return of Justice Sueing, who scored a game-high 20 points on the night. Following the victory, OSU head coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters to discuss the win and his team. Also speaking with the media were Justice Sueing and Zed Key. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
- Not pleased with the number of turnovers, but pleased with the defensive effort and pleased to have Justice Sueing back. Hopefully the fans remembered what he was capable of.
- Sueing is going to have some rust that he’s going to have to shake off. They saw that in the scrimmage, but it was hard to notice tonight. He’s practiced the last three days recovering from an ankle injury. He’s also a tremendous rebounder for his size.
- When the game is out of hand, there is still a standard and expectation for every player in how they play the game. They are coached through all 40 minutes.
- His staff has reminded him of the relative danger of having four freshmen on the court together like they did tonight. He didn’t listen tonight, but they don’t want to have four out there at a time as a regular feature. But they’re generally going to have two or three out there at a time throughout the game.
- Zed Key worked hard on his three-point shot. He needs to be able to shoot them when he’s open. He gets extra shooting every day in practice. They have now given him the freedom to shoot those. That’s the reality of today’s game if you have a five who an shoot.
- If they stay healthy, they will be able to make “line changes” throughout games because they have so much depth.
- He’ll learn more watching the film after this game, but you take in information from every practice and every game. They saw some confirmation of things that they thought they knew. Ice Likekele is a very good two-way player for them, for instance. They thought he would be but he showed it tonight.
- Rebounding will be a constant area of focus this year because they’re not where they need to be.
- Brice Sensabaugh is playing through some stuff. He had some errors on defense but he’s incredibly talented and he wants to learn.
- They can post their guards and wings. That’s not really going to be Felix Okpara’s game this year. He’s more of a rim runner at the moment. The paint should be open more this year than last year.
- Likekele’s poise and rebounding is terrific. That’s one of the reasons they wanted him. He makes good decisions. Long arms and big hands. Plays bigger than 6-foot-4. He can switch to a center defensively with his strength and length.
- Does he worry about Justice Sueing staying healthy? “I worry about everything.”
- Zed Key needs to be a little smarter defensively picking up two fouls early on. The referee who made the call on the second foul told Holtmann that it was a 50/50 call and he could have not called it. “I appreciated him telling me that.” It didn’t make him happy though.
- How much can Justice Sueing be a leader this year? It’s hard to lead when you’re on the sideline. “I’m just not sure if you can really do it, to be honest with you.” He will have a tremendous influence on this team if he stays healthy. He’s not the most vocal guy, so they’ve challenged him with that.
- There is a big game for the women’s basketball team tomorrow night against Tennessee. Would love to see a packed house at Value City Arena.
- On adding the three-pointer to his game: “I worked on it a lot in the summer.” That was a big goal for him to add that shot to his game. He wasn’t expecting his first shot to be a three this year, but it dropped.
- What does Justice Sueing’s presence do for everybody else? He’s versatile so it opens up lanes for everybody else. He can drive and can shoot. He showed that tonight. “That’s what he’s going to do for the whole year.”
- Chris Holtmann has been emphasizing defensive rebounding since practice began because they are undersized. Everybody needs to rebound and if you don’t, you’re going to be called out for it.
- “We have a lot of good players on this team.” They are meshing well on and off the court. You can see it on the court in the passing game. The trip to the Bahamas helped a lot. “We definitely have a good group of guys.”
- On this team, everybody has the ability to go and get 20 points on any night.
- You’re always a little nervous as a true freshman, so his message to the freshmen was to just go out there and play.
- What did it feel like to get back out there? “I just finally felt comfortable to be out there healthy.” “It was really emotional.”
- This is now Sueing’s fourth year at Ohio State. He did not expect to be here this long but he’s enjoyed it. It’s nice to finally play in front of fans.
- “It’s early, but it gives us a little preview of some of our features.” There are a lot of guys on this team that can play.
- It’s different with so many new faces. “It’s a little weird I would say,” but they mesh well and they’re all here for a reason.
- Should fans stop worrying about his health? “Did I look healthy tonight?” He’s hoping that label goes away. He’s worked hard in the summer to get back in shape.
- It’s one game but you could see the talent on the court. You can sub three or four guys in and they will pick up right where the starters left off.
- “The freshman group is really special.” The message for them was just to consider this another day of work. “Let loose.”