Jake Diebler Ohio State Men's Basketball Coach

Jake Diebler Discusses New Coaching Staff, Roster Building, More

COLUMBUS — Seated in front of a wall of Final Four trophies, Ohio State men’s basketball coach Jake Diebler met with reporters for the first time since his introductory press conference back in March. Diebler covered a variety of topics, including his new coaching staff, plans for the 13th scholarship spot, the makeup of the current roster, the importance of the transfer portal moving forward, and much, much more. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.

  • How did you prioritize what you needed to do once the season ended? It wasn’t so much about a checklist, but rather attacking each day and being productive. Building the staff was important but you couldn’t not worry about recruiting and roster management.
  • The biggest difference for him? There’s added pressure and stress “but I’m having a blast.” Excited about the staff and the team. “It’s been a fun spring.”
  • You have to be able to adapt as the roster fluctuated. They have designed the roster in the style of basketball that they want to play.
  • Versatility is important. It makes them harder to guard and gives them flexibility defensively. They looked for that in the portal. Everybody they brought in has played in the NCAA Tournament. “I love that component of it too.”
  • They have plans to fill the final scholarship spot. “We’re being really intentional about that.”
  • On staff changes, they’re all coming from winning programs and they’ve won at high levels. Dave Dickerson was on the last Ohio State staff that went to the Final Four. It says a lot about him that he left a head coaching job to come back to Ohio State. The decisions were focused on how committed they were to helping the young men grow and were they improving the program and moving it forward. But you’re also building a team with the coaches and adding strengths where there may be weaknesses.
  • He knew right away that he wanted Dave Dickerson to be part of the staff. “He can coach me up too at times if I need it.” It’s important that Dickerson has had success here and he can relate that to the players.
  • Talor Battle has won in the league as a coach and a player. There is a relatability factor that is important.
  • They will continue to have offensive and defensive coordinators as they’ve done in the past. He will have a stronger voice on both sides this year. There will be some differences to the previous structure in order to fit his strengths and weaknesses. He wants to continue to help player development. But his personnel needs to be allowed to use their strengths and do their jobs.
  • The most challenging part of the adjustment? “Making a lot more decisions.” As an assistant, you always have great ideas, whether they get implemented or not. As a head coach, you have to be the one to make decisions on those ideas. Your mind never shuts off.
  • The days of knowing what your roster will look like years in advance are over. “I choose to kind of look at it like a positive.” It allows them each year to bring in the right pieces.
  • “I like our two freshmen a lot.” What that looks like in November will be determined, as will their impact in January and beyond. Both want to win here and have won in high school. “I think those two will be very valuable for us this year.”
  • Bruce Thornton returning is less about bridging the gap from last year’s team to this year’s team and more about turning the page to an entirely new program. This is a fresh start for everybody.
  • Bruce Thornton is a really good player who is about all the right stuff. Having a guy like that as a first-year coach gives you a lot of peace and comfort. He exemplifies what Diebler wants this team to be about.
  • Sean Stewart and Aaron Bradshaw making a jump this year? They have experience in knowing what college basketball is like now. Both of them worked hard, “that’s why I’m confident they will be able to make the jump.” It helps having a veteran backcourt. That will help them. They don’t have to do it by themselves. The backcourt will help them.
  • What has the response been to Diebler in Columbus? “It’s been great. It’s different. I love how passionate our fanbase is and I love how much they care.” He can’t sneak into his normal coffee spots anymore, but that’s fine. The reception has been great. It’s less about him and more about the program.
  • They will mix it up in relying on high school recruiting and the portal. He never wants to get away from developing player, but the days of a five-man freshman class are probably gone.
  • “It’s a privilege to be in this position, and part of that is being accessible to our fans and to the supporters of this program.”
  • Do you envision being a salary cap person eventually? Very appreciative of The Foundation and everything they done and he hopes they still exist when the NCAA changes are full implemented. When this is all done and settled, “I’m very confident that we are going to be leaders in this space.” There is value in Diebler not being a head coach before in that he’s not set in his ways about the way things used to be. “I’m excited about being at Ohio State and leading that way.”
  • “We need talented players here at Ohio State.” They brought in as much talent as they could, but role definition and chemistry will be important. But there will be competition for roles this year for sure.
  • How do you envision the post this year? The versatility of Aaron Bradshaw and Sean Stewart allows them some lineup flexibility. He has challenged his players to be able to play more than one position.
  • On the schedule: They will be playing a return game at Texas A&M this year. “It will be a really, really good early test for them.” Ohio State is trying to get a marquee home-and-home. That is being finalized. The preference is to get that game at home this year. Scheduling is very difficult. They have reached out to “tons and tons” of teams, but teams are transitioning from home-and-homes to neutral-site games. They will have a tough non-conference schedule but it’s different building them than it used to be. He would love to have a high-major opponent every year as a home game.
  • On the west coast trips this year: They’re going to Los Angeles, they know that much. That’s about all they know at this point.
  • How has your journey prepared you for this job? Been fortunate to work with and for some high-level coaches. “I sit here today almost as a by-product of being around some really gifted people.” His experience has been extremely valuable, and not just talking with other coaches but with so many different people around the programs he was with.
  • The experience last year validated some things in his mind as to what can work in a program. So how do you do that? You have to be active in recruiting and build relationships with players early on. But also being in the gym with the guys in practice. “Sweat equity.” The schedule is different for him now but he wants to be held accountable by his coaches to keep him working on relationships with his players.
  • There was validation down the stretch that playing at a higher tempo will work for them. They won’t be the fastest team but they want to be playing at a faster pace, especially against Matt Painter and Tom Izzo defenses.
  • Had fun at The Memorial on Sunday.
  • How does being a dad make you a better coach? Having two daughters first has given him a different perspective which has allowed to him to be able to connect with kids on different levels. Family is very important because you’re constantly trying to find something that is more important than yourself.
  • Do you have enough three-point shooting on this team? “I think we do,” but we’ll see. Development will be an important part of it. This program will be able to help develop players quickly. Meechie Johnson will be a threat. Juni Mobley was one of the very best shooters in the country regardless of class. Bruce Thornton will continue to take a jump. There will be more spacing this year so the big guys will have opportunities to shoot as well. Nobody predicted that Jamison Battle would go from low 30% to low 40% and better as a three-point shooting. Everybody will have permission to develop that game. Devin Royal has continued to improve his perimeter shooting.
  • Why is it important to publicly embrace the desire to win championships? “I appreciate what this program has been.” He got to see it from a very intimate spot when his brother Jon was here. The standard is high and the possibilities should be there. “That standard is the standard and that’s competing for championships.” There is a responsibility to live up to that. He wants the past Buckeyes who have won here to be back in the halls and spending time with the team.

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