COLUMBUS — Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with reporters on Monday to discuss his team and this weekend’s upcoming matchup against North Carolina in Madison Square Garden. Holtmann talked about the Buckeyes’ last win, their week of preparation, and much more. The highlights of everything he had to say can be found below.
- No real change in the situation with Isaac Likekele. No update on Eugene Brown. “He continues to make progress.”
- There is a gap in the schedule this week that they thought would have been filled by a Big Ten game.
- North Carolina presents a lot of challenges for them. They will get into the preparation for that game in a couple of days.
- Rest this time of year is good, but it’s too big of a gap in the middle of the season with no game. “We really need to be playing games.” “We need to figure out a way to stay sharp.”
- Brice Sensabaugh is probably their best guy at creating his own shot. That’s what you’re looking for late in games. There’s an art to it. “I’ve got tremendous confidence in his ability to do that.” His attention to detail was good defensively.
- What did they miss with Isaac Likekele gone? Defense and decision making and rebounding. It’s hard to replicate his physicality defensively. He creates easy scores for OSU in transition. The defensive numbers were not great against Rutgers.
- They’ll probably have an internal scrimmage at some point this week. Fifteen or 20 minutes of a game-like situation with the team. He’d love to have this kind of break in January, but December is too early.
- They want to see more defensively from Tanner Holden. He needs to guard the ball better. He’s getting attacked too much. He’s a capable athlete. The offense will eventually come. He hasn’t had the shot volume he had at Wright State. That’s not his fault. But what will get him on the court more is improving his defense.
- Finding a way to win a game like they did last week is a tremendous help. It has given them experience on how to finish. They couldn’t quite get there against Duke. The guys did a really good job of spacing off of the rebound of the final free throw to allow for the final shot against Rutgers, “so that was good to see.”
- Defense has to continue to be where this team grows and improves.
- UNC forward Pete Nance is a good player. A mismatch. Can shoot and drive. Can score in the long post. Great pickup for them from Northwestern.
- UNC post player Armando Bacot has size and physicality. Can score in the low post. Tremendously talented player.
- For OSU to be really good this year, they need a consistent performance from Zed Key every night. They have to help him with that and challenge him with it because he’s a junior.
- Roddy Gayle will be more important now without Isaac Likekele. His defense is ahead of his offense now, but they expect to see a different offensive player come February.
- Defensively, they have had too many lapses recently. Too many pockets of play where they need to be more consistent in the details and approach.