COLUMBUS — Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters following his team’s 65-43 win over Eastern Illinois on Wednesday. Holtmann was asked about his team and their performance, and also spoke about the Buckeyes’ upcoming trip to Maui for the Maui Invitational. Also speaking with the media after the game were Isaac Likekele and Brice Sensabaugh. The highlights of everything Holtmann and the Buckeyes had to say can be found below.
- Give Eastern Illinois credit. They really battled. They scouted Ohio State well. The Buckeyes played with more pace in the second half. A lot to clean up and improve on as they move forward.
- Getting into the paint was a big focus at halftime. More cutting, more movement. “We did not do a good job of that in the first half.”
- Brice Sensabaugh has not surprised them offensively. He’s a very gifted offensive player. His defense is coming along. He would have played more if they needed him.
- The starters did not have the kind of start they needed. Neither the pace or the effort, which is why the subbed early.
- Justice Sueing is a much better shooter than he showed today. Teams are going to continue to play him like this, “short closing” him. Defenses have done that before and he’s made them pay for it.
- Is he committed to this starting lineup? This was the first time they haven’t started well. The starting lineup will always be pretty fluid.
- “We’re a work in progress.”
- Shot quality and turnovers were an issue in the first half.
- How do you go into Maui with the mindset of wanting to win it? It’s a very good field. It may be the best field of any tournament he’s competed in. San Diego State can be a Final Four team this year, and that’s just their first opponent. They’ll learn a lot over those three games.
- What needs to change to take care of the ball better against San Diego State? They need to be simple in what they do offensively. They are going to turn the ball over more at times this season than they have at this point.
- He is good with Brice Sensabaugh’s shot selection and shot frequency. They just want him to continue working on defense and rebounding. They also want him to remain aggressive as a shooter.
- Zed Key’s stamina is good but can always be better. Holtmann expected him to play harder than he did at times in this game as an older player.
- Defense carried the Buckeyes today. As the game went on the margin got larger as the defense got better.
- “I think we played well…” they just didn’t hit their open shots. They’ll hit them down the road. “We could’ve crashed the boards harder.” Not hitting open shots isn’t something they take too seriously.
- How comfortable is he being a guy to make plays on offense? He is getting more comfortable with himself and with this team. He takes what the defense gives him.
- “It’s not about stopping at the wall, it’s about getting through it.” They have to push through their struggles defensively and the offense will take care of itself.
- What was the challenge tonight trying to shake this team? Eastern Illinois played hard and they are talented. It was a three-point game in the first half and it wasn’t a surprise. It teaches OSU to be prepared for these situations this season, especially coming up in Maui.
- You always have to appreciate a win. After the game, Holtmann told them to look forward to coming back to work tomorrow. It’s the same message as always — get better tomorrow.
- At halftime, Holtmann told them to breathe and pick up their energy and intensity. When they did that they looked more cohesive. They only hold 5-6 shots at the rim in the first half and Holtmann told them that, so they had over 20 in the second half.
- “I believe our team prepares very well.” The talent level in Maui will be harder, but the Buckeyes will stick to what they know and what they do.
- “I try to fill every stat on a stat sheet.” Not everybody can take 15 shots. This team has a lot of scorers, so he can do other things that the team needs. He will score when the team needs it too. “I just want to win. That’s my end goal.”