Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann

Chris Holtmann Previews Sunday Exhibition Opener Vs Dayton

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann met with the media on Tuesday. He previewed Sunday’s exhibition game at Dayton and answered a slew of questions about his team. He discussed his freshmen, the health of the team, the veteran leadership, and much more. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • This is an exciting opportunity to play Dayton in an exhibition game this weekend. Dayton head coach Anthony Grant called back in the summer to ask if they’d be willing to play in a charity game to raise money for mental health for teenagers and college-aged kids. “We really jumped in with two feet.” This is an opportunity to raise awareness and help some healing.
  • The game with Dayton will be very much an exhibition. It will have a little bit of a spring game feel. Different looks, different rotations as OSU continues to prepare for the opener against Oakland.
  • The health of the team? No real updates. Taison Chatman is still going through recovery from a procedure that will take a few weeks. Austin Parks has returned to practice. He’s beginning some full-court work today. Some other bumps and bruises but nothing major.
  • Dayton is picked to win the A-10.
  • It will be great to play in a sold out arena for an exhibition game. It’s early, but it will be a learning experience for the young guys.
  • What priority is mental health in your program? The university and the athletic department were ahead of the curve in making this a priority years ago. A coach has a responsibility to talk to players about mental health, to normalize the struggles that young people go through. This is a very personal story for Anthony Grant who lost his daughter.
  • How mature is this team right now? Good. “I feel really good about it.” It’s good having guys returning who played last year and had real roles. Time will tell but they have good leadership. The sophomores have grown as leaders.
  • Holtmann couldn’t imagine going into his coach as a player and asking to see a therapist. “That’s how far we’ve come.” It just wasn’t common. “It was not normalized in any way.” Give this athletic department a lot of credit for having great foresight.
  • Holtmann is open to playing a home and home with Dayton in the future.
  • Roddy Gayle finished well last season, which was important for him. It gave him some confidence against good teams. They saw glimpses of it in practice. He’s got to take the next step as a player now. That involves consistency. Gayle needs to take a step forward if OSU is going to be the team they want to be.
  • Dale Bonner will play a bigger role for OSU than he did at Baylor. He’s the fastest player they have had at OSU from end to end “for sure.” Has shot the ball well in practice. He’s ready for a bigger role.
  • Scotty Middleton has an ability to come in and impact both ends of the floor. If the team grows as expected, they may not need to rely on the freshmen as much as they did a year ago.
  • The relationship with Urban Meyer and Ryan Day has been tremendous. He’s still in contact with Meyer. Those guys have been great. They have dinner together with their wives. It’s gone beyond a working friendship.
  • What do you want to get out of this game individually? To see how the guys respond against a good, physical team. It’s good to see how they operate against good front-line players. You only look at it as a positive thing. You get so much feedback on your team.
  • Felix Okpara impacts the game in a lot of ways. He’s going to need to be able to play those kind of minutes (20 per night) consistently. His offense is still growing and evolving.
  • Is there a benefit to having guys in front of the freshmen so that they don’t get thrown into the fire. Yes, both for the guys and the team. Guys can be brought along more slowly with talent in front of them. If you’re going to have a good team, you need your veterans to lead you and bring the freshmen along.
  • Will Felix Okpara be able to get 20 minutes per game? “The best players will play the most minutes.”

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